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AM News: Common Core, Charter Groups Spending Big In Iowa & NY

Pro-Common Core Group Tops Political Ad Spending in Iowa via Sunlight Foundation: The advertising campaigns have not targeted a particular candidate, but there is no doubt it benefits former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who is announcing his campaign next week and will travel to Iowa on Wednesday, June 17 for an event at the Molengracht Plaza in Pella at 5:15p.  The ads will also benefit the only other prospective candidate who hasn’t backed away from Common Core, Ohio Governor John Kasich who is coming to speak at a Greater Des Moines Partnership event on June 24th.

NY groups spend more than $13 million to push education reform NYDN: The study from Hedge Clippers, a union-backed activist group, says New York City-based Families for Excellent Schools has spent more than $10 million on ads and lobbying since January 2014 to lift the charter school cap and allow for the creation of more of the publicly funded, privately run schools.

Fairfax County Supervisor Gross fights off challenger in Democratic primary Washington Post: in the last quarter, Swanson outraised Gross nearly four to one, mostly due to a large donation from Leadership for Educational Equity, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that helps teachers and other educators run for public office.

House Looks to Resurrect ESEA Bill for Action as Early as Next Week PK12: The stalled renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act could start moving again in the U.S. House of Representatives, sources say.

As Congress debates No Child Left Behind: Who should decide which schools are failing kids? Washington Post: From Rand Paul on the right to Elizabeth Warren on the left, members of the Senate education committee pushed aside their policy disagreements earlier this spring when they voted unanimously in favor of a bipartisan revision to the widely reviled No Child Left Behind law.

Fact Checking Gov. Scott Walker on His Education Record PK12: Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., is expected to announce his presidential candidacy really, really soon. So exactly what might his education platform be? And how have his policies played out in Wisconsin? See also APJS Online

Former Florida governor’s reforms – acclaimed by Obama – may become a liability Hechinger Report: When he was asked about the Common Core during his recent visit to Iowa – a sparsely populated state that nonetheless enjoys great influence because it’s the first to select the parties’ nominees for president – Bush never referred to the initiative by name, and insisted that he opposed the federal government’s meddling in education.

What Can We Learn From the Investing in Innovation Program Five Years Out? PK12: The Investing in Innovation program will have been worthwhile, even if some of the grantees haven't yielded the results they were initially hoping for, a top official at the Department said.

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AM News: LA School Board Retreats On College-Ready Course Requirement

 As 22,000 students risk not graduating, LAUSD board eases requirements KPCC: The school board is modifying a commitment made a decade ago to require so-called A-G courses, the classes required to become eligible for University of California and California State University entry, to earn a high school diploma. See also LA Times.

Senate Gears Up for ESEA Floor Debate PK12: Alexander said that he and his staff have been working in close concert with the President Obama and his staff on substance of the reauthorization. See also NatJourn: Sen. Alexander Vows to Block new Obama Education Regulations

Raising Graduation Rates With Questionable Quick Fixes NPR: The nation's high school graduation rate is at a record-high 81 percent. Why? Because states are doing good things ... or using some sleight of hand. [does ECCA fix/address this?]

Duncan: Soon-to-be educators need more time in classroom Chalkbeat New York: Denver Public Schools is “way ahead of the curve” in teacher preparation due in part to the Student Teacher Residency program offered through the University of Colorado Denver, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

Oregon Opt-Out Bill Could Lead to Loss of Federal Dollars, Ed. Dept. Warns PK12: The state's House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill that would inform parents twice a year of their right to exempt children from standardized tests.

Student poverty, lack of parental involvement cited as teacher concerns Washington Post: Student poverty is a major barrier to learning, according to teachers polled in a new national survey of educators released Tuesday. Lack of parental involvement and overtesting were also identified as big problems, as well as student apathy, according to an online Public Opinion Strategies survey of 700 elementary and secondary teachers across the country.

