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AM News: Massive Gaps In Who Gets A College Degree, Says Report

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Study: 2 In 5 Americans Earning Degrees After High School NPR: The Lumina Foundation says nearly 40 percent of adults held college degrees in 2012 — the biggest one-year jump since 2008. And it says that 60 percent college attainment is "within reach" by 2025.

Percentage of Americans with college degrees rises, paying for degrees tops financial challenges PBS: Who gets a college degree is still starkly divided by race – 27.6 percent of blacks, 23.4 percent of Native Americans and 19.8 percent of Latinos hold at least a two-year degree, compared to 43.9 percent of whites and 59.4 percent of Asians. 

Latest Investing in Innovation Contest to Start in Full Force This Week PK12: The Investing in Innovation grant competition is one of the Obama administration's signature education-improvement levers, born out of the economic-stimulus package in 2009. 

Income Inequality Is A Major Barrier To Attending College NPR: Morning Edition co-host David Greene talks to Suzanne Mettler of Cornell University, author of the new book, Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream.

AFT's Lesson-Sharing Site Clocks a Half-Million Registrants TeacherBeat: AFT's lesson-sharing partnership has grown to half a million members, the teachers' union says.

Teachers Say Many Ed-Tech Products Are Ineffective And Aren't Being Used BuzzFeed: There are thousands of ed-tech products on the market, but barely half of teachers think they are effective, according to a study released today by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Paul Takes His School-Choice Message to Chicago NYT: Senator Rand Paul spoke of the importance of giving parents more flexibility to decide where their tax dollars go, and labeled those who stand in the way of greater choice “dead-enders.”

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

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AM News: Data Storage Nonprofit InBloom Closing Down

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InBloom Student Data Repository to Close NYT: The student data warehousing venture that became a lightning rod for some parents’ data privacy and security concerns, announced it would close. See also WNYC: Sun Sets on Controversial Student Data Project inBloom. [EdWeek broke the story, far as I know.]

Vision, Reality Collide in Common-Core Tests EdWeek: A glass-half-full reading focuses on the exams' technological advances and embrace of performance-based assessment. On the flip side, a confluence of political, technical, and financial constraints have led to some scaling back of the ambitious plans the consortia first laid out.

U.S. News Releases 2014 Best High Schools Rankings HuffPost/ US News: Some familiar names joined Dallas-based School for the Talented and Gifted and the two BASIS schools in the top 10 this year, including the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Georgia and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia. Both schools retained their third and fourth place rankings, respectively, while Pine View School in Florida also held onto its No. 6 position.

Teachers are losing their jobs, but Teach for America’s expanding Hechinger Report: Of the first 13 Seattle recruits whose two-year commitment is now over, Maldonado and 10 others remain in their classrooms. While he thinks TFA should have done a better job before bringing his cohort to the city, Maldonado says he still believes strongly in the organization and worked at its summer institute in New York City last year.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Talks To ABC News’ David Muir ABC News: "How did I go to a commuter college that cost $50 a semester? Because a lot of other people put a little something in that kept the costs low at a public school so I had a chance and a lotta kids like me had a chance to get an education, and go out, and do something with it."

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

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AM News: Growing Republican Infighting Over Common Core

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Republicans See Political Wedge in Common Core NYT: The Common Core, a set of national educational standards, is seen by some conservatives as federal overreach. But in contrast to the Affordable Care Act, it has Republican defenders.

Jindal, teachers agree over firing appeals process NOLA.com: Gov. Jindal has agreed to adjust a 2012 state law surrounding teachers' job security and firings that he helped craft, after losing a legal battle with an educator facing dismissal earlier this year.

15 Years After Columbine, Are Schools Any Safer? NPR: The mass shooting at Columbine High School spurred schools to adopt "zero tolerance" policies. Do they work? NPR Education Correspondent Claudio Sanchez and former principal Bill Bond discuss.

A Scientific Experiment: Field Trips Just For Teachers NPR: Educators say the middle grades are a key time time to get kids jazzed about science, but many teachers say they lack the tools they need. In Chicago, a science museum is helping to fill the the gap.

Kansas: First Lady’s Visit Draws Criticism NYT: Some Topeka high school students and their parents said they would rather keep their graduation day just a family affair, and not include Michelle Obama.

National Service Advocates Say Washington Has Abandoned Its Bipartisan Promise To Them BuzzFeed: In 2009, national service advocates celebrated as President Obama and a large bipartisan coalition in Congress pledged to expand prized AmeriCorps slots from the current 80,000 to 250,000, fulfilling a promise to expand national service supported by Presidents Clinton and Bush.

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

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AM News: Teachers Suffer States' Common Core Uncertainties

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Teachers Anxious as Policymakers Waffle on Common-Core Decisions State EdWatch: The indecision about the common-core standards in many states has led some teachers to believe that policymakers are leaving them in the lurch.

Competing Views of Teacher Tenure Are on Display in California Case NYT: In a case that has drawn national attention, lawyers have been arguing over whether California’s laws on teacher tenure, firing and layoffs violate students’ constitutional right to an education.

Arne Duncan: "Inspiring" To See Children Cross The Border To Get An Education RealClear Politics: "They're our kids and they are trying to get a great education. These are children and families who are trying to live the American dream."

School Foundations vs. Title I Funds Voice of San Diego: In its simplest form, the conversation goes like this: Foundations don’t worsen inequities because schools in low-income neighborhoods get federal Title I money and other funds from the state government to meet the needs of disadvantaged students. The assumption, in other words, is that the differences are a wash.

Tennessee School Voucher Bill Fails to Garner Support From Lawmakers Parents/Public: Tennessee parents whose children attend failing schools won't get vouchers to send them to private school after the governor-penned bill can't muster enough political support.

RIP FCAT, The Florida Test With A Chorus Of Detractors NPR: The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, is being replaced by a test aligned to the Common Core State Standards. StateImpact Florida's Sammy Mack remembers FCAT and its controversial run.

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

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AM News: College Board Reveals Sample Questions From New SAT*

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College Board Provides A glimpse Of New SAT NYT: Sample questions for the new version of the college-entrance test were released on Wednesday. The College Board announced last month the test will include real-world applications and more analysis. See also WPost, HuffPost, Vox, LA Times.

[*Why is this such a big story other than it's a very slow week?]

Suspensions and expulsions: A close look at nine districts Seattle Times: Last year, the nonprofit Washington Appleseed had a difficult time finding out exactly how many students are suspended or expelled each year in Washington state.

Options likely to remain open, but DCPS will not manage it WPost: The District’s Options Public Charter School appears likely to continue operating at least through the end of the 2014-15 school year, but the city’s school system will not take over its management as previously hoped, D.C. government lawyers said in court Tuesday.

Louisiana Officials Squabble Over Fate of PARCC Tests State EdWatch: As in South Carolina, Louisiana is experiencing a dispute between state officials over whether PARCC tests should be given to students.

How One Michigan City Is Sending Kids To College Tuition-Free NPR: In 2005, a group of anonymous donors in Kalamazoo launched a bold program. It pays for graduates of the city's public schools to attend any of Michigan's public universities or community colleges.

Classes Resume A Week After Mass Stabbing At Franklin Regional High School AP via HP: Students planned to gather in prayer and in support of one another on the football field of a Pittsburgh-area high school where classes were scheduled to resume Wednesday, a week after a mass stabbing.

News and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

 

AM News: Denver Schools Recruiting Deferred Action Teachers

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District hires immigrant teachers under new policy EdWeek: Lizarraga is one of two teachers who qualified under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, and started work in Denver this school year. Boasberg said more will be hired this coming year.

D.C. Official Says School Boundary Proposals Will Change WAMU: Three proposals for redrawing school boundaries in D.C. will likely be changed before being approved, says D.C.'s deputy mayor for education. See also Washington Post

Amplify Education Tries To Build An Identity Outside Of News Corp's Shadow BuzzFeed: Klein pitches Amplify as a trendy ed-tech firm, setting up shop for the company in the hipster Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn. And he repeatedly refers to Amplify as a "startup," pausing to point out a ping-pong table in the office where two employees are in the midst of a game. 

S.C. Chief Declares State Will Leave Smarter Balanced After All State EdWatch: Jacqueline King of Smarter Balanced told me that it's up to each state to decide who has the authority to pull out of the testing consortium. Remember, the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee has final say over which assessment the state uses in this case. 

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

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Am News: Common Core Implementation, Field Testing, & Oklahoma

News2D.C. Students Read More, Deeper With Common Core WAMU: Kelly Rabin, a social studies teacher at Browne Education Campus, says she really pushes her students to do more in class. 

How Common Core education standards are changing the way LAUSD schools test children LA Daily News: “You are not being tested,” the narrator explained. “The questions themselves are being tested.”

Facing bipartisan backlash, Oklahoma reconsiders Common Core education standards PBS NewsHour: Oklahoma is the latest state to move toward repealing the Common Core national education standards. Once a source of bipartisan support, the standards now face criticism from the left and right. 

