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AM News: Gates At Center Of Common Core, Says Washington Post

How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution Washington Post: The pair of education advocates had a big idea, a new approach to transform every public-school classroom in America. By early 2008, many of the nation’s top politicians and education leaders had lined up in support. 

Examples of how Common Core has changed test questions in Mississippi Washington Post: Mississippi, which historically ranks among the lowest-scoring states on achievement  tests administered by the federal government, adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010.  The state slowly phased in the standards until the current school year, and now all Mississippi students are being taught to the new standards. They will take new standardized tests based on the Common Core in spring 2015.

Obama Plans Steps to Ease Student Debt NYT: Borrowers’ debt load is growing and retarding the ability to buy homes, start businesses or otherwise spend to spur the economy, economists say.

Oklahoma repeals Common Core educational standards PBS: The bill, overwhelmingly passed in the House and Senate on the final day of the 2014 Legislature, requires the state to return to old standards in place before 2010, according to the Associated Press.

National student database controversy heats up again Hechinger Report: The idea, sometimes referred to as a “unit record data,” was originally proposed by the Bush Administration in 2005, but critics, citing student privacy concerns, were able to kill it.

Two States Repeal Education Standards NYT: The governors of Oklahoma and South Carolina signed bills within the past week repealing the Common Core state standards, guidelines for children’s achievement in reading and math between kindergarten and high school graduation.

Koch brothers to give $25 million to United Negro College Fund PBS: The United Negro College Fund announced a $25 million grant Friday from Koch Industries Inc. and the Charles Koch Foundation — a large donation from the conservative powerhouse Koch name that Democrats have sought to vilify heading into the 2014 midterm elections.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom New Yorker: A colleague of mine in the department of computer science at Dartmouth recently sent an e-mail to all of us on the faculty. The subject line read: “Ban computers in the classroom?”

Inside the Test Prep Industry for NYC Gifted Programs WNYC: For most families a G&T offer is a golden-ticket moment, a chance to put their children on an enriched academic track. While the application process has closed for this cycle, the fast-growing test prep industry never stops. We get inside a G&T test prep center to hear how young children drill to ace the tests.

Scholastic Awards Recognize the World's Next Great Artists WNYC: Since 1923, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have recognized the creative accomplishments of teenagers across the country. Previous winners include Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath and Lena Dunham.

Inner-City Chicago High School Celebrates First College Graduates AP: Jamil Boldian headed to college four years ago, arriving in small-town Ohio with a one-way Megabus ticket and $17.91 to his name. He'd been scared to leave Chicago, the only place he'd ever really known. He'd had a rough start in life, bouncing around in seven or eight elementary schools. He wasn't always sure he was college material. Now here he was on a rural campus, where he knew no one. But that had been part of the grand plan ever since Boldian had enrolled in Urban Prep, a new charter high school for young black men.

Philadelphia Parents Reject Charter School Option, Favor Staying District-Run EdWeek: In the last month, parents at two Philadelphia public schools have refused to support plans for the district to transfer control of their schools to charter operators.

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Re: the story on the president's plan to cut student debt: what about the average American student, the one who "graduates" from high school unprepared for college (or career), enters college, is assigned some remedial coursework, and leaves without a degree but with debt? Why don't these degreeless, careerless, indebted young people get much attention?

The way out is for every American community that has sufficient population to offer a choice to end the comprehensive American high school as we have known it, and to give pupils a choice after ninth grade: either enter vocational upper secondary schools devoted to the dual systems of the Germanic and other countries, where youth spend some of their time completing their general educations while other days are spent in apprenticeships, or enter genuinely college-preparatory lyceums (like that proposed for One World Lyceum) and work hard for three years to earn an American Matura, a qualification entitling its holders to admission to free three-year bachelor's degree programmes in public university colleges, or vouchers of similar value contributing towards bachelor's degrees in private university colleges willing to participate.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.