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August 17, 2011
Diane Ravitch: Union speaking fees did not change my mind
Diane Ravitch, speaking at a GothamSchools event two years ago. Is Diane Ravitch a "paid union spokesperson," her famous change of heart inspired by fees from the teachers union? The accusation, levied by the philanthropist and hedge-fund manager Whitney Tilson recently, draws from a new book about the education reform movement by Steven Brill. But the suggestion that she was bought is simply not accurate, Ravitch told GothamSchools. Brill, in an interview, also insisted it's not the conclusion that his new book, "Class Warfare," aims to draw. In a short passage about Ravitch, one of the leading critics of the reform movement, Brill writes that she frequently spoke to teachers unions but did not disclose her speaking fees from them. He estimates that her take from groups that have resisted the movement, including teachers unions, might have exceeded $200,000 in just over a year. In an interview this week, Ravitch told GothamSchools that she received "less than a third" of the amount of money Brill calculated from teachers unions. (That is, she has received under $67,000.) She said that the majority of her speaking engagements are done for free.
April 4, 2011
A struggling KIPP school plans to overhaul teaching staff
After wrestling down a unionization attempt and struggling with academic performance, a Brooklyn KIPP school is bringing in a new principal and letting go of teachers. Concerns about high teacher turnover surfaced at the KIPP AMP (Knowledge is Power Program: Always Mentally Prepared) school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, two years. The concerns were the driving force behind teachers' decision to join the teachers union against the will of the school's board. A year later teachers opted out of union membership, kicking off a prolonged fight in which the United Federation of Teachers accused KIPP of intimidating teachers who wanted to unionize. Now, the school could experience what teachers initially feared: turnover and instability. It's unclear how many teachers will lose their jobs. A teacher at the school said today that the school's leadership has informed most of its teachers that they will not have jobs next year. KIPP co-founder David Levin, who is also the superintendent of KIPP's New York schools, said that claims that the majority of KIPP AMP teachers would lose their jobs were incorrect. He would not say how many staff members had been asked to leave the school.
November 22, 2010
Ed groups bat .785 on endorsements
The five education groups that endorsed or contributed to legislative candidates this election picked the winners at an overall rate of 78.5 percent
September 28, 2010
Politics makes changing bedfellows
The Colorado Education Association may be the 800-pound education group in state politics but other interest groups are weighing in
September 13, 2010
Union contributions mount up
Political committees affiliated with Colorado teachers’ unions have spent more than $900,000 so far in the 2010 election season.
August 24, 2010
NEA kicks off national tour in Denver
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel highlights Denver’s teacher-led school and a district-union partnership to overhaul teacher evaluation. Video
July 9, 2010
Fewer DPS teachers placed in poorest schools
Changes in Denver Public Schools' teacher-placement policy mean fewer are assigned to the city's highest-poverty and lowest-performing schools
June 27, 2010
Districts and unions settling earlier, for less
School districts and teachers unions across Colorado are settling contracts earlier this year as record budget cuts leave little to negotiate
June 2, 2010
State’s RTTT application receives more union endorsements
Will New York win the second round of the Race to the Top? We don't know yet, but add one more item to the list of ways the state's application has gotten stronger: More teachers unions signed on to the plan this time around, and they added fewer caveats to their endorsements. The percentage of unions signing on to the plan is now 70%, up from 61% in the last round. That includes New York City's United Federation of Teachers, which, though it signed on last time, added caveats along with its "yes," as Steven Brill reported in the New York Times Magazine. One major exception was a clause saying that unions could ignore any part of the plan that violated a union contract — even though, in the same memo, the unions promised to negotiate new contracts following the plan's main ideas. In the first round, some judges noted the caveats and the 61% figure as a reason they docked points from the state's application. I couldn't find any caveats in this round's Memorandum of Understanding documents that unions and school districts had to turn in by Tuesday. Still, among the dissenters are some pretty major unions, including the ones in Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Albany. That's three of the state's "Big Five" school districts. A typical explanation why came from Buffalo's union president earlier this month, in the Buffalo News:
May 21, 2010
Educator effectiveness bill becomes law
Before Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law an overhaul of Colorado's teacher evaluation system, he reached out to educators who fought to kill it.Video.
