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Members are welcome to join your Association officers at a meeting of the Association on November 30th at 4pm. We'll meet in the meeting room at Panera on North Academy (7344 North Academy Blvd). We'll discuss the current state of affairs in District 20, the Association's efforts and committees, and what's happening around the state and nationally.
Don't believe the propaganda in "Waiting for Superman" about education reform. Check out this story on NEAToday. Among other important innovations, teachers in Finland spend nearly half their time outside of the classroom working on professional development, collaborative planning with colleagues, and communicating with parents. That's the kind of accountability to professional standards that results in top student performance.
We handed out hundreds of copies of the issue at the district rally on August 11. If you didn't get a copy, you can grab one here.
The following letter from the President of the AEA to all district employees is published in the first issue of the Academy Journal of Education, which will be released to the public on August 11th. The Journal is a quarterly publication which contains news, opinion, interviews, reviews, and other content focused on educational issues and District 20.
In a massive study, covering 70% of the nation's charter schools, conducted by Stanford University, researchers found that 83% of charter schools performed worse or no better than traditional public schools. Specifically, "37 percent of charter schools showed gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts, with 46 percent of charter schools demonstrating no significant difference." For a summary of the report and a link to the full report, click here.
In other news, Mathematica Policy Research conducted a study finding that merit pay doesn't work. According to the study, merit pay, such as the TAP program used at DCC, did not improve student standardized test scores or teacher retention. I don't know about the test scores at DCC, but their teacher retention certainly is in line with this study. Harrison School District 2, the local experiment in performance pay, is experiencing huge turnover. Read more about the finding here.
Why, then, one might ask, is the Obama administration pushing charter schools and merit pay? Why is the state of Colorado working so hard to apply for Race for the Top, a program that pushes failed reform policies? These are attacks on public education in the guise of "reform." If the intent is to destroy public education, diminish the unions, and narrow the curriculum, such policies are not failures at all.
What does work? Adequate plan time, stable staffs, small class sizes, and teacher empowerment. Small class sizes is one of the most important tools for improving student performance, as shown by many studies.
The Obama administration's anti-public education policies, including corporatization, charterization, and pay for performance initiatives, have earned it the enmity of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. The financial crisis of the last few years has forced the Obama administration to make difficult decisions, and it has come down on the side of the banks and corporations against public employees. Once key Obama supporters, the NEA and AFT have changed their tune. Let's hope that they will finally bury their knee-jerk support of the Democratic party and stop tying our fortunes to politicians who are willing to sell out the American people. Check out the AFT President's speech at the annual convention. Also watch NEA President Van Roekel's address to the annual convention. Van Roekel:
It's about time Van Roekel and the NEA leadership smelled the coffee. Maybe the Obama administration would have thought differently about Race to the Top had the unions not been so busy peddling the "reforms" to their members and had they consistently opposed it from the beginning. Instead, Van Roekel and the like fawned over Obama, even as he proposed anti-labor policies. Maybe now we'll see some action from the NEA. We need to oppose anti-teacher, anti-public education, anti-labor programs and policies and the corrupt politicians who back them.
With the recent pass of Senate Bill 191 by the Colorado legislature, our state seems to be moving toward pay-for-performance. As reported by the Colorado Springs Independent recently, Mike Miles' pay-for-performance scheme is running into heated opposition and high staff turnover. How will District 20 respond to this anti-public education initiative? Let's hope that Dr. Hatchell and the District 20 School Board take inspiration from past D20 leaders, such as School Board member Dr. Jack Sherman in 1980 (speaking during the recession of the early 1980s):
The NEA finally recognized the anti-public education, anti-labor principles embodied in the Race to the Top initiative and decided to vote "no confidence" on the program. While not directly opposing the Obama administration, the vote is a step away from the pro-Obama rhetoric that has characterized NEA statements since Obama's election. The NEA should distance itself from competitive grants (and the politicians who promote them) and support the full and equitable funding of public education.
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