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AM News: Seattle Teachers Strike, Reform Victory/Defeat In Los Angeles

Thousands Of Seattle Teachers Strike Over Pay, Class Size Reuters: Thousands of Seattle teachers walked out of class on Tuesday to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes, marking the largest one-day strike in a series of rolling protests by educators in Washington state over public school funding.

Two challengers, one incumbent, finish first in L.A. Board of Education races  LA Times: In all, outside groups have poured in $5.1 million, compared with under $1 million spent by campaigns controlled by the candidates, according to reports filed through Monday. The contest drawing the most attention and the most dollars was the Kayser/Rodriguez race [which Rodriguez appears to have won]. Kayser was backed by the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, which spent more than $1 million to keep him in office. Rodriguez co-founded an organization that operates charter schools, and bedinefited from strong support by a group representing charters.

Starr, former Montgomery County superintendent, takes association job Washington Post: Montgomery County’s former schools superintendent has taken a job as chief executive officer for an Arlington-based professional association for educators.Joshua P. Starr, who resigned in February amid reports that he did not have the support he needed to win another four-year contract in Maryland’s largest school system, will take over June 8 at PDK International. See also District Dossier: Former Superintendent Joshua Starr to Lead Phi Delta Kappa International

Montgomery school board to appoint interim superintendent, pause search Washington Post: The Montgomery County school board has suspended its national search for a new superintendent and plans to meet Wednesday to appoint an interim schools chief for next school year, just days after a leading candidate suddenly pulled out of the running. See also WAMU: For Now, Montgomery County Schools Chief Is Expected To Be A One-Year Job

Thousands of Scorers Take On the Common-Core Tests EdWeek: Twelve million students are taking either the PARCC or the Smarter Balanced assessments in 29 states and the District of Columbia this school year. Forty-two thousan people will be scoring 109 million student responses to questions on the two exams, which were designed by two groups of states... Pearson, which is training scorers for PARCC states, as well as administering and scoring the test, permitted a rare visit to one of its 13 regional scoring centers, in a nondescript brick office building outside Columbus.

Poverty, family stress are thwarting student success, top teachers say Washington Post: The greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students have little to do with anything that goes on in the classroom, according to the nation’s top teachers: It is family stress, followed by poverty, and learning and psychological problems. The survey, to be released Wednesday by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic Inc., polled the 56 Teachers of the Year, a small but elite group of educators considered among the country’s best, on a range of issues affecting public education.

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

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AM News: NYC's Three-Year Mayoral Control Extension, LA's High Money/Low Turnout Election

NY Assembly Votes to Extend NYC's Local Control of Schools WNYC: The mayor of New York City has controlled city schools since 2002, but the law governing the policy expires this year. De Blasio, a Democrat, has called for permanent mayoral control, an idea all but abandoned in Albany, where the Assembly now joins Cuomo in endorsing a three-year extension.

Low voter turnout could give teachers union-backed candidates edge in LAUSD election LA Daily News: Fewer than 13 percent of voters are expected to cast ballots on an election day that includes a closely watched City Council seat runoff. The low turnout could mean the 35,000-member union's votes, phone calls and precinct walking could hold more value than the nearly $3. See also KPCC LA: How PACs are impacting school board elections in LA, LA School Report: Low turnout — maybe a record — expected for 3 LAUSD board races.

Camden's Takeover by Outsiders Rankles the Grass Roots AP: The schools, the police department and even the libraries have been taken over by the state or county governments in rescue attempts, meaning key municipal agencies and functions are not directly accountable directly to voters and potentially setting the city up for a future without experienced leaders. Among other plans, a major push is on to bring in new types of schools, including some run by charter-school operators. Sean Brown, now a Rutgers public-policy graduate student, was an appointed member of the school board in 2012. Now, Brown is running a petition drive to try to have an elected school board return.

Sen. Rand Paul, Presidential Candidate, Not Opposed to National Testing PoliticsK12: That education made it into the 10-minute Meet the Press interview at all is a big deal, and bodes well for education as an issue in the 2016 election cycle.

For some parents, search for better schools could lead to jail Seattle Times: On the rise are cases in which families living in districts with failing schools have been accused of “stealing an education” and have been fined for lying about where they live on official district documents. Others have been criminally charged and, in some cases, jailed.

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

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AM News: LA's $5.5 Million Charter Showdown School Board Race

Spending in race for three LAUSD board seats reaches nearly $4.6 million LA Times: Total spending in the battle for three spots on the Los Angeles Board of Education has increased sharply since the March primary, reaching nearly $4.6 million, as interest groups vie to influence the nation's second-largest school system. See also LA Daily News: Attack ads plentiful as more than $5.5 million spent on LAUSD board races, LA Weekly: Whoever Wins this LAUSD Board Seat Could Determine the Fate of Charter Schools

Big Tax Revenues Goose California Education Budget from Gov. Brown State EdWatch: State tax revenues have turned out to be $6.7 billion higher than the estimates Brown used last January when Brown presented his original proposed budget for fiscal 2016. See also KPCC: Education groups generally like Brown’s revised budget plan, EdSource: Education highlights from Gov. Brown’s revised budget

Cuomo Promotes Tax Credits for Families of Students at Private Schools NYT: Visiting churches and a yeshiva, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo made it clear he considered the bill a top priority of the legislative session, despite opposition from some fellow Democrats.

Leading candidate for Montgomery schools chief withdraws his name Washington Post: Montgomery County’s leading candidate for superintendent of schools withdrew from consideration Sunday, three days after school board members touted him as their preferred pick for the district’s top job.

Bullying rate among U.S. teens has dropped but remains a problem Washington Post: About one out of every five students in U.S. middle schools and high schools reported that they had been bullied in 2013, the lowest rate since the federal government began collecting data on bullying in 2005. 

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

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Twitter Friday: News & Commentary Here, On Facebook, & Via Twitter

It's Friday and I'm in Boston visiting family (took the bus, thank you very much), so I'll be updating the site lightly -- via Twitter (which also posts to Facebook).

See it all below, or on Twitter or Facebook. Have a great weekend!

AM News: EdTech Startup CEO Among Amtrak Crash Victims

Tech start-up CEO Rachel Jacobs among Amtrak crash victims USA Today: Rachel Jacobs, the CEO of a tech education start-up in Philadelphia, was confirmed dead Wednesday evening after an Amtrak train derailment the previous day killed at least seven passengers and injured another 200.

Feds deny Seattle school district’s request for its own No Child waiver Seattle Times: The U.S. Department of Education says it doesn't want to let one district operate "outside of the state's accountability system."

Calif. Unions Appeal 'Deeply Flawed' Vergara Ruling TeacherBeat: A judge's ruling last summer to overturn teacher-protection statutes was thinly argued and misread state constitutional law, they contend.

Why More of America's Students Are Finishing High School Atlantic Education: One reason for the academic improvements cited in the report is the closure of 800 schools since 2002 that featured chronically low graduation rates, campuses sometimes known as “dropout factories.” 

Louisiana Lawmakers Strike Preliminary Deal Over Common Core State EdWatch: The deal could signal an approaching peace, or at least a cease-fire, in the long-running war over the common core and the PARCC test in Louisiana.

Closing Costs: Parents Push For Role In Choosing New Charter School Operator WWNO Louisiana: The school year is winding down, and for three New Orleans charters, the last day will bring dramatic changes. Two of those schools are closing for good. The third – kindergarten through 8th grade school Andrew H. Wilson Charter – is getting a new operator.

Were Chicago's public schools ever good? WBEZ Chicago:  Ultimately, we decided to look at when CPS did a good job preparing students for successful careers; that is: When did the district best prepare people to be productive, taxpaying citizens? Career readiness is a consistent expectation, and it’s possible to compare one era to another. See also AP: Moody's Downgrades Chicago Schools, Park District Ratings

 27 resources on education, from a reporter who’s covered it PBS NewsHour:  When my wife and I moved recently, the process forced me to dig through piles of stuff and discard what I didn’t care enough about to pack and then unpack. In the process I came across some really good stuff, and that triggered this list of books, organizations, films, and websites that I value.

AM News: California Schools Already Getting Common Core Test Scores

School districts start receiving early results on Smarter Balanced testsEdSource: District and school officials can begin looking at the scores and use them to make decisions about instruction, class placements and parent discussions, said Keric Ashley, deputy superintendent of the District, School, and Innovation branch of the California Department of Education. The first preliminary student scores for early test takers went out May 4.

Washington State Asks Not To Be Penalized For Lower Test Scores Reuters: The request comes as school officials face vocal public resistance to the test as they transition to Smarter Balanced exams, which are aligned to the Common Core multi-state education standards in English and math. Last year, Washington lost its exemption from some requirements under the No Child law because its state legislature declined to link student test scores to teacher evaluations.

Roughly 1 in 7 Portland Public Schools juniors skip Common Core tests OregonLive.com: Sixth grade students work through a Common Core State Standards Test at Morgan Elementary School South in Stockport, Ohio. 

A Key Researcher Says 'Grit' Isn't Ready For High-Stakes Measures NPR: Angela Duckworth worries that when it comes to measuring students' resilience, education policy may be getting ahead of science. See also Washington Post: Should teachers be evaluated on how ‘gritty’ their students are?

More in School, but Not Learning NYT: Globally, more children than ever are attending school, but some experts say high-quality education has proved elusive. The solution will be expensive.

Is the classroom a stressful place? Thousands of teachers say yes Washington Post: This story has been updated.A new survey of more than 30,000 U.S. teachers finds that most of them report high levels of stress and low levels of autonomy, but it also shows that they are not ready to bail on the classroom.

Prom Dress-Code Change Sparks Outcry at Connecticut High School AP: On May 8, administrators at Shelton High School in Shelton, Connecticut, announced a ban on dresses showing too much skin, saying they’ve already identified half a dozen dress “don’ts.”  But students say what that specifically meant was never laid out prior to the May 8 announcement. 

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

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AM News: Common Core Action In NH & CA - Plus New Preschool Data

N.H. Gov. Hassan First to Veto a Common-Core Repeal Bill State EdWatch: The Granite State governor's action is the first time a bill requiring a state to ditch the Common Core State Standards has been vetoed by a governor.

Broad coalition, poll show CA support for Common Core EdSource Today: In other states, schools are reporting massive opt-outs of testing, while only a few California schools have had half or more of their students skip the assessments. Still, some groups are protesting the Common Core, holding forums and handing out opt-out forms outside of schools.

Online Common Core Testing Lays Bare Tech Divide in Schools AP: Overall, 63 percent of public schools don't have access to broadband speeds needed for digital learning. The problem is particularly acute in rural and low-income districts: Only 14 percent in those areas meet high-speed internet targets.

Students teaching students in new world of Common Core math KPCC LA: Four years into teaching Common Core-based math in elementary schools, Downey Unified is betting that its collaborative approach will serve its students well as they join millions now taking new standardized tests measuring what they've learned.  Students explain how they arrive at answers, help their classmates figure out problems, and engage in lively conversations with their teachers and each other.

Gates Foundation pours millions more into Common Core The Answer Sheet: In the last seven months, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has poured more than $10 million into implementation and parent support for the Core, according to grant details on the foundation website (see below).

