Education Roundup: Pink Slips and Protests

Majory Collins/Zumapress.com

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  • How do top-scoring countries like Korea, Singapore, and Finland treat their teachers compared to the United States? Well, those countries recruit only high-performing college graduates, support them with mentoring and other help in the classroom, and take steps to raise respect for the profession, the New York Times reports. On the other hand, “successful, dedicated teachers in the US work long hours for little pay and, in many cases, insufficient support from their leadership.”
  • Speaking of respect, mass teacher layoffs have hit California, resulting in 7,300 pink-slips handed out in Los Angeles County alone. Hoping to overturn the state’s “last hired, first hired” layoff approach, L.A. middle school students filed a lawsuit last year (since settled) that shields 45 L.A. schools from teacher terminations. The court agreed that high teacher turnover in schools does damage educational quality. Meanwhile, there’s a freshly pink-slipped instructor in San Francisco deciding whether to job-hunt or spend his off-hours prepping students for Symphony Hall, MoJo’s Kristina Rizga reports.
  • Also in a hurry to pink-slip teachers is New York, once it decides whether to fire them based on seniority or a soon-to-be-created teacher evaluation system, NY Daily News reports. But what does an ideal teacher evaluation even look like? Education historian Diane Ravitch schooled Mother Jones on good teacher evals, whether Finland really is a poster nation (yes), and why she changed her mind about charters (hint: they’re not all the same).
  • Also not all the same are black, male students, who at Price T. Young Middle School in Texas were the only students called to the cafeteria by the principal who then blamed them for the school’s low standardized test scores. The principal later apologized, The Root reports—hopefully for depriving the low-performing non-black students of his “pep talk,” among other things.
  • About 16,000 students currently enrolled in 41 “failing” Detroit public schools could find themselves attending charter schools without changing school buildings, Detroit Free Press reports. The Renaissance Plan 2012, which leases buildings and equipment to charters, has already hit Philadelphia, where 18 public schools will become charters in the fall. Student protests continue.
  • One Philly teacher who protested the planned conversion of her school into a charter may lose her job because of it, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook reports. The district alleges that Audenried High School teacher Hope Moffett, without notifying parents, encouraged students to protest and gave them the money to take public transit to do so, endangering their lives. Moffett denies planning the protest and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers plans to argue at Tuesday’s hearing that Moffett’s first Amendment rights are being violated by the district in order to intimidate teachers against protesting the conversion. Stay tuned for updates in this case.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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