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AM News: New Report Undercuts Claim That NYC District Schools Retain SPED Kids Better

More Special-Needs Students Remain at Charter Schools, Report Finds NYT: New York City’s Independent Budget Office found that 53 percent of charter school kindergartners with disabilities were still in the same schools four years later, compared with 49 percent in traditional schools.  See also WNYC:  Report: Special Needs Students Stay Longer at New York City Charter Schools, ChalkbeatNY: IBO: Charters do better than district schools at retaining students with disabilities.

Teachers Union Fires First Shot in Battle Over Charter School Cap WNYC: Union leaders say charter schools shouldn't be rewarded by Albany lawmakers until they accept more of the most difficult to teach students. See also ChalkbeatNY: UFT moves quickly to build coalition with a clear target: Cuomo.

 Draft of Obama Administration's Student-Data-Privacy Bill Raises Questions EdWeek: The apparently rechristened "Student Digital Privacy and Innovation Act" seemingly aims to create a uniform national playing field by pre-empting the patchwork of state laws currently in place--a key concern of industry groups.

Teachers union, think tank [CAP] propose compromise on testing of US students Washington Post: “After a decade of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, we know that an environment with high-stakes, annual tests forces schools to focus on compliance, not on kids,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement. 

More Than 1,000 in Arizona Are Watched for Measles NYT: State health officials are tracking hundreds of people, including at least 195 children, who might have been exposed in an outbreak that began at Disneyland.

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AM News: Spending On K-12 Education Dropped - Again

Nation’s per-pupil K-12 funding fell for second consecutive year in 2012 Washington Post: After more than a decade of increases in per-pupil funding for K-12 public schools, the nation’s per-pupil spending dropped in 2012 for the second year in a row, according to data released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics. See also HuffPost: Here Are The States That Spend The Most On Public School Students.

Number of US children living on food stamps nearly doubles since 2007 The Guardian: Census bureau finds about 16 million – or one in five – US children lived in families that received food stamps in 2014.

Obama's Budget Would Undo Broad, Automatic Cuts Made In 2013 NPR: The across-the-board spending cuts made in 2013, known as the sequester, reduced defense and domestic budgets by hundreds of millions each. Republicans are expected to fiercely defend that plan. See also Politico's: How Democrats killed Obamas college savings plan.

MoCo Schools Superintendent Could Be Let Go This Year WAMU: The county board of education is unlikely to renew Starr's contract, which is up in June, according to the Washington Post. See also Washington Post: Montgomery schools chief may face uphill battle on board.

Gov. Cuomo’s big fix for evaluations bucks national trend ChalkbeatNY: In Washington, D.C., state test scores dropped from 50 to 35 percent of evaluations two years ago. In Wisconsin, teachers have been given broad discretion in choosing how student performance was factored into their evaluations.

Teachers ask high court to hear union dues case EdSource Today: Attorneys for teachers who are challenging the right of the California Teachers Association to force them to pay union dues petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to hear their case this year. There’s a good chance that it will

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AM News: More Districts Taking Curriculum Purchase Decisions From States

States Are Losing Power Over Classroom Materials, and Districts Are Gaining It State EdWatch: The number of states that exert direct control over districts' choice of instructional materials through state funding has dipped from roughly 25 to 18 in recent years.

White House Won't Seek To End 529 College Tax Break NPR: All 50 states and the District of Columbia sponsor 529 plans. Critics had called the proposal to limit them a tax hike on the middle class. See also WSJNYT.

Senate Ed. Panel Unlikely to Require Teacher Evaluations in NCLB Overhaul PK12: The lack of teacher-evaluation language in the reauthorization will likely stop in its tracks the Obama administration's efforts to push states to adopt evaluation systems based in part on student test scores and performance-based compensation systems, both of which were at the heart of U.S. Department of Education's NCLB waivers.

As numbers of homeless kids rise, resources fall short Marketplace: The number of students experiencing homelessness in the U.S. has increased 85 percent since before the recession, according to Department of Education data. But the resources available to help them have remained flat.

States Move to Make Citizenship Exams a Classroom Aid NYT: Arizona became the first state to require its high school students to pass the test that is given to immigrants who want to become United States citizens.

Football As A Tool In The Hands Of A Master Craftsman NPR: Our 50 Great Teachers series profiles a football coach who's made academics ... and a sense of family ... part of his winning strategy.

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AM News: Digging Out From Under All The Blizzard Hype

Snow Day: Blizzard Shutters Schools Across Region WNYC: Snow days for the New York City public school system do not come easily, but with forecasts predicting two feet of snow and wind gusts up to 65 miles per hour, yes: school's canceled.

For Students (and Some Adults), School Cancellation in New York Comes as Welcome News NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that city schools would be closed on Tuesday because of the snowstorm, giving some students a reprieve from pending exams.

Hidden Day Care Records And Other State Secrets Seattle Public Radio: State inspection reports of day care providers are public record, but accessing them is still a problem for many parents. Washington state posts records online, but more than a dozen states don’t.

Obama Takes Heat For Proposing To End College Savings Break NPR: President Obama has proposed changing the tax treatment of college savings accounts known as 529 plans. Some are calling this a tax increase on the middle class. See also MMFA: What Media Miss On The Tax Breaks In Obama's Free Community College Plan 

Competency-Based Degree Programs On The Rise NPR: A new report says 52 colleges offer, or plan to offer, some credits based on learning, not just seat time.

Investigation into Md. ‘free-range parenting’ case unresolved after meeting Washington Post: The neglect investigation that started after a Silver Spring couple allowed their children to walk home a mile from a park could continue for another couple of weeks, despite the parents’ hopes that authorities would drop the case at a meeting Monday.

Yale police aim gun at NYT columnist’s son, turn spotlight on racial profiling on campus PBS: The debate over racial profiling — already a hot topic on many college campuses — gained renewed attention this weekend when Yale University police briefly detained a black male student Saturday evening.

Student 'Body Slams' Teacher Who Took Cell Phone (VIDEO) HuffPost: In the video, the 16-year-old suspect goes ballistic when his teacher confiscates his phone. The student appears to wrap his arms around the teacher and knocks him into an empty desk. The student then wrestles with the teacher before slamming him to the floor.

AM News: Thirty States Plus DC To Give Common Core Assessment This Spring

What happens when the Common Core becomes less ... common? Washington Post: Now only 12 states plus the District plan to give the PARCC exam to students, according to the Council of State School Officers, an organization of state education chiefs. Smarter Balanced has seen less attrition, but just 18 states plan to give that test this spring. 

Kasich Calls Out Conservatives Who Oppose Common Core HuffPost: Kasich dismissed criticisms of the standards from those like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who argue that the guidelines will lead the federal government to have more control of the education system in the United States.

Mississippi House passes bill that keeps Common Core but changes name Hechinger Report: Mississippi legislators passed with wide support a bill Thursday that proponents say will give the state more control over public education standards but even they admit it would have no effect on what schools currently teach.

It’s Cuomo Versus The Teachers Union WNYC: In his State of the State address, the Governor proposed big education changes this week - and took aim at the teachers union. See also WNYC.

Biden touts community college proposal, healthcare during L.A. visit LA Times: Vice President Joe Biden visited several Los Angeles sites on Friday to tout and gather support for two of the White House's signature initiatives: a plan to make the first two years of community college free and the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Once Had Universal Child Care, But Rebuilding It Won't Be Easy NPR: In his State of the Union address, President Obama referenced a little-remembered, WWII-era federal child care program, holding it up as an example he hopes to emulate with expanded federal subsidies.

To Improve School Discipline, Change Teacher Behavior Slate: Various programs have cropped up to support the effort. A local partnership called All-In! places therapists and special-education specialists in elementary classrooms, helping teachers identify and address trauma-induced behavior and emotional problems that they might otherwise dismiss as mere misbehavior. Seneca Family of Agencies, a California child welfare organization, is expanding the approach to five Oakland and two San Francisco schools using a $3 million grant from a U.S. Department of Education innovation fund.

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AM News: After Obama Push, Google Relents On Student Data Privacy Pledge

After Initially Holding Out, Google Signs Student-Data-Privacy Pledge EdWeek: Any possibility that the pledge might have slipped from the public's attention vanished last week, when President Barack Obama publicly lauded the effort and urged more companies to get on board.

State Of The Union Doesn't Mention No Child Left Behind Rewrite Efforts HuffPost: Obama mentioned few specifics about K-12 education, one of his administration's top priorities during his first term. Notably, the president mentioned not one word directly about one of his education secretary's priorities for 2015: rewriting the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act, the Bush-era school accountability law. Obama also failed to mention the words teacher and testing. See also PK12, Washington PostPBS NewsHour.

