Rethinking teacher evaluations

The Hillsborough County (Fla.) schools are dismantling the teacher evaluation system developed with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Superintendent Jeff Eakins announced that he has formed a committee to transition away from the $100 million Gates program in favor of a structure that has the strongest teachers mentoring others at their schools. This move comes after a report published Sunday in the Tampa Bay Times showed that the Gates program “fell short of many of its goals and cost more to sustain than the district could afford.” Meanwhile, relations between the district and its teachers union “imploded” on Thursday as salary negotiations for the current school year broke down.

The President: Let’s limit testing

President Obama on Saturday called for a cap on standardized testing as his Administration conceded partial responsibility for the over-reliance on the examinations. Media reporting – including two minutes on CBS – is sympathetic toward the new policy, but also focuses on the previous White House push for the testing as being a significant reason that the education system’s reliance on the tests reached the current level.

Former Cleveland, Chicago schools CEO pleads guilty

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the former head of Chicago Public Schools, pleaded guilty to fraud on Tuesday, “admitting she steered $23 million in no-bid contracts to education firms for more than $2 million in kickbacks,” according to ABC World News. Associated Press reported that Byrd-Bennett “faced 20 fraud counts, each with a maximum 20-year prison term.” Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reported that “Byrd-Bennett faces up to about 7 1/2 years in prison” for a single fraud count that her plea agreement required. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Byrd-Bennett issued a “tearful apology” following her plea, in which she said Chicago’s children and educators “deserved much more, much more than I gave to them.” Byrd-Bennett served as CEO of the Cleveland Municipal School District from 1998 to 2006.