NYC Teachers' Free Pass? Charter School Lobbying Changes: Ed Today

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during a news conference at Lucky's Cafe in New York, Tuesday, March 12, 2013. N
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during a news conference at Lucky's Cafe in New York, Tuesday, March 12, 2013. New Yorkers were still free to gulp from huge sugary drinks Tuesday, after a judge struck down the city's pioneering ban on supersized sodas just hours before it was supposed to take effect, handing a defeat to health-conscious Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NYC Teachers' Free Pass? The Wall Street Journal crunched eight years worth of data, and found that more than 10 percent of principals did not flunk one teacher on their evaluations. "The findings give ammunition to Department of Education officials who say the teacher-rating system should be changed," WSJ's Lisa Fleisher writes. "New York City is one of a handful of school districts statewide that hasn't adopted a new, more nuanced system of grading teachers. ... Under the current system, teachers are either rated unsatisfactory or satisfactory. Annually, less than 3% of teachers citywide are marked 'unsatisfactory.'"

But... This may be true but I would caution all reformers from singing Hallelujah and waving this data in unions' and lawmakers' faces before doing some more reading. Even if you accept the premise that evaluations are a key lever in changing our schools, this isn't necessarily the proof you need to make your case. States across the country have been implementing "new, more nuanced" systems of teacher evaluations, and according to this Education Week story, the results aren't all that different. Under these new systems, Michigan rated 98 percent of teachers effective; in Florida, it was 97 percent; and 94 percent in Georgia. (Proponents say true change in differentiating teachers by skill will take time but my point is, the numbers aren't dramatically different just yet).

Farewell, Allon Former teacher Tom Allon is leaving the New York City mayoral race, reports the Daily News. Instead, he's using his money to purchase media to promote his education reform agenda. Well, this should be interesting.

School Choice Hits Montana Montana's teachers union chief is connecting the state's bevy of school choice measures with "a national movement bearing down on Montana" that could "damage the public school system," according to The Missoulian. School choice supporters aren't buying it. "I think it comes down to power and money," said Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation, the state group leading the charge on school choice bills, according to the paper. "They want as many kids in the school as they can, so they have the most revenue coming in. They want no one to leave the public schools, even if they're not doing well in the public schools."

Race To The Top Drags On? According to Politics K-12, states that are having trouble making their Race to the Top deadlines will be able to apply for an extension from the federal government.

Charter Lessons? After a tough legislative lesson last year, the Miami Herald reports, Florida's charter school lobbyists are changing their approach to getting their legislation passed. They're a little bit more modest -- and less belligerent -- than last time around, it seems. "This year, charter school lobbyists will focus their efforts on winning state money for maintenance and facilities. If they can't secure the dollars, they want the right to use the empty space in traditional public schools free of charge," the Herald reports. See the Herald for a good rundown of the different charter school bills that are floating around down there.

D.C.'s Charter Discipline Issues Washington, D.C. is trying to get its charter schools to reduce its use of "zero tolerance policies," or policies that give students harsh punishments for the most minor of infractions, the Washington Post reports.