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Post-Star Editorial: Teacher Reform is Critical

Previously, 3020-a hearings, a process in New York State that determines the outcome of a suspended tenured teacher, would require an abundance of time and money. Recent modifications have streamlined the process but the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) is urging for additional reform.

According to the Post-Star editorial, the NYSSBA made several recommendations for reform including:

Authorize school districts to fire tenured teachers without a 3020-a hearing if they have been convicted of child abuse in an educational setting; or their teaching certificate has been revoked by the state Education Department; or they have failed to obtain permanent certification in the required time period.

The editorial goes on to agree with the NYSSBA, arguing that students and good teachers should not have to suffer as a result of destructive teachers:

When accountability is lacking, mediocrity can go unchallenged, and teaching is too important to allow that. New York has many wonderful, creative, hard-working teachers. They should not have to work alongside teachers unable or unwilling to match their dedication.

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Washington Post Op-Ed: Can the United States Compete in Education?

The latest international student test results have indicated that the United States is not performing well on a global level. Opinion writer Fareed Zaharia examines what this means for the nation’s economy.

In the Washington Post opinion piece, Zaharia states that the United States’ top 1 percent, measured by IQ, has a significant impact on the nation’s success. However, he argues that effectively educating the middle and lower class is necessary for progress:

It’s possible that the top 1 percent will continue generating enough growth to keep the country moving, but it’s more likely that the weight of a stagnant middle class will eventually slow the economy. More important, the politics of a country with a tiny productive elite and a massive underclass with low skills, depressed wages and no prospects will not look pretty.

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New York Post Editorial: US Students Fall Behind in World Rankings

A report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) indicates that American education ranks well below other top countries in Asia and Europe.

According to the New York Post editorial, 15-year-olds from nations in the OECD were tested in reading, science, and math:

The rankings come from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment tests. The top performers are Asian: Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong and South Korea. But it’s not only Asia that’s beating us. Students from Switzerland and Belgium to the Netherlands and Poland are also doing better than Americans.

In reading and science, US students scored at the OECD average. In math, we’re below average.

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New York Daily News Op-Ed: Common Core Supporters Must Stick Together

Despite growing opposition to the Common Core, leading political supporters such as US Education Secretary Arne Duncan, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and New York State Education Commissioner John King must continue to support the initiative.

After passing rates in New York fell from 47% to 26% in reading and from 60% to 30% in math, parents and educators expressed frustration with the Common Core.

In an op-ed, the New York Daily News discusses why the Common Core is necessary and supporters should not be intimidated by the backlash:

Supporters of setting rigorous benchmarks for public school students must stand firm. Most immediately, they must pressure Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to choose a chancellor who will forge ahead, not crumple.

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New York Times Op-Ed: What de Blasio Must Demand of the Teachers Union

New York City’s Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will have to forge new labor agreements with the City’s unions, including the United Federation of Teachers.

The New York Times editorial states that de Blasio will have to address key issues with the teachers union in order to improve the city’s schools, which include flexible school schedules and seniority:

He will need to press the union to loosen work rules that stifle innovation and favor senior teachers over younger ones who may in fact be more talented. The union must also let go of the unspoken presumption that every teacher is entitled to a job for life.

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Bronx Charter School Faces the Challenge of Paying Rent

New York City’s mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has proposed that well-resourced charter schools pay rent for using public school buildings.

According to the New York Times, Bronx Community Charter spends $781,000 annually on rent, or approximately 15 percent of its budget:

“You could practically run a whole school on that,” said Sasha Wilson, 43, a co-director of the school, which has 312 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. “It’s incredibly challenging on a charter school budget to do all this.”

After moving to a new space in August, the school’s rent tripled but enabled unique teaching opportunities:

First-graders mapped the building layout. Second-graders sat under sinks and sketched the plumbing, and fourth-graders explained how their classroom lights worked with circuit boards and light bulbs.

“It’s a mystery because it’s a new building,” said Richard Alejandro, 7, as he drew a water pipe in class. “You can go around the building and investigate ‘How does this work?’ It’s a place that I know now.”

While Bronx Community Charter has provided a model for how to adapt to this challenge, keeping charter schools rent-free will enable them to better serve New York students and families.

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NY State Education Commissioner Continues to Support Common Core

Implementation difficulties with the Common Core have led to harsh criticism of the new standards. During his statewide tour, New York State Education Commissioner John King acknowledges that implementing the Common Core will be challenging, but says there is no reason to withdraw it.

According to Press Connects, King states:

“It would be a mistake to retreat from higher standards and from the idea of college and career readiness for all students,” King said. “That said, there are adjustments we will make along the way. We already have in the last four years.”

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Opinion: America in Desperate Need of Education Reform

As the nation’s education system continues to fail our children, the need for new approaches becomes increasingly clear.

In an opinion piece for CNN, StudentsFirstNY board member Geoffrey Canada discusses why we should seek innovative methods for education reform:

We, as a country, need to say "enough is enough."

Anyone calling for reform is treated as a radical, but I think we simply need to let the science of education lead the way to real innovation and improvements.

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Common Core Standards Set Real Benchmarks for Success

The Common Core is under fire from parents concerned about how the new standards may affect their children’s self-esteem.

In his opinion column for the New York Times, Frank Bruni argues that we must ensure our “impulse to coddle kids not eclipse the imperative to challenge them.”

Bruni says that while our current over-protective culture may be hurting students, the Common Core will help them better measure real success:

David Coleman, one of the principal architects of the Common Core, told me that he’s all for self-esteem, but that rigorous standards “redefine self-esteem as something achieved through hard work.”

“Students will not enjoy every step of it,” he added. But if it takes them somewhere big and real, they’ll discover a satisfaction that redeems the sweat.

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Rewarding Great Teachers Pays Off

In a recent study, teachers who performed well at lower poverty schools were transferred to high poverty schools for $20,000. The teachers earned the pay regardless of how well their new students performed.

According to Slate, the study found that the transfer teachers significantly increased student achievement in comparison to their counterparts:

In the process, a remarkable thing happened. The transfer teachers significantly outperformed control-group teachers in the elementary grades, raising student achievement by 4 to 10 percentile points—a big improvement in the world of education policy, where infinitesimal increases are often celebrated.

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