Hillary Clinton makes a promise to union leaders: I'll listen to teachers Washington Post: Hillary Rodham Clinton told the president of the National Education Association that she would listen to teachers if elected president, a simple promise Monday that impressed the president of the nation's largest labor union.

Weingarten, de Blasio to announce five-city 'compact' Capital New York: American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten will announce a compact with five cities to increase career and technical education offerings in New York City this Thursday, and will be joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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AM News: This Week, Hillary Clinton Meets With The NEA

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Hillary Clinton Meets With NEA, Talks Testing, Accountability
 PK12: With the AFT, she talked about the importance of teachers, and made it clear that they shouldn't be "scapegoats" for broader problems in K-12.  And in speaking to the NEA, Monday Clinton sounded, perhaps, a shade or two more skeptical of standardized testing than she has in the past. And she hit on another issue that many parents and educators (and their unions) consider critical: the need to invest in arts, music, and other enrichment classes, alongside academics.

Hillary Clinton makes a promise to union leaders: I’ll listen to teachers Washington Post: The NEA will make its candidate videos and questionnaires available to its members, according to Carrie Pugh, the union’s political director. NEA leaders have not decided if the union will make an endorsement before the primaries, Garcia said.

MI bill reduces impact of test scores on teacher evals  SI&A Cabinet Report: Although many support the move toward allowing for more local control, others are concerned that the bill could stall progress districts have already begun to make in upgrading their evaluation systems.

Teachers union continues to push for class-size funding Seattle Times: Even as lawmakers are on track to limit the school class-size reduction measure that voters approved last November, the state’s largest teacher union continues to push for full funding of Initiative 1351. I-1351 requires the state to reduce K-12 class sizes and would cost billions of dollars, though it didn’t come with a way to […]

Arkansas Poised to Drop PARCC's Common-Core Test in Favor of ACT State EdWatch: Arkansas was one of 10 states, along with the District of Columbia, to use the PARCC test in the 2014-15 school year.

Public versus private schools: Who goes where, by state Washington Post:  The proportion of children who attend public school ranges widely from state to state, from a low of 79 percent in the District of Columbia and Hawaii to 93 percent in Wyoming and Utah, according to the Education Law Center’s annual school funding report, released Monday.

This Summer, The Cafeteria Comes To The Kids NPR: Twenty-one million kids eat free and reduced-price meals throughout the school year, but getting them fed during the summer is a challenge. So some school districts are getting creative in the way they're using USDA funds: Murfreesboro City Schools is taking the cafeteria to the kids. The district calls it the Combating Hunger on Wheels Bus — or the CHOW bus.

Where Does a Transgender Child Fit In at School? WNYC: Confident and social, Q said he feels at ease in his classroom. And his peers have helped him move comfortably from identifying as a girl to a boy. He transitioned over the course of second grade. That’s when he started to more regularly dress in boy clothes and dropped his given name in order to go only by his first initial.

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AM News: Reports Show Inadequate & Inequitable Access To Well-Funded Schools & Qualified Teachers

Nation's 'Disinvestment' in Public Schools Is Crippling Poor Students, Reports Say State EdWatch: Are prominent school funding advocates satisfied that states are now giving schools robust and well-targeted financial support? Not even close. See also Washington Post, Huffington Post.

Access to New York’s top teachers still unequal, state report shows ChalkbeatNY: While less than 1 percent of teachers in the whitest and most affluent quartile of schools were deemed “not highly qualified” — because they lacked an appropriate college degree or teaching license — that rate was between 6.9 percent and 8.8 percent in less affluent schools.

Hillary Clinton Traces Friendly Path, Troubling Party NYT: Mrs. Clinton’s aides say it is the only way to win in an era of heightened polarization, when a declining pool of voters is truly up for grabs. Her liberal policy positions, they say, will fire up Democrats, a less difficult task than trying to win over independents in more hostile territory — even though a broader strategy could help lift the party with her.