Boston Finds That Quality Preschool Is Worth The Effort NPR: Teaching coach Marina Boni is watching Doyle's classroom closely. After the lesson, she commends Doyle for trying to tie the new wire project to the old, but she says photographs of the older, forgotten project might've made the connection a bit more concrete.

Investigators find no evidence of pre-crash fire in deadly Orland bus collision LA Daily News: Investigators have found no evidence the FedEx freight truck involved in a deadly crash with a bus full of Los Angeles-area high school kids in rural Orland was on fire before impact, despite a witness report it may have been in flames prior to the fiery collision, the agency said Saturday. See also LA Times

Outgoing HHS Secretary Oversaw Tougher Rules for Head Start Grant Renewals PK12: Sebelius, who joined the administration in 2009, also served as a tag-team partner with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in promoting a proposal from the White House to boost state-run preschool programs with $75 billion over 10 years from the federal government. They both visited child-care centers and made other joint appearances to talk up the proposal.

L.A. teachers union president ready to step aside for challenger LA Times: Los Angeles teachers' union president Warren Fletcher said he will no longer actively campaign for reelection, clearing the path for challenger Alex Caputo-Pearl to become the next leader of United Teachers Los Angeles. In the first round of voting in March, Caputo-Pearl received 48% of the votes and Fletcher 21%. The runoff election takes place this month with ballots set to be counted April 29.

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

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AM News: Now, Anyone Can Try Out Common Core Field Tests

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Students are test-driving new Common Core exams. You can too Hechinger Report: You can try out sample tests that the test makers released to the public online and see for yourself if they boost your critical thinking skills. Here is a link to practice tests from PARCC, and from Smarter Balanced. Both groups also released individual sample problems previously.

A Plea to Move Forward From NY's Education Chief WNYC: "I hope that all of us — administrators, educators, parents and unions — can lay down our swords, soften the rhetoric, put aside the politics, and come together for the sake of our children," he said. See also ChalkbeatNY.

Arne Duncan urges New Yorkers to stick with Cuomo on teacher evals ChalkbeatNY: "I challenge you to support your governor as he challenges the status quo and tries to raise standards, raise expectations, and evaluate and support your teachers and principals,” Duncan said near the end of a brief speech at the National Action Network conference in New York City Wednesday night.

George W. Bush Defends No Child Left Behind AP: Former President George W. Bush has closed a three-day civil rights summit in Texas by saying education is the key for opportunity for poor and minority children and that he fears what he calls the 'soft bigotry' of low expectations is returning 50 years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

Tennessee Considers Parent Trigger Legislation Budget & Tax News: For several years, Tennessee parents and bipartisan legislators have worked to pass a Parent Trigger law to let families require reforms within.

9 killed when FedEx truck strikes bus carrying LA-areastudents Los Angeles Times:  LAUSD officials said students from Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Koreatown and ... Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. ... that all of our students recover,” L.A. Unified school board member Monica Garcia said.

CPS 'accounting adjustment' will increase funding to schools slightly; watchdog warns it's 'financially irresponsible' WBEZ Chicago: Despite looming pension payments, and as the district still reels from budget cuts and layoffs, Chicago Public Schools says it has found a way to slightly increase the amount schools get for each student next year.

AM News: Stressed Teachers; "So Long" From Sacramento

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American Teachers Feel Really Stressed, And It's Probably Affecting Students HuffPost: Gallup’s State Of America’s Schools Report, released Wednesday, says nearly 70 percent of K – 12 teachers surveyed in a 2012 poll do not feel engaged in their work. The study said they are likely to spread their negative attitudes to co-workers and devote minimal discretionary effort to their jobs. See also Hechinger Report.

Sacramento Bails on NCLB Flexibility PK12: In a memo to staff today, interim Superintendent Sara Noguchi said, "It has become clear that [the district's] participation in the waiver from No Child Left Behind has impeded progress towards working more collaboratively to move our schools and classrooms forward." She referred to the waiver as a distraction. See also EdSource Today.

Testing help center 'inundated' with teacher calls KPCC LA: Last week, the help desk received an average of 637 calls each day from teachers asking for help with the new test, she said. Most were for basic problems setting up the tests.

'Value Added' Data Need Careful Analysis, Consideration, Statisticians' Group Says TeacherBeat: The American Statistical Association offers its take on the ever-controversial use of value-added methods in teacher evaluation.

Science teacher's suspension spurs petition drive LA Times: A popular Los Angeles high school science teacher has been suspended after students turned in projects that appeared dangerous to administrators, spurring a campaign calling for his return to the classroom. Cortines School's Greg Schiller was removed by L.A. Unified after two students' projects were deemed to resemble weapons.

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

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AM News: LA Settles $60M Seniority Layoffs Lawsuit

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L.A. Unified settles lawsuit over layoffs LA Times: Los Angeles school district officials announced a lawsuit settlement Tuesday that will provide $60 million in pay increases, services and staff at about three dozen schools, many hit hard by teacher layoffs. But the pact fails to deal with whether instructors should continue to be dismissed based on seniority. See also EdSource TodayLA Daily News.

Charter-School Fight Flares Up in Illinois WSJ: Hundreds of protesters filled the rotunda of the Illinois State Capitol on Tuesday denouncing nearly a dozen bills that would curb the growth of charter schools—the latest scuffle over expansion of the independently run public schools. See also WBEZ Chicago.

In Testimony, Arne Duncan Continues to Distance Himself From Common Core PK12: "I'm just a big proponent of high standards. Whether they're common or not is secondary," he told members of the House appropriations subcommittee that works on health, education, and other related issues.

Coalition launches to support New York’s Common Core rollout ChalkbeatNY: In a press release, the group said its goal is to combat “special interests’ attempt to delay the introduction of a new set of standards created and adopted by New York State teachers, parents, principals and state leaders in 2011.” 

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AM News: Teachers Compromise In CA -- Seek More Clout In NY

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New bill to streamline teacher dismissal process may succeed where others failed KPCC LA: The bill proposes that one administrative law judge hear egregious misconduct cases,  instead of a three-person panel.  It also calls for litigants to have no access to the Superior Court for suspension appeals.

New Head of StateTeachers Union Seeks Greater Political Clout WNYC: Magee told delegates over the weekend that she would be more vocal than her predecessor: “It is time for NYSUT to exert itself as a powerful political force once again."

Obama Announces Grants to Schools to Integrate Work Experiences NYT: President Obama traveled to a high school in the Washington suburbs on Monday to announce the winners of $107 million in grants intended to update curriculums to better integrate work experiences and real-world learning opportunities. See also KPCC LA, ChalkbeatNY.

Duncan urges top students to teach at GW panel Washington Post: The event Monday was part of a recruitment program — TEACH — that is planned to extend to 21 college campuses to encourage high-achieving students to pursue professions in education. TEACH pairs the Education Department with national education organizations, teacher associations and corporations such as Microsoft and State Farm in working to recruit future educators.

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AM News: CA Teacher Dismissal Deal; NY Ousts Union Head

News2Deal announced on teacher dismissal bill that governor would support EdSource Today:  Most of the big changes in Assembly Bill 215 would apply only to charges of egregious misconduct – acts that would include sexual abuse, child abuse and some drug crimes. 

State teachers union president defeated with UFT support Chalkbeat: The state teachers union got a new president and issued a long-threatened attack on the State Education Department during a dramatic meeting in New York City this weekend. It was the first time in the union’s 42-year history that a sitting president was ousted.

NY teachers unions spent $4.8M on lobbying in 2013 NY Post via Chalkbeat: The city’s United Federation of Teachers spent $2.6 million and the New York State United Teachers spent $2.2 million to push their agenda in Albany and at City Hall. Key issues last year included the Common Core curriculum and teacher evaluations. In all, clients spent a rec­ord $191 million to lobby, up from $180 million in 2012.

Why Education Startups Rarely Go Public BuzzFeed: Take, for instance, the ed-tech startup Chalkable. Founded by Michael Levy and Zoly Honig, Chalkable’s aim was to displace Blackboard. Honig told BuzzFeed that he and Levy felt Blackboard’s system was weak and that they could do a better job with the technology. They designed what is essentially an app store for learning tools, allowing teachers to easily search and integrate top programs.

Common Core Turns Business Leaders Against Oklahoma GOP NPR: Mike Neal gets annoyed when he talks about politicians in his state. Just three years ago, when the Common Core State Standards for education were implemented, no one had a problem with them, says Neal, president of the Tulsa, Okla., Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

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AM News: What Next For DC Public Schools?

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D.C. mayoral primary has Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s future up in the air Washington Post: “No disaster has happened — not here, at least,” Henderson said in an interview Wednesday shortly after calling her staff together to reassure them that she remains committed to her job and that the election does not change anything — at least not immediately. “We’re still building a world-class education system for children in D.C., and so we’re going to keep doing that.”