Who sat in the First Lady's State of the Union box? Vox: Malik Bryant (Chicago, IL) Thirteen-year-old Malik Bryant sent a letter to Santa over the holidays, but rather than request the usual gifts, Malik wrote: "All I ask for is for safety I just wanna be safe." The President wrote back to Malik, encouraging him and underscoring that Malik's "security is a priority for me in everything I do as president." Malik lives with his mother Keturah and his two sisters in a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. He is in seventh grade, and his favorite subject is math.

Cuomo’s Education Agenda Sets Battle Lines With Teachers’ Unions NYT: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to seek changes to teacher evaluations and charter school limits, reforms that, uncharacteristically for a Democrat, will put him in conflict with the unions. See also ChalkbeatNY, WNYC.

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AM News: Obama Speech To Include Student Privacy, Safety, & Free College Tonight

Obama to propose new student privacy legislation Washington Post: President Obama is planning to propose new federal legislation to safeguard student privacy, a move that comes as new classroom technologies gather sensitive personal information about children in order to deliver personalized lessons,

Englewood boy who asked Santa for safety invited to attend State of the Union address WLS-TV: The seventh grader was one of about 8,500 Chicago Public Schools students who wrote letters to Santa. 

How Will Education Play in the State of the Union Address? PK12:Proposals on both ends of the education spectrum—early and higher—were part of a big tax package unveiled by the White House this weekend, from which K-12 policy was (almost) absent. This seems to be a trend for the president, who has focused the education remarks in his last three addresses to college on either higher education (popular with young voters and their middle-aged parents) and early ed. (popular with just about everybody), while steering clear of K-12 (a politically stickier issue these days). 

Do students take too many tests? Congress to weigh question PBS NewsHour/AP: Preliminary research by the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts, found that students take an average of 113 standardized tests between pre-K and 12th grade. It said testing time for 11th graders was as high as 27 days, or 15 percent of the school year, in one district and that didn’t count Advanced Placement, career and technical education course and college entrance exams.

Arizona civics group targets California after winning test for high school graduation KPCC LA: “We hope to get out to California maybe in the next year or two and start working with citizens, legislators, teachers there, and see if we can’t make this happen in California as well,” said Sam Stone, Civics Education Initiative executive director, on Friday.

 

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How Stevie Wonder Helped Create Martin Luther King Day

 

How Stevie Wonder Helped Create Martin Luther King Day (Medium)

AM News: Pushing Lunch Until After Recess (& Offering School Dinner, Too)

With lunch after recess, fruits and veggies consumption increases by 54 percent PBS NewsHour: The study sampled seven schools containing grades 1 to 6 in a Utah school district. Three of the schools switched to putting recess before lunch, while the remaining four schools kept their original schedule of lunch before recess. In the schools that switch, the researchers observed — in addition to the 54 percent increase of fruit and vegetable consumption — a 45 percent increase in children eating at least one serving of the two. In the schools that didn’t switch, however, consumption of fruits and vegetables were observed to have decreased.

 More schools serve students dinner as demand expands AP: Thirteen states and the District of Columbia began offering students dinner as part of a pilot program expanded to all states after the 2010 passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Schools where at least half the students are low-income and qualify for free or reduced-price lunch are reimbursed for each supper by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at a rate often significantly higher than the cost of the meal.

Majority of US public school students are in poverty Washington Post: For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation. 

AFT's Weingarten lays out new models for unions People's World: American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten today laid out a framework for a renewed American labor movement. She was joined by U.S. labor secretary Thomas Perez and others at an Albert Shanker Institute conference.

Jeb Bush is running on his Florida education record. Here's what he actually did Vox: Bush's signature reform was testing students every year and grading schools based on the results of those tests. He also pushed to expand charter schools and supported voucher programs, as well as pioneering a program to hold students back who weren't reading in third grade. Some of these ideas are still well within the mainstream of the Republican party. But others, particularly mandatory annual standardized testing, have become much less politically popular in recent years. 

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AM News Roundup: Annual Testing, NY Teacher Tenure, Anaheim Trigger

Democrats Voice Concerns, Stakeholders Have Mixed Reactions to NCLB Draft PK12: Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ranking member of the Senate education committee, who will be Alexander's sparring partner during the reauthorization process, said Wednesday that she was disappointed in several policies that were included in the draft and by one that wasn't.

AFT backs annual testing, with an asterisk Washington Post: As debate rages in Washington about whether a new K-12 federal education law should continue to require annual testing in math and reading, the nation’s second-largest teachers union has staked out a hybrid position. See also TeacherBeat.

 Plaintiffs Urge Judge to Let Case Against Teacher Tenure Proceed WNYC: An ambitious lawsuit challenging teacher tenure in New York got its first full hearing, as two groups of parents claimed job protections make it too difficult to remove bad teachers. See also ChalkbeatNY.

Anaheim parents move to force school reforms EdSource Today: A group of parents in the Anaheim City School District on Wednesday submitted petitions to force reforms at their children’s struggling elementary school – changes that may include turning the school into a charter. See also EdWeek.

President Obama's Student-Data-Privacy Proposal Gets Wary Industry Reaction Education Week News: Companies that provide educational technology will carefully watch the unfolding of President Obama's proposal for a new Student Digital Privacy Act, and closely scrutinize the release of recommended "terms of service" guidance from the U.S. Department 

A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools NPR: Will choice and competition really improve academic quality? A new study out of New Orleans complicates the picture.

LAUSD asks to postpone student test scores, so what's next? KPCC: LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines and the school board expressed concerns that district students haven't had enough time to prepare. Students would take the tests on new tablets and laptops, and officials worry that they haven't sufficiently practiced on the new devices.

Transportation, Education Could Be Big Sticking Points For Hogan's Budget WAMU: Funding for large transportation projects — such as the Purple Line — and for large school districts are among Democrats' concerns as the new GOP governor prepares his fiscal plan.

 

Rand Paul Seeks 2016 Spotlight at Common Core Forum in New Hampshire PK12: Paul held a forum on the Common Core State Standards Wednesday in New Hampshire, which just happens to be the first primary state. The school choice advocate held the event after touring a charter school in Manchester.

AM News: Senators Murray & Alexander Push To Revamp NCLB

Democrats and Republicans Agree: It's Time To Rewrite No Child Left Behind HuffPost: Murray articulated a similar position on testing in an interview Tuesday. "We have to fix the redundant and unnecessary testing within the system broadly," she told The Huffington Post.  But, she said in her speech, "That doesn't mean we should roll back standards or accountability." She further defended the need for some degree of standardized testing by invoking a reason more often used on the right: taxpayer money.

Senators set stage for debate about federal education law Washington Post: Top Republican and Democratic negotiators over federal education law each took to the Senate floor Tuesday to lay out their sometimes conflicting visions for rewriting No Child Left Behind.Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chair of the Senate education panel, emphasized that he wants to shrink the federal footprint in local education, saying the Obama administration has acted as a “national school board” and that Congress ought to cede power back to states to decide how best to educate K-12 students. 

Why Google Didn't Sign Obama-Backed Student Privacy Pledge Wall Street Journal: Other Google student-privacy policies are more nuanced than the pledge Obama endorsed Monday. The company says it doesn't sell Google Apps for Education data to third parties and it only shares personal information with third parties in “exceptional ...

The Most Controversial Woman in School Reform NY Magazine: Even in school reform’s new lawsuit era, hand-to-hand combat is still the preferred mode of resolving—or not resolving—­conflict. Brown has become the latest vilified figure in a decades-long PR battle—between the teachers union, one of the last powerful unions in the U.S., and “reformers”—to rival the ugliest type of corporate warfare.

Teacher survey: Change tenure, layoff laws EdSource Today: Gov. Jerry Brown said last week he's open to changing tenure and other teacher employment laws at issue in the Vergara v. State of California lawsuit, and most teachers in a new survey say they want to change them, too.

Speak & Spell: A History Hacked Education: The Speak & Spell – one of the most iconic toys of the 1980s – is a teaching machine. By that, I don’t mean simply that it’s an electronic, educational device. It is that, sure. The Speak & Spell is a teaching machine specifically in the tradition of B. F. Skinner, reflecting some of both Skinner’s design principles and his theories of learning, decades older than the popular Texas Instruments device. Rather than selecting the correctly-spelled word in a multiple choice quiz, for the example, the Speak & Spell prompts the user to construct the response. It praises; it corrects.

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AM News: Duncan Support For Annual NCLB Testing (Is This News?)

Administration Doubling Down on K-12 Priorities, Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan Declares PK12: Duncan is making it clear he doesn't think that Republicans in Congress—who could introduce draft proposals that make significant changes to federal testing mandates as early as this week—are on the right track. 

Arne Duncan Wants To Drop 'No Child Left Behind' — But Keep Its Tests NPR: The secretary of education calls the law "tired," asserting that much of it ought to be scrapped. But he still wants to keep the annual exams that serve as the law's centerpiece.

