roundup

What We’re Reading: California court decision to end teacher tenure kicks off a firestorm

We’re kicking off a new feature here (and an old favorite at Chalkbeat New York) with a roundup of the most interesting commentary and insight on education we read this week. Read on and tell us what you think (or what we should include next week) at co.tips@chalkbeat.org.

The big news of the week was a court decision to strike down California’s teacher tenure laws and well, everyone had an opinion.

  • Everyone from the loudest voice opposing education reform to a conservative pundit weighed on the idea that eliminating teacher tenure can improve outcomes for disadvantaged students. (Room for Debate)
  • “This lawsuit was never about helping students, but is yet another attempt by millionaires and corporate special interests to undermine the teaching profession and push their own ideological agenda on public schools and students while working to privatize public education” -president of the country’s largest teachers union. (EdWeek)
  • One potential wrinkle in the judgement? A crucial statistic the judge cited had little basis in research. (Slate)
  • But it also signals a major issue with the role of teachers unions in education. More and more, people see them as the problem. (Politico)
  • One take on Vergara: Tenure laws might not make much sense, but neither does firing lots of teachers. (Atlantic)

But that wasn’t the only thing riling up the education world. A Washington Post article looking at billionaire Bill Gates’ involvement in the rollout of Common Core got people talking.

  • One pundit says the article is bit too heavy on the conspiracy theories and ignores some of the realities of public funding. (This Week in Education)
  • Another thinks the reporter held the article until it couldn’t affect any of the state legislative decisions around Common Core implementation. (Deutsch29)
  • The article has also prompted calls for a Congressional investigation of the standards. (Common Dreams)

But the furor also raised the question: how much has it actually changed the classroom?

  • This article’s author took a look at how much the Common Core actually changed test questions in Mississippi. (Washington Post)
  • And students in New Orleans couldn’t even tell that they were being taught using the Common Core. (Hechinger Report)

Another school shooting in Oregon once again raised the question of violence in schools.

  • Here’s a map of all 74 school shootings that have happened in America since Newtown, the latest this week. (HuffPo)
  • Still, the big picture is that schools have gotten safer, not more violent, over the last two decades. (Vox)

What else?

  • A satirical take on charter school lotteries has New York City administering poison pills to most applicants. (The Onion)
  • A new-generation version of the classic science television show “The Magic School Bus” is headed to Netflix. (InsideTV)
  • After two rounds of admissions lotteries, 2,500 incoming D.C. students still don’t have a school. (Greater Greater Ed)
  • The surprise unseating of U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor has implications for education-related legislation. (Politics K-12)

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United Federation of Teachers drops more than $1 million on new ad campaign

PHOTO: Courtesy photo/UFT
In a new ad released by The United Federation of Teachers, a teacher crouches at a student's desk and smiles.

Amid a wave of teacher activism nationwide and major threats to the influence of unions, the United Federation of Teachers is expected to spend more than $1 million on a primetime television and streaming ad featuring local educators.

The 30-second spot hit the airwaves on Jan. 23 and will run through Feb. 1, with an expected audience of 11 million television viewers and 4 million impressions online, according to the union.

Featuring a chorus of singing students, bright classrooms, and a glamour shot of the city, the ad is called “Voice.” A diverse group of teachers declares: “Having a voice makes us strong. And makes our public schools even stronger.” It ends with the message, “The United Federation of Teachers. Public school proud.”

The union, the largest local in the country, typically runs ads this time of year, as the legislative session in Albany heats up and city budget negotiations kick-off. But this time, the campaign launches against the backdrop of an emboldened teaching force across the country, with a teacher strike in Los Angeles and another potentially starting next week in Denver.

UFT is also eager to prove its worth after the recent Janus Supreme Court ruling, which could devastate membership by banning mandatory fees to help pay for collective bargaining. So far, membership has remained strong but the union could face headwinds from organized right-to-work groups and the sheer number of new hires that come into the New York City school system every year.

The ad will run locally during programs including “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “Good Morning America,” on networks such as MSNBC and CNN, and on the streaming service Hulu. You can watch the ad here.

icymi

These were our 10 most-read Chicago education stories in 2018

PHOTO: Adeshina Emmanuel / Chalkbeat
A story about a 16-year-old student struggling to read was one of our most-read stories of the year. Here his aunt, Katrina Falkner, heads into his high school for a meeting with the special education team.

From a principal’s first-person column on personalized learning to a profile of a teen struggling to read, these were our most-read stories of the year.

  1. Trauma can make it hard for kids to learn. Here’s how teachers learn to deal with that. This conversation with a child psychologist from Lurie Children’s Hospital who advises local educators on identifying and handling trauma resonated with educators and parents alike.
  2. Meet Javion: He’s 16 and struggling to read in Chicago schools. How did 16-year-old Javion Grayer end up in high school barely able to read? This story examines how many forces in the city and its schools can threaten learning.
  3. I’m a principal who thinks personalized learning shouldn’t be a debate. This first-person column from Lisa Epstein, the principal of Lee Elementary, was the most read column we published this year. “Personalized learning looks different in every classroom,” she writes, “but the common thread is that we now make decisions looking at the student.”
  4. Rauner and Pritzker are at odds over most education issues — but agree on this one point. Hint: It’s money. But listening back to the interviews with the candidates, which we conducted in partnership with WBEZ, helps paint a picture of the state of education in Illinois.
  5.  How one Chicago principal is leaning on data to help black boys. The stakes are high. Black boys, especially those from low-income households, are more prone than their sisters to falling behind in school and running into the juvenile criminal justice system. Here’s how one principal is making inroads at her school.
  6. Secret CPS report spotlights big vacancies, lopsided options for students. The report has already been cited as reasoning in district-level decision-making.
  7. Is your school one of the city’s top rated? Our database of school ratings included a school’s total points scored on the Chicago rating system, known as SQRP.
  8. Three out of four kids aren’t ready for kindergarten. The data is the first look statewide at how many children show up to kindergarten prepared.
  9. Three Chicago principals and the war against Fs.“Fs and Ds are worthless,” one principal exclaimed. We looked at his case. 
  10. Why Noble teachers say Noble CEO’s downfall could boost unionization efforts. This story is one of many we’ll continue to watch in 2019.