The Tom Mooney Institute

The Tom Mooney Institute for Teacher and Union Leadership is an effort by seasoned local leaders within the teacher union movement to develop the leadership skills and organizational capacity of the next generation of reform minded teacher unionists. We promote a progressive vision of the role of the teachers’ union. Our goal is to help local union leaders to be bold, collaborative, creative advocates for the improvement of public education.

Good Education Requires More Than Good Teachers

Susan Moore JohnsonSusan Moore JohnsonIn a new EPI Briefing Paper released October 26th, Harvard Professor Susan Moore Johnson summarizes recent research that argues that reforms focused solely on individual teachers falls short. The now conventional wisdom that the way to improve education is to find talented teachers, assign them to classrooms, and hold them accountable for raising student standardized test scores has not led to the desired results. Rather, she argues, we need to focus on the structure and culture of schools and the ways that teachers work together. We need to build the professional capacity of schools as learning communities. 

Pay for Performance - Avoiding the Pitfalls

Redesigning Teacher PayRedesigning Teacher PayA new book by Harvard professor Susan Moore Johnson and John Papay, published by the Economic Policy Institute, analyzes the state of  "pay for performance" plans and the mistakes made. They then make recommendations for how pay for performance should be used. Its a very useful overview, received praise from Randi Weingarten, and could change the thinking of some district superintendents. The link to the EPI site includes an audio transcript of the book event with insightful comments by Tom Toch and Rob Weil.

Richard Rothstein On NCLB Re-Authorization

Richard RothsteinRichard RothsteinIn Comments released Tuesday, Economic Policy Institute (EPI) education policy analyst Richard Rothstein sees an opportunity to get it right this time if Duncan's Education Department follows through on their own explicit critique of the mistakes of the first NCLB. Don't punish schools in poor neighborhoods by failing to address the resources gap necessary to meet high expectations, and don't rely on flawed standardized tests as the accountability measure, he cautions. The rush to re-authorize, on the other hand, could lead to a repeat of all the mistakes under Bush II.

Kahlenberg Responds to Kristoff on Teacher Unions

Richard KahlenbergRichard KahlenbergThe frequency and ferocity of attacks on teacher unions has increased, as if orchestrated as a national campaign by pundits and a network of conservative think tanks. Richard Kahlenberg responded eloquently today to the irrational piling on by the enemies of teacher unions.

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Kahlenberg Urges A Rethinking of the School "Turnaround" Strategy

School TurnaroundSchool TurnaroundIn a September 2nd Ed Week Commentary Richard Kahlenberg notes an odd, unnecessarily polarizing, character to the debate on trunaround schools. The strategy that simplemindedly replaces the teachers and principal has to be re-thought, recommends Kahlenberg. We should learn from strategies that have worked in Wake County, NC and elsewhere rather than continuing to opt for the "heroic model" that cannot be sustained.  His piece calls for a more serious approach to school turnarounds and is worth a read.

It's not about the money... A new report from CAP outlines what needs to be in place for pay for performance to work

It's More Than MoneyIt's More Than MoneyAuthor William Slotnik, of CTAC, the outfit that advised Denver in the design of ProComp, has this week's Commentary in Ed Week and issued a very useful report -- "It's More Than Money" that describes the Six Cornerstones that need to be in place for Pay For Performance to work.

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Broader, Bolder Approach Report on Accountability

Broader, Bolder ApproachBroader, Bolder ApproachThe Broader, Bolder Approach coalition formed a year ago, today issued its first task force report. The subject?  School Accountability -- A Broader, Bolder Approach. Or as most understood it to mean... what we and the public need to replace NCLB? The diverse coalition that included undersecretaries of education from the Clinton and both Bush administrations, representatives from the NEA and AFT, and individuals leading a broad aray of education advocacy groups came together around a bold new direction.

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Fixing Teacher Tenure and Evaluation

Fixing TenureFixing TenureIndependent researcher Joan Snowden, today issued a report, Fixing Tenure, that debunks popular myths on tenure, while calling for making tenure more meaningful and rigorous. The same report offers a critique and guidance for what teacher evaluation systems need to look like to be effective. Snowden specifically takes on the issue of inappropriate uses of student test scores in teacher evaluation and specifically what is wrong with tieing teacher evaluation to student test score outcomes.

