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Morning Shots

NEA's Late to the Evaluation Party

Have you ever been late to your own party and then botched it on the food, drinks and decorations?

This weekend the National Education Association voted to allow student performance to be included in teacher evaluations. Yay, it’s about time! I never thought that would happen. It’s good to finally seeing the NEA take some…

Wait. What’s that you say New York Times?

“The union also made clear that it continued to oppose the use of existing standardized test scores to judge teachers, a core part of the federally backed teacher evaluation overhauls already under way in at least 15 states.”

So, not only have scores of states – without NEA guidance – already taken the initiative to use student performance in evaluating teachers, but they also think the evaluations should be done without any form of standardized testing.

Apparently, the union doesn’t feel that any of the existing tests millions of students take each year are up to the level of quality and validity necessary to gauge performance.

When was the last time in any other industry that performance wasn’t part of an evaluation?

Those Six Sigma, Balanced Scorecard, and Total Quality Management folks must have had it all wrong.

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Congressional report raises concerns over Duncan waivers

Hmm. Why do I get the sneaking suspicion that I have heard this before? Oh, I know. We wrote about it back on June 14 (Creative Non-Compliance).

The issue at hand is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s disregard for federal law and his willingness to circumvent NCLB to grant conditional waivers to states and schools making it easier to avoid the “failing school” moniker.

Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) deserve credit for pushing the issue with the Secretary. On June 23, they sent a letter to Duncan about his proposal and as of the July 1 deadline had yet to receive a response.

In the meantime, the Congressional Research Service produced its own report. Kline put out a release encapsulating the findings:

The CRS analysis confirms the Secretary’s authority to waive statutory requirements under ESEA; however, the report warns of potential legal limits and challenges to the Secretary’s proposal to grant conditional waivers…The CRS report underscores the urgent need for the Secretary to fully explain his conditional waiver proposal and offer the legal justification for his plan.

Secretary Duncan, we know you are a busy guy, but don’t you think you owe it to not only the committee, but also American families, to explain your position? Or perhaps you’re just waiting for a waiver.

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President Clinton and Charter Schools: A History Lesson

History is an important aspect of life to understand. Knowing what transpired and why, who was involved and why they did what they did, drives us to emulate that which is good, and, hopefully, learn from mistakes. That’s why I ask my colleagues to appreciate, as well as tolerate, my concern over a public tribute to former President Bill Clinton, who today received the first-ever lifetime achievement award from the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.

Look, it’s great that a prominent, centrist Democrat supports charters and that he knew as president that it was important to endorse the concept. But, it doesn’t change the fact that two states had already enacted charter school legislation before he even stepped into the Oval Office. In 1991, Minnesota’s Gov. Arne Carlson became the first to sign charters into law and then in 1992 California Gov. Pete Wilson followed suit. (more…)

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