Can Free College Save American Cities? Politico: Nearly a decade—and some $50 million—later, the effects of the Kalamazoo Promise experiment in using education as a redevelopment engine are now coming into view. And though stubborn challenges remain, so too is a different Kalamazoo. Eight similar scholarship plans were announced within a year of the Kalamazoo Promise, and today, the tally of plans inspired by the experiment in Southwest Michigan has topped 30 nationwide

Common Core emerges as potent election issue for fed-up parents Fox News: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who faces a primary challenge from four candidates, wasn't even aware of the Common Core when asked about it at a Republican Party meeting last year. Yet he recently sponsored a Senate resolution that strongly criticized it and called on the Administration to back down.

Report: Foundation funding widens the gap between California's 'rich' and 'poor' schools KPCC LA: Some Northern California public school foundations are raising additional funds of about $2,000 per student. Researchers say that figure is a significant addition to the roughly $8,000 per student the state gives public schools each year. California's current level of per pupil spending is the second lowest in the country.

Research on Children and Math: Underestimated and Unchallenged NYT: New research suggests that kindergarteners are capable of learning more advanced math concepts than are offered in most classrooms.

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AM News: NY's Fariña Digs At "Opt-Out" Parents; DC's Henderson In Limbo

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Fariña: Let’s respect those who opt out—and those who are “ready for the challenge” Chalkbeat: Chancellor Carmen Fariña took a subtle shot at the growing number of parents who are opting their children out of this month’s state tests, noting that other parents are sending their students to school because they think they’re “ready for the challenge.”

D.C. Voters Toss Mayor Gray in Primary, Raising Questions About Schools District Dossier: Bowser, throughout the primary campaign, was steadfastly noncommittal about whether she would keep Henderson at the helm if she wins the election. And Catania, who chairs the council's education committee, has frequently criticized Henderson over a number of issues.

Achievement gap persists, even among high-performing students, report says EdSource Today:  Despite the strong start, the EdTrust report found that the high-achievers from low-income families, as well as those who were black and Latino, graduated with lower GPAs, posted lower scores on the SAT and ACT, and had lower passage rates on rigorous Advanced Placement exams than high-achieving white students or students from more advantaged backgrounds. High-achieving students of color were also less likely to enroll in selective colleges than their white peers, the report said.

Enrollment Declines At University Of Phoenix — Again BuzzFeed: Declining enrollment at the University of Phoenix and missed revenue targets sent shares of for-profit education company Apollo Education Group tumbling more than 6% in after-hours trading following its second quarter earnings report Tuesday.

Peabody Awards Shine Light on Struggling High Schools WNYC: The 2014 Peabody Awards honored three reports about schools facing poverty, crime and serious educational challenges (Harper High School, 180 Days, and Best Kept Secret). 

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AM News: US Students Good (But Not Great) At Problem-Solving

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American Students Test Well in Problem Solving, but Trail Foreign Counterparts NYT: Fifteen-year-olds in the United States scored above the average of those in the developed world on exams assessing problem-solving skills, but they trailed several countries in Asia and Europe as well as Canada, according to international standardized tests results released on Tuesday. See also Seattle Times, PBS NewsHour.

States looking to expand preschool confront debate over results PBS NewsHour: Around the country, 30 governors are proposing the expansion of preschool programs in their states. But what makes a pre-K program sufficiently educational? And how will the U.S. pay for these programs? Special correspondent John Tulenko of Learning Matters examines the debate over the value and the cost.

Teacher tenure rules are in state of flux across the nation PBS NewsHour: More than a dozen states have changed their tenure laws in the last few years. The Education Commission of the States found that as of 2011, 18 state legislatures had modified their tenure laws and that trend continues.

Bill Aims to Boost Growth of High-Quality Charter Schools; Cross-Aisle Support Seen PK12:  States and districts would be encouraged to help grow high-quality charter schools—and ensure that they enroll and retain English-language learners and students in special education—under a rare, bipartisan bill introduced Tuesday by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the panel.

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AM News: Decision Looms In CA Teacher Job Protection Case

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Teacher job protections attacked, defended in landmark trial’s closing arguments KPCC: The roughly 80 people in the audience included former California Governor Pete Wilson and LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy, who’d testified for the plaintiffs that the teacher firing process is ineffective. The presidents of the state’s top teachers unions held press events before the proceedings, in which they said that this case is an effort to undermine teacher protections which are crucial to academic freedom and effectiveness. See also LA Times

Cheat Sheet: Race to the Top Progress PK12: What have the dozen winners of the $4 billlion competition actuallly accomplished, and what do they have left to do? Check out this chart, created by the Michele half of Politics K-12, which provides a handy, at-a-glance guide to the department's reports.

“Respect the parents’ decision” to opt out of tests, city principals are told  ChalkbeatNY:The guide offers answers to frequently asked questions about participation in state tests, which begin next week. With the city and state grappling with the simultaneous rollout of tougher standards, which last year led to much harder tests, and a new teacher evaluation system that weighs test scores for the first time, anxiety about the tests is high, and some families are planning to opt out in protest.

On charter reset, de Blasio heard from Bill Clinton Capital NY: Before delivering a conciliatory speech on charter schools last Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio chatted with Bill Clinton about the issue, according to three soures familiar with the phone call.

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AM News: Common Core "Field Tests" Going Well In CA (So Far)

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Early response to Smarter Balanced field tests encouraging LA School Report: As the Smarter Balanced field tests got underway yesterday in California and 21 other states, officials are receiving positive feedback from the schools that are participating. The testing starts in LA Unified next Tuesday. By mid-morning yesterday, 16,633 students completed the test and 19,677 students had begun but had not yet finished it.

Report: NY schools are most racially segregated AP: New York state has the most segregated public schools in the nation, with many black and Latino students attending schools with virtually no white classmates, according to a report released Wednesday....

With Melendez gone, Garcetti not sure about replacing her LA School Report: A week after his education liaison left to join LA Unified, Mayor Eric Garcetti is reconsidering whether he will even have an education deputy on his staff. Jeff Millman, spokesman for Garcetti, told LA School Report the mayor’s office “has not decided” if it will seek a replacement for Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, who left her post as director of education and workforce development after only seven months on the job.

Can The Success Of D.C.'s Best Middle Schools Be Replicated? WAMU: Mayoral contender and D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser said she wants to replicate the educational successes of Alice Deal Middle School. But does the school really offer a model for the whole city?

Calif. Testing Waiver Draws Civil Rights Concerns Education Week: In remarks March 14 to the National Association of State Boards of Education at its conference in Arlington, Va., U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan defended the decision, saying that allowing millions of California students to participate in the .

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AM News: White House Takes "Race To The Top" Victory Lap

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Obama officials tout Race to the Top, saying it has unleashed ‘enormous positive change’ Washington Post: In a conference call with reporters to mark the fourth anniversary of the creation of Race to the Top, the White House’s Domestic Policy Council director, Cecilia Muñoz, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan rattled off examples of what they said was proof that the $4 billion competitive grant was driving “dramatic change.” See also PK12, USA Today, Hechinger.

Arne Duncan heads to New Zealand, Hawaii with gaggle of staffers  Washington Post: My Post colleague Lyndsey Layton asked the Education Department about Secretary Arne Duncan's trip this week to New Zealand and Hawaii — which will round out his visits to all 50 states during his tenure. 

In an about-face, Indiana decides to drop Common Core PBS: While Indiana was one of the first states to adopt the standards in 2010 — which set out guidelines for the topics and skills students should study at each grade level — opposition to the guidelines has been building since Pence took office in 2012. Last year, the state’s Republican-controlled legislature put the standards roll-out on hold and work began on drawing up Indiana’s own standards.

Hearing Weighs How Congress Should Improve Teacher Preparation PK12: One of the big questions facing lawmakers: Should the federal government call for colleges of education to track their graduates into the classroom? And, if so, what exactly should that look like?  Already, states are required to identify teacher prep programs that aren't up to snuff and help them improve. But states aren't exactly knocking themselves out to fulfill that requirement, noted Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate education committee, at Tuesday's hearing. As of 2013, nearly half the states and the District of Columbia hadn't pointed to a single low-performing program, he said. 

School-Finance Overhaul in Kansas Could End Early-Education Push StateWatch: A plan to boost school funding in Kansas in the wake of a court ruling could mean Gov. Sam Brownback's plan to increase pre-K spending won't succeed.

The Writing's On The Wall For Cursive — Unless Lawmakers Can Save It NPR: The Common Core State Standards have ended lessons in cursive writing, but lawmakers in some states are trying to change that. Blake Farmer of WPLN reports on an effort in Tennessee to revive cursive.

Video: Teacher brings Elvis inspiration into classroom TODAY: TODAY’s Bob Dotson travels to Sand Springs, Okla., to tell the American Story of a teacher who’s using his talents (including impersonating the King of Rock ’n’Roll) to inspire students, reminding them to keep their promises. 

More news throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

AM News: Common Core Field Testing Begins Nationwide

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California schools are rolling out new standardized tests LA Times: Schools across California are set to begin administering new standardized tests Tuesday that are designed to demand more of students and offer a clearer picture of how much they are learning.

