Minnesota Educator March 2010 : Page 1

A publication for the members of Education Minnesota Greenbush- Middle River 2683 MARCH 2010 Union ready to assist locals with Race to Top As Minnesota awaits a decision on Red Lake 38 Waubun 435 Cass Lake-Bena 115 St. Louis County 2142 School districts targeted for state intervention under the Isle 473 Ogilvie 333 Braham 314 Osseo 279 Minneapolis Brooklyn Center 286 1 St. Paul 625 Race to the Top application for federal funds. Districts with public schools the state identifies as persistently low-achieving schools from vast rural areas to four urban range and suburban areas. In addition to 12 traditional public schools, the RTTT application lists 11 charter school entities for intervention. RTTT rules don’t recognize different circumstances of schools in the required intervention actions. its application for federal Race to the Top funds, an Education Minnesota work team is taking steps to assist local unions in districts that have signed up for the program, or where there are low-performing schools the state has identified as candidates for “turnaround.” The union, which proposed an alternative Race to the Top plan, is also working this legislative session to promote its own ideas on closing the achievement gap and increasing the quality of teaching in public schools. If the federal grant totaling more than $300 million is approved For details on the program and Education Minnesota’s goals to address them, go to www. educationminnesota.org. Click on Local leaders on the left-side menu and log in. next month, Education Minnesota is committed to working with the Minnesota Department of Education to implement the program in ways that provide the best education for students. Education Minnesota members would be affected in important ways if Minnesota does receive Race to the Top money. Districts that signed on to the state’s application must have a workable implementation plan assembled and reported to the state within 90 days. While districts can decide to opt out of the state plan, those that elect to stay must implement an “enhanced” version of Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Q Comp merit pay program by 2012. This involves adding principals to theQComp program, as well as an elaborate evaluation system tying pay, tenure and continued employment to students’ improvement on state tests. The state’s plan also calls for state intervention in “turnaround Race to the Top, see page 8 Focus, wide support add up for Big Lake’s newest NBCTs Do the math. Four of the 16 Minnesota teachers who achieved first-time certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards last year work in the math department at Big Lake High School. That’s 25 percent of all newly certified teachers, in the same department of the same mid- sized school. Lynn Adams, Angela McCormack, Kimberly Nagorski and Shari Prigge call their National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) achievement last year an experience in superb individual professional development accomplished through mutual support, taking advantage of effective coaching and rigorous attention to detail. Their journeys began with personal motivation for challenging professional development. Prigge, who has 30 years of classroom experience, said she thought about making an NBCT application earlier in her career, but she said she wasn’t ready then. Nagorksi said, “I was wrestling with doing a doctorate or National Board. I have two boys at home.” The National Board process, she said, was more appropriate for her. For McCormack, too, the timing was right—after a master’s degree and when her children were old enough for her to undertake the National Board projects. Adams, who came to Big Lake in 2006, said she had thought about NBCT when doing her master’s but the timing wasn’t right until her colleagues were engaged and eager to go. The teachers immediately saw the advantages of taking on the challenge together. National Board work toward secondary math certification covers algebra, calculus, discrete math, geometry, statistics and technology—quite a range. The teachers with recent experience in a field could help others review. For instance, Prigge said she had not taught statistics but when her son was learning in McCormack’s Advanced Placement stats class, Prigge got renewed confidence in the subject. McCormack said she had been visiting with Prigge over the years about doing the National Board work and they had thought about the timing. It felt right when they signed up in January 2008 and the department colleagues formed their mutual support group. By working at the same time, Nagorski said, all had accountability to get the work done and stay on schedule. All said sticking to a timeline was essential. The National Board work, they estimated, took at least 400 hours—time that had to be carved out of family and regular school life. “You have to find a time to do the work and commit,” Nagorksi said, as the women recalled the welcome support of family in caring for children, making meals and NBCT, see page 5 INSIDE THIS ISSUE… Stand up and speak out to prevent more cuts to public education, President Tom Dooher writes. Page 2 Bring teachers into the debate about measuring effectiveness, Public Agenda’s education director Jean Johnson writes. Page 2 Legislature gets moving with big hills to climb. State campaigns intensify. Politics & policy developments. Page 3 Minnesota teachers renew National Board certifications. Page 5 2010 Minnesota Teacher of the Year semi-finalists selected from throughout the state. Page 7 NEA, AFL-CIO renew their solidarity agreement. Union Life. Page 10 What are students doing with their time? Devouring entertainment media at increasing rates by multitasking with new devices, a national study finds. Page 11 Find conferences, summer professional development and grants. Opportunities. Page 12 THE EDUCATOR’S ONLINE! Copies of the current and back issues are available at www. educationminnesota.org. Look for the Educator icon on the home page and click through to the digital editions, complete with hot links. LOOK FOR IT! Find the lamb and lion hidden in this issue of the Educator to be eligible to win a gift card in the drawing from correct entries. When you have found the critters just like the ones here, e-mail the inside page number where it appears along with your full name and mailing address to educator@educationminnesota. org. The deadline is March 15 for entries to be eligible for the drawing. You must be a member of Education Minnesota to win. Congratulations to Heidi Gasow of Hutchinson! Her correct entry (the groundhog was on page 3) to the February contest was drawn to win a gift card. Thanks to everyone who looked for the little critter. Now, try to find the lamb and lion!

