Hello readers! My apologies for the recent lack of posts – December was, as you can understand, a busy time.
Teachers don’t think too much about the change of the year since they are still in the same academic year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a few minutes to reflect on 2010 and what we might expect from 2011.
Here’s 2010 in review:
- D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty lost his bid for re-election to Vincent Gray, resulting in the subsequent resignation of Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Kaya Henderson, formerly Rhee’s Deputy Chancellor (with a focus on human capital), now serves as Interim Chancellor.
- New York City’s Chancellor Joel Klein resigned and recommended Cathleen Black, a publishing guru, as his replacement. After surviving quite the firestorm of controversy about her qualifications, Black assumed her post yesterday.
- Dr. John E. Deasy, formerly the superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools (2007-2009) and employee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, moved into his current position as Deputy Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District. Many say that he is poised to replace current superintendent Ramon Cortines.
- D.C. Public Schools finished its inaugural year of the IMPACT teacher evaluation system, which provides teachers with five evaluations (by principals and Master Educators) and combines value-added data (when available) with observation scores and other factors to rank each teacher as Highly Effective, Effective, Minimally Effective, and Ineffective. Teachers ranked as Inneffective were separated from the system; those ranked as Minimally Effective have two years to improve their act before also facing separation. Highly Effective teachers will earn performance pay under the new teacher contract, which covers school years 2007-2009 in addition to 2009-2012.
- The Los Angeles Times published a staggering piece about the value of each teacher in LAUSD, including testing data for each teacher, prompting much debate about the use of value-added data and teacher quality.
- “Waiting For Superman” premiered the day after Fenty lost his re-election bid and showed viewers a staggeringly compelling series of kids and how much their schools impact their lives.
- The Dream Act passed in the House but failed to make it through the Senate, crushing hopes of thousands of illegal immigrants hoping to gain residency through completing higher education.
- Schools across the country continued to struggle with budget cuts, often resulting in the usual reductions in staff and elective offerings.
- Most states competed for $4.35 billion in the Race to the Top competition, with two winners (Delaware and Tennessee) scooping up the money in the first round and ten others (D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island) winning in the second round. These winners demonstrated a willingness to continue or adopt major reforms, including some focused on how teachers are evaluated.
- The Department of Education also provided funds through the Investing in Innovation (I3) competition, granting money to 49 out of over 1700 applicants. KIPP (the Knowledge Is Power Program charter network) and Teach For America made it into the top four out of the winners.
- The United States continued to slip in rankings of education systems in developed countries, ending 2010 at 14th out of 34 in reading, 17th for science, and 25th for math.
What might we see in 2011?
It will certainly be exciting to see how the change in leadership in D.C. and New York City plays out. I have great faith in Kaya Henderson, but no one knows if Vince Gray will choose to keep her around for the next school year (or if she will accept the opportunity if it is offered). So many people lack faith in Cathleen Black that some have attempted to sue to prevent her becoming Chancellor; we will just have to wait and see how she does. And of course, with the Republicans taking over control of the House, it’s tough to predict what will happen in the arena of federal education reforms. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan published a piece in the Washington Post yesterday about bipartisan governing and how that will impact education reform, particularly the rewriting of No Child Left Behind.
I like one of Duncan’s closing lines: “if I have learned anything as education secretary, it is that conventional wisdom serves to prop up the status quo – and is often wrong.” This is right on the mark (sadly), and unfortunately, I think it serves as a predictor of what we might see. But let’s keep fingers crossed and keep pushing in our individual ways for better things. Maybe 2011 will be a better year.