Common Core side effect: New PE teachers allow for collaboration time EdSource: Back from near extinction, physical education specialists are being hired by a smattering of districts to take over P.E. duties from elementary classroom teachers, who after years of teaching physical education themselves are now being freed up for Common Core lesson planning.

Ohio School District Bets on Technology in Creating New Learning Model wsj: The shop has 3-D printers and a laser cutter, and Ms. Green works there as an intern for the school. During the school year, she helped teachers incorporate the machines into their lessons.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visits New Dorp High School SI Live: Duncan paid his second visit to New Dorp on Friday to see how far the school has come since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. More than 365 students and some three-dozen faculty members at New Dorp suffered losses from Sandy.

Oregon Has The Lowest Graduation Rate In The Country. Preschool Could Fix That. NPR: Oregon has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country — just shy of 69 percent in 2013. The number has nudged up in recent years, but advocates say to make big improvements, Oregon has to start young.

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AM News: All Eyes On Nevada's New Voucher Program (Plus: Democratic Candidates Meet With AFT)

In Nevada, the ultimate in school choice or school as a commodity? Washington Post: The new law, which the state’s Republican-controlled legislature passed with help from the education foundation created by former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R), is a breakthrough for conservatives, who call it the ultimate in school choice. And they are working to spread it nationwide: Lawmakers in Georgia, Iowa and Rhode Island considered similar legislation this year. See also Christian Science MonitorWSJLas Vegas Review.

What Did Democratic Presidential Candidates Tell AFT Union Leaders? PK12: The union's top leadership sat down earlier this week and chatted with three folks vying for the Democratic nomination: Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State; Martin O'Malley, the former Maryland governor, and Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who considers himself an independent socialist.

D.C. Schools Improved Under Mayoral Control, But Progress Remains Uneven WAMU: The first formal assessment of D.C.'s public schools since mayoral control was granted in 2007 finds that while small gains have been made, work remains to be done. See also Washington Post.

Ed. Dept.: Poorest Districts Have More Trainee Teachers Teacher Beat: High-poverty districts tend to have more teachers-in-training than other districts, but overall there aren't that many such teachers, a federal report says.

Teaching Youth To Think 'Slow' May Help Reduce Crime FiveThirtyEight: Last year, BAM reached 1,935 boys in 38 schools across the Chicago Public Schools system. 

Missouri Drops Smarter Balanced Common-Core Exam State EdWatch: A provision of the state education budget signed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon would cut off funding for the Smarter Balanced exam and require a new test for the next school year. 

Introducing The First Non-Medical Intern Union In The U.S. NPR: At the American Teachers Federation, the union's interns are putting their foot down. After about a year of negotiating, they have voted to form their own union.

City's Denial of Early Childhood Contracts Raises Questions WNYC: The Williamsbridge NAACP Early Childhood Education Center is now among 10 childcare centers that were not awarded contracts to continue serving their neighborhoods in the coming school year. The city's decision mystifies City Councilman Andy King.

Authorities File Charges Over Loud Cheering at Mississippi High School GraduationNYT: At least three people are facing the prospect of $500 fines and six-month jail terms after they were said to have yelled and clapped during a graduation ceremony in Mississippi.

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AM News: How To Explain Common Core Tests Results? Plus: Varying edTPA Requirements

Schools face challenge of explaining Common Core test results to parents EdSource Today: A major selling point of the new Common Core assessments was that because they were taken online, they would be available more quickly to teachers, parents and students, and would help inform instruction in a way that the multiple-choice California Standards Tests did not. But so far it seems that parents and students will get results about the same time as they did in previous years.

States Set Varying Passing Bars on New Teaching Exam TeacherBeat: States have set the bar on the edTPA exam in different places, and some give their teacher-candidates other options to demonstrate teaching skill.

From Harlem to Capitol Hill, a lesson in producing better teachers Washington Post: Eva Moskowitz, the founder of New York City's largest chain of public charter schools, imported a Harlem classroom to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to demonstrate how she trains and coaches teachers at Success Academy schools. 