Duncan lays out priorities for education law: Testing, preschool funding, teacher evals Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan spelled out his priorities for a new federal education law Monday, calling on Congress to build in funding for preschool, add $1 billion annually in federal aid for schools with the neediest students, and maintain the federal mandate that says states must test students every year in math and reading. See also: Education groups, leaders weigh in on Duncan’s speech.

White House Still Backs Annual Testing in Schools NYT: Arne Duncan outlined the administration’s priorities for a revision of No Child Left Behind, indicating that testing was important to measuring achievement.

Obama to Call for New Laws on Data Hacking, Student Privacy NPR: The Obama Administration wants to create some new regulations that would alert consumers to the potentially unavoidable dangers facing them in the era of Sony's hacks.  See also Daily Caller.

NYC DOE reveals elusive data for 13 charter schools: How many students leave each year ChalkbeatNY:  The limited student mobility data challenges that [Farina] argument, to a degree. The schools with the highest average mobility rates over the past four years are also the ones that are performing the worst academically.

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AM News: Schools Reducing Suspensions, Groups Endorse Annual Testing, Obama Supports Data Privacy

Policy shifts yield decline in school suspensions AP: Five years ago, LAUSD students were scolded with 74,765 days of suspension; last year, they received 8,351, an 89 percent decrease. The decline comes on the heels of a nationwide push to rollback zero-tolerance policies instituted after the deadly Columbine High School shootings that emphasize harsh discipline for even minor misbehavior in favor of support-focused alternatives.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan to outline education priorities and defend testing Washington Post: As a new Congress gets to work to rewrite the 2002 federal education law known as No Child Left Behind, the Obama administration is drawing what Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls a “line in the sand”: The federal government must continue to require states to give annual, standardized tests in reading and math. See also PK12EdWeek.

Obama To Propose Laws On Hacking Notification, Student Privacy AP: President Obama wants to require companies to inform customers within 30 days if their data has been hacked. He also wants to prevent companies from selling student data to third parties. See also NYT, Politico.

Silicon Valley Turns Its Eye to Education NYT: Educational technology companies are latecomers to exploiting the potential of the Internet, but venture capitalists seem to believe their time has come.

How Schools Around The Country Respond To Cold Temperatures HuffPost: Kansas City Public Schools closed its buildings Wednesday and Thursday as forecasts warned of wind chill temperatures as low as 25 degrees below zero. Up in Minnesota, temperatures have to be a little more extreme to warrant school closings. Chicago public schools were closed on Wednesday and Thursday this week "due to extreme temperatures and winds in the area," according to a press release from the district.

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Journalism: No, Georgia Doesn't Really Lead The Nation In School Shootings

image from static.politifact.com.s3.amazonaws.comGiven the pace of work being produced and the complexity of the issues, it's pretty easy for mis-statements and errors of fact to creep into education stories -- and very hard to correct them once they're out in the wild.  

That's why it's helpful that Politifact covers Education statements.  

Just recently, the site took a look at the claim made that GA "leads the nation in school shootings since Sandy Hook." The claim was made by Everytown For Gun Safety and passed along by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  

The issue is how Everytown defines school shooting (very broadly).

Any other bad numbers or unverified claims out there that you think need to be addressed?  Send them to me at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.

Related posts: New York Magazine Duped By Stuyvesant HS Student Scam;NYT Journo Tweets Out 60-80 Days Of Testing ClarificationOops!? Results From The Equity Project Same As Other NYC ChartersMissing Context From ProPublica Charter School "Sweeps" Story.

AM News: Duncan To Join "Repeal NCLB" Chorus -- But Favors Annual Testing

Arne Duncan to call for No Child Left Behind revamp Politico: In a speech Monday, Duncan will lay out his principles for rewriting the education law, sources familiar with the event confirmed. But he is not expected to back down from his insistence that a rewritten law retain the federal mandate that all students be tested in math and reading every year from third through eighth grade.

Governors Laud 'Higher Standards,' Plead for NCLB Renewal in NGA Speeches State EdWatch: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the chairman of the National Governors Association, said more rigorous expectations for students were important, but not the only consideration for stronger schools.

Obama In Tennessee To Promote Free Community College NPR: President Obama is on the road as part of his effort to jump-start his 2015 agenda. Today he's in Tennessee, talking about higher education. See also NYTWashington PostPK12.

A 'Sizable Decrease' In Those Passing The GED NPR: The new GED is more expensive, computer-based and tougher. As a result some states are embracing alternative tests, and the number of GEDs awarded last year fell.

Study Questions Stock Teacher-Turnover Stat Teacher Beat: In contrast to the conventional wisdom, an estimated 70 percent of teachers stay in the profession after five years, an analysis of federal data shows.

Could push to improve teacher training start by taking a cue from flight schools? PBS: Just like pilots aren’t allowed to fly solo until they are capable, Deborah Ball, dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Education, thinks teaching programs should follow the same principle. That’s the analogy Ball drew last summer when speaking about teacher preparation to a group of higher education leaders at a forum in Aspen, Colorado.

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AM News: Cold-Weather Closures Plus Updated EdWeek Grades

Deep Freeze Sticks Around As Some Schools Remain Closed WAMU: Many districts in Virginia and Maryland took no chances with the roads today. See also HuffPost.

Brutal Cold Forces Schools Throughout Midwest to Close NYT: Even Chicago, which prides itself on toughing out fierce winters, told students to stay home as wind chills were predicted to hit 27 degrees below zero. See also AP.

Report gives CA low marks on preschool EdSource Today: California ranks well above other states in preschool and kindergarten enrollment, but still ranks 45th overall in its efforts to support the education of its youngest children, according to a report by Education Week released today. See also KPCC, EdWeek.

Study Finds Reading to Children of All Ages Grooms Them to Read More on Their Own NYT: A study by Scholastic points to ways that parents can encourage kids to read for fun.

Students Thrilled About End to Cell Phone Ban? Not Necessarily. WNYC: For the New York City students who admit to little self control, allowing cell phones in high school spells trouble. They'd rather not have daytime access to their tempting screens. See also ChalkbeatNY.

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AM News: Cold Weather Closes Chicago Public Schools

Chicago Public Schools closed due to cold for Jan. 7 WBEZ: “The frigid temperatures and winds make a dangerous combination, and it is in the best interest of our students to cancel classes,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in a press release.

Many of region’s schools opened in storm, drawing ire Washington Post: If the storm that swooped through Washington early Tuesday was an early test of winter, by many accounts several of the region’s school systems failed.Teen drivers crashed on the way to classes. School parking lots turned into gridlock, leaving parents seething. School buses fought slick roads, often unsuccessfully, with many school ­systems reporting crashes. 

Is the new GED test an educational improvement or setback? PBS NewsHour: In states like Wisconsin and Rhode Island, the number of those who passed dropped more than 90 percent. In Florida, the number of test takers fell about half. Is this an improvement or a setback?

Improving NYC Schools By Improving Students' Health WNYC: While educators often look to boost student achievement through efforts like curriculum changes or teacher training, the Children’s Health Fund in New York City is taking a different approach — a laser-like focus on a particular set of health issues that tend to affect poor children.

Jeb Bush education foundation played leading role in mixing politics, policy Washington Post: An employee of Jeb Bush’s education foundation was unequivocal when New Mexico’s top schools official needed someone to pay her travel costs to Washington to testify before Congress: The foundation would give her “whatever she needs.”

Plan For Later Start Of School Day Reawakens In Montgomery County WAMU: The county's superintendent favors an option that would delay the start of the school day by 20 minutes.

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AM News: 13 States Under Pressure To Increase Funding

Schools go to court for more funding Marketplace: Thirteen states, from Texas to Pennsylvania, are facing active litigation. Often it comes down to a battle between the courts and state lawmakers. The Supreme Court in Washington state has threatened to shut down the public schools or fine legislators if they don’t come up with increased funding. 

Schools on Guard as Flu Deaths Rise WSJ: At least 21 children have died from influenza, the federal government said Monday, compared with six at the same point a year ago. Still, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was too early to ascertain whether this season would be worse than in years past.

Obama dials up executive power Politico: The biggest higher education issue will be the Obama administration’s controversial, still-vague proposal to rate more than 4,000 colleges and universities based on how many low-income students they have, how affordable they are, and how they do on outcome measures like graduation rates. 

R.I. Chief Deborah Gist's Fate Uncertain as Contract-Renewal Deadline Passes State EdWatch: The Rhode Island education commissioner has previously stated she'd like to stay on under the new Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo, but Gist's current contract expires in June.

Nearly all Indiana educators rated effective again ChalkbeatIN: The percentage of educators in the top category rated “highly effective,” dropped to 26 percent from 35 percent, but nearly all of those who fell were rated in the next highest category, or “effective.”

