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AM News: Here Come District Race To The Top Amendments

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Race to the Top District Winners Already Changing Their Plans PoliticsK12: Already, the Education Department has approved eight amendments ranging from technical to more-significant as the districts seek to fine-tune their projects. If the Race to the Top state contest is any guide, there are many more district amendment requests surely in the pipeline.

Howard County Board of Education react to Ellicott City man's arrest at Common Core forum Baltimore Sun: In Howard County, where the new curriculum was given a test run last year, the Common Core has been the reason cited for removing traditional, stand-alone reading classes in middle schools, lower scores on the Maryland School Assessments and a new teacher and principal evaluation system.

Houston reforms, often overshadowed, now in the limelight with Broad Prize Hechinger: Houston has long been a darling of education reformers with its extensive and deeply rooted charter school network and experimentation with controversial ideas like merit pay for teachers. Still, the city’s efforts to shake up its education system tend to get less notice than places like New Orleans or Washington, D.C., where reforms have led to heated and sometimes vitriolic debates about the role of teachers unions, charter schools and accountability for teachers. 

How to Fund Universal Pre-K WNYC: While there is a huge demand for full-day pre-kindergarten seats, there are plenty of half-day seats unfilled. Why? Geoff Decker, a reporter at GothamSchools, said the half-day schedule doesn't work for most working parents.

From China to Chicago, K12 Inc. markets more than virtual schools Politico: K12 doesn’t break down how many of the 4,500 students enrolled in the International Academy last year were foreign nationals (or how many attended just part-time). But the company says it has significant enrollment from China, Mexico, Brazil and Dubai, where K12 runs a tutoring center at a university complex so students can get face-to-face help, for an extra fee.

Students Find Ways To Hack School-Issued iPads Within A Week NPR: Los Angeles Unified School District started issuing iPads to its students this school year, as part of a $30 million deal with Apple. But less than a week after getting their iPads, hundreds of students had found a way to bypass software blocks meant to limit what websites the students can use.

Failing Students Get 'Wired' For Success At Georgia Factory NPR: An electric wire factory in western Georgia is staffed almost entirely by teenagers. They are there because of a partnership between a local company, Southwire, and the Carroll County school system. They teamed up six years ago to try to reduce the high school dropout rate.

Diane Ravitch Rebukes Education Activists' 'Reign Of Error' NPR:  Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch spent years advocating for an overhaul of the American education system. Now she criticizes changes that she used to support, like charter schools and school choice. She explains her reasoning in Reign of Error, her new book on the pitfalls of privatizing education.

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Lack of quality assurance for K12 and similar for-profit online learning ventures imperils everyone traditionalist opponents will plausibly associate with it: virtual learning in general; blended learning ventures; for-profit education of all kinds; educational management organizations, including good ones; chartered schools as a movement; educational choice; the educational reform movement; even American education as a brand, at least as it is sold in foreign markets. For those of us involved in the work in any of these categories, K12 is a problem that needs to be managed, and that will begin with distancing ourselves from it to the greatest extent possible.

The mismanagement of state schools has created markets for K12 to exploit, but for-profit innovations like this one are going to run families right back to the state schools they ran from, with more time and resources wasted, when they could have been pursuing what the director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers cited in the Politico story: "a solid transcript and strong test scores" that will be internationally recognized.

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