Policy Group to Congress on ESEA: Don't Let the Perfect Be Enemy of the Good EdWeek: When the Senate's ESEA reauthorization bill is called up for debate at the end of this month or early July, messaging will be crucial to garnering support for the bill from both sides of the aisle.

Parent Engagement on Rise as Priority for Schools, Districts Edweek: As districts adopt formal efforts to integrate parents into the fabric of their schools, advocates welcome a shift away from seeing parent-engagement efforts as just an add-on.

New York City Creates Replacement for Student Data Website NYT: A website for the city’s public schools will allow parents to view information on their children like attendance and report card grades. See also WNYCChalkbeatNY.

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AM News: LA Parents Hint At "Trigger" To Leverage Changes

Testing the power of the parent-trigger law Hechinger Report: In Los Angeles, the parent-trigger law, once considered the fast track to turning struggling California schools over to independently operated charters, has instead become a bargaining chip in brokering deals with the district. The alliance between 20th Street Elementary parents and Los Angeles Unified is the latest case in which the district has skirted the loss of a public school to a charter operator. See also LA School Report, EdWeek.

What Is Christie Walking Away From? NJ Spotlight: The teachers unions, for example, have softened their support, especially since the tests affect teacher evaluations under the state‘s new tenure law. And opposition has surfaced from both conservative and liberal camps that see the standards and tests as a top-down incursion on instruction. See also Weingarten call for states to ditch new cut scores in EdWeek.

In Nod to Florida, Texas Lawmakers Approve A-F Grades for Schools State EdWatch: On May 31, Lone Star State lawmakers approved House Bill 2804, which would extend the state's current method of giving districts letter grades to individual schools.

Emanuel starts cleaning house at Chicago school board Sun-Times: Those leaving the Board include CSV's Deborah Quazzo; Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp; Carlos Azcoitia, a former CPS principal and network chief-turned National Louis University professor, and former Northwestern University President Henry Bienen.

College Board, Khan Academy team up to offer free SAT prep program LA Times: The revised version of the SAT college entrance exam won't be offered until March but students can start preparing for it Tuesday with a new, free online study program affiliated with the test. See also HuffPostEdSource Today.

For the Poor, the Graduation Gap Is Even Wider Than the Enrollment Gap NYT: In the bottom quartile, 58 percent of students expected to get at least a bachelor’s degree and 12 percent to go on to graduate school. Thirteen years later, we can see who achieved their goals. Among the participants from the most disadvantaged families, just 14 percent had earned a bachelor’s degree.

The Quantified Student: An App That Predicts GPA NPR: Researchers found that a phone's activity tracker can automatically predict students' school performance.

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AM News: What Next For NJ & Common Core (Plus Chicago Supe Resigns)

Former Md. Gov. Martin O'Malley Joins Democrats' Race for White House PK12: Among his education achievements as governor was signing into law a bill that made some undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state tuition.

Real Test After Christie’s Call to Drop Common Core: What Happens Next? NJ Spotlight: Now what? In the aftermath of Gov. Chris Christie’s announcement on Thursday that he no longer supports the Common Core State Standards, what are the administration’s plans for setting its own standards for New Jersey’s public schools?

Barbara Byrd-Bennett resigns amid federal criminal investigation Chicago Tribune: Byrd-Bennett sent written notice of her decision to the city school board, a source told the Tribune late Sunday. An official CPS announcement was pending.

Deadline for Teacher-Distribution Plans Looms PK12: Attention state agency officials: Monday is the final deadline to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education that address the equitable distribution of teachers.

Center for Union Facts says Randi Weingarten is ruining nation’s schools Washington Post: The writer, Richard Berman, is a D.C.-based corporate communications consultant who is waging a national campaign against Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Poll: Maryland Voters Concerned About Time Spent On Standardized Tests WAMU: When it comes to education issues, Maryland voters are worried about too much standardized testing of kids more than anything else, according to a poll commissioned and released by the state's teachers union. The survey shows rare bipartisan agreement on education in Maryland.

