New York City: Contract talks

The first bargaining session in months between the teacher’s union and the city ended after barely two hours, with union President Randi Weingarten blasting the city’s contract proposal as an insult to teachers and “a total kick in the teeth,” according to the Feb. 7 New York Times.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration wants a streamlined contract eliminating most work rules and ending virtually all seniority rights, giving the city wide latitude to manage the system’s 1,200 schools. The city also wants to pay higher salaries to teachers in shortage areas like math and science and in troubled schools, and to teachers “who demonstrate the ability to positively impact student performance. The union wants raises for all teachers.

Talks resumed Feb. 12.

Oregon: School finance

Five foundations are taking matters into their own hands—and turning to the general public to make the case for reform of the state’s school funding system.

The Chalkboard Project, organized by Foundations for a Better Oregon, plans to hold town hall meetings, focus groups and Internet discussions to get input from the public on how to improve schools, according to the Jan. 19 Business Journal of Portland.

The first target will be school funding, says Doug Stamm, executive director of the Meyer Memorial Trust, one of the five foundations. “We feel that our kids are being shortchanged. There is no strong leadership on this issue,” Stamm said in the Jan. 7 Education Week. “There is a general consensus that [school funding] haunts the state as one of its top issues.”

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