Intercepts

A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Double or Nothing

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 26•14

What does an inveterate gambler do when he’s tapped out? He heads over to the ATM.

The Alabama Education Association dropped $7 million on the Republican primaries in June for a marginal return, mainly because the union knew it would no longer be able to automatically deduct PAC money from teachers’ paychecks.

With the general election approaching AEA decided it couldn’t sit on the sidelines in the battle against the corporate reformers and hedge fund managers. So it went to Regions Bank and borrowed $1.7 million.

An AEA representative said the union borrows money every election cycle. Perhaps, but in the past it had a guaranteed cash flow of PAC money thanks to that automatic deduction. This time AEA has to actually raise the money through voluntary donations.

Will Alabama teachers willingly finance AEA’s habit? Or will they cut off the high roller?

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Hedging

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Aug• 25•14

Click here to read.

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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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