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Educational negotiations is a dynamic profession.  Keeping track of current trends, studies, reports and news articles about negotiations is an essential skill for the professional negotiator.  NAEN publishes a weekly Potpourri of Articles of Interest on this Blog.  NAEN members may read, comment and post news of their own on the NAEN Blog.  Non-members may view the blog and are welcome to subscribe through an RSS feed (see icon below). 
  • 19 Feb 2010 11:46 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    1. United States.  States tackling public employee retirement benefits in 2010. Stateline,org February 19, 2010. By Stephen C. Fehr.
    He has been on the job for only a month, but already Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has done all states a favor by elevating the crisis facing public pension systems across the country. While other governors were declaring snow emergencies last week, Christie proclaimed New Jersey a financial disaster area—with good reason. He blamed a shortfall of billions of dollars to pay for state employee pension benefits as a big reason why he needs immediate executive powers to cut spending.

    2. United States.  Teacher Seniority Rules Challenged. Wall Street journal. February 19, 2010. By BARBARA MARTINEZ
    Teacher seniority rules are meeting resistance from government officials and parents as a wave of layoffs is hitting public schools and driving newer teachers out of classrooms. In a majority of the country's school districts, teacher layoffs are handled on a "last in, first out" basis. Critics of seniority rules worry that many effective and talented teachers who have been hired in recent years will lose their jobs. . . Last year, Arizona passed a ban, and schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C., in addition to letting go some new teachers, laid off some who would otherwise have been protected by union seniority rules. Teachers unions in Arizona and Washington sued over the moves, but they lost their court challenges.

    3. Florida.  FSU layoffs of tenured faculty cause a stir. Talahassee Democrat. February 19, 2010. By Doug Blackburn. . . FSU's decision to lay off 21 tenured and 15 additional tenure-track faculty isn't going unnoticed. The esteemed Science magazine last month detailed how the science programs at FSU have been affected by layoffs, and how FSU is letting go of more tenured faculty than the other 10 schools in the State University System combined. Provost Larry Abele believes FSU was being pro-active when it adopted a three-year budget last June.

    4. United States.  2009 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. February 18, 2010. The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Collaborating for Student Success examines the views of teachers, principals and students about respective roles and responsibilities, current practice and priorities for the future (2009). The Survey report is being released as a series during the first quarter of 2010 with the following parts:Part 1: Effective Teaching and Leadership examines views about responsibility and accountability; what collaboration looks like in schools, and if and to what degree it is currently practiced.

    Survey, Part 1:

    5. New York.  Union Jobs Hang On in the Recession. New York Times. February 18, 2010. By PATRICK MCGEEHAN. One aspect of New York’s economy that the financial crisis and recession did not shake is the relatively strong grip labor unions have in the state. A report released on Wednesday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the number of unionized workers in New York state barely slipped last year despite a big decline in jobs. The share of all workers in the state who were union members, which was already the highest in the nation, rose slightly to 25.2 percent, the report shows. . . “The numbers are strongly influenced by the percentage of workers who are unionized in the public sector,” Mr. Dolfman said. “Public-school teachers, local municipal employees, county employees all tend to be unionized.”

    6. Texas. Tests and teachers: Schools need to guarantee kids’ education — not teachers’ jobs. HOUSTON CHRONICLE Editorial. February 18, 2010. We're proud that HISD's board did something brave last week: It voted to allow teachers to be fired if, year after year after year, tests show that the kids in their classes fail to make much progress at all. In too many cases that means that, on average, the kids experience what's delicately called “negative growth”: They not only fail to learn new material but actually lose ground, sliding backward from where they'd been the year before. It seems only reasonable to hold teachers responsible for teaching — for making sure that their kids make progress. But in the ossified world of public education, HISD's new policy counts as a major reform.

    7. United States.  What Does It Mean to Involve Teachers in Policymaking?  Teacher Beat Blog. By Stephen Sawchuk on February 18, 2010. . . If you think teachers aren't considered in policymaking, then the next logical question to ask is which mechanisms and strategies would be the most fruitful for increasing their voice. . . A related question I have is to what extent teacher empowerment does or doesn't mean doing what teachers' unions want. I had an interesting and lively conversation once with one of my frequent commentators on this blog, a unionized public school teacher, about whether "teacher voice" and "teachers' union voice" are one and the same thing. The answer seems to be both yes and no. Yes, in the sense that teachers' unions are the democratically elected bodies that represent teachers and through which teachers can affect policy. No, in that although unions take pains to minimize differences within their memberships publicly, there are plenty of internal disagreements.

    7. United States.  Better Federal Policies Leading to Better Schools. Center on Education Policy. February 18, 2010.  This document contains CEP's recommendations for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act. These recommendations are based on a two-year review of current and past federal policies and a wide range of research, including CEP's own comprehensive studies of NCLB and student achievement in all 50 states. In developing the recommendations, we also brought to bear our long-term experience with federal policies and consulted with numerous experts of varying backgrounds, including commissioning 11 papers on key issues.


    8. United States.  Bleak Economy Pushing Health Insurers to Raise Rates, Analysts Say. NY Times. February 18, 2010. By REED ABELSON. Health insurers lately seem more afraid of Wall Street than of Washington. . . The weak economy and the unrelenting rise in the cost of medical care make it increasingly difficult for companies to avoid substantial rate increases — even if those increases provide fresh fodder for Democrats seeking to pass the now-stalled health care legislation in Congress.

    9. United States.   Health Insurance Costs: 'Shocking' Premium Increases Coming, Says Health And Human Services Dept. Huffington Post. February18, 2010. By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR. WASHINGTON — Eye-popping health insurance premium increases of up to 39 percent are a worrisome sign of the times, the Obama administration said in a report Thursday as it tried to tap public frustration with high costs to revive the stalemated effort to overhaul health care.Proposed premium increases by WellPoint's Anthem Blue Cross for Californians purchasing their own coverage set off a wave of criticism and forced the company last week to announce a postponement. Now, the Health and Human Services Department says similar pressure on premiums is being felt in at least six other states.

    10. United States.  Lawmakers to launch bipartisan effort to rewrite No Child Left Behind. Washington Post. February 18, 2010. Senior House Republicans and Democrats plan to announce Thursday that they will team up to rewrite the No Child Left Behind education law, a rare show of bipartisanship in the polarized Congress. . . Many analysts say time is growing short for passage of a major education bill before the midterm elections because Congress is consumed by the economy, health care and financial regulation, among other issues.

    11. United States.  Pew Study Finds States Face $1 Trillion Shortfall in Retiree Benefits.  PEW Center on the States. February 18, 2010. Washington, D.C. - 02/18/2010 - There was a $1 trillion gap at the end of fiscal year 2008 between the $2.35 trillion states had set aside to pay for employees' retirement benefits and the $3.35 trillion price tag of those promises, according to a new report released by the Pew Center on the States.  The shortfall, which will have to be paid over the next 30 years by state and local governments, amounts to more than $8,800 for every household in the United States.The figures detailed in Pew's report, “The Trillion Dollar Gap,” include pension, health care and other non-pension benefits promised to both current and future retirees in states’ and participating localities’ public sector retirement systems.

    PEW Report:

    12. Michigan.  Schoolhouse divided Bedlam reigns at teachers' union meetings. Detroit Metro Times. Febrary 17, 2010. During the last two monthly meetings of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, News Hits has hovered nearby, trying to keep tabs on what's happening behind closed doors. We can tell you with certainty this much: Things are getting really ugly inside the New Center headquarters, and besieged union president Keith Johnson, attempting to stomp out an effort to recall him, hasn't been able to keep his membership under control, despite the use of both private security guards and Detroit cops.

    13. California.  School Districts Push For Teacher Pay Cuts During Contract Talks.  KPBS. February 17, 2101. By Ana Tintocalis.SAN DIEGO — The San Diego and Vista unified school districts are trying to negotiate new labor contracts with their teachers unions while they push for teacher pay cuts. Crowds of teachers have disrupted San Diego and Vista school board meetings recently because of stalled contract negotiations and proposed budget cuts.

    14. California.  L.A. Superintendent Has Identified 1,000 Horrendous Teachers, But None Can Be Fired Thanks To The Union.  Business Insider. By Gus Lubin. Hundreds of bad teachers have encamped in the LA school system and will be impossible to remove. The LAUSD superintendent has compiled a list of nearly 1,000 "performance cases," according to LA Weekly (via Reason). But getting rid of the teachers costs more than the schools can afford, thanks to state laws and a powerful union that protect teachers. Recent efforts to oust teachers have resulted in secret buyouts (expensive), paid rehabilitation (expensive and ineffective), and lawsuits (very expensive).

    15. Florida.  Broward teachers union, school superintendent square off over ad. Sun-Sentinel.  February 17, 2010. By Hannah Sampson, The Miami Herald. Long-simmering tensions between the Broward Teachers Union and the school district's superintendent escalated publicly Wednesday in morning newspaper ads and an afternoon news conference. The union bought half-page ads in local newspapers, including the Sun Sentinel and The Miami Herald, accusing Superintendent Jim Notter of misusing school district money. The allegations touch on use of stimulus money intended for kids with disabilities; job perks for Notter; rehiring of retired administrators and unnecessary travel on the taxpayer's dime. They're all accusations the union has made before, but for the first time, Notter responded. He was appalled, he said, about the photographs of children that were used in the ad.,0,1002673.story

    16. United States.  Expanded Time, Enriching Experiences Expanded Learning Time Schools and Community Organization Partnerships.
    Center for American Progress. February 17, 2010. By Kathleen Traphagen and Christine Johnson-Staub. Expanded learning time, or ELT, is gaining traction among educators and policymakers as a potent school improvement strategy. . . It is critical to ensure that the goal is not just more time, but more time used effectively to meet children’s comprehensive needs. For example, the Massachusetts initiative includes three key components: increased time for core academics, broader opportunities for student enrichment, and more time for teacher professional development and collaboration.

    17. Texas.  HISD pilot program would extend school year. Houston Chronicle. February 17, 2010. By ERICKA MELLON. Some students could see their summer breaks slashed and their academic year stretched as part of the Houston Independent School District's effort to overhaul poor-performing campuses. The district is designing a pilot program to allow a handful of struggling schools to adopt an extended-year calendar starting this fall. The reform effort — estimated to cost around $500,000 per school — includes two more weeks of class for students. The schools, which have not been chosen, also could see a staff shake-up.

    18. United States.  Squeeze Play 2010: Continued Public Anxiety On Cost,Harsher Judgments On How Colleges Are Run. Public Agenda. February 17, 2010. By John Immerwahr and Jean Johnson, with Amber Ott and Jonathan Rochkind. Six out of 10 Americans now say that colleges today operate more like a business, focused more on the bottom line than on the educational experience of students. Further, the number of people who feel this way has increased by 5 percentage points in the last year alone, and is up by 8 percentage points since 2007.


    19. Alberta.  School board solicits cost-saving ideas from parents.  CBC News. February 17, 2010. The Edmonton public school board has sent letters home with students asking parents for advice on how the board can save money. The letter notes there was no increase in funding for school boards in the provincial budget and "we can tell you that it will not be possible to maintain the status quo as the District faces rising staff and operating costs."
    Read more:

    20. Pennsylvania.  The Rules of Bargaining with Teachers' Unions in Pennsylvania Need to Change in Light of the Recession and the Economic Drivers Impacting School Districts. Fox Rothschild LLP Blog. February 17, 2010 By: Jeffrey T. Sultanik, Esquire, Chair of the Education Law Group. In every issue of School Business Daily, there are reports of school entities throughout the nation being forced to consider cutbacks of staff and teachers’ unions considering concessionary contracts. This national trend has, in large part, been precipitated by the Great Recession of October 2008, which has challenged school entities and state revenues regardless of the jurisdiction.

    21. United States.  'It's for the Kids' Needs to Go.  Straight Up Blog. February 17, 2010. By Rick Hess. It's time to banish the phrase, "It's for the kids," (that's "IFTK" for those of you keeping score at home) from the edu-discourse, along with its insipid cousins like "it's all about kids," "just for the kids," and "we're in it for the kids." Actually, it's way past time. . . "It's for the kids" is a phrase that encourages obfuscation and posturing. It allows self-interest to hide behind self-righteousness and vapid sentiment. It also imposes real costs.

    22. United States.  Experts Agree a Tax on Health Plans Likely to Cut Benefits.  Employee Benefit Research Institute. February 16, 2010. WASHINGTON—Since the vast majority of Americans who have health coverage get it through their jobs, one obvious question raised by the health reform legislation pending in Congress is: How might it affect the U.S. employment-based health benefits system? . . . But on one point there was general consensus: Imposing a tax on health benefits (such as the proposed tax on so-called “Cadillac” health plans) is likely to cause major cuts in health benefits and might result in structural changes in the employment-based benefits system.

    23. California.  Stimulus law’s futile goal of reform. The Educated Guess. February 16, 2010. In directing $80 billion in stimulus dollars over two years to the nation’s elementary and secondary schools, the Obama administration made a big deal about tying the money to school reform. States were required to make four assurances in accepting the money, including, most importantly, a commitment to make progress in producing more effective teachers and seeing that they are equitably distributed in low-income schools. But those assurances, it turns out, were vague and unenforceable. California got 90 percent of the money without having to tell the feds what steps it planned to take, and the Obama administration had no way to hold it accountable anyway.

    24. California.   Unions plans protests March 4.  Educated Guess Blog. February 16, 2010. A protest or demonstration will be coming to a school or college campus near you on Thursday, March 4th. That’s what the state’s two teachers unions, the California Teachers Assn. and the California Federation of Teachers, are designating their “Day of Action,” in which teachers hope to rouse people’s attention to the impact of current and likely budget cuts. CTA announced it will be running a 1-minute radio ad promoting the day on 84 stations  between now and then.

    25. New York.  Get incompetent teachers off the payroll. New York Post. February 15, 2010. By Joel Klein. The most important factor in a child's education is the quality of his or her teachers. That's why we are working so hard to ensure only our best educators are in front of the classroom. But it is just as important that in the relatively few cases where teachers are found to be incompetent -- or worse -- we get them out of classrooms, and off the city's payroll, as soon as possible. Last year, the city spent approximately $30 million on the salaries of teachers who sat in reassignment centers doing nothing. We could save those millions by taking the following steps:

    26. United States.  Thompson: Correcting TNTP's "Widget Effect" Stats. This Week in Educ. February 15, 2010. The New Teacher Project has finally corrected apologized reconciled its ubiquitous report's criticism of the American Federation of Teachers' Toledo Plan, admitting that crucial figures were off by 200%, if you accept the TNTP's definition, and off by 530% if you accept the AFT's terminology.  Even when drafting "The Widget Effect," the TNTP should have known that one of the strengths of Toledo's peer review and mentoring program is that it removes ineffective teachers through resignations and other means, thus avoiding litigation.  So it came as a shock when the TNTP claimed that the Toledo Plan only removed .7% of probationary teachers over a five year period.  In fact, 12.9% of teachers in the plan were removed from the classroom in 2009, and over the last five years 8.5% of interns were non-renewed, terminated, or resigned.

    TNTP Memo:

    27. Oregon.  Portland school board, teachers will vote on new contract. The Oregonian. February 15, 2010. By Kimberly Melton. Portland teachers and school board members will vote in the next two weeks on a new contract after a surprise weekend agreement apparently resolved differences over salary and changes to the teacher workday that had stalled two years of fitful negotiations.
    Details of the contract will remain confidential until the two sides approve the three-year proposal, Portland Public Schools officials said. Vote dates haven't been set yet by either side but are expected soon. Though no formal negotiations have occurred since the state's largest school district declared an impasse about two weeks ago, negotiators for the district and teachers union made progress through informal talks on Friday and Saturday.

    28. California.  Two unions say they are willing to negotiate a cut in the L.A. Unified school year. LA Times. February 14, 2010. By Jason Song. . . California school districts have the option of shortening the school year without losing key state funding for the next several years, and at least one other district has moved to shorten its calendar. Others, up and down the state, are considering the option. Cortines had said he wanted to preserve, if not extend, the school year, but he said he is unable to balance the budget without major concessions from employee unions, whose leadership has generally resisted furlough days and pay cuts. In a news release Friday evening, he made the proposal to shave five school days and one noninstructional day off the calendar. Leaders of both the teachers and administrators unions said they are fully aware of the financial crisis and are willing to negotiate.

    29. United States.  Outlook grim for cash-strapped schools. Boston Globe. February 15, 2010. By Associated Press. SAN FRANCISCO -The nation’s public schools are falling under severe financial stress as states slash education spending and drain federal stimulus money that staved off deep classroom cuts and widespread job losses. School districts have already suffered big budget cuts since the recession began two years ago, but specialists say the cash crunch will get a lot worse as states run out of stimulus dollars. The result in many hard-hit districts: more teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, smaller paychecks, fewer electives and extracurricular activities, and decimated summer school programs.

    30. Rhode Island.  R.I.'s Race to the Top Plan Tackles Teacher Assignment. Teacher Beat Blog. February 12, 2010. By Stephen Sawchuk. . . But fewer states explicitly tackled the issue of teacher distribution or assignments, and by that I mean where and how effective teachers are placed. This is where Rhode Island's plan really stands out for its specificity. In it, the state says that it will direct districts not to allow a student to be taught by more than one year by a teacher deemed "ineffective," and will prohibit districts from assigning ineffective teachers to low-income, low-performing or high-minority schools

    31. New York.  City’s new tenure plan uses test scores, but for few teachers.  Gotham City Schools. February 12, 2010. By Anna Phillips. Department of Education officials debuted a new tenure process today will affect only one in ten teachers up for tenure this year, but for the city’s teachers union, that’s one too many. Answering Mayor Bloomberg’s demand that test scores be used in tenure decisions this year, the department has broadened the criteria that principals use in evaluating teachers to include teacher data reports. These reports rank teachers based on their students’ scores on the state’s math and English exams and compare them to others teaching similar students over several years. Department officials say the reports will only be used to alert principals to teachers who are at the top and bottom of the rankings.

    32. Iowa.  Are Iowa's teacher retention efforts worth the money? Dangerously Irrelevant. February 12, 2010. Like most states, Iowa is concerned with the retention rate of its new teachers. Over the past decade Iowa has instituted a number of different efforts to combat new teacher turnover, including:
    1.participation in a 2-year induction program by every new teacher; annual statewide mentoring and induction institute; annual awards program that recognizes outstanding new teacher mentoring and leadership;
    4.a mentoring and induction network that operates through our Area Educational Agencies (AEAs);
    5.a mentoring and induction statewide steering committee;
    6.development of a mentoring and induction model that districts and AEAs can implement; and least one statewide survey of new teachers, mentors, and administrators.

  • 12 Feb 2010 12:38 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    1.  United States.  Rankings of the States 2009 and Estimates of School Statistics 2010.  National Education Association. February 12, 2010 [Report dated December 2009].  The U.S. average public school teacher salary for 2008–09 was $54,319. State average public school teacher salaries ranged from those in New York ($69,118), California ($68,093), and Massachusetts ($66,712) at the high end to South Dakota ($35,070), North Dakota ($41,654), and Utah ($42,335) at the low end.

    2. New York.  State exam results to help determine whether 700 teachers win tenure. NY Daily News. February 12, 2010. By Rachel Monahan. State exam results will help determine whether 700 teachers win tenure this year, city officials announced yesterday, prompting the teachers union to threaten a lawsuit. "It is clearly bad educational policy to evaluate teachers through the use of state test scores that the state itself has deemed unreliable," said teachers union president Michael Mulgrew. City Education officials fired back, defending the plan. "It's hard to imagine how anyone could object to looking at a teacher's impact on student progress as a part of a comprehensive evaluation," said spokesman David Cantor.

    3. Texas.  HISD passes teacher dismissal plan.  Houston Chronicle. February 12, 2010. By ERICKA MELLON. At a contentious meeting pitting parents against teachers, the Houston school board gave final approval on Thursday to a policy allowing the firing of instructors whose students fall short on standardized tests. Dozens of parents spoke in favor of the decision, while more than 750 teachers packed the school district's headquarters to protest the policy, considered among the most aggressive efforts in the nation to improve teacher quality. Starting next year, the Houston Independent School District will include a measure of student progress, called value-added, in teachers' job evaluations. Those teachers whose students fall far below expectations for multiple years could be at risk of losing their jobs.

    3a. See also: Teacher Quality Showdown in Houston's Corral.  EduFlak. February 12, 2010. Looking at the headlines coming out of Houston last night, it was a regular showdown at the school improvement corral.  Teachers versus parents.  Reformers versus status quo.  Process versus outcomes.  And in the words of far too many Simpsons episodes, we can't possibly forget about the children!

    4. California.  LAUSD’s Dance of the Lemons. Why firing the desk-sleepers, burnouts, hotheads and other failed teachers is all but impossible.  LA Weekly. February 11, 2010. By Beth Barrett. Editor's note: After this article went to press, LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines announced that the district plans to substantially cut back on granting lifelong tenure to inexperienced teachers. Several years ago, a 74-year-old Dominguez Elementary School fourth-grade teacher was having trouble controlling her students as her abilities deteriorated amid signs of "burnout." Shirley Loftis was told by Los Angeles Unified School District administrators to retire or be fired, and she did retire, but hardly under the school district's terms.

    5. Colorado.  Colorado schools spread word on cuts. Denver Post. February 11, 2010. By Jeremy P. Meyer. School districts girding for draconian cuts in state funding are sending out surveys to parents, querying staff and asking community members to help figure out where to cut and how deeply. Colorado districts have not yet finalized their 2010-11 budgets, which are being pared to close a state funding gap of at least $260 million. But they have begun to indicate dramatic cuts are approaching — fewer teachers, reduced class offerings and larger class sizes. Some districts are mulling eliminating middle school sports, making families pay for children to ride the bus or reducing high school credit requirements.

