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AM News: Wisconsin Governor's Voucher Plan Even Divides Republicans

Wisconsin Governor's voucher plan angers public school backers AP: Gov. Scott Walker's plan to expand the private school voucher program statewide, while not allowing public school spending to increase, drew a raft of angry responses Monday from those who fear his budget leaves public school students behind. The debate over Walker's public education funding proposal and desire to grow alternatives such as private school vouchers is likely to be one of the fiercest in the Statehouse this year, even dividing Republicans who control the Legislature.

AMNews

In Mississippi, private money and strong principals boost struggling schools HechingerReport: Quitman County Elementary is one of four Mississippi schools participating in the Barksdale Reading Institute’s latest effort to improve literacy in the state. Three years ago, it reached agreements with Quitman, Crenshaw Elementary in Panola County, Williams-Sullivan in Holmes County and Hazlehurst. It would find and fund top-tier principals for those schools and provide various staff and materials. The schools would provide autonomy to their new leaders.

Gym Class Isn’t Just Fun and Games Anymore NYT: Spurred by an intensifying focus on student test scores in math and English as well as a desire to incorporate more health and fitness information, more school districts are pushing physical education teachers to move beyond soccer, kickball and tennis to include reading, writing and arithmetic as well.

Cyber-Bullying Law Shields Teachers From Student Tormentors NPR: Ganging up on classmates online can get students suspended. But sometimes teachers are the target of cyber-bullying and in North Carolina, educators have said enough is enough. State officials have now made it a crime to "intimidate or torment" teachers online. "It's the first statute that exposes 15-, 16-, 17-year-olds to potential criminal sanctions for a dumb mistake they make, something stupid they say," says Chris Brook of the ACLU of North Carolina, who adds the law is too broad.

Special Report: How charter schools get students they want Reuters: Charters are public schools, funded by taxpayers and widely promoted as open to all. But Reuters has found that across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law.

Schools wrangle with tolerance for kids faking gunplay USAToday: Kids with active imaginations? Or potential threats to school safety? Some school officials are taking the latter view, suspending or threatening to suspend small children over behavior their parents consider perfectly normal and age-appropriate — even now, with schools in a state of heightened sensitivity following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December.

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Both the stories on fake gun play and on charter school admissions practices highlight the need for good policies as bases for professional judgements. At a time of heightened national awareness of both the folly of our gun laws and gun culture and of the (likely exaggerated) vulnerability of our children, administrators will be apt to react in irrational ways to stimuli that normally wouldn't trigger these reactions; having sound policies in place, the equivalent of sentencing guidelines, could mitigate these problems. And supervisorial ignorance of charter school admissions laws and policies plays a central role in the abuses detailed in the Reuters article on "How charter schools get students they want", which reminds us that private actors, both families and schools, will usually act in their own best interests, and will often require state supervision if we are going to be able to build the kind of world we want to live in.

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