Preschool By State: Who's Spending And What's It Buying? NPR: A new, national report on state-funded pre-K sends a few mixed messages: Enrollment and funding are up ... but in many places still remarkably low. See also Washington Post, HuffPost.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan talks dollars, and roars like a lion Washington Post: The nation is moving too slowly in terms of providing quality preschool to its youngest learners, especially low-income children who desperately need a strong educational foundation, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday morning at a bilingual preschool in Langley Park, Md.

Teacher Candidates Sweat and Scramble Over New Certification Tests WNYC: All together, the four new assessments are more difficult than the previous set of tests that had close to 100 percent pass rates. They are also more expensive: students spend a minimum of more than $600 for the full round of tests, compared to less than $300 in previous years.  

Some Schools Embrace Demands for Education Data  NYT: Though critics worry about an increasing focus on metrics, some districts have begun recording and analyzing every scrap of information in an effort to improve.

AM News: Little Common Core Pushback In KY (& CA, & ....)

In an Early Adopter, Common Core Faces Little Pushback WSJ: Kentucky is in its fourth year of testing linked to Common Core State Standards, at a time when most other states are counting the tests for the first time. While students here were slow to show improvement, scores on standardized tests have begun to pick up. Pushback from teachers unions, which has been fierce in a number of states, has been minimal here.

Anti-Common-Core Bills Diversify as Democrats' Skepticism Grows, Report Says State EdWatch: "To move from vague proclamations of support to full implementation requires highly specific decisions to be made about who to target, how much money to invest, and which stakeholders to engage," the researchers wrote in their Brookings Institution paper.

Enrollment in state pre-K inches up but disparities remain AP: Enrollment in state pre-kindergarten programs inched up slightly last year, but there's been little change in the overall percentage of children participating in the programs, according to a national study on early education released Monday....

Amid gridlock in D.C., influence industry expands rapidly in the states GovBlog: Lobbyists aren’t having much luck on a gridlocked Capitol Hill — so more and more, they’re opening their wallets in state capitols around the country. Not keeping pace with the surge, say watchdog groups: the disclosure laws that are supposed to keep the influence industry in check.

ACT to expand computer-based testing  PBS NewsHour: The ACT announced Friday that computer-based testing will be available next year in the 18 states and additional districts that require students, typically juniors, to take the ACT during the school day. About 1 million students could be affected.

This Movie Theater PSA Is Inspiring Kids To Become Teachers HuffPost:  A public service announcement encouraging young people to become teachers has been playing in hundreds of movie theaters around the country in recognition of national teacher appreciation week May 4 to May 9.

More news below (and throughout at @alexanderrusso).

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AM News: Colbert ❤ South Carolina Schools, Plus New York Evaluation Summit

Stephen Colbert Auctioned Off His 'Colbert Report' Set to Help Public Schools ABC News: "Using the proceeds of the sale of my old set on the 'Colbert Report' that we auctioned off, and the generous matching funds from the Morgridge Family Foundation and ScanSource, DonorsChoose is going to flash-fund all 1,000 projects in South Carolina schools," he said. "Enjoy your learning, South Carolina!" See also NBC News: Stephen Colbert to Fund Grants for South Carolina Teachers.

Albany Summit Airs Grievances Over Teacher Evaluation Law WNYC: Principals, teachers and school board members told Board of Regents members that they objected to the tight deadline in the law, and many were not pleased with a greater reliance on standardized tests, a component supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Superintendents who testified expressed deep unease with the law passed as part of the budget negotiations in Albany. See also Chalkbeat.

In Surprise Move, Teacher Ed. Accreditation Group Ousts President TeacherBeat: James G. Cibulka will be replaced by a former state superintendent until a new president can be found.

Former CPS CEO Brizard: SUPES owner 'instrumental' in bringing Byrd-Bennett to district Sun-Times:The man whose company is at the center of a federal investigation of Chicago Public Schools was “instrumental” in bringing Barbara Byrd-Bennett into a high-ranking job at CPS and in her promotion as CEO there, according to former CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard.

Los Angeles is Next in Battle Over All-Girls Science, Tech Schools NBC News: Proponents of schools like GALA say girls aren't given the tools they need to succeed in science and other classes, leading to a lack of confidence and experience that winds up pushing them away from careers in fields like computer engineering. But critics argue single-gender schools pander to stereotypes about learning that are based on weak research, and have no place in taxpayer-funded public districts.

Colorado Lawmakers Cut Testing Requirements by Focusing on Older Students State EdWatch: Lawmakers passed House Bill 1323 by wide margins on May 6 and sent it to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for his signature.

4 Takeaways From Jonathan Kozol On Race, Poverty And Corporate Reform In Education Boston Learning Lab: In a wide-ranging conversation about race, poverty and corporate reform in public education, the writer, educator and activist Jonathan Kozol spoke on Wednesday evening about what he sees as public education’s most pressing challenges.

Janitors spreading value of early education among immigrants KPCC LA: Few of her co-workers with young children have them in any kind of preschool, she said. Some think their children are too young to be in school, others don’t trust strangers to look after their toddlers, and most are unaware that they qualify for Head Start or free state preschool, she said.

ACT to Expand Computer-Based Testing AP: The ACT was to announce Friday that computer-based testing of the ACT would be available next year in the 18 states and additional districts that require students — typically juniors — to take the ACT during the school day. About 1 million students could be affected.

AM News: Obama Officials Huddle At Baltimore's Douglass HS

U.S. Cabinet secretaries visit Douglass High School Baltimore Sun: U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Education Secretary Arne Duncan spent Wednesday afternoon at Frederick Douglass High School, where they discussed financial literacy and heard students' concerns about the lack of jobs and opportunities in Baltimore. See also Washington Post.

An Inside Look at the Hillary Clinton Inner Circle Bloomberg: Two other policy advisers, Maya Harris and Ann O'Leary, weren't included on the list, which the campaign aide said is because they were not yet working on the campaign on a full-time basis.

CTU files labor complaint against school board Chicago Tribune: The district, which says it is wrestling with a $1.1 billion deficit weighted with pension payments, wants to save millions of dollars by having teachers pay more into their pension fund. The CTU said the result would be a 7 percent cut in take-home pay for members. See also Sun-Times: Karen Lewis says 'no trust' between CTU and Board of Ed

Teachers union contract fails to guarantee a single additional teacher in LAUSD LA Daily News: The Los Angeles Unified School District is not contractually obligated to hire a single teacher to help ease crowded classrooms under the terms of its tentative agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles, this news organization has discovered. The guaranteed hiring of additional teachers, a key demand during months of strike preparations, remains in the union's characterization of the agreement.

Las Vegas: Betting On New Teachers But Coming Up Short NPR: The city wishes it had a lot more teachers like Adams. It needs almost 3,000 more teachers, to be exact. Las Vegas and Clark County consistently top the lists of American cities most in need of new teachers. And the most pressing needs — 75 percent of vacancies — are in schools that are lower-performing and have a high percentage of children living in poverty.

NewSchools New New Thing EdSurge: On May 6, more than a thousand educators, entrepreneurs and edtech enthusiasts came together for the 16th annual New Schools Venture Fund Summit. Gone were the high-profile speakers such as Mark Zuckerberg and Randi Weingarten...

Ed tech company folds after receiving millions in Race to the Top funds Washington Post: An education technology company has folded after receiving millions of dollars in federal Race to the Top funds to provide online assessments and other services to school districts.Charlotte-based Thinkgate LLC shut down last week, according to state education officials in Ohio and Massachusetts, two states that used Race to the Top money to contract with the company.

New Standardized Tests Bring Technical Challenges, Concern AP: Call this the year of the test. Or, at least the year of standardized test mania. Standardized test season in K-12 classrooms has been dominated in some states by widespread technical problems or by parents allowing their children to opt out. But testing officials say the rollout this spring of new standardized tests taken by computer in many U.S. public schools has been without major problems in much of the country. See also EdSource: CA State board awards disputed test contract to ETS.

For transgender teens and teachers, acceptance could be two words away Washington Post: For some transgender high school students in the Virginia suburbs, a school board decision Thursday could mean an end to death threats and the beginning of freedom to live openly as who they truly are.

Study: Gay, Bisexual Kids Bullied More, Even at Early Age AP:  Overall, many of the nearly 4,300 students surveyed said they were bullied, especially at younger ages. But the 630 gay and bisexual children suffered it more.

Care About Educational Equity? Then You Should Care About Mobile EdSurge: Of the 10 largest school districts in the country, which serve over 2.5 million students in poverty, only Chicago Public Schools’ website renders properly in a mobile browser. (I’m not counting Houston Independent School District, which has a mobile-friendly landing page, but clicking on any button leads to pages that are not mobile-friendly.)

AM News: Testing, Opt-Outs, & What Happens Next

More Perspectives on Testing Opt-Outs From New York and Beyond State EdWatch: The campaign has made the biggest waves so far in New York state, but more broadly, it has also intensified discussions about the role of testing in schools.  Here are some tidbits, themes, and quotes that didn't make it into the print version of the story now posted online.

With New Standardized Tests, Educators Worry About Scores AP: Testing officials say the rollout this spring of new standardized tests taken by computer in U.S. public schools has been without major problems in much of the country. The next step? Seeing how students did — and how parents and educators respond. 

Why civil rights groups say parents who opt out of tests are hurting kids Washington Post: A dozen civil rights groups issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the growing movement of parents who refuse to allow their children to take standardized tests, saying the anti-test push “would sabotage important data and rob us of the right to know how our students are faring.

The Soccer Mom Revolt Against Common Core WSJ: Unlike the Common Core standards and tests, No Child Left Behind didn't tell schools what to do and what not to do. States were still in charge.

Most states lacked expertise to improve worst schools Washington Post: The Obama administration handed out more than $3 billion to the states and the District of Columbia to help them turn around their worst-performing schools as part of the federal stimulus spending that took place after the 2008 recession. 

Seattle teachers call 1-day walkout over state budget Seattle Times: Seattle teachers voted Monday to strike on May 19 in an appeal for more funding from the Legislature, joining colleagues in about two dozen other school districts. See also Seattle Public Radio.

Early learner expert tied to Hollywood takes on Common Core SI&A Cabinet Report: Already under fire for its ties to the Obama administration and for unsettling teacher unions – the Common Core has a new adversary, actor Matt Damon’s mom. A new white paper out this month from the Boston-based non-profit takes issue with a requirement in the Common Core State Standards that kindergarteners should be reading before moving on to the first grade.

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

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AM News: Common Core Testing Resumes, & Scoring Begins

Ga. Schools Chief: Testing Snafu With Unknown Impact Is 'Unacceptable' State EdWatch: Problems with common-core-aligned exams mirror those in Montana and Nevada, but the Associated Press reports that the glitches are not as severe as in other states.

Louisiana Common Core tests resume with few boycotts, state says NOLA.com: During five days in March, more than 4,300 students boycotted the first set of Common Core exams, part of a political uprising against the math and English benchmarks. That's about 1 percent of the total number of students in the testing grades.

Challenges, optimism in learning Common Core in Spanish KPCC LA: Imagine if you don’t spend your day learning in the English language. How do dual immersion students grasp the Common Core concepts? It turns out that once educators had time to think about how Common Core could be taught in the classroom, they saw dual immersion learning as aligning surprisingly well with concepts like problem-solving, critical thinking and collaboration.

