The Hechinger Report has partnered with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to produce an eight-part series that looks at the teaching profession in Wisconsin and nationally.


State deals with wave of teacher accountability reform

By Alan J. Borsuk

An educational earthquake aimed at improving the effectiveness of teachers is rumbling across the nation. So far, the quake is only beginning to affect Wisconsin. But the tremors of change are already being felt here, and more are coming. In the process, a new world of teaching is being built. Nationwide, the federal government and […]

MPS teacher Norma Mortimer works with students Candase Franklin (left), Dion Jones (rear) and Tayler Artis on their group analysis of a short story in her English class. (Angela Peterson/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Grading teachers is no easy assignment

By Erin Richards

Norma Mortimer moves about her high school classroom with confidence born of 41 years’ experience. Directions to students are clear; she knows when to push for an answer and when to let a question hang. The English teacher formerly taught music, composed and arranged marching band music, and performed at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. “It […]

MJS Education

School districts evaluate merits of merit pay

By Erin Richards and Scott Stephens

PITTSBURGH – They call it the War Room. It looks like any other classroom inside Carrick High School, a sprawling structure that towers like a stone fortress over this working-class neighborhood on the city’s south side. It’s still dark out as 16 teachers and counselors – some clutching coffee or energy bars – sit in […]

Trying to steer strong teachers to weak schools

By Alan J. Borsuk

James Sonnenberg has a request for Gregory Thornton, the new superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools: “Give me the best you have, to work with the children who need the most.” It’s a logical request. Most business leaders put the most capable employees in the most demanding situations. But it’s also a very tough request, because, […]

Ivelisse Cruz, left, gives a group presentation on "What Makes Great Teachers Great" during her Philosophy of Education class at Alverno College on Monday, Oct. 25, 2010 with other classmates, Lora Meyers, Faviola Martinez and Amanda Lewandowski, far right. Cruz is in her senior year at Alverno. (Photo by Angela Peterson/Journal-Sentinel)

How to train future educators

By Amy Hetzner and Becky Vevea

Ivelisse Cruz can barely watch the video footage from her first time teaching a math lesson. The video shows Cruz, a first-semester sophomore at Alverno College at the time, hesitantly starting her lesson seated with a group of seventh-grade students around a small table at Fairview Charter School in Milwaukee. She doesn’t quite explain what […]

Mary Lou Defino, left, of Milwaukee High School of the Arts, participates in a group exercise with Mary Barrett, a school social worker, while attending the annual WEAC Convention on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010 in Madison. (Photo by Angela Peterson/Journal Sentinel)

Teachers unions often resist school reforms

By Amy Hetzner

The Obama administration could not have set the stage for a better demonstration of the power and priorities of Wisconsin’s teachers unions. With its Race to the Top competition, the federal government dangled the prospect of a share of $4.35 billion for those states ready to enact reforms, especially related to improving teacher and principal […]

Chuck Moore, heads up Eastbrook Academy in Milwaukee. In this photo Moore (center) listens as kindergartner Amani Minor, 5, explains her school work to him. (Photo by Michael Sears/Journal Sentinel)

Improving teachers means improving principals, too

By Alan J. Borsuk

Charles Moore says his job is like creating a garden where teachers and students grow. “It’s more than just strong instructional leadership,” says Moore, principal of Eastbrook Academy, a private school at 5375 N. Green Bay Ave. It’s more than just overseeing discipline or budgets or schedules or a host of other aspects of a […]

English teacher Norma Mortimer watches over students earlier this year at Marshall Morse School. Governor-elect Scott Walker supports a statewide evaluation system with multiple measures of performance that would rank teachers in four categories. (Photo by Angela Peterson / Journal Sentinel)

Wisconsin’s academic luster fading

By Amy Hetzner and Erin Richards

They called it the “Canada effect” — the phenomenon in which students from a string of states along the country’s northern border regularly beat the rest of the nation on academic tests. As recently as 1992, only three states — all from northern climates — had significantly higher average scores than Wisconsin in fourth-grade reading […]

Wisconsin moving toward portfolio-based assessment for teacher-candidates

By Erin Richards

MILWAUKEE — Before he could start student teaching in January at Sennette Middle School in nearby Madison, Andrew Johnson had to pass a multiple-choice test. The 23-year-old wants to teach high-school science, so the exam he took tested his knowledge of biology, chemistry and physics. He had to know the basic properties of an atom […]