See also Seattle TimesChalkbeatNYHechinger Report

Indiana Drops Common Core Wall Street Journal:Indiana's governor on Monday signed legislation withdrawing the state from the Common Core, making it the first to officially dump math and reading standards that have been adopted by nearly all the states.

Indiana Cuts The Core Without Telling Teachers What Comes Next NPR: Indiana became the first state to adopt, then repeal, the Common Core State Standards. As Elle Moxley of WFIU reports, the repeal has left some teachers scratching their heads. 

New school tests don't make the grade Al Jazeera America: “There’s kind of a belief in a town like Montclair that the more we test, the more we can be sure that our teachers are delivering a quality curriculum,” says Michelle Fine, a CUNY psychology professor who is a member of the parent group Montclair Cares About Schools. “I think that’s magical thinking.”

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

Continue reading "AM News: Common Core Field Testing Begins Nationwide" »

AM News: NYC Mayor Changes Rhetoric On Charters

News2From de Blasio, Gentler Words About Charter Schools WNYC:  Mayor Bill de Blasio, in an effort to mend fences on charter schools, emphasized common ground and a desire to “shake the foundations” of the school system. See also ChalkbeatNY

Ready, set ... California schools finally start new computer test this week KPCC: For the next 10 weeks, California students will embark on that dreaded annual rite of passage: the standardized test. But this year, they won't need their number 2 pencils. Test will be given on computer for the first time this year - and school districts and the test provider have been scrambling to get ready.

‘Union Power’ wins big but most UTLA members didn’t vote LA School Report: The progressive group — which plans to call for a strike if a new teacher contract can’t be negotiated soon — won outright in races for NEA Affiliate vice president, AFT Affiliate vice president, Elementary VP, Secondary VP, Treasurer, and Secretary. The race for President will be decided in a run-off pitting Union Power leader, Alex Caputo-Pearl, against incumbent Warren Fletcher.

All staff to be dismissed at three low-performing CPS schools WBEZ: Under the turnaround model, new staff are also CTU teachers. But the union blasted turnarounds as a strategy to get rid of veteran African American teachers, whom Sharkey says kids need as role models. Nearly all students in the three schools targeted for turnaround are poor and black.

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

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AM News: Minority Students Receive Tougher Discipline,Weaker Teaching

School Data Finds Pattern of Inequality Along Racial Lines NYT: Racial minorities are more likely than white students to be suspended from school and be taught by lower-paid teachers with less experience, according data released by the Department of Education.

American Schools Are STILL Racist, Government Report Finds HuffPost: Most minority students and English language learners are stuck in schools with the most new teachers. Seven percent of black students attend schools where as many as 20 percent of teachers fail to meet license and certification requirements. And one in four school districts pay teachers in less-diverse high schools $5,000 more than teachers in schools with higher black and Latino student enrollment.

Bleak picture for minority kids in public schools USA Today: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, left, speaks after a roundtable discussion at Family Source Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Duncan's visit aimed to highlight excellence in education and the importance of community involvement and support.

Black Students Less Likely to Be Taught By Certified Teachers, Ed. Dept. Data Show TeacherBeat: Students of color are more often taught by unqualified, inexperienced, and lesser-paid teachers, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

Maryland and DC schools to begin field-testing new Common Core exams next ... Washington Post: Tens of thousands of students in Maryland and the District are slated to log on to computers this spring to take practice versions of a new standardized test, exams meant to gauge their performance

New Schools Squad Will Try to Broker Peace WNYC: Starting within the next two weeks, the first protocol that we're putting in place is that schools will not be fighting each other in a building," Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña told the City Council's education committee Thursday. She said the D.O.E will be sending "campus squads" to settle questions such as who gets what room on what floor in a shared school, and how to use the rooms.

'Horndog High' teachers fired after sexy romp get their jobs back: court NYDN: A Manhattan appeals court ruled language teachers Alina Brito and Cindy Mauro can have their jobs back at James Madison High School in Midwood, Brooklyn, because the pair has ‘unblemished’ discipline records and had a ‘lapse in judgment’ on the day in question.

AM News: Duncan Visits LA "Promise" Program

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U.S. Education secretary praises L.A. program LA Times: Arne Duncan visits the Hollywood FamilySource Center, which provides students in high poverty areas with the support and enrichment offered to their more affluent peers.  Tucked in the corner of a grimy East Hollywood strip mall is a shining hope of public education. See also LASR.

Bobby Jindal: Bill De Blasio A 'Petulant Tyrant Holding Low-Income Kids Hostage' HuffPost: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio does not have a friend in Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. On Tuesday, the New York Post published an op-ed by Jindal in which he criticized the mayor’s hostility to charter schools, saying that de Blasio’s actions have the “markings of a petulant tyrant holding low-income students hostage.” 

Charter school group spends $3.6m on TV ads attacking de Blasio NYDN: "They have parents believing there’s no way they’re going to find space for these 194 students,” said Zakiyah Ansari of the labor-backed lobbying group Alliance for Quality Education.

Growing Number of Parents Want Students to Opt Out of High-Stakes State Tests NY1: In 2012, there were 113 students in the city who opted out. A year later, that number nearly tripled, with 320 students sitting out the tests. This year, there may be considerably more.

Report: As Teacher Demographics Change, Districts Must Prioritize Retention TeacherBeat: 
To reduce the achievement gap, schools should pay attention to teacher retention, says new report.
 
Check @alexanderrusso for news and commentary throughout the day.
 

AM News: Common Core Field Testing Looms

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As Common Core Tests Approach, So Does A Sea Change In Schools NPR: A new experiment in education begins Tuesday. Early assessments based on the Common Core State Standards will be rolled out and tested in the coming months. Some 3 million students will participate.

Chiefs Press NEA, AFT Leaders on Common-Core Policy Teacher Beat: State chiefs have some tough questions for the the teachers' unions and their recent shifts in position on the common core.

On Race to the Top funds, D.C. stumbles Washington Post: Of the 12 jurisdictions that won the earliest grants under the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program, the District of Columbia has come under extra scrutiny by federal officials concerned about its ability to manage the money.

U.S. Department of Education criticizes Md.'s Race to the Top progress Baltimore Sun: Maryland has faced several challenges in fulfilling its $250 million promise to overhaul the way it educates students and evaluates educators, the U.S. Department of Education reported Wednesday.

Arne Duncan on Who's Winning the Race to the Top PK12: Mostly, states are struggling to implement new evaluation systems linked to student growth on test scores. But the problems go beyond just designing and putting new evaluations into practice. New evaluation systems in Florida and Delaware, for example, resulted in very few meaningful differences in teacher ratings. In essence, nearly everyone in those states turned out to be an effective teacher.

Common Core Creates Opportunities For Publishers WQAMU: New education standards called Common Core are being adopted in 45 states and Washington, D.C. That has created an opportunity for trade publishers.

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AM News: Homework Burden Not As Heavy As You Think, Says Report

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Students Probably Do Less Homework Than You Think, Study Says HufPost: Homework loads have actually been stable over the last 30 years, despite front-page reports of overworked kids and a century-old "war on homework," according to the report, one of three released Tuesday by Brookings' Brown Center on Education Policy. See also HUSA Today.

What Happens If a State Loses its NCLB Waiver? PK12: The challenge for the Education Department may be ensuring that Washington state doesn't get off easy—while not disrupting the strong work the state is already doing in intervening in its lowest-performing schools, a weak area of NCLB implementation for many other waiver states.

Duncan Talks High Stakes Tests, ESEA Renewal, and Common Core Politics PK12: In a morning speech during the second day of the event, Duncan urged state officials to be patient and to "overcommunicate" with the public during the transition to the new standards and new tests, particularly during the field-testing of common-core assessments taking place this spring. At the same time, he cautioned that some pushback on policies had little to do with education, but "everything to do with politics," and that not all critics could be won over.

Florida Picks Common-Core Test From AIR, Not PARCC State EdWatch: Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart has selected the American Institutes for Research to develop a new common-core aligned exam for the state's assessment.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Homework Burden Not As Heavy As You Think, Says Report" »

AM News: LA Charters Soar, Indiana Bowing Out

Study: Los Angeles charter schools outperform traditional district schools KPCC: According to the study, charter school students receive the equivalent of about 50 more days of learning in reading and 79 days of math than students in traditional public schools. The report also showed impressive results for Hispanic charter school students, especially students living in poverty. See also LASR

In Debate on Charter Schools, Hybrids Offer an Answer NYT: If the mayor’s messaging were more robust, determined and aggressive, he might draw attention to hybrid schools, which strive to offer poor children something like the experience of a private education within the context of the traditional public system, using union teachers.

Sec. of Education Arne Duncan Explains What Dissatisfied States Can Do About Common Core The Blaze: “They absolutely have the right to do this,” Duncan told TheBlaze. “This is a state-led effort; it always has been, always will be. And whatever Indiana decides, we want to work with them to make sure that students have a chance to be successful.”

Common Core practice test delayed [by a weekEdSource: Just days before students in California and 21 other states were set to begin field-testing the new student assessment aligned with Common Core State Standards, the group developing the exam announced it’s being pushed back a week to ensure all systems are go.