Focus, Wide Support Add Up For Big Lake's Newest NBCTs

Do t h e math. Four of the 16 Minnesota teachers who achieved first-time certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards last year work in the math department at Big Lake High School. That’s 25 percent of all newly certified teachers, in the same department of the same midsized school.<br /> <br /> Lynn Adams, Angela McCormack, Kimberly Nagorski and Shari Prigge call their National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) achievement last year an experience i n superb individual professional development accomplished through mutual support, taking advantage of effective coaching and rigorous attention to detail.<br /> <br /> Their journeys began with personal motivation for challenging professional development.<br /> <br /> Prigge, who has 30 years of classroom experience, said she thought about making an NBCT application earlier in her career, but she said she wasn’t ready then.<br /> <br /> Nagorksi said, “I was wrestling with doing a doctorate or National Board. I have two boys at home.” The National Board process, she said, was more appropriate for her.<br /> <br /> For McCormack, too, the timing was right—after a master’s degree and when her children were old enough for her to undertake the National Board projects.<br /> <br /> Adams, who came to Big Lake in 2006, said she had thought about NBCT when doing her master’s but the timing wasn’t right until her colleagues were engaged and eager to go.<br /> <br /> The teachers immediately saw the advantages of taking on the challenge together.<br /> <br /> National Board work toward secondary math certification covers algebra, calculus, discrete math, geometry, statistics and technology—quite a range.<br /> <br /> The teachers with recent experience in a field could help others review.<br /> <br /> For instance, Prigge said she had not taught statistics but when her son was learning in McCormack’s Advanced Placement stats class, Prigge got renewed confidence in the subject.<br /> <br /> McCormack said she had been visiting with Prigge over the years about doing the National Board work and they had thought about the timing. It felt right when they signed up in January 2008 and the department colleagues formed their mutual support group.<br /> <br /> By working at the same time, Nagorski said, all had accountability to get the work done and stay on schedule.<br /> <br /> All said sticking to a timeline was essential. The National Board work, they estimated, took at least 400 hours—time that had to be carved out of family and regular school life.<br /> <br /> “You have to find a time to do the work and commit,” Nagorksi said, as the women recalled the welcome support of family in caring for children, making meals an Generally accommodating study and planning.<br /> <br /> Adams recalled lots of time spent in her home office working on National Board projects.<br /> <br /> The y a l l cons ide r ed sessions with three veteran NBCT advocates as time well-spent. Lynette Wayne, Becky Gartzke and Sharon Kjellberg hold monthly coa ching s e s s ions for NBCT applicants.<br /> <br /> As Prigge puts it: “I want to give a major shoutout to Lynette, Becky and Sharon.” The four math teachers join Darin Hansen, a science teacher, as Big Lake High Schools expanding cadre of NBCT teachers. Hansen achieved certification in<br /> <br /> 2007. Several other faculty members are working this year toward certification. Lee Ann Kunkel, who teaches at Liberty Elementary School in Big Lake, is board-certified in special education.<br /> <br /> Why such high interest?<br /> <br /> Adams said the process was exceptionally rewarding because the professional development was specific and focused to her needs, rather than faculty-wide material that can be less pertinent.<br /> <br /> All found the opportunity to develop more reflective teaching practices a key motivator. All reported that the experience had delivered.<br /> <br /> Then there is community support and recognition for the value of having National Board Certified Teachers in Big Lake Schools. Four years ago, some members of the school board brought a financial incentive proposal to the bargaining table. The last round of bargaining ended with a reduced NBCT incentive, but the district continued to show it wants to retain these high-quality teachers with an NBCT salary lane above master’splus 45 hours.<br /> <br /> According to Education Minnesota records, about one-third of locals have an incentive for seeking or achieving National Board certification. Provisions range from sabbatical time to prepare application work to ongoing increases in pay for achieving certification.<br /> <br /> The Big Lake math teachers also had advice for teachers interested in the National B o a r d ’s p r o f e s s i o n a l development but who don’t have colleagues involved: First go the board’s Web site, www.nbpts.org and explore the process. Then make connections with NBCT teachers. And when the time is right, go for it.

