All Articles Education Updates Extra credit: Teachers unions, death-defying students, performance-based college funding

Extra credit: Teachers unions, death-defying students, performance-based college funding

Performance-based funding for colleges has frustrating results. A scrappy teachers’ union shows what teamwork is. Girls in Afghanistan go to secret schools against Taliban orders.

3 min read


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Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images -- Brookline, Mass., teachers on strike.

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The power of cohesion in a teachers union. Paying dues to a union is no fun, but reaping the rewards makes it worth it. So many teachers don’t understand how hard union work and advocacy are — but those who served as silent representatives during recent negotiations in Brookline, Mass., learned firsthand just how unpleasant and difficult the task can be. That made it easier to sway public opinion, encourage all members to band together and get a stunning 900-plus teachers out of 1,100 members on the picket line. Spoiler alert: They got what they asked for, with minor compromises. (LaborNotes) 

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Online social media bullying angers teachers. Any adult who assumes schools and students are much like they were 50, 20 or even 15 years ago needs a new education. Internet access and social media are major life forces for students — and not always for good. Social media bullying is rampant, and while Meta and Snap talked recently at the International Society for Technology in Education’s annual conference about age limits and efforts to police postings, teachers say the damage has been done, trust is broken and they want the companies to step up to help repair both. Educators also noted they’d like lessons in using the myriad apps kids do so they can better spot problems, communicate with students and work with the tech companies. (Education Week)

Performance-based college funding isn’t working like it’s supposed to. Researchers from three universities have looked into the promise of performance-based funding — which 32 states use to some degree to fund schools based on the number of graduates from various underrepresented demographics. They’ve found that, in some instances, only the same number or fewer students at such schools were completing degrees. The researchers suggest that more money is needed to make the programs work well. (The Conversation)

Risking their lives to go to school. Sometimes looking at the sheer will and courage of students in other countries is a heart-warming yet sigh-rendering exercise. Girls in Afghanistan — many defying a Taliban order – are getting a stealth education, desperate for knowledge and a fruitful future. (In the US, many students in a different sort of distress are doing the opposite.) Kudos to the girls who are striving and the teachers who are lifting them up. (NPR/GoatsAndSoda)

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Diane Benson Harrington is an education and leadership writer at SmartBrief. Reach out to her via email, Twitter or LinkedIn


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