Rhode Island: Teacher contracts

A business-led coalition has recommended that the state take over negotiation of teacher’s union contracts, according to a March 20 Associated Press story. The Education Partnership maintains that teacher’s unions are barriers to better schools and that the state could do a better negotiating job than individual school districts. The group also recommended having statewide standards for teacher evaluations; creating four categories of teachers and paying higher salaries to those at the top; and giving principals the power to determine curriculum, make budget decisions and hire and fire teachers.

Florida: Charter debt

Over one-fourth of the state’s charter schools are in debt and have been forced to cut services or borrow money, according to the March 15 Orlando Sentinel. Overall, 62 of 222 charters ended 2003 in the red, a state report found, and most of the charters with deficits were run by private management companies. The report found that inaccurate enrollment projections, high start-up costs and a lack of financial experience led to the big deficits. An analysis by the Sentinel found that some charters spent half as much on instruction as public schools, but two to six times as much on administration.

Massachusetts: Worst schools

Business, civic and education leaders are urging legislators and the governor to spend $90 million on the state’s worst schools over the next three years, according to the March 11 Boston Globe. The group also wants the state Education Department to form a collaborative of failing schools and work with superintendents to find the best interventions; failing schools would be allowed to pick from a variety of improvement strategies, such as longer school days.

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