How Common Core tests are scored Cleveland.com:  If your third grader took the PARCC math exams this spring, there's a good chance that one of their answers was scored [on] a laptop here at this Westerville office.

Inside the School Silicon Valley Thinks Will Save Education Wired: And so, if you are truly fed up with the school status quo and have $20,875 to spare (it’s pricey, sure, but cheaper than the other private schools you’ve seen), you might decide to take a chance and sign your 7-year-old up for this little experiment in education called AltSchool. Except it’s not really so little anymore. And it’s about to get a lot bigger. See als NPRTechChrunchNYT

The changing role of Advanced Placement classes Marketplace: If annual growth rates hold true, during the next two weeks, more than two million high school students across the country are expected to take AP exams. A passing score could mean earning college credit while still in high school. Research shows that students who take rigorous courses in high school are more likely to get into, and succeed, in college.

Most Americans Think Public School Teachers Are Underappreciated And Underpaid HuffPost: The survey results suggest most Americans think teachers deserve a week dedicated to appreciating them, if only because this group does not get enough respect the other 51 weeks of the year.  

Gates' Teacher-Prep Grants Will Fund Cooperatives to Scale, Share Practices TeacherBeat: The most notable feature of this approach is is that it's a change from one-off grants to individual providers and institutions, the strategy the foundation has used up to this point for teacher preparation. 

Higher Ed Lobby Quietly Joins For-Profit Schools to Roll Back Tighter Rules ProPublica: Traditional colleges and universities have become unlikely allies of the beleaguered for-profit industry as each group tries to fend off the government’s push for more accountability. See also FirstLook story on PACs and think tanks Corinthian gave money to before going bankrupt.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Common Core Testing Resumes, & Scoring Begins" »

AM News: Districts Welcome Expanded Obama Support Program

Big-City Districts Buoyed by Obama's Extension of 'My Brother's Keeper' District Dossier: Michael Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City School, said the proposed new foundation will help sustain the council's efforts on equity and access in its districts after Mr. Obama leaves the White House.

Parents hate it when schools get shut down. But a new study suggests it helps kids learn. Vox: In Ohio's eighth-largest school district, students whose schools were closed and who ended up at different schools learned more than students in low-quality schools that didn't close, researchers Deven Carlson and Stéphane Lavertu found.

Teacher Testifies So Dzhokhar Tsarnaev 'Knows That Someone Cares About Him' HuffPost: It was the second time that Becki Norris spoke up for Tsarnaev, 21, on Wednesday. Earlier that day, the current Community Charter School of Cambridge principal testified in Tsarnaev's trial that when he was her seventh- and eighth-grade student, he was "a really hard-working, smart kid" with a seemingly bright future in front of him. 

State, teacher unions file briefs in tenure ruling appeal AP: In briefs filed in the state's Second District Court of Appeal, attorneys for the state, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers contend there was no "legal or factual justification" in striking down state laws on tenure and job protection.

Teacher-Retention Rates Higher Than Previously Thought TeacherBeat: Only 17 percent of teachers tracked in a federal longitudinal study left the profession, far fewer than the often-cited 50 percent.

Some Baltimore youth have fears of police reinforced in their schools Washington Post: Darius Craig was disgusted Monday night watching other Baltimore teens on television as they burned cars, looted shops and hurled rocks at police. But the high school senior understood why his peers were so angry.

Beyond The Headlines, There's Much More To West Baltimore NPR: At one intersection this week, violence was thoroughly documented. But the cameras missed the treasured public library that for years has educated and entertained the neighborhood's kids.

Weingarten regrets supporting Cuomo's running mate Capital New York: American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingartenregrets campaigning for Governor Andrew Cuomo's running mate in last year's elections, she told Capital during a union convention on Saturday. 

More school merger plans in the works, Fariña says ChalkbeatNY: In areas of the city with high rates of domestic violence, teachers will get special training next year, an effort that grew out of City Hall’s new “Children’s Cabinet.” 

Outside interest groups battle over school vouchers: After years of lobbying, millions of dollars from in-state and out-of-state advocacy groups and the support of the governor and other legislative leaders, school vouchers are still banned in Tennessee.

From The White House, A Celebration Of Great Teaching NPR: President Obama welcomes the National Teacher of the Year and tells how a great educator shaped his own life.

Emma Bloomberg on the Future of the Robin Hood Foundation Gotham Magazine: As Robin Hood holds its annual gala on May 12, we took the opportunity to ask Bloomberg for an insider’s look at the group Fortune called “one of the most innovative and influential philanthropic organizations of our time.”

From Hurricane Katrina to Howard University, a young woman's odyssey Washington Post: One of Halley's teachers told her about a program for high school juniors to work for a semester as congressional pages in Washington. ... Once in Washington, Halley toured Howard University and set a new goal.

AM News: All Eyes On Baltimore, Atlanta, & Detroit

Judge Reduces 3 Educators' Sentences In Atlanta Cheating Scandal NPR: In a highly unusual move, the judge in the Atlanta test-cheating case said he had a change of heart. He reduced three people's sentences from seven years in prison to three. See also NYT: Judge Reduces 3 Sentences in Atlanta School Testing Scandal, WPost Atlanta judge reduces sentences for three educators in cheating case.

How This Inner-City Baltimore Principal Is 'Tearing Down Barriers' Between Students And Police HuffPost: As students poured into their West Baltimore school on their first day back after protests paralyzed the city, Rowe said she felt heartened by the systems that are equipping her students to respond effectively to abuses of power.  See also BaltSun: Ray Lewis, Ravens visit schools in West Baltimore, NPR Councilman's Star Rises Fast Amid Baltimore Unrest.

Michigan governor wants overhaul of troubled Detroit schools AP: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wants to break Detroit's troubled school district into two and will ask the Legislature to contribute more state funding to resolve nearly a half-billion dollars in operating debt... See also State Edwatch: Mich. Gov. Snyder Unveils Plan to Split Governance of Detroit Schools, NYT Plan Unveiled to Overhaul School System in Detroit, HuffPost Detroit Closes Many Schools For Day Due To Teacher Shortage.

Delisle to leave Education Department Washington Post: Deborah Delisle, a top-ranking official at the Education Department responsible for issuing waivers that have freed nearly every state and the District from the most onerous requirements of federal education law, is leaving her job as assistant...

Former Sen. Mary Landrieu is now a 'strategic adviser' to Walton Family Foundation NOLA.com: Landrieu also was recently named to the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.She did not reveal her compensation at the Walton Family Foundation.

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AM News: Baltimore Schools Recover; Teachers At The White House

Baltimore Public School Officials Want To Hold Students Accountable For Their Involvement In Riots HuffPost: CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools Gregory Thornton made it clear in his statement that students who participated in violent behavior on Monday would not get off the hook for their actions. 

The Real Baltimore: What Lakeland Elementary School Students Had to Say About the Riots AP: Ashley Smith, a teacher at Lakeland Elementary/Middle School, chose to have her class write down their reactions in regard to the chaos surrounding their city amid the riots following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a man who died after an unexplained spinal injury suffered in police custody.

Obama Honoring Texas Teacher Who Works With War Refugees AP: Shanna Peeples is known for helping guide refugees who have been moving to Amarillo from war-torn countries. See also: President Obama introduces the 2015 Teacher of the YearObama, Teacher of the Year stroll to lunch at D.C. restaurant

Study: Far fewer new teachers are leaving the profession than previously thought Washington Post: Ten percent of teachers who began their careers in 2007-2008 left teaching after their first year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But attrition then leveled off, and five years into their careers, 83 percent were still teaching.

Segregation of the nation’s children starts with preschool, new report finds Washington Post: Publicly funded preschools across the country are largely segregated by race and income, and poor children are typically enrolled in the lowest quality programs, according to a new report released Wednesday by researchers at the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University.

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AM News: Stakes For Spring 2015 Tests Generally Low For Students & Teachers

Stakes for “high-stakes” tests are actually pretty low Hechinger Report: Very few states will be using this spring’s scores for any student-related decisions. And the stakes for teachers are only slightly higher.

Half of juniors opt out of Common Core tests in affluent high school EdSource Today: At Palos Verdes High School, 260 of the school’s roughly 460 juniors are skipping the tests that began last week and are continuing this week, Superintendent Don Austin said. Elsewhere in the 11,600-student district, an additional 222 students are sitting out of the tests in a different high school, as well as intermediate and elementary schools.

Gates Foundation to Expand Teacher-Preparation Grantmaking TeacherBeat: " In the coming years, we foresee many opportunities for partnership in the field of teacher preparation, with many types of organizations," Gates officials Tom Stritikus and Michelle Rojas  write.  As of late 2013, the Gates Foundation had spent nearly $700 million on efforts relating to teaching, including about $38 million on teacher-preparation efforts.

How one high school is closing the AP gap Marketplace: The AP invitation letters were part of a broader effort by the school district to get more students into AP courses, especially overlooked low-income and minority students who have the skills to succeed. To start catching those kids, Goins' district brought in Equal Opportunity Schools, a non-profit that works with schools to help identify kids who are being left behind in AP and International Baccalaureate programs, and help close the so-called participation gap.

How Young Black Men Are Boxed In FiveThirtyEight: Baltimore isn’t an outlier. There are other cities with more poverty, higher unemployment and greater inequality. The racial disparities evident in Baltimore are common across the country.

After Baltimore Rioting, Obama Urges Focus on Education Programs Education Week: President Barack Obama condemned rioters who looted and set ablaze several businesses in Baltimore Monday night following the funeral for Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man who died of a spinal cord injury in police custody this month. 

Can a Harlem ‘cradle to career’ program succeed in rural Mississippi? PBS NewsHour: The program is part of the Indianola Promise Community (IPC), a federally-funded, community-based effort. Nationwide, there are dozens of so-called Promise Neighborhoods, or zones, that aim to offer a continuum of “cradle to career” services to lift low-income children out of poverty and improve outcomes for families.

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AM News: Baltimore Closes Schools After Protests Turn Violent

Freddie Grey Protests Turn Violent in Baltimore ABC News: Tonight, we report from Baltimore where the governor of Maryland has declared a state of emergency and the mayor of Baltimore has announced a week-long curfew beginning tomorrow night. A cure few that cannot come soon enough. 

Baltimore Schools Look For 'A Teachable Moment' Amidst Freddie Gray Tensions HuffPost: Baltimore City schools are redeploying "district staff and mobile units to assist in ensuring safe passage of our students between school buildings and bus stops." according to the district's statement. [They later cancelled classes.]

Common Core tests well under way in CA EdSource Today: “From what we understand, things are going well,” said department spokeswoman Pam Slater. “We haven’t had a lot of reports of computer malfunctions and we’re happy with results so far.”

Labor’s letter to Hillary Clinton Politico: Clinton has also recently spoken about the importance of collective bargaining rights — and she turned some Democratic heads by sitting with Lee Saunders, the head of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) at a panel shortly before announcing her much-anticipated campaign.

Texas English Teacher Named National Teacher of the Year AP: Shanna Peeples from Amarillo was selected for the honor by the Council of Chief State School Officers. She is the first Texas teacher to win the award since 1957. See also Washington Post.

After pushing strict deadline for eval changes, Cuomo says extension ‘reasonable’ ChalkbeatNY: That sets up the potential for additional conflict as state education officials begin to craft the “hardship” regulations. Cuomo said he wants to limit that provision to a small number of districts.