Obama to promote education agenda at Miami school Palm Beach Post: As part of an effort to broaden access to education, Obama was announcing that, starting in the fall, the Education Department will begin working with states to identify students who have not completed the form. 

Undercover TV Reports on School Security Raise Ethical Questions NYT: School shootings have prompted efforts by news organizations in recent months to assess the effectiveness of safety measures, but some of these reports have gone disturbingly wrong.

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

Continue reading "AM News: LA Charters Soar, Indiana Bowing Out" »

AM News: De Blasio Might Get Pre-K Funding But Lose Charter Powers

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De Blasio Closes In on Pre-K Funding, but Not From a Higher Tax NYT: Even as he faces escalating attacks for his stance toward charter schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday neared securing state funding to expand prekindergarten in New York City.

See also: No Easy Task in Bid to Find Seats for Pre-K NYT

Senate Takes Aim at De Blasio's Power Over Charters WNYC: Senate leaders Dean Skelos and Jeffrey Klein inserted language in their budget resolution that would specifically prevent Mayor de Blasio from acting on his plan to charge rent to charters, by requiring districts to let charters use public school buildings without any cost. The resolution would also essentially undo de Blasio's decision to block three charter schools from opening in the fall.

D.C. schools see progress under Mayor Gray, but questions linger WP: The day after Vincent C. Gray defeated Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in 2010, then-Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee warned that the election results would be “devastating for the schoolchildren of Washington, D.C.”

Pew Study: Many Technophiles Also Love Libraries NPR: A new study by Pew Research Internet Project has a surprise: people who use the old-school local library also tend to be highly engaged with technology.

Big business takes on tea party over Common Core Politico: A coalition including the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will launch a national advertising blitz Sunday targeted at Republicans skeptical about the standards. Spots promoting the Common Core will air on Fox News and other conservative outlets.

Video: Missing child found after school mix-up MSNBC: Everyone goes through ups and downs over their lifetime. On Wednesday, a Schenectady family experienced the highest high and the lowest low they could imagine in a single day. "Hell, I wanted to die," said Patricia Rodriguez. 

AM News: Everybody's [Unintentionally] Racist, Study Says

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Yes, Schools Do Discriminate Against Students Of Color HuffPost:  The researchers found that black students were 1.78 times as likely to be suspended out of school as white students. Latino students' suspension odds were 2.23 times greater than those of white students. Students with disabilities were suspended at twice the rate of their non-disabled peers, and for longer durations. Worse, 25 percent of black students with disabilities received at least one out-of-school suspension in the 2009-2010 school year.

House K-12 Leaders Work on Bipartisan Charter School Bill, Sources Say PK12: The major difference this time around, sources say, could be a greater emphasis on ensuring that federal funding goes to Charter Management Organizations (such as KIPP, or Aspire). That's something U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has supported, and it's a piece of a bipartisan charter school bill written by Reps. Jared Polis, D-Col., and Tom Petri, R-Wis.

Video: Common Core protesters voice concerns during US Secretary of ... MassLive.com: Two dozen protesters of Common Core spoke out on their concerns about freedom, high educational standards and local guidance during a visit to Worcester Technical High School by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

A Study Seeks to Determine What Makes Prekindergarten Successful NYT: The study will follow 4,000 children to see if curriculum can create lasting improvement in students’ skills and a likelihood to persevere academically.

Bill Gates Isn't Worried Because Progress 'Doesn't Depend On Washington' HuffPo: The bling of science, technology, efficiency and “market signals” was bright. The talk was about how we would basically end infant mortality, cure polio once and for all, devise better ways to educate our children, and enjoy material, biological and digital advances so mind-boggling that most people on Earth, even the poor, would “be able to access better lifestyles than everyone has today.” Science-based technology and commerce would do it all, and soon. Yes, Bill Gates was back in town.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Everybody's [Unintentionally] Racist, Study Says" »

AM News: NYC Might Require Charters To Accept Mid-Year Transfers

What you need to know about ‘backfill’ Chalkbeat: Backfilling seats that open up can pose steep challenges for schools. Students who enter the school midyear or at one of a school’s higher grade levels can have trouble adjusting to a new school and be academically behind. Midyear entries especially are more likely to have unstable home lives, leading to them leaving the school—meaning that one “backfilled” seat might actually be filled by two or three students over the course of a year.

 The Curious Rejection of One S.C. District's Testing-Waiver Request PoliticsK12: In a March 10 rejection letter, however, Deborah Delisle, assistant secretary for K-12, explained that the No Child Left Behind Act requires that all students within a state be held to the same standards and tested on the same tests. She said this is essential given the move to new college- and career-ready standards.

At West Side Chicago school, kids go without teachers WBEZ: Take the Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy on the city’s West Side, where students have spent much of this year without key teachers. Their core courses in English and science have been taught mostly by substitutes this year—sometimes a different substitute every day—meaning no homework, and often no classwork.  One student said students are passed automatically since there are no teachers.

D.C. Moves To Extend School Day At Low-Performing Schools WAMU: Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson want students and 40 of the city's lowest-performing schools to stay in school a little longer every day.

Status Quo at Elite New York Schools: Few Blacks and Hispanics NYT: The stagnant racial demographics at the city’s nine specialized high schools led Mayor Bill de Blasio to call again for increasing their diversity.

Video: 'No Kid Goes Hungry' Plan Goes Viral NBC News: More than 700 people, from as far way as Taiwan, have donated almost $20,000 to a Michigan 3rd grader's plan to pay off delinquent lunch accounts. WILX's Amanda Malkowski reports. 

Video: Parents Rally Behind Extreme Bullying Victim NBC News: A group of Ohio parents rally behind a 14-year-old developmentally challenged student after a gym teacher and some students are charged with bullying him. WKYC's Lynna Lai reports. 

Obesity Linked To Lower Grades Among Teen Girls NPR: The reason for the link isn't clear, but researchers say obesity's effect on self-image and self-esteem might be partly to blame.

Flobots classroom project takes off in Denver AP: The Flobots, a Denver hip-hop band that gained fame with the hit single "Handlebars," are known for social activism and supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement. Drew Elder, a senior vice president of the investment firm Janus, is more familiar with the cello than with Chuck D....

Social Media: Clearly, I Am Over-Tweeting [23 x a day!]

Grungy-social-media-icons-297x300Check out Tweetails and you can see how much you - or someone you know - is Tweeting.  

Apparently I send out about 23 tweets a day (including blog posts), which amounts to 29 hours a month, which makes me a Level 23 Tweet Paladin (and probably a fool).

Lots more details -- word frequency, folks I tweet to/with -- below.

Give it a try and tell me what you found?

Continue reading "Social Media: Clearly, I Am Over-Tweeting [23 x a day!]" »

AM News: USDE Lets CA Waive Common Core Field Tests

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California gets waiver for Common Core field tests without penalties EdSource Today: California will not face penalties or multimillion-dollar fines from the federal government for giving all students a preliminary test on the new Common Core standards, instead of on the old state standards that California has abandoned.

Tense Moments in de Blasio’s TV Interview NYT: On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Mayor Bill de Blasio faced pointed questions about his stance on New York charter schools and conceded that his public-relations efforts had to improve. See also PolitickerDaily BeastNY Post

Teach for America tests out more training WPost: Teach for America, which places thousands of freshly minted college graduates in teaching jobs in some of the toughest schools in the country, is rethinking its training program in light of complaints from its own members that they need more preparation for the classroom.

Shaking Up the Classroom Wall Street Journal: Instead, in the “Content Level 7″ room at Washington Elementary, 10 students, ages 11 to 14, gather around teacher Nelly Lopez for help in writing essays. Eight sit at computers, plowing through a lesson on sentence structure, while a dozen advanced ...

AFT Says It Will No Longer Accept Gates Funding TeacherBeat: AFT will no longer take money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the union says.

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

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AM News: Massive Kansas School Funding Overturned

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Kansas School Funding Declared Unconstitutional By State Supreme Court HuffPost: The decision ordered the immediate reversal of recent education cuts, but told a lower court to reconsider the potential $1 billion question of whether Kansas provides enough education funding to adequately prepare students for the future. 

For transient, high-needs students, Florida teachers see Common Core as an anchor Hechinger Report: Designers say Common Core’s structure should help low-income, or students who move frequently – like those at Monroe. Norris’ sixth grade students are studying fairy tales from around world. She broke them into four groups and asks them to write about how different cultures tell the same story.

U.S. teachers 6th highest paid in the world Hechinger Report: U.S. public school teachers are the sixth highest paid teachers in the world, according this UNESCO analysis that adjusts wages by domestic purchasing power so you can compare different currencies and countries more fairly. 

How de Blasio’s Narrative Got Hijacked NYT: "De Blasio went into this thinking that he and Cuomo were friends,” a Democratic insider said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of concern over retribution, “but Andrew Cuomo doesn’t really have friends.”