Brown: $65.7 billion for schools next year EdSource Today: Gov. Jerry Brown gave education top billing during remarks at his historic fourth swearing in ceremony Monday and forecast billions in additional school funding next year. See also LA Times

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AM News: Edu-Predictions Are Fluffy & Fun! #JournoSpeculation2015

Inside a Chinese Test-Prep Factory NYT: Thousands of students travel to Maotanchang to spend 16 hours a day, seven days a week, studying for the biggest test of their lives.

Parents Issue Cry for Help with Common Core Math Homework WNYC: Math problems are often crafted so that students need to apply mathematical concepts to real life situations. Ja’Niah Payne’s teacher, Peter Schmitt, thinks the new standards promote more rigorous thinking.

Common Core Repeal, The Day After NPR: The Common Core had a rough year. The learning standards were repealed in three states, including Oklahoma. But what happens the day after a state repeals its academic standards?

Home Schooling: More Pupils, Less Regulation NYT: Known for one of the strictest home-school laws in the nation, Pennsylvania has relaxed some requirements, and that has brought it to the forefront in a lobbying war.

With eye on 2016, Jeb Bush resigns from all boards Washington Post: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, moving closer to a possible presidential run, has resigned all of his corporate and nonprofit board memberships, including with his own education foundation, his office said late Wednesday night. 

Kansas court orders more state spending on schools AP: Kansas isn't spending enough money on its public schools to provide a suitable education for every child, a state district court panel ruled Tuesday in an order that could mean the state has to boost its aid by hundreds of millions of dollars a year.... See also KPCC: Is more education money helping California schools?

Six Education Stories To Watch in 2015 NPR: A veteran reporter's view on the hot-button issues in the coming year: Police in schools, the fallout from the Vergara case and more. See also here. WNYC here. EdSource here.

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

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New Year: Out With 2014, In With 2015

ScreenHunter_01 Dec. 16 09.33Tweeting will be light all week, but be sure not to miss it.  You can read it all right here, or on Facebook (Alexander Russo), or directly on Twitter (@alexanderrusso). :

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog, gets the email, and follows Twitter.

Holiday Season 2014: Follow The News Here, On Facebook, Or Twitter

Greetings from Boston. I'll be sharing education news and views intermittently over the next three days, then shutting down for the rest of the week. You can read it all right here, or on Facebook (Alexander Russo), or directly on Twitter (@alexanderrusso). 

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog, gets the email, and follows Twitter.

AM News: NYC Gives Success Charter Schools More Space To Expand

Success Charter Schools Secure More City Space WNYC: The Department of Education agreed on Thursday to give more space to the city's largest charter school network, Success Academy. The backroom deal came a day after Success founder Eva Moskowitz released a letter from anxious parents and just hours before she was scheduled to stage a press conference outside City Hall. See also ChalkbeatNY.

Details On The Administration's New College Ratings System NPR: Today the Education Department released long-awaited details on a plan to hold colleges accountable for their performance on several key indicators, and officials said they'll be seeking public comment on the proposals through February. Washington Post,  NYT, NPR again.

Common Core, Non-Common Core States Face Similar Challenges, GAO Says PK12: For instance, states in both camps are giving teachers professional development to implement the standards, but they're worried the training isn't high-quality. And all states with new standards are developing new instructional materials that are supposed to match them—but that can be time- consuming, and there isn't always as much alignment as states were hoping for. It can also be pretty tricky to communicate with parents and the public about the standards, states told the GAO, which is considered Congress' investigative arm.

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

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AM News: Wisconsin Gov. Walker Backs Off Call For Common Core Repeal

Walker says he wants schools to have Common Core choice AP: Gov. Scott Walker is backing off his call for the Legislature to repeal Common Core academic standards, saying he simply wants to insure there is no mandate they be used.

Cuomo: High teacher scores 'not real' Capital New York: Teachers’ high scores under the state’s mandatory performance rating system show that it is “an evaluation system in name” and “doesn’t reflect reality,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday at a Capitol press conference.

Cuomo: 'Safety net' won't fix teacher rating system Capital New York: Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested he won't sign a "safety net" bill that would shield educators from consequences of the rough rollout of the Common Core standards in New York, citing new teacher-evaluation data released on Tuesday.

GOP gives feds' college rating plan an F Politico: The goal is to yank funds from schools that fail to meet on federal requirements.

Mayor De Blasio's Charter School Dilemma WNYC: The state-mandated deadline for the city to respond is the end of December. The city has repeatedly declined to tell WNYC how many charters are seeking space in public school buildings but at least two others were rejected this fall.

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

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AM News: Jeb Bush Takes Another Step Towards Presidential Campaign

Jeb Bush's Entry Into Presidential Contest Would Put K-12 Front and Center PK12: Bush doesn't see eye-to-eye with many of the more conservative members of his party on what's arguably the biggest K-12 political issue of the day, the common core standards. See also Politico, FiveThirtyEight, Vox.

New York City Teachers Score Highly Under New Evaluation System NYT: The system was created to make it easier to identify which teachers performed the best so their methods could be replicated, and which performed the worst, so they could be fired. See also WNYC, ChalkbeatNY.

NY State Official Raises Alarm on Charter Schools — And Gets Ignored ProPublica: Pete Grannis, New York State's First Deputy Comptroller, contacted ProPublica after reading our story last week.The arrangements can limit the ability of auditors and charter-school regulators to follow how public money is spent – especially when the firms refuse to divulge financial details when asked.

Pakistan School: Devastation Where 148 Were Slain AP: Pakistan is mourning as the nation prepares for mass funerals for 141 people, most of them children, killed in a Taliban attack on a military-run school in the country's northwest. A three-day official mourning period started Wednesday, a day after seven Taliban gunmen, explosives strapped to their bodies, stormed the army public school in the city of Peshawar. 

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

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AM News: NY Regents Refuse Charter Renewals; LA Supe Seeks Testing Relief

Regents refuse to approve city’s latest charter school renewals ChalkbeatNY: The renewals are typically considered rubber-stamp votes by the time they make it to the Regents agenda. This time, state officials said they wouldn’t approve the extensions until representatives from the city’s charter-school office came to Albany and explained their reasoning.

LAUSD superintendent seeks state testing relief KPCC: Under Cortines' request, scores would still be delivered to students, parents and schools, but would not be counted toward schools' Academic Performance Index, the measure by which California schools' determine improvement on tests.

Taliban Storm Pakistani School AP: Taliban storm Pakistani school, kill 126, mostly children, teenagers, in worst attack in years. Police officer Javed Khan says the gunmen entered the school on Tuesday morning. He says army commandos quickly arrived at the scene and exchanged fire with the gunmen.

How ‘Christmas’ should teachers get? A guide for navigating the ‘December Dilemma’ PBS NewsHour: It’s called “the December Dilemma.” As the winter holidays approach, schools are aware that the issue of separating church and state is not just something students encounter in social studies classes, but a real and present concern for teachers and administrators. Is it OK to decorate the school and the classroom for Christmas? What kinds of concerts and plays are constitutional in a public school?

In Mississippi, Education Money Gap Grows To $1.5B AP: School leaders say they can't afford new books or a reading coach to help raise the district's "D" academic rating. There's a leaky roof and crumbling ceiling tiles, no marching band and no advanced placement classes. To save money, the number of teachers and their assistants were reduced and administrators took pay cuts.

As Lottery Opens, Bowser Remains Mum On Tweaks To New School Boundaries WAMU: The District's citywide school lottery opened to students today, incorporating new school boundaries and feeder patterns adopted by Mayor Vincent Gray. But Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser again said she would tweak those changes, though remained quiet on the details.

Stuyvesant High School Student Now Says He Didn't Make $72 Million on Stocks NYT: After widespread publicity that Mohammed Islam had earned $72 million in the stock market, the story of a 17-year-old Stuyvesant High School senior started to unravel on Monday.

City Agrees to Stop Schools from Using 911 for Discipline WNYC: New York City public schools can no longer send disruptive students to emergency rooms without first giving families or trained.

AM News: Duncan, Educators, Students Attend Weekend Civil Rights Protests

Arne Duncan Joins Al Sharpton's Civil Rights March PK12: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is among thousands of demonstrators who participated in a march through Washington, D.C. Saturday to focus attention on recent law enforcement actions that led to the deaths of unarmed African-American men, according to a tweet sent from his official account. See also here.

Teachers Protest Grand Jury Decisions At Police Precinct HuffPost: A.J. Hudson, an 8th grade biology teacher at KIPP Amp Middle School in Brooklyn, told The Huffington Post that the grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for killing black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and in Staten Island, New York, have been “upsetting everyone” at his school. 

Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan Decries School Funding "Injustices" in Philly and Nation District Dossier: In a column printed in the Philadelphia Inquirer Friday, the Education Secretary says the nation should be embarrassed that the quality of children's public education is largely dependent on where they live and their parents' incomes.