May 12, 2010
Final Senate vote endorses SB 10-191
The Senate voted 27-8 Wednesday afternoon to re-pass Senate Bill 10-191, the educator effectiveness bill, after accepting House amendments.
May 7, 2010
Teacher bill gets out of House Ed
The educator evaluation and tenure bill was approved by the House Education Committee on a 7-6 vote early Friday morning.
April 29, 2010
Senate passes teacher bill 21-14
The Senate voted 21-14 Friday morning to pass Senate Bill 10-191, the educator evaluation and tenure bill. Seven Democrats and 14 Republicans supported the bill; 14 Democrats voted no.
April 23, 2010
Teacher bill passes Senate Ed 7-1
Senate Bill 10-191, the controversial educator evaluation and tenure bill, was passed 7-1 Friday afternoon by the Senate Education Committee.
April 22, 2010
Teacher bill – next comes the vote
Four reform-minded superintendents and former Denver Mayor Federico Peña headlined the witnesses supporting Senate Bill 10-191 in testimony before the Senate Education Committee Thursday afternoon.
April 21, 2010
Hearing teases out teacher bill fears
Just what does the Colorado Education Association want in a teacher evaluation system? Members of the Senate Education Committee kept raising that question in different forms Wednesday.
April 20, 2010
Major compromise in works on evaluation bill
Proposed amendments to the educator effectiveness bill would lengthen the rollout time for a new system, putting off full implementation until 2014-15.
April 14, 2010
State board endorses teacher evaluation bill
The State Board of Education Wednesday unanimously endorsed Senate Bill 10-191, the bipartisan proposal to reform teacher and principal evaluation and teacher tenure.
April 14, 2010
CEA won’t sign on for round 2 of R2T
The statewide teachers' union, angry over comments by the state's education commissioner, is withholding support for Race to the Top
April 12, 2010
Evaluation and tenure bill finally unveiled
The effort to change Colorado educator evaluation and the teacher tenure system was launched formally Monday with introduction of Senate Bill 10-191.
March 31, 2010
Final Senate OK for 2010-11 school cuts
The Senate Thursday gave final approval to House Bill 10-1369, the school finance measure for next school year. The bill provides the mechanism for the most significant cut in state K-12 in many years.
March 23, 2010
School board contribution limits fail
The House has defeated House Bill 10-1272, which would have imposed contribution limits in school board and RTD races.
March 9, 2010
DPS leads pack in direct-placing teachers
Teachers are placed into schools they didn’t choose – and whose principals didn’t choose them – at a much higher rate in Denver
February 22, 2010
Supreme Court strikes down A54
The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday threw out Amendment 54, the campaign contributions limit passed by voters in 2008.
February 19, 2010
Forced placement of teachers is hot topic
A plan to limit the “forced placement" of veteran teachers in Denver’s lowest-performing and highest-poverty schools drew applause Thursday - and some opposition.
January 29, 2010
Districts begin tough budget talks
A $110 million cut in state funding was barely noted Thursday as districts, bracing for worse, talked about reducing teacher pay and four-day weeks.
January 26, 2010
PERA compromise wins panel support
The proposed Public Employees’ Retirement Association rescue plan passed the Senate Finance Committee 5-2 Tuesday after members approved key changes supported by education interests.
December 17, 2009
Boulder Valley teachers OK contract
Boulder Valley's long-running labor dispute is over but hard feelings remain.
December 12, 2009
Transforming Rishel, Part 2
Part 2 of Ed News' video series on space-sharing at Rishel Middle School takes at closer look at Denver's first teacher-led school.
November 30, 2009
Controversial vote looms for DPS board
Denver Public Schools’ board members face one of their most contentious votes in recent years Monday as they weigh turnaround plans for six of the district’s lowest-performing schools.
October 23, 2009
Unions pump cash into Jeffco races
Teachers' unions have contributed significantly in some Jefferson and Boulder County school board races, while business is heavily supporting the proposed Greeley schools tax increase.
October 14, 2009
Seawell tops in dollars raised, spent [UPDATED]
Denver Public Schools at-large candidate Mary Seawell is leading all other DPS school board candidates in dollars raised and spent. Updated with all candidates.