Chicago struggles to redesign neighborhood high schools Catalyst: Overall, the neighborhood high schools that small schools were intended to rejuvenate are still struggling. Many, especially on the South and West sides, suffer from sharply declining enrollment.

Charter-school backers resist state’s traditional financial-reporting rules Seattle Times: The state wants charter schools to follow the same financial-reporting rules as other public schools, but has encountered some unexpected backlash. It’s the first clash in an otherwise peaceful relationship with the state as charters ramp up in Washington.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo Confounds Mayor Bill de Blasio WSJ: Aides to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have huddled for months trying to understand Gov. Andrew Cuomo, often as they scrambled to address perceived slights. They largely have come to one conclusion: There is very little to be done about him.

Reaching Kids Means Conquering Poverty in Mount Vernon WNYC: Educators on the front lines — those who work with the students in the schools that struggle most to pass reading and math tests — said Cuomo’s argument ignored a key factor, one beyond teachers’ control: poverty.

School surveillance video shows boxes of SAT exams were delivered to UPS Washington Post: On May 2, 263 teens sat for the SATs at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Va., the culmination of weeks of expensive test preparation for some students as they hoped to enhance their standing on the college entrance exams.

Blue-collar town leads Rhode Island’s tech-assisted learning revolution Hechinger Report: The students dive into the lesson, dragging empty domino shapes from the bottom of the screen and placing them at the top, where they add dots and create equations.

Hastert’s Name Removed by Alma Mater NYT: AWheaton College scrubbed J. Dennis Hastert’s name from its public policy center after the former House speaker’s indictment on charges that he lied to the F.B.I. about financial transactions.

AM News: Christie's Slow-Motion Common Core Flip-Flop, Plus SpellingBee

Christie Calls for End to Common Core Standards in NJ WNYC: Left untouched in the Governor's reform is the controversial PARCC exam, which is aligned to Common Core's standards. Gov. Christie says New Jersey will continue to administer the test, which saw its debut this year. See also Washington Post, AP via HuffPost, HuffPost, Politico, NJ Spotlight.

It All Came Down To 'Nunatak' NPR: What I saw felt much more like a celebration of language and learning. An evening that showed these 13- and 14-year-olds — some younger — displaying deep knowledge of word origins, analyzing Latin and Greek roots, even Sanskrit. See also: National Spelling Bee Crowns Co-Champs For Second Straight Year.

Past National Spelling Bee Champs, All Grown Up, Share What Life After Winning Is Like AP: What's life like years after the Bee for a few of these champs? ABC News looked at four past winners, all grown up, who shared what they're up to today.

15 Chinese Accused of Using Test-Taking Impostors for College Entrance Exams NYT: The indictment sketches a scheme in which individuals are accused of paying impostors using fake Chinese passports to take college entrance exams at testing sites in the Pittsburgh area.

Study Highlights Rifts Over Best Practices for Approving Charter Schools EdWeek: Authorizing has been getting increased attention lately as some state- and press-led investigations have revealed cases of systematic academic and financial failure in charter schools.

Why one Common Core test will match the tough national exam known as the Nation’s Report Card, and one won’t Hechinger Report: PAARC used NAEP as a major resource to determine benchmarks for college and career readiness in high school. The other test makers went a different direction and primarily relied on feedback from teachers and college faculty to determine what skills they would expect a student at each grade level to be able to demonstrate.

School testing bill appears to be dead in the Washington state Senate Seattle Times: The state Senate does not appear likely to consider a bill that would temporarily eliminate the need to pass a science test to graduate from high school. The House overwhelmingly approved the measure on Wednesday, with lawmakers saying they expected it to pass the Senate as well. But the Senate voted Thursday morning […]

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AM News: The Condition Of Education Is Poor (But Still Graduated High School)

Key Numbers From a Report to Congress on US Education AP: More U.S. school-age kids live in poverty and need English-language services, according to a report released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics. Enrollment in public schools is up, including in charter schools that have grown in popularity. At the same time, smaller numbers of children attend private schools. Fewer students are dropping out of high school. 