    6. Ontario.  College strike narrowly averted (probably). Toronto Star. February 11, 2010. By Louise Brown and Jennifer Yang. Ontario's 200,000 community college students seem to have narrowly avoided a teachers' strike this year, after a 51.25 per cent vote Wednesday night in favour of the colleges' latest offer. The result remains unofficial until it is reviewed by the Ontario Labour Relations Board, but if it stands, 9,000 members of the Ontario Public Service Employees' Union will have accepted a contract that gives them 5.9 per cent more in salary increases over three years. Union leaders rejected the deal last week, saying it fell short of improving working conditions.Unofficial voter turnout was 77 per cent, college officials said.

    7. Hawaii.  School furloughs back in court.  Honolulu Advertiser. February 11, 2010. By Loren Moreno. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday took up a case that seeks to halt "furlough Fridays" for special-education students in Hawai'i's public schools. Meeting in Honolulu, Circuit Judge Carlos T. Bea of San Francisco and Senior Circuit Judges Jerome Farris of Seattle and Dorothy W. Nelson of Pasadena listened to arguments from lawyers who seek to overturn a November ruling that rejected their original request to stop the furlough days, on behalf of families of special-education students. The appellate court did not rule yesterday, but judges did refer to the state's budget crunch as well as concerns about creating a "slippery slope," where changes in a public school system could be overridden based on their effect on a narrow group of students.

    8. New Jersey.  Chris Christie declares fiscal 'state of emergency,' paving way for N.J. spending cuts. Star-Ledger. February 11, 2010. By Claire Heininger/Statehouse Bureau. TRENTON -- Calling New Jersey on "the edge of bankruptcy," Gov. Chris Christie today declared a fiscal emergency, seizing broad powers to freeze aid to more than 500 school districts and cut from higher education, hospitals and the Public Advocate. "New Jersey has been steaming toward financial disaster for years," the Republican governor said in a speech to both houses of the Legislature. "The people elected us to end the talk and to act decisively. Today is the day for the complaining to end and for statesmanship to begin

    9. United States. Analysis: Transparent leadership starts from within.  Government Executive. February 11, 2010. By Roger Schwarz. Are you a transparent leader? Soon after taking office, President Obama issued an executive order calling for agencies to be transparent, participatory and collaborative as a means to strengthen democracy and make government more efficient and effective. The directive focused on transparency in dealing with the public, but this is neither achievable nor sustainable unless leaders can create it within their organizations. The definition of "transparency" is to share all relevant information in a way that is timely and valid. Being transparent means to share the reasoning and intent underlying your statements, questions and actions. For example, when you make a decision, you explain your reasoning by saying something like, "Here's what led me to make the decision this way." When you ask someone a question, you follow it by saying something like, "The reason I am asking is because ..."

    10. Iowa.  Public employee bargaining: Designed to protect citizens. LeMars Daily Sentinel. February 11, 2010. By Magdalene Landegent
    (Editor's note: This story is the first of two stories taking a closer look at public employees' bargaining.) In the business world, salaries and benefits of a business' employees are somewhat dependent on how well the business is doing. However, in the public sector, employees like teachers and city workers are given the chance to organize and bargain collectively based on Iowa Code Chapter 20.

    11. Rhode Island.  The $78,000 Babysitting Job. The Daily Blonde (Blog). February 11, 2010. There are 74 high school teachers in Central Falls, Rhode Island who might get the axe…and not due to the economy. The graduation rate in the city’s high school is at 48 percent. There are 19-year-old students in classes with 14-year-olds. Half way through the year 50 percent of students at the school are failing not one, but all of their classes. In return, the teachers are making a $78,000 a year salary to babysit, if that. They don’t even want to commit to having lunch once a week with students to build better relationships — apparently that is not in their contract. . . These are the conditions that the Superintendent wants put into force or the teachers may be fired:
    •Increase length of school day by 25 minutes to provide more instructional time for students.
    •Formalize tutoring schedule so struggling students have extra help for one hour before and after school.
    •Agree to eat lunch with students one day a week to build stronger relationships.
    •Attend two weeks of professional development in the summer at a rate of $30 an hour.
    •Stay after school for 90 minutes one day each week to work with fellow teachers analyzing student work and test data and discussing ways to improve teaching at a rate of $30 an hour if Gallo can find grant financing.
    •Accept more rigorous evaluations by a third-party starting March 1.

    12. United States.  Engaging Elephants in Education Reform.  The Quick & the Ed. February 10, 2010. . . But as NCLB reauthorization nears (again), the theory proposed in [the book] Switch, which is based on an analogy borrowed from UVA psychologist Jonathan Haidt, seems worth some thought. The analogy goes something like this: everyone has two sides—a rider and an elephant. The rider represents the rational thinker, the analytical planner, the evidence-based decision-maker. The elephant, on the other hand, is an emotional player, full of energy and sympathy and loyalty, who stays put, backs away or rears up based on feeling and instinct. The rider holds the reins and appears to lead the elephant. But the 6-ton elephant always overpowers the rider and the rider, although he may not know this, can’t force the elephant to go anywhere unless he appeals to him, motivates him, in some sustainable way.

    13. United States.  The Pew Center on the States' State of the States 2010.  February 10, 2010. Two years after the nation fell into the longest recession since the 1930s, states still are groping to find the bottom of this grueling fiscal crisis amid double-digit unemployment, historic revenue drops and predictions of at least a couple more years of eye-popping budget deficits. But equally critical at the troubled start of this decade is a need to pay attention to the choices lawmakers and voters are about to make that will affect states’ fiscal well-being in the long term.

    PEW Center Report:

    14. Texas.  400 teachers may face firing over test scores. Houston Chronicle. February 10, 2010. By ERICKA MELLON. More than 400 teachers in the Houston school district have performed so poorly that their students have lost ground, according to HISD, and those educators' jobs could be on the line if they don't improve. HISD Superintendent Terry Grier is asking the school board to give final approval today to a policy that would allow the district to fire teachers whose students don't make enough progress on standardized tests. Opposed to the move, the Houston Federation of Teachers is trying to rally 1,000 educators to protest at the board meeting, though union president Gayle Fallon acknowledges the policy likely will pass. Trustees voted 8-0, with one absent, to give their initial approval last month. With teachers on edge, Grier and board members have emphasized that the Houston Independent School District will provide training and mentoring to those who are struggling and will not oust them based solely on a year of bad test scores.

    15. United States.  Union Sock Puppets Well Laundered.  EIA Intercepts Blog. February 0, 2010. Fox News has a story this morning about the elaborate web of funding behind, which includes most major American labor unions. In the 2008 election cycle, NEA dropped $260,000 on one of the many front groups operated by Craig Varoga and George Rakis, two men Fox News identifies as “Democratic Party strategists.”

    16. United States.  Investing in Improvement: Strategy and Resource Allocation in Public School Districts. Harvard Business School. February 10, 2010. By Stacey Childress. This working paper offers concrete examples of improved productivity and efficiencies at the district level, drawing from the author's experience working with districts and developing such case studies for Harvard Business School. Childress makes the point that given the rarity of the strategic approaches to resource allocation, district leaders need more guidance and tools to help them make better decisions and manage the consequences, particularly when they are under enormous fiscal pressure.

    17. California.  L.A. Unified plans to fire more non-tenured teachers than usual.  LA Times. February 10, 2010. By Jason Song. Those targeted represent nearly 6% of all probationary instructors in the nation's second-largest school district. A Times report last year found that fewer than 2% of such teachers were let go. The move comes after The Times reported in December that the Los Angeles Unified School District often grants teachers permanent status with little or no evaluation. About a week after the newspaper informed district officials of its findings, Supt. Ramon C. Cortines ordered that teachers, especially probationary ones, be more closely scrutinized.,0,5610894.story

    18. Alberta.  Education escapes major cuts in Alberta budget. Calgary Herald. February 10, 2010. By Sarah McGinnis, Calgary Herald
    CALGARY - After a year where school boards had to give back $44 million to the province, education appears to have escaped drastic cuts in Tuesday’s provincial budget. But school boards facing mandated teacher raises and cramped classrooms must find a way to cope with flat-lined student grant rates, and the prospect of no more new school announcements for the foreseeable future

    19. United States.  Ringing the Bell for K-12: Teacher Tenure Reform.  Center for American Progress. February 9, 2010. By Patrick McGuinn, Drew University and Institute for Advanced Study.  This report seeks to begin to fill the void in the scholarly literature and direct researchers to fruitful lines of future investigation. It will provide an overview and history of teacher tenure; analyze the nature of current and past teacher tenure reform proposals and their variation across states; offer a brief assessment of the reforms where they have been enacted; and highlight recommendations for policymakers going forward.

    20. Texas.  Districts consider ending salary perk for teachers. Houston Chronicle. February 9, 2010. By ERICKA MELLON. Houston-area school districts spend tens of millions of dollars a year on teachers with advanced degrees that studies show don't produce better student achievement. But with money tight, a handful of districts are considering ditching the traditional salary bump for teachers with master's degrees in favor of pay based more on student learning. . . HISD estimates that the extra payout for teachers with a master's or a doctorate is costing taxpayers about $7.8 million this school year. Grier suggested that the money might be better spent to pay teachers more for taking on leadership roles or to bolster the district's bonus plan tied to student test scores.

    21. United States.  States Rethink Policies on National-Board Teachers. Education Week. February 9, 2010. By Stephen Sawchuk. Since the nation plunged into economic turmoil, a handful of states have scaled back pay bonuses and subsidies for teachers who earn certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. But factors other than the economy have also played into the cuts, too. Officials in Georgia, for instance, contend that the state wants to turn its teacher-quality focus toward output-based measures of teacher effectiveness, rather than credentials.

    22. Utah.  Utah Legislature: Testing teachers — Educators could soon receive pay based on student test scores.  Desert News. February 8, 2010. By Amy K. Stewart. SALT LAKE CITY — Whether teachers should earn their paychecks based on student test scores, popularity or their college degree and years of experience is drawing heated debate between lawmakers and educators. Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, is proposing a resolution that recommends guidelines for teacher performance pay plans.
    "I want to ensure a quality teacher in every classroom," she said. Currently teachers are paid based on academic degrees, certification and years in the profession. Poulson, a former English teacher, says while experience should be rewarded, performance is also important.

    23. Saskatchewan.  First Nations University set to close after losing federal funding.  Globe and Mail. February 8, 2010. By Patrick White and Elizabeth Church. Canada's only aboriginal-run university has been run into the ground. Once considered “a beacon” for aboriginal education worldwide, the Regina-based First Nations University of Canada likely will close next month after Ottawa announced it would follow the province's lead and cut funding to the renowned school.

    23A. Saskatchewan.  SK government should restore FNUniv funds: teachers. Leader-Post. February 8, 2010. ByJason Warick, Saskatchewan News Network.  The provincial government must reverse its decision to cut millions of dollars in funding to First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) now that long overdue reforms are underway, says the head of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). "The province has accomplished its goal," said CAUT executive director James Turk. "It would be destructive not to restore funding."

    24. Pennsylvania.  Pa. bill would expand overhaul of schools. Inquirer. February 8, 2010. By Dan Hardy. Low-achieving schools could be turned into charter schools or handed over to outside management. Underperforming charters could be closed. Elected boards would be replaced by appointed ones in failing districts. Hundreds of Pennsylvania's public schools could be affected by these measures if legislation introduced last month by State Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola (R., Dauphin) is enacted.

    25. Missouri.  St. Louis union runs into tough negotiations — with another union. St Louis Dispatch. February 7, 2010. By Bill McClellan
    I met with a couple of union officials the other day and heard the kind of sad song you hear from union officials in tough economic times. The officials were trying to negotiate a new contract with a company and were having no luck. The company was showing no flexibility at all. The company was pleading poverty. The officials had a lot of questions about that. But the final straw, and the reason the union officials called me, was that the company had just laid off some of the union workers. The interesting thing about this situation is that the company isn't really a company. It's another union. It's the St. Louis Teachers Union, Local 420 of the American Federation of Teachers.

    See also #27 below.

    26. Colorado.  DPS tackling forced placement of teachers. Denver Times. February 5, 2010. By Nancy Mitchell. Denver Superintendent Tom Boasberg told principals Friday that he is limiting the “forced placement” of teachers in the district’s lowest-performing and highest-poverty schools. Boasberg, in an email to principals Friday afternoon, said “it is our intention” not to place any unassigned teachers at year’s end into schools now on probation under the district’s school rating system. He also said DPS “will seek to limit forced placements” in the district’s poorest schools, or those receiving Title 1 federal grant money based on student poverty rates.

    27. Missouri.  SNEA wins local union battle. News-Leader. February 5, 2010. By Cory de Vera. Teachers in Springfield Public Schools voted on Thursday to be represented by the Springfield National Education Association over the Missouri State Teachers Association -- by a vote of 521 to 383.  Ray Smith, president of SNEA, said that after months of trying to have an election, these results are a big deal to teachers. "They were given a chance to vote, and through the democratic process, they made a clear choice," he said. "We want to make it clear, we aren't going to try to shut (MSTA members) out or penalize them, or anything. We want to represent all teachers. We want to show them -- and those that didn't vote -- that we've got their best interest in mind. We'll try to do our best to represent them all, regardless of what their affiliation is."

    28. United States. With Federal Stimulus Money Gone, Many Schools Face Budget Gaps. NY Times. February 7, 2010. By SAM DILLON.  Federal stimulus money has helped avoid drastic cuts at public schools in most parts of the nation, at least so far. But with the federal money running out, many of the nation’s schools are approaching what officials are calling a “funding cliff.” President Obama with students last month in Falls Church, Va. Many schools will deplete their stimulus money in this term. Congress included about $100 billion for education in the stimulus law last year to cushion the recession’s impact on schools and to help fuel an economic recovery. New studies show that many states will spend all or nearly all that is left between now and the end of this school term.

    29. United States.  Valuing Good Teaching. The Quick & the Ed Blog. February 7, 2010. Research has shown time and again that experience matters in good teaching. What it hasn’t shown is that every experience matters equally. In fact, a teacher’s first few years on the job are by far the most important, and it has been demonstrated repeatedly that the vast majority of teaching improvement comes in the first few years on the job. Unfortunately, districts have yet to utilize this research in any way. Instead, they set arbitrary teacher salary schedules that are based purely on a teacher’s years of experience and education credentials. They mostly do not reflect actual teacher performance year-to-year, but they don’t even take into consideration the career paths of the typical teacher.

    30. Rhode Island. Can an interview determine if a teacher will be good?  Providence Journal. February 7, 2010. By Julia Steiny. Since 1994, trainers at the Haberman Educational Foundation in Houston have been teaching the fine art of interviewing prospective teachers to more than 300 schools and districts. Martin Haberman’s half-century of research in the field of teacher training has concluded that beyond content background, two things stand out as key characteristics of good teachers: certain core beliefs, and the ability to persist in the face of student resistance. . . In July 2010 the new Basic Education Plan (BEP) requires schools to hire staff only according to the best interests of children and educational quality. The BEP is law.

    31. Wisconsin.  Districts turn to arbitration to settle teacher contracts. Journal Sentinel. February 6, 2010.By Amy Hetzner. In an action that's likely to be repeated across the state, the West Bend School District is preparing to take contract negotiations with its teachers to arbitration, potentially among the first districts to do so since the Legislature removed teacher salary controls that held sway in Wisconsin for 16 years. District negotiators and representatives for the West Bend Education Association have their first mediation session scheduled for next week, the first step they need to take before they can proceed to binding arbitration. Administrators say they would prefer being able to resolve their issues with the teachers union by settling a contract through the mediation process. But they also say they are willing to go to arbitration if needed. "We're not afraid of it," said Bill Bracken, labor relations coordinator for Davis & Kuelthau, which is representing the school district.

    32. Michigan.  Editorial: Michigan needs to change tenure rules to remove ineffective teachers. The Grand Rapids Press. February 06, 2010. Michigan students deserve the best teachers, not rules preventing bad ones from being removed. Michigan has unfinished business when it comes to improving education. It’s time for the Legislature to tackle the big one: teacher tenure. The state’s teacher unions for decades have prevented change, including last year. But 2010 can and should be the time for reform. Laws must be changed so that good teachers are encouraged, supported and respected. And roadblocks to removing ineffective teachers must be dismantled.

    33. Maryland.  In Montgomery County, the teachers union and its toxic influence. Washington Post. February 5, 2010.MOST CANDIDATES for local office in Montgomery County covet the endorsement of the county teachers union more than any other, and all of them know the drill: Appear at union events, fill out the union questionnaire, submit to the union interview. The union, representing 11,000 teachers, helpfully provides a road map to candidates seeking its blessing, including 11 criteria spelled out in painstaking detail online. Just one thing is missing from this handy guide: Candidates who receive the union's stamp of approval are also then expected to pay.

    34. United States.  Are the Right People Becoming Teachers? The Implications of Teacher Surveys?  Education News. February 5, 2010. By Martin Haberman. The criteria for deciding whether a job of work is a profession are not all met by every profession, however, most of them must be operative before the term "profession" can be applied to a particular job. . . Can a system that selects and certifies such people then declares itself a profession without meeting any criteria of what constitutes professional service be given any credibility?

    35. United States.  Stimulus Reflects Push for Teacher Effectiveness. Education Week. February 5, 2010. By Stephen Sawchuk. Almost since the day the No Child Left Behind Act became law eight years ago, teacher-quality advocates have complained about the insufficiency of its rules for staffing classrooms with “highly qualified” teachers. Formal qualifications, they pointed out, don’t necessarily make for effective, engaging teachers. But the focus began to shift when President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which, in the course of pouring historic levels of new aid into education, also addressed the complex and politically fraught issue of teacher effectiveness.

    36. United States.   Beyond Teacher Reassignments: Better Ways Districts Can Remedy Salary Inequities Across Schools. Center on Reinventing Public Education. By Marguerite Roza and Sarah Yatsko. February 4, 2010. There are other ways to restructure equitable financial allocations across schools than mandatory reassignment of teachers.  They include applying teacher salary bonuses; varying class size; concentrating specialist & support staff in high-needs schools; and equilizing per=pupil dollar allocations.

    37. Ohio.  OSU's President Gordon Gee challenging faculty tenure at nation's biggest campus. The Plain Dealer. February 4, 2010. By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, Associated Press Writer. COLUMBUS, Ohio - The leader of the country's largest university thinks it's time to re-examine how professors are awarded tenure, a type of job-for-life protection virtually unknown outside academia. Ohio State University President Gordon Gee says the traditional formula that rewards publishing in scholarly journals over excellence in teaching and other contributions is outdated and too often favors the quantity of a professor's output over quality.

  • 05 Feb 2010 11:54 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    1. Pennsylvania.  Penn Hills school district strike looms, classes canceled. The Tribune Democrat. February 4, 2010. By the Associated Press. PENN HILLS One of the Pittsburgh area’s largest school districts has canceled classes for Thursday and Friday due to a threatened strike by more than 400 teachers. A walkout by teachers in the Penn Hills School District would affect 5,000 to 6,000 students. The Penn Hills Education Association says the school board is seeking a wage freeze and higher teacher contributions for health insurance. The board says the district can’t afford more and is trying to avoid raising taxes.

    See also #13 below.

    2. New York.  Teacher pension fund lost $9 billion last year while costs rose.  GothamSchools. February 4, 2010. By Kim Gittleson. In Albany this week, UFT President Michael Mulgrew floated a plan to save the city money by letting teachers retire earlier. But a new report on the health of the city’s teachers pension fund suggests that Mulgrew’s proposal would only compound the fund’s potentially crippling budget crunch. The fund’s annual report, released last week, shows that it lost 29 percent of its value, more than $9 billion, last school year, even as the portion the city is required to pay reached unprecedented heights. The mix of rising costs and declining value raises serious questions about how the city will be able to afford to pay the pensions it has promised in the future without major concessions by the teachers union. The fund, called the Teachers Retirement System (TRS), is a collection of investments paid for with a combination of taxpayer dollars and teacher salaries. Every year a chunk of it is used to pay retired teachers and principals the pensions state law says they are owed.

    3. Massachuetts.  Unions balk at school aid program. Boston Globe. February 4, 2010. By Robert Knox. The unions say participation in the program, Race to the Top, would have unfairly tied their jobs to student test scores. School districts in Brockton, Marshfield, Plymouth, Randolph, and several other communities south of Boston are among the 256 statewide that can look forward to the prospect of funding for new educational services next year. With the federal program structured to give more money to school systems serving greater numbers of lower-income households, Brockton is eligible for an estimated $2.6 million, Plymouth for $440,000, Randolph for $315,000, and Marshfield for $182,000. But school systems in Braintree, Dedham, Quincy, and Weymouth, among others, are excluded from the funds because they failed to gain union leaders’ signatures on their applications.

    4. Nevada.  Budget crunch puts shorter school year, teacher pay cuts on table. Las Vegas Sun.  February 4, 2010. By Emily Richmond. Shortening the school year, cutting teacher pay and delaying textbook purchases were among the options floated at today’s meeting of the Interim Finance Committee, which met to review a potential $167 million hole in the state’s budget for K-12 education. Gov. Jim Gibbons is calling for a 10 percent cut to K-12 education over the remainder of the biennium.  . . State law requires the public school year to be 180 days, up to five of which can be used for professional development. For each school day that is cut, the state would save $13 million in employee salaries and benefits, Wells said.

    5. United States. How Unions Work. Atlantic Wire. February 4, 2010. By Megan McArdle. In a valiant attempt to defuse the ideological conflicts between the reformist and traditionalist wings of the liberal education wonketariat [on teacher compensation and performance pay] , Matthew Yglesias argues that this disagreement is not not ideological at all.  Rather, it is an artifact of past decisions about educational structure: . . . Unions are set up to minimize frictions and maximize benefits for the bottom 55%.  That's how they work everywhere--in schools, and out.  That's how they have to work.  No amount of cajoling, no number of white papers, is going to change that.