California nonprofit group seeks to become ‘AARP for kids’ Washington Post: A California nonprofit organization known for its ratings of children’s media announced Monday that it will seek to become a national nonpartisan voice advocating for educational technology, early childhood education and other children’s issues

Nev. Vendor: American Institutes for Research at Fault for Testing Disruptions State EdWatch: The American Institutes for Research has emerged as major player in recent years in the increasingly competitive world of state assessments.

School closings are politically difficult. But are they good for student achievement? Washington Post: Closing public schools is a political minefield — just ask Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who had a tough reelection bid this year after dozens of school closures on his watch left voters concerned.But what do school closings mean for student achievement?

Chicago school cleaning contract millions over budget WBEZ: Chicago Public Schools’ three-year contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark to manage all school cleaning services is $22 million over budget, according to procurement and finance records obtained by WBEZ.

Meet The Man Working To Change The Narrative For Young Black Boys In School HuffPost: The program, which launched in 2010, now helps 2,500 boys, and there's a waiting list. The initiative has become a model for school districts nationwide. Since its launch, the Manhood Development Program has reduced the number of suspensions and absences of its participants. 

Merger in Brooklyn Is an Alternative to City’s Small-School Model NYT: A decade after a large, struggling middle school was shut down and replaced with two smaller ones, the Education Department is putting it back together and is likely to combine several others.

Police: School shooter said he didn't plan to hurt students AP: A 16-year-old boy who fired two gunshots Monday inside a Washington state high school, hitting no one before a teacher tackled him, told detectives he never intended to hurt any students, a police spokesman said....

New York City Parents Grade Mayor on Campaign Promises EdWeek: New York City parents give Mayor Bill de Blasio unsatisfactory grades for failing to reduce class size and increase public accountability.

AM News: Teacher Union Heads + Ravitch Gather In Chicago, Talk National Strike

Lewis supports national teachers strike Sun Times: Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said Sunday that she would support a national teachers strike. “I do. But I don’t want to organize it,” she said with a laugh while addressing an annual conference of the Network for Public Education, an anti-school privatization group.

The e-mails fly over One Newark, the controversial N.J. city school plan Washington Post: Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) exchanged letters Friday with Cami Anderson, the state-appointed superintendent of Newark Public Schools and architect of a controversial school system overhaul in New Jersey’s largest city.

LA Unified teachers could finally 'exceed standards' next year under tentative contract LA Daily News: "It's a bit of a punt, which I think is understandable, because they weren't able to get what they wanted in negotiations," said Nancy Waymack, who monitors evaluation policies in 118 school district across the country for the NCTQ. 

In Texas, Questions About Prosecuting Truancy NPR: In 2013, school districts in the state filed 115,000 truancy cases. The problem is so big, state lawmakers and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating whether prosecuting children and teenagers in adult criminal courts is doing more harm than good.

Alternatives to Suspension: Inside a 'Restorative Justice' High School WNYC: Restorative justice is not always a substitute for suspensions. In serious cases, like bringing weapon to school or hurting another student, the city still requires an out of school suspension. But a school can choose to add mediation upon the student's return. For minor incidents, it can be used in lieu of an in-school suspension.

Bill Clinton Ends Role With Chain of For-Profit Colleges NYT: The former president left his position as honorary chancellor for Laureate International Universities, part of a for-profit college industry that has drawn criticism over its students’ debt loads.

Public boarding school _ the way to solve educational ills? AP: Buffalo's chronically struggling school system is considering an idea gaining momentum in other cities: public boarding schools that put round-the-clock attention on students and away from such daunting problems as poverty, troubled homes and truancy....

Why one of America’s best schools eased off Advanced Placement courses? Washington Post: His charter is closed this year because the school board refused to renew the lease. This is the result of a turf war, mostly about money, not about AP, that happens even to the best schools. The charter students have found similar challenges at the regular school. Dunton said he is considering his options.

Colorado K-12 Chief Announces Retirement Amid State Board Shift State EdWatch: State board elections in 2014 led to new members and new tension between Commissioner Robert Hammond and board members, including over the common core and aligned tests.

Federal education department: No reprieve for opt-outs ChalkbeatCO: Federal officials said in a letter to Colorado Education Commissioner Robert Hammond that not holding districts accountable for students who have opted out of tests will hinder efforts to improve schools and reduce inequities.

Questions After Indiana School Stage Collapse Injures 16 AP: Video supplied to The Associated Press by Zach Rader — who was in the audience — and consistent with the AP's reporting shows more than a dozen students dancing and clapping on stage while a female student sings along to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."

Turning a Children’s Rating System Into an Advocacy Army NYT: James Steyer’s nonprofit organization, Common Sense Media, is known for offering parents guidance on games and videos, but he has a grander vision.

AM News: Common Core Balancing Act For Clinton, Christie

Christie Still Straddles Fence on Online Tests, Common Core Standards NJ Spotlight: Gov. Chris Christie yesterday offered some of his most expansive comments – if not an outright defense -- on the new PARCC tests and against the movement that has seen as many as 50,000 students sit out the exams. See also: NJEA to education chief: Don't take away state funds over PARCC opt outs | NJ.com.

Hillary Clinton Has To Be Very Careful When Talking About Common Core  ThinkProgress: If she doesn’t acknowledge concerns on the left that education reform is driven by hedge fund billionaires or that Common Core doesn’t allow for more diverse teaching methods, she will look out of touch. If she does criticize Common Core, she’s associating herself with conservatives such as Paul and Cruz as well, which may earn the ire of some liberals.

Delaware districts ramp up Common Core outreach NewsWorks: To avoid New York’s fate, states are trying to ease parent and teacher anxiety beforehand. New Jersey’s education commissioner, David Hespe, has written op-eds about the new PARCC test and its purpose. Maryland has run PSAs, held summer academies for teachers, offered practice tests to journalists, and even launched a twitter campaign (#PrepareforPARCC).

New York Grants Extension for Teacher Evaluation Phase-In WNYC: Tisch said school districts across the state claimed they wouldn’t be ready in time. So she extended the deadline for approval until September, 2016, directing education department staffers to meet with their counterparts at the governor’s office and the legislature "to find a solution consistent with the intent of the law."

Facebook Group Leaks Images Of New York's Common Core Test HuffPost: The Facebook group, which has since been deleted, has a history of posting content that is critical of the Common Core State Standards, the set of education benchmarks that informed the statewide exam. Some have come to the defense of the rogue Facebook group on Twitter, while others said the group went too far.

NJ Teacher's Union Shuts Down Talks with Christie WNYC: Tom Moran talks about Governor Chris Christie's brief courtship with the New Jersey Education Association, and the governor's comment earlier this week that the union and its legislative supporters are "suing themselves" to fix the issue surrounding pension funds. Advocates Sue a New York School District, Claiming Weak Programs for Refugees NYT: The New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of six refugees in the Utica City district. Law enforcement agencies have pressed New York schools for months to ease enrollment for immigrants.

Only Alternative for Some Students Sitting Out Standardized Tests: Do Nothing NYT: The anti-testing movement is targeting districts that require students not taking the exams to remain quietly in their classrooms and, as opt-out advocates have labeled it, “sit and stare.”

Ex-Oakland supe to head Illinois schools amid Chicago controversy EdSource Today: Smith, who was appointed to the position by the Illinois Board of Education on April 15, resigned unexpectedly from the Oakland Unified School District in April 2013 and left his post two months later. Several prominent large city school superintendents in California have left their posts over the last two years: 

More than 12 hurt as stage collapses at Indiana high school AP: More than a dozen people were injured after a stage filled with students collapsed during a musical performance at a central Indiana high school, authorities said....

AM News: Testing Opponents Publish NY State Exam Pages

Anti-‘Common Core’ activists leak state’s English exam online NY Post: More than three dozen photographs of the exam appeared Wednesday morning on the Facebook page “Education is a journey, not a race — USA,” which has posted screeds against Common Core-linked tests since March 2013.

Pa. schools are the nation’s most inequitable. The new governor wants to fix that. Washington Post: At Martin Luther King High, a hulking half-full school here, there aren’t enough textbooks to go around. If teachers want to make a photocopy, they have to buy paper themselves. Though an overwhelming majority of students are living in poverty, no social worker is available to help. Private donations allow for some dance and music classes, but they serve just 60 of the school’s 1,200 students.

Survey finds many parents know nothing about new Common Core tests KPCC: According to the nonpartisan research group Public Policy Institute of California, 55 percent of public school parents surveyed say they have not heard at all about the new tests that public schools are giving students grade 3 to 8 and grade 11 starting this spring. Another 36 percent say they have heard a little about the tests and only 8 percent say they have heard a lot about the exams.

Bills to Repeal Common Core Hit Roadblocks; Will Reviews Satisfy Foes? State EdWatch: Common-core-repeal bills are failing widely in state legislatures this year, but will bills to review the standards fare any better?

New CPS boss suspends $20.5 million contract that is part of federal probe Tribune: Speaking at the first board meeting since news of the investigation broke last week, both Ruiz and board President David Vitale sought to calm concerns over their support of the controversial contract with an executive-training company tied to schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. She took a leave of absence Monday amid the federal probe, and Ruiz was chosen to become acting CEO.

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AM News: While Common Core Rollback Efforts Falter, Duncan Says He'll Backstop States On Student Opt-Outs

Traction Limited in Rolling Back Common Core EdWeek: To date, 19 states this year have considered bills to repeal the common core, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures—but none has adopted such legislation. In Arizona, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, repeal proposals have lost what amounted to do-or-die votes, while states including Mississippi and West Virginia have changed repeal proposals into legislation requiring a review of the standards instead.

As opt-out numbers grow, Arne Duncan says feds may have to step in ChalkbeatNY:On Tuesday, when asked whether states with many test boycotters would face consequences, Duncan said he expected states to make sure districts get enough students take the tests. “We think most states will do that,” Duncan said during a discussion at the Education Writers Association conference in Chicago. “If states don’t do that, then we have an obligation to step in.”

Jeb Bush's shifting words on Common Core Tampa Bay Times: “I think Secretary Duncan and President Obama deserve credit for putting pressure on states to change, particularly the states that haven’t changed at all. They’re providing carrots and sticks, and I think that’s appropriate. But these thing have to happen at the state level for policy changes, so for New Jersey wants to get rid of last in first out you gotta go to the legislature and get it done."

Duncan: CPS students deserve stability  Chicago Sun-Times: “I just hate that the current CEO is on leave or whatever, whatever that term is,” Duncan said Tuesday at an education writers conference in Chicago. “Before I was here, there was CEO Paul Vallas for about 7 years. I did about 7 1/2, so you had two ..." See also WTTW Chicago Tonight: US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan 

Resentencing for Educators in Test Cheating Scandal in Atlanta AP: A judge plans to resentence three former Atlanta public school educators who received the stiffest sentences after they were convicted in a conspiracy to inflate student scores on standardized tests.

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AM News: Common Core Questions, Pessimistic #ESEA Insiders, Chicago Scandal

Common Core Tests Continue After Server Problems, But With Leeway AP via HuffPost: Limited testing was successful Friday in Nevada for the troubled Common Core assessments, but now the state is offering school districts leeway that could present an unprecedented challenge to the federal testing mandate.

