Mitch Kokai

Senior Political Analyst

Posts by Mitch Kokai (page 1,802)

  • Former NYC education chief details the impediments to school reform

    If you want to know why school reform initiatives tend to go nowhere, you could watch this week’s Shaftesbury Society presentation from John Redmond, you could hang out with Terry Stoops, or you could read a lengthy first-person report in the latest issue of The Atlantic. Former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein fills eight magazine pages with a detailed description of education dysfunction. TO COMPREHEND THE depth of the problem, consider one episode that still shocks me. Starting in 2006, under federal law, the State of New York was required to test students in grades three through eight annually in math and English. The results of those tests would enable us, for the first time, to analyze year-to-year student progress and tie it to individual teacher performance—a metric known in the field as “teacher value-added.” In essence, you hold constant other factors—where the students start from the prior year, demographics, class size, teacher length of service, and so on—and, based on test results, seek to isolate the individual teacher’s contribution to a student’s progress. Some teachers, for example, move their class forward on average a quarter-year more than expected; others, a quarter-year less. Value-added isn’t a perfect metric, but it’s surely worth considering as part of an overall teacher evaluation. After we developed data from this metric, we decided to factor them into the granting of tenure, an award that is made after three years and that provides virtual lifetime job security. Under state law at the time, we were free to use these data. But after the New York City teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, objected, I proposed that the City use value-added numbers only for the top and bottom 20 percent of teachers: the top 20 percent would get positive credit; the bottom would lose credit. And even then, principals would take value-added data into account only as part of a much larger, comprehensive tenure review. Even with these limitations, the UFT said “No way,” and headed to Albany to set up a legislative roadblock.
    Mitch Kokai, May 13, 2011
  • Battle of Alamance explored

    If you’re planning to participate in this weekend’s commemoration of the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Alamance, you might enjoy reading the N.C. History Project’s new entry on the subject. Here’s an excerpt: Many probably had predicted the day when public disagreements and…
    Mitch Kokai, May 13, 2011
  • This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio

    State senators are working through their budget plans, now that the House has finalized its $19.3 billion proposal. Joseph Coletti compares the House plan to Gov. Beverly Perdue’s ideas — and offers his own recommendations — during the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio. Speaking of budgets, Michael…
    Mitch Kokai, May 13, 2011
  • New Carolina Journal Online features

    This week’s Carolina Journal Online Friday interview features Donna Martinez’s conversation with Becki Gray about the legislative redistricting process. Rick Henderson’s guest Daily Journal questions the value of North Carolina’s business progressivism.
    Mitch Kokai, May 13, 2011
  • New U-boat information unveiled

    Some of you know Michael Lowrey as the keeper of the annual By The Numbers report on city and county tax burdens. Others know him as the man who chronicles major decisions from North Carolina’s appellate courts. Others know him as a watcher of…
    Mitch Kokai, May 12, 2011
  • New at CJO: Republican legislators bypass Perdue, Cooper in ObamaCare legal challenge

    David Bass’ latest Carolina Journal Online report focuses on the friend-of-the-court brief Republican legislative leaders have filed in the lawsuit challenging ObamaCare’s constitutionality.
    Mitch Kokai, May 12, 2011
  • House Majority Leader explains ObamaCare legal filing

    In a brief late-morning news conference, N.C. House Majority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, and Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake, discussed the General Assembly’s decision to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the lawsuit 26 states have filed against implementation of the 2010 federal health care reform law. Click play below to watch…
    Mitch Kokai, May 12, 2011
  • Barone nips talk of a GOP front-runner in the bud

    Is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the front-runner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination? Michael Barone devotes his latest Washington Examiner article to disputing that notion. In the average of recent polls Romney gets 16.6% and Mike Huckabee 16.4%. They’re followed by Donald…
    Mitch Kokai, May 12, 2011