    6. United States.  Public Health Tab to Hit Milestone. Wall Street Journal. February 4, 2010. By PETER LANDERS. For the first time, government programs next year will account for more than half of all U.S. health-care spending, federal actuaries predict, as the weak economy sends more people into Medicaid and slows growth of private insurance. The figures show how federal and state spending is taking a bigger role while Congress hesitates over a health-care overhaul. Over the next ten years, health spending is expected to balloon to $4.5 trillion. Despite this, the government's health overhaul has stalled, Peter Landers reports. . . Government health programs are a growing burden on the federal budget, which is running annual deficits of more than $1 trillion, and rising health costs continue to batter private industry. By 2020, according to the new projections, about one in five dollars spent in the U.S. will go to health care, a proportion far beyond any other industrialized nation.

    7. Massachuetts.  Postdocs Unionize at UMass.  Inside HigherEd. February 4, 2010. A majority of the postdoctoral researchers at the the University of Massachusetts campuses at Amherst, Boston and Dartmouth have signed cards seeking union representation -- and by doing so they have triggered the right for their union to engage in collective bargaining. The new union is affiliated with the United Auto Workers. The UMass unit is the first to represent postdocs in Massachusetts.

    8. Alberta.  Arbitrator gives teachers 5.99% pay raise. CBC News. February 3, 2010. Alberta's 43,000 teachers are getting an 5.99 per cent salary raise following a decision by an independent arbitrator released Wednesday. The decision settles a dispute between the province and the Alberta Teachers Association over the Alberta Average Weekly Average Earnings index used to calculate pay raises under the teachers' five-year contract. "Both the ATA and the government agreed to the arbitration and the result was a fair process determined by a neutral party so we're very pleased," said ATA president Carol Henderson. "What it mostly did was resolve the uncertainty surrounding teacher salary increases for 2009/2010."

    See also: School boards expect government to fund 5.99 per cent wage increase – as promised by Premier Stelmach. Alberta School Boards Association.


    9. Florida.  Measure to weaken Florida class size llimits draws fire. Sun Sentinel. February 3, 2010. Tallahassee - (AP) -- A newly filed ballot proposal to weaken Florida's class size limits drew immediate opposition Tuesday from the statewide teachers union and U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, who led a 2002 campaign that put the requirements in the state constitution. Sen. Don Gaetz and Rep. Will Weatherford said the new constitutional amendment (SJR 2) they are sponsoring is needed to avoid chaos and save millions that could go, instead, for such purposes as teacher pay raises. Gaetz, R-Niceville, and Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said they are trying to "right size class size" without repealing a constitutional amendment designed to reduce the number of students in K-12 classrooms.,0,2048991.story

    See also: Do-over on class size proposed. Tallahassee Democrat.  February 3, 2010.

    10. Ontario.  College teachers to vote on contract Feb. 10.  Toronto Star. February 3, 2010. By The Canadian Press. Ontario’s 9,000 community college teachers will vote on a so-called final contract offer Feb. 10, and the union has moved its strike deadline as a result. The deadline had been Feb. 11, but union negotiator Ted Montgomery says it has been moved to Feb. 17 to allow for more talks should the offer be voted down. The Ontario Labour Relations Board will oversee the vote by college faculty on the proposed contract, which was rejected by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. Dr. Rachael Donovan, chair of the colleges’ bargaining team, calls it “a fair and reasonable offer” that includes a 5.9 per cent wage hike over three years. The deal would raise the maximum pay for college teachers to $102,186 by September 2011.

    11. California.   Education Mandates: Overhauling a Broken System. California Legislative Analyst's Office. February 2, 2010. California has an elaborate system for identifying mandates and reimbursing local government agencies, including school districts and community colleges, for performing related activities. Currently, the state has more than 50 education mandates, with each mandate requiring school districts and/or community colleges to perform as many as a dozen specific activities. . . California’s process for identifying mandates creates major problems for schools, community colleges, and the state. . . In this report, we present a comprehensive K–14 mandate reform package. As a general principle, we think the state should not mandate an activity unless it is of fundamental importance to the education system.

    12. New York.  Teachers’ Union and City Drift Apart.  NY Times. February 2, 2010. By JENNIFER MEDINA. It seemed a fairly straightforward request: a principal asked teachers to outline their goals for students as part of a school plan. But for the United Federation of Teachers, the request for written student goals amounted to an increase in the workday. So last April, the union filed an official grievance, claiming that the Education Department had “refused and/or failed to provide sufficient time during the workday for U.F.T.-represented teachers to perform the goal setting.”

    13. Pennsylvania.  Penn Hills teachers to strike Thursday. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. February 02, 2010. By Deborah M. Todd. Months of contract negotiations came to an abrupt halt Monday with the Penn Hills Education Association's announcement that its teachers will strike on Thursday. The association, whose teachers have been working without a contract since Aug. 31, notified Penn Hills superintendent Joseph W. Carroll of its intent to strike Monday morning. The district released a statement on its website later that day announcing school closings on Thursday and Friday and rebuking the association's contractual demands.

    14. Nevada.  Higher education faces greatest financial state of emergency in decades. Las Vegas Sun. February 2, 2010. By Emily Richmond. For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Board of Regents today will consider declaring a financial emergency that could lead to pay reductions, furloughs and layoffs of faculty and staff. The extent of budget cuts won’t be known until the Legislature’s special session, but the Nevada System of Higher Education is bracing for reductions of at least 20 percent, on top of the deep reductions that have already taken place.

    15. Ontario.  College teachers set strike deadline. But they hope arbitrator can impose labour peace. Toronto Star. February 2, 2010. By Louise Brown. In labour terms, it's a pulled punch. The teachers' union set a strike deadline of Feb. 11 at Ontario community colleges, then promptly asked the colleges to hand the contract standoff to an arbitrator. With only 57 per cent of members voting for a strike, the Ontario Public Service Employees' Union admitted Monday that teachers would prefer to negotiate a deal or leave it to binding arbitration instead of hitting the bricks. "Sure, strikes are a part of hammering out labour relations disputes and the union will go that way if we are forced to," said chief negotiator Ted Montgomery, acting for about 9,000 full- and half-time faculty at the 24 schools.

    16. United States. NEA's New Math Miscues. EIA Communique. February 1, 2010. Last Friday, NEA heralded the release of its annual Rankings & Estimates report by sending out a press release (embargoed until today) that claimed "inflation over the past decade has outpaced teachers' salaries in every single state across the country." This didn't sound right to researcher Jay P. Greene, so he scrutinized the report and couldn't find a single statistic to back up this claim. On the contrary, NEA's numbers revealed that teachers' salaries had increased 3.4 percent over the past decade, after adjusting for inflation.

    17. United States.  Obama to Seek Sweeping Change in ‘No Child’ Law. NY Times. February 1, 2010. By SAM DILLON. The Obama administration is proposing a sweeping overhaul of President Bush’s signature education law, No Child Left Behind, and will call for broad changes in how schools are judged to be succeeding or failing, as well as for the elimination of the law’s 2014 deadline for bringing every American child to academic proficiency.  Educators who have been briefed by administration officials said the proposals for changes in the main law governing the federal role in public schools would eliminate or rework many of the provisions that teachers’ unions, associations of principals, school boards and other groups have found most objectionable.

    18. New York.   Union officials are disturbingly inflexible toward charter schools.  Editorial, Washington Post. February 1, 2010. IT IS HARD to square the words of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten with the actions of many of her union's officials. Even as Ms. Weingarten issues stirring calls for new ways of thinking, labor leaders in places such as New York use their political muscle to block important reforms. Perhaps they don't think that she means business, or maybe they don't care; either way, it is the interests of students that are being harmed. . . What's most discouraging is what the actions say about the willingness of teachers unions to embrace change. . . But statesmanlike words mean little if not matched by action in the trenches.

    19. Florida.  Teachers reject one-time bonus in Palm Beach County. Sun Sentinel. February 1, 2010. By Marc Freeman. Offered a $500 bonus for each teacher instead of a raise, Palm Beach County's teachers union on Monday refused the money and insisted the school district could and should do much better. "Morale sinks every day as the workload continues to increase," Classroom Teachers Association President Robert Dow, who is hospitalized with leukemia, wrote in an e-mail. "Why didn't they just offer us a turkey and a bag of yams?" Teachers, like all district employees, have been working with their pay frozen at 2008 levels. Administrators last year ruled out raises due to a $1.4 billion operating budget that's 6.2 percent smaller than the year before because of cuts.,0,1666081.story

    See also: Clash over Palm Beach County teacher salaries. Sun Sentinel.  February 2, 2010. By Marc Freeman. [district rebuttal informaton].

    20. Pennsylvania.  Tax crisis looms as spending rises despite drops in school enrollment. Pocono Record. January 31, 2010. By Dan Berrett. The era of swelling student enrollment in Pocono schools has officially ended. But its twin phenomenon — spiralling taxes — is still very much alive. A Pocono Record analysis of five years of enrollment trends and school budgets reveals a seemingly counterintuitive trend, one in which declining numbers of students has had little impact on the cost to educate them.The Record has discovered that since the 2004-05 school year: The number of students in Monroe County schools fell by 5 percent, or by more than 1,500 students. At the same time, spending in the four local districts — East Stroudsburg, Pleasant Valley, Pocono Mountain and Stroudsburg — increased 45 percent, or $150 million, pushing budgets to a combined half-billion dollars.

    21. California.  See how well your school district pays its teachers. The Sacramento Bee. January 20, 2010. By Phillip Reese. The average teacher salary last year was $66,995, an increase of 1.8 percent from 2008, according to new state figures. Districts laying off less-experienced, lower-paid teachers accounted for almost all of that increase -- cumulative school payroll in California was flat from 2008 to 2009. Teacher pay varies widely by district. Updated: 1/19/10 ... Choose a region and county to see average teacher pay ...

    22. Minnesota.  Minnesota teacher pay raises small ... and still controversial.  Pioneer Press. January 25, 2010. By Megan Boldt. As school districts across Minnesota scrambled this month to approve new two-year teacher contracts, teachers ended up with their smallest pay raises in years. But maybe not small enough. Cost-of-living raises averaged less than 1 percent, but many districts will shell out millions to cover seniority raises promised in years past and rising health insurance costs. And that has irked some lawmakers who have tried to hold education harmless despite mounting state budget deficits. When the legislative session begins in February, they have to figure out how to erase a projected $1.2 billion shortfall over the next 18 months. [Includes list f pay raises for east metro districts].

  • 29 Jan 2010 12:23 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    1. New York.  Teacher's Union Grievance Not Protected Speech, Court Rules.  SchoolLaw Blog. By Mark Walsh on January 28, 2010 5:45 PM | No Comments | No TrackBacks. A New York City teacher's grievance to his union complaining that school administrators failed to discipline a student who threw books at him was not protected speech under the First Amendment, a federal appeals court has ruled. Thus, the teacher's lawsuit alleging retaliation, and ultimately, discharge, for his complaints was properly dismissed by a lower federal court, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, in New York City, ruled 2-1.

    2. California.  Teachers pension fund is $43 billion short.  LA Times. January 28.2010.  By Marc Lifsher. The California State Teachers' Retirement System says that as of June 30, 2009, it could meet only an estimated 77% of its future pension obligations -- far less than the 100% recommended by actuaries. Reporting from Sacramento - Another pension alarm bell is ringing in Sacramento, this time at the teachers retirement system, where the nation's second-largest public pension fund is reporting a $43-billion shortfall. The California State Teachers' Retirement System said that as of June 30, 2009, it could meet only an estimated 77% of its future pension obligations -- far less than the 100% recommended by actuaries.,0,3450379.story

    3. United States.  AP Exclusive: Report: States' policies protect ineffective teachers, shortchanging students. LA Times. January 28, 2010. By DORIE TURNER, Associated Press Writer. ATLANTA (AP) — Most states are holding tight to policies that protect incompetent teachers and poor training programs, shortchanging educators and their students before new teachers even step into the classroom, according to a new national report card. The study from the National Council on Teacher Quality — which will be released Friday — paints a grim picture of how states handle everything from pay to discipline for public school teachers. States are using "broken, outdated and inflexible" policies that ultimately hurt how children learn, according to the report. In fact, even the top scoring state, Florida, received a C, with most states getting Ds or Fs. A handful of states — including Georgia, Texas and Louisiana — got a C-minus.,0,1190558.story

    3a. United States.  2009 Policy Yearbook. National Council on Teacher Quality. January 28, 2010.  Primary findings: 1.Taken as a whole, state teacher policies are broken, outdated and inflexible.2.Evaluation and tenure policies do not consider what should count the most about teacher performance: classroom effectiveness.3.States are complicit in keeping ineffective teachers in the classroom.4.Few states' alternate routes to certification provide a genuine alternative pathway into the teaching profession.5.States' requirements for elementary teacher preparation ill equip teachers of the youngest students to teach the basic building blocks of all learning: reading and mathematics.6.States' requirements for middle school teachers do not prepare these teachers to transition students to more advanced secondary-level content.7.States' requirements for the preparation of special education teachers are one of the most neglected and dysfunctional areas of teacher policy.8.States fail to exercise appropriate oversight of their teacher preparation programs.9.States cling to outmoded compensation structures, providing few financial incentives to retain effective teachers.10.State pension systems are not flexible or fair, and many are in questionable financial health.

    4. United States.  Experts Say a Rewrite of Nation’s Main Education Law Will Be Hard This Year. NY Times. January 28, 2010. By SAM DILLON. In his State of the Union address, President Obama held out the hope of overhauling the main law outlining the federal role in public schools, a sprawling 45-year-old statute that dates to the Johnson administration. But experts say it would be a heavy lift for the administration to get the job done this year because the law has produced so much discord, there is so little time and there are so many competing priorities.

    5. United States.  New Perspectives in Negotiation: A Therapeutic Jurisprudence Approach.  Harvard Negotiation Law review. By Andrew F. Amendola.  January 27, 2010.  The field of law is experiencing a gradual evolutionary movement, as practitioners eschew the traditional adversarial approach in favor of cooperative methods which produce more beneficial, integrative outcomes. . . The emerging styles in negotiation, and the practice of law generally, may be viewed as an evolution toward a more therapeutic process for the parties involved.  A Therapeutic Jurisprudence approach which takes into consideration clients’ interests, needs, and concerns, coupled with a dedication to problem-solving, professionalism, and civility, increases the probability of success in negotiations: “[w]hen lawyers are able to maximize their problem-solving skills balancing assertiveness and empathy, they are more effective on behalf of their clients.”

    6. United States.  Teachers Union Spending Spree. American Spectator. January 28, 2010. By RiShawn Biddle. For President Barack Obama, Scott Brown's victory over Martha Coakley in the U.S. Senate special election could at the very least lead to a drastically scaled-down version of his healthcare reform plan. But for the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and suburban school districts, it may mean at least $27 billion and perhaps, even more. . .  Keeping the NEA and AFT happy is merely a small price for staying in power -- and one that the taxpayers (and children) will be paying in their stead.

    7. United States.  Obama starts rewriting No Child Left Behind.  Education January 28, 2010. By Nick Anderson. The Obama administration launched an effort Wednesday to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law, with a proposed increase in federal spending, a pledge to make the Bush-era school reform program more flexible and an appeal to Republicans for bipartisan cooperation. To grease the legislative wheels, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, the administration will reserve $1 billion to fund programs that may emerge through a revision of the 2002 law. In addition, he said, President Obama is proposing to raise elementary and secondary education spending by $3 billion in the fiscal year that begins in October.

    8. Texas.  HISD to pay out more than $40 million in bonuses. Houston Chronicle. January 27, 2010. By ERICKA MELLON. The Houston Independent School District will pay more than $40 million in performance bonuses today, rewarding teachers and other staff whose students made the biggest academic gains. Almost 90 percent of the eligible employees earned a bonus, ranging from $25 to nearly $25,000. Teachers earned an average of $3,606, while principals pocketed almost twice that. Executive principals and regional superintendents received $16,157 on average.

    List of HISD bonus amounts and salaries by name:

    9. New York.  Mayor Says Teachers Must Take Smaller Raise in Next Contract or 2,500 Jobs Will Be Cut. NY Times. January 27, 2010. By DAVID W. CHEN. Breaking a long-established pattern in labor negotiations, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg plans to demand that city teachers agree to a significantly smaller raise in their next contract or face the prospect of 2,500 job cuts. The threat, which the teachers’ union immediately called unacceptable, promises to be one of the most contentious elements of Mr. Bloomberg’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The mayor is scheduled to deliver his budget address on Thursday, but his office released a few details on Wednesday night.The teachers are in the middle of contract negotiations. Over the last eight years, they have received a cumulative wage increase of 43 percent.

    10. Michigan. Court rules union emails are not public records.  January 26, 2010.  The court concluded that a mere violation of an acceptable use policy barring personal use of the email system—at least one that does not expressly provide that emails are subject to FOIA—does not render personal emails public records subject to FOIA.

    11. United States.  Survey Findings: The Great Recession and the State and Local Government Workforce. January 2010. A new Center survey of state and local human resource professionals finds that hiring freezes, pay freezes, layoffs, and furloughs top the list of ways that local and state governments are cutting costs, but they may not always result in savings. At the same time, survey respondents said they are struggling to fill certain critical positions.

    12. United States.  What Really Motivates Workers.  Harvard Business Review. The HBR List: Breakthrough Ideas for 2010.  Jan.-Feb. 2010. By Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer. Having just completed a multiyear study tracking the day-to-day activities, emotions, and motivation levels of hundreds of knowledge workers in a wide variety of settings, we now know what the top motivator of performance is—and, amazingly, it’s the factor those survey participants ranked dead last. It’s progress. On days when workers have the sense they’re making headway in their jobs, or when they receive support that helps them overcome obstacles, their emotions are most positive and their drive to succeed is at its peak. On days when they feel they are spinning their wheels or encountering roadblocks to meaningful accomplishment, their moods and motivation are lowest.

    13. United States.  THE EFFECT OF EMPLOYMENT PROTECTION ON WORKER EFFORT: EVIDENCE FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLING. NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH.  January 2010. By Brian A. Jacob. Working Paper 15655. In 2004, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) signed a new collective bargaining agreement that gave principals the flexibility to dismiss probationary teachers (defined as those with less than five years of experience) for any reason, and without the elaborate documentation and hearing process typical in many large, urban school districts. Results suggest that the policy reduced annual teacher absences by roughly 10 percent and reduced the prevalence of teachers with 15 or more annual absences by 20 percent. The effects were strongest among teachers in elementary schools and in low-achieving, predominantly African-American high chools, and among teachers with highpredicted absences. There is also evidence that the impact of the policy increased substantially after its first year.

    14. Oregon.  Position Opening: Director of Labor Relations. Portland Public Schools. Under the direction of the Executive Director of Human Resources, the Director of Labor Relations advances employment relations policies and practices that maximize Portland School District resources, supports productive relationships with employees and their representative labor organizations, and promotes improved educational opportunities and achievement for Portland's student population. The ideal candidate will be a strategic thinker who can provide strong leadership to the District's collective bargaining process. The successful candidate will have a collaborative style that fosters teamwork within and across departments. This highly confident and polished individual will be a skilled negotiator, have excellent written and oral communication skills, strong interpersonal skills, and outstanding analytical skills. He or she will also have a passion for the mission of public education and Portland Public Schools. $89,434-$112,431.

    15. Ontario.  Teachers say they have too much work to do: Report.  Toronto Sun. January 26, 2010. By SHARON LEM, Toronto Sun. Toronto elementary teachers say they’re overworked, bogged down by administrative matters and unrealistic curriculum requirements, which hinder their ability to teach. A 44-page report released by the Elementary Teachers of Toronto interviewed 81 elementary school teachers — which wasn’t intended to produce a shopping list of complaints — offers an inside look from the viewpoint of a teacher all in the name of creating a positive learning environment for students. “We wanted to give a voice to our classroom teachers and see what they have to say,” said Martin Long, president of the 11,000-strong Elementary Teachers of Toronto. The report found that while teachers are satisfied with the opportunity to work with children and colleagues in a positive, wider school community, and the salary and benefits of the job, there are a number of issues they’re not happy with.

    16. Nevada.  With state cuts, how long can teacher salaries be spared?  Las Vegas Sun. January 26, 2010. By Emily Richmond. Two years of steep budget cuts have left the salaries of Clark County School District teachers untouched. But the latest numbers from Carson City might bring that to an end. On Friday, the Economic Forum predicted that Nevada’s major tax revenue would fall $600 million below projections. The deficit swells to more than $800 million when guaranteed support for public schools is included. With personnel costs accounting for nearly 90 percent of the district’s $2.1 billion budget, Clark County Schools Superintendent Walt Rulffes said the next cuts would almost certainly come from employees’ paychecks. The district will be back at the negotiating table with teachers, administrators and support employees this summer.

    17. Florida.  Republicans want voters to reconsider smaller classes.  St. Petersurg Times. January 26, 2010. By Shannon Colavecchio and Jeffrey S. Solochek. TALLAHASSEE — Having already spent $16 billion to reduce class sizes — and facing a multibillion-dollar budget deficit — leading Republicans including Gov. Charlie Crist want voters to reconsider their 2002 vote in favor of smaller classes. Crist, who in the past has opposed tinkering with the class size amendment, on Monday said he now supports essentially freezing it where it is now — with mandated caps calculated as school-wide averages.

    18. United States.  Convergence and Contradictions: Teachers' Perceptions of Policy Reform.  Public Agenda. January 26, 2010.  The majority of teachers in this nationwide study agree on four possible ways to judge teacher performance: Nearly all teachers (92%) rated the level of student interest and engagement as an "excellent" or "good" indicator of teacher effectiveness. Teachers also gave excellent or good ratings to: how much their own students learn compared with other students (72%); There were also high ratings for feedback from principals and administrators (70%); and how well students perform on district's standardized tests (56%).  At the same time, fewer teachers (12%) gave standardized tests the top "excellent" rating than any of the other measures of effectiveness


    19. Iowa.  Iowa State Education Association Local Disaffiliates. EIA Commique. January 25, 2010. The Professional Educators of Twin Cedars voted to disaffiliate from the Iowa State Education Association, becoming the second independent bargaining unit in the state.