PARCC Opt-Outs Raise Question About Score Validity State EdWatch: There are two testing windows for PARCC, one of two assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. What implications does that have for students who might opt out?

Teachers’ Unions Fight Standardized Testing, and Find Diverse Allies NYT: Often painted as obstacles to improving schools, the unions now find common ground with parents who object to testing and conservatives who oppose the Common Core.

Inside the beltway pessimistic about reauthorization SI&A Cabinet Report: Despite signs of growing bipartisan support for legislation reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 52 percent of Washington’s education stakeholder community says it won’t happen while President Barack Obama is in office.

Federal Probe in Chicago Schools Includes Non-Profit Education Fund District Dossier: Federal officials are reportedly looking into a $20.5 million contract awarded to a company that once employed Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. 

The CPS No-Bid Investigation Spreads to CPEF, Once Chaired By Bruce Rauner  Chicagomag: This script could have been written by CTU President Karen Lewis, or her acting replacement, Jesse Sharkey, or by Rahm's opponent in the second round of the mayor's race, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. 

Local education reporting nets Pulitzer Washington Post: Local education reporting is rarely glamorous, but a team of California journalists has shown that it can be powerful. They revealed that the superintendent of a small school district in Los Angeles County had received excessive compensation and an unusually plush set of perks at the same time tight budgets were forcing teacher layoffs and budget cuts.

 Smart video games can assess kids better than standardized tests, a new book says  Washington Post: A new book is being released on Tuesday titled “The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter.” If you doubt the title, read this post — and then the book.

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AM News: All Eyes On Chicago

Feds eye CPS records on education group backed by state's, city's elites Chicago Tribune: Launched in 2000, the group was first led by then-Chicago Tribune Publisher Scott Smith. Rauner joined the board the next year and later was its chairman before becoming an emeritus member of the board, along with future U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, a former member of the Chicago school board; and current school board President David Vitale.

Murky past of company boss in CPS probe Chicago Sun-Times: Now, Solomon, who wasn't charged with any crime, again finds himself under a harsh spotlight, his business empire at the center of a federal probe.

State board of education member resigns over superintendent hire Tribune: James Baumann, a key member of the Illinois State Board of Education, formally resigned this week, citing concerns about the unusual way the new state school superintendent was chosen.

Chicago schools chief requests temporary leave amid probe WBEZ: Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett requested a leave of absence Friday amid a federal investigation over a $20.5 million no-bid contract the district awarded to a training academy where she once worked as a consultant, according to her attorney.

Chicago Schools Chief Takes Leave AP: Barbara Byrd-Bennett, chief executive of the Chicago Public Schools, will take a paid leave of absence amid a federal investigation into a $20.5 million no-bid contract the district awarded.

Common Core: Test refusal pushed by middle class families LoHud: Districts with a high test participation rate fell into one of two categories — they are either home to a large number of adults with advanced degrees and high household income, or where more than half the students are categorized by the state as "economically disadvantaged."

Anti-Test 'Opt Out' Movement Makes A Wave In New York State NPR: Activists say that about 175,000 students refused to take federally mandated tests last week.

LAUSD, teachers reach tentative agreement KPCC LA: The agreement covering over 31,000 members calls for a 10 percent raise over two years and an re-opener in 2016-2017. The pay raises would be phased in: 4 percent retroactive to July 1 and 2 percent retroactive to Jan. 1 and then 2 percent increases on July 1 of this year and again on Jan. 1, 2016.

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AM News: Testing Snafus In 3 States, Plus NJ Opt-Outs Range From 4 To 15 Percent

Common Core Tests Halted in 3 States Because of Server Issue AP: A problem with a computer server is stopping Common Core testing in Nevada, Montana and North Dakota after a previous technical issue delayed it last month, officials said. See also WSJ: Common Core Testing Optional in Montana.

Montana Lets Schools Cancel Smarter Balanced Testing After Technical Woes State EdWatch: Montana Superintendent Denise Juneau said it would be "in the best interest of our students" to let districts cancel Smarter Balanced testing if necessary.

More Students Opt Out of N.Y. State Exams WSJ: In New Jersey, the average “parental refusal” rate was 4.6% for elementary schools, the state said. The biggest number of opt-outs came in 11th grade, where the combined refusal rate for English language arts and Algebra II was 14.5%.

Senate Committee Makes Progress On Updates To Education Law AP: In all, the committee has passed 24 amendments and defeated six. Dozens more amendments were debated but withdrawn as lawmakers sought to find common ground and leave some of the tougher fights for later.

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AM News: NY Opt-Out Rates, Senate NCLB Markup, Atlanta Sentencing

Some schools see high opt-out rates The Journal News: In Mahopac, some students were kept home by their parents for the duration of the tests and others, who showed up at school, sat in the cafeteria or ..... See also Daily Journal: New York school districts report varying rates of participation in Common Core testing

Senate panel takes up No Child Left Behind rewrite Washington Post: The Senate education panel began marking up a bipartisan bill to replace No Child Left Behind on Tuesday, with Democrats and Republicans going to great lengths to hold together a delicately crafted consensus around the proposal. 

Atlanta Schools Cheating Case Judge Keeps Word on Sentences AP: True to his word, a judge showed mercy to former Atlanta public school educators who accepted responsibility for their role in a widespread conspiracy to inflate student scores on standardized tests. Those who refused to admit guilt and agree to other conditions set by prosecutors, he treated much more harshly. See also NPR: Educators Sentenced To Jail In Atlanta Cheating Scandal, NYT: Atlanta School Workers Sentenced in Test Score Cheating Case

New Jersey Gov. Christie Distances Himself On Common Core WSJ: Gov. Chris Christie said implementing the Common Core wasn't working in New Jersey and that he will likely address the situation in coming weeks, among his strongest comments on the controversial education standards. See also Politico: Hillary Clinton 2016: The long hot summer that turned her into a politician

'Historic': First Katrina state takeover school returns to New Orleans control |  NOLA.com: A couple of School Board charter groups have taken over failed Recovery charters, but this is the first time a takeover school has chosen to return -- after dozens turned down the opportunity. 

In Classroom Discipline, a Soft Approach Is Harder Than It Looks Bright: Restorative justice has been credited with slowing the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Here’s how to ensure it fulfills that promise.

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AM News: You Watch The NCLB Markup, I'll Watch The NY Testing Launch

Senate Attempts To Revise No Child Left Behind Measure NPR: A Senate committee begins work on a bill that would overhaul the education law. That measure — once considered a great uniter of politicians on the left and right — has since become a great divider. See also NPR

Parents Get An Earful on Opting Out of the State Tests WNYC: Last year, 1,925 students opted out, according to the city's Department of Education. In 2012, 113 students opted out of the tests, education officials said.

Some Parents Oppose Standardized Testing on Principle, but Not in Practice NYT: Even parents who are uncomfortable with the exams are discovering that it is hard to push the button on the nuclear option — refusing to have their own children take them.

Atlanta Judge Urges Talks on Sentences in School Cheating Case NYT: Judge Jerry W. Baxter said, he thought an appropriate sentence for educators convicted of altering test scores would mean sending them to jail. But then he had a change of heart. See also Washington Post: Judge urges Atlanta educators to accept plea deals in test cheating case.

Marco Rubio's education plan is pretty much like President Obama's Fusion:  and Obama both support the idea of early childhood education. Rubio even said on CBS' Face the Nation that he thinks programs like Head Start, which Obama has championed, are well-intentioned.

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AM News: Testing Week Begins In New York (This Should Be Fun)

Opting Out of NY State Standardized Tests WNYC:  State standardized tests begin as of April 14th and mark the start of six days of annual exams for New York children in grades three to eight. And we take calls from parents on why they have their kids opt out from the exams.

Al Sharpton an unlikely ally in support of Common Core exams NY Post: Sharpton said a boycott could hurt urban kids and pointed out that neither he nor NAN chapter leaders in upstate cities such as Buffalo and Syracuse were consulted about the opt-out campaign.

5 percent of Portland Public Schools students opt out of Common Core tests Oregon Live: As of Wednesday, about 1,200 of the district's approximately 25,000 test-takers have submitted exemption forms.

Paul touts education issues in public, not on Hill Politico: Paul has sat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee since 2011 and is co-chairman of its subcommittee on children and families, but he seldom attends committee hearings or works on the daily grind of writing letters or authoring bills. Paul did not attend any of the five education hearings held by the committee this year, a POLITICO review has found.

NEA: No Child Left Behind rewrite doesn’t level the playing field Washington Post: The head of the country’s largest teachers union said that her organization does not support a bipartisan proposal in the Senate to replace the nation’s main federal education law because it does not go far enough to create equal educational opportunities for poor children.

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AM News: Florida Sets New Limits On Its Testing Regimen

After Backlash, Florida Puts Limits on Standardized Testing AP: The changes, though not as wide as critics wanted, still represent a departure for Republicans who had fully embraced the reforms championed by Bush during his eight years in office. Bush is touting his reforms in what appears to be a likely presidential campaign. See also State EdWatch: Florida Votes to Cut Tests, Lower Exams' Weight in Teacher Evaluations.

New York teachers hate the idea of outsiders evaluating them. Here’s what happened when D.C. tried it. Hechinger Report: Similar consultants have already evaluated teachers in a handful of other places across the country, including Toledo, Ohio; Montgomery County, Maryland; and, perhaps most notably, Washington, D.C.

State Supreme Court: LAUSD must recalculate charter classroom needs KPCC: The court agreed with LAUSD that classrooms provided for adult education or preschool can be excluded from calculating K-12 class-size average, but it declined to clarify if other school spaces, such as supply rooms, should be used. So while the ruling clarifies how space for charters must be calculated, final numbers from the districts will determine whether charters get any extra real estate or lose ground.

School Discipline: When Local Police Call the Shots WNYC: An investigation from the Center for Public Integrity finds that schools refer racial minorities and students with disabilities to police at rates much higher than their white peers.

Duncan wants new law to include early childhood education, state oversight Washington Post: On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the nation’s main federal education law, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that Congress needs to craft a modern version that stays true to the law’s intent: to create equal educational opportunity for all children.

Emanuel Acknowledges Challenges in 2nd Chicago Mayoral Term AP: His administration now must negotiate a new contract with the Chicago Teachers Union. Its president, Karen Lewis, considered challenging Emanuel but helped recruit Garcia to run after she was diagnosed with cancer. The last round of talks between Emanuel and the union led to Chicago's first teachers strike in 25 years. Tensions deepened the following year in 2013 when Emanuel pushed to close dozens of neighborhood schools.

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AM New: Florida Sets New Limits On Its Testing Regimen

After Backlash, Florida Puts Limits on Standardized Testing AP: The changes, though not as wide as critics wanted, still represent a departure for Republicans who had fully embraced the reforms championed by Bush during his eight years in office. Bush is touting his reforms in what appears to be a likely presidential campaign. See also State EdWatch: Florida Votes to Cut Tests, Lower Exams' Weight in Teacher Evaluations.

New York teachers hate the idea of outsiders evaluating them. Here’s what happened when D.C. tried it. Hechinger Report: Similar consultants have already evaluated teachers in a handful of other places across the country, including Toledo, Ohio; Montgomery County, Maryland; and, perhaps most notably, Washington, D.C.

