Education Week - August 27, 2014 - (Page 1)
AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2014 Editorial Projects in Education * $4
VOL. 34, NO. 2 * AUGUST 27, 2014
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Women Tend to Just Listen
By Sarah D. Sparks
School boards have more equitable
representation of men and women than
any other governing group in the United
States, but new studies suggest women's
voices still often aren't heard.
Women make up more than 40 percent
of school board members nationally,
more than double the average female
participation in other governing groups
in the United States. But unless they
make up a supermajority of a board,
women don't comment and endorse
motions as often as men do, according
to studies in a newly released book,
The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation,
Rhea Espedido, seated in a hallway of Liberty Elementary School, is one of a handful of "lead" teachers in the Baltimore district. Her
new position and higher salary come as part of the district's four-year effort to transform the traditional teacher-pay schedule.
Baltimore's Pay Experiment Gains Foothold
By Stephen Sawchuk
Rhea Espedido has made a habit of going
above and beyond in her Baltimore school, devising
a reading-intervention program to decrease
special education referrals, for instance.
But this school year is the first time she'll be
rewarded for it.
When students return to Liberty Elementary,
she'll be teaching fewer classes, using the additional
time to coach other teachers on reading
and writing instruction-and earning close to
six figures for her efforts.
Ms. Espedido is one of just a handful of "lead"
teachers, a new position that marks the final
piece of Baltimore's four-year effort to transform
the traditional teacher-pay schedule into
one emphasizing professional accomplishments
over credentials and seniority. Few of
the nation's 14,000 school districts have ever
attempted the feat, and even fewer have crafted
such a revision hand in hand with their teachers'
"I think this pathway really changed the
mindset of the teaching force. It's really all
about making yourself better, and then you get
rewarded," Ms. Espedido said. "I felt so good
that people think about recognizing what we
do, and are thanking us."
Begun through a 2010 collective bargaining
agreement, the pay overhaul is also a survivor,
having made it early this year through a second
round of contract negotiations.
But Baltimore teachers' varied reactions to
the system exemplifies one of the truisms of
compensation reform: Devising an alternative
means changing a major incentive at work
in school systems. And not everyone will be
pleased with the results.
Independent researchers add that there's as
yet little hard evidence to show that Baltimore's
revamped pay structure has improved academics
or encouraged the best teachers to stay. And
this fall, the district is experiencing a major
PAGE 14 >
"It is surprising that we still see
these patterns of underrepresentation
of women when they are a minority
of the board," said co-author
Christopher F. Karpowitz, a co-director
of the Center for the Study of
Elections and Democracy at Brigham
Young University. "They matter even
when the topic of conversation is
something women have repeatedly
said they care about-education,
children-and in the case of school
boards, something where women
PAGE 12 >
For Mo. Schools
By Denisa R. Superville
Leadership, Political Winds
Buffet Advocacy Groups
By Andrew Ujifusa
Michelle Rhee's departure as the leader of StudentsFirst-the
combative national K-12 advocacy organization
she started less than four years ago-could represent a
significant shift in the environment for similar groups as
they balance their broader profiles with local advocacy and
Ms. Rhee, the former chancellor of the District of Columbia
school system, was perhaps the most high-profile and
controversial champion of policies that ranged from increasing
the presence of charter schools to altering hiring and
firing policies for teachers.
Her departure from StudentsFirst, announced Aug. 13,
comes as kindred organizations such as Democrats for Education
Reform, the 50-State Campaign for Achievement
Now (known as 50CAN), and Stand for Children face comPAGE
Companies Competing to Improve
Student Surveys in Evolving Market
By Sean Cavanagh
Few measures of teachers' classroom
ability inspire as much optimism among
researchers-and as much unease among
educators-as surveys of students. Now,
commercial providers, nonprofit organizations,
and foundations are working to expand
and refine the scope of such surveys
in an effort to improve their usefulness
to schools and teachers, and potentially
lower their costs.
Over the coming months, well-known
and well-financed players in the studentsurvey
field plan to launch new efforts to
increase the reach and adjust the focus of
To date, much of the attention paid to
Schools in the Ferguson, Mo., area
student surveys has centered on the most
debated aspect of how they are applied -
as a factor in the performance evaluation
of teachers. But many supporters say
those policies often obscure the surveys'
greater potential, which developers are
now trying to tease out in more detail:
their ability to provide teachers with relevant
and timely feedback on students'
academic experiences and the culture
of individual classrooms, and give educators
the feedback they need to improve
"We believe students understand an impressive
amount about what's working in
the classroom, and what can be improved,"
said Rob Ramsdell, the co-founder and
PAGE 16 >
are walking a tightrope between returning
to the routine of a normal year
and acknowledging the street protests
and larger debate about race and law
enforcement sparked by the fatal shooting
of an unarmed black teenager by a
white police officer.
This week was expected to be the first
full week of classes for nearly all public
school students in the area since a state
of unrest complicated the start of the
academic year for several districts.
Schools in and near the small city
in St. Louis County have scrambled to
make up for missed class time, address
students' anxieties over violent images
they saw on TV-or on their streets-
and provide lunches to the many students
who qualify for subsidized meals.
In the 11,200-student FergusonFlorissant
school system, which was
scheduled to start the new year on Aug.
PAGE 13 >
Swikar Patel/Education Week
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