October 14, 2009
GOP outspends AFT in Dougco races
Nearly $50,000 has been raised by candidates in four hotly contested Douglas County school board races.
October 7, 2009
Greeley teachers reject offer
Greeley becomes third district at "crisis level" in bargaining late in the year, state education official says. Others are Boulder and St. Vrain Valley.
September 28, 2009
DPS teachers ok contract, other districts close
Denver teachers have ratified a contract agreement. Pueblo and Douglas County are close to agreement, but Boulder's impasse drags on.
September 16, 2009
DPS teachers voting on tentative agreement
Denver Public Schools teachers on Wednesday began voting on a tentative contract agreement that includes a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise and assurances that will…
September 15, 2009
Districts, unions scramble to settle contracts
Teachers in many of the state’s largest school districts are working under last year’s contracts weeks after the start of school, as negotiations between union and district leaders drag in the midst of dire economic forecasts. Other districts reached agreements by offering one-time stipends or making raises contingent upon the state's release of emergency reserves, an increasingly unlikely prospect. At least one district offered nothing at all. With links to teacher salary schedules.
July 17, 2009
Arne Duncan's push to change teacher laws posts Hoosier victory
Will Obama officials succeed in their mission to use the Race to the Top fund to re-write state education laws? The state of Indiana, where a recent down-to-the-wire budget session featured a teacher-evaluation mini drama, offers some clues. The drama began with pressure from the Obama administration to repeal a law banning the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations. Alarmed, state education officials lobbied the state legislature, and lawmakers acted, inserting a repeal of the law into the state's budget. But mere hours before the new budget passed, lawmakers at the state House removed the repeal at the request of the teachers' union. The final budget includes a roundabout compromise allowing districts to use student data to assess teachers — but only in cases where federal grant money requires it. "We had a clear message from the secretary [Arne Duncan] that we were putting our ability to compete for the Race to the Top Funds at risk," a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education, Cam Savage, said. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett has communicated frequently with the federal education department about Indiana's strengths in the competition for grant funds, Savage said. Bans on using student test scores to assess teachers seem to be the next group of laws on the Department of Education's watch list. States and districts already took note after Obama administration officials used the threat of denying Race to the Top funds to push against state laws limiting the spread of charter schools. Lawmakers in at least eight states have passed or introduced legislation since the end of May to lift their charter caps.
July 13, 2009
On D.C. stage, Weingarten urges officials to work with unions
From Randi Weingarten's speech to a national union conference in D.C., where she is now being joined by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at a town hall-style meeting: I hope you're as outraged as I am when our critics say that unions are part of the problem, not the solution; that we are only in it for ourselves; that we represent adults against kids; and that we are a selfish special interest set against the public interest. We won't let them take away our jobs. We won't let them cut our pay. We won't let them plunder our pensions. And I will be damned if I let them define who we are. Because nobody-nobody-goes into teaching to feather his or her own nest. And this union, which proudly works on its members' behalf, has always been about something bigger. That is why we fight-24/7/365-for the social and economic conditions that will help our students do better in school. Apparently pins being handed out to members say "with us, not to us." The conference, called QuEST, focuses on best practices for teaching and learning. Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, and her term as president of the New York City union expires at the end of the month. Her full prepared remarks are below:
July 10, 2009
Have teachers' key labor battles already been won?
Regular commenter KitchenSink, a principal, sparked an interesting debate in the comments section by making this claim (emphasis added): The muckraking days are…
May 19, 2009
Tweed's top educator could leave to lead Delaware schools
Marcia Lyles, the deputy chancellor for teaching and learning, testifying at an Assembly hearing earlier this year. Marcia Lyles, the head of the city's teaching and learning department and one of only a handful of veteran educators who reports directly to Chancellor Joel Klein, could be on the brink of leaving the school system. The answer hinges on an announcement tonight by a school board in Delaware, where Lyles and one other candidate are vying for the job of superintendent. The board of the Christina School District, a semi-urban, 17,000-student district comprising parts of two of Delaware's three largest cities as well as some suburbs, has narrowed down a cast of contenders to two finalists: a longtime Delaware educator who is now serving as acting superintendent and Lyles, a Harlem native who has worked in the city's public school system since the 1970s. Lyles would not confirm that she has been offered the job, but a member of the Christina teachers union, Harrie Ellen Minnehan, told me that rumors are flying in Delaware that Lyles will be announced as the new superintendent tonight — against the desires of teachers and principals, many of whom favor the Delaware candidate.
