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RESPECT for Teaching

Education Secretary Arne Duncan announces a new competitive grant program part of President Obama’s proposed 2013 budget.

“Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching” (RESPECT) aims to elevate the teaching profession a la Race to the Top style by rewarding states that adopt policies favored by the administration, like raising the bar on teacher preparation, reforming tenure, and linking teacher pay to student achievement, to name a few.

Banner Year For Teacher Policy Reform

The National Council on Teacher Quality releases it’s annual State Teacher Policy Yearbook, noting that 2011 “was no ordinary year for teacher policy”. While the fifth edition of this report saw more changes in states’ teacher policies than any years prior, Florida, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Tennessee lead the nation on teacher quality policy.

One policy that is being targeted nationwide is teacher tenure. States are tossing aside historic protections in an era that demands high-performing teachers to produce higher achievement among students.

Check out CER’s map to see how your state stacks up when it comes to teacher quality.

5 Principles for Racing to Teacher Quality

By Jeanne Allen
CER President
October 8, 2009

1.) The federal government should issue guidance to states barring anti-reform school districts from receiving any “Race to the Top” funds. 
”In some school districts, it doesn’t matter whether federal and state law encourages reforms such as performance pay, because teacher collective bargaining agreements in those districts forbid reform. This little-known secret could throw a wrench in ‘Race to the Top’ funding, rendering the ‘Race’ meaningless as a reform catalyst. States should not be permitted to funnel a single dime of ‘Race to the Top’ funds to Districts that have collective bargaining agreements prohibiting, for example, the use of student performance in evaluating teachers. To send money to these districts would be to condone the ‘adults first, kids second’ mentality that has decimated learning in far too many schools.”

2.) The federal government should reward states that provide multiple pathways to teacher licensure. 
”Tying ‘Race to the Top’ funds to a dynamic, highly-talented, and evolving teacher force can yield positive changes for students. The federal government should reward states that utilize all good teacher certification options available – including true alternative certification programs that require high levels of teacher content knowledge. Studies show that well-designed alternative certification programs produce teachers who boost student achievement at faster rates. States that refuse to accept new pathways to certification are denying students access to great teachers.”

3.) The federal government should reward states that develop genuine, data-driven pay-for-performance systems. 
”States that develop and use comprehensive data collection systems to reward teachers who best improve student achievement – whether through statewide models or pilot programs – should get priority for ‘Race to the Top’ funding. While many bureaucrats claim that linking student and teacher data is impossible, the modern workforce in almost every other industry teaches us otherwise. Accordingly, the federal

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Jeanne Allen: Federal Race to the Top Funds for State Teacher Quality Efforts Need Strings Attached

CER Press Release
Washington, DC
October 8, 2009

The U.S. Department of Education should set strict rules for states receiving federal “Race to the Top” funds for teacher quality initiatives, according to Jeanne Allen, president of The Center for Education Reform. Allen released her “5 Principles for Racing to Teacher Quality” today in advance of the national Excellence in Action summit in Washington, D.C.

Allen cautions that the $4.3 billion federal “Race to the Top” funding plan – which Secretary Duncan has argued should be used in part for teacher performance pay efforts – could be wasted if the U.S. Department of Education doesn’t refuse funds to school districts that enshrine anti-reform provisions in their policies and contracts.

“States should be encouraged to be as innovative and creative as possible with ‘Race to the Top’ funds,” Allen said. “At the same time, taxpayer money must not be wasted by districts that refuse to embrace reforms that work and initiatives that place the needs of children first. All too often, school districts insert anti-reform provisions in collective bargaining agreements, making these districts virtually immune from real reform. We can not and should not send a dime to these districts.”

In addition, Allen recommends that Secretary Duncan place a stronger emphasis on alternative teacher certification, promote meaningful and data-driven performance pay models, encourage alternate models of teacher tenure, and embrace teacher paycheck protection to ensure that educators take home more of their hard-earned money.

Link to 5 Principles for Racing to Teacher Quality, by Jeanne Allen, President, The Center for Education Reform.

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