Talented Teachers Rebuffed
“Applications and letters of interest from idealistic teachers continue to pour into inner-city school systems across the country, and many candidates . . . are being ignored or contacted much too late to do any good,” reports the Washington Post of a study by The New Teacher Project. Washington Mutual and the Annie E. Casey Foundation funded the “unusually detailed study” of hiring practices in four hard-to-staff urban school districts. A report based on the study, “Missed Opportunities: How We Keep High-quality Teachers Out of Urban Schools,” concludes that though aggressive recruiting drives encourage large numbers of highly qualified applicants, many “withdraw after months in limbo.” The study blames widespread hiring practices that protect teachers already on staff and budget delays. “As a result, urban districts lose the very candidates they need in their classrooms . . . and millions of disadvantaged students in America’s cities pay the price with lower-quality teachers than their suburban peers,” say researchers Jessica Levin and Meredith Quinn.
Bradley Prize Winners
The Bradley Foundation has named the inaugural winners of the Bradley Prizes, which provide $250,000 to each honoree. Foundation president Michael Grebe is quoted in the Washington Times saying the prizes recognize “achievements that are consistent with the mission statement of the foundation, including the promotion of liberal democracy, democratic capitalism, and a vigorous defense of American institutions.” The four winners are:
Mary Ann Glendon, who has written extensively on family law and human rights law and was appointed by Pope John Paul II as an advisor to the Vatican.
Leon R. Kass, chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “Doctor Kass’s scholarship has focused on the broader moral and cultural questions raised by biomedical advances,” the foundation said in announcing the award.
Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the author of 30 books. The Bradley Foundation said, “Doctor Sowell is a formidable presence in the nation’s intellectual life. He is well respected for the quality of his work, intellectual rigor, and fierce independence.”
Charles Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize winner for distinguished commentary. In addition to his nationally syndicated column in the Washington Post, he is a regular contributor to Fox News and the Weekly Standard. Krauthammer “articulates a public philosophy in the best tradition of American thought,” the Bradley Foundation said.
Benefactor Withdraws $200 Million for Charters
Bob Thompson has withdrawn his offer to provide $200 million so that Detroit could establish 15 charter schools-a city that currently has 42 charter schools-because of his disgust over political infighting, threatened lawsuits, and protests by teachers’ unions. According to the Detroit News, before the schools could be built new legislation was needed to increase the number of charter schools allowed in the state. Two such proposals were in play, but infighting among the governor, attorney general, and members of the legislature has stalled any legislation. The Michigan Federation of Teachers has threatened to sue to block the state’s attempt to increase the number of charter schools. “I am disappointed and saddened by the anger and hostility that has greeted our proposal,” Thompson said in a prepared statement. “The proposal was meant to be for kids and not against anyone or any institution.”
Learning from Heritage
Philanthropist George Soros and mortgage billionaires Herbert and Marion Sandler have advanced millions to help former Clinton White House chief of staff John D. Podesta get a liberal think tank off the ground. According to the Washington Post, Podesta’s shop, the Center for American Progress, “intends to cover a range of issues, from economics to domestic policy to foreign affairs.” But as important as the ideas is the lesson Podesta learned from the Heritage Foundation, that the analysis and writings are not worth much unless someone buys the product. “To communicate these ideas to the public, you have to get big,” says Podesta. “We have to modernize the movement, marry it to policies that work, and sell it.” The center currently has a staff of 35, which will grow to 65 in the coming year.
New Schools for New York
New York City is turning “the charter school concept on its head by becoming the first school district in the nation to use private donations to open as many as 50” new charter schools the New York Times writes. The unprecedented plan would establish a nonprofit corporation to create the schools, using more than $50 million in private donations from, among others, the Robertson Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation, and Joe and Carol Reich. “Fundamentally,” said David Levin, the superintendent of KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Academy in the Bronx, the success of charter schools “comes down to a question of the three F’s: facilities, funding, and freedom.” Insofar as the city is in a position to make charter schools easier to operate, Levin continued, “that would be amazing. I think everyone would embrace that.”