Weeks Later, Epic Spelling Bee Ends In Missouri NPR: Fifth-grader Sophia Hoffman and seventh-grader Kush Sharma became celebrities after they essentially broke the bee in February, as Maria Carter of member station KCUR reported Friday. At that competition, they lasted 66 rounds before organizers said they needed time to gather more words. See also TODAY

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

Continue reading "AM News: Massive Kansas School Funding Overturned" »

AM News: Kindergarten, Pre-K, & Charter School Space

News2Need for Full-Day Kindergarten Is Lost in Pre-K Debate, Critics Say NYT: Melanie Hartzog, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund in New York, said most states require public schools to offer kindergarten, and several of them, including Arkansas, Oklahoma and South Carolina, require children to attend it on a full-day basis equivalent to the time they would spend in first grade. But New York is one of five states where school districts are not required to offer any kindergarten.

De Blasio, in Radio Interview, Defends His Position on Charter Schools NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared on the hip-hop station Hot 97 on Thursday, arguing that his policies on New York City charter schools were being distorted.

Cuomo lends support to solving charter school space issue with legislation Chalkbeat:  Two days after promising to “save charter schools” at a rally in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that he is considering a legislative solution for New York City’s charter school space issues. He emphasized the role of charter schools as engines of educational innovation and said he was already speaking with lawmakers about how to ensure that the schools can operate without being crippled by rent costs.

Charter School Battle Lines WNYC: Charges of playing politics with children's educations have flown on both sides of the debate over the de Blasio administration's withdrawal of permission to co-locate for 3 of the 49 schools under review. Beth Fertig, contributing editor for education at WNYC and Schoolbook.org, and Robert Lewis, WNYC investigative reporter, talk about this battle over education and the money behind some of the protests.

A Homeless Teen Finds Solace In A Teacher And A Recording NPR: Aaron didn't intend to tell his classmates that he was homeless. But when he recorded his own story with StoryCorpsU — a project designed to help kids in high-needs schools build stronger relationships with their teachers — he says, it just came out.

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

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AM News: 1600 Different SAT Stories

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College Board Previews Revisions To SAT NPR: The upcoming changes that were announced on Wednesday by the College Board will affect more than a million college-bound, high school students. It's the second major revision in nine years. See also WP, HuffPost, LA Times, PBS, KPCC, ChalkbeatNY, NBC News, Politico, NYT, WSJ, AP

Wendy Davis On Education: 'We Texans Have A Different Way Of Doing Things' HuffPost: "I've laid out a detailed platform … I've been talking about it already to a great extent," Davis told reporters. "Greg Abbott in contrast to that is still defending indefensible cuts to our public school system. With his words he says that education is a priority, but with his actions he shows that it's not." Abbott's campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.

Socialization technique helps in academic achievement, trial study finds WP: In a randomized, controlled trial that examined the technique known as Responsive Classroom, researchers found that children in classrooms where the technique was fully used scored significantly higher in math and reading tests than students in classrooms where it wasn’t applied.

Six Years of High School? An Educational Experiment in Chicago WNYC: At Sarah E. Goode, students attend high school for six years, graduating with a high school diploma and an associate's degree. The school is funded and in partnership with IBM, which means students also get hands on technical and business training, and the chance to land a job at IBM upon graduation. Twenty-six more such schools will open in three states by this fall.

Saucedo teachers spend Day 1 of ISAT teaching; concerns raised about intimidation WBEZ: Teachers at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy declared victory Tuesday, saying their protest of the state’s Illinois Standards Achievement Test is working. The teachers said they spent the first day of ISAT testing doing what they set out to—teaching.

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

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AM News: NY Lawmakers Fight Over Charters, Pre-K

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Cuomo Vows to Defend Charter Schools, Setting Up Another Battle With de Blasio NYT: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, at a rally in Albany, offered a sharply different vision for charter schools than Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has vowed to slow the growth of such schools. See also WNYC, ChalkbeatNY

De Blasio and Builder of Charter School Empire Do Battle NYT: Eva S. Moskowitz, who built a chain of charter schools during the Bloomberg administration, saw plans for three more canceled by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

As a Test Gets Phased Out In Chicago, Some Boycott Its Final Year NPR: In Chicago, a boycott has begun to protest the extent of standardized testing. Parents and teachers are saying that a recent test is useless, so hundreds are opting out or refusing to administer it. See also Catalyst

Obama announces budget at D.C.’s Powell Elementary WP: President Obama announced his fiscal 2015 budget on Tuesday morning at Powell Elementary in the District’s Petworth neighborhood, highlighting the school’s early childhood education program as a model for the nation. See also HuffPost

Viral Post Draws Attention to Plight at a Brooklyn School NYT: A parent’s protest on the website Humans of New York was widely shared, drawing attention to students without a much-needed foreign language teacher. See also ChalkbeatNY

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

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AM News: Some States Move To Curb Perceived Test Proliferation

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States Look to Curb Standardized Testing WSJ: In recent months, officials in Missouri have cut back on allocated testing time while New York capped it. Connecticut agreed to let districts delay, for a year, linking teacher evaluations to state test scores. Tennessee officials rescinded a plan to deny teacher licenses based, in part, on their students' growth on state tests. Meanwhile, 179 bills related to K-12 testing—a number of them seeking to curb it—have been introduced in statehouses nationwide this legislative session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which hadn't tracked such bills so comprehensively until this year.

Revamped Teacher-Dismissal Bill Introduced In Calif. TeacherBeat: California lawmakers have, for a third time, introduced a measure to streamline teacher dismissal for malfeasance.

D.C. mulling Common Core test switch Washington Post: The District is slated to begin administering new tests next year that aim to gauge students’ performance on the Common Core State Standards, new national academic guidelines that are designed to promote critical thinking instead of rote memorization.

Snow days are adding up at Washington area schools this winter Washington Post: With a series of storms and cold snaps during the winter of 2013-2014, snow days at the region’s schools have been piling up. The snowstorm that began early Monday morning has led the region’s school systems to cancel school again, and school closures are approaching -- or in some cases passing -- the closures during the 2009-2010 winter, when the area was hit with “Snowmageddon.”

Teaching students how to combat traumas of poverty on the yoga mat PBS NewsHour: At Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto, Calif., 7th graders are learning yoga as a way to cope with the stress of life in a community rife with homelessness, shootings and gang war trauma. By teaching these children to pay close attention to their breathing and movements, Stanford University researchers are hoping they will focus better in school and beyond. Jeffrey Brown reports.

More news throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

 

AM News: Snow Days, Teacher Protests, & De Blasio Backlash

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School Closures & the "Snow Day Effect" WAMU: Last night, school systems around the region began sending out word of yet another weather-related closure. Snow days bring excitement for kids and frustration for parents. They disrupt classroom instruction. But some recent studies have found that concerns about the "snow day effect" are overstated.

Teachers at 2nd school boycott ISAT WBEZ: Despite threats, teachers at Drummond Montessori in the Bucktown neighborhood say they will refuse to administer the ISAT. “After everything was thought about and considered, we decided we had to stand on the side of right and boycott the ISAT test,” said middle school math teacher Juan Gonzalez. He was flanked by two other teachers. 

Mayor Tries to Put Charter 'Sideshow' Aside WNYC: The coalition also released a separate statement explaining why it would not participate in a pro-charter school rally in Albany on Tuesday, the same day that supporters of de Blasio's pre-k plan said it would rally for pre-k. The charter leaders said "a competing rally, being organized by some charter leaders and just for charter schools, is not the right approach at this time."

Co-location backlash turns de Blasio allies quickly into critics ChalkbeatNY: “We expected to see change,” said Laurie Windsor, president of the elected parent council that oversees I.S. 281′s district. “That’s what they kept saying, and we really, fully trusted them. Now the trust is gone.”

Eli Broad appoints head of philanthropic education efforts SCPR: Reed began two months ago as president of the Broad Foundation, a newly created job. He'll take over deciding who receives millions of dollars in education grants on behalf of the philanthropist who some say has an inflexible agenda to shape schools.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Snow Days, Teacher Protests, & De Blasio Backlash" »

AM News: NYC Halts (Just) Six Charter Location Plans

City Halts Six School Changes Inherited from Bloomberg WNYC: Dozens of new or expanded schools got the all-clear to open this fall but a handful of others saw their plans dashed, as the city navigated its way through a thicket of proposals left by the Bloomberg administration. See also ChalkbeatNY, NYT, AP

Education secretary Duncan to governors: Join the early education parade KPCC: Education Secretary Arne Duncan told governors this week that expanding early education programs is underway — and they should join in.Governors peppered Duncan with questions regarding funding and access for early education for their states.

D.C. Sees Another Bump In Public School Enrollment WAMU: Enrollment in D.C. traditional and public charter schools increased by three percent in the 2013-2014 school year, the fifth consecutive year of growth in the city's school system.

Students With Disabilities Aim For A College Degree, But Often Get Stuck HuffPost: When he was a kid, Will Farrior was "just like your average child and student making A's and B's while participating in extracurricular activities," the 26-year-old told a Senate committee on Thursday. 

