Tag Archives: problems

iVoices: Colorado's Own Expert Talks Education Policy and the Courts

Exactly what role should unelected judges play in making policies for our schools? What problems have been created? What can we expect in the future? These are the kinds of questions that University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professor Joshua Dunn addresses in a new iVoices podcast with my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow (click the play button below to listen to the 15-minute discussion): The podcast only scratches the surface on the issue of the courts and education policy, because Joshua Dunn really knows what he’s talking about. Along with Martin West, he edited an important new book on the topic called From Schoolhouse to Courthouse — published by the Brookings Institution Press and Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

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Fixing How Colorado Teachers Are Evaluated an Important Reform Piece

Hooray for Nancy Mitchell, and so glad she is working at Ed News Colorado these days. Her latest investigation probes the value of our current teacher evaluation system at identifying effective teachers, weeding out ineffective teachers, and providing support where necessary. The results? Not very good: Education News Colorado requested teacher evaluation data from the six largest districts, all in the metro area, which serve more than 40 percent of public school students statewide. The analysis found little difference between the results of evaluations given in affluent, high-performing Douglas County and those doled out in urban Denver Public Schools, where large numbers of students perform below average on state exams. Fewer than 2 percent of teachers in either district – or in Adams Five-Star School District or in Jefferson County Public Schools – were told they needed to improve their instructional skills.

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Detroit: Fire Teachers Who Don't Pay Union, Not Those Who Can't Teach

Detroit Public Schools is far from the model of educational success. In fact, it’s one of the worst-performing school systems in the country. For example, look no further than the abysmally low graduation rates. One of the problems that could be addressed would be the tremendous difficulty to remove ineffective classroom teachers. It is so difficult and costly to do that on the occasions when Detroit (and the problem isn’t isolated there by any stretch of the imagination) actually tries to remove poor performers, they have to resort to offering settlements worth many months of pay and promises not to reveal the reason for their terminated employment. That’s for teachers who show extensive evidence of not being cut out for the job — or in some cases, even worse. As the Education Action Group has uncovered (PDF), though, there is one sure way to ensure the removal of a Detroit Public Schools instructor. From a local union official’s own mouth, fire him or her for not paying union dues or fees:

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Barack Obama's "Stimulus" Plan Would Grow Union Jobs, Hinder School Reform

The big story in the news is about President-elect Obama’s giant “stimulus” plan – better known as a giant spending spree that hangs even more debt on the shoulders of me and other kids growing up around America. That part is bad enough. But three leading education reformers – Michael Petrilli, Checker Finn, and Frederick Hess – see other serious problems that it will create for trying to improve our schools and help students learn. In the column they wrote for National Review yesterday, the authors challenge the suggestion that tons of federal government money “invested” in education will yield more positive results down the road: In concept, of course, well-delivered education eventually yields higher economic output and fewer social ills. But there’s scant evidence that an extra dollar invested in today’s schools delivers an extra dollar in value — and ample evidence that this kind of bail-out will spare school administrators from making hard-but-overdue choices about how to make their enterprise more efficient and effective.

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