Teacher Evaluation -- Lake Wobegon?

Teacher Evaluation to Raise Teacher QualityTeacher Evaluation to Raise Teacher QualityThe Center of American Progress issued today a new study on teacher evaluation So Long, Lake Wobegon? by University of Connecticut professor Morgaen Donaldson. While presenting evidence that most teacher evaluation systems add little value to the quality of teaching Donaldson offers a clear roadmap for what good teacher evaluation systems need to do. The system needs to have credibility with teachers, use multiple evaluators and measures, offer professional development, provide accountability for evaluators, and needs to be i

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Brad Jupp Joins Arne Duncan's Team

When the Denver teachers' union developed its infamous Pro Comp pay for performance system a decade ago, the union's point person was a smart union leader named Brad Jupp. The detail person who led the design team and sold the plan to the administration and to teachers, Brad then had a falling out with the union. He went to work as special assistant to the new, young superintendent in Denver, Michael Bennett, where's he's been for the past five years.Read more

New Peer Review Web Site Launched

Dal LawrenceDal LawrenceHave you ever wondered why, if peer review is so successful, it isn't being proposed for consideration by every teacher union local and district in the country? Well, now there are no excuses. Harvard University Professor Susan Moore-Johnson's team just launched a very useful web site on Peer Review at their Project On the Next Generation of Teachers Web site,  with everything you rever wanted to know about Peer Assistance and Review as it is practiced successfully in districts across the country.

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Neither Union Bashing nor Protectionism

CUNY Professor Jennifer Goldstein's Commentary in Ed Week urges a more reasoned approach and a challenge to teacher unions

Backers of 21st Century Skills Take Flack

A new organization that includes Antonia Cortese and Diane Ravitch has launched a critique of the 21St Century Skills movement, that includes Linda Darling-Hammond. Ed Week covered the story this week that may be one of the most important debates in years. The battle is joined.

Educators and Researchers Disappointed in Arne Duncan's Early Steps

In response to a note from Linda Darling-Hammond to friends that she is returning home to Stanford and will no longer be seeking a role in the Obama administration, two prominent education researchers, Gary Orfield and Diane Ravitch articulated a stunning critique of Arne Duncan's direction at the US Department of Education. It resonated with progressive educators nationally.

Getting Accountability Right

Richard Rothstein's Ed Week commentary "Getting Accountability Right" summarizes his new book Grading Education.

Assessment for Learning Around the World

Just in time to demonstrate that Linda Darling-Hammond is the most thoughtful voice in education today, this month's Kappan magazine published her critique of the US approach to assessment in light of international standards. If she doesn't continue to be the lead voice in the Obama administration, there's something wrong. Its a must read.

'Reinvest, don't disinvest,' Weingarten urges in major speech

Randi Weingarten's November 17 National Press Club speech promoted "Collaboration," "Capacity," and "Community," decried the scapegoating of teachers and teacher unions, and offered a 10 point reform agenda.

Measuring 21st Century Skills

A new report by Ed Sector advocates shifting away from NCLB-type multiple choice testing to more robust critical thinking/ problem solving skill measurement. It can be done, and what a revolution in accountability.

Bargaining For Better Teaching

wo award-winning DCPS teachers, Liz Davis, and Kerry Sylvia, together with the Mooney Institute's Mark Simon offered a critique of school reform being carried out by Chancellor Michelle Rhee in a September 28 Washington Post Op-ed.Read more

Democracy at Risk – The Need For a New Federal Policy in Education

At the National Press Club event launching the Forum for Education and Democracy's new study, "Democracy at Risk," Linda Darling Hammond presented data about the results of current policy to support the contention that we need a new direction in Federal Policy in Public Education. Congressman George Miller too said that we have to take advantage of the change in administrations "not so much to re-authorize NCLB but to re-think the federal role."Read more

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