American Kids Are Poorer Than They Were Decades Ago, Education Report Shows HuffPost: Childhood poverty has risen for every major racial group since 2008, according to the report. Childhood poverty in 2013 ranged from 39 percent for blacks and 36 percent for American Indians and Alaska natives, to 13 percent for whites and Asians. The report had few bright spots. It said the achievement gap between blacks and whites ages 25 to 29 who had attained at least a high school degree had narrowed considerably. School crime, the report says, continued its 20-year decline.

Education Leaders Fear Christie Will Pull Back on Common Core Support WSJ: Mr. Christie appointed an expert commission last year to study testing and the Common Core, and its report is due July 31. Several educators questioned why he would give an address on the standards before the commission’s report is complete.

Hundreds of NJ Students Fail Grad Test and Earn Diploma by Appeal WNYC: New Jersey created its appeals process in 2010 when the state introduced the alternative high school graduation exam, which is more rigorous than the previous test. Close to 2,000 seniors failed. Instead of telling them at the last minute that they wouldn’t graduate, the state began allowing students to appeal the graduation requirements by submitting samples of their classwork.

De Blasio defends parent input under city’s mayoral control structure Chalkbeat: "I think our current approach is working and I think it’s very inclusive,” de Blasio told reporters between meetings with state leaders in Albany. “I do think there’s many good and constructive ways to hear the voices of parents, and we’re doing that right now.”

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A News: NY Picks Compromise School Chief

Former Tampa Schools Boss MaryEllen Elia Named N.Y. K-12 Chief EdWeek: The former superintendent of Florida's Hillsborough County schools is poised to become New York state's next K-12 commissioner, according to reports. See also NYT: MaryEllen Elia Named New York State Education Commissioner, WNYC: Former Florida Chief Named NY State Education Commish, ChalkbeatNY: Elia promises to ‘communicate’ as state ed policy faces new tests.

De Blasio Okays Second Batch of School Experiments WNYC: Dozens more schools will join an initiative by Mayor Bill de Blasio meant to encourage school-based innovations, such as staggering teacher work schedules to lengthen the school day or breaking class size rules to offer larger seminars in some settings and small-group instruction in others. 

In Prince George's County, No Consensus On Tax Increase For Schools WAMU: Some older, more conservative voters are lining up against the proposal, while younger families, particularly minorities, say the extra money is crucial.

LAUSD board considers better marketing as it tackles declining enrollment KPCC: At the board's Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, members recommended a new marketing campaign to attract and keep more students. The effort could include public television segments, neighborhood door-knocking and promotions of magnet schools focusing on science or art and dual-language programs, such as Spanish, Korean and Mandarin. 

New Mexico fights to get out of last place with aggressive policies that some educators worry could harm students Hechinger Report: Despite concerns the technology would trip them up, the students appeared to navigate the computer-based test with ease – marking questions they wanted to come back to later, for example. It was the math that seemed to give them trouble. Their enthusiastic first-year teacher had used the Common Core standards to guide what he’d taught the students all year, but the content of the sample exam, which required dragging and dropping algebraic expressions into boxes and filling in blank boxes with equations, was proving challenging.

Teachers Of All Races Are More Likely To Punish Black Students HuffPost: Not because of overt racism. Rather, harsher discipline might be the result of unconscious partiality to the white student, a phenomenon called “implicit bias” by psychologists. The study also finds that the bias might be just as likely to come from a black teacher as a white one. 

Pre-K Politics Five Thirty Eight: Suburban voters are less likely to support publicly funded pre-K programs. Minority voters, renters and those who are poor or live in a dense urban neighborhood, on the other hand, are likely to support pre-K expansion.

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AM News: Summer Of Choice?