Union ready to assist locals with Race to Top

Its application for federal Race to the Top funds, an Education Minnesota work team is taking steps to assist local unions in districts that have signed up for the program, or where there are low-performing schools the state has identified as candidates for “turnaround.” The union, which proposed an alternative Race to the Top plan, is also working this legislative session to promote its own ideas on closing the achievement gap and increasing the quality of teaching in public schools.<br /> <br /> If the federal grant totaling more than $300 million is approved next month, Education Minnesota is committed to working with the Minnesota Department of Education to implement the program in ways that provide the best education for students.<br /> <br /> Education Minnesota members would be affected in important ways if Minnesota does receive Race to the Top money. Districts that signed on to the state’s application must have a workable implementation plan assembled and reported to the state within 90 days.<br /> <br /> While districts can decide to opt out of the state plan, those that elect to stay must implement an “enhanced” version of Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Q Comp merit pay program by 2012. This involves adding principals to the Q Comp program, as well as an elaborate evaluation system tying pay, tenure and continued employment to students’ improvement on state tests.<br /> <br /> The state’s plan also calls for state intervention in “turnaround Schools” using a narrow range of four methods, three of them involving drastic changes such as closure or dismissal of staff.<br /> <br /> An immediate challenge at the state level, should the grant application be accepted, is to align state statutes with the federal mandates on complex issues, such as alternative teacher licensure.<br /> <br /> The Legislature, already focused on pressing budget issues in a short session, will be hard-pressed to meet all the federal mandates this spring.<br /> <br /> Race to the Top, funded wi th f ede ral e conomi c stimulus money, is intended to support effective teaching and learning in the classroom to shrink the achievement gap, while ensuring that the education of high performing students is not diminished.<br /> <br /> The program asks states to addr e s s four ma i n reform areas: standards and assessments, data systems to support instruction, “great teacher s and leader s , ” and turning around lowperforming schools. The four turnaround models allowed under Race to the Top are:<br /> <br /> • Tu r n a r o u n d m o d e l .<br /> <br /> Repl a c e the pr inc ipa l and at least 50 percent of the staff, adopt a new governance structure and implement a new or revised instructional program.<br /> <br /> • Restart model. Close the school and restart it as a charter or educational management organization s e l e c t e d t h r o u g h a competitive process.<br /> <br /> • School closure model.<br /> <br /> Clos e the s chool and enroll its students at other higher-achieving schools in the district.<br /> <br /> • Transformation model.<br /> <br /> Develop teacher- leader effectiveness, implement comprehensive strategies for instructional reform, extend learning time and create community-oriented schools and provide intensive s t u d e n t s u p p o r t a n d operating flexibility.<br /> <br /> The state’s plan calls for the creation of a new layer of appointed bureaucracy, the Office of Turnaround Schools, to oversee and approve turnaround efforts.<br /> <br /> For that and other reasons, Ed u c a t i o n Mi n n e s o t a decided to advance its own plan rather than supporting the state’s.<br /> <br /> “This federal program is supposed to be all about improving student learning and closing the achievement gap,” Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher said when the state department revealed its plan. “Instead, the depar tment ’s plan emphasizes more bureaucracy and top-down state control of Minnesota’s schools as well as more testing.” Education Minnesota’s plan calls for turning lowperforming schools into educator-led centers of teaching excellence where the most successful teaching methods can be identified and disseminated statewide.<br /> <br /> Students and teachers would have the benefit of small classes, the latest materials and technology, int ens i v e prof e s s iona l development for teachers, and partnerships with parents and the community within the school building.<br /> <br /> The union’s proposal includes a “grow-your-own” program to recruit promising young people to become teachers in shortage areas. It would provide college-credit courses in high school and significant opportunity for hands-on experience during the student’s preparation.<br /> <br /> Ot h e r p a r t s o f t h e p l a n wo u l d ma n d a t e comprehensive induction programs for new teachers; use state funds to expand the teacher-led Educational Research & Dissemination program statewide; and provide training for all teachers and principals on using data to adapt teaching to students’ needs. Dooher noted that the St. Paul Federation of Teachers is implementing some of these measures now.

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