Intercepts

A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Walker: WEAC’s Great White Whale

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 25•14

The Greater Wisconsin Committee spent $737,000 on TV ads slamming Gov. Scott Walker. The committee had just received $1.3 million from the Wisconsin Education Association Council’s political action committee.

Since WEAC collects only $20 per teacher member for its PAC ($10 per support employee), and it has only about 53,000 active members, that means it either entirely emptied more than a year’s worth of revenue into the committee, or it received a substantial contribution from NEA.

It’s impossible to calculate just how much money the teachers’ unions have spent to unseat Walker, but it’s astronomical. No cost is too high… that is, as long as NEA can draw on resources from states that don’t have laws like those in Wisconsin.

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Arne Duncan Is Still Secretary of Education

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 22•14

Just thought I’d mention it after all this hoohah from last month. I expect in November I’ll also be able to post “Andrew Cuomo Is Still Governor of New York.”

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E-Mail Nightmare

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 21•14

My apologies to those of you who have been trying to reach me via e-mail only to receive “mailbox quota exceeded” messages. I think I have fixed the problem, so if you resend your e-mail I should get it all right.

If this problem should arise in the future, try EducIntel AT aol.com as a secondary address.

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What Can Happen When You Use Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 21•14

Nothing.

Dateline – Delaware:

Zero percent of Delaware teachers were rated ineffective and only 1 percent were rated “needs improvement” during the last school year, leaving more than half of teachers to be rated effective and almost half to be rated highly effective.

The new evaluation system stirred controversy when the state announced it would be factoring in standardized test scores. Some educators argued test scores don’t necessarily measure good teaching and don’t account for outside factors like parent involvement. And they worried their evaluations, and job situations, could suffer for circumstances beyond their control.

But in both years when test scores were considered, 99 percent of teachers received passing grades.

…Before a school board can fire a teacher based on evaluations, that teacher must have two straight years rated ineffective or three years of ineffective and needs improvement.

…Another reason Component V did not cause many teachers to earn low rankings is because administrators are still overwhelmingly choosing to bump teachers up to satisfactory instead of ineffective when they have the option.

…In almost 85 percent of cases where teachers earned an unsatisfactory in one part of Component V and a satisfactory on the other, administrators chose to give them an overall satisfactory rating.

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Opt-Out: Great Success or Great Failure?

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 20•14

Chalkbeat reports that 1,925 New York City students opted out of the state’s standardized tests in protest. That’s a 450% increase from last year.

On the other hand, 410,000 city students took the tests, which means the opt-out students constitute less than one-half of one percent of the total.

I hope they realize this, but we won’t know for sure because they didn’t take the math test.

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Deo et Patriae

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 19•14

The Wall Street Journal featured a story about my alma mater this morning on its 100th anniversary, Regis High School in New York City.

Founded in 1914 by an anonymous benefactor and supported by the generosity of her family, its alumni and friends, Regis High School offers a tuition free Jesuit college preparatory education to Roman Catholic young men from the New York metropolitan area who demonstrate superior intellectual and leadership potential. In the admissions process, special consideration is given to those who cannot otherwise afford a Catholic education.

Well, I don’t know how much leadership potential I demonstrated but I couldn’t otherwise afford a Catholic education, so I was fortunate to be accepted. Regis can be considered the very first voucher school, albeit privately funded.

The occasion for the article is the school’s REACH program, which recruits fifth-graders from racial and ethnic minorities and prepares them for Regis’ demanding academics.

Every year, Regis High School picks about 40 fifth-grade Catholic boys with promise for an intensive boot camp that includes four years of summer school, plus Saturday classes every fall and spring. At the end, usually about a third of them have the grades, test scores and commitment to get seats at Regis.

The curriculum is still difficult, though it doesn’t surprise me that students are no longer required to take three years of either Latin or Ancient Greek (both are still available as electives). Alas, these young lads need not experience entire weekends spent trying to determine whether particular lines in The Odyssey contain a genitive absolute or an aorist infinitive. Instead, I hope, they spend their free time on a subject we had difficulty mastering when I went there: how to talk to girls.

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What Happened to Eddie Tech?

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 18•14

Click here to read.

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