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California: Teacher pay

Educators are shrugging off a plan by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to offer higher pay to lure teachers to failing urban schools, according to the April 26 Los Angeles Times. “It’s not about an extra $5,000. What we need are safe, clean schools, lower class sizes and up-to-date textbooks,” said Barbara Kerr, president of the California Teachers Association. The head of the Los Angeles teachers union said principal quality, safety, adequate resources and length of the commute to work are the most important factors in teachers’ decisions about where to work.

Boston: Pilot schools

The teachers union and the Boston Public Schools are wrangling over the union’s move to force any newly created pilot schools to pay overtime to teachers, according to the April 22 Boston Globe. Pilot schools are given freedom from district and union mandates, including overtime pay. The union wants to create 20 new “discovery schools,” which would be virtually identical to pilot schools but would have to pay overtime. The union has veto power over creation of new pilot schools.

Virginia: Graduation gap

Graduation rates for African-American and Latino students dropped significantly in 2004, the first year students had to take exams in six subjects to earn a diploma, according to the April 18 Washington Post. Researchers found that the graduation rate last year for whites was 77 percent, compared with 61 percent for blacks and 66 percent for Latinos. The statistics represent a decline of 5 percentage points for blacks and 12 percentage points for Latinos.