May 15, 2009
Highly anticipated UFT, Green Dot contract is on the way
The highly anticipated teachers' contract for the Green Dot charter school in the South Bronx, which has been heralded as an innovative collaboration between a Los Angeles-based charter school operator and the union president Randi Weingarten, is expected to be finalized as soon as today. The contract is being closely watched for signs of just how flexibly Weingarten is willing to negotiate a teachers' contract — eagerly by supporters of looser protections for teachers, and with gritted teeth by veterans who believe strong job security is crucial. The original Green Dot charter schools in Los Angeles raised many veterans' eyebrows here because the schools' contracts do not include the concept of "tenure" for more senior teachers. The contracts do guarantee teachers protections against unfair dismissal. Steve Barr, the charismatic leader who founded Green Dot, told me Wednesday that he expects a contract by the end of the week. "It should be finalized this week; I would be very surprised if it's not," Barr said. Barr has said in the past that he expects the New York contract to be similar to the one negotiated in Los Angeles.
April 22, 2009
Most schools already meeting the mayor's call to service
Part of the million pennies raised by schools through Penny Harvest. Photo from ##http://insideschools.blogspot.com/search?q=%22penny+harvest%22##Insideschools##. City principals will have to submit plans in October explaining how they’ll meet the Mayor Bloomberg's new service requirement for schools, but it shouldn't be an onerous task for most of them. Most schools, particularly at the high school level, already engage in some service, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Kerri Lyon. At Manhattan Bridges High School in Midtown, for example, students have always been required to log 40 hours of service before they graduate, Principal Mirza Sanchez Medina told me yesterday. Other schools announced service initiatives this week that were planned before Bloomberg's announcement: Students from the Academy of Urban Planning and the Bushwick School for Social Justice planted 16 trees in between their campuses in honor of Earth Day, and kids at Harlem’s PS 57 pitched ideas for community-improvement grants to Scholastic’s Be Big Fund. For the many schools that already engage in service, the mayor's initiative should expand the number of volunteer options available to students, Lyon said. And schools that have never participated in service before can start slowly, such as by joining Penny Harvest, the popular program where kids donate pennies to charities of their choice, she said.
March 30, 2009
One KIPP Academy employee did ask for the union's help
One confusing point in the ongoing saga between the KIPP charter schools and the city teachers union is exactly how many KIPP teachers actually want to belong to the union. While 16 teachers at the KIPP AMP school in Brooklyn submitted cards to the state labor board saying they want to join the United Federation of Teachers, at least one of those teachers changed her mind after submitting the card, and teachers at two other KIPP schools the union has tried to represent are resisting the push. Yoav Gonen described the union's effort at those schools as "meddling" in today's New York Post. But add at least one more person to the ranks of KIPP teachers who are actively seeking union help: A staff member on the payroll of KIPP Academy, one of the original KIPP schools, who turned to the union after the charter school network allegedly decided to move him to a new school and dock his pay. The teacher detailed his complaint in a January letter asking KIPP Academy's principal, Blanca Ruiz, for a meeting where he would be represented by a UFT official. The union sent me the letter but whited out the name of the teacher who filed the grievance, and the union did not make him available for an interview.