Big Drop In Students Being Held Back, But Why? NPR: The number of students being held back has been cut nearly in half, and researchers have no idea why.

Two Years Later, Still Learning From Sandy Hook NPR: A new report on the 2012 Newtown school shootings says that school administrators failed Adam Lanza despite their best efforts. The authors say the district had a lack of special education expertise. 

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

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AM News: Funding Increase For School Broadband, Plus Retention Decline

F.C.C. Increases Money for E-Rate Program for Internet in Schools and Libraries NYT: The move will increase money for schools and libraries to connect to the Internet. See also KPCCEdSource TodayNYT

Student retention rates declining in U.S. EdSource Today: The often controversial practice of holding struggling students back a grade appears to be losing favor, according to a national study of retention rates released Thursday. Overall retention rates for grades 1 through 9 declined by almost half between 2004-05 and 2009-10.

Common Core repeal maneuver fails in Ohio House AP: State Rep. John Adams, a Republican from Sidney in western Ohio, attempted during an Ohio House floor session on Wednesday to add the repeal language into legislation dealing with high school world history courses.

John King Jr., New York State’s Education Chief, to Leave Many Policy Wars Behind NYT: Whoever replaces Dr. King will have to juggle issues like the Common Core standards, teacher evaluation and training, and charter schools. See also ChalkbeatNY

New Math Standards a Hurdle for Some Students and Teachers in Texas Texas Tribune: Three months into the school year, the transition has proved challenging. As parents and educators question whether the rigor of the new curriculum is developmentally appropriate, school officials are reporting that they lack the resources to help teachers learn the new material.

Mayoral candidate Garcia releases education plan WBEZ: Parts of the plan are strikingly similar to a policy paper put out by the Chicago Teachers Union two and a half years ago. So much so, that whole sentences in the summary are pulled word for word from that paper. But Garcia said he got input from several groups, not just the CTU.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Funding Increase For School Broadband, Plus Retention Decline" »

AM News: Universal Preschool Day At The White House

The White House Wants You To Know That Preschool Is Really Good For The Economy HuffPost: The president is set to announce which states and communities are receiving some $750 million in federal grants for the expansion and improvement of early childhood education programs. He's also expected to say that corporate, philanthropic and nonprofit leaders have committed over $330 million in support of the cause. 

Obama announcing $1B for early childhood education AP: The president will join a daylong summit convening at the White House on Wednesday to announce the investment in early learning programs for infants, toddlers and preschoolers — especially those in lower-income communities. Nationwide, 28 percent of America's 4-year-olds were enrolled in a state-funded preschool program last year.

Why math might be the secret to school success NPR: Little children are big news this week, as the White House holds a summit on early childhood education on Wednesday. Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there's still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years. See also ABC News, The Hill

A Battle Expected Over School Spending In Montgomery County WAMU: A budget battle is brewing between the Montgomery County school system and the county council.

On Verge Of Being Closed, D.C. Charter School Fights Back WAMU: A D.C. public charter school on the verge of being closed is asking for more time to prove that it can effectively educate its students — a request that's rarely granted in the fast-churning world of charter schools.

Losing students, neighborhood high schools caught in downward spiral Catalyst:  As schools lose students, they receive less money and must cut back the very features that could help attract and keep students-- counselors, honors classes, elective courses and extracurricular programs--and become shells of what they once were. 

State’s first charter school in disarray Seattle Times: Since it opened in September, the state’s first charter school has lost its special-education coordinator, principal, board president and half the rest of its board. By Wednesday, it must prove to a state board that it can solve problems in four major areas.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Universal Preschool Day At The White House" »

AM News: Handicapping The 2015 Common Core Debate

Will Common Core Survive Past 2016? RealClear Education: While most of those efforts have failed, some states are making changes, and about half have renamed the standards – to reflect state independence and to appease political critics. 

White House Focuses on Computer Science in Schools AP: The school districts encompassing New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas, Houston and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are committing to offer the course in high school or middle school. While some large districts already have computer electives at limited campuses, all are now pledging to make computer science a standard offering district-wide.

Obama shout-out for Sherman Oaks students part of global event to help promote computer skills LA Times: Hundreds of Los Angeles Unified students participated Monday in a global event aimed at promoting computer skills, listening to speeches by industry leaders and receiving a video shout-out from President Barack Obama.

Louisiana Supreme Court will not rehear Katrina teachers' layoff case NOLA.com: About 7,500 New Orleans school employees who lost their jobs after Hurricane Katrina appear to have exhausted their options in Louisiana courts. The state Supreme Court decided Monday to reject the plaintiffs' request for a rehearing. 

At age 16, accomplished — and homeless Washington Post: Youth outreach coordinator for the gubernatorial run of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D). She is home-schooling her way through her junior year of high school and taking classes at the University of Maryland under a concurrent enrollment program for exceptional students.

Kate Visits NYC Kids; Prince William Joins Obama ABC News: Kate tours child development center with NYC's first lady as Prince William meets with Obama.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Handicapping The 2015 Common Core Debate" »

AM News: Mississippi Educators Question Common Core U-Turn

Educators question future progress if Mississippi backs away from Common Core Hechinger Report: Educators across Mississippi say the already-lagging state will “move backwards” if Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves throw out the Common Core academic standards and create new ones.

Military-Style Technology Finds Way Into School District Safety Measures NYT: Many experts say limited resources may be better spent on mental health services and training for teachers and students on what to do if their peers talk about bringing a gun to school.

LAUSD students hope for iPads, prepare for disappointment KPCC: It's been a roller coaster ride for Los Angeles Unified School District students who were promised iPads that would usher in a new chapter in how they'll learn and take tests in the digital age.

FBI at the door is just the latest bad news for L.A. school district LA Times: With three weeks left in December, I'm hesitant to jump the gun and suggest that we've seen the last of this year's troubles for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Nine-Year-Old’s Arrest Prompts Call for Change by Federal Judge WSJ: The increased involvement of police at schools has led to an increase in schoolchildren arrests, phenomena that make for shocking headlines (8-year-old arrested in school bomb threat) and have led to a new, funny-if-it-weren’t-true formulation: the school-to-prison pipeline.

CTU President Karen Lewis trying 'to resume some of her duties' Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said Thursday, in her first interview since being hospitalized for a brain tumor that halted her plans to run for mayor, that she's eager to campaign for mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

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

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Site Schedule: Go Ahead, Start December Without Me

Sennhs1957Welcome back. I had a great time in Boston with my family this past weekend. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving break, too.

I'm going to be traveling again this first week of December, so you can wait until I'm back on Monday or check out the competition (Politico, RealClear, etc.) for a few days (which will tide you over but leave you with a nagging feeling of not being entirely satisfied).

I'll be back at it again on December 8th. I won't really be on email all the time but I can be reached at thisweekineducation@gmail.com if there's a problem that needs immediate attention.  Image of Senn high school in Chicago, where my dad went, circa 1957.

Thanks! / Alexander 

AM News: School Closures Worsen Things For Ferguson-Area Kids

The other injustice in Ferguson: Schools are closed Quartz: The list of closures affects schools that are rich and poor, black and white, emblematic of districts that are more segregated today than before Brown vs. Board of Education. 

Oklahoma: Education Waiver Is Restored for State NYT: The Department of Education announced Monday that Oklahoma — which lost its No Child Left Behind waiver after repealing Common Core — would have its waiver reinstated. See also WPost, PK12.

N.J. High School Cancels Midterm and Final Exams WSJ: In a move likely to make many New Jersey teenagers jealous, Glen Ridge High School has scrapped its midterm and final exams.

Thought Bubbles And One-Liners From An Ohio Classroom NPR: Art imitates life for Chris Pearce — English teacher by day, comic artist by night. Inspired by his students, the material practically writes itself.

Tools Of The Trade: The Presidential Physical Fitness Test NPR: For many, the now-retired national fitness test evokes dread. A timed mile run, pull-ups, curl-ups, a shuttle run and the V-sit. All for a small blue patch.

Before LAUSD travel ban, former superintendent flew 100k miles last year KPCC: Former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy traveled more than 100,000 miles last school year, equivalent to circling the globe four times, according to a KPCC analysis of credit card records.

Debate Brews Over After-School Programs: Tutoring vs. Playing WNYC: Fort Greene Prep is part of New York City’s expansion of free after-school programs for middle school students. The city doubled the number of middle schools providing after-school programs this year, serving an additional 31,000 children — or more than 75,000 of the roughly 225,000 students in its public middle schools.

AM News: NYC Debates Whether Charters Push Out More Students Than District Schools

New York Chancellor Is Criticized for Remarks on Charter Schools NYT: Carmen Fariña said at a conference that some charter schools push students out before they take state tests and later replace them with high-scoring children.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan's communications chief leaving for Teach For TFA Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan is losing his second communications chief in two years. Massie Ritsch, the acting assistant secretary for communications and outreach, is leaving his job to take a new position at TFA.

