March 9, 2015

AFT/UFT Charter: Writing Checks Your Body Can’t Cash? Plus, Kan On The “Magic Year,” Jonas With Chang, PARCC Without The Circus, And J. Bush On His Ed Vision

By Bellwether

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A few years ago Richard Whitmire and I noted that the teachers’ unions had lost the media with outsized promises and a lot of doublespeak in a WSJ piece that turned out to be mostly right. How much that matters in today’s fractious political and media world is debatable but today most of their “good” media is the paid kind – advertorials, sponsorships to secure podiums, etc…I thought of that issue when reading the various piling on columns (Times here, WSJ here, Daily News here for instance) about the American Federation of Teachers/United Federation of Teachers charter school in New York City.  I was an early supporter of the school because I like to see innovation in the charter sector and because the school was going to serve underserved students – and I figured the union would move heaven and earth to make it work because of the PR risk so it would provide some good seats for kids. That sure turns out to have been more than mostly wrong! Instead, it is more like this.


Leslie Kan of BW and takes a look at the “magic year” of teaching. Sorry, this isn’t a story about the year a teacher made phenomenal connection with a group of kids. It’s about the craziness of teacher pensions and why today’s approach works out  for only about 20 percent of teachers.

Michael Jonas sits down with Boston’s mayor to discuss new Boston superintendent Tommy Chang.

Non-hysterical look at PARCC testing rollout in Colorado.

Jeb Bush lays out his education vision in a Wash Post op-ed. Not surprisingly, it’s a limited federal role focused on proven things. The passage on No Child Left Behind offers real nuance. The thorny problem, however, is that Bush cites charter schools as a great example of this theory of action – a state led policy. Except pretty much everyone agrees the federal dollars supporting charters in the 1990s and 2000s were key to the start-up and growth of charter schools. It’s an example that proves up a larger point: Federal policy has its problems but it can be – for good or ill – a pretty powerful catalyst for change.

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