Today's news includes several stories about yesterday's Springfield press events around teacher pension legislation (including more speculation about a Karen Lewis run for mayor), coverage of the Northside Prep classroom explosion (heating chocolate), and a couple of teaching-related stories (one about distributing teachers better, the other about RTI).
Don't slash teachers' pensions Tribune (opinion): Illinois Senate President John Cullerton wrote in the Chicago Tribune on Monday that the Chicago Teachers Union pension fund faces "a real crisis" because state law requires a $613 million payment to the fund by June 30, and the law caps Chicago Public
Unions rally against Emanuel pension changes at Capitol Tribune: More than 1,000 Chicago-based union members flooded the Capitol Wednesday to decry Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s push for legislation to scale back city government worker pensions.
Mayoral run for CTU’s Karen Lewis? Spouse sour on being first husband Sun Times: By her own and other union members. Chants of “Run for Mayor!” filled the Capitol rotunda, where unionized city workers gathered to hear her speak. Afterwards, Lewis seemed to suggest she’s staying put in 2015, when Emanuel faces re-election, but she also didn’t close any doors.
City Hall scofflaw debt grows after initial success Chicago Tribune: The worst offenders are Chicago Public Schoolsand Chicago Transit Authority employees.
TEACHERS / TEACHING
To Special Ed or not to Special Ed: RtI and the Early Identification of Reading Disabilities Tim Shanahan: I know of no one who advocates early identification of kids as pupils with disabilities (PWDs). At this point in time we have at least 5 times as many kids identified as PWDs [as is merited]. The goal of RTI, as written in the background paper that produced the legislation, is a 70-80% decrease in the numbers of kids labeled as PWDs. The basic goal of RTI is to encourage schools to provide kids with more expert and intensive reading instruction.
DOE to act on placement of best teachers Catalyst: Central to the federal strategy will be a mix of enforcement and bureaucratic levers to prod states into making sure that poor and minority students are not taught by ineffective and unqualified teachers at higher rates than their peers. (Education Week)
U of Chicago joins Universal College App, an alternative to sector leader Common App WP: This week the University of Chicago, a Common App member since 2008, announced that it will add the Universal College Application as an option for the next cycle.
Latina Moms Team Up to Teach Chicago''s Youngest NBC: Latina moms from across Chicago are working together to ensure that their youngest children are getting a jump start on their education.
Cooking Class Explosion Hurts 5 at Chicago School AP: Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford says four students at Northside College Prep High School were taken to hospitals after gas ignited in a biology lab while students were heating hot chocolate. The gas caused "a flash" explosion.
5 students heating hot chocolate burned Sun Times: Five students heating hot chocolate in cooking class were injured — one seriously — when a gas burner ignited, sending flames to the ceiling at a North Side high school, fire officials said.
All-Girl Robotics Team Heads to Championship: 'Never Underestimate a Girl' DNA Info: The 'Pink TechnoBots' hope to dominate an upcoming statewide robotics competition.
University of Chicago crime lab awarded $1M MacArthur Foundation grant Sun Times: A 2University of Chicago think tank whose anti-violence research is being embraced by President Barack Obama and Mayor Rahm Emanuel will receive a $1 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation, officials announced Wednesday.
CPS Chess Team Takes State CPS: For the third time in four years, the Whitney Young Dolphins have captured the Illinois state championship in chess, earning a trip to next month’s national tournament in California.
NEA Criticizes 'Botched' Common Core Implementation PK12: NEA still supports Common Core, but thinks teachers must be given more time to learn to work with the standards and more professional development. Tests not aligned to the standards should no longer be given, and stakes should not be attached to new, common-core-aligned tests until 2015-16 at the earliest, Steve wrote. See also WPost, Politico.
Majority Of Americans Would Probably Support The Common Core, If They Knew What It Was HuffPost: Based on interviews with approximately 6,400 registered voters across the country, 66 percent of Americans said in the survey that they support the Standards' goal of creating uniform education standards throughout the country. (In addition to making sure students are being held to the same benchmarks.)
What do Americans want for their schools? Choice, yes. Charters, not so much Hechinger Report: Forty-four percent of those surveyed thought charters are private schools, which they aren’t. While two thirds of those surveyed said they supported “holding all students across the country to a uniform set of high standards,” less than a third supported the Common Core.
Can the U.S. learn from Australia’s high bar for new teachers? Hechinger Report: In Australia, professionalizing teaching has been at the heart of a number of reforms. Teachers can rise to many different levels without having to leave the classroom for administrative jobs, an idea that’s gaining traction in the U.S. Mentor and head teachers who take on more responsibilities are common in Australian schools, for instance. They work with younger teachers and get paid more to do so. Most recently, Australians have also made it tougher to become a teacher in the first place.
Here's One More Reason To Play Video Games: Beating Dyslexia NPR:P People with dyslexia take longer to alternate their attention between visual and audio cues, researchers say. That's particularly true if they have to attend to a sound after seeing something. That difference may provide clues to better treatments for dyslexia.
Federal Lawsuit Accuses For-Profit Schools of Fraud NYT: Former employees of the Premier Education Group say officials falsified records to keep students enrolled in order to secure government grant and loan money.
OTHER STATES / CITIES
Very few D.C. students attend assigned schools, data show WP: Start with the District’s enormous range of public school quality and reputation, add the city’s enthusiastic embrace of school choice, and here is what you get: Very few D.C. students attend their assigned public school, particularly outside of a few pockets west of Rock Creek Park and on Capitol Hill.
PTA program creates parent advocates EdSource: With 117 years of promoting parent involvement under its collective belt, the PTA thinks it has the right formula for training parents in their new watchdog role under California’s reformed school finance and accountability system.
Ed. Dept. Rejects, For Now, Utah and Arkansas Teacher-Evaluation Waivers PK12: The reason: Both states asked federal officials for more than just a delay. According to letters sent to Arkansas and Utah in December, both states' requests went outside the parameters of that streamlined process. So now the department will consider the requests as part of its more rigorous, lengthier amendment process.
Failing Michigan Schools To Have Options Besides An Education Achievement Authority Takeover HuffPost: On Tuesday, the state department of education informed the EAA that it would be terminating its exclusivity contract with the authority next year. This would allow other groups to step in and operate low-performing schools.