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

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AM News: Unions Mobilize Against Common Core, Newark Reformer

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Teachers Unions Mobilize To Delay The Common Core NPR: The president of the largest U.S. teachers union is calling on school districts to delay adopting the Common Core education standards. 

Chris Christie faces new uproar in state’s largest city Politico: On Wednesday evening, teachers unions ratcheted up the pressure as American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten sent Christie a letter demanding that he relinquish control over the troubled school district, which the state has run since 1994.

Five Points from Secretary Arne Duncan on Latinos and Education NBC: On Thursday President Barack Obama will launch an initiative geared toward young men and boys of color to improve their chances for success.

At school closings meetings, school choice groups learn the lay of the land in Memphis Chalkbeat Memphis: A table set up at a screening of a documentary about the parent trigger act. The school district auditorium in midtown Memphis was crowded Tuesday.

From Ravitch to the Ritz: SXSWedu highlights Austin Chronicle: Reign of Error: The Danger of Privatizing Schools":Diane Ravitch, America's leading researcher on educational policy and the danger of the...

Fed Up With Zero Tolerance In Schools, Advocates Push For Change NPR: Studies show that harsh policies, including criminalization, don't help the students who are removed from the classroom — and that schools punish black, Latino and disabled students more harshly.

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AM News: Teachers Anxious But Hopeful About Common Core

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What do teachers think about the Common Core standards? Hechinger Report: The findings—both reports are published by staunch supporters of the Common Core—were largely positive. But the feedback from teachers and districts also uncovers anxiety about how classrooms and students will be affected by the tougher standards. And training teachers to be able to handle the Common Core remains a major concern. 

Ed Dept To Schools: Protect Student Data Online AP: In guidance issued Tuesday, the Education Department encouraged districts to look closely at what online services are already in use within their schools. The guidelines suggest that districts develop procedures to evaluate and approve educational services and, when possible, use a written contract or legal agreement. They also spell out applicable federal laws.

GOP Seeks Answers on Arne Duncan's Teacher Equity Plans PK12: Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, and Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., the top Republican on the subcommittee overseeing K-12 education, sent a letter to Duncan Tuesday expressing concerns over the department's plan—floated in the story—to task the office for civil rights with ensuring that states ensure that kids in poverty have access to as many highly effective teachers as their more advantaged peers. 

Test protest: Chicago teachers say they’ll refuse to give ISAT WBEZ: A Seattle high school gained national attention last year when teachers there refused to give a standardized test. In late 2002, teachers at Curie Metropolitan High School in Chicago said they would refuse to give a district-mandated exam that was unpopular with teachers, the Chicago Academic Standards Exam. In a statement, CPS said "district employees that fail to execute their job responsibilities face appropriate disciplinary actions.”

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AM News: Newark Supe. Wants To Waive Seniority Protections

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Newark Schools Chief Wants Teacher Performance Included in Layoff Criteria WNYC: In an unprecedented move, Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson has asked Christie administration to waive seniority rules that dictate how planned teacher layoffs in the state-run district are to be conducted.

UFT wants city to reconsider Teaching Fellows program ChalkbeatNY: While 18 percent of education school graduates called their training “poor” or “fair,” that figure was nearly 50 percent for Teaching Fellows. The Department of Education pays TNTP, a nonprofit group that also lobbies on teacher quality issues including in favor of evaluations that consider student test scores, to operate the Teaching Fellows program. 

Kaya Henderson deserves support from D.C.’s elected leaders Washington Post (oped): This week the D.C. Council’s education committee plans to conduct a performance review of Chancellor Kaya Henderson. District residents might want to follow Henderson’s appearance before the council.

Maryland Schools Using Conflict Resolution To Curb Bullying, Suspensions WAMU: As part of an effort to keep Maryland students in the classroom and out of the juvenile justice system, schools are implementing conflict resolution strategies which are already showing results.

D.C. official faces questions about D.C. TAG audit WP: D.C. Council members on Monday quizzed State Superintendent of Education Jesús Aguirre about an unreleased auditshowing that city officials cannot account for nearly $10 million in federal taxpayer dollars meant for a tuition assistance program that helps D.C. students pay for college.

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AM News: Will Oregon Be Able To Keep Its NCLB Waiver?

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee seeks to keep waiver from No Child Left Behind law The Oregonian: Jay Inslee says he had a productive meeting with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Sunday to discuss options to preserve the state's waiver from provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. 

When Grownups Take the SAT The New Yorker: Since Kaplan set up shop, test-prep tutoring has come out of the basement. It’s now a billion-dollar industry whose primary product is heartache: college admission is, after all, a zero-sum game.

As High Schoolers Wait For College Notices, D.C. Fights To Get Students To Apply WAMU: Thousands of high school seniors across our region are waiting to hear if they've gotten into the colleges of their choice, but in the District, D.C. public schools are making a big push to get students — especially those from low-income backgrounds — ready for higher education.

Charters' desire for closed schools will be a difficult sell for CPS and city Chicago Tribune: The growing charter movement is one logical use for the 43 recently vacated CPS school buildings, but the district promised during the painful process of closing schools last year that it would not allow privately run charters into the buildings. CPS said it had nothing to do with Legacy's proposal.

After years of talk, MPS takes decisive action on the achievement gap MinnPost: When the announcement was made at the Minneapolis School Board’s February meeting that an office was being created to focus specifically on the welfare of black boys there was polite applause and a palpable wave of Minnesota Nice discomfort. 

Public schools recruiting international high schoolers USA Today: Newcomb is one of a number of school districts -- both public and private -- quietly taking advantage of a growing interest in an American education by cash-ready international students. Federal statistics show that the number of international high schoolers arriving in the USA on F-1 visas has jumped from about 6,500 in 2007 to 65,000 in 2012. 

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AM News: Concerns About Common Core Growing - Or Overblown?

Teacher support for Common Core at ‘critical juncture’ Politico: Supporters of Common Core said they’re eager to work with teachers and are confident most educators are still on board. Proponents of Common Core also dismiss public anger — including moves to scrap the standards in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and elsewhere — as insignificant and blown out of proportion.

Will Louisiana’s students be ready for online testing? Hechinger Report: The state recommends schools have a ratio of seven students to every one computer (including desktops, laptops, and tablets) and meet specified bandwidth requirements. A few school districts, such as St. James Parish, have a 1:1 ratio, while several others remain far from the 7:1 target. 

USDA Tells Schools: Don't Refuse Food To Students Who Owe NPR: The agency responds to a January incident in which a Utah elementary school served students food – and threw it away when their accounts were found to have a negative balance. 

Wisconsin lawmakers push for control over K-12 standards WP: As in several other states, lawmakers in Wisconsin are considering legislation that would pause, change or eliminate the new Common Core academic standards in math and reading now being implemented in public school classrooms across the country.

To curb conflict, a Colorado high school replaces punishment with conversation PBS NewsHour: In Aurora, Colorado, principal Matthew Willis welcomes the recent changes at Hinkley High School, where 75 percent of the 2,000-plus students qualify for free and reduced meals. Willis says student fights are down and respect among classmates is up.

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AM News: Union Critiques -- But Still Supports -- Common Core

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NEA Criticizes 'Botched' Common Core Implementation PK12: NEA still supports Common Core, but thinks teachers must be given more time to learn to work with the standards and more professional development. Tests not aligned to the standards should no longer be given, and stakes should not be attached to new, common-core-aligned tests until 2015-16 at the earliest, Steve wrote. See also WPost, Politico.

Majority Of Americans Would Probably Support The Common Core, If They Knew What It Was HuffPost: Based on interviews with approximately 6,400 registered voters across the country, 66 percent of Americans said in the survey that they support the Standards' goal of creating uniform education standards throughout the country. (In addition to making sure students are being held to the same benchmarks.)

What do Americans want for their schools? Choice, yes. Charters, not so much Hechinger Report: Forty-four percent of those surveyed thought charters are private schools, which they aren’t. While two thirds of those surveyed said they supported “holding all students across the country to a uniform set of high standards,” less than a third supported the Common Core.

Ed. Dept. Rejects, For Now, Utah and Arkansas Teacher-Evaluation Waivers PK12: The reason: Both states asked federal officials for more than just a delay. According to letters sent to Arkansas and Utah in December, both states' requests went outside the parameters of that streamlined process. So now the department will consider the requests as part of its more rigorous, lengthier amendment process.

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AM News: Union Lawyers Attack Case Against CA Job Protections

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Vergara witness says schools can deal with teacher ineffectiveness LA School Report: Under an intense cross examination by Marcellus McRae, the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer, Johnson became clearly uncomfortable as McRae attempted to show the limitations of her expertise and research as they relate to the very laws she was testifying against.

Adjustments to Common Core in Florida Approved by State School Board State EdWatch: The changes to the common core in Florida include the addition of new standards related to calculus, and a new basic requirement for cursive writing.