State Supreme Court: LAUSD must recalculate charter classroom needs KPCC: The court agreed with LAUSD that classrooms provided for adult education or preschool can be excluded from calculating K-12 class-size average, but it declined to clarify if other school spaces, such as supply rooms, should be used. So while the ruling clarifies how space for charters must be calculated, final numbers from the districts will determine whether charters get any extra real estate or lose ground.

School Discipline: When Local Police Call the Shots WNYC: An investigation from the Center for Public Integrity finds that schools refer racial minorities and students with disabilities to police at rates much higher than their white peers.

Duncan wants new law to include early childhood education, state oversight Washington Post: On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the nation’s main federal education law, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that Congress needs to craft a modern version that stays true to the law’s intent: to create equal educational opportunity for all children.

Emanuel Acknowledges Challenges in 2nd Chicago Mayoral Term AP: His administration now must negotiate a new contract with the Chicago Teachers Union. Its president, Karen Lewis, considered challenging Emanuel but helped recruit Garcia to run after she was diagnosed with cancer. The last round of talks between Emanuel and the union led to Chicago's first teachers strike in 25 years. Tensions deepened the following year in 2013 when Emanuel pushed to close dozens of neighborhood schools.

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

Continue reading "AM New: Florida Sets New Limits On Its Testing Regimen" »

Morning Video: This Is What An Opt-Out Protest Looks Like

Watch some Westchester County (NY) parents, teachers, and kids protest against testing above (click the link if the video isn't rendering properly, or read more about the event here). Or watch a DC school get ready for them (via PBS NewsHour) below:

Continue reading "Morning Video: This Is What An Opt-Out Protest Looks Like" »

AM News: Thursday Hodgeppodge

How an underperforming school rallied to turn around test scores and conquer the Common Core PBS NewsHour: It’s pep rally day at Jefferson Middle School in Washington, D.C. There are prizes and gift certificates and lots of cheering, all meant to get children psyched about the high-stakes tests they’re about to take. Sixth grader Nazar Harper says it works.

Panel approves $1b allocation for Common Core SI&A Cabinet Report: A proposal adding $1 billion in state support for schools transitioning to Common Core State Standards won easy passage Wednesday from a key legislative committee.

Take a look inside the 600-page rewrite of No Child Left Behind Washington Post: The bipartisan bill to replace No Child Left Behind that was crafted after months of negotiations between Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would end federal high-stakes testing and grant more power to states to decide what to do about struggling schools and how or whether to evaluate teachers.

Senate’s effort to rewrite NCLB sparks cautious optimism Washington Post: Just about everyone with a stake in public education is weighing in on the Senate’s bipartisan effort to rewrite the nation’s main education law. And while there’s no consensus, a wide range of groups and people are exhibiting cautious optimism that the draft bill released Tuesday could be the first step toward reaching a bipartisan deal in an otherwise gridlocked Congress.

Teachers union starts legal battle to unionize L.A.'s largest charter school group LA Daily News: United Teachers Los Angeles has brought its fight to unionize the city's largest charter school organization to the state's top labor authority.

Teachers sue to join union without paying for political activities Los Angeles Times: An advocacy group has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop teachers unions in California from using member dues for political purposes unless individual instructors provide their permission. 

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

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AM News: Emanuel Wins Chicago Re-Election, Plus Senate ESEA Plan

Rahm Emanuel wins runoff in Chicago Politico: In an interview with The Atlantic, AFT President Randi Weingarten said that forcing Emanuel into a runoff was a win for labor — a point echoed by progressives after the vote. See also Emanuel wins re-election over Garcia in race for Chicago mayor (WBEZ), Emanuel Wins Second Term as Chicago Mayor After Tough Runoff (EdWeek).

Senate Plan to Revise No Child Left Behind Law Would Not Measure Teachers by Test Scores NYT: The proposal retains the requirement for yearly tests, but the federal government would no longer prescribe how the states handle schools with continuously poor scores. See also Sens. Alexander, Murray propose bipartisan measure to replace NCLB (WP), Senators Announce Agreement to Update Education Law (AP).

California teachers unions face new legal challenge over dues Washington Post: Four California teachers are suing their unions over the use of member dues for political activities, opening a new legal front against unions that are already facing a separate challenge to their ability to collect dues from all teachers

Mexican-American Toddlers: Understanding The Achievement Gap  NPR: A new study finds Mexican-American toddlers are lagging behind their white counterparts.

First-Generation Students Unite NYT: These young pioneers, the first in their families in college, speak out about who they are, where they come from and the income inequality on campus.

As new teacher evaluation system looms, NY's Tisch defends need for state tests ChalkbeatNY: As state education officials have been tasked with crafting a new teacher evaluation system, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch on Tuesday continued to defend the need for a state test as a necessary measure to address longstanding inequities.

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AM News: New Union Challenge In CA (Plus Chicago Election)

Another lawsuit challenges teachers unions' dues EdSource: In a statement on Monday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten accused StudentsFirst of hypocrisy. See also SF Chronicle.

How Rahm Emanuel ended up in a fight for his political life Vox: If Garcia manages another upset? The ramifications will go beyond Chicago. The three largest cities in the nation will all have first-term mayors for the first time in generations — first-term mayors elected by populist, left-wing constituencies. And Rahm Emanuel, whose time here has long been seen as a stepping stone to more national ambitions, will be finished.

More Seattle students opt out of new Common Core tests Seattle Times: As many as150 students at one Seattle high school are refusing to take new Common Core tests mandated in Washington. Some teachers from Garfield High, the site of a 2013 testing boycott, are expected to announce their opposition to the tests Tuesday

Nation’s largest teachers union launches ad campaign as Congress debates No Child Left Behind Washington Post: As Congress debates how to rewrite No Child Left Behind, the nation’s largest teachers union is launching a $500,000 ad campaign urging lawmakers to reach a deal that reduces the focus on standardized testing.

How Struggling Schools Can Make Dramatic Improvements In Just A Few Years HuffPost: The CAP brief highlights four schools -- Frederick Douglass High School in Maryland, Leslie County High School in Kentucky, Emerson Elementary School in Kansas and Rose Ferrero Elementary School in California -- and the work they have done to make striking progress over a short time. 

 More news below (and throughout the day via Twitter or Facebook).

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AM News: Common Core Testing Continues (Who's Up Next?)

Online Test-Takers Feel Anti-Cheating Software’s Uneasy Glare NYT: School administrators say for online learning to be legitimate, testing has to be monitored. Proctortrack is a new anti-cheating program being used by some universities.

In the Name of Fairness, Special Needs Students Struggle Through Testing WNYC: Federal law requires that students with disabilities have access to the same material as their non-disabled peers, including state tests. But the end result may not be fair after all.

Readers: How our students spent their opt-out time ChalkbeatTN: We heard from people all over the state and the responses were varied. Some parents kept their students at home for the few hours student took the exams while others spent that time in the library working on homework.

First year of PARCC testing was no picnic for Ohio schools Columbus Dispatch: As Ohio schools transition to new, tougher state tests, this is bound to be a trying year, experts say. Scheduling struggles, glitches on the online tests and other issues are going to come up in the first year, said Chad Aldeman, associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit research and advisory group based in Washington.

Parents launch petition to take control at 20th Street Elementary LA Times: In this instance, parents say they want a district-managed pilot school, which would incorporate some of the freedoms of a charter school. Those campuses typically operate under a simpler union contract and teachers must opt in to the school’s new efforts. If they don’t prove a good fit, they can be forced to transfer to another campus.

The education model that fell apart Capital New York: Once considered a gold standard of charter operations, two Brighter Choice middle schools were closed by the state’s Charter Schools Institute after just five years in operation, because 80 percent of the students were not proficient in English and math. Other charter schools in Albany, including an all-girls high school with a graduation rate of 51 percent, could be shuttered in the near future for poor performance.

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

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AM News: Cuomo, Christie, & Union Division Over Common Core

Cuomo: Budget Was Victory Over 'Formidable' Opposition WNYC: Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a victory lap on Wednesday, claiming the new state budget includes a better teacher evaluation system despite tough opposition from the teachers union.

Christie and Teachers Spar Over Benefits WSJ: Gov. Chris Christie was confronted by multiple protesters during a town-hall meeting here Tuesday and undertook a long back-and-forth with a public-school teacher angry about his push to scale back pension and health benefits for state workers.

As NYSUT endorses testing opt-outs, city union holds back Chalkbeat Indiana:  Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.6 million-member American Federation of Teachers, of which NYSUT and the UFT are both affiliates, quickly jumped in. She posted online that she would boycott New York’s tests if she had children in the public schools.

Stumping for Chuy, AFT's Weingarten says Garcia won't make 'scorched earth ... Chicago Sun-Times: Randi Weingarten told the crowd at a City Club of Chicago lunch that Garcia “understands that when it comes to making tough choices, communities are not our enemy — they need to be our partners.” 

11 Ex-Atlanta Public School Employees Found Guilty In Cheating Scandal NPR: AThey were found guilty of conspiracy when they switched student test scores. The verdicts close a dark chapter for the school system and the city of Atlanta. One defendant, a teacher, was acquitted. See also NYT (Atlanta Educators Convicted in School Cheating Scandal), AP (11 Educators Convicted In Atlanta Test Cheating Conspiracy), NewsHour (How cheating on standardized tests can be a criminal act).

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

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AM News: Rabbit, Rabbit (No Fooling!)

New York Budget Increases School Funding, Amends Teacher Eval Rules WNYC: Under deadline pressure, Democrats in Albany reluctantly agreed to a deal on how teachers are evaluated despite opposition from educators and policy makers acrossdiv the state.

Cuomo Gets Deals on Tenure and Evaluations of Teachers NYT: The final budget bill, to be voted on Tuesday, also includes new measures for improving chronically struggling schools.

Arne Duncan Gives Five States 'Early Bird' Renewal of NCLB Waivers Education Week: The five states that applied early—under a special, fast-track process—for renewal of their No Child Left Behind Act waivers have all gotten approved by the U.S. Department of Education Tuesday.

Half the Teachers in America Use One App to Track Kids WNYC: What data security and privacy obligations do techies have to today's kids? Legally speaking, for the most part, it's what they set for themselves.

The Perfect Classroom, According to Science Bright: It’s bright, quiet, and 72 degrees. And it makes every student feel valued.

States Use Cameras To Crack Down On School Bus Scofflaws HuffPost: At least 12 other states—Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia—have laws that authorize the use of cameras on the outside of buses to catch fly-by drivers, according to the NCSL.

Poverty linked to brain structure in children, new research shows Washington Post: A provocative new study suggests that poverty affects brain structure in children and teenagers, with children growing up in the poorest households having smaller brains than those who live in affluence.

Time to cool it with bashing schools SI&A Cabinet: Before the upcoming presidential race’s political climate gets too warm, let’s moderate the heated rhetoric about the dismal state of American education with some cold facts and careful analysis.

Michelle Obama Delivers Inspiring Speech at Black Girls Rock! Event AThe Root: The star-studded event, which occurred against the backdrop of Women's History Month, was co-hosted by actresses Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King, who helped celebrate the accomplishments of women of color in education, social justice, music...

AM News: Common Core Critics Losing, Warren Supporters Split Labor

Common Core Critics Are Loud But Losing Governing: Most states are now four or five years into the process. Ending Common Core would mean a lot of wasted effort and money. In places like Indiana, the brand name may have gotten dropped, but the essential elements remain intact. This spring, standardized tests based on the standards are being rolled out in schools all over the country. 