    20. Oregon.  Oregon Fails to Identify Largest "Out-of-State Contributor" to Tomorrow's Election. EIA Commique. January 25, 2010.  Tomorrow, Oregonians go to the polls to determine the fates of Measures 66 and 67; the first would increase the top income tax rate, the other would increase the corporate minimum tax. Media outlets have regularly identified the state's public employee unions as being the primary movers behind the Yes campaign. "The 48,000-member Oregon Education Association, the state's main teachers union, is the biggest single donor on either side, contributing more than $2 million to support Measures 66 and 67," reported Brent Walth of The Oregonian.

    21. United States.  Study Links Rise in Test Scores to Nations' Output. U.S. could see $41 trillion gain in GDP over 80 years, it projects.
    Education Week. January 25, 2010. By Erik W. Robelen. Washington. Relatively small improvements in the skills of a nation’s workforce can have a big effect on its future economic well-being, concludes a new international study that seeks to quantify those benefits. For the United States, the research suggests, modest gains in student achievement as measured by one international assessment could cumulatively boost the country’s gross domestic product by tens of trillions of dollars over the coming decades.

    OECD Report:

    22. Alabama.  State cuts teacher merit pay from federal fund application after AEA leader objects.  Press-Register. January 24, 2010. By Rena Havner Philips. Other states are promising sweeping reforms as they compete for a share of $4.35 billion worth of federal education dollars from a program known as Race to the Top. But Alabama's application for $181 million basically says that schools here would use the money to expand existing programs. More extensive reforms, including performance-based pay for teachers, were killed after Alabama Education Association leader Paul Hubbert wrote state Superintendent Joe Morton a letter on Jan. 5 opposing them.

    23. Oregon.  Oregon's rich getting richer and all others falling behind, wage study shows. Oregonian. January 24, 2010. By Jeff Manning. A new analysis of state wages shows that the gulf between Oregon's wealthy and everyone else continues to widen. Oregon's wealthiest are not only earning more, but the rate at which their incomes are growing far outstrips the middle class and the poor. . . Fiscal conservatives generally have dismissed concerns about income inequality as "class warfare." They argue that economic growth benefits rich and poor alike. But recently, there has been some recognition from the right that a struggling middle class and a dysfunctional underclass poses a threat to all.

    24. Iowa.  Ames teachers want to help deal with budget woes.  Ames Tribune. January 23, 2010. By Kathy Hanson. When negotiations for teacher contracts begin Monday, Ames teachers said they want to be part of the solution to the problem of the shrinking school budget.  The Ames Education Association’s chief negotiator, Aileen Sullivan, said, “We know (fiscal year 2010-11) is going to be a difficult year for the budget. We also know that neither side, the district nor the teachers, has caused this problem.” . . . “This year, we want to negotiate our impact on the budget,” she said. “We’re hoping at each point of the process, we can learn the names of the staff and the specific educational programs that could be affected by our offers. If we can keep staff intact, that’s what’s really important to us.”

    25. United States.  Most U.S. Union Members Are Working for the Government, New Data Shows.  NY Times. January 23, 2010. By STEVEN GREENHOUSE. For the first time in American history, a majority of union members are government workers rather than private-sector employees, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced on Friday. In its annual report on union membership, the bureau undercut the longstanding notion that union members are overwhelmingly blue-collar factory workers. It found that membership fell so fast in the private sector in 2009 that the 7.9 million unionized public-sector workers easily outnumbered those in the private sector, where labor’s ranks shrank to 7.4 million, from 8.2 million in 2008.

    BLS report:

    [NOTE: States with the highest unionzation rates were: New York (25.2%); Hawaii (23.5%); Alaska (22.3%); and Washington (20.2%). --RW]

    25a. See also: Vallejo Con Dios: Why Public Sector Unionism Is a Bad Deal for Taxpayers and Representative Government.  CATO Institute. September 2009. by Don Bellante, David Denholm, and Ivan Osorio. As keepers of the public purse, legislators and
    local council members have an obligation to protect taxpayers’ interests. By granting monopoly power to labor unions over the supply of government labor, elected officials undermine their duty to taxpayers, because this puts unions in a privileged position to extract political goods in the form of high pay and benefits that are much higher than anything comparable in the private sector. This paper shows how the unionization of government employees creates a powerful, permanent constituency for bigger government—
    one that is motivated, well-funded, and organized.

    26. Colorado. District walks the talk on performance pay.  Education News Colorado. January 22, 2010. Posted by Nancy Mitchell. COLORADO SPRINGS – In a little less than four years, Mike Miles has upended a district known mostly for poverty and poor performance and created a home for some of the state’s boldest education reforms. This week, even as critics lament the timidity of the state’s Race to the Top effort around teacher quality, Harrison School District 2 is preparing to launch a merit-pay plan that differs markedly from longer-running and better-known efforts in Denver and Douglas County.

    27. New York.  Depth of School Cuts Depends on Who Gets Them.  NY Times. January 22, 2010. By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE. ALBANY — When Gov. David A. Paterson proposed this week cutting more than $1 billion in school aid to help address the state’s financial crisis, the critics quickly pounced. Mr. Paterson’s cuts would cripple New York’s schools, they charged, hurt children and undermine the state’s economic recovery. Paterson Seeks Huge Cuts and $1 Billion in Taxes and Fees (January 20, 2010). “The governor’s proposal in essence pries open our schoolhouse doors and extracts every dollar from children’s education that Albany can put its hands on,” Billy Easton, the executive director for the Alliance for Quality Education, said in one widely quoted statement.

    28. Pennsylvania.  Compensation, Assignment Changes in Philly Contract. Teacher Beat. January 22, 2010. By Stephen Sawchuk. The Philadelphia teacher contract was approved. This Philadelphia Inquirer story covers the bread-and-butter issues. Of course, I'm more interested in what reform proposals are on the table. I don't have a full copy of the contract yet, but here are some details the district decided to highlight:

    [NOTE: Here is a link to the PFT tentative Agreement   --RW}

    29. Pennsylvania.  A+ Schools’ Tools, Rules and Schools Initiative Learning Policy Center Technical Report.  January 11, 2010. An analysis and recommendations the policies, practices and learning environment that influence where and how teachers are able to teach in the Pittsburgh Public schools.

    Executive Summary:

  • 22 Jan 2010 12:00 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    1.  Alberta.  Northern school board dismissed. CBC News. January 21, 2010. Education Minister Dave Hancock says he appointed an official trustee to the Northland School Division because the education of students is suffering. (CBC)Alberta's education minister has dismissed the 23-member board of the Northland School Division and appointed an official trustee over worries about student achievement results and staff turnover. The school division encompasses most of northern Alberta and provides education to 2,885 students in 23 schools.

    2. New York.  Point of View: What i[s] the Teacher Contract Dispute Really About?  Sag Harbor Express. January 21, 2010. By Susan Lamontagne. First there was a mediator, then a Fact Finder, and then a lawsuit. It seems as though nothing has been able to resolve the contract dispute between Sag Harbor’s teachers’ union and board of education. So what’s going on? As the parent of a first grader who has been thrilled with our teachers and who has a lot at stake in the future of our schools, I decided to find out. I brought together a small group of parents – independent from either side of the dispute – to learn more and find a resolution. We reviewed all the public documentation from both sides. We met with both sides. We asked questions and offered ideas: What if a group of parents recommend a compromise agreement? What if we mediate the dispute? What if we monitor the negotiations? Each time, the answer was no. So, why can’t the two sides come to an agreement? Here is what we learned from this process and a Freedom of Information request that I filed with the school:

    3. British Columbia.  Schools say they need $300 million more to maintain same level of service. Vancouver Sun. By Janet Steffenhagen.  The provincial government will have to find almost $300 million more for education next year if it wants to maintain the same level of service offered in B.C. public schools this year, according to school district secretary-treasurers. Many of the additional costs arise from government decisions and are therefore unavoidable, such as the negotiated two-per-cent salary increase for teachers as of July 1 that will cost districts a total of $43.5 million during the 2010-11 school year and higher medical services plan (MSP) premiums worth $2.8 million. While school trustees won't know the size of their operating grants until mid-March, there isn't much hope they will total $300 million more than last year -- especially since government has promised an increase of only $37 million next year. That could go up -- or down -- when the Liberals table their next budget March 2

    4. Indiana.   Indiana bill threatens teacher raises. Courier-Journal. January 21, 2010. By Lesley Stedman Weidenbener. INDIANAPOLIS — Republicans in the Indiana Senate are trying to force teachers to forgo raises this year with a financial carrot meant to help schools weather a state funding cut. Senate Bill 309 lets schools transfer money from property tax accounts dedicated to transportation and capital projects to spend on school operations, which are otherwise funded by the state budget. But those transfers could only take place in districts that have paid no raises to teachers and staff for the 2010-2011 school year. The ban on raises also would apply to increases in benefits and to so-called step increases, which provide more money to teachers for each additional year of experience.

    5. Missouri.  Missouri budget shortfall could prompt school cuts. Washington Post. January 21, 2010. By DAVID A. LIEB, The Associated Press. JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri's public schools may be forced to freeze salaries, expand classes, cut extracurricular activities or seek local tax increases to cope with a funding shortfall, education advocates warned Thursday.  K-12 schools - though spared from cuts in their basic state aid - still might have to scale back because of Gov. Jay Nixon's plan to provide barely one-sixth of the funding increase needed to meet the state's financing formula, said Brent Ghan, a spokesman for the Missouri School Boards' Association. . . Until now, Missouri's 523 public school districts have weathered the state budget woes remarkably well - continuing to get the funding increases prescribed under a 2005 state law that was projected to add $800 million annually to schools when fully phased in over seven years.

    6. Michigan.  Union to DPS: Hear our plan. Detroit Free Press. January 21, 2010. BY NIRAJ WARIKOO. Saying it has ideas to help the district, a Detroit Public Schools union proposed a plan Wednesday that it believes could add $130 million to the bottom line over the next five years. Titled "A Stronger Detroit for Our Kids," the report was prepared by the Detroit Association of Educational Office Employees and presented during a meeting at Wayne County Community College in Detroit. It comes as DPS suffers from decreasing enrollment and financial challenges.

    7. United States.  Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Spending Limit. NY Times. January 21, 2010. By ADAM LIPTAK. WASHINGTON — Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.

    Supreme Court decision:

    7a. See also:  A New Era of Political Action By Unions and Employers? Workplace Prof Blog. January 21, 2010. With news that the Supreme Court has just struck down campaign spending bans on corporations (the holding stuck down a prohibition against firms airing their own campaign ads, but left in place a prohibition against direct contributions to a candidate), the next question is whether/when the same principle is applied to prohibitions against union spending.  I can't see any difference between the two and would expect courts to hold now that broad bans on union spending are also unconstitutional.  Unions obviously have to be careful not to use objectors' dues for political campaigns, but beyond that this appears to open the door significantly for both labor and management to influence the political process.

    8. United States.  Union's Man. Inside HigherEd. January 21, 2010. A University of Maryland professor has pulled his institution into a heated labor debate in California, prompting a rebuke from administrators and inviting questions about his own conflicts of interest.
    As a paid consultant for Service Employees International, the nation's fastest growing labor union, Fred Feinstein recently wrote a legal opinion suggesting that California health care workers could receive “less favorable” benefits if they left SEIU for another union. Feinstein penned his opinion on university letterhead, which was then photocopied and used by SEIU as campaign literature, urging workers to stay on as members.

    9. Maine.  Maine teachers to do more to save money. Boston Globe. January 20, 2010. PORTLAND, Maine—Teachers in the three high schools in Maine's largest city will be asked to teach more classes next year as a way to help make up a possible $7 million loss of state aid.Portland School Superintendent Jim Morse says all full-time teachers at Portland, Deering and Casco Bay high schools will be required to teach a minimum of six classes a day. Some teachers now have fewer than five classes because they have other duties such as teacher mentoring or professional development.

    10. United States.  How Union Status Affects Health Insurance Premiums. Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). January 20, 2010. A recent study by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) answers these and other questions
    about the relationship between union status and employment-based health benefits. Here are some of the results:

    11. United States.  RTTT: Half Of  24 States Post Applications Online [updated]. This Week in Education. January 20, 2010. By Alexander Russo. Here's an entirely unverified and completely ad hoc collection of the nearly 20 state RTTT applications that have been located online thanks to blog readers, Twitter friends, and education writers on the EWA listserv:

    12. United States.  States Change Laws in Hopes of Race to Top Edge. Education Week. January 20, 2010. By The Associated Press. States across the country rushed to pass legislation ahead of the Jan. 19 deadline for the first round of Race to the Top Fund applications in hopes of boosting their chances in the federal grant competition.
    But pressures from school boards and teachers’ unions, particularly with respect to charter schools, led legislators in some states to scrap measures that their governors said were necessary to earn points toward securing some of the $4 billion in federal economic-stimulus funds.

    13. United States.  Obama pushes $1.35-billion expansion of education plan.  LA Times. By Mark Silva. January 20, 2010. Reporting from Washington - President Obama, delivering a schoolhouse pitch for a $1.35-billion expansion of his signature education plan, promised Tuesday to "raise the bar" on what is expected of public school teachers and students. "Nothing will make as much of a difference as the way we educate our sons and daughters," Obama said after meeting with children at an elementary school in Falls Church, Va. "The countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, and I refuse to let that happen on my watch.",0,2002983.story

    14. Florida.  Hernando schools needs $4.5 million to meet class-size requirements this fall. St. Petersburg Times. January 20, 2010.  By Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writer. BROOKSVILLE — Florida school districts have known that the cost of meeting class size amendment requirements would be big. On Tuesday, the Hernando School Board got an estimate of just how hefty and a sense of the tough financial decisions that must be made. To meet the requirements next year, the district will have to add about 78 teaching positions to bring core classes down to size. The cost: roughly $4.5 million.

    15. United States.  How Much Teacher Unions Spend in Your State. Education Next. January 19, 2010. By Paul Peterson. Organized groups exercise great power in American politics, in part because they contribute so heavily to political campaigns.  For the latest proof of this well-known truth, take a look at the latest health policy deal. . . To exercise such power, a hefty cash box comes in handy.  In the attached table and figure, one can see just how much is being spent in each state by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. (You can click on the table or figure to enlarge the text.).

    16. United States.  40 States Plus D.C. Apply for Race to the Top.  Politics K-12 Blog. By Michele McNeil on January 19, 2010. There will be more analysis forthcoming, but let's get right to the news. Forty states plus the District of Columbia made the 4:30 p.m. deadline for applying for the first round of Race to the Top. Here's who did NOT apply: Alaska, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Washington.

    17. New Jersey.  N.J. files application for federal 'Race To The Top' education money. Star-Ledger. January 19, 2010. New Jersey completed its application today for a share of $4.35 billion in federal Race to the Top education funding with 378 of the state’s 591 school districts signing on to the bid — but without the support of most of the state’s teachers unions. Only 21 of the state’s local teachers unions backed the effort to win up to $400 million in the competitive grant, according to a spokesman for the state Department of Education.

    18. Oregon. On tip toes, Oregon joins the Race to the Top.  Oregonian. January 19, 2010. By The Oregonian Editorial Board. For Oregon's education leaders, especially its teacher unions, navigating the new politics of education is like walking blind into a room of rearranged furniture and sharp edges. Every move seems risky, every step forward dangerous. That's worth remembering as you consider Oregon's recently completed application for a piece of $4.3 billion in federal education grants offered by the Obama administration. Yes, Oregon is treading carefully. Yes, President Barack Obama, who Tuesday asked Congress to make another $1.35 billion available in state education grants, wants to see much bolder reforms. But at least Oregon is finally moving forward on school reforms, including using test scores to better judge teacher performance.

    19. United States. The Weingarten Doctrine.  Eduflak. January 19, 2010. . . Last Tuesday, before a packed house at the National Press Club, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten unveiled "a serious and comprehensive reform plan to ensure great teaching, taking on systems that have been ingrained in public education for more than a century." . . . Ultimately, speeches are rhetorical devices. They are not hard-and-fast policy, nor are they promises we are often held to.  Weingarten's remarks, in particular, lay out a vision for where we as a nation can go with regard to teacher quality and school effectiveness.  Addressing issues such as professional teaching standards, standards for assessing teacher practice, implementation benchmarks, and classroom supports, Weingarten has offered a blueprint for how teachers and teaching fit in the current school improvement environment.  But moving those words into the "Weingarten Doctrine" requires buy-in from federal, state, and local policymakers, from school leaders and practitioners, from business and community leaders, and from parents and teachers.

    20. Pennsylvania.  Philly teachers reach deal after almost 2 years. Philadelphia Enquirer. January 19, 2010. By The Associated Press. PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia teachers union has agreed to a multi-year contract with the city's public schools.
    The agreement was announced Tuesday by the union and officials of the Philadelphia district, one of the nation's largest. Union members are scheduled to vote on the deal Thursday. Few details were released. Officials say they will wait until union leaders discuss the proposal with members. Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan says the contract covers 17,000 employees. The previous one expired in August 2008, but teachers continued to work under five extensions.

    21. Illinois.  School canceled in Kankakee as strike looms. Chicago Tribune. January 18, 2010. By Associated Press. KANKAKEE, Ill. - Authorities in Kankakee School District 111 say they don't see much chance of averting a teachers' strike. District 111 Superintendent Colleen Legge released a statement Monday saying school will be closed Tuesday because of a strike. Both Legge and Kankakee Federation of Teachers union president Sue Siedentop say no further negotiating sessions had been scheduled.,0,1981246.story

    22. United States.   Education Grant Effort Faces Late Opposition. NY times. January 18, 2010. By SAM DILLON. The Obama administration’s main school improvement initiative has spurred education policy changes in states across the nation, but it is meeting with some last-minute resistance as the first deadline for applications arrives Tuesday. Thousands of school districts in California, Ohio and other states have declined to participate, and teachers’ unions in Michigan, Minnesota and Florida have recommended that their local units not sign on to their states’ applications. Several rural states, including Montana, have said they will not apply, at least for now, partly because of the emphasis on charter schools, which would draw resources from small country schools.


    23. United States.  Labor College's Deal Questioned.  Inside HigherEd. January 18, 2010. At many faculty gatherings these days, one hears quips and complaints about for-profit higher education. Professors who value what they consider essential and eroding traditions -- a significant tenure-track faculty and the centrality of the liberal arts, for example -- resent the adjunct-heavy, career-education dominant model of higher education that is widely used in for-profit higher ed. As a result, many faculty advocates are skeptical not only about for-profit higher education, but about the growing number of alliances between nonprofit colleges and for-profit colleges. A common criticism of these partnerships is that they shift the focus away from traditional academic programs into areas that are seen as more lucrative (and that generally are more career-oriented).

    24. Hawaii.  University of Hawaii, union reach deal.  Honolulu Advertiser. January 17, 2010. By Will Hoover. A day after its members received their first paychecks reflecting a 6.7 percent pay cut, the University of Hawai'i Professional Assembly announced that a tentative contract agreement had been reached with the University of Hawai'i.


    25. Michigan. Tenure law should not protect ineffective teachers. Times-Herald. January 15, 2010. Posted by Times-Herald Newspapers on 1/15/10 • Categorized as Editorial. In Michigan, few issues are more contentious than teacher tenure laws. For decades, the topic has received a great deal of attention but no meaningful reform. It is past time for the state Legislature to enact changes that will be both effective and fair. Last month the Michigan Senate approved a bill that would make it easier to terminate ineffective teachers. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Patty Birkholz, a Saugatuck Republican. The bill faces an uncertain future in the House when the Legislature returns Wednesday from its holiday break.

    26. United States.  Efficient Use of Teachers.  January 11, 2010.  By Steven Wilson.  Part of collected papers for the American Enterpise Institute and Thomas B. Fordham Institute conference "A Penny Saved."    In a time of recession, how can schools cut costs while boosting outcomes?

    26a. See also: Investing in Improvement: Strategy and Resource Allocation in Public Schools Districts. By Stacey Childress
    Harvard Business School.


    27. Alberta.  Murky education road ahead worries Albertans. Edmonton Journal. January 9, 2010.  By Sarah O'Donnell, Edmonton Journal
    It has been three months since Alberta's education minister launched a review of spending, warning that everything is on the table when it comes to getting value for money in classrooms. It has been two months since the Alberta's teachers, joined by school trustees and parents, launched a pre-emptive campaign to "Stop the Cuts"--cuts they estimated to be in the $340-million range. Today, there is one thing that is certain: People are worried

  • 15 Jan 2010 12:14 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    1.  Michigan.   Weingarten Ally, Detroit Teacher Union Leader Recalled After Disastrous Contract.  Education Notes. January 15, 2010.
    With urban unions under severe attack in Washington, LA, Chicago, New Haven and New York, the Detroit teacher contract may be the most severe. And of course, Randi Weingarten and the AFT were handmaidens. (And for those of you who are impressed by Michael Mulgrew's rhetoric as somehow making him different than Randi, come back and talk to me in a year or two.) Detroit teachers union activist Steve Conn sent this out. This is some reasonably accurate tv reporting on our fight in Detroit to defend public education and reclaim our union:
    "Detroit Federation of Teachers (AFT 231) members voted overwhelmingly tonight to relieve Keith Johnson from his duties as DFT President until a recall vote is taken at the February 11th membership meeting."

    See also #13.

    2.  Massachuetts.   School overhaul bill ready for vote.  Boston Globe. January 14, 2010. By James Vaznis. A legislative conference committee came to agreement last night on a much-anticipated bill that would give superintendents extraordinary powers to overhaul failing schools and would double the number of charter school seats in the state’s worst school districts. . . The compromises, negotiated over the last few days and well into last night, represent a major setback for teachers unions that tried to block some of the anticipated changes through heavy lobbying. Most notably, the final bill will enable superintendents to more easily dismiss teachers and impose some changes in workplace rules at failing schools, to the dismay of teachers unions. But it also calls for expedited arbitration-like processes for unions to contest some of those actions, which teacher unions have been strongly pushing for. However, if the state does take over a school, the state’s education commissioner could impose changes without union consent.

    3.  Texas.   HISD moves ahead on dismissal policy. Houston Chronicle. January 14, 2010. By ERICKA MELLON.  One of every 300 teachers in the Houston school district was fired for poor performance last year — a number likely to rise under a new policy to hold them more liable for student achievement. The district's superintendent, Terry Grier, said there's no “magic number” of teachers who should be ousted in a given year, but suggested that the school district's rate seems low given some academic shortcomings. Last school year, 36 teachers out of nearly 12,000 — about 0.3 percent — were fired for performance reasons, according to data from the Houston Independent School District. “Quite frankly, if we were that good, why do 100,000 of our kids read below grade level?” Grier said.

    See also #21.

    4. Wisconsin.  Teacher’s union says it’s time to deal with school funding.  Superior Telegram. January 14, 2010. By: Brian Bull, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram. The head of the state’s largest teachers union says she wants lawmakers to take on school funding this year. But, just how to bring more money to districts during a down economy remains a hurdle. Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) says while school funding has been a recurring issue, things are coming to a head as Wisconsin communities struggle with the recession. Bell says districts are weighing cuts to programs and staff, or consolidating. She says this is the year to look at all comprehensive school funding reform ideas, and -- as the economy improves -- there will be a plan to invest in education.

    5. Nova Scotia.   N.S. government moves to avert crippling strike.  CBC News. January 14, 2010. A potentially crippling strike of support workers at all hospitals and schools outside Halifax might be averted at the 11th hour. The Nova Scotia government has made an overture to the union, and negotiators are now scheduled to be back at the bargaining table Friday with hospital workers, CBC News has learned. Talks with school workers are scheduled for Sunday. Negotiations broke down in November over the government's offer of a one per cent wage increase. The Canadian Union of Public Employees want a 2.9 per cent wage increase to maintain parity with Halifax workers. The 7,000 workers represented by CUPE say they're prepared to walk off the job Monday if they don't have a new contract.

    6. United States.   Health Care Reform: Unions seek exemption from excise tax at the expense of their reputation. Labor Pains. January 14, 2010. It appears that labor leaders and government officials have reached a compromise on excise taxes, according to the New York Times. . . Why on earth should union insurance be exempt with state and local workers (many of whom are union), while the rest of us with expensive plans pay the price? . . . From FireDogLake: "If unions take this “deal,” if the labor movement decides to fold and exempt themselves from the excise tax, they fulfill one of the worst of stereotypes of labor unions: blind self interest.  By abandoning the nonunion middle class and protecting only their own, the labor movement is throwing any hope of future relevancy out the window."

    6a. United States. Special Deal for Labor Unions in Health Care Bill. The Atlantic. January 14, 2010. By Megan McArdle.The labor unions have been fighting the Senate health care bill for some time now--specifically, the provision that levies high taxes on "Cadillac" plans that exceed certain maximums.  That was expected to be a sticking point in the negotiations between the Senate and the House, but as Samuel Johnson once said, "the prospect of being hanged focuses the mind wonderfully."  With the potential loss of their 60 vote majority lurking ahead, they can't dawdle on the details; it's time to haul in their lente and festina like hell. And so it looks like they may have reached a deal sooner than otherwise expected: unions get a special two-year exclusion from the tax. Presumably, the unions plan to go back and get their exclusion extended every few years.  Otherwise, the deal doesn't make much sense.  The ostensible reason for the respite is to allow them to renegotiate new collective bargaining agreements, but in these inflationary times, how many collective bargaining agreements last longer than three years?  I could be wrong about that, but unless I am, 2013 is plenty far enough away for most of the unions in question to negotiate better contracts.

    6b. United States.   White House, unions reach deal on taxing insurance coverage.  Washington Post. January 14, 2010. By Lori Montgomery and Michael D. Shear. The White House has reached a tentative agreement with labor leaders to tax high-cost health insurance policies, sources said Thursday. The agreement clears one of the last major obstacles on the path to final passage of comprehensive health care legislation. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said health care negotiators are "very, very close" to an overall deal and hope to have resolved most of their differences by day's end. But White House officials privately cautioned that their optimism does not mean that a final health care deal will be formally announced Thursday.

    See also #20 and #20a.

    7. Michigan.  How to Remove an Ineffective Tenured Teacher in 13 Easy Steps.  Mackinac Center. January 14, 2010. By Mr. Michael D. Van Beek. Recent Michigan legislation hypothetically makes it easier for schools to remove ineffective teachers from classrooms. However, some districts are claiming they already have good evaluation systems in place. For a glimpse into how the current process works, here's a step-by-step look at how one school district handles ineffective teachers. The list below comes from the Adrian City School District's collective bargaining agreement and walks through the process of discharging an ineffective teacher in the district. Steps 9-13 are outlined in the Teacher Tenure Act (which remains unchanged by the new legislation).

    8. Ontario.   College instructors vote to strike. Union says walkout at least a month away. Toronto Star. January 14, 2010. Ontario college instructors have voted to give their union a mandate to strike but it appears a walkout is at least a month away. Ted Montgomery, chair of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union bargaining team for college faculty, said 57 per cent of those voting approved the mandate. "We will be talking to the mediator and employer," Montgomery said, adding there will be no walkout before mid-February. "They've said publicly if there is an affirmative strike vote they will return to the bargaining table and we will invite them to do that as soon as possible." The vote came after five-month-old talks broke down Dec. 15.

    9. Ontario.  Kindergarten: Early Learning. An integrated extended day. Ontario Government. January 13, 2010. Full-day learning for four- and five-year-olds will give our youngest students a stronger start on learning. The program will also provide parents with the option to enrol their child in the school’s integrated extended day fee-based program. The extended day option provides before- and after-school programming, (for example, 7– 9 a.m. and 3:30 – 6 p.m.).

    See also #27.

    10. United States.   Identifying effective teachers is vital to improving schools. So why do we act as if all teachers are interchangeable? Commonwealth Magazine.  Fall 2009. By Michael Jonas. In 1966, the federal government released a seminal report titled Equality of Educational Opportunity. Written by James Coleman, a prominent sociologist, the report attempted to get at the various influences on student performance in American schools. The study, widely known simply as the Coleman Report, concluded that “only a small part of [student achievement] is the result of school factors, in contrast to family background differences between communities.”

    11. Manitoba.    Big teachers' raise may trigger property tax hike.  Winnipeg Free Press. January 13, 2010. By: Nick Martin. THE largest teachers' wage increase in at least two decades in the Winnipeg School Division could help drive school boards together on a united bargaining front next year. And the contract might produce a property tax increase in the division. On Tuesday, the morning after giving teachers an overall 3.8 per cent raise, the Winnipeg School Division is talking up the need for provincewide bargaining.

    12. Minnesota.   Editorial: Settle contracts quickly, frugally.  Star Tribune. January 13, 2010. The clock is ticking toward a Friday deadline, and dozens of Minnesota school districts have yet to settle teacher contracts. Each must act quickly -- and wisely -- to adopt reasonable pacts that live within the means of the district. With their backs against a financial wall, most districts can ill afford to lose even a few state dollars. All Minnesota school districts negotiate contracts with their teachers every two years. Under state law, school boards must have those contracts settled by Jan. 15. Failure to meet that deadline can cost districts a $25 per pupil penalty in withheld state funds.

    13. Michigan.   Detroit Schools Accused of Robbing Teachers. Courthouse News. January 13, 2010. By MELISSA THOMAS. DETROIT (CN) - Detroit Public School employees say the district is taking money from their paychecks to destroy the public school system and replace it with charter schools. The class action claims that Robert Bobb, Emergency Financial Manager of Detroit Public Schools, is deducting a "total of $10,000 from each teacher's paycheck and its sum will be paid to them, if at all, only months, years or decades later, when they resign or retire from the district."  Teachers, counselors and other school employees want the school district enjoined "from attempts to extort a forced loan from their pay without their consent, for 40 bi-weekly pay periods beginning Jan. 12, 2010." Bobb's position as emergency financial manager gives him "full authority over all financial transactions by the district, including the payment and means of payment of employees," according to the complaint in Wayne County Court.

    14. Texas.   Perry: Texas Won't Seek Federal Education Funding.  NY times. January 13, 2010.  By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. HOUSTON (AP) -- Texas won't compete for up to $700 million in federal stimulus money for education because the program ''smacks of a federal takeover of our public schools,'' Republican Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday. The funding is from the U.S. Department of Education's ''Race to the Top'' program, a $5 billion competitive fund that will award grants to states to improve education quality and results. The program, created in the economic stimulus law, is part of Democratic President Barack Obama's efforts to overhaul the nation's schools.

    15. United States.   UPDATED: Mo. Union Balks at 'Race to Top,' But Pa. Union Endorses It. Teacher Beat blog. By Stephen Sawchuk on January 13, 2010. The Missouri State Teachers Association formally opposes the state's Race to the Top bid, per this press release. Aside from contending that teachers weren't appropriately consulted in the drafting of the plan, the union states forthrightly that it's not willing to support reform efforts that go against its internal policy resolutions, such as using test scores in decisions involving teachers. . . The Pennsylvania State Education Association, on the other hand, has said it's encouraging locals where the plan is a "good fit" to apply. Translation: the plan doesn't trump collective bargaining rights. But this FAQ from the state department of education says that "to the extent that the parties are unable to implement required reform activities, grant funding may be withheld or terminated.

    16. Massachuetts.   Schools bracing for deep cutbacks.  Boston Globe. January 13, 2010. By Peter Schworm. School administrators across the state are crafting bleak budgets for the next school year and warning of steep cutbacks, including teacher layoffs, to cope with a probable sharp drop in funding from Beacon Hill and dwindling federal stimulus money. Though schools grappled with thinned-down budgets last year, they got relief from a massive infusion of federal education dollars that is now all but spent, and officials are bracing for cuts that go deep into the classroom.

    17. Georgia.   Perdue proposes teacher pay changes based on student performance. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. January 13, 2010. By Kristina Torres. Gov. Sonny Perdue proposed Tuesday to pay teachers based not on their number of years on the job or level of education but, rather, on how well they teach. The proposal, if passed, would turn on its head Georgia's long-held teacher compensation system, one that rewards educators for staying the course in their profession with nary a glance at test scores: They earn more with seniority and qualify for additional pay depending on whether they acquire advanced degrees. It's a model used nationally, although the Obama administration has openly encouraged states to consider alternatives such as a performance-based pay option, which Georgia is pursuing as part of its application for the administration's new Race to the Top education fund.

    18. United States.  The New Republic: Is Education Reform All Talk? National Public Radio. January 13, 2010. By Seyward Darby, New Republic.  It's been a good week for Randi Weingarten. In a speech Tuesday morning at the National Press Club, the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) voiced support for some major education reforms — most notably, tying students' test scores to teacher evaluations and making it easier to fire bad teachers. And the speech is already garnering a lot of positive buzz: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who stopped by the event, praised her for "showing courage," and New York Times columnist Bob Herbert said that her proposals, if implemented, would "represent a significant, good-faith effort [for teachers' unions] to cooperate more fully with state officials and school administrators in the monumental job of improving public school education."

    18a. United States.  Union head to propose tying test scores, teacher evaluations.  Washington Post. January 12, 2010. By Nick Anderson. The president of the nation's second-largest teachers union is proposing a new way to incorporate student test scores into teacher evaluations and has asked a well-known mediator to develop methods of expediting disciplinary cases against teachers, according to the text of a speech made public Monday night. Randi Weingarten of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of Teachers plans to deliver the speech Tuesday. Union officials describe it as a major effort to address flash points in labor-management relations. The AFT, Weingarten said, wants "a fair, transparent and expedient process to identify and deal with ineffective teachers. But [we] know we won't have that if we don't have an evaluation system that is comprehensive and robust and really tells us who is or is not an effective teacher."

    Weingarten speech:

    18b. United States.  Won’t Get Fooled Again… Again.  Intercepts Blog.  by Mike Antonucci. January 12, 2010. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten delivered a speech before the National Press Club this morning titled, “A New Path Forward.”
    By my count, this is about the 10th new path forward since I began covering the national teachers’ unions, and most of them get launched with a speech at the National Press Club. The speeches always generate stories in the Washington Post and USA Today, and if the Wall Street Journal doesn’t cover it, Bloomberg will. The Post and New York Times weigh in with editorials, generating blog posts and follow-on commentary, and then it all gradually fades away until the requisite number of moons have passed and the next new path forward is presented.

    19. Ontario.   600 schools get all-day kindergarten. Toronto Star. January 11, 2010. By Kristin Rushowy. Almost 600 Ontario elementary schools will offer full-day kindergarten this fall, sources have told the Star. Premier Dalton McGuinty will make the announcement Tuesday about the program that will serve 35,000 4- and 5-year-olds in its first year, providing a full school day from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. as well as low-cost before- and after-school care should parents want it When fully implemented in 2015, the price tag for the program - touted as unique in North America - will be $1.5 billion.

    20. United States.  'Cadillac' Plans an Issue in Health Care Conference. Politics K-12 Blog. By Alyson Klein on January 11, 2010. Congress is back this week. And while we've got a ways to go before lawmakers get down to work on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act, or even the fiscal year 2011 budget bills, there's one piece of legislation folks in the K-12 community should watch very closely: the health care bill. While there isn't much in the bill that relates to schools specifically, at least one debate over how to help fund a health care overhaul could have a lasting impact on teacher recruitment and retention. . . Many of those plans cover union members, including teachers. Since that threshold is raised a little every year, more and more teachers' plans eventually could be subject to the tax, folks I talked to for this story told me. The inclusion of the Cadillac plan tax was a blow to the teachers' unions, which have been working hard on behalf of health care overhaul.

    20a. United States.   Newest hurdle to how to pay for healthcare reform: unions. Christian Science Monitor. January 11, 2010. By Peter Grier. Washington- Any final healthcare bill that emerges from Congress will almost certainly contain a tax on high-cost insurance plans. But will that levy only apply to truly expensive, "Cadillac" policies? Or will it hit some Chevrolet-level plans, as well? .That’s the question facing the administration today as union leaders visit the White House to talk healthcare with President Obama. Unions – a key source of support for Obama – argue that a tax on insurance plans costing more than $23,000 a year could affect a significant number of their workers.

    21. Texas.   HISD may fire teachers over test scores. Houston Chronicle. January 11, 2010. By ERICKA MELLON. Houston-area education Teachers in Houston ISD could lose their jobs for failing to improve student test scores under a controversial proposal slated for a school board vote Thursday. HISD Superintendent Terry Grier's plan to tie teachers' job evaluations to their students' progress on standardized tests would put Houston among a small but growing number of school districts pushing to make it easier to oust ineffective teachers. The more aggressive approach coincides with President Barack Obama's call for increased teacher accountability. His administration's $4.35 billion education grant competition, Race to the Top, excludes states that prohibit linking student test data to teachers' evaluations.

    22. Indiana.  IPS cites poor performance as 22 pulled from teaching.  IndyStar. January 11, 2010.  By Andy Gammill. Indianapolis Public Schools has removed 22 of its weakest teachers from their classrooms, the beginning of an effort to shore up teaching in the state's largest district. That group includes teachers who failed to control the students in their classrooms and others who had not mastered the material they were teaching, the district said. Leaving them in classrooms would put children at risk of academic failure and physical harm from unruly students, Superintendent Eugene White said.

    23. California.   California Teachers Union in rare legislative loss. Sacramento Bee. January 11, 2010. By Laurel Rosenhall. The California Teachers Association is used to getting its way. The union that represents 340,000 public school teachers has traditionally been one of the most powerful forces in the Capitol. In the past decade, it spent $38 million on lobbying – more than anyone else in the state.
    So it was an unusual loss for the CTA when the Legislature last week approved the Race to the Top education bills that the union and its allies opposed. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a veiled reference to the union's influence when he signed the bills Thursday at a Los Angeles middle school.

    24. Tennessee.   TEA Agrees to 35% Use of Student Data for Tenure.  The Commercial Appeal. January 11, 2009. By Richard Locker. NASHVILLE -- The board of directors of the union representing 55,000 teachers across the state endorsed a plan Saturday that would base up to 35 percent of a teacher's job evaluation on students' standardized test scores. Although that's a major concession by the Tennessee Education Association, which long has opposed using student test results as part of the formal evaluations teachers undergo for initial tenure and later for job retention, it's short of the 51 percent standard that Gov. Phil Bredesen wants the state legislature to approve.

    25. United States.   Educators await Obama's mark on No Child Left Behind.  Washington Post. January 9, 2010. By Nick Anderson. Eight years after President George W. Bush signed the bill that branded an era of school reform, the education world is wondering when President Obama will seek to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law. Obama officials, who for months have been on a "listening and learning" tour, are expected to propose a framework for the successor to a law that is two years overdue for reauthorization. Time is growing short if Obama aims for action before midterm elections, which could weaken Democratic majorities in Congress. As the anniversary of the law's enactment passed quietly Friday, an occasion Bush marked throughout his presidency as a domestic policy milestone, the regimen of standardized testing and school accountability remains intact.

    26. California.   Opinion: Better teachers, the union way.  LA Times. January 8, 2010. By A.J. Duffy, Julie Washington and Gregg Solkovits. Great teachers aren't born -- they evolve. They must have certain things starting out, of course: a passion for knowledge and a love of working with children, to cite two. But it then takes years of study and practice to master the art of teaching.The recent focus on evaluations as the overriding problem with teacher quality ignores the arc of an educator's career. Yes, honest feedback and assessment is crucial. But if we truly want to have an impact on teaching and learning, more effective evaluations alone aren't enough. Teachers need better training programs, better professional development and additional peer support. As teachers, we want to see our profession strengthened. But that won't happen simply through punitive measures. Here is our framework for positive change.,0,3287308.story

    27. Sasketchewan.  Advocacy Update.  SSBA. January 5, 2010. The President of SUMA was featured on CBC radio news yesterday morning advocating for increased provincial funding for municipalities. (Click here for transcript). SUMA is not alone in pressing the Government for additional funds - especially during this period when budget decisions are being finalized.

  • 08 Jan 2010 12:33 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    1. California.    CTA advises local unions not to sign MOU.  The Educated Guess. January 8, 2010. One day before the deadline for commitments to Race to the Top, state education officials were again encouraging ambivalent  school districts to sign on. The California Teachers Association, for the first time, was explicitly encouraging union locals not to. And that could spell trouble for the state’s application.  Until now, the CTA had not taken a formal position, saying it was up to each local to decide whether to participate. But on Tuesday, the Assembly passed Race to the Top legislation that the CTA strongly opposed. Rather than just get mad, the CTA is now getting even.

    2. Ontario.   College students fret as strike looms.  Toronto Star. January 8, 2010.  As nearly half a million community college students return to class Monday across Ontario, fear of a teachers' strike has prompted plans for a province-wide student walkout Tuesday, and moved a group of professors to take the unusual step of launching a website that openly urges colleagues to vote No to job action. Upset that colleges imposed a new contract last fall when bargaining faltered – a right colleges won in 2008 – the Ontario Public Service Employees' Union will hold a strike vote Wednesday across all 24 colleges and could walk off the job by early February, said union spokesman Ted Montgomery, whose members teach more than 150,000 full-time and about 300,000 part-time students.  It would be the second college strike in four years. A strike in March 2006 cancelled classes for three weeks.

    See also #25 below.

    3. United States.   Column: The Long-Term Effects of Short-Term Emotions.  Harvard Business Review. January 8, 2010. by Dan Ariely
    The heat of the moment is a powerful, dangerous thing. We all know this. If we’re happy, we may be overly generous. Maybe we leave a big tip, or buy a boat. If we’re irritated, we may snap. Maybe we rifle off that nasty e-mail to the boss, or punch someone. And for that fleeting second, we feel great. But the regret—and the consequences of that decision—may last years, a whole career, or even a lifetime. At least the regret will serve us well, right? Lesson learned—maybe.

    4. United States.   With Changes to MOU, Michigan Union Back in 'Race to Top'. Teacher Beat. By Stephen Sawchuk on January 7, 2010. According to this press release from the Michigan Education Association, the state has extended the deadline for unions to sign the MOUs to commit to the Race to the Top program until Jan. 12. . . Sounds like unless it's careful, Michigan could end up with MOU language like Massachusetts' or Kansas', which basically let districts ignore whatever pieces of the reform plan they don't manage to bargain.

    See also #8, #13c below.

    5. Pennsylvania.  PSEA's 20/20 Vision for the Future: Strong Schools, Successful Children, Vibrant Communities. PSEA January 7, 2010.  The PSEA lays out its idea of how school reform should occur in Pennsylvania. [It includes all of the standard NEA positions on issues.-RW]

    PSEA Report:

    6. United States.   Unions v. Race to the Top: States are waiting for Arne Duncan.  Wall Street Journal. January 7, 2010.  Is the Obama Administration going to side with school reformers, or will it reward state and local teachers union affiliates that defend the status quo? . . .  Unions are mainly opposed to teacher accountability reforms. Both Florida and Minnesota want to implement or expand systems that tie teacher pay to student test scores. The irony is that both President Obama and Secretary Duncan have expressed support for such programs, yet Race to the Top is giving leverage to reform opponents who would eliminate or weaken these policies, and it punishes states that want to expand them over union objections. . . Collective-bargaining agreements that protect bad teachers also harm children. Unions, which put the interests of their members above those of students, aren't bothered by this. But state reformers who are trying to correct the problem don't deserve to be penalized on their Race to the Top applications. They deserve some political cover from "the top," meaning Mr. Duncan.

    7. Michigan.   Health Insurance Information for More Than 500 Michigan School Districts Available Online.  Mackinac Center for Public Policy. January 6, 2010.  MIDLAND - More than 95 percent of Michigan school districts' 2008-09 health insurance costs are available online, Mackinac Center Director of Education Policy Michael Van Beek announced today. The database contains information reported directly from schools on all their employer-provided health insurance plans. Details include the plan provider, plan title, monthly premium costs, employee contributions and number of enrollees. Van Beek highlighted some notable information from the data. For instance, the 2008-09 average annual premium for 602 family plans offered to teachers was $15,786, and the average annual employee contribution to these plans was $665, or 4.2 percent. Teachers in 301 of these plans make no contribution to the cost of their insurance premium. These numbers stand in stark contrast to statewide averages. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the average family premium in Michigan in 2008 was $11,321. On average, employees contribute $2,522, or 22 percent, to the cost of their monthly premium.

    Michigan school district Insurance database:

    8. Michigan.   School districts may see finished Race to the Top plan before they have to commit. The Grand Rapids Press. January 06, 2010. By Dave Murray. School districts might get a chance to see a finished Race to the Top plan before committing to it after all.
    State Superintendent Mike Flanagan on Wednesday issued another bulletin to school districts, now telling them they can sign a "letter of intent" -- which he said is less binding than a "memorandum of understanding" -- by Thursday's deadline, then potentially get a look at a finished plan on Friday evening. Districts then have until next Tuesday to send the form committing them to the plan -- which could include controversial reforms for evaluations and control of failing schools -- before the state Board of Education votes on the state's formal application that day. A signature from teachers union representatives still isn't needed -- a decision handed down by Flanagan on Tuesday -- but he said Wednesday's changes are intended to address union concerns and possibly bring its leaders on board.

    9. United States.   New Jersey, Michigan Unions Sitting Out 'Race to Top'.  Teacher Beat. By Stephen Sawchuk on January 6, 2010.
    So says this AP story and this story from the Grand Rapids Press. We're up to five state unions now, by my count: Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, and the NEA affiliate in Louisiana. All are NEA affiliates; the Florida and Minnesota unions are also affiliates of the American Federation of Teachers. . . Increasingly, Race to the Top appears to be becoming a test about what unions and administrators really mean when they talk about "labor-management collaboration." Collaboration, it's now clear, involves not just issues about how involved unions are in the drafting of the applications and the memoranda of understanding, but also whether unions and management can reach agreement on controversial ideas such as tying pay to test scores and evaluations. (The Race to the Top awards lots of competitive points for doing so.) This is particularly a problem for the NEA, whose own internal policy resolutions eschew tying test scores to consequential decisions involving teachers and which can't support locals that want to do so.

    10. Canada.   Get used to slower growth, economists say. Toronto Star. January 6, 2010.  The real challenge that faces Canadians is not that the country will slip back into recession, but how to get used to slower growth than in the past, economists say. "We're going into a slower rate of growth," Royal Bank of Canada economist Craig Alexander said. "It's not as much fun to grow at 2 or 2.5 per cent as to grow at 4 or 5 per cent." The comments came during the 2010 Economic Outlook panel held Wednesday morning in Toronto.

    11. California.  L.A. Union Sues Over Charter Plan.  Education Week. January 6, 2010. . . United Teachers Los Angeles, a 48,000-member affiliate of both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, contends in the Dec. 21 lawsuit that the district’s school choice resolution—passed by the board of education in August—violates state law because it would allow charter school operators to take over campuses and hire their own nonunion teachers. Union leaders say California’s education code requires that a majority of tenured teachers at a school site must sign a petition calling for the school’s conversion to charter status. The union does not object to the new policy’s provision that allows for noncharter entities, such as groups of teachers, to bid for managing the targeted schools.

    12. United States.   'Race to Top' Viewed as Template for a New ESEA.  Education Week. January 6, 2010. Design Principles for State Competition Signal Administration's Priorities. By Alyson Klein. Educators hoping for a glimpse at the next rendition of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act may want to take a close look at the rules for the Race to the Top program, which pushes states to adopt education redesign principles that federal officials say are likely to be the cornerstone of the Obama administration’s plans for a new ESEA.[BFmy3I9GsZo4YSp0TPmPUPxLToepLnABYo

    13. United States.  Three states pursue RTTP without union support.

    13a. New Jersey.   NJ teachers union criticizes grant application. Daily Record. January 6, 2010. By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey's main teachers union doesn't want the state to continue pursuing a $400 million federal education grant. . . Applying for the federal "Race to the Top" grant has been a complicated matter in New Jersey. Gov. Jon Corzine's administration initially didn't apply, saying such a big decision should be left to Gov.-elect Chris Christie.Christie criticized the Education Department for inaction. The state is now applying despite the union objection.

    13b. Florida.   Support sought for Florida's federal grant application. Miami Herald. January 5, 2010. BY HANNAH SAMPSON AND KATHLEEN McGRORY. Calling it ``foolish'' and ``short-sighted'' to pass up, Florida's education commissioner said Monday that the state would seek hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grant money with or without union support.

    13c. Michigan.   Teachers unions 'shocked' to be removed from Race to the Top application process. Grand Rapids News. January 5, 2010.  By Dave Murray. Teachers union leaders say they're "shocked" that state Superintendent Mike Flanagan is removing union approval from the process leading the Michigan's Race to the Top application. . . "Our request was that the state plan be completed before we are asked to agree to it, and that doesn't seem too unreasonable. And because of our unreasonableness, the state is saying, 'Hmm. Your participation is now optional?'" District superintendents, Board of Education presidents and teachers union representatives were required to sign off on agreement that is still in draft form. But leaders from the state's two largest unions balked, recommending local not sign.

    14. Minnesota.   Teachers reach tentative agreement. ABC Newspapers. January 5, 2010. by Sue Austreng. Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 teachers’ winter break produced more than just time away from the classroom when a tentative agreement on a two-year teachers contract was reached on New Year’s Eve.  The agreement gives teachers step and lane salary increases but no across-the-board salary increases in either of the two years of the contract. Teachers will vote to ratify the contract Jan. 11 and 12 and District 11 School Board members are scheduled to vote to accept or reject the contract at a special Jan. 13 board meeting. In the meantime, teachers will suspend the work to rule schedule they’ve followed for the past several weeks. In other words, teachers can put in as many extra hours as they determine necessary to sufficiently serve students.


    15. New York.   City Ignoring Law on Class Sizes, Suit Says. NYTimes. January 5, 2010. By SHARON OTTERMAN. Despite receiving hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce class sizes, the city’s Department of Education has ignored state law and allowed classrooms to grow in the last couple of years, the city teachers’ union and other groups said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday. The dispute stems from a lengthy legal battle that ended in 2006, when the state’s highest court ruled that the state was failing to ensure that New York City and other high-needs districts were providing all children with the opportunity for a sound basic education. The ruling led the state to send the city about $1.5 billion in the last three years, about $750 million of which was earmarked for class-size reductions. But despite the new money, and a decline in student enrollment citywide, class sizes have increased, according to the lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in the Bronx.

    16. Illinois.  U. of I. staff faces furloughs because of state budget issues.  Chicago Tribune. January 5, 2010 University of Illinois administrators and professors will be asked to take unpaid furlough days this winter because of a "grim and worsening" state budget picture, Interim President Stanley Ikenberry told staff in an e-mail today. Ikenberry also froze hiring and interim wage increases.
    The university has scheduled a news conference for later this morning. The cuts affect employees on all three Illinois campuses, in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.

    17. United States.   Health Spending Rises in 2008, but at Slower Rate. NY Times. January 4, 2010. By ROBERT PEAR. Health spending grew in 2008 at the slowest pace in 48 years as the recession throttled back the explosive growth of health costs, the federal government reported Monday. Health spending topped $2.3 trillion in 2008, up 4.4 percent from the previous year. But the rate of growth in 2008 was down from 6 percent in 2007 and an average increase of 7 percent a year in the decade from 1998 to 2008. Health care accounted for 16.2 percent of the gross domestic product in 2008, up from 15.9 percent in 2007, according to the report, by the Department of Health and Human Services. By slowing the growth of health spending, the recession achieved what a generation of public officials tried unsuccessfully to accomplish. But in their annual report on the topic, federal officials said the deceleration in health spending was a result of the soft economy, and they did not cite any factors that would alter the long-term outlook for continued increases in health spending as baby boomers age and doctors make greater use of new medical technology to treat patients.

    18. Louisiana.   Study Tries To Track Louisiana Teachers' Success. National Public radio. January 4, 2010. By Larry Abramson. How do you train the best teachers? Leaders at the nation's teacher education programs still don't really know, but it's something educators are trying to figure out. So statistician George Noell decided to do something no one had ever done before: He compared the success rates of teachers from different training programs in his home state of Louisiana. Noell didn't want to rely on the old measures of success, like whether principals were happy with their teachers. He wanted an objective measure of gains by students taught by, say, this reporter.

    19. United States.   States braced to tighten 2010 belts amid $14.8B in shortfalls.  USA TODAY. January 5, 2010. By Judy Keen, USA TODAY. States across the nation begin the year facing grim budget shortfalls that could mean a repeat of the service cuts, layoffs or furloughs and higher fees imposed in 2009, a USA TODAY survey shows. States passed fiscal 2010 general-fund budgets totaling $627.9 billion, 5.4% less than a year earlier, says a study released last month by the National Association of State Budget Officers and National Governors Association. Despite cuts, shortfalls for the 2010 fiscal year, which in most states began July 1, are $14.8 billion, the study says. The gap in 2011: $21.9 billion.

    20. United States.   Americans' job satisfaction falls to record low. The Oregonian. January 4, 2009. By The Associated Press. WASHINGTON -- We can't get no job satisfaction. Even Americans who are lucky enough to have work in this economy are becoming more unhappy with their jobs, according to a new survey that found only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work. That was the lowest level ever recorded by the Conference Board research group in more than 22 years of studying the issue. In 2008, 49 percent of those surveyed reported satisfaction with their jobs.  . . Some key findings of the survey: 43% of workers feel secure in their jobs. In 2008, 47 percent said they feel secure in their jobs, while 59 percent felt that way in 1987. 56% say they like their co-workers, slightly less than the 57 percent who said so last year but down from 68 percent in 1987. 56% say they are satisfied with their commute to work even as commute times have grown longer over the years. That compares with 54 percent in 2008 and 63 percent in 1987. 51% say they are satisfied with their boss. That's down from 55 percent in 2008 and around 60 percent two decades ago. The drop in workers' happiness can be partly blamed on the worst recession since the 1930s, which made it difficult for some people to find challenging and suitable jobs. But worker dissatisfaction has been on the rise for more than two decades.

    21. United States.   Hawaii School Cuts Symbolize Coming Trouble for State, Municipal Budgets. Newsweek. January 4, 2010. By David A. Graham. CNN had a nice segment yesterday that puts a personal face on the coming crisis facing state and local budgets. NEWSWEEK reported on that issue last week: in a nutshell, state and local budgets get hit later than the rest of the economy, because income and property taxes don't show a dip for a while. Some analysts are worried that just as employment and economic growth begin to recover, cities and states are going to be facing massive shortfalls and very tough decisions. One of the facets of this case─unions and governments at loggerheads over how to deal with a crisis─is likely to be a major one as similar cases develop elsewhere. . . One more wrinkle: Nicole Gelinas, an expert on municipal finance at the Manhattan Institute, told me she thinks that one key to fixing state and local budget problems is to reform the relationship between labor and governments. "[Public-employee] labor costs are not sustainable," she said. "Once these things are promised, they can't really be taken away. It's important to get them under control now, seeing the cost of not getting them under control now."

    22. United States.    State budget pictures bleak as lawmakers head back. San Francisco Chronicle. January 3, 2010.If you thought state budgets were in bad shape last year, just wait: 2010 promises to be brutal for lawmakers — many facing re-election — as they scramble to find enough money to keep their states running without raising taxes.Tax collections continue to sputter. Federal stimulus dollars are about to dry up. Rainy day funds have been tapped. And demand for services — like Medicaid, food stamps and unemployment benefits — is soaring.  . . Typically, the worst budget years for states are the two years after a recession ends. Across the nation, budgets are already lean after several rounds on the chopping block. And unless lawmakers increase taxes or fees — unpopular moves in an election year — most will need to cut even more as they grapple with the steepest decline of tax receipts on record. Services ranging from higher education to programs for the elderly could be in jeopardy.

    23. Ontario.   Did teachers' union fund Colombian terrorists? Toronto Star. January 1, 2010. An Ontario teachers' union says Colombian authorities are claiming it inadvertently funded a terrorist organization through its donations to a Colombian union. The allegations stem from the 2008 arrest of Liliany Obando, who Colombian authorities allege was managing the resources of FARC, a left-wing guerrilla group considered a terrorist group by Colombia, the U.S. and Canada for its bombings, hijackings and violent attacks on Colombian targets

    24. Germany.   A Facial Expression Is Worth a Thousand Words. ScienceDaily. December 31, 2009.— Communication is a central aspect of everyday life, a fact that is reflected in the wide variety of ways that people exchange information, not only with words, but also using their face and body. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany, found out that we are able to recognize facial expressions in motion -- for example, in a movie -- far better than in a static photograph. The video sequence needs to be at least as long as one tenth of a second to gain this dynamic advantage. . .  The results show that neither pictures, nor motion alone are of importance, but that we need a combination of the correct temporal sequence and the correct facial motion to reliably interpret facial expressions.

    25. Ontario.   Ontario [Community College] Teachers Set to Strike.  Teacher Solidarity. December 30, 2009. Ontario Community College teachers are set for a strike ballot on the 13th January as a result of the failure of negotiations with the college employers. The strike will involve the 9000 teachers who work in Community Colleges who are members of the Ontario Public Service Emplyees Union (OPSEU). Although the management is accusing the union of unaffordable wage demands the union insists that the sticking points are mainly about workload.

  • 31 Dec 2009 10:57 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    1.  United States.   U.S. in fiscal peril with $12.1 trillion debt.  USA TODAY. December 31, 2009. By Richard Wolf. WASHINGTON — After $787 billion in stimulus spending and $700 billion in bank bailouts, 2010 is fast shaping up to be the year of the federal budget diet. Bipartisan support is growing in Congress for action to stabilize the nation's bulging debt, which is now $12.1 trillion. Influential experts from former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan to former comptroller general David Walker have joined the cause. The public debt is the amount owed to individual investors, including foreign countries, but excluding money the government owes to its own trust funds. It has soared from $5.8 trillion to $7.6 trillion this year alone — and is more than half the size of the nation's economy for the first time since 1956.

    2. United States.   Two State Unions Balking at 'Race to Top' Plans.  Education Week. December 31, 2009. By Stephen Sawchuk. Teachers’ unions in at least two states are threatening to withhold endorsements of their state’s Race to the Top applications, which could jeopardize the states’ chances of winning the coveted federal dollars. In a letter printed as an advertisement in the Tallahassee Democrat, Florida Education Association President Andy J. Ford discouraged local union affiliates from signing an agreement to implement a state plan that, among other things, would require districts to base teacher evaluations and compensation bonuses heavily on student test scores. . . The president of Education Minnesota, Thomas A. Dooher, said he will also advise local affiliates not to sign off on the state application unless officials there agree to changes, including dropping a requirement that participating districts implement a pay program that has been voluntary for districts.

    3. Maryland.   Opinion: School bonuses have their place, but need scrutiny. Home Town Annapolis. December 30, 2009. Most taxpayers feel that government workers don't deserve extra money just for doing their jobs - and don't like it when they suspect that their tax money is being spent on superfluous bonuses. But bonuses have a place in government, just as they do in business. The challenge is to determine who deserves a bonus, and based on what criteria. . . But this is the direction in which President Barack Obama seems to be moving in his Race to the Top incentive program. So the unions would do well to work with the superintendent to develop the fairest criteria for rewarding teachers for their class' academic achievements.

    4. United States.   State, Local Tax Revenues Decline 7% Wall Street Journal. December 30, 2009.  By CONOR DOUGHERTY. State and local tax revenues fell 7% in the third quarter of 2009 from a year ago, the Census Bureau said in a report underscoring how the economic downturn is stressing government collections. . . "We expect continued weakness well into 2010 if not further," said Lucy Dadayan, an analyst at the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York. . . State and local tax revenues tend to lag behind the downturns as well as the upturns in the economy because of the time it takes for collections to catch up with depressed store sales and diminished incomes.

    5. Michigan.   Is the MEA trying to scuttle state's Race to the Top chances? EAG thinks so, but union says to wait for details.  By Dave Murray | The Grand Rapids Press. December 29, 2009. Is the Michigan Education Association telling local union leaders to scuttle the state’s bid for federal Race to the Top cash? The Education Action Group thinks it is, but union leaders say that’s just not the case. . . The Muskegon-based, conservative-leaning advocacy group accuses the state’s largest teacher’s union of telling locals not to set pen to paper, thereby blocking Michigan’s application, likely to include some things that the MEA isn’t to keen on. The EAG calls this a “devious effort to block the will of the majority.”

    6. Vermont.   Vt. NEA faults retirement panel's ideas. Times-Argus. December 29, 2009. By Louis Porter Vermont Press Bureau. MONTPELIER – The union representing Vermont educators says the work of a retirement commission considering changes to the pension systems for teachers and state workers is incomplete and likely unconstitutional. That critique came from the National Education Association's Vermont chapter Monday. The union also said a proposal the Vermont NEA is now finishing up will "achieve significant savings to the taxpayers of Vermont, while addressing the issues of falling student enrollment and education costs in general." In a problem mirrored in many states, the growth in revenue for those retirement plans in Vermont is not expected to keep up with the growth in demand. The shortfall stems from several factors, including underfunding by the state in past years and longer life spans for beneficiaries, exacerbated by a weakened investment climate.

    7. Hawaii.   Hawaii governor rejects furlough deal. Governor calls union plan with BOE, DOE fiscally irresponsible.  Honolulu Advertiser. Decembe 29, 2009. By Loren Moreno. Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday shot down an agreement between the teachers union and education officials to end most furlough days this school year, saying it was not "fiscally responsible." The teachers union, Board of Education and Department of Education agreed to restore seven of the 10 remaining furlough days this school year by using $35 million from the state's rainy day fund. The plan did not address the 17 furlough days scheduled for next school year. Lingle offered on Nov. 15 to use $50 million from the rainy day fund to restore 12 furlough days if teachers would agree to teach on 15 planning or other noninstructional days. Her plan would have wiped out all remaining furlough days this school year and next.

    8. Hawaii.   UH moves to cut faculty salaries 6.7 percent.  Star Bulletin. December 28, 2009. By Associated Press and Star-Bulletin staff. The University of Hawaii has decided to unilaterally reduce the salaries of faculty members by 6.7 percent, beginning Jan. 1. University President M.R.C. Greenwood made the announcement today in a letter to faculty. University of Hawaii Professional Assembly Executive Director J.N. Musto has said that under law, the faculty's contract must remain in force until a new agreement is signed. The union has vowed to go to court to stop any move to cut faculty salaries.

    9. Indiana.   Performance (De-)Funding. Inside HigherEd. December 28, 2009. Economic downturns are often the enemy of state higher education reforms, especially those that involve money. It's hard enough for state leaders to do things like reallocate funds to reward performance when times are good; when money is tight, the often fragile consensus necessary to make major changes tends to crumble. Which is why the announcement last week that Indiana's commissioner of higher education recommended distributing budget cuts to state colleges based in significant part on a set of performance measures was so extraordinary. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education's decision to disproportionately cut the budgets of some institutions because their per-student costs are higher and their completion rates are lower is consistent with the state's recently expanded performance funding system.

    10. Massachuetts.   K-12 Teachers and towns at odds during tight times. Boton Globe. December 27, 2009. By Calvin Hennick and Brock Parker. Reeling from the recession and expecting another tough fiscal year ahead, teacher unions and school officials in some local communities are having a hard time finding middle ground at the bargaining table. The state Division of Labor Relations issued a complaint against the Marlborough School Committee this month for withholding pay raises given out for length of service and advanced degrees. In Newton last month, teachers presented the School Committee with fake money bags representing the value they said they added in unpaid work hours and out-of-pocket expenses.

    11. Iowa.  Study: Mergers don't hurt students.  Des Moines Register. December 26, 2009. By STACI HUPP. School mergers might divide neighbors or drain the life out of towns left without schools, but they don't hurt students, new University of Northern Iowa research shows. A study of eight merged school districts in Iowa found no drop-off in grades or test scores. The finding offers an answer to a question Iowans have asked for years: Will students get lost in larger classes? . . . The research comes at a key time. Pressure to merge has intensified for Iowa's smallest districts because of shrinking enrollment, a tight state budget and the gradual elimination of a budget guarantee that has ensured that districts with declining enrollments do not see a decrease in money.

    12. Colorado.   DPS execs got $344K in bonuses. Denver Post. December 24, 2009. By Jeremy P. Meyer. Bonus payments tied to student performance and job choice shot up almost threefold this year for Denver teachers, and administrators in the district's central offices shared in the windfall.Forty-five Denver Public Schools executives received $344,565 in bonuses over a 12-month span based on performance evaluations, according to records obtained by The Denver Post. The executives, whose annual salaries average $106,000, received bonuses that averaged $7,100 over a 12-month period. Most bonuses were paid out of the general fund, but some were supported by private grants. The average bonus was 6.5 percent of the administrator's salary.
    Read more:

    13. Nevada.   Nevada Supreme Court orders a new CCSD teachers union election. The LV Sun. By Cy Ryan. December. 23, 2009. CARSON CITY – The Nevada Supreme Court has ordered a new runoff election to decide which union should represent Clark County School District teachers. The court upheld District Judge Kenneth C. Cory, who ruled the results of the primary elections were inconclusive. The results of that election were 2,711 employees voted for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 14. The Education Support Employees Association received 1,932 and 93 employees voted for “no union.” There were 10,386 employees in the bargaining unit. The court said under the law a union must obtain support from a majority of all the members of the bargaining unit and not just a majority of those who vote.

    14. Pennsylvania.   Pennsylvania Pension Problems.  The Quick & the Ed. December 23rd, 2009. Question: What do you get when you add a bad stock market + equally bad state budgets + generous pension benefits + an enhancement of those benefits + rising health costs + an aging workforce? Answer: A large unfunded liability. Example A is Pennsylvania, which recently announced they will be increasing the employer contribution rate for retired teacher pension and health benefits in 2010-11 by 72 percent over current levels. The projections into the future are even worse, as the Public School Employees’ Retirement System of Pennsylvania (PSERS) is currently predicting the rate to nearly triple in 2012-13.

