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AM News: 5 States to Lengthen School Calendars by 300 Hours

School Districts in 5 States Will Lengthen Their Calendars NYT: The school day and year are about to get longer in 10 school districts in five states, where schools will add up to 300 hours to their calendars starting next fall.

AMNews

Jindal voucher overhaul diverts public funds Times-Picayune: Louisiana Gov. Jinda's school voucher overhaul was dealt a blow Friday when a Baton Rouge area judge declared the diversion of public money by the voucher program to private schools unconstitutional. 

More Schools Are Shut WSJ: During the 2010-11 school year, school districts nationwide closed 1,069 traditional public schools, uprooting nearly 280,000 students, according to data compiled for The Wall Street Journal by the National Center for Education Statistics, the primary federal entity for national school data.

Student scores may be used in LAUSD teacher ratings LATimes: After months of tense negotiations, leaders of the LAUSD and its teachers union have tentatively agreed to use student test scores to evaluate instructors for the first time, officials announced Friday.

Texas 15 Percent Testing Rule Relieved For 2nd Year For High School Students HuffPostEdu: For a second year, Texas high schools will not be required to count new end-of-course exams as part of a student's grade, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced Friday. The new rule sets the results of tough new state exams to count for 15 percent of a student's final grade.

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The Wall Street Journal article "Schools Ring Closing Bell" is an excellent example of an education market at work. Better schools gain students; worse ones lose them, and eventually close when they can no longer meet their expenses. What happens next is vital: the existing buildings should be handed over to the organizations that have long waiting lists of students striving to get in. Public officials will have to monitor to ensure that civil rights protections are enforced; in particular, with primary school students like those depicted in the article, to ensure that no one is excluded from attending the chartered schools, and that discipline policies follow federal and state laws. Also, good, new model schools should have the chance to have their charters approved by means of a fair, competent process, so that innovation is not purged from the charter sector, a danger with a newly ascendant orthodoxy.

The key is the quality of the actual instructional time (including independent work time under teacher guidance). This could mean teachers ( with special skills and knowledge) team teaching across several classes (even in earlier grades) while other teachers key in on their strengths. While some remedial work can be accomplished in limited extended hours or days, enrichment and more advanced topics can be explored in music, art, and science -- and even more so in math where we sadly underestimate (from my personal experience)what 4-8 graders can accomplish. Too little of extended time is directed to the more talented and capable students, while students ESL and from less than ideal family situations get the lions share of attention. Our more "capable" students fall behind those of some other countries because we do not provide enough challenging opportunities for them them.

You're right, Frank; and I've been working hard to open a school so that students like my son aren't ignored while our leaders devote unequal amounts of time and energy to closing the achievement gap, which too often means working harder on helping some kids than others. In Korea, where I used to live, and in other east Asian countries, everyone is learning algebra and geometry in 8th grade, and is studying calculus by 11th (if they are still in general, rather than vocational, education). Here, even after the Common Core comes in, our students will be two years behind theirs; unless they go to a school like One World Secondary, where we mean what we say about having world-class standards. And you're right, we underestimate student potentials in science and other subjects, as well.

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