THE BLOG
01/23/2013 08:42 am ET | Updated Mar 25, 2013

Teacher Overproduction, D.C. Mulling New Truancy Punishments: Ed Today

Teacher Pipeline Problem? Stephen Sawchuk looks at the data so you don't have to, and finds that many states are producing more elementary school teachers than they'll need in the future. It's a supply and demand problem. "There is not a tight link the way there is in other countries, where there is a management of access to particular majors in higher education, tied to perceived needs of teachers, and also a national system for getting teachers who have graduated to the hard-to-staff places," one economist told him.

D.C. Parents In Trouble? The Washington, D.C. city council is weighing a plan that would punish the parents of truant students. Under current law, reports the Washington Examiner, two unexcused absences within a month result in a fine of $500 for parents, but that provision is rarely enforced, lawmakers said. So they're proposing a law that would issue a warning to parents of kids who have 10 unexcused absences a year, and prosecute parents of kids who miss more than 20 days in a year with no good reason.

Mo Choice Mo Money? Texas is one of several states where advocates are suing officials over their allegedly inadequate funding of public schools. Yesterday, reports the Houston Chronicle, an expert witness -- Joseph Bast, of the conservative Heartland Institute -- testified that having more school choice, and particularly a voucher-like tax credit, could save the Lone Star state mega bucks. But then this happened: "Questioned by Maribel Hernández Rivera, an attorney for one of the plaintiff groups represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Bast acknowledged that he has not graduated from college and holds no degrees in economics, though he considers himself an economist."

Yeshiva Worries? A DNAInfo investigation by reporter Sonja Sharp found that many ultra-orthodox schools in New York have minimal secular offerings -- despite laws and regulations that require them. In one school, she found, "extra minutes of recess are doled out as a reward for especially heartfelt prayer." A 25-year-old told her of his experiences in a similar school: "I did not grow up learning English or any kind of secular studies at all." Math instruction was "nonexistent." But New York State requires all schools, public or private, to have "equivalency of instruction" in secular subjects -- and many of these schools receive federal dollars.

The Kind Of Freeze You Actually Want? Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed a large education spending package -- one component of which would freeze tuition at University of Massachusetts schools until 2015.