Education Reform: #1 Issue on the Ballot in California

Larry Sand
President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network

“Teachers Unions Are Putting Themselves On November’s Ballot” was the headline in a recent article by Haley Edwards in Time Magazine. Okay, this is hardly news, but the extent of the largess is eye-opening. Considering that this is not a presidential election year, the political spending is noteworthy. The National Education Association, the nation’s largest […]

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Checking Out of the Hotel California…Teachers Association

Larry Sand
President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network

A new document shows that CTA is resigned to the fact that membership in its union will ultimately become voluntary. Courtesy of Mike Antonucci we get to peek behind the curtain at an internal California Teachers Association document which has been “declassified.” “Not if, but when: Living in a world without Fair Share …” is […]

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Teacher Seniority Might Well Survive the Vergara Decision

Larry Sand
President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network

Last month’s decision by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to strike down California’s teacher tenure, seniority, and dismissal statutes may be a great victory for children, though much depends on the outcome of any appeal. This week, Attorney General Kamala Harris filed a 22-page request with Judge Rolf M. Treu asking for further clarification […]

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Grading the Teachers

Larry Sand
President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network

Cross-posted at CityJournal.

California’s public school teachers are the highest paid in the country, earning about $63,000 a year on average, along with generous health-insurance and pension plans. Their salaries and benefits are funded with taxes paid by all of us—workers, consumers, homeowners, and businesses large and small. It’s useful to think of taxpayers as owners of our troubled public education franchise, which has a statewide high school dropout rate of about 30 percent. And for many of those who do graduate from high school and go on to college, remediation is essential. Value-added teacher evaluation—a method that estimates the contribution teachers make to student’s test-score gains—is a concept whose time has most definitely come. Californians are entitled to know precisely who is and isn’t delivering the goods for their children.

The Los Angeles Times last month published a much-anticipated follow-up to its path-breaking 2010 investigation, which ranked 6,000 third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade teachers based on their students’ progress on standardized tests year after year. The updated rankings include data for more than 11,500 teachers. Using the California Public Records Act, Times reporters Jason Felch, Jason Song, and Doug Smith obtained student math and language arts scores for the Los Angeles Unified School District from 2003 through 2009. The newspaper commissioned Richard Budden, a senior economist and education researcher with the Santa Monica–based RAND Corporation, to analyze the data. Using the value-added technique, he converted the scores into percentile ratings, and then divided them into five equal categories from “least effective” to “most effective.”

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