Tag Archives: impact

Sign of Hopeful Political Shift as Families Rally for D.C. School Choice

Some day I might grow up to be cynical about education politics, but for now I see a big glimmer of hope. What do I mean? Look at yesterday’s Wall Street Journal: Low-income families in the District of Columbia got some encouraging words yesterday from an unlikely source. Illinois Senator Richard Durbin signaled that he may be open to reauthorizing the Opportunity Scholarship Program, a school voucher program that allows 1,700 disadvantaged kids to opt out of lousy D.C. public schools and attend a private school. “I have to work with my colleagues if this is going to be reauthorized, which it might be,” said Mr. Durbin at an appropriations hearing Tuesday morning. He also said that he had visited one of the participating private schools and understood that “many students are getting a good education from the program.” This could be the sign of a big turnaround for the influential Democratic senator, whom I have rightly critiqued in the past. At the Flypaper blog, Andy Smarick says Durbin’s statement “was a major step in the right direction”, and wonders if the D.C. 6’s dramatic sit-in a few weeks ago had an impact.

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Status Quo in Congress Holds Back Teacher Incentive Fund Growth … Somewhat

Alyson Klein, one of the ladies who cover happenings related to education on Capitol Hill for Education Week, reports about an important committee vote yesterday: A bipartisan effort to boost funding for the Teacher Incentive Fund by an extra $100 million went down to defeat today during the full Senate Appropriations Committee’s markup of the bill funding the U.S. Department of Education in fiscal year 2010. The bill already includes $300 million for the TIF, a teacher performance-pay program that is currently funded at $97 million. The proposed increase in the failed amendment would have been paid for by taking $100 million out of the federal State Grants for Improving Teacher Quality program. TIF provides competitive grants to state agencies, school districts, and charter schools that develop quality performance pay programs for teachers and for principals. As my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow has outlined in his issue paper Denver’s ProComp and Teacher Compensation in Colorado (PDF) and elsewhere, local Colorado school districts have applied for and received a significant share of TIF grant money. Besides Denver, they include Eagle County, Harrison (El Paso County), and Fort Lupton. Our K-12 education compensation system badly needs a serious overhaul, and […]

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Teacher Pay & Tenure System Like Pounding Square Peg into Round Hole

Have you ever tried to pound a square peg into a round hole (or vice versa)? How about after that doesn’t work a couple times, you go out and buy 100 of the same square pegs to keep trying what already failed? It makes about as much sense as most systems we have today for training, developing, paying, and retaining teachers. Sure, we’ve seen some progress with performance pay programs — Colorado has produced some leading examples — but the old-fashioned salary schedule still persists. Pay teachers based on seniority and academic credentials. Never mind, as the Denver Post‘s Jeremy Meyer observes from Urban Institute education director Jane Hannaway (with supporting evidence compiled here), that teachers overwhelmingly improve during the first four years of their career and then just stop: “It’s one of our very consistent findings,” said Hannaway, presenter last week at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting in San Diego, citing at least two recent studies of teacher effectiveness. “The reason of course is not clear, but it’s in study after study,” she said. “Teachers do get better (in the beginning). If you look at the same teacher at Year One, they look a lot better at […]

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