October 16, 2018 - Volume 38 Issue 10



Chalkbeat(10/11, Veiga) reports on the new contract between the New York City schools and educators “that provides extra pay to teachers who work in hard-to-staff schools, tweaks teacher evaluations, and calls for the creation of a new screening tool to be used in hiring.” The contract comes “months ahead of schedule and includes a number of unexpected details,” including a “Bronx Plan” to provide “up to $8,000 to teachers who fill hard-to-staff positions and calls for educators to play a role in developing school improvement plans.”

Chalkbeat(10/12) reports the contract “covers the entire city, but all officials seemed to want to talk about Thursday was the Bronx. ... The new contract creates what officials are calling ‘The Bronx Plan,’ through which 180 schools will be able to pay an extra $5,000 to $8,000 to educators who take hard-to-fill positions. Two-thirds of the schools will also give educators a formal role in decision making.” While the plan could include schools in other boroughs, “officials said the plan was named for the Bronx’s challenges, which include low student performance and persistently high teacher turnover.”

Contract Provides For Suitability Screening For Nascent Teachers. Chalkbeat(10/11) reports the city and union “agreed to develop a ‘suitability’ screening for new hires. Their goal: to weed out prospective teachers who would be unlikely to succeed in the city’s schools. It’s a strange initiative to include in a contract that also makes new resources available to fill ‘hard-to-staff’ positions in lower-performing schools that have high turnover.”

Curricula / STEM

The AP(10/14) reports in Louisiana, students in STEM fields “may soon be able to earn special endorsements on their high school diplomas.” The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will consider adopting the endorsements which would be awarded for “those who complete a subset of specified STEM courses,” and for “those who complete all of the courses.”

Louisiana Schools Adopt Different Approaches To STEM Fields. The Baton Rouge (LA) Advocate(10/14, Tafur) reports on STEM programs in four area schools. Metairie Park Country Day has a “Science and Engineering Building, which has physics, chemistry and biology labs, along with a computer science engineering room.” It also teaches “computational and design thinking across the curriculum for pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students.” The New Orleans Center for Science & Math “offers 10 college-level Advanced Placement courses including STEM subjects, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways in the biomedical and engineering fields.” School also has “a Makerspace — a collaborative workspace where students can use and share both simple and high-tech tools.” Mount Carmel Academy incorporates “religion and the arts” into a STREAM curriculum, which uses “an engineering design model that students use when they work on projects.” The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts “uses the STEAM model since so many of its students are invested in the arts.”

The Arizona Republic(10/13, Nakamoto-White) reports on a competition sponsored by Southwest Human Development and Insight Enterprises in which “eight high-school Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teams from across Arizona” were challenged “to build solutions for disabled children using Internet of Things (IoT) technology.” Afterwards, “each team had only eight minutes to present, explain their device and answer the judging panel’s questions.” The Bronco Boys from Brophy College who won “received $500 in cash to help fund their club.”

The San Diego Union-Tribune(10/8, Brennan) reports on national Manufacturing Week at area schools, in which students at Mission Vista High School “demonstrated a video game they created”; while Del Lago Academy students “served cheese pastries to members of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce”; and San Pasqual High School students “demonstrated how to pilot a robotic device that they fabricated and built.” The schools developed programs for “potentially lucrative ‘middle skills’ jobs, which don’t require a four-year degree, but do call for additional training beyond high school.” The Union-Tribune adds that “Escondido Union High School District enrolls 2,856 students in career technical pathways including woodworking, automotive, agriculture, culinary arts, graphic design, video productions, printing and layout, construction, manufacturing, architecture and design,” while “Vista Unified School District has 2,230 students in career technical programs in computer science, graphic design, tv/film, digital arts, photography, patient care, state tech, animal science and agroscience, automotive, video gaming, culinary arts, robotics and drone photography.”

The Washington Post(10/14, Truong) reports that Montgomery County, Maryland last week unveiled a “rebuilt $119.7 million Thomas Edison High School of Technology.” The 171,526-square-foot facility has more than 850 dually enrolled students, which means “they spend three class periods a day at that campus and take their remaining courses at a base high school.” According to Montgomery County Board of Education President Michael A. Durso, the school “will provide thousands of students a pathway to well-paying jobs immediately out of high school.” 

The Tampa Bay (FL) Times(10/10) reports Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has proposed increasing “teachers’ starting salaries to $50,000 a year. .. The $50,000 mark, which Gillum has called Florida’s ‘right base salary,’ has long been an aspirational target here and in other states.” Gillum says “pushing the state to a $50,000 starting salary, and lifting all others, would make Florida competitive for the best teachers. He deemed that a critical piece of properly preparing children for their future.”

THE Journal(10/10) reports on new research from the RAND Corp. that examined teachers’ views on how the Common Core State Standards and “alternate versions” adopted in some states “changed what American teachers ‘think and do.’” The RAND report found that “overall, teachers didn’t appear to be using many published textbooks aligned with newer standards, even though the Common Core ‘has raised the bar for what students should know and do.’ However, the use of online materials that were standards-aligned and content-focused ‘appeared to rise.’ Specifically, and topped the source list for online materials.”


The Seventy Four’s (10/9) “Union Report” says prior to the US Supreme Court’s so-called “Janus ruling, which ended the practice of public-sector unions charging agency fees to nonmembers, we were warned of the devastating effects it would have on union membership.” In the wake of the ruling, however, “union officials across the country tell us the effects have been negligible.” The Seventy Four says according to “internal membership documents” it obtained “from the Maryland State Education Association,” the “truth, it seems, lies somewhere in-between.” Overall, the documents reveal “a drop both in membership and market share between May 31 and Aug. 31, but nothing to set off panic.” The documents also show that the union “lost revenue from almost 3,300 agency fee payers.” The Seventy Four says that the “biggest takeaways” are the “wide range of market share from one local affiliate to the next and the very large differences in market share between certified employees and support employees.”


Source: National Connection Daily, a National School Boards Association e-publication.