Charter schools should offer pre-k. Sometimes they can, and sometimes they can’t. One reason they can’t: Policies in ten states privilege existing pre-k providers. When these states allocate pre-k funding, they allocate funding first to providers that are currently serving children, leaving little — if any — funding for charter schools that aren’t existing providers, which many aren’t. So the providers that have the money, keep the money. Continue reading
North Carolina has a new “Educator Quality Dashboard” with some fascinating data on teacher preparation in the state. I dug in and found 4 key takeaways for future teachers:
1. When you graduate matters, but maybe not as much as you think. There’s no question that there are better and worse years to become a teacher. The education profession is not immune to larger economic forces, and, just like with all other employers, school districts don’t hire as many teachers during recessions. The effects linger, but in North Carolina at least, it’s not as bad as you might imagine. Continue reading
This one’s for all the aspiring policy wonks.
In Newark, NJ, the superintendent recently attempted to revoke the tenure rights of a group of teachers deemed ineffective. The state has a statute (“TEACHNJ”) of recent vintage permitting such things.
Kind of. Well, at least eventually.
One of the affected teachers contested the district’s decision, and an arbitrator sided with the teacher. It turns out that, in an arbitrator’s estimation at least, the statute technically took effect later than the district contends.
The arbitrator ruled that the statute’s language officially started the evaluations-with-state-mandated-consequences clock in 2013-14, not 2012-13. That means the district has only one annual performance evaluation of the teachers in question, not the two that are needed to invoke the state’s tenure-removal provision. So even though the district’s action comports with the spirit of the state law, this personnel decision was overturned, and the “remedy is reinstatement with full back pay and benefits.”
Because of the exact wording of legislative language, dozens of teachers are either–depending on your worldview–being indefensibly shielded from the law’s clear intent or rightly defended from an illegitimate administrative action.
If this law’s lack of specificity frustrates you, consider Section 5 of this North Carolina statute. So concerned that the state board would use its existing statutory and regulatory authority to procure an unpopular testing system (e.g. PARCC or SBAC), the legislature actually prohibits the board from acquiring any new assessment system until it is given new, explicit legislative permission to do so. The law goes even further, actually naming the kinds of tests that would probably be acceptable, (e.g. NAEP, SAT, ACT).
This is the endless tug of war between legislative authority and administrative discretion. In the former, a district gets its hand rapped for trying to squeeze too much power from what it considers sufficiently permissive language. In the latter, lawmakers craft uber-specific language to prevent the state school board from using its existing power to act against the legislature’s wishes.