A Common Core math class where students “complain with smiles” ChalkbeatNY: Chalkbeat spent a morning last week in Laks’ class observing a lesson she created where her students — mostly juniors, with a few sophomores and seniors — use a computer program to “sketch” quadrilaterals. 

'Transitional' Courses Catch On as College-Prep Strategy EdWeek: Eight states now offer transitional curricula statewide to high school students, and another 21 states have locally run initiatives, according to a recent review by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University. The report, issued last May, also found that 25 states, and districts in another 13 states, measure the ability of all high school students by the junior year to succeed in entry-level courses at the postsecondary level.

South Carolina Considers Version of Parent Trigger Budget & Tax News: A Parent Empowerment Act in South Carolina would give parents the ability to petition the state to overhaul their school, but calls for clarity may push it...

Study finds high SAT and ACT scores might not spell success at college PBS NewsHour: Researchers looked at 33 public and private colleges and universities where it’s optional for applicants to submit their test scores. In all, the study examined the records of 123,000 students from more than 20 states. It found that test scores didn’t correlate with how well a student did in college based on grades and graduation rates. The paper has raised a variety of questions from several corners.

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AM News: The Return Of Magnet Schools

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Magnet Schools Find a Renewed Embrace in Cities NYT: In Miami and many other cities, public schools that admit students districtwide and focus on themes like art, law or technology are gaining popularity after largely falling off the radar.

Maryland students avoid ‘double-testing’ WP: About 25,000 elementary and middle school students in Maryland public schools, who will take the new Common Core exams for a test-drive next month, have been excused by federal officials from also having to take the Maryland School Assessment.

N.C. Becomes First Race to Top State to Win Teacher-Evaluation Delay PK12: North Carolina (and other Race to the Top states) made certain promises to win their big Race to the Top grants. And in its Feb. 12 approval letter, department officials note this one-year extension will, in fact, delay the teacher-evaluation part of the state's sweeping $400 million plan. Three other states have been approved for this one-year teacher-evaluation delay: Mississippi, Nevada, and Kentucky. 

Spoiler alert: Ed-related tidbits in Season 2 of House of Cards via PK12

Common Core Curriculum Now Has Critics on the Left NYT: The newest chorus of complaints about the common learning standards is coming from one of their earliest champions: New York State.

States Want Kids To Learn A Lot — Maybe Too Much NPR: When state legislators impose mandates on schools, educators get nervous. Sometimes, lawmakers want kids to learn legitimate skills; other times, they try to micromanage lessons down to the historical event.

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AM News: Snow Day Recriminations

News2Snow Day? That’s Great. Now Log In. Get to Class. NYT: Public schools around the country are exploring whether they can use virtual learning as a practical solution to unpredictable weather, effectively transforming the traditional snow day into a day of instruction.

School snow days a challenge for low-income working parents AJAM: In 2012, 44 percent of full-time workers had paid personal leave; only 16 percent of part-timers enjoyed the same. “Low-wage workers are the least likely to have these options,” said Ruth Milkman, a labor sociologist at the City University of New York. 

De Blasio defends controversial decision to keep schools open during storm ChalkbeatNY:“Based on our knowledge of what sanitation could do over night, we were convinced that kids could get to school this morning,” de Blasio told reporters from the Office of Emergency Management offices in Brooklyn.

NYC Posts Lowest School Attendance of the Year WNYC: This was also the third time in 2014 that a third or more of the city’s public school students missed class — most likely due to weather events in all three cases. Some parents and educators called it "a mistake" to keep schools open during the messy storm that dumped snow and icy rain on the city. Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña cited "lessons learned" from this latest snow storm experience.

VIDEOS: Rappin' And Rockin' School Closing Announcements NPR: Something's going on at some schools in states hit hard by the weather this winter. What it is ain't exactly clear. But administrators seem to want to have some fun when they have to spread the word about school being closed. See how they set their news to hits by Queen and Vanilla Ice.

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AM News: Snow Days, Common Core, & State Backsliding

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Holidays For Kids Mean Headaches For Administrators NPR: Schools across the country are running out of the planned snow days they'd put in place to deal with bad weather. As winter's blast of frigid temperatures and snowy conditions drags on, some school districts have kids at home completing assignments online while others are figuring out ways to deal with lost school days.

For Lower-Income Students, Snow Days Can Be Hungry Days NPR: When bad weather shuts down school or delays its openings, it locks out many needy kids from a key source of nutrition. Some 70 percent of U.S. schoolchildren who eat school lunches get them for free or at reduced prices.

House Democrats to Duncan: States are backsliding on help for low achievers WP: House Democratic leaders are worried that Education Secretary Arne Duncan is not doing enough to hold states accountable for educating public school students who are low-income, minority, disabled or English-language learners. See also HuffPostPK12

A fight is brewing over tests in the Common Core age WP: Testing season begins soon in U.S. public schools, requiring millions of students to spend days answering standardized questions in math and reading, as mandated by an outdated federal law. But this year is filled with tumult. Educators are questioning the purpose of testing, lawmakers in several states are pushing back against federal regulations, and a momentous standoff between California — the state with the largest number of public school students — and the Obama administration looms.

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AM News: Under Pressure, New York Reverses Course On Teacher Evaluation

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New York Officials Stall Plans to Tweak Teacher Evaluations NYT: After criticism from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the State Board of Regents set aside a proposal to let teachers contest poor assessments by citing difficulties related to the new Common Core standards.

See also WNYC, Chalkbeat.

New York Students With Disabilities May Soon Take Easier Tests Than Their Peers HuffPost:  The controversial proposal revives a concept known as out-of-level testing, and civil rights advocates argue that New York's adoption of the proposal could lead to it becoming standard nationwide. 

De Blasio Prepares for 'Profound Fight' Over Pre-K WNYC: Mayor Bill de Blasio rallied his troops Tuesday, a day after a Republican State Senate co-leader said he would block a vote on the mayor's plan to expand pre-kindergarten and after-school programs by taxing the city's wealthiest residents.

Pay Cuts, End Of Tenure Put North Carolina Teachers On Edge NPR: No state has seen as steep a drop in teacher salaries over the past few years. Legislators also halted a salary bump for teachers with master's degrees and cut a cap on class size. "Teachers are really questioning why they want to teach," says the head of a state advocacy group.

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AM News: Governor Cuomo Blasts State For Diluting Common Core Plan

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Cuomo Says Education Board’s Plan Dilutes Teacher Reviews NYT: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo attacked state education officials over a proposal that would give teachers more leeway to protest poor evaluations. See also TeacherBeat, ChalkbeatNY.

Cuomo Clashes with Education Leaders Over Common Core Fixes WNYC: In a fiery statement, the governor charged that the Regents were halting the teacher evaluation system and seemed to question the Regents' competence overall. See also Hechinger Report.

Colorado's slow rollout of teacher evaluations could hold advantages Denver Post: Colorado is among two-thirds of states that have passed laws since 2009 reforming educator evaluation systems in an effort to tap federal stimulus money and qualify for waivers from mandates established through No Child Left Behind.

White students get better teachers in L.A., researcher testifies LA Times: Black and Latino students are more likely to get ineffective teachers in Los Angeles schools than white and Asian students, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher. The findings were released this week during a trial challenging the way California handles the dismissal, lay off and tenure process for teachers. See also HuffPost.

School Leaders Present Their Brand of Accountability for a Renewed ESEA EdWeek: Fifteen superintendents who make up the Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium call for a whole lot less standardized testing, a whole lot more leeway for states and local districts to set their own academic targets for students—akin to what's already been happening under the federal No Child Left Behind waivers for states.

StudentsFirst forming small donor campaign fund for local, state elections EdSource: The advocacy and lobbying organization wants to set up a small contributor committee, Californians for Putting Students First, that would give money directly to state and local candidates.

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AM News: Schools In 10 States Running Out Of Snow Days

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Schools run short on snow days, adjust schedules AP: Students will make up at least three days in Philadelphia and New Haven, Conn., and two in Washington, D.C. Delaware schools have missed a week’s worth of class, and more than half of Maryland’s school districts reached or exceeded their allotted snow days. Boston is extending its school year by nearly a week. via ChalkbeatNY

Philly schools consider universal enrollment model AP: When it's time to enroll in school in Philadelphia, students face a bewildering array of choices: Neighborhood public school? Cyber school? Charter? Private or religious school? What about a specialty district school focused on science? Performing arts? International affairs?...

De Blasio Tests Political Might in Pre-K Push NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio is now seeking to revive the populist zeal of his mayoral bid for a new campaign: persuading state lawmakers to back a tax increase to pay for prekindergarten.

Montgomery County, teachers reach tentative deal including raises, higher health premiums WP: The Montgomery County Board of Education and the union representing the county’s 12,000 teachers have reached a tentative deal on a contract granting raises totaling about 5.5 percent over three years, school officials announced Saturday. Read full artic

Common Core and Medicaid Expansion: Comparing Big Decisions by States EdWeek: Does the widespread rebuke by states of the Medicaid expansion show that states are not so easily coerced by the federal government--and its money--after all?

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