At union rallies across L.A., teachers seek more than just a pay hike LA Times: The demonstrations were intended to make a statement about union solidarity over contract demands. United Teachers Los Angeles is seeking a one-year, permanent 10% raise, while also putting forward an agenda on staffing levels, classroom conditions and policies aimed at improving academic results.

Texas Approves Disputed History Texts for Schools NYT: Texas’ State Board of Education has approved new history textbooks, capping months of outcry over lessons that some academics say exaggerate the influence of Moses and negatively portray Muslims. See also WNYC.

Tennessee’s Common Core backtrack strands teachers, students Hechinger Report:  For the past three years, that’s included a significant shift away from the state’s traditional academic benchmarks and toward the Common Core, a set of more difficult standards.

School district near Ferguson cancels classes AP: A school district that includes some students from Ferguson, Missouri, is calling off classes Monday and Tuesday, citing potential unrest if a much-anticipated grand jury announcement occurs soon....

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

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AM News: Undocumented Parents, Duncan's Chicago "No Comment," & Bush Speech

Obama’s Immigration Plan Mostly Covers Parents FiveThirtyEight: According to numbers calculated by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a nonpartisan think tank, the bulk of that five million — about 3.7 million — will consist of undocumented parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents who have been in the U.S. for at least five years. Obama’s plan would also expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), making another 300,000 undocumented immigrants eligible for the program.

Arne Duncan not taking sides on CPS' seeking delay on PARCC test Chicago Sun-TimesU.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Thursday he's staying out of a tussle between the Illinois State Board of Education and Chicago Public Schools over whether CPS students will take a new Common Core-aligned standardized test this spring.

Bush Seeks Common Ground With Common Core Critics AP: "For those states choosing a path other than Common Core, I say this: Aim even higher, be bolder, raise standards and ask more of our students and the system," Bush said. See also Washington Post, Washington Times, NPR.

Teachers Union Showcases Community Schools Model in Manhattan WNYC: There's been intense debate lately about whether struggling schools benefit more from additional services or by studying their data. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration closed down low-performing schools to get rid of ineffective teachers and supervisors. But Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña have embraced more professional development and the community schools model, while reserving their right to close schools as a last resort. 

Charter CEO: Fariña has ‘obligation’ to release enrollment data after push-out claims ChalkbeatNY: “The NYC DOE has access to enrollment and discharge data and now has an obligation to release such data not just for every charter school but for every district school as well,” he said. “I call on the Chancellor to instruct the DOE to do so promptly.”

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Undocumented Parents, Duncan's Chicago "No Comment," & Bush Speech" »

AM News: Obama Plan's Impact On Students With Undocumented Parents

Obama's Forthcoming Immigration Plan to Protect Millions From Deportation PK12: President Obama on Thursday will announce steps he will take to shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States from deportation, a move that could have implications for millions of America's K-12 schoolchildren. See also Vox story on impact on K-12 students with undocumented parents.

No Child Left Behind, Pre-K Programs Could Be On New Congress' Agenda NPR: With Republican majorities in the House and Senate, Congress may push for change on several big education issues, including a rewrite of the law known as No Child Left Behind. But it's also clear that, even on classroom issues that seem to have bipartisan support — including Pre-K funding — Democrats and Republicans may have trouble compromising.

Passing Rate Declines by 20% as State Uses New Certification Exams for Teachers NYT: The fall in certifications resembles, in some respects, the state’s experience with the Common Core, a set of more rigorous learning standards for students that has been adopted by New York and most other states.

Wash. school district tries arming administrators to protect students from shootings PBS NewsHour: A school shooting north of Seattle last month left five students dead, reviving questions of safety and violence for students and teachers. Another school district in Washington State is answering that question in an unconventional manner: arming school administrators.

Obama Makes Pitch to Expand High-Speed Internet Access to Schools NYT: The president, in a respite from the gridlock and sniping in Washington, also signed a bill that changes the child care rules for low-income families.

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

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AM News: Mixed Common Core Signals For Jeb Bush 2016

Jeb Bush, Common Core and 2016 WSJ: Races in which Common Core was raised as a campaign issue in the midterm election produced a mixed verdict. School superintendents who raised concerns about the national standards won in Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina. Arizona also elected an anti-Common Core governor, Republican Doug Ducey. On the other hand, Democratic governors criticized by their opponents for supporting Common Core, including Andrew Cuomo in New York and John Hickenlooper in Colorado, won re-election.

Department Of Education Investigating K-12 School Districts For Mishandling Sexual Assault HuffPost: As of Nov. 12, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights was investigating 24 elementary and secondary schools for potential mishandling of sexual violence incidents under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, according to numbers provided by the department to The Huffington Post [see list below]. One of these districts is under investigation for two cases, meaning that a total of 25 incidents are being investigated. Thirteen of these investigations were initiated in 2014.

Sen. Tom Harkin, Force on Education Policy, Begins Retirement Farewells PK12: Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who's set to retire after nearly four decades in Congress, gave what sounded like his closing oration late Tuesday afternoon on the Senate floor. Though I've been assured it wasn't his official swan song, it was some dress rehearsal.

Billions more in spending for school Internet connections under FCC proposal Hechinger Report: Afte If the additional funding is approved, it would bring the cap on total yearly spending on this program to about $3.9 billion.

Pearson Charitable Foundation to Close Its Doors EdWeek: The activities of the charitable foundation came under harsh scrutiny last year, when the not-for-profit organizaiton agreed to pay $7.7 million in a settlement with New York state, which accused it of improperly using assets to benefit its for-profit arm, Pearson Inc. 

ClassDojo Adopts Deletion Policy for Student Data NYT: The maker of ClassDojo, a popular classroom app, said that starting in January it plans to keep students’ behavioral records for only one school year.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

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AM News: Get Ready For Low Common Core Test Scores This Spring

Under half of students projected to test well EdSource Today: Projections released Monday predict that fewer than half of students in California and other states will score at grade level on tests next spring on the Common Core standards.

Poll: Voters know little about Common Core EdSource Today: More than half of California voters said they knew nothing or very little about the state’s new Common Core standards for English language arts and math, according to a newly released report by the Policy Analysis for California Education/USC Rossier School of Education.

Teachers union sees ‘surprising common ground’ with Lamar Alexander Tennessean: But while Eskelsen García supports a rewrite of No Child Left Behind that would do away with that waiver approach, NEA has long drawn a hard line against school vouchers and charter schools — two areas that Alexander has promoted legislatively.

Phila. schools see 40 applications for new charters Philadelphia Inquirer: After the Philadelphia School District announced that it would accept applications for new charter schools for the first time in seven years, it received 40, the district said Monday.

Walton Family Foundation Funds Parent-Engagement Efforts in New Orleans EdWeek: A $1.2 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation will help the Urban League of Greater New Orleans' increase its parent outreach efforts.

FCC Chair Wants Fee Hike to Expand Internet Access ABC: FCC chair proposes small hike in phone fees to expand Internet coverage to low-income areas.

Number of international students on U.S. campuses at an all-time high PBS NewsHour: More than 886,000 students came from foreign countries to study at U.S. colleges and universities during the 2013-14 school year, an 8 percent increase over the previous year.

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

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AM News: Nearly 30 State Supes Change Over In Under Three Years

What's the Turnover for State Education Chiefs in Recent Years? State EdWatch: In the past 33 months, 29 states have replaced their state K-12 chiefs at least once, or are officially scheduled to replace their state K-12 chiefs due to last week's elections or for other reasons. 

Montgomery schools chief cites both successes and urgency in closing gaps Washington Post: Montgomery County must redouble its efforts to close the achievement gap between students of different racial and socioeconomic groups, while preparing all students for success in a 21st century world, the school system’s leader said this week in his yearly “State of the Schools” address.

Smarter Balanced tests are still a work in progress EdSource Today: The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium provided a sneak peek for their final computer-adaptive tests in early October, tests to be administered to roughly 25 percent of the country’s grade 3-8 and 11 students in spring 2015 to measure, initially, status and, eventually, growth in achievement on the new Common Core academic standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

Privacy Concerns for ClassDojo and Other Tracking Apps for Schoolchildren NYT: Many teachers say the ClassDojo app helps them automate the task of recording classroom conduct, but some critics say such apps are being adopted without sufficiently considering the ramifications for data privacy and fairness.

Common Core Reading: Difficult, Dahl, Repeat NPR: Backers of the Common Core say it's important for kids to tackle complex texts. Critics argue that reading shouldn't be a struggle for kids. We'll visit one classroom that borrows from both sides.

Info on 8,000 Seattle Schools students improperly released Seattle Times: Seattle Public Schools is asking for federal help to figure out how a law firm working for the district released the personal information about students receiving special-education services.

