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Articles: Unions

SHORTAGE SOLUTION?—The Vail School District in Arizona has taken advantage of a new state law that allows it to hire instructors who have expertise in certain fields but who don’t have traditional teaching credentials.

Fourteen teachers in Utah’s Ogden School District reached the classroom via a nontraditional, perhaps looser route.

If educators in Chicago’s Noble Network of Charter Schools get their way, they will soon compose the largest unionized charter school network in the nation.

About 13,000 overseas-trained teachers worked in the U.S. on H-1B and J-1 visas in 2012, down from a peak of nearly 20,000 in 2009, according to a report from Education International, a federation of worldwide teachers unions.   

While the Trump Administration considers limiting the H-1B program, educators make up a small percentage of workers coming to the U.S. on H-1B visas, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Vincent Matthews, the new superintendent of San Francisco USD, previously served as state-appointed superintendent of Inglewood USD, as superintendent of San Jose USD and Oakland USD, and as area superintendent for San Diego City Schools.

Vincent Matthews has been named superintendent of San Francisco USD.

Six Springfield, Massachusetts, middle schools, flagged as close to failing by the state two years ago, seized an unusual opportunity to run themselves.

School superintendency is a family business for the Prusators. Todd Prusator leads Community Consolidated School District 231 in a small community 70 miles west of Chicago. His two brothers, Bob and Jeff, also are Illinois superintendents, all within about 30 miles of each other in the northwest corner of the state. 

By revamping the much-maligned No Child Left Behind law of 2001 with the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, the federal government gives states more control over their own school accountability standards. How much change occurs will depend directly on each state’s legislative actions

Plan divides the schools into an “old” district—a legal entity which will pay down debt over time—and a new debt-free district known as the Detroit Public Schools Community District, which will be given a $150 million startup loan from the state.

Diane Stark Rentner, the deputy director of Center on Education Policy, says teacher morale will improve if they have more say in the directions of their directions.

A new survey not only indicates that public school teachers are frustrated with shifting policies, but a majority are losing enthusiasm for the job. Moreover, nearly half say they would quit teaching now if they could find a higher-paying job.

A staff member and students in the Upper Moreland Township School District in Pennsylvania take a walk as part of the intermediate school wellness initiative. The program keeps all staff motivated to be fit and healthy.

Districts are getting creative in how they address the need to rein in costs and still provide employees with good benefits. They can’t resolve some issues, such as the definition of a full-time employee (the Affordable Care Act uses 30 hours). But unconventional thinking is yielding ideas that other districts can learn from.

Combating a $1.1 billion deficit, Chicago Public Schools’ new budget proposal phases out district pension contributions for central office, regional and non-union support staff. The district says the change will save about $11 million annually once fully implemented in 2018.

A state-mandated $676 million pension contribution accounts for a large chunk of the deficit, district officials say. Unlike most other districts in Illinois, Chicago and its local taxpayers are required to pay 7 percent of the 9 percent pension contribution for all employees.

S. Dallas Dance has raised test scores at Baltimore County Schools since becoming superintendent in 2012.

President Barack Obama in August appointed Baltimore County Schools Superintendent S. Dallas Dance to the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Dance has been superintendent in Baltimore County since 2012. He helped raise the graduation rate by 2.5 percent—to over 86 percent—between 2012 and 2013.

It was compromise that prevented a major teacher’s strike in February, as Portland Public Schools and the local union struck a bargain during an intense 24 hours of negotiating that ended months of deliberations.

is Van Roekel speaks at a recent conference, sponsored by the Education Writers Association and held at the University of Chicago, about teacher evaluations. Next to him, from his left are:

Changing state laws and the rise of evaluations have given administrators more flexibility in removing tenured teachers, a task that had long been nearly impossible. More states are tying student achievement to teacher evaluations and renegotiating contracts.

The National Education Association (NEA) has taken the position that teachers should be held accountable for providing high-quality classroom instruction. To avoid drawn-out legal battles, districts also should have a cost-effective, efficient system in place if someone has to be dismissed, the group states.

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