FROM Mike Piscal
Evaluating Our Teachers, Part 2 Last night we heard about the Los Angeles Times blockbuster education report , the release of records on 6000 3rd through 5th grade elementary teachers and what's called a "value added" analysis of their success or failure based on student performance on standardized English and Math tests. We also heard A.J. Duffy, the President of the United Teachers of LA, call the process a " disgrace " and ask union members to boycott the paper. But the Times plans to put all 6000 names and their on line, and today President Obama's Education Secretary Arne Duncan said parents have a right to know if their children's teachers are effective. California Education Secretary Bonnie Reiss said school districts should do the same thing on their own. The Times says those endorsements prove that the issue of teacher accountability is now bipartisan.
Layoffs and Seniority in the LAUSD Last week, Judge William Highberger ruled that teacher lay-offs planned for three inner-city middle schools would deprive students of their constitutional right to an equal education. Gompers, Markham and Liechty are three of the lowest performing schools in LA Unified. Because the state budget crisis requires cuts, the District sent pink-slips to between 46 and 60% of their teachers. In more affluent neighborhoods, the average was less than 15%. The judge found that educational opportunity would decline disproportionately and ordered the District to find a better way. But it’s not going to be easy because of seniority rules.
Does LA Unified Really Want School Reform? Mayor Villaraigosa says the LA Unified School District has delivered " a terrible blow to reform ." The elected school board has given control of 36 new and underperforming schools mostly to groups organized by administrators and teachers who already work for the District. Only four went to charter operators and three to the Mayor's reform organization. One charter operator says the move shows that "big labor has…control over these school board members." Yolie Flores, the board member who pushed for outside control, says some of her colleagues "are still beholden to unions."
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?
Rhetoric and brinksmanship on the Korean Peninsula For 25 years, the US has viewed North Korea's nuclear program with increasing alarm. Now President Trump says this country has lost its "strategic patience." We hear what he's actually doing… and what might come next.