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AM News: Teachers Details Problems At Virtual Schools

Teachers allege problems at California virtual schools run by Va.-based company K12 Inc. Washington Post: A group of teachers at a network of California virtual schools has alleged a number of problems with the online operator, including inflated enrollment to increase per-pupil funding; violation of student privacy laws; misuse of federal funds meant to serve poor children; and inadequate services for children with disabilities. See also TeacherBeatEdSource Today.

Virginia Online High School Pilot Is Ahead of the Curve US News: Come this fall, 100 students from across Virginia will have the chance to participate in the commonwealth's first fully online high school through a pilot program recently announced by state officials. And if the program comes to full fruition after the pilot, it would be the first of its kind in Virginia, and only the second of its kind in the country.

Texas Law Decriminalizes School Truancy AP: Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to put preventive measures into effect.

Measuring the Impact of Common-Core Test Disruptions in Three States State EdWatch: A Smarter Balanced testing vendor has released completion rates in three states that had serious challenges giving the common-core aligned exam.

When Research Projects Replace State Tests WNYC: ICE is one of 48 [consortium schools] with a waiver from the state to offer alternatives to most of the five Regents tests required to graduate. Students still must take the English exam but for the others they can provide portfolios or special projects. 

English Class in Common Core Era: ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Court Opinions NYT: The standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states, mandated many changes to traditional teaching, but one of the most basic was a call for students to read more nonfiction.

Poverty's enduring hold on school success WBEZ Chicago: Our analysis shows a vast expansion of poverty--2,244 schools have seen their proportion of low-income students increase by at least 10 percentage points over the last decade. And the number of schools struggling with concentrated poverty—where nearly every child in the school is low-income— has ballooned.

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

CA to spend a half billion dollars to promote ‘teacher effectiveness’ EdSource Today: The funds, which will be set aside as a block grant, will flow to each of California’s nearly 1,000 districts based on the number of credentialed teachers and school administrators they have on their payrolls. Districts can spend the funds at any time over the next three years.

Obama's Competitive Grants Are Waning. Can Districts Keep the Work Going? PK12: Now that the Obama administration's competitive grant programs are on the wane, can districts sustain the work funded through those efforts?

Washington State's First Charter School Receives Second Chance EdWeek: Despite declining enrollment and unstable leadership, Washington state's first charter school has another year to prove that it can provide a sound education for children.

For a Teacher, Back-to-Back Marathons, Then Fourth-Graders NYT: Keila Merino finishes at the top of the pack in grueling 100-mile running races, but teaching in a poor Bronx school may be her greatest challenge.

A pivotal moment for a school and the program designed to improve it ChalkbeatNY: Mayor Bill de Blasio had promised to spark transformations at low-performing schools like BGS, not by closing them as his predecessor had, but by diagnosing what ails them and giving each what it needs to get better. In the view of de Blasio and many educators, schools need more support, not sanctions, as they grapple with the challenges that low-income students carry with them to school.

Nearly 14% of LAUSD students in special education programs LA Daily News: LAUSD students were labeled as needing special education at a 12.7 percent higher rate than the statewide average, 13.3 percent more frequently than Los Angeles County's average and at least 11 percent higher than each of the four other school districts that also made the list of California's five largest, according to the most recently available state records for the 2013-14 school year.

A State of War: Traditional Public vs. Charter Schools in Chicago NPQ: The struggle in Chicago seems to indicate that the advocates for a market-based strategy are winning this tug of war.


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Re: the New York Times article on Common Core English courses: this illustrates the fundamental inability of local district leaders to read the standards successfully. The call to read more non-fiction was largely in response to ACT research going back many years; but the standards were to affect reading in humanities and science classes (the subjects of the bulk of ACT reading testing) as well as English, whereas New York state, where education reform has been worse executed than elsewhere in the country, has misread the standards and is focusing on changing English courses in ways unintended. So, as with mathematics, English studies are also getting worse because of the way the Common Core has been interpreted and implemented, due to managerial interference substituting for the coordination and support that English (and other) teachers were calling for back during the Bush maladministration, including at Locke High School, where I resigned my chairmanship of the English department over a similar dispute in the year before our revolt spread around the school and changed (temporarily, and insufficiently) the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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