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NYC Teacher Evaluation Stalemate, White House Assessing Big Push On Early Education: Ed Today

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Obama 2.0? As part of the Huffington Post's series on Obama's second term ("The Road Forward,") we reported out this story on his plans. The White House and Education Department have so far been pretty tight-lipped about their plans, but a few little birdies told us that they're cooking something up on the early education front. See here for more.

No Deal! Yesterday, United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew said the union was calling it quits on negotiations with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg over teacher evaluations. Naturally, each side blames the other. What does this mean? The city will likely lose $450 million. Here are some reactions from the people in charge of education in New York State.

New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch: "The loss of state aid is devastating.  But just as devastating is the failure to implement an evaluation plan to give educators the feedback they need to improve their practice and help their students learn and succeed.  Unfortunately, the adults couldn't or wouldn't come together for the sake of New York's 1.1 million school children.  The goal of the Board of Regents' reform agenda is to make sure every student graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in college and careers.  The failure to reach an agreement on an evaluation plan will keep that goal out of reach for far too many New York City students." 
 
New York State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. : "We tried to get the City and UFT to 'yes'.  We've been working with them for several days.  We've provided technical assistance.  We've given them answers and options from approved plans.  We have a detailed understanding of the proposals from both sides and their compliance with the law.  Our advance work prepared us to thoroughly review and approve a plan in time to meet the deadline.  More than 680 districts large and small from across the state, including the rest of the Big Five, were able to reach an agreement, but the City and UFT just couldn't get there.  Once again, the students will pay the price for this failure.  Even though they missed the deadline, the City and UFT still have a legal obligation to continue to negotiate.  The state aid increase may be lost, but the students still deserve the benefits of a quality evaluation plan. "

And via the New York Post, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called both sides yesterday to urge them to make progress.

Trouble In Iowa? We reported earlier this week about Gov. Terry Branstad's $187 million education reform package for Iowa. Well it turns out, it's not a sure bet -- especially not among the state's Democratic party. According to the AP,
"Democratic lawmakers say they want to determine a general level of state support for schools before they take up Governor Terry Branstad's education reform plan." That could mean a "confrontation" because he doesn't want to talk about funding until he gets approval for his reforms.

So, uh, chicken or egg, anyone?

Security Questions? School districts across the country are struggling with security, reports the Wall Street Journal. "Schools are running security drills, planning to install security cameras and bullet-proof glass, and hiring safety consultants," WSJ writes. "Teachers in some areas are applying for gun-carry permits and swamping firearms courses."

'PISA Envy?' Hey guys, get excited. A new form of international report card is here. The Economist writes that it has compiled "The Learning Curve," a new kind of ranking that is published by Pearson. It looks at "existing measures" but adds some data fields: graduation rates, life outcomes, and adult literacy. Sounds kind of like an international Quality Counts?

"This method does not change the picture at the top: Finland, South Korea and Hong Kong shine as usual, followed by Japan and Singapore. But other changes are sharp," the Economist rights. "Britain gained sixth place, whereas in the PISA 2011 report England (without Scotland and Wales) came 25th in reading and 28th in maths. The Pearson result jolted Britons used to a diet of woeful news (the change stems mainly from the added information about post-school education). It reflects well on universities, but suggests that those who do not go on to higher education may be ill-served."

Sidenote: The Economist story does have a throwaway line about statisticians finding sampling errors in the PISA. I wonder if that's purely based on Rothstein and Carnoy's new paper -- or if that's a widely held belief in the UK?