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

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

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

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

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

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

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

A veteran’s tough love message to at-risk kids — and fellow vets PBS NewsHour: If you listen to West Point graduate and retired Lt. Col. David Oclander, who is now a teacher and principal-in-training at an inner-city Chicago charter school, there’s no doubt they do.  When we caught up Oclander last week at Chicago Bulls College Prep, on Chicago’s Near West Side, he explained why.

NYC Pre-K Enrollment Exceeds De Blasio's Target WNYC: New York City hit its target for pre-kindergarten enrollment, with 53,230 children signed up for pre-kindergarten programs across the city this fall. The pre-k expansion has been de Blasio’s signature initiative, and he set the goal of enrolling more than 53,000 students this year. See also ChalkbeatNY

D.C. State Board of Education member elected to lead national association WashPost: Mary Lord, vice president of the D.C. State Board of Education, was elected president of the National Association of State Boards of Education for 2015. Lord, a journalist and Dupont Circle resident, has served on the D.C. state board since its inception in 2007.

Tackling discipline disparities: MPS data illuminate possibilities for change MinnPost: Contrary to popular wisdom, in many schools reports of discipline peak on Thursdays, the data showed. The blip meant little to Moore, but drew a swift response from the principals.

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Re: the Chicago Public Schools story: informed parents with more choices want better school options for their children. The real question in Chicago is why the district is unable to attract these families to its schools, and a major hint in the story is that the problem may lie primarily with the city's inability to revitalize its most run down neighbourhoods and to distribute their poorer residents more evenly throughout the city, rather than some particular fault of CPS. The city appears to be increasingly attractive to Latinos, who now make up the greatest portion of its student body; but the inability to attract and retain whites in its schools could mean that Chicago will follow the pattern seen in Los Angeles, which could prove a huge problem for its tax base and its future, as a farewell ceremony for a wistful Mayor Villaraigosa, which was also attended by Mayor Emmanuel and then-Mayor Booker, made clear to me and to Angelenos in attendance: for cities must compete for the potential residents who have the greatest number of options, or they must fear to face futures like Detroit, with large mounds of collapsed buildings being reclaimed by nature.

It's a big issue in San Francisco too. The district -- under court order for many years to diversify the schools -- has tried various assignment systems and there's ongoing controversy and protest. In my experience (as an SFUSD parent from 1996-2012), many of the parents who flee to private are actually the significantly less-informed ones (sending their families into heavy financial strain or crushing debt to pay tuition because they vaguely "heard" that their SFUSD options were poor, without checking it out further), but that's another story.

It would be interesting to compare how this works in high-poverty urban districts around the country. So much reporting is framed as though this were some unique issue to the particular urban district being covered, which obviously is counter to reality.

The urban district I pay most attention to is Singapore, a somewhat irrelevant instance because it's isolated as an island "nation" (city-state is more accurate), but also interesting because it's an island, and therefore cannot export its poor or underdeveloped class somewhere else; it has to educate all its citizens. In Singapore, an admittedly heavy-handed, virtually single party state, there are no ghettos or "depressed urban communities" (Bill Clinton's apt phrase about Watts when he visited Locke High School) because the government won't allow them to exist; if the government sees one neighbourhood falling behind, you can rest assured it will become the target of some immediate public works for improvement. But Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are not islands, and so must compete to retain middle and upper class residents so that they do not become massive islands of the poor; and San Francisco has done better at this than have the other two cities.

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