Top liberals call for Warren candidacy Politico: Most labor leaders have yet to weigh in, but many have a long history with Clinton and some have appeared with her at recent events. Just last week, Clinton spoke on a panel in Washington co-sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which endorsed her early in her failed bid for the 2008 nomination. She sat next to AFSCME President Lee Saunders, and close by the American Federation of Teachers’ Randi Weingarten.

AFT’s Anti-Rahm Spend Dropout Nation: Within the last month, AFT has directly and indirectly supported Garcia’s quest to unseat Emanuel to the tune of $649,503.20. This includes a massive $300,000 donation to Garcia’s campaign on March 12, along with another  $349,503.20 spent on get-out-the-vote efforts on the challenger’s behalf.

Stretching One Great Teacher Across Many Classrooms NPR: A Nashville middle school is test-driving a big idea: To put a great teacher in charge of multiple classrooms.

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

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Events: Live-Tweeting From Yale

I'm at @yaleELC #backtowhy today, mostly on Twitter (Snapchatting an event is not so easy or fun as it sounds). You can check out all the updates here, or on Facebook (Alexander Russo), or directly on Twitter (@alexanderrusso). You won't miss a thing, plus you can see the fun things people Tweet at me all day. 

AM News: Meet Laurene Powell Jobs, Education Kingmaker?

Laurene Powell Jobs linked to Jeb and Hillary Business Insider:  Business Insider obtained Powell-Jobs' resignation letter from a source. In the letter, which was personally addressed to Bush and began "Dear Jeb," Powell-Jobs attributed her decision to leave the foundation's board of directors dto time commitments.

How do schools respond to competition? Not as you might expect. Washington Post: The school-choice movement is built on the philosophy that competition forces schools to improve.But new research on New Orleans — arguably the nation’s most competitive school market — suggests that school leaders are less likely to work on improving academics than to use other tactics in their efforts to attract students.

Evaluation stalemate, looming changes fuel teacher frustration ChalkbeatNY: The future of teacher evaluations in New York state appears more unclear than ever. With six days left to craft an on-time state budget, lawmakers have only just begun to seriously negotiate how to overhaul the state’s nascent teacher-grading system.

Technology is the focus of first-time Smarter Balanced implementation Concord Monitor: Schools are used to administering standardizedtests, but the tests corresponding to theCommon Core State Standards are a new experience for both... 

Bill would let parents initiate school reform process Tennessean: Currently, the state does not identify schools in the bottom 10 percent but does identify schools in the bottom 5 percent based on academic achievement. Most of the schools in the bottom 5 percent, known as priority schools, are in Davidson County and Shelby County.

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

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AM News: NEA Says "Let's Get This [Presidential Campaign] Party Started"

Nation’s largest labor union: We want 2016 hopefuls talking about schools Washington Post: The National Education Association, the largest U.S. labor union, is pushing to make public schools a front-burner domestic issue throughout the 2016 presidential race, union leaders said Wednesday. “We have 3 million members who want desperately to know what the candidates have to say to really, seriously improve public education,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García told reporters. “We intend to activate those 3 million members, the parents, even the students. See also Huffington Post, EdWeek (anyone else).

Unions and Garcia push for $15-an-hour minimum wage WBEZ Chicago: Garcia, members of the CTU, and activists with the national movement “Fight for 15” rallied outside the Chicago Board of Education Wednesday. They want all companies who do business with Chicago Public Schools to agree to a wage increase.

LAUSD educators typically earned $75,504 last year LADN: The typical Los Angeles Unified educator collected $75,504 in 2014, according to pay records obtained by this news organization ­-- the first time the school district has released the pay and name of every employee. [yikes!]

About 20,000 sign in favor of teacher-evaluation bill Seattle Times: Parents delivered a petition to legislative leaders in Olympia on Tuesday supporting a bill that would require student scores on state tests to be used in evaluating teachers.

New York Dreamers Begin Hunger Strike As State Budget Deadline Looms Huffington Post: A group of 10 undocumented youths launched a hunger strike Wednesday, vowing to pressure New York lawmakers to put funding for a proposed state version of the Dream Act back into next year's budget. 

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

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AM News: Squeezing Clinton, Cheerleading "Chuy," & NCLB "No Go"?

Hillary Clinton Caught Between Teachers and Wealthy Donors NYT: The pressure Hillary Rodham Clinton faces shows the demands she will have to contend with on a number of divisive domestic issues that flared up during the Obama administration.

In Washington, it's 'Viva Chicago' for Garcia Chicago Sun-Times: "So there is a real choice here,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is saying at a Tuesday fundraiser for mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia at a townhouse a few blocks from the Capitol.

Connecticut education official resigns after insulting Obama, Holder, Sharpton New Haven Register: A Norwalk Board of Education member is resigning in response to criticism of a Facebook posting that featured obscenity-laced invective against the Rev. Al Sharpton and insults targeted at President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

GOP lawmaker: I’m short votes for No Child Left Behind rewrite Washington Post: Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), the chairman of the House education panel, said Tuesday that he is still a “handful” of votes short to pass his GOP bill to replace No Child Left Behind, the main federal education law. 

GOP's John Kasich Isn't Backing Off 'Core' Support WSJ via RCE: If Gov. John Kasich is going to run for president, he doesnt seem likely to trim his sails on the hot-button issue of Common Core education standards.

2 Maryland students caught cheating on PARCC exam WBAL Baltimore: Education officials said they learned earlier this month that the students posted test questions to their Twitter accounts. 

Charter Leader Moskowitz Defends Her Policies, Won't Say if She's Running for Mayor WNYC: In an interview on WNYC's Brian Leher Show, charter school leader and lightning rod Eva Moskowitz defended her schools and her policy of not filling empty seats in upper grades. See also Moskowitz Weighs InMoskowitz addresses backfill and test prep critiques

Cuomo Drops Dream Act and Education Tax Credit From Budget NYT: A spokeswoman for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that the Dream Act, which would allow high school graduates who are undocumented immigrants to apply for state aid to college, might have to be taken up later.

Blind Kids, Touchscreen Phones, and the End of Braille? NPR: Touchscreen phones work so well for blind people that Braille may become obsolete. But advocates worry this could render the next generation "functionally illiterate."

Maryland begins to consider requests to waive school days lost to snow Washington Post: Maryland officials will begin considering requests for waivers that would forgive school systems for canceling up to three days of classes during the winter’s snow and ice. The Maryland State Board of Education gave the go-ahead at its Tuesday meeting, saying that State Superintendent Lillian M. Lowery could decide such requests on a case-by-case basis.

Young Girls Are Much, Much Better Readers Than Boys, And Have Been For A Long Time HuffPost: The gap between boys' and girls' respective reading abilities has been getting a lot of attention lately, but the trend itself is not new.

AM News: It's Tuesday - You Make The Headline

Giuliani and de Blasio Form Unlikely Alliance on New York City Schools NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, both signed an appeal to state legislators to reauthorize mayoral control of the city’s schools.

In Congress, New Attention To Student-Privacy Fears NPR: A House bill seeks to restrict what private companies can do with information collected on students.

Obama To Young Scientists: 'Keep Asking Why' HuffPost: About 20 young scientists were honored on Monday, including Sophia Sánchez-Maes of Las Cruces, New Mexico, a high school senior who has studied algae as a potential fuel source, and Harry Paul of Port Washington, New York, who is now in his first year at Tufts and designed a new type of spinal implant after undergoing multiple surgeries for his own spine curvature.

Duncan: Teacher Preparation Lacks Resources, Focus TeacherBeat: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talked with the state supes on March 23 about a lot of different things, including the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Improving teacher prep was one area in which he said there hadn't been enough progress.

Schwarzenegger Continues After-School Education 'Crusade' AP: At a national summit in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Schwarzenegger will join education, business and law enforcement leaders in demanding that any bill passed continue after-school funding. A proposed House bill eliminated the so-called 21st Century Community Learning Centers along with 68 other programs in favor of a flexibility grant that would allow states how to decide to use funds.

During PARCC testing, some schools losing art, music, other ‘specials’ Chicago Sun-Times
Critics of this new test molded to common core standards have complained that it deprives children of classroom learning, and that, between preparation and conditions children need to test well, it takes over the whole school.

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

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AM News: NYC Teachers, Duncan In Philly, & End In Atlanta

Cuomo Fights Rating System in Which Few Teachers Are Bad NYT: Less than 1 percent of teachers in New York State were rated ineffective over all, and principals’ evaluations are often responsible for the high scores. See also: More Unwanted Teachers Leave System Under de Blasio WNYC.

Jurors Resume Deliberating Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Case NPR: Twelve ex-educators are accused of changing students' test scores in a scandal dating back to 2009. Jurors have six months of evidence to go through, including testimony from more than 130 witnesses.

No Child Left Behind Law Faces Its Own Reckoning NYT: A rewrite could collapse in partisan disarray. But it could also herald a new era of education, keeping some testing but eliminating prescriptive punishments.

Ed Secretary Arne Duncan on Pa.'s funding gap between rich, poor schools is ... Philly.com: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday that Pennsylvania does the worst job in the nation of funding low-income school districts. "The state of Pennsylvania is 50th, dead last, in terms of the inequality between how wealthy school districts ...

How a wheelchair challenge mobilized a high school to become more accessible PBS NewsHour: How one student’s efforts changed his high school in Texas and made it more accessible for people with disabilities. It’s the subject of nationally recognized video from our Student Reporting Lab in Austin and tells the story of Archer Hadley, a teenager with cerebral palsy who mobilized the entire school community.

How one California superintendent changed troubled schools Hechinger Report: Christopher Steinhauser has been the superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District in Southern California for 13 years. Made famous by the movie Freedom Writers, which told the story of novice teacher Erin Gruwell reaching her troubled students in the early 1990s through writing...

Parent Advisory Council Members in Conn. Sue Local Superintendent, Board EdWeek: Some parents claim Bridgeport school district leaders are trying to silence their criticism by removing them from their District Parent Advisory Council posts.

Kansas Schools Fight Plays Out Against Backdrop of Debate on Judiciary NYT: A state appellate court has suggested that it might block a school financing plan that lawmakers passed; Republican leaders say the court is overstepping its bounds.

A Donation Site Where Schools Can Pass The Hat NPR: For the last 15 years, DonorsChoose.org has helped teachers like Vanderford raise more than $310 million — with more than half of those donations going to America's poorest schools.

Former charter schools CEO earning $250K as Rauner's adviser WBEZ Chicago: For weeks, Beth Purvis' role in the administration had been somewhat of a mystery. There was no formal announcement when she was hired, and during a House education committee meeting earlier this month, she stood and introduced herself when someone on the panel asked if anyone from the governor's office was in attendance.

 A High School Where a Student Might Letter in Polo NYT: Officials at the elite, private Oxbridge Academy say its polo team will serve as a democratizer, uniting children of different economic backgrounds.

AM News: Parent Trigger 2015, Plus Social Media Monitoring

Parent-trigger showdowns loom nationwide Hechinger Report: Lawmakers around the country are gearing up for showdowns against teachers unions and school administrators who are seeking to squash a new round of education bills that would create and strengthen so-called “parent trigger” laws. Parent-trigger bills exist in some form in seven states, and have been rejected in more than two dozen others. Tennessee and Texas are their primary targets in 2015. See also Texas Tribune, EdWeek, Chalkbeat.

