1) Republicans in the Minnesota legislature are already laying plans for "alternative teacher licensure," i.e. the Teach For America Enabling Act. A report over at Politics in Minnesota quotes the local Teach For America director as saying a bill could appear before a state committee as early as next week. Of course the bill will pass. The only question, according to the article, is "...whether Gov. Mark Dayton will be open to the proposal." Author Briana Bierschbach avers that [emphasis added]:
"...many say he [Dayton] is open to some kind of alternative licensure and is not in the pocket of the teacher’s union. Sellers said he is also encouraged by Dayton’s choice of Minneapolis Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Brenda Cassellius for education commissioner. He said she has allies in the education world that are advocates for programs like Teach for America."While I appreciate Bierschbach's reporting, there are other, more important reasons to oppose this legislation besides being "in the pocket of the teacher's union." Here's a basic one: Most Teach for America teachers only stay in the profession for two years. Research on teachers has shown unequivocally that the first two years are the most difficult and least effective, so we'll be getting the worst two years of a teacher's career, with no benefit going forward. Alternative-licensure = worse education.
Over at MinnPost author James Nord has House Education Finance Committee Chair Pat Garofalo openly dismissing the state's teachers, stating "Whether the union will be in favor or against it, I don’t know and I don’t care." Ominously, Nord states that "...improving methods to measure teacher performance dominated discussions for future action," but he didn't say what those "discussions" were. Unfortunately teacher union press secretary Lonnie Hartley had no comments for the article? Why not?
2) Another Look at PISA, by Diane Ravitch, over at Education Week's Bridging Differences blog. She makes two points about the hulaballoo over the international test score comparisons that were in the news last week:
First, the two top-scoring participants—Shanghai and Finland—both have strong public school systems. Neither is deregulating their schools and handing control over to private organizations. Different as they are, they achieved academic success by strengthening the public sector, not by deregulation and privatization.3) National Council of Churches issues letter (in May) against education deform.
The other salient factor about U.S. performance on international tests is that we have an exceptional and shameful rate of child poverty...Most of the nations (and cities) that compete on PISA have far lower child-poverty rates.
Researchers for the National Association for Secondary School Principals disaggregated the PISA results by income and made some stunning discoveries...It shows that American students in schools with low poverty rates were first in the world when they were compared with students in nations with comparably low poverty levels..We have many outstanding schools and students, but our overall performance is dragged down by the persistence of poverty...
4) Yet another charter school scandal in Ohio.
5) Campbell's Law: High Stake Testing's Kryptonite. Campbell's Law stipulates:
"The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor."