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Rights Groups Oppose Obama’s Agenda

In late July, the nation’s leading civil rights organizations issued a withering critique of the Obama administration’s education policies.

I hope that our readers will forget the invective directed against the authors of that report, “Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn.” Read it. It contains wisdom and good sense, both as a warning about the errors of current and proposed policies and as a roadmap for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

If you believe that education is a civil right, or that education is of paramount importance to the future of our nation, or that every child should have access to a high-quality education, it is hard to conclude that the Obama administration’s education policies are wise, practical, or likely to succeed.—Diane Ravitch


‘Leading Educators’ In the Big Easy

Word on the street is that a cool new venture is rising in New Orleans, which is well on its way to becoming the Silicon Valley of American education. The newest effort involves taking the Big Easy’s “Leading Educators” program national.

Leading Educators is intended to address the problem of high-energy, entrepreneurial teachers who tend to leave teaching after two to four years. The goal is to create a competitive program to identify promising candidates in their third through eighth years, and then provide high-powered support to keep them in the schools and help them develop professionally—with an eye to preparing them for leadership roles.

Especially attractive is the tendency to get beyond just building new boxes (i.e., schools), and to instead use new tools and models to deepen and cultivate the talent pipeline. —Rick Hess


The Elephant in the (Rubber) Room

For years, New York City’s so-called “rubber rooms”—temporary reassignment centers for teachers awaiting disciplinary hearings—were an embarrassment for both the teachers’ union and for the district. Teachers essentially reported to the rooms during contractual work hours and were paid during that time.

Back in April, the United Federation of Teachers and the school district reached an agreement to shutter the rooms. Teachers were to report for clerical duty or assignments other than instructing kids.

However, some teachers don’t see a particularly big difference between their new assignments and the rubber-room days of yore. The rubber rooms may be closed, but the policies that created a situation in which teachers get paid for doing something other than teaching remain largely untouched.

In agreeing to assigning these teachers to other work, the United Federation of Teachers and the district essentially bypassed the larger philosophical question: Should teachers awaiting dismissal hearings have their pay suspended pending an outcome? —Stephen Sawchuk

Vol. 30, Issue 04, Page 6

Published in Print: September 22, 2010, as Blogs of the Week
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