    15. United States.     Second Opinion [on College Finances].  Inside HigherEd. December 23, 2009. Forget “Trust, but verify.” A more apt phrase to describe the mood at some colleges today would be “Don’t trust, and challenge.”  Saying they're unconvinced by bleak financial reports produced by university business chiefs, increasingly skeptical students and faculty are outsourcing number crunching to independent auditors, often with the hope of exposing hidden pots of money in cavernous college coffers.

    16. Michigan.    Rotherham: Detroit schools are on a slow reform path. Detroit News. December 23, 2009. By Andrew J. Rotherham.  Call it the soft bigotry of low expectations. As pressure increases on teachers unions to mend their ways and become better partners in school reform, the bar for what constitutes meaningful change seems to be getting lower. In October, the New Haven (Conn.) Federation of Teachers agreed to a new labor agreement that was hailed by both American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as a breakthrough and national model. Yet the contract was actually a set of promises and processes to potentially undertake reforms after more discussion and mutual agreement. . . Now attention has shifted to Detroit, where the Detroit Federation of Teachers agreed late last week to a new contract. The agreement breaks a logjam, but there is no ambiguity about whether it constitutes real reform: This deal is not the radical change Detroit Public Schools need.

    17. Michigan.  Teacher contract breaks ground in Detroit Public Schools. Detroit News. December 22, 2009. By Amber Arellano. What is pitiful for one city, is another city's progress. That's the lesson we can take away from the Detroit Public Schools' new teacher contract. As the word about the newly ratified contract spread around the country, I started getting calls from national experts Monday, scratching their heads and wondering: Why are folks in Detroit so happy about this contract? The Detroit Federation of Teachers' champions have been heralding the contract as "revolutionary." That, it is not. It lacks major reforms that other big cities have incorporated in their negotiations in the last several years. And it includes, even creates, some of the most politically embarrassing and disturbing facets of other big city school districts' contracts, including what New York City calls a "rubber room."

    18. United States.   Schools face tough economic road ahead. eSchool News. December 22, 2009. By Laura Devaney, Managing Editor. While some economists point to signs that the nation's economy is improving, others say the U.S. faces a much slower climb out of the recession--a scenario that will have a huge effect on public education in the coming years. Though the Dow recently broke 10,000 to hit its highest level for the first time in a year, the national unemployment rate, at 10 percent, is the highest it has been since 1983. States are still waiting to hit bottom and are not likely to do so for another year or two--and education will feel the financial impact for some time after that, said Richard Sims, the chief economist for the National Education Association (NEA), at the Software and Information Industry Association's Ed-Tech Business Forum on Dec. 1.

    19. Connecticut.   Shelton teachers agree to help district close budget gap. Connecticut Post. December 21, 2009. By Kate Ramunni
    STAFF WRITER. SHELTON -- The dozens of school employees who were bracing for layoffs after the new year can breathe a bit easier after an agreement was reached Monday afternoon that eliminates that possibility. The unions that represent school employees -- from administrators to teachers to clerical staff -- agreed to "loan" the school system a day and a half's pay in order to help close the $700,000 gap in the current year's school budget. The employees won't forgo the pay completely -- they'll get it when they retire or leave the district -- but agreeing to work the hours without getting paid now will save the system more than $300,000.

    20. California.   Teachers file suit to block plan by LAUSD.  LA Daily News. December 21, 2009. By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer. Hoping to block Los Angeles Unified's bold reform plan that opens the doors for charter operators and other outside entities to take over public schools, the teachers union filed a lawsuit Monday that says the plan violates state law. Under LAUSD's School Choice plan, approved by the Board of Education this August, some 220 outside groups have submitted bids to run 36 new and underperforming schools. The deadline to apply for the schools is next month, with the school board expected to decide winners in February. Daily operations will be turned over by fall of 2010.

    21. Washington, DC.   D.C. Schools Chief Michelle Rhee Fights Union Over Teacher Pay. U.S. News & World Reports. December 21, 2009. By Lauren Smith In her quest to revive Washington's public school system, Chancellor Michelle Rhee is pushing innovative but con­tentious ideas, one of which has garnered her national at­tention: whether teacher pay can be tied directly to stu­dent performance.
    "So far, nobody has really been able to do it on a large scale," says Jay Greene, senior fellow at the Man­hattan Institute's Center for Civic Innovation. "She is a pathbreaker in pushing it as far as she has." The repercussions of Rhee's succeeding, even in an incremental fashion, are far-reaching. If she is able to pay District of Columbia teachers based on the aca­demic achievements of their students, she could revolutionize the way public school systems are run across the country.

    22. United States.   Study: Schools face shortfalls after stimulus ends. Kansas City Star. December 21, 2009. By MICHAEL GORMLEY
    Associated Press Writer. Using federal stimulus money to avoid layoffs at schools is going to create a shortfall even more difficult for states and schools to contend with when that money runs out, according to a first-of-its-kind study released Monday. New York alone will see a $2 billion shortfall after stimulus money ends in 2011-12, and that could drive up some of the nation's highest local property taxes another 8 percent, according to the analysis by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. "This isn't just a New York problem," DiNapoli said in an early and detailed analysis of school aid after federal stimulus funds run out in 2011-12. "Other states across the country will face a similar dilemma if they used stimulus money to plug budget holes instead of paying for one-time expenses.

    23. United States.   Jobless rate dips in 36 states. By Staff Reports. December 21, 2009. Unemployment declined in 36 states in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was the first time since April that more states’ unemployment rates rose than fell, The Associated Press reported. But the wire service warned that the trend “appeared to reflect more people leaving the work force.” Those who stop looking for jobs out of frustration aren’t counted in the work force. The national unemployment declined to 10 percent, down from the 10.2 percent reported last month.

    24. Michigan.   Detroit Schools Push for Change. Wall Street Journal. December 21, 2009. By ALEX P. KELLOGG. Detroit's public schools took a step closer to financial stability over the weekend when the 7,000-member teachers' union ratified an innovative contract that will save the district $63 million over the next three years. Under the deal, teachers, school counselors and other staff agreed to defer $10,000 each in pay over the next two years to help the district pay its bills. In addition, union pay raises will be more closely tied to the district's financial health. In the third year of the contract, for example, teachers will receive a guaranteed 1% pay increase, but they will get a further 2% raise if districtwide enrollment increases and the district draws more state funding.

    25. Maryland.  Arbitrator issues pay proposals for Calvert teachers. Washington Post.December 20, 2009. By Christy Goodman. An arbitrator recently released recommendations to help end an impasse over the current school year's contract between the Calvert County Board of Education and the teachers union. At issue are the terms of the third year of the teachers' three-year contract. The board suggests a 0.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment, but the Calvert Education Association wants a 4.5 percent increase.
    M. David Vaughn of the American Arbitration Association met with a member of the board and the union and recommended that the teachers receive a one-time payment of 1 percent of salary and that a sick leave bank be established.

    26. Michigan.   Midyear layoffs, funding cuts hit metro schools. Detroit Free Press. December 20, 2009. BY LORI HIGGINS. . . It was a tough week across the board in metro Detroit school districts, as the ramifications of the middle-of-the-school-year state funding cuts began to become clearer. The midyear cuts mean some students may lose their favorite teachers, staff won't be able to travel to hear the latest education methods and parents may find themselves doing more to keep extracurricular activities afloat. In October, the state cut school funding by $165 per student, and soon after, 39 school districts -- including 26 in metro Detroit -- had additional funding cut.

    27. California.   Bar set low for lifetime job in L.A. schools. LA Times. December 20, 2009.  By Jason Felch, Jessica Garrison and Jason Song. Altair Maine said he was so little supervised in his first few years of teaching at North Hollywood High School that he could "easily have shown a movie in class every day and earned tenure nonetheless." . . . A Times investigation found that the Los Angeles Unified School District routinely grants tenure to new teachers after cursory reviews -- and sometimes none at all. Evaluating new teachers for tenure is one of a principal's most important responsibilities. Once instructors have permanent status, they are almost never fired for performance reasons alone. The two-year probation period, during which teachers can be fired at will, offers a singular opportunity to weed out poor performers.,0,2529590.story

    28. California.   Doughnuts a sticky issue in school labor dispute. LA Times. December 19, 2009. By Seema Mehta. Lawndale teachers protesting a dispute with the Centinela Valley Union High School District distributed doughnuts to students during their nutrition period Friday morning so the children would not eat free snacks provided by the district. Acknowledging that the sugar-filled treats are not nutritious, Centinela Valley Secondary Teachers Assn. President Erik Carlstone noted that Friday was the last day of school before winter break. "Students deserve a treat," he said. District officials denounced the teachers' tactics. "It's unconscionable for them to use the students as pawns," said Supt. Jose Fernandez, who added that the Krispy Kreme doughnuts distributed are full of sugar and fat, and go against district efforts to combat obesity in young people.,0,3798721.story

    29. Michigan.   Public employees also feeling pain of uncertainty in depressed economy. By Lynn Moore. The Muskegon Chronicle. December 19, 2009. Working in the public sector has its benefits: stable pay and benefits, union representation and the satisfaction of serving your community. But with that comes public scrutiny of performance, pay and other compensation. As private-sector employees struggle with layoffs, wage freezes and unpaid furloughs, it’s tempting for them to examine the lifestyles of teachers or firefighters or city administrators that are funded by public tax dollars. The truth is, those public employees are living with the same uncertainties about their futures. The depressed economy has severely restricted state funding for municipalities and schools. As a result, public sector employees are facing wage freezes, unpaid time off and the elimination of their jobs through consolidation, layoffs and privatization.

    30. California.   Three-Part Series on Teacher Transfers.  Voice of San Diego December 13-15, 2009.  By EMILY ALPERT.
    Part One:   The Teacher Whom Nobody Chose. December 13, 2009.
    Part Two:    Slowing the Revolving Door of Poor Schools. December 14, 2009.
    Part Three:  A Free Market for Teachers. December 15, 2009.

    See also:  Why Schools Treat Teachers Like Widgets. December 13, 2009.
                    One Stab at Fixing the Problem. December 14, 2009.

    31. United States.  Attendance at work is an essential function of the job in most instances. Employment Law Matters. December 7, 2009. In an unpublished opinion, Rios v. Dept. of Education, 2d Cir., No. 08-1262-cv, unpublished, November 2, 2009. . . In Rios’ case, there was documentary evidence that Rios “repeatedly failed to show up for work on time or at all for a variety of reasons, many of which were unrelated to her claimed disability.” In response to those absences, the DOE imposed certain disciplinary actions, and ultimately terminated Rios’ employment. While Rios claimed that her firing was based upon her disability, the DOE argued that her attendance at work was an essential function of her position. The Court agreed with the employer, and specifically found that by imposing discipline for Rios’ excessive absences, the DOE demonstrated the essential nature of Rios’ attendance and punctuality to her job. Because Rios was unable to establish a regular attendance pattern, she was not “otherwise qualified” to fulfill one of the essential functions of the position, and therefore was unable to establish a prima facie case under the ADA.

    32. United States.   SURVIVING AND THRIVING IN ECONOMIC TURMOIL:TAKING A LESSON FROM HIGH PERFORMING COMPANIES.  Towers-Perrin. November 2009. Few companies have remained untouched by the recession and even now, amid signs of recovery, caution reigns. While many companies did whatever it took to survive – reducing head count, freezing salaries, suspending contributions to retirement plans, eliminating training programmes – a number of organisations weathered the crisis particularly well, demonstrating resilience and maintaining consistently above-average performance.These were high-performing companies that went into the crisis in a position of financial and/or operational strength – and held fast to those strengths even through the worst of the downturn. Certainly, these companies took prudent steps to control costs, but they also viewed the recession as an opportunity to enhance a range of business-critical processes, from customer relations to internal communication.

  • 18 Dec 2009 12:36 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    1. California.   L.A. schools chief orders weak new teachers ousted.  LA Times. December 18, 2009. By Jason Song and Jason Felch
    Los Angeles schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines ordered administrators Thursday to weed out ineffective new teachers before they become permanent, acknowledging that the nation's second-largest school system has largely failed to adequately evaluate teacher performance. . . Taking aim at weak probationary teachers now could spare the district from firing others who are more effective but have slightly less experience next summer when there will probably be another round of layoffs. Teachers must be let go by seniority, according to state law, which has forced the Los Angeles Unified School District to ignore performance in its dismissals, officials said. The announcement came a week after The Times presented L.A. Unified with the results of an investigation that found the district often doesn't meaningfully assess new teachers before they are granted tenure. The story is scheduled to appear in Sunday's paper.,0,6523820.story

    2. Quebec.   Rejecting the statuquo, Quebec educators embrace new school of French spelling. The Globe and Mail.  December 18, 2009. By INGRID PERITZ. Montreau. For some people, the new spelling for onion in French is enough to make them cry. . . The changes, which have been eliciting passions since they were introduced in France two decades ago, had been largely ignored in Quebec - until now. This fall, the Quebec Education Ministry announced that both the old and new spellings were acceptable for students writing their province-wide exams this academic year. In a province where language is a pillar of identity, and where parents have coped with endless education reforms, the decision launched a debate that has sparked talk shows, letters to the editor and online discussion forums.

    3.  United States.   The Naive Negotiator.  The Altantic. December 17, 2009.  By Megan McArdle. . . . Negotiation doesn't work that way.  There is a zone of possible agreement (known to those who study this sort of thing as the ZOPA).  You can't negotiate your way out of that zone no matter where you start.  Nor does starting from a more aggressive bargaining point always mean that you will do better in the negotiation. It can often mean you do worse, because you poison the process. My mother used to sell real estate, and you'd see this a lot with stupid buyers, particularly men using newbie agents:  they'd submit an unrealistically low bid on the notion that this would force the buyer to bargain down.  What it actually did was convince the buyer that it was a waste of time to negotiate with you, and/or make them angry.  The net result was that King Kong got to beat his chest, but he didn't get to buy the apartment he wanted.

    4.  Florida.   Teachers union sends postcards to School Board.  Chicago Tribune. December 17, 2009. FORT LAUDERDALE - They're holiday cards with less-than-cheery greetings: think Santa Claus behind bars with the message "Federal Corruption Probe, who will be next?" Or, black cards with the FBI logo and a phone number for the "FBI Holiday Tip Line." Broward School Board members have started receiving these yuletide missives at their homes, courtesy of the Broward Teachers Union, which is locked in contract negotiations with the school district. The union wants an average 4 percent raise for teachers. The district says there's no money to pay for it.,0,1019715.story?track=rss-topicgallery

    5. Florida.   Florida teachers union blasts federal grants' merit-pay rule. Chicago Tribune. December 17, 2009. By Leslie Postal, Orlando Sentinel. Florida's largest teachers union Thursday called efforts to win federal grant money by overhauling teacher pay plans "fatally flawed" and urged local unions not to take part in the state's bid to win as much as $700 million. The Florida Education Association's announcement could make it more difficult for Florida to win Race to the Top money because a lack of union support could weaken the state's application in the eyes of the judges.,0,3152676.story?track=rss-topicgallery

    6. United States.   14 States Fail Gates' Race to the Top Test.  Politics K-12 Blog. By Michele McNeil on December 17, 2009. With the Race to the Top deadline just around the corner, education policy wonks are already sizing up the competition to figure out who's already in the lead, and who isn't. Vegas odds probably aren't favoring these 14 states, which didn't meet the Gates Foundation's litmus test for qualifying for RttT technical assistance: Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Vermont.

    7. Iowa.   Guest column: [Merit Pay:]Start with superintendents, not teachers. DesMoines Register. december 17, 2009.  By JONATHAN R. NARCISSE, a former Des Moines School Board member. . . The Culver administration's hypothesis is that if student performance is tied to teacher pay, then teachers will teach better and students will learn more. If this is accurate, the same thinking should hold true for principals. That is, if principals lead better, then teachers will teach better and students will learn more. The same must, therefore, hold true for superintendents. If they lead better, then principals will lead better and teachers will teach better. Regardless of the scenario, the one that does not start with first fixing the top is the wrong scenario. If education in Iowa is to be fixed, we must first start with fixing leadership instead of scapegoating our teachers.

    8. United States.   UPDATED: Union Veto Power in Race to the Top Agreements? Teacher Beat. By Stephen Sawchuk on December 17, 2009. To follow my previous post on the MOUs that states are beginning to create for their Race to the Top applications, it's quite interesting that some states are giving their teachers' unions seemingly much more leverage over whether or not the district will actually participate.Some states, like Colorado, are using the Education Department's model MOU wholesale. (It is in the appendix of the application). That one makes no reference to collective bargaining at all. Then there's Massachusetts' MOU, which adds this language:"Nothing in this MOU shall be construed to override any rights or duties as provided by collective bargaining law or collective bargaining agreements. The LEA and the local collective bargaining agent agree to negotiate in good faith, and those portions subject to collective bargaining shall be implemented only upon the agreement of the LEA and local collective bargaining agent.

    9. United States.   Issue Brief: The Crisis in State and Local Government Retiree Health Benefit Plans: Myths and Realities.The Center for State and Local Government Excellence. December 17, 2009. ef which was written by Robert L. Clark, professor of economics and management, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the College of Management, North Carolina State University, examines the current financial status of state retiree health plans. States with the lowest unfunded liabilities include North Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Oklahoma; states with the largest include New Jersey, New York, California, North Carolina, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Texas.{3A23B0F5-96FC-40AE-91D1-0DE488D5F17E}&DE={4B92FB20-503F-4D28-A7F3-3B573524CEB3}


    10. Michigan.  Editorial: New contract has Detroit paying bad teachers, even if they don't teach. Detroit News. December 17, 2009. While the proposed contract Detroit teachers are voting on this week puts in place many important reforms, one thing it doesn't do is provide for a way to fire incompetent teachers. Instead, it makes sure they'll stay on the payroll. The Detroit school district will pay teachers deemed unfit for the classroom, placing them in a so-called "rubber room" to do nothing, or perhaps some day serve as reading aides. The rubber room, as offensive as it is in a district that may have to lay off good teachers to balance its budget, is still better than what was in place.

    11. New York.   Paterson Sued Over School Payments. NY Times. December 16, 2009. By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE. ALBANY — A coalition of teachers’ unions and local school officials mounted a legal battle on Wednesday against Gov. David A. Paterson, arguing that his decision to unilaterally withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in scheduled payments to school districts violated New York’s Constitution. The educators asserted in a lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court in Albany County that Mr. Paterson had no power to withhold money after its expenditure had been authorized by the Legislature.

    12. United States.    RTTT Scorecard.  National Center on Teacher Quality. December 16, 2009.  Calculate your state's odds of winning a Race to the Top grant, using NCTQ's new scorecard. Of the four assurances required for Race to the Top funding, only one of them "Great Teachers and Leaders" is likely to MAKE or BREAK states' chances. IS YOUR STATE COMPETITIVE?

    13. Saskatchewan.   Saskatchewan School Boards Association says children will suffer if funding is cut. Leader-Post. December 15, 2009. By Angela Hall. REGINA — School boards that last year lost the ability to set local property tax rates are warning the provincial government not to cut or freeze funding for kindergarten to Grade 12 education in the spring budget. As the province tries to deal with a revised financial outlook due to far lower than anticipated potash royalty revenues, Saskatchewan School Boards Association president Sandi Urban-Hall said kids shouldn't be forgotten. "Unlike municipalities, school boards no longer have a right to go to the local property tax base to support Saskatchewan students," Urban-Hall said at a news conference Monday. "If boards receive inadequate funding for the schools in their communities, they have nowhere to turn for help."

    14. Oregon.   Rallying teachers interrupt Portland School Board meeting over prolonged contract talks. By Kimberly Melton, The Oregonian December 14, 2009. Frustration over 18-month-long contract negotiations erupted tonight in a raucous rally by chanting and sign-carrying Portland teachers who interrupted a school board meeting for half an hour.  Nearly 1,000 of them started a call-and-response that shut down the session: "What do we want?" "A contract!" "When do we want it ?" "Now!" They started the demonstration after teachers union President Rebecca Levison told the board members: "I'm dismayed to be here again tonight talking about the district's unwillingness to settle a contract. The nearly 3,500 members of the Portland Association of Teachers feel disrespected and ignored."  Neither Superintendent Carole Smith nor the six board members present responded. Then they all filed out of the room, returning only after the teachers left.

    15. California.   California Teachers Association's (Almost) Million Dollar Race to the Stop. EIA Communique. December 14, 2009. By Mike Antonucci. In an attempt to qualify for some $700 million in federal Race to the Top funds, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called a special session of the legislature to remove some impediments and increase the state's chances. The result was a bill sponsored by Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) that would lift the state's charter school cap, allow children in the lowest-performing schools to transfer to any school in the state or let their parents "force overhauls that could include firing teachers or changing the school into a charter school." The bill narrowly passed the Senate, but died in the Assembly Education Committee - replaced by a bill sponsored by the committee's chairwoman, Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica).

    16. United States.  List of 36 states that will apply for RTTT.  USDOE. December 14, 2009.

    17. Massachuetts.   Teachers’ test-linked bonuses overruled. Arbitrator decides high-scores reward violates contract. The Boston Globe. Decemdber 14, 2009. By James Vaznis Boston public schools had wanted to give math teachers at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury $100 for each of their students with a high score on the Advanced Placement college exam, as part of a grant program funded primarily by Exxon Mobile Corp. . .  But the arbitrator ruled that Boston officials failed to negotiate the bonuses and other aspects of the program with the union before entering into an agreement on Feb. 28, 2008, with Mass Math & Science Initiative, a division of the nonprofit Mass Insight Education & Research Institute, which administers the program in this state.

    18. New York.   School Districts Scramble After Albany Delays Aid. NY Times. December 14, 2009. By DANNY HAKIM. ALBANY — The Mount Vernon School District has largely stopped ordering supplies and equipment for its schools. The Saugerties Central School District has warned 36 teachers that they could face layoffs. The Albany School District is switching to a cheaper food service company starting next month. On Monday, superintendents across the state — and particularly in smaller and poorer districts — were recalibrating their budgets after Gov. David A. Paterson announced that he would temporarily withhold $146 million in school aid payments due on Tuesday and an additional $436 million in property tax reimbursements due to be paid to districts later this month.