Teacher Union Legal Opposition to School Choice Stumbles in Florida, Louisiana EdWeek: On Friday, a Louisiana district judge rejected the state teachers' union argument that the way Louisiana funded some charter schools was unconstitutional, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile on Monday, a Florida judge dismissed a union-backed lawsuit challenging that state's tax-credit scholarship program because the plaintiffs couldn't prove they were harmed by the law and therefore didn't have grounds to sue.

One Man's Millions Turn a Community Around in Florida NYT: Two decades ago, Harris Rosen, who grew up poor on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and became wealthy in the Florida hotel business, decided to shepherd part of his fortune into a troubled community with the melodious…

How student debt became a presidential campaign issue Washington Post: The $1.3 trillion burden of student debt is becoming an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign as candidates court the millions of Americans grappling with the high cost of college.

Six of the nation’s largest school districts dump polystyrene trays Washington Post: Six of the largest U.S. school districts have pooled their collective purchasing power to make significant changes to school lunch, and they’re starting by jettisoning the polystyrene tray.The Urban School Food Alliance, a coalition that includes the school systems of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando, has commissioned a school lunch dish that is made from recycled newsprint and can be turned into compost after use

Fairfax approves final $2.6 billion schools budget Washington Post: The Fairfax County School Board passed a final $2.6 billion budget Thursday night that includes pay raises for teachers, funding for full-day Mondays for elementary schools and later high school start times.

Houston Leaders Propose Slashing Bonus-Pay Program for Teachers Teacher Beat: Houston leaders are considering cutting the district's much-watched performance-pay program for educators and redirecting the funds into regular base-pay raises. The proposal could reduce the $14 million bonus-pay program to just $2 million, a far cry away from the $40 million a year it once gave out.

Regents narrow their choices for New York’s next education chief ChalkbeatNY: In contention are a mix of superintendents from inside and outside New York state, according to multiple sources. Two of the final candidates, though not the only two, are Christopher Koch, Illinois’s longtime superintendent who stepped down in April, and Dan White, a superintendent for a Western New York region that serves suburban districts.

Maligned Study on Gay Unions Is Shaking Trust NYT: The questioned findings, published in December in Science, have shaken not only political scientists but also public trust in the way the scientific establishment vets new findings.

Chicago school board to consider charter relocations, renewals WBEZ Chicago: In one case, Rowe Elementary would move into the old Peabody elementary school, a building shuttered during the 2013 mass closings. The district no longer owns the Peabody building. If it approves the move, the district would have to provide the public charter school with extra money to cover rent and maintenance costs at Peabody.

Photos Capture The Joy On Playgrounds Around The World NPR: From the U.K. to Kenya to the West Bank, photographer James Mollison exposes not only inequalities among rich and poor countries, but also the intimate moments that unfold during recess.

How to hook young people on math and science? Robots PBS: We have a smaller percentage of our kids becoming scientists and engineers than many countries in the developing world. And when you look at the data and see that China’s producing five or 600,000 engineers this year and we’ll produce one-tenth of that, it says, “How’re we gonna compete?”

AM News: Shorter, Combined PARCC Tests For Next Year

Board shortens Common Core-aligned tests known as PARCC Washington Post: The Common Core-aligned tests that made their debut in 11 states and the District this spring will be approximately 90 minutes shorter next year, a change that comes after parents, teachers and school administrators expressed frustration with the amount of time devoted to the new exams. See also AP (States move to reduce time spent on Common Core-based exam), EdWeek (PARCC Shortens Its Common-Core Test)

Kids Cheer, Officials Jeer As Computer Glitches Delay Testing In Virginia WAMU: School officials from across Virginia are scrambling to catch up after three days of computer problems that delayed standardized testing. See also Washington Post: Va. testing interrupted three times because of issues with Pearson system.

Republican Focus Group Shows Jeb Bush's Support for Common Core No Big Deal PK12: The focus group was asked if they thought the common core was important, and if they were bothered by Bush's position regarding the standards.

