Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A new way to evaluate teachers — by teachers

“Only public schools, operated by school districts with elected school boards are open to all children and fully accountable to all taxpayers.”
Baruch Kintisch, Director of Policy Advocacy, Education Law Center, in testimony before the PA House Democratic Policy Committee, July 17, 2012

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1600 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, members of the press and a broad array of education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

PA House lawmakers review pension reform proposals
WITF Written by  Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief Tuesday, 14 August 2012 17:50
A joint panel of the state House Finance and State Government committees has kick-started the Legislature’s discussion of pension reform.  Gov. Corbett has highlighted the issue as the number one legislative priority this fall, and the opening salvo of what’s expected to be a protracted debate began this week, as lawmakers tried to wrap their heads around the complicated mess of problems plaguing the state’s pension system, like a down economy and shortsighted underfunding.  Most of the testimony revolved around proposals to switch state and public school employees to a 401(k)-style retirement plan, in which it’s their contribution that is locked into place, instead of their benefit.

New details, deadlines for Race to the Top district grants released

NSBA School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min August 14th, 2012
The U.S. Department of Education has released the final requirements for Race to the Top-District (RTT-D) grant applications, a program designed to improve classroom instruction and teaching to directly impact student learning.
These grants will distribute nearly $400 million directly to school districts for programs that support teaching and learning and the goals of the Race to the Top state grants. The department is expected to award 15 to 25 grants ranging from $5 million to $40 million.
Qualifying school districts must serve at least 2,000 students with 40 percent or more qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch, or join with other districts that meet this qualification. Grants will support learning strategies that personalize education in all or a group of schools, within specific grade levels, or select subjects. Districts also must demonstrate a commitment to Race to the Top’s four core reform areas and the district superintendent or CEO, local school board president, and local teacher union president (or 70 percent of teachers in districts without collective bargaining) must sign off on the plan.
The department will conduct technical assistance webinars for school officials on Aug. 16 and Aug. 21, 2012.  Registration for the webinars is available at the Race to the Top website.


Dialogue with the Gates Foundation: Can Schools Defeat Poverty by Ignoring It?

 Anthony Cody  
This post is the third round of a five-part exchange with the Gates Foundation. This post can also be viewed and commented on over at the Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimist blog. This time I get to go first, and our topic is this:
What is the role of education reform in relation to the problem of family poverty? What is the best way to achieve greater equity in educational and life prospects for children of poverty?


Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 08/15/2012

A new way to evaluate teachers — by teachers

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
This was written by Stanford University Education Profession Linda Darling-Hammond, who directs the Stanford University Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and was founding director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. A former president of the American Educational Research Association, Darling-Hammond focuses her research, teaching, and policy work on issues of school restructuring, teacher quality and educational equity. This first appeared at
By Linda Darling-Hammond
Teacher education has been under siege in the last few years, the first line of attack in the growing criticism and more aggressive regulation of higher education.
Most recently, the U.S. Department of Education proposed — in a highly contentious negotiated rule-making exercise — to use test scores of graduates’ students to evaluate schools of education, despite the warnings of leading researchers that such scores are unstable and invalid for this purpose. Furthermore, in an unprecedented move, the department would limit eligibility for federal TEACH grants to prospective teachers from highly rated programs, denying aid to many deserving candidates while penalizing programs that prepare teachers for the most challenging teaching assignments.


To Earn Classroom Certification, More Teaching and Less Testing

New York Times By AL BAKER Published: July 29, 2012
New York and up to 25 other states are moving toward changing the way they grant licenses to teachers, de-emphasizing tests and written essays in favor of a more demanding approach that requires aspiring teachers to prove themselves through lesson plans, homework assignments and videotaped instruction sessions.
The change is an attempt to ensure that those who become teachers not only know education theories, but also can show the ability to lead classrooms and handle students of differing abilities and needs, often amid limited resources.


Can School Performance Be Measured Fairly?

New York Times Opinion Room for Debate JULY 29, 2012
More than half the states have now been excused from important conditions of the No Child Left Behind education law. They’ve been allowed to create new measures of how much students have improved and how well they are prepared for college or careers, and to assess teacher performance on that basis. Teachers will be evaluated in part on how well their students perform on standardized tests. One study, though, found that some state plans could weaken accountability.  How can we measure achievement of students, teachers and schools in a way that is fair and accurate, and doesn’t provide incentives for obsessive testing, and cheating?

Here’s a link to prior postings on ALEC involvement with school choice and other school privatization initiatives:

ALEC: Many states’ voter-ID laws, including Pennsylvania’s, appear to have tie to same U.S. group
By Ethan Magoc FOR THE INQUIRER Posted: Tue, Aug. 14, 2012, 6:51 AM
 A growing number of conservative Republican state legislators worked fervently during the last two years to enact laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.  Lawmakers proposed 62 photo-ID bills in 37 states in the 2011 and 2012 sessions, with multiple bills introduced in some states. Ten states have passed strict photo-ID laws since 2008, though several face legal challenges.
A News21 analysis found that more than half of the 62 bills were sponsored by members or conference attendees of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a Washington-based, tax-exempt organization.

2012 PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference Oct. 16-19, 2012
Registration is Now Open!
Hershey Lodge & Convention Center, Hershey, PA

EPLC’s 2012 Arts and Education Symposium: Save the Date, Thursday, October 11

Education Policy and Leadership Center

Please mark your calendars and plan on joining EPLC, our partners, and guests on October 11 in Harrisburg for a full day of events.  Stay tuned to for information about our 2nd Arts and Education Symposium.  Scholarships and Act 48 Credit will be available.  Outstanding speakers and panelists from Pennsylvania and beyond will once again come together to address key topics in the arts and arts education and related public policy advocacy initiatives.  This is a networking and learning opportunity not to be missed!

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