Strikes and scores

strikeThe Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted Tuesday to end its seven-day-old strike, and the teachers were back in the schools yesterday.  The strike, at the nation’s third largest school district, received quite a bit of attention across the nation, with coverage on major media outlets.  There were a number of contentious issues in the negotiations between the CTU and the Chicago Board of Education, but none was more vigorously contested than that of teacher evaluations.

How to effectively assess teacher performance has been hotly debated in educational policy – and research – circles in recent years.  Historically, at least in those school districts around the country that were unionized, there was relatively little formal teacher evaluation and assessment done once a teacher had been tenured, which generally occurred within the first four years of his or her career (disclosure: while I have never been a member of a teacher’s union, my wife has been in the past).

Continue reading “Strikes and scores”

Happy 40th birthday, Pell Grants

Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI, 1961 to 1997)
Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI, 1961 to 1997)

In 1972, Congress passed and President Richard Nixon signed into law the 1972 amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965.  A key aspect of the legislation was the creation of the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant program (BEOG), later renamed the Pell Grant program in 1980 after the late Senator Claiborne Pell.  Senator Pell was the key champion for the creation of the BEOG program.

Since the passage of this legislation, tens of millions of undergraduate college students have received a total of over $280 billion in Pell Grants from the federal government.  Pell Grants are awarded based only on the financial need of the student and/or her family, and they are designed to be the foundation grant for promoting college access.  This school year alone, almost 10 million students will receive over $35 billion in Pell Grants.

Continue reading “Happy 40th birthday, Pell Grants”