March 11, 2009
After Obama's speech, AFT highlights a program in Indiana
It's one thing for Randi Weingarten, the teachers union president, to say she's behind President Obama's reform mission to track teacher performance — as long as he gets the details right. It's another for her to lay out what those details are. That's what her national union, the American Federation of Teachers, did today, by way of a press release from Anderson, Indiana. Yeah, I've never heard of Anderson either, but apparently teachers there passed a program that will mentor struggling teachers — and give evaluations that point out their strengths and weaknesses. “PAR is an example of an innovative, successful union-led education reform,” said Dal Lawrence. “It shows just how inaccurate the stereotype is that teacher unions are anti-reform or anti-accountability.” Here's the full release, which is from the Anderson union but was sent to me by the national press shop:
March 6, 2009
Arne Duncan avoids taking a side in the KIPP vs. AFT debate
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan weighed in yesterday on the debate over whether the KIPP charter school in Brooklyn, KIPP AMP, should unionize,…
February 25, 2009
State teachers union will now represent lifeguards
New York State United Teachers, the state chapter of the city teachers union, just announced that the union is on the brink of adding about 500 1,200 lifeguards into its fold. The lifeguards used to belong to another union, but they sought out NYSUT hoping it would offer "stronger representation," according to the press release below. Most of NYSUT's 600,000 members are teachers (and most of those are in New York City) but the union also represents some groups that aren't affiliated with schools, including hospital nurses, group home workers, and day care providers. Read background on how lifeguards got unionized here. Here's the NYSUT press release: Lifeguards join NYSUT seeking a voice, better pay & improved safety ALBANY, N.Y. February 25, 2009 — Along with their whistles, sun block and rescue buoys, some 1,200 state lifeguards, including nearly 500 who protect beachgoers on Long Island’s shores, will be carrying something else on their stands this summer — a NYSUT union card. New York State United Teachers announced today that state-employed lifeguards who protect pools, lakes and beaches from Lake Erie to Montauk are affiliating with the 600,000-member union. The NYSUT Board of Directors will formally vote to accept the new local union — known as the New York State Lifeguard Corps — on Saturday, ending a nearly six-year legal odyssey that started when lifeguards began seeking better pay, improved training and safety equipment, and a voice in their working conditions.
February 12, 2009
Union: KIPP charter leaders are waging an intimidation campaign
The city teachers union is accusing the elite KIPP charter school network of waging an intimidation campaign against teachers who are trying to unionize. The dispute began in January, when teachers at a Brooklyn KIPP school shocked the charter school world by petitioning to join the powerful United Federation of Teachers. At the time, Dave Levin, KIPP’s cofounder and the superintendent of its New York City schools, indicated that he was open to working with the union — even though many KIPP supporters oppose working with unions, which they argue block schools’ ability to teach at-risk urban students by imposing strict work rules on schools. (KIPP stands for the Knowledge is Power Program.) Now, the union is accusing Levin of urging teachers not to unionize and painting a bleak picture of what will happen if they do. The accusations are cataloged in two complaints the UFT sent to the state labor board in the last nine days arguing that KIPP is improperly blocking teachers’ ability to unionize. The latest complaint, filed Wednesday, adds to complaints first aired in a Sunday New York Times story reporting that KIPP is resisting the teachers' organizing drive. The complaints accuse a KIPP human resources official of telling teachers that he is concerned that the Brooklyn school will lose its affiliation with the KIPP network if they organize; they accuse the school's founding principal, Ky Adderley, of sitting in the hallway every day to monitor teachers, and they accuse Levin of making a rare attendance at a staff meeting to encourage teachers to reverse their decision to unionize. Levin and a KIPP spokesman did not return telephone messages requesting comment today.
February 4, 2009
KIPP management so far hasn't recognized teachers' campaign
A page from a manual helping charter school leaders resist unionization. Labor-management relations may be off to a rocky start so far at KIPP AMP, the Brooklyn charter school where teachers shocked the charter school community last month by petitioning to join the powerful United Federation of Teachers. The trouble is that KIPP management has so far declined to recognize the teachers' petition, something the leaders have 30 days to do — or else defer to a more contentious process, the state labor board. Allowing the labor board to decide whether to recognize the petitions opens the door for KIPP to make a legal case against unionization. The 30-day period ends next Thursday. It is not clear why KIPP is not recognizing the petitions, or whether the charter school network will do so by Thursday. Union officials said they recently sent the charter school network a reminder letter, restating the 30-day deadline, but KIPP has still not recognized. Dave Levin, the KIPP co-founder and superintendent of New York City KIPP schools who will have to make the final decision, has not returned my requests for comment. Briscoe Smith, the senior vice president and counsel at a Manhattan-based foundation that helps charter schools fight unions (and is loathed by the UFT), said he has not consulted with KIPP. But he said it is possible for managers to challenge workers' efforts to unionize.
January 28, 2009
A prediction on who the major players will be in control debate
This interesting comment went over the New York City public school parents list serve yesterday, from Robert Bowen, a parent of grown public school…
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