Child Homelessness on the Rise in US ABC News: New report details rise of child homelessness in US, says more affordable housing needed.

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

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AM News: Huffman Resigns From Top TN Spot; Newark's Anderson Visits DC

Kevin Huffman Leaving Post as Tennessee K-12 Chief State EdWatch: Huffman was appointed state education commissioner in 2011, and has overseen major changes in Tennessee education policy, many of them tied to the common core. See also ChalkbeatTN.

In DC to talk education, Newark schools chief faces protest over reforms Washington Post: Cami Anderson, who runs the largest school district in New Jersey, came to Washington on Thursday to give a quiet talk about education at a think tank. But the staid event quickly turned dramatic when a busload of angry residents followed Anderson from Newark in a display of the slugfest politics that have infused debate over public education across the country.

Common Core Reading: The Struggle Over Struggle NPR: This idea, that kids really need to grapple with complex reading material, says a lot about the soul of the Common Core. And it's controversial, raising fears among some parents and educators that kids, in the process, are being asked to struggle too much.

A Botched Study Raises Bigger Questions NPR: The report attempted to use an approach called value-added modeling. And value-added is currently the golden fleece for anyone questing after what's really working in education. Value-added models promise to provide a detailed, nuanced picture of school performance — to screen out the background noise and zero in on the impact of individual schools and even individual classrooms. But value-added modeling, it turns out, is really, really hard.

Decades of Neglect Show Starkly as Indian Schools Cry Out for Repairs NYT:  Officials are working to improve congressionally funded schools in 23 states on reservations with decaying facilities where students struggle to meet academic standards and teacher turnover is high. See also AP.

Young and inexperienced, a new principal tries to turn around a New Orleans charter school Hechinger Report: “We know effective teachers are crucial to moving our students forward,” says Hardy, pausing for a few seconds before she enters a second-grade classroom. “We have good teachers. My challenge is this: How do I, as a school leader, grow their effectiveness and grow it more quickly?”

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

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AM News: School Funding Lawsuits On The Move In CO & PA

Denver court rejects dismissal of education funding lawsuit Colorado Public Radio: A Denver trial court has rejected the state of Colorado’s request to dismiss a lawsuit that has major implications for how much money school districts get from the state.  

Common Core Reading: The High Achievers NPR:The Common Core State Standards are changing reading instruction in many schools. And that means new challenges for lots of students, even traditional high achievers.

Why so few white kids land in Chicago Public Schools — and why it matters WBEZ: Roughly half of all white children who could go to CPS do, while the other half gets their education somewhere else. We’ll get into the ramifications for the district a little later, but first let’s take a closer look at how white parents make this decision.

Using data to predict students headed for trouble Marketplace: These school interventions take a lot of forms, everything from special-ed evaluations, to behavioral counseling, to mentoring, to intervention classes in a subject area back at Principal Birch’s middle school in Vacaville.

School district scraps religious names on calendar AP: Presented with the opportunity to recognize a Muslim holiday on the school calendar for the first time, leaders of Maryland's largest school district went a different direction: They removed all mention of religious holidays from the calendar.... See also WashPostVox.

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AM News: Ed School Teacher Prep Programs Still Way Too Easy, Says NCTQ

Teacher Training Is A Ridiculously Easy Way To Ace College, Report Says Huffington Post: At 58 percent of 509 schools, "teacher preparation programs are much more likely to confer high grades than are other majors on the same campus," the report says. While an average of 30 percent of all students graduated "cum laude," 44 percent of teacher preparation students received the honor. The report calls the results "a wake-up call for higher education."

What Obama’s Inequity Nudge Means for San Diego Schools Voices of SD: The new union president, Lindsay Burningham, made clear when we talked with her in August that she didn’t see much need to change the evaluation process, putting any room for error on the administrator carrying out each review.

Fight Is On for Common Core Contracts WSJ: As states race to implement the Common Core academic standards, companies are fighting for a slice of the accompanying testing market, expected to be worth billions of dollars in coming years.

Seeking Big K-12 Plans From Governors for 2015? Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber Delivers State EdWatch: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, has presented a wide-ranging package of education initiatives that include a focus on early education, reading, and English-language learners.

Portland Schools Urged To Scrap Transfers To Boost Racial Diversity Huffington Post: These allow students to switch to schools in different neighborhoods, but they must enter a lottery if spots are limited. There is also a separate lottery system for students hoping to transfer to selective "magnet" schools which offer advanced curriculums.

Goodbye, Snow Days: Students Study From Home ABC: Goodbye, snow days: Students across the nation increasingly hit the books from home.

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AM News: US Teacher Distribution Disgrace, PA Funding Lawsuit

U.S. to Focus on Equity in Assigning of Teachers NYT: Federal officials want states to ensure that poor and minority students will not be disproportionately taught by inexperienced educators.

Trying to get better teachers into nation's poor classrooms Washington Post: The Obama administration on Monday ordered states to devise plans to get stronger teachers into high-poverty classrooms, correcting a national imbalance in which students who need the most help are often taught by the weakest educators.

What The White House Is Doing To Make Sure Low-Income Students Get Good Teachers HuffPost: Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education shows that teachers in wealthy districts are more likely to have received a master’s degree or higher than in districts where a majority of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. 

Ed. Dept.: States Must Address Teaching Gaps TeacherBeat: The Education Department's latest push to ensure disadvantaged students get their fair share of high quality teaching ducks the controversial topic of "teacher effectiveness."

Pa. Districts, Parents Sue Over 'Irrational and Inequitable' School Funding District Dossier: The lawsuit filed Monday by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania on behalf of six school districts, seven parents, the Pennsylvania Association of Small and Rural Schools, and state's NAACP, argues that the state has failed to devise a funding mechanism to provide its public school students with a thorough and efficient education. See also here, here.

Chromebooks Have Officially Taken Over The Education Market BuzzFeed: For the first time, Google Chromebooks were the best-selling device in the education market this quarter, beating out Apple's iPad in the K-12 sphere, according to data from market research firm IDC.

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AM News: Showdown Looming Over LA School Board Control

Four L.A. school board members likely to face reelection challenges LA Times: A majority of the Los Angeles Board of Education is up for reelection this spring, and all four are likely to face challengers based on the election filing period that closed Saturday. See also LA School Report.

Hispanic students are making steady math progress Washington Post: Hispanic students have made significant gains on federal math tests during the past decade, and Hispanic public school students in major cities including Boston, Charlotte, Houston and the District have made some of the most consistent progress, according to a report released Monday.

States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F NYT: Parents, students and school officials have joined a national protest of consequences of Common Core testing.

Common Core unscathed in California elections EdSource Today: The Common Core State Standards, the principal reform now underway in California schools, emerged unscathed from the state's fall electoral battles, including one of the most combative races for state superintendent of public instruction in decades.

City Deal to Fix Two Struggling High Schools Includes Replacing Staff WNYC: Two Brooklyn high schools will begin reviewing all of their staff members to determine which ones will stay, while developing a longer school day for students, under a long-awaited intervention plan that was originally due in the summer.

After a Dip More NYC Teachers Get Tenure WNYC:  Roughly 60 percent of 4,662 eligible city teachers were approved for tenure this year. That's a little higher than last year's approval rate of 53 percent, but enough of a change to prompt debate about whether Mayor Bill de Blasio was tough enough on teachers.

Five Great Teachers On What Makes A Great Teacher NPR: For our 50 Great Teachers series, a panel of experts shares thoughts on great teaching: past, present, and future.

Seattle Residents Choose To Raise Their Own Taxes To Subsidize Preschool, Increase Teacher Pay HuffPost: Seattle Proposition No. 1B will authorize a $58 million property-tax levy to fund a four-year pilot program of city-subsidized preschool on a sliding scale while raising academic standards and the pay of preschool teachers.

Death Toll Rises to 5 in School Shooting AP: Andrew Fryberg, 15, died of wounds sustained when his cousin, a freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, opened fire in the cafeteria two weeks ago.

'Pioneer Schools' give a peek at what CPS's longer school day will look like Chicago Tribune: Chicago Public Schools principal Nancy Hanks prepares three binders that will be given to each teacher outlining Rahm Emanuel's signature...

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AM News: Dissecting California's $30 Million Showdown (Torlakson v. Tuck)

Torlakson talks Democratic divisions, teacher tenure, Inglewood Unified KPCC: “I think this election was more about getting someone who could continue the momentum forward, doing some exciting and historic changes to education in California,” he said. “I believe the voters wanted someone with experience and I have that.”

Opinions differ on impact of Tuck’s campaign EdSource Today: In the hours since Marshall Tuck’s daunting but failed effort to unseat incumbent State strong Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, education and political observers have reached different conclusions about the election and its significance.

See also Politico's Morning Edu.

