NEA Change of Heart on Merit Pay?

Speaking to members of the National Education Association (NEA) at their annual meeting, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan challenged union members to consider the idea of linking teacher pay to student achievement-  Surprising, Duncan’s comments were met with what USA Today reported as “raucous applause and only a smattering of boos.” I think this is pretty big news. Both the NEA and the AFT (American Federation of Teachers) have been incredibly resistant to this idea. I don’t want to read to much into this, but could their response be a sign that the NEA is in the …

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School Reconstitution as a Reform Strategy

The U.S. Department of Education announced to day that school turnaround funds to “prod” states and school districts to close failing schools and reopen with new leadership and teaching staffs-  I think we’re starting to see the pattern here. The Obama Dept. of Education is going to push hard for states to adopt some strategies that they have have deemed to be proven school reforms. This latest one is an extreme one, but school reconstitution is not new to federal education policy. NCLB (No Child Left Behind) required schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) for …

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Charter School Cap Could Deny North Carolina “Race to the Top” Funds

North Carolina’s interest in competing for funds through the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” contest has again brought the state’s charter school cap to the forefront of education policy discussion. In order to compete for funds, the contest requires states to submit plans for overhauling their education systems with specific components, one of which is easing restrictions on charter schools. North Carolina’s current charter school policy caps the number of charter schools that can be authorized at 100, and provides that no more than five charter schools may be authorized within a school district per year. Shortly after the …

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New Orleans Public Schools Teacher Accused of Extortion in Exchange for Passing Grade

A New Orleans Public Schools teacher has been accused by a former student of extortion in exchange for changing his failing grade to a passing one- . The former student has turned over copies of a recording on which his former teacher agreed to change his grade in exchange for a “monetary gift”. He alleges that the teacher demanded cash gifts from him totaling $1,200 over the couse of a year. You have to hear this to believe it. Check out the link.

I am not only a former teacher, but a former New Orleans Public Schools teacher; and …

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North Carolina Community Colleges to Admit Undocumented Students with Conditions

Members of North Carolina’s State Board of Community Colleges voted to allow undocumented students to admitted to degree programs at the state’s 58 community college campuses (see This vote comes following a 16-month period where undocumented students were denied admission while the State Board debated the issue. With today’s vote, admitted undocumented students will be required to pay out-of-state tuition ($7,700 per year), will not be eligible to receive financial aid, and will not be allowed to enroll in classes until all students who are legal residents have been registered. 

Given these conditions, it is highly unlikely that North …

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Harvard’s New Education Leadership Doctorate & School Leadershp Preparation Reform

Harvard University announced this week the creation of a Doctor of Education Leadership program (Ed. L. D.). According to Harvard’s Graduate School of Education website (, the new degree program will be a “practice-based doctorate designed to equip students with a deep understanding of learning and teaching, as well as the management and leadership skills necessary to reshape the American education sector.” That statement in an of itself is not terribly revolutionary. University departments of education leadership across the country (including my own at the University of Kentucky) are engaged in program reforms with the same goals. However, Harvard’s program …

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