    19. Pennsylvania.  Can city teachers be sold on merit pay plan? Union leader will try to steer them away from seniority scale. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. December 13, 2009. By Joe Smydo, In coming months, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President John Tarka will try to persuade more than 2,000 teachers to move from a traditional, seniority-based salary scale to performance pay. That may seem like an unusual pitch for a union man. But Mr. Tarka says he wants to get out in front of a growing trend, give Pittsburgh Public Schools teachers new rewards for hard work and seize an opportunity to focus attention on the need for more order in district classrooms. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the district $40 million to help fund a package of teacher-effectiveness initiatives--one of four grants it awarded for such projects nationwide. A shift to performance pay is one component of the plan, called "Empowering Effective Teachers in the Pittsburgh Public Schools."

    Pittsburg Public Schools plan:

    20. United States.  Performance pay funding for teachers may increase.  The Washington Post. By Nick Anderson. December 13, 2009.
    Federal funding for performance pay in public schools would quadruple, to $400 million a year, under a bill moving through Congress that reflects the growing political momentum behind an education reform idea once considered anathema to many Democrats and labor leaders. The Teacher Incentive Fund, launched during the Bush administration, has become a priority for President Obama. It has awarded more than 30 grants to school systems, states and public charter schools to develop new ways to reward top-performing teachers and principals in high-needs schools, with student test scores a significant factor but not the only one. Classroom evaluations are also considered.

    21. Louisana.    Louisiana serves as model in teacher assessment. Initiative connects test scores, schools that train educators. The Washington Post. By Nick Anderson. December 13, 2009. LAFAYETTE, La.-- In the fluorescent glow of Room 46 at J.W. Faulk Elementary School, second-year teacher Shannon Bower saw big challenges ahead for her fourth-graders who are struggling in reading and math. "I do what I can," she said during a recent class. "I move them up a little, but I can't do two years in one."  How much they advance will affect not only the students and their school, but also the university a few miles away that trained Bower. Through an initiative that Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls a model for the nation, Louisiana has become the first state to tie student test scores into a chain of evaluation that reaches all the way to teacher colleges. Those that fail to perform on this new metric someday could face shake-ups or, in extreme cases, closure.  "It's accountability on steroids," said E. Joseph Savoie, president of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which trained Bower.

    22. Michigan.   Davison teachers accept wage freeze.  Michigan Live. By George Jaksa. December 13, 2009. DAVISON TWP. — Davison School District’s teachers have accepted a wage freeze on a three-year contract while keeping their current health care insurance intact. The Board of Education ratified the pact Dec. 7 retroactive to the 2008-2009 school year. In return for the wage freeze, teachers’ health insurance coverage will continue unchanged through the 2010-2011 school year when the new contract expires.

    23. Ohio.   'Broken' teacher evaluation system defended.  Cincinnati Enquirer. By Ben Fischer. December 12, 2009. In a report released Dec. 1 that is certain to influence upcoming teacher contract negotiations, researchers from the New Teacher Project called for CPS to scrap its decade-old system. The recommendation is based on studies of evaluation results and employee surveys, which they said showed teacher dissatisfaction. "We know it is broken," said Daniel Weisberg, vice president of policy for the New York City-based nonprofit. "How do we know? Because teachers tell us so." But the researchers' unequivocal rejection of the status quo puzzled scholars who have been working on the challenge of accurately gauging teacher performance for years.

    24. Florida.  Contentious relations with teachers union may haunt Broward school district.  Chicago Tribune. December 12, 2009. Broward public school administrators hope to get a much-needed boost to district coffers — about $48 million — by asking for federal money earmarked for education. But they need the help of the teacher's union. And that's a tall order, considering the contentious relationship between the two. "You can't expect us to be cooperative when the district is completely uncooperative in dealing with the contract settlement," union president Pat Santeramo said on Friday. The district and the union are still negotiating the 2009-2011 teacher contract, with disagreements centered on raises, health insurance, tuition reimbursement and teacher input on school scheduling.,0,7824125.story?track=rss-topicgallery

    25. Wisconsin.  With QEO gone, schools bargain harder on teachers’ contracts. Milwaukie Journal-Sentinel. By Amy Hetzner. December 12, 2009. When negotiators for the Whitnall School District and its teachers union head back to the bargaining table this week to continue work on a 2009-'11 contract, they'll encounter a vastly different environment than when they last met in May. Since then, the state Legislature ended the 16-year cap on teacher compensation increases that has allowed school districts to avoid arbitration if they offer a 3.8% increase in salaries and benefits. The state also cut aid to schools and restricted the amount that school districts could raise in property taxes to make up for lost state funds. The result is that teachers are likely to find it difficult to benefit from the repeal of the qualified economic offer law, which they sought to kill since its inception.

    26. Pennsylvania.   Taxpayers' pension tab starts spike.  The Patroit News. December 12, 2009. BY CHARLES THOMPSON. Pennsylvania's school districts will see their retirement costs increase by more than 70 percent next year as the first symptoms of the state's public pension crisis begin to be felt.  The Public School Employees' Retirement System trustees on Friday approved an employer contribution rate of 8.22 percent for the 2010-11 budget year, a 12-year high for the system and a 72 percent jump from the 4.78 percent contribution rate in place now.

    27. Michigan.   Detroit parents want DPS teachers, officials jailed over low test scores.  The Detroit News. December 12, 2009. By Santiago Esparza / The Detroit News. Detroit -- Impassioned parents demanded jail time for educators and district officials Saturday following the release of test scores that showed fourth- and eighth-graders had the worst math scores in the nation. City students took the National Assessment of Educational Progress test this year, and 69 percent of fourth-graders scored below the basic level in math and 77 percent of eighth-graders scored below basic.  The Detroit scores on the progress test were the lowest in its 40-year history. The sample of students included 900 of Detroit's 6,000 fourth-graders and 1,000 of the district's 6,000 eighth-graders.

    28. Michigan.   Teacher Cuts Off First-Grader’s Braid; Union Blames It on “Budget Constraints”  EIA Intecepts. December 12, 2009.  By Mike Antonucci. Sid Hatch of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association wins this week’s Soylent Green Eater Award for Spouting Union Talking Points in the Wake of Indefensible Teacher Behavior. Seven-year-old Lamya Cammon was absentmindedly playing with her braids, which have plastic beads on their ends. The noise annoyed her first-grade teacher. The teacher called Lamya to the front of the room, cut off one of her braids, and sent her back to her seat, crying. The teacher ultimately apologized to Lamya’s mother and was fined $175 by police for disorderly conduct. She remains in the classroom but Lamya was assigned to a different teacher.

    29. Alberta.  Rand Formula Required by Charter!  Doorey's Workplace Law Blog. December 11, 2009. The Alberta Labour Relations Board issued an interesting Charter decision recently, ruling that the absence of the Rand Formula from the Alberta labour relations code was a violation of freedom of association in Section 2(d).  It involves Old Dutch Foods and the UFCW.  Here is the decision.  The Board gave the government 1 year to introduce some form of Rand Formula.  Of course, a review of the decision may be well underway by then. The Rand Formula describes a statutory provision introduced decades ago in most provinces that provides that, where a union so requests, the collective agreement must include a clause requiring the employer to deduct union dues from all employees in a bargaining unit (employees covered by a collective agreement) and remit the money to the union.  In Ontario, it appears in Section 47.   It was the solution proposed by Justice Ivan Rand to end a bitter strike at Ford in Windsor back in the 1940s. Alberta, and some of the maritime provinces (N.B., N.S., and PEI), have not included a mandatory union dues provision like the other provinces.

    30. United States.   We will look at your union contracts. Flypaper Education Blog. Fordham Institute. By Andy Smarick. December 11, 2009. " . . . What has become clear to me is that Secretary Duncan is comfortable challenging teacher unions on the policy level. This is welcome, and he should be given credit for it. But in many areas, union contracts are where the rubber meets the road. And this appears to be the Rubicon the secretary is unwilling to cross. . . Before the holidays, he should visit a state eager for RTT funds (say California or Michigan) and deliver a speech along the following lines: 'I know the Race to the Top application encourages you to get union officials to sign off on your proposal as an indication of their support for your plans. That is all well and good, but understand that we fully recognize that a signature is merely symbolic. We are not looking for symbols, we are not looking for promises, we are not looking for good intentions. We are not going to invest in a “commitment to negotiate.” We are not going to invest in a “willingness to discuss.” We are only going to invest in sure things. So let me be very clear: We will look at your union contracts. Your laws tell us what can be done. Your proposal tells us what you hope to get done. But in many ways, your collective bargaining agreements tell us what will be done.' . . "

    31. Arkansas.   Pulaski teachers protest board vote against union. Boston Globe. December 10, 2009.By Chuck Bartels, Associated Press Writer. LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Union-represented teachers in the Pulaski County School District stayed home Thursday to protest a school board decision to end recognition of their union. All 39 schools in the 18,000-student district remained open, with substitute teachers and parent volunteers filling in for the absent teachers, Acting Superintendent Rob McGill said.

  • 11 Dec 2009 12:31 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    1. Maryland.   Md. Schools Chief Proposes Changes for Teachers.  Education Week. December 11, 2009. By The Associated Press
    Baltimore. Maryland schools Superintendent Nancy Grasmick is proposing changes to teacher compensation, tenure and evaluations.
    Grasmick said at the state school board meeting Thursday that the changes are needed to reform education and position the state to be competitive in applying for $250 million in federal stimulus money. She is proposing extending the time it takes teachers to receive tenure and requiring unions to bargain over incentive pay for teaching courses where there are shortages of instructors. These two proposals would require changes in state law. Grasmick is also proposing linking teacher evaluations to student test scores

    2. United States.  New Teacher-Evaluation Systems Face Obstacles.  Education Week. December 11, 2009. By Stephen Sawchuk.
    Buoyed by the promise of federal funding and a burgeoning dialogue about teacher effectiveness, districts are beginning to overhaul their evaluation systems to provide more finely grained information on teacher performance. Among the places considering, piloting, or implementing teacher-evaluation systems based at least in part on a set of performance-based standards are Ann Arbor, Mich.; Chicago; the District of Columbia; Elgin and Rockford, Ill.; Prince George’s County, Md.; and select districts in states such as Idaho, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

    3. United States.   Effective Technical Assistance Principles: Lessons from Three Performance Pay Programs.  Center for American Progress. By Jessica L. Lewis and Matthew G. Springer December 2009.  This paper focuses on technical assistance provided to school systems interested in performance pay and how such assistance can facilitate a higher quality of program design and implementation.

    4. New York.  Both current and former teachers ask judge to nix 'rubber rooms' for teachers booted from classroom.  NY Daily News. December 11, 2009. BY John Marzulli. The infamous "rubber rooms" where teachers twiddle their thumbs while under investigation are unconstitutional, inhumane and even toxic, a new federal suit charges.Six current and former teachers are asking a judge to shut down the detention centers for teachers who have been booted from the classroom. . . A Department of Education spokeswoman said about 550 teachers are assigned to the centers. City lawyer Maxwell Leighton responded in a letter to the judge that there are "substantial grounds" to dismiss the suit.

    5.  New York.  Cuts Ahead, a Bronx Principal Maps Out What May Have to Go.  NY Times. December 10, 2009. By SHARON OTTERMAN. . . But budget cuts are coming, even if it is too soon to say exactly when and how much. Most city agencies have been asked to submit plans for cost savings; the Department of Education has been asked to prepare for a 1.5 percent midyear cut and a 4 percent cut for next autumn’s entering class. While it is not known how much individual schools will be asked to shave, principals like Mr. Tom are preparing for the worst. It is part of their role, since 2007, of managing a large portion of their own operating budgets. Mr. Tom agreed to discuss his budget in detail to illustrate what the cuts could mean to a school that seems an embodiment of the hopes of the mayor and chancellor for the system.

    6. California.   Jokeland [in Oakland, CA]. Intercepts, EIA by Mike Antonucci.  December 10, 2009. The Oakland Education Association is demanding a 15 percent raise over three years in its teacher contract negotiations. That’s ridiculous enough for a district that has lost a higher percentage of students in the last five years than any of California’s largest 125 districts. What’s especially galling is that Oakland placed a parcel tax referendum on the November 2008 ballot to raise $10 million for teachers’ salaries – and the union opposed it because it would have earmarked $2.5 million for charter schools. The measure failed.

    7. New Hampshire.   School district works on union’s questions. Nashua Telegraph. December 10, 2009. By MICHAEL BRINDLEY. NASHUA – School district officials are hoping to have answers to the list of financial information requests submitted by the teachers union by the end of the week. Superintendent Mark Conrad said district staff has been working on answering all of the questions posed by the Nashua Teacher’s Union on Nov. 5. In some cases, the district could go off of existing documents, but Conrad said other requests took more time. One request asked the school district to provide a list every consultant hired over the past five years, including the cost and job description for each consultant. . . The union submitted a list of 13 questions in response to the Board of Education’s request that the union reopen negotiations on the final year of the teachers contract. The school board made the request in an effort to find ways to save money heading into the next school year. Conrad is estimating the district will need to cut $6 million next year to make up for historic deficits in areas such as severance, payroll and special education. And that assumes the school district will get a 2.5 percent increase in its budget.

    8. United States.   State budgets: $28 billion short this year.  December 10, 2009. By John Gramlich, Staff Writer. Thirty-six states face budget shortfalls totaling $28 billion in the fiscal year that began just five months ago, according to a new 50-state report. The assessment predicts another $56 billion in shortfalls across 35 states next fiscal year and $69 billion in shortfalls across 23 states the year after that.  The analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures is the latest to point to a long period of money problems ahead for state governments, which historically have faced budget crises even after national recessions are declared over. Many economists, the report notes, believe the current recession ended sometime in the third quarter of this year.

    9.  Michigan.   Merging of schools is gaining support.  Detroit Free Press. December 10, 2009. BY PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI. School districts used to brush off the notion of consolidating without a second thought -- citing lost programs and school identity -- but these days, the idea is gaining steam in Lansing. With the state in the midst of a funding crisis, proponents are recognizing that consolidating school systems could eliminate duplicate services. . . Three significant barriers stand in the way of making school system consolidation a reality: varying student funding levels, employee contracts and various debt levels within school districts.

    10. United States.    Avoid the status quo bias.  Work Matters. December 9, 2009. The source of the status quo trap lies deep within our psyches, in our desire to protect our egos from damage. Breaking from the status quo means taking action, and when we take action, we take responsibility thus opening ourselves to criticism and to regret." That's a great line from the article, and it is so true. As lawyers, we often do — not what is needed — but what others cannot criticize

    11. California.   Evergreen College Board backs off plans to lay off workers in wake of chancellor Perez investigation.  San Jose Mercury-News. December 8, 2009. By Lisa M. Krieger. Facing about 200 angry college employees, the board of trustees of the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District backed off plans to lay off 85 workers and 21 managers, saying it would explore other strategies to fill a $3.5 million dollar budget shortfall. Employees said their jobs should not be sacrificed in light of allegations that outgoing Chancellor Rosa Perez charged the district and its foundation for lavish perks that included overnight stays at San Jose's luxury Fairmont Hotel, a tour of El Salvador and airfare to Scotland.

    12. California.   LA schools approve plan to cut 5,000 jobs.  Washington Post. December 8, 2009. The Associated Press. LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles school board has approved a budget plan that calls for more than 5,000 job cuts. District Superintendent Ramon Cortines presented the board with various proposals Tuesday to deal with a projected budget deficit of $1.2 billion for the next two school years. Projected layoffs would include almost 1,400 teachers. Average class size would jump to 29 students from 24. The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second largest, laid off some 2,000 teachers this academic year. About 300 teachers and supporters protested outside the meeting, chanting and waving signs that read, "Enough is enough."

    13. United States.   Improving Low-Performing Schools: Lessons from Five Years of Studying School Restructuring under No Child Left Behind. Center on Education Policy. December 7, 2009.  This report synthesizes five years of CEP's research on state and local efforts to improve persistently low-performing schools in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act. CEP conducted this research in six states -- California, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, New York, and Ohio -- and in 23 districts and 48 schools within those states. The report also makes recommendations for improving federal assistance in this area.

    14. Ohio.  Teacher pay for performance back in spotlight.  Cincinnatti Inquirer. By Ben Fischer. December 7, 2009. Seven years ago, Cincinnati Public Schools was on the brink of becoming the first school district in the United States to tie all teacher compensation to performance, instead of seniority and college degrees. But the revolutionary agreement collapsed amid growing union opposition. Despite attempts from some proponents to keep it in the limelight, the issue faded through two rounds of contract talks. On Tuesday, it came roaring back in a report from the New Teacher Project that calls for CPS and its teachers to implement a robust "performance-based pay" program. This time, performance would be defined by student scores, not just teacher technique.

    15. Michigan.   Michigan Education Association leader says union isn't standing in the way of Race to the Top money. By Dave Murray | The Grand Rapids Press. December 07, 2009. Michigan Education Association leaders say they’re being unfairly painted as obstructing the state’s ability to compete for a slice of the billions of dollars that could be dispersed through the federal Race to the Top program. Union President Iris Salters on Monday issued a three-page open letter to lawmakers and the public saying she wants the state to get it’s share of the money. But they’re not too happy about some of the program’s demanded reforms

    16. Illinois.  Editorial: Teachers too valuable to be allowed to strike.  Rockford Register Star.  December 7, 2009. Children in Prairie-Hills School District 144 weren’t in school Monday and they haven’t been since last Thursday. Teachers there are on strike because they didn’t get the two-year contract they asked for. That would be the one with the back-to-back, 7.5 percent raises. The School Board in the south suburban Chicago district countered with 3 percent raises — a generous sum in this horrible economy — but the teachers would go no lower than 6.5 percent. This Editorial Board has long been in favor of a state law to prevent teachers from striking, but this Christmas punch-in-the-gut to students and families gives us reason to re-up our support. No less than 37 states have passed laws that ban teachers from striking; some of those states have penalties ranging from dismissal to imprisonment for teachers who refuse to work.

    17. United States.   Report on Expanded-Time Schools in America.  National Center on Time & Learning.  December 7, 2009.  By David A. Farbman. The report draws from a new national database of schools that have broken from the conventional school calendar in order to improve educational outcomes.  A correlational analysis found a statistically significant (p<.01) moderate association between the number ofminutes per day and student performance for Grades 7 and 10 in both math and ELA.  "Although the data
    available for these analyses were limited, they do suggest a positive relationship between student performance and daily time."
    Online database:

    18. Michigan.   Deal to defer $10,000 in pay riles Detroit teachers.  Detroit Free Press. December 6, 2009. By CHASTITY PRATT DAWSEY. Thousands of Detroit Federation of Teachers members railed Sunday against a tentative contract with the district that calls for radical changes, including deferring $10,000 from each of their pay over the next two years. The 3-year tentative agreement, outlined during a heated 2-hour union meeting at Cobo Hall, would save the deficit-ridden district $62.8 million, Robert Bobb, emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools, said after the meeting. It also would eliminate the need for DPS to file bankruptcy, he said. Members will vote over the next two weeks.

    19. California.    Capistrano Unified teachers protest proposed 10% pay cut. LA Times. December 6, 2009. By Ann M. Simmons. Teachers angry at the Capistrano Unified School District's proposal to cut their pay by 10% held a rally Saturday to protest the move.
    The demonstration, which took place near the Mission Viejo Mall, drew more than 300 people, according to organizers of the event. It marked the latest in a series of actions highlighting teachers' dissatisfaction with contract negotiations and the school board.  Capistrano Unified needs to slash about $25 million from its 2010-11 budget, board officials have said. They have suggested cutting teachers' pay by 10% and making the decrease retroactive to July by deducting it from upcoming paychecks.,0,1894618.story

    20. Maryland.  Soft Skills at Work: Listening carefully shows respect for colleagues, customers.  The Maryland Capital News. December 6, 2009. By MARCIA HALL, For The Capital. . . Poor listening skills affect both companies and a person's career. Donna explained how employers react when this problem occurs. "If you have employees who keep coming back, just talk and don't listen, they think they know more than you do, and don't care what you have to say," she said. "That's how it is perceived by the employer. If employees don't listen, they don't respect us. They don't realize that conversations are give-and-take." Kevin talked about the bottom-line impact on companies when employees fail to give customers their full attention. "You won't get the business," he said. "People recognize if it's rude. Customers think, 'If you don't listen, how will you know what my needs are?' "

    21. Oregon.    Opinion: Mandatory union dues shouldn't be forced on teachers. The Oregonian. December 5, 2009. By Elizabeth Hovde. 
    As Oregon teachers and lawmakers continue brainstorming various education reforms, getting rid of mandatory union dues should be at the top of the list. That's nothing against the Oregon Education Association. As far as I can tell, OEA has well-meaning, knowledgeable people working for it. And unlike in Washington, where the state-level teachers union was recently riddled with lawsuits over how it spends members' dues, Oregon teachers who have had unacceptable run-ins with their state-level union either don't exist or are hard to find.

    22. United States.  IRS Lowers Standard Mileage Rates. Thompson Publishing. Date Posted: December 4, 2009. Citing lower transportation costs, the IRS announced Dec. 3 a decrease in the standard mileage rates to be used in 2010 for calculating the deductions when someone uses an automobile for business-related, charitable, medical or relocation-related purposes. The standard mileage rate for business use of a vehicle is also used in reimbursing employees for their use of personal vehicles for their employer's business. The new rates, which go into effect Jan. 1, 2010, are as follows: 50 cents per mile for business-related use (down from 55 cents in 2009); 16.5 cents per mile for medical or relocation-related purposes (down from 24 cents in 2009); and 14 cents per mile for use to support a charity (unchanged from 2009). These rates reflect the changes that have taken place in the cost of transportation and gasoline in the last year.

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