Tag Archives: friends

Of NEA, ACORN, Duncan and Electric Chairs: EIA is Back with a Bang

If you aren’t a regular reader of Mike Antonucci’s Education Intelligence Agency (EIA), you don’t know what you’re missing. Mr. Antonucci is one of the best national experts on teachers unions, has a very keen perspective on the significance of issues in unions and education politics, and breaks many stories with his vast network of (mostly anonymous) sources. That’s why when he took a break from his online reporting and commentary for nine or 10 days a little earlier this month, I was suffering from a mild case of withdrawal. But EIA’s Intercepts blog is back, with two new pieces I commend to your reading enjoyment and enlightenment: “NEA & ACORN: The Details” (adding more depth to an issue my Education Policy Center friends covered recently on our Independent Teachers site) How the two national teachers unions now face the equivalent of a political “electric chair” in their education policy discussions with a Democratic presidential administration … big stuff EIA is back with a bang. Happy Monday!

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Teachers in Another School District Decide to Break Away from the NEA

Back in the spring I told you about a local teachers union in Kansas that broke away from the National Education Association. Apparently the trend is growing. From a press release sent to my friends in the Education Policy Center this week about some happenings in Spokane, Washington:

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Share Your Feedback on Colorado's New Draft Social Studies Standards

You’ve heard that old, old song before: “Don’t know much about history…. (And for that matter geography, civics, and economics.) Well, how true is it of Colorado public school students? And how much will the newly revised Social Studies academic standards help improve the situation? A first draft (PDF) of the Social Studies standards has been produced by a committee, and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) wants your comments. Whether you have time to read through all 128 pages of introductory material and proposed standards in the four content areas, or just select portions, any feedback you can provide is helpful. To get the context of the process behind the standards and some examples that may raise concerns, click on the play button below to listen to a new iVoices podcast discussion featuring my Education Policy Center friends Pam Benigno and Ben DeGrow:

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Obama Speaks to Schoolchildren … Where's the Real Local Control?

Update 5, 9/8: The speech that went off today, and the lesson plans that accompanied it, were a lot less creepy and controversial than the original release. Who knows how much the uproar had an effect on that? Anyway, I commend to you two thoughtful perspectives on the whole episode: by Jay Greene at Education Next and by coolreformchick at Edspresso. The good news about the President addressing schoolchildren across the nation? At least this time Congress won’t start an inquiry into it. Update 4, 9/4: I have gathered and posted numerous responses from Colorado teachers and schools to Obama’s address to schoolchildren. Also, my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow explains what he told Denver Post reporter Jeremy Meyer that didn’t end up being quoted in today’s story. Update 3, 9/3: Westword blogger Michael Roberts noticed me!! I’m glad he likes my sense of humor. I have a 5-year-old kid crush on him now …. Hope he also reads my latest on this topic. Update 2: Jim Geraghty notes that the Department of Education has reworded the teacher’s guide to make it less offensive. A good idea … you think? Meanwhile, Douglas County School District south of Denver, the […]

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Dangers in D.C. Public Schools Strengthen Case to Save Vouchers

I like feeling safe. My parents like knowing I’m reasonably safe from all kinds of violence when I go to school, too. A lot of times where we live, we can take that kind of school safety for granted. But as a new report co-produced by the Heritage Foundation and the Lexington Institute (PDF) chronicles the dangers many students face in D.C. Public Schools and the need for greater choice: In 2009, the U.S. Department of Education reported that 11.3 percent of D.C. high school students reported being “threatened or injured” with a weapon while on school property during the previous year—a rate well above the national average…. The data reveal that during the 2007–2008 school year, police responded to more than 900 calls to 911 reporting violent incidents at the addresses of D.C. public schools and more than 1,300 events concerning property crimes. The data reveal a wide variance in the locations of these reported incidents. Some public schools with high rates of 911 calls are located within high-crime neighborhoods. In addition, while one should use these data with care when comparing the relative safety of public, charter, and private schools, this data set shows that a drastically higher […]

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Two Chances to Hear from Douglas County School Board Candidates

It’s important for Colorado citizens to get involved in local school board elections. A lot of important policies and other decisions are set at the local level, so it’s good to make an informed choice and cast a vote! If you live in Douglas County, you’ll want to know about two forums taking place where you can get to meet the school board candidates, ask them questions, and learn about where they stand on important issues like school choice, school accountability, performance pay, school financial transparency, and more. The first one, sponsored by the Douglas County Federation [local teachers union], is tonight from 7-8:30 PM at Chaparral High School. If you miss that opportunity, I received an email from A Parent’s Voice founder Donnell Rosenberg alerting me to another forum coming up in September:

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NEA Backs Obama Care Plan, Doesn't Bother Asking Member Teachers

For some reason, these days all the big people are talking a lot more about health care than education. Hey, I’m not a huge fan of going to the doctor or going to school. But at least at school, you’ve got some of your friends around you. And learning can be fun, too (but don’t tell my friends I said that). Anyway, my other friends in the Education Policy Center provide one overlooked example of how the two issues overlap with this post on the Independent Teachers blog: If you were a full-time member of the National Education Association (NEA) through joining your local teachers union, then you sent money during the 2007-08 school year to support the current proposal from Congress and President Obama to promote socialized medicine. According to the latest disclosure report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, NEA gave $500,000 in 2007-08 to the group Health Care for America Now, a 501c4 political organization that is backing President Obama’s health care plan. (It is likely that NEA has made further contributions to this group since 2007-08, since NEA is listed as being a member of the HCAN steering committee.) Wow, you think the union could […]

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New Denver KIPP School Performance Pay Plan Latest Charter Innovation

With a variety of programs and greater flexibility from state laws and district policies, public charter schools can provide a great alternative for parents and students looking for something different. Because of that same flexibility, charter schools can serve as great laboratories of innovation for different practices that work. A couple months ago, while school was still in session, my Education Policy Center friends visited KIPP-Sunshine Peak Academy, a charter middle school located in west Denver. The national KIPP network of 82 charter schools has been made famous recently by the book Work Hard Be Nice, written by Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews.

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A Few "Irrational" Parents Better Than Bureaucrats in Charge of All Kids

Updated for clarity Over at the Britannica blog, Dan Willingham wonders aloud if school choice might be a bad policy not effect positive change in the system through competition because many parents won’t make the “rational” decision: The logic of school choice seems obvious. If parents selected their children’s schools, they would not choose bad ones, so bad schools would not be able to survive. Schools would have to improve or close, just as a store that offers poor service will lose business to a store that offers better service. Here’s my problem with that logic: I think it’s highly likely that many parents will choose bad schools. (H/T Core Knowledge blog) You’re welcome to go ahead and read Mr. Willingham’s entire entry. But I think Jay Greene has done the best job of providing a rational objection:

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Please Don't Let Unions Play Hide-and-Seek with Teachers' Money

Hide-and-seek can be a lot of fun, but not when someone else — especially some big group — is playing it with your money. That’s why my friends at the Independence Institute make such a big deal about government spending transparency. But what about transparency for teachers who belong to, or have to pay fees to, a union? Following the story of the Indiana state teachers union that lost millions of dollars of members’ money through gross mismanagement, James Sherk and Dan Lips from the Heritage Foundation wrote a great piece for yesterday’s National Review Online called “Shady Dealings”. They explain how teachers unions have fought having to shine light on their financial activities:

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