Poorest Students Often Miss Out on Gifted Classes Education Week: But with more than half of public school students now coming from low-income families and deepening concentrations of poverty in many communities, standard screening and pullout programs may not be enough to find and support the most vulnerable talented students. In response, more educators and researchers who work with gifted students are calling for another look at who is considered gifted and how schools can locate and support those students. See also HuffPost: African-Americans Who Attended Desegregated Schools Have Better Language Skills Years Later 

Ouch! Hedge funders stung by Obama, Clinton barbs CNBC: The American Federation of Teachers' president, Randi Weingarten, cited the kindergarten comparison in speeches this month, for example, and a group called the Hedge Clippers have targeted New York-area billionaires like Paul Singer, Bill Ackman and ...

Education Gaps Pose Looming Crisis for U.S. Economy National Journal: The fastest-growing segment of the workforce is also the least educated. That's a problem as employers struggle to fill high-skill jobs.

CPS Confirms Data Breach Impacting 4,000 Students NBC Chicago: The names and personal information of thousands of Chicago Public Schools students was inadvertently provided to five potential vendors earlier this year, district officials confirmed Tuesday.  

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Continue reading "AM News: Shorter, Combined PARCC Tests For Next Year" »

AM News: VA Testing Interruptions, LA Board Member Changes

Va. testing interrupted three times because of issues with Pearson system Washington Post: Pearson said the company was the target of a cyberattack on May 13 that caused problems with the testing system. On May 14, a computer server became overloaded, leading to further disruptions. As a result of both incidents, 374 students across the state will have to retake exams.

L.A. school board seat is a pivotal win for charter school movement LA Times: Rodriguez's victory suggests that charter supporters are an emerging political force in future board elections, analysts say, not only in Los Angeles but in districts nationwide.

See also LA Daily News: Costly LAUSD board campaign ends with no net gain for teachers union, charter school advocates, KPCC LA: New LAUSD board to take on persistent problems, LA School Report: Changes in faces but not balance.

See also: Watchdog.org: Union-backed candidates win big in Philadelphia primary election.

Minnesota Heads to Special Session Over Education Aid, Joining Washington St. State EdWatch: The Minnesota legislature is heading to a special session over education funding, after Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a spending bill that he said was inadequate. See also MinnPost: Despite Dayton's angry rhetoric, advocates see a potential roadmap out of the early-ed impasse.

Eva Moskowitz calls out schools chancellor for not visiting Success schools ChalkbeatNY: “It’s interesting to me that the chancellor of the city of New York, who I know quite well, Carmen Fariña, has literally been in our building about a dozen times and has never come to our floor,” Moskowitz said. See also: Amid debate to raise cap, a charter school authorizer rejects all applicants.

‘Opt Out’ Becomes Anti-Test Rallying Cry in New York State NYT: A small, if vocal, movement urging parents to have their children sit out standardized exams took off this year, maturing from scattered displays of disobedience into a widespread rebuke. See also NBC News: Anti-Common Core Activist Talks Homework

Spending on School Security Rises WSJ: According to the survey of about 1,400 public schools around the country, 75% reported using one or more security cameras, up from 61% in 2009-2010. Similarly, 82% of schools said that electronic notification systems, which alert parents about a school emergency, were in place, up from 63% four years earlier. Meanwhile, 65% of schools reported at least one violent incident during the 2013-2014 year, down from 74%. See also AP: Survey Finds US Schools Ramping up Safety Measures.

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

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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).

Continue reading "AM News: LA's $5.5 Million Charter Showdown School Board Race" »

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).

Continue reading "AM News: California Schools Already Getting Common Core Test Scores" »

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).

Continue reading "AM News: Little Common Core Pushback In KY (& CA, & ....)" »

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).

Continue reading "AM News: Testing, Opt-Outs, & What Happens Next" »

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.

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

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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.

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

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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).

Continue reading "AM News: Cuomo, Christie, & Union Division Over Common Core" »

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...

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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.