Student Privacy Debate Dominates Assembly Panel’s Meeting on PARCC Tests NJ Spotlight: For close to an hour, the department’s chief counsel and its investigations director defended the practices as legal and appropriate, and said security measures being taken are necessary to maintain the integrity of the exam. At issue specifically is the practice by Pearson, through subcontractor Caveon Test Security, of scanning social media for possible messages by students divulging the contents of the exams. See also: Test security now means checking social media for cheaters.

Mayor De Blasio Defends His School Improvement Plan WNYC: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio makes the case that struggling schools have a better chance of turning around with his approach than with the plan proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. See also HuffPost: Andrew Cuomo's Approval Rating Drops To New Low.

Alabama Lawmakers Pass Charter School Bill EdWeek: The Black Alliance for Educational Options calls Alabama's charter school legislation a "victory" for parents and community members.

Texas Ready to Dump High School Steroids Testing Program AP: After years of catching few cheaters, Texas ready to dump high school steroids testing program.

In addressing food allergies, some Chicago schools fall through the cracks WBEZ Chicago: It’s a typical day in the Ravenswood Elementary cafeteria on Chicago’s North Side. Middle schoolers catch up with friends, make jokes and chow down on a mishmosh of cafeteria food and brown bag lunches.

More news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

AM News: Anti-Cuomo Protests In NYC, Republican Union Endorsement In LAUSD

At widespread anti-Cuomo protests, parents and teachers to join hands Chalkbeat New York:  City teachers union president Michael Mulgrew and his predecessor, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, will speak at the morning rally at Park Slope's P.S. 10, which is known for its presence in the movement to opt out of state...

UTLA one step closer to endorsing a Republican in Schmerelson LA School Report: Members of the teachers union political action committee, PACE, are recommending to the full committee an endorsement for Schmerelson in his bid to unseat the two-time incumbent Tamar Galatzan, pledging to work tirelessly to remove her from the school board.

California suspends other standards for Common Core, for now AP: One set of California school standards has temporarily fallen victim to another. California's school accountability system and its new Common Core academic standards were put head-to-head on Wednesday, and Common Core won. See also NPR: Ditching The Common Core Brings A Big Test For Indiana, PBS NewsHour: Why some students are refusing to take the Common Core test.

Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread Haphazardly NYT: Apps and other software can put powerful teaching tools at teachers’ fingertips, but concerns abound over data security, effectiveness and marketing.

The new digital classroom, brought to you by SXSW Marketplace Learning Curve: One area that's getting a lot of attention is "making."  The “Playground” area of SXSWedu was full of products focused on kids building things, using 3D doodlers and Lego robots. 

Did school board violate Sunshine Law with private Arne Duncan huddle? Palm Beach Post: The Palm Beach Post's education reporting team of Andrew Marra and Sonja Isger notes that, notwithstanding Florida's Sunshine Law, five of seven Palm Beach County school board members met privately Monday with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan

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

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AM News: As Testing Continues, Jindal & Bush Joust Over Common Core

Jindal Rips Iowa Ads That Are Seen As Defending Bush BuzzFeed News: “If voters want to vote for someone who’s pro-Common Core, they’re going to have an opportunity to do that in this election,” Jindal tells BuzzFeed News. See also NYT.

More California parents exercise right to skip standardized tests KCRA Sacramento: According to the California Department of Education, fewer than 7,400 parents declined the STAR test (the previous test) in 2013. That's out of the 4.7 million students who took it. Officials said they did not have opt-out numbers for 2014, when the CAASPP was administered on a trial basis. 

Common Core tests running smoothly at Alice Ott Middle School, aside from minor glitches OregonLive:  The first 15 to 20 minutes of testing were somewhat "shaky," Johnston said. A few students were booted off of the system and needed help getting signed in again. Other students had issues finding the volume button for headphones used for audio portions or needed individual computer preferences to be updated.  But aside from those minor glitches, Johnston said the test has gone smoothly.

New Colorado tests debut with both problems and progress Denver Post: Early reports show large numbers of test opt-outs in Boulder high schools. Nearly one in four high schoolers due to be tested in the Cherry Creek district refused PARCC, with Cherry Creek High accounting for nearly 70 percent of the refusals, the district said.

As Students Opt Out of Common Core Exams, Some Say Movement Is Not About Testing US News: Teach Plus, a nonprofit focused on placing effective teachers in urban schools, on Tuesday released a survey  of more than 1,000 teachers in Boston, Chicago, Memphis, Nashville and the District of Columbia who evaluated sample PARCC questions. More than three-quarters – 79 percent – of teachers said the test items were better than what their states used to have, but there were mixed results on whether they were grade-appropriate or too challenging. See also Hechinger Report: Can the new tests quell teacher anger over Common Core?

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AM News: Week 2 Of Common Core Testing Started Off Fairly Smoothly

NM's first PARCC test goes smoothly Albuquerque Journal: Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) was created by a consortium of states to measure knowledge of the Common Core standards

Common Core test debuts in Oregon, prompting stepped-up teaching, fears it will be too hard  OregonLive.com: Sixth grader Porter Stewart works on a writing assessment to help him prepare for the dauntingCommon Core test that will be given to 300,000...

Calls for opt-out bill continue as Illinois starts PARCC test Sun-Times: No major snafus were reported in the city or on the state level, although Mollison and Morrill elementary schools had some minor glitches, district spokesman Bill McCaffrey said. Otherwise CPS reported a “smooth start to testing,” he said, “with the exception of some minor tech issues, such as popup blockers.”

Federal education chief: Some kids are over-tested Sun Sentinel: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke to a crowd of more than 500 on his vision for education and his push to fix the federal No Child Left Behind Act at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach as part of an event by the Forum Club of the Palm 

Education interests to pour money into Democratic primary Philly.com:  AFT president Randi Weingarten, asked whether her union will make independent expenditures to influence the Philadelphia mayor's race, said she was "deeply concerned" about the state of schools here.

With Jesse Jackson's Chuy Garcia Endorsement, Black Leaders Begin to Unite ... In These Times:  has come out strongly against Emanuel's policies in all of these areas, and has the backing of the powerful Chicago Teachers Union and its president Karen Lewis. However, longstanding tensions and distrust between the city's black and Latino ...

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AM News: Week 2 Of Common Core Testing Begins

Hand scorers sought for online Common Core tests EdSource Today: Tests are computerized, but humans needed to score critical thinking. See also Columbus Dispatch: New standardized tests go deeper but chew up time, Miami Herald, THE Journal, Orlando Sentinel.

Unions, Charter Supporters Eyeing Los Angeles Board Runoffs Teacher Beat: The fallout from runoff elections, to be held in May, could influence contract negotiations with the city teachers' union.

NY charter movement vies for dominance with teachers unions AP: Charter schools and their supporters, meanwhile, poured money into the fight. The group Families for Excellent Schools reported more than $9 million in lobbying expenses in 2014. NYSUT reported less than $4 million.

Charter School in Miami Fails, but Proves Useful on Jeb Bush’s Résumé NYT: The Liberty City Charter School, the first of its kind in Florida and a pioneer in what became a national movement, is now defunct.

Chronic truancy in D.C. high schools still rampant despite new laws Washington Post: Despite intensified efforts to improve school attendance rates in D.C. Public Schools, more than half of high school students — 56 percent —were considered ”chronically truant” during the 2013-2014 school year, after accumulating 10 or more unexcused absences, according to a report scheduled to be released Monday by the Children’s Law Center and D.C. Lawyers for Youth. See also Marshall Project.

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AM News: Big Action In New York, LA, & Boston (Yes, Boston)

A Charter School Rally Duels With Teachers’ Unions in Albany NYT: Charter schools and teachers’ unions from New York City gathered for competing events and to press their causes in Albany. See also ChalkbeatNYWNYC, Albany Times Union

Election sets stage for L.A. Unified battle LA Times: The election results were not exactly the outcome the union had hoped for. A charter schools group, which emerged as a major force in the elections, made significant strides. In a contest that United Teachers Los Angeles fought hard to win, union-backed incumbent Bennett Kayser finished second to charter school founder Ref Rodriguez. See also LA School Report.

Boston Selects New Superintendent of Schools District Dossier: The city's education officials chose Tommy Chang, an instructional superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District, from a field of four finalists. See also Boston Globe.

New 'Consumer Reports' for Common Core finds learning materials lacking Washington Post:  The initial report posted Wednesday examined materials that have at least a 10 percent market share and were endorsed by at least two states that said the materials were aligned with the Common Core.

GOP Education Chairman Anticipates Vote on Education Bill AP: Kline said he was "taken by surprise" by the opposition he says appears to have been fueled largely by a blog that said the bill would solidify the use of the standards and insert government control into private schools. Kline said the bill would do neither. He said opposition from the Heritage Action for America and Club for Growth also contributed to members' concerns.

Around The World, This Is How Girls And Boys Are Stacking Up Against Each Other In School HuffPost: Girls are now going to school longer than boys and significantly outperform boys in reading. Across countries examined in the report, boys are more likely to post low scores in math, reading and science. See also Washington Post.

More Children Eat Fruit in School, Study Shows NYT: The study found that from the time new nutritional guidelines went into effect in 2012 through last year, the percentage of students choosing fruits increased to 66 percent from 54 percent.

Body cameras for cops but classrooms too? SI&A Cabinet Reoprt:  Instances of children with little to no verbal skills facing verbal or physical abuse at the hands of a special education instructor or a class aid have been documented even though it can be difficult for those children to express that he or she needs help.  

AM News: Pockets Of Trouble For FL District Testing; CA Is Up Next

School Districts Report Second Day Of Testing Problems StateImpact FL:  The Tampa Bay Times reports Tampa-area schools had to suspend some testing for a second day. Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho says he won’t resume testing until the state can prove everything is working. Palm Beach school also will not test students on Wednesday. See also Bradenton Herald: State testing in Manatee County sees online delay but no need to suspend testing, ABC7 Common Core testing begins in California next week.

LAUSD Board Members in Runoff NBC SoCal: Los Angeles Unified School District board members Tamar Galatzan, Bennett Kayser and Richard Vladovic will have to compete in a May 19 runoff election as they fight to retain their seats, while incumbent George McKenna won re-election thanks to having no challengers. See also LA Times: One incumbent trails charter-school backed challenger in L.A. board balloting.

Taking the same road to Albany, education lobbying events on divergent paths ChalkbeatNY:  They’re lobbying with the same goal in mind — to push policies that will improve public education — but what they’re asking for couldn’t look more different. Here are four things to know about Wednesday’s festivities.

School Agenda Bedevils Chicago Mayor in Race NYT: As Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago faces an unexpected runoff election, it is his education agenda that threatens his political future. See also Tribune: Emanuel says CPS had no choice but to back down in testing controversy.

Chris Christie’s bold plan to remake public schools is running into trouble Washington Post: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went on a publicity blitz when he vowed to fix this city’s struggling schools with the most expansive re-engineering of urban education anywhere in the country.He told Oprah Winfrey in 2010 that Newark would become a “national model.”  See also HuffPost: Unions Say They'll Sue Christie Again Over Pension Payments, Courier Post: Gov. Chris Christie's shifting position on Common Core.

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