School Choice a Top Priority for Republican Leaders in House, Senate PK12: Be on the lookout for charter school or school voucher proposals to pop up early during the 114th Congress, as school choice legislation was named a top priority by the assumed Republican leaders in the House and in the Senate, which will flip to GOP control in January.

Arne Duncan on Minnesota's achievement gap Minnesota Public Radio News: Pre-school teacher Jody Bohrer and her students in Bloomington, Minn. gave U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan a poster during a classroom visit on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. At Duncan's left is Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius.

Average Urban School Superintendent Tenure Decreases, Survey Shows District Dossier: Significant turnover in the top job for big-city districts reversed what had been an uptick in length of service for urban superintendents, according to a new survey by the Council of the Great City Schools.

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AM News: Democrats -- Not Unions -- Lost In Midterms, Say Teachers Unions

Teachers Unions Say Midterm Losses Don't Reflect On Them HuffPost: Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, told The Huffington Post that she sees the election results differently -- and does not understand how Democratic reformers could possibly claim they were a success. “It’s hard for me to understand … what the business types and the testing types of this education debate think they won here.” 

Teachers unions defend their ground by getting Torlakson reelected LA Times: In races where education was the main issue, such as the Torlakson-Tuck contest, union-backed candidates and measures fared better, Weingarten said. Voters, she said, still side with teachers on issues such as the need to lower classes sizes, limit standardized testing and provide more funding for schools.

Torlakson victory ensures continuity in reforms EdSource Today: One immediate consequence of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s rebuff of challenger Marshall Tuck is to ensure the continuance of the cohesion in state education policy that has been forged since Gov. Jerry Brown returned to Sacramento four years ago.

Unions' Sliver Of Hope In Devastating Midterm Elections BuzzFeed: The success of progressive initiatives in typically red states is being treated by labor as a signal that what they are doing is working, even if those votes didn’t carry over into the governor and senate races.

Teachers unions spent $60 million for the midterms but still lost many elections Washington Post: The nation's major teachers unions suffered losses across the country Tuesday, despite pouring about $60 million into federal, state and local races in the midterm elections. 

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AM News: Unions Win CA, PA But Lose Elsewhere (IL, MI, RI, WI)

Torlakson wins superintendent race EdSource Today: Tom Torlakson has won a second term as state superintendent of public instruction. The 65-year-old incumbent defeated Marshall Tuck 52.2 percent to 47.8 percent with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

See also: Torlakson declares victory over Tuck for California schools chief SacBee; Tom Torlakson takes early lead in race to be California's school superintendent AP; Incumbent Torlakson takes the lead in race for state schools chief LA Times.

NB AFT has cancelled its s scheduled press call this AM.

NEA’s and AFT’s Awful Election Day Dropout Nation: In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker won a second term over Mary Burke ... In Michigan, Rick Snyder beat the NEA- and AFT-backed Mark Schauer by a four-point margin. Then there is Rhode Island, where State Treasurer Gina Raimondo won a first term as governor in spite of opposition from the NEA earlier this year... And let’s not forget Bruce Rauner, the private-equity fund boss who defeated incumbent Illinois Gov.

Fiorettio snub prompts growing outrage in CTU Substance News: Even those union members who might have considered a honest plea on behalf of the Garcia campaign [endorsed by Karen Lewis] were angered by the way in which the night was handled.

Rocketship wins green light for its first charter school in D.C. WashPost: The D.C. Public Charter School Board gave full approval Monday night for Rocketship Education, a California-based charter operator, to open its first school in the District in 2016.

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

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AM News: All Eyes On California (Plus Pennsylvania & NYC, Too)

California’s biggest race will surprise you: It’s for state school superintendent WashPost: Perhaps the most important — and definitely the most expensive — election in California on Tuesday is the down-ballot battle for state school superintendent. The $30 million race has generated three times as much spending as the contest for governor, with money pouring in from across the country.

AFT's Political Blitz to the Midterm-Election Finish Line PK12: The blitz began last week, with several ads paid for by AFT's Solidarity Fund, one of its political financing arms. It will continue through Tuesday, when Weingarten is slated to be on hand in Philadelphia, where Democratic gubernatorial challenger Tom Wolfe is expected to trounce Republican incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett.

De Blasio Unveils New Plans for Troubled Schools in New York NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio said his tactics of offering more help to failing schools, and providing social services to students and families there, differed sharply from his predecessor’s. See also WNYC, WNYC, ChalkbeatNY.

Marysville students return amid grief, outpouring of support Seattle Times: Hundreds of parents, relatives, alumni and other community members turned out to support students at Marysville-Pilchuck High on the first day of school since the shooting 10 days ago. Also offering support were visitors representing other U.S. communities that have endured school shootings.

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

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AM News: In California & Elsewhere, Unions Employ Conservative Arguments To Block Reform Efforts

California Race Brings Democrats’ Differences on Education Into Focus NYT: Traditional alliances have been scrambled as some teachers’ unions have found more common cause with conservatives than with members of their own party. Mr. Torlakson, the union-backed candidate, has expressed views that at times echo conservative mantras.

Superintendent race turns on future of reform EdSource Today: Donors to incumbent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck are spending record sums to influence what they consider is at stake in this election: the direction of education reform.

Close state schools superintendent race coming down to the wire KPCC: "His [Tuck's] backers were able to recruit a very strong and effective candidate," said David Plank, the executive director of the research center Policy Analysis for California Education. "It is something of a surprise that he has mounted as strong a challenge as he has done."

Education issues often contentious in Maryland governor’s race Washington Post: As the Maryland governor’s race has heated up in recent weeks, education issues have flared up, too, with clashes over pre-kindergarten, college tuition increases and school construction funding.

Once Sleepy Campaign Issue, Education Gains Clout AP: Once a sleepy campaign topic, education policies gains political heft in races against GOP. Walker is the chief target, but Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett face similar, educator-led campaigns against them. Those first-term Republicans all took steps to stabilize state budgets with dramatic shifts in how many tax dollars go to schools and teachers.

States Slashing Education Spending HuffPost: State-level K-12 education spending has fallen dramatically in many states since 2008. In that time, 29 states cut per pupil spending, shifting the burden of financing education to local school districts and, in many instances, forcing schools to cut costs and even teachers.

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

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AM News: Minneapolis School Board Showdown Attracts $500K In Campaign Donations

The sea of cash in the Minneapolis school-board race just became a tsunami MinnPost: Along with six-figure spending by state and local unions, the eye-popping donations bring the total amount of cash going to influence the race to easily twice what many candidates for state office spend on competitive races. 

Large Suburban Districts Call for More Testing Flexibility District Dossier: The Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium is made up of 16 school districts across the country. Earlier this year, the group also called for reduced emphasis on testing. See also PK12

SAT Cheating Inquiry Delays Scores for South Korea and China NYT: The Educational Testing Service said it had reliable information that tests had been compromised for thousands of South Korean and Chinese students applying to American colleges and universities. See also TIME.

Taylor Swift to Donate 'Welcome to New York' Proceeds to NYC Public Schools AP: The singer announced on "The View" today that she's donating the proceeds from the sale of her single, "Welcome to New York," to New York City Public Schools. See also ChalkbeatNY

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

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AM News: Unions Weigh In On CA & NOLA Races, NY Tenure Lawsuit

UFT asks court to toss lawsuit challenging teacher tenure ChalkbeatNY: The union also claims that the plaintiffs do not have standing to bring the lawsuit. Only one of the parents participating in the suit says her child has had an ineffective teacher, and the suit does not argue that the state’s laws protected that teacher, the union notes.

Union power on the ballot Politico: Interest groups have poured nearly $25 million into the race for California schools superintendent. The California Teachers Association alone has put more than $7 million behind Torlakson.

National teachers union pours $450,000 into Jefferson Parish School Board election NOLA.com: The American Federation of Teachers has spent almost $450,000 on the Jefferson Parish School Board elections, recent campaign finance reports show. That's more than all individual candidate contributions combined. It had no such presence in Jefferson Parish in 2010, when a business-backed slate of candidates ousted four union-friendly incumbents and took control of the School Board.

Sharp policy divide in schools chief race Politico: The candidates for California superintendent of public instruction are both Democrats. But they have plenty of substantive policy differences. 

Cuomo’s vow on teacher evals prompts flip-flop charge ChalkbeatNY: Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent statements that he wants to toughen up the state’s teacher evaluation system prompted confusion and anger from his critics on Tuesday.

New Jersey schools promise to correct racial disparities Washington Post: A school district serving two suburban communities in New Jersey has agreed to expand access to Advanced Placement classes and other higher learning opportunities to African American students, following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education.

Teachers on the Common Core: Familiarity Breeds Approval Teacher Beat: Teachers are about evenly split on whether they approve or disapprove of the common core; elementary teachers and those with the most experience implementing them view them the most favorably.

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

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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.