|November 21, 2014|
Politico (11/21, Emma) reports that on Thursday, Jeb Bush addressed his group, the Foundation for Excellence In Education, calling on his “education troops” to continue fighting “government-run, unionized and politicized monopolies who trap good teachers, administrators and struggling students in a system nobody can escape.” Bush argued that the Federal government needed to stop attaching requirements to every dollar it distributes back to the states, and also defended the Common Core standards, but stressed that states should have flexibility.
The Tampa Bay (FL) Times (11/21, Leary) reports that there was “great interest” on Bush’s comments, given the speculation that he may run for president. He “tried to finesse a major issue that would confront him if he decides to enter the hunt for the 2016 Republican nomination: Common Core.” Bush said, “Even if we don’t all agree on Common Core, there are more important principles for us to agree on. We need to pull together whenever we can.”
The Washington Post (11/20, Layton) reports that Bush “offered a nuanced defense of the Common Core State Standards” during his speech, “trying to mend the divide within the GOP over the standards as he weighs a 2016 presidential bid.” While Bush and Chris Christie both back the standards, other potential GOP candidates oppose them.
The AP (11/21, Mishak) reports that Bush characterized the Common Core as “the new minimum” for US schools, quoting him saying, “For those states choosing a path other than Common Core, I say this: Aim even higher, be bolder, raise standards and ask more of our students and the system.” The AP reports that Bush also spoke about the controversy surrounding standardized testing, “saying that assessments were critical tools but that ‘we should have fewer and better tests’ to determine student progress.”
The NPR (11/20) “It’s All Politics” blog reports that Bush “defended” the standards, but “offered an olive branch to Republican activists who oppose them and are making them a litmus test for potential 2016 presidential candidates.” The piece notes that Bush “said that he finds the new angst over Common Core ‘troubling,’” saying that “there is room for disagreement among those who more generally support school reform.”
NBC News (11/21), the Wall Street Journal (11/21), the Christian Science Monitor (11/20), McClatchy (11/20, Schoof, Subscription Publication), The Hill (11/20, Easley), CBS News (11/21), the National Journal (11/21, Subscription Publication), and the Washington Times (11/20, Wolfgang) run similar reports.
The Tennessean (11/21) reports that Tennessee’s Achievement School District is determining whether to take over two struggling middle schools in Nashville. Officials from the ASD will spend the next few weeks talking “to parents, teachers and community leaders at both schools to decide where to intervene,” and will announce a final decision on December 12. The piece explains that the agency can “bring in outside charter schools to take over the state’s bottom 5 percent of schools in performance, known as priority schools.” Chalkbeat Tennessee (11/21) also covers this story.
The Dallas Morning News (11/20) reports a Texas State Board of Education committee heard from teachers, parents, and school administrators who “expressed frustration with the difficulties” of the state’s new math standards. The committee members looked for ways to reduce the use of math standardized tests to evaluate districts, but Federal state laws require the tests.
The Charlotte (NC) Observer (11/20, Superville) reports President Obama awarded the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation to 19 scientists, researchers, and innovators at a ceremony on Thursday. During the event, Obama took the opportunity “to plug math and science education, particularly for minority students” and noted efforts by groups to increase the number of STEM teachers in schools.
WHYY-FM Philadelphia (11/21) reports on its website that as “a sign that the ‘opt-out’ movement is gaining traction” in the Philadelphia area, the city council heard from interested parties how standardized tests are negatively impacting students. Parents, teachers, and education advocates decried the emphasis on the tests at a recent City Council Education committee meeting, voicing particular concern about the requirements to pass the Keystone exams for literature, math, and science in order to graduate from high school. Supporters of the movement say that the tests force teachers to prepare for the exam rather than take a “holistic” approach.
Education Week (11/20, Ujifusa) echoes the findings of a recent Data Quality Campaign report, stating the number of states to offer students’ academic data to parents has increased from 8 to 17 over the past three years, while over 100 bills on student data security were considered by states. The report also highlighted 10 actions by states helping public schools to better utilize and share appropriate data. Those recommendations included linking early learning, post-secondary, workforce, and state data systems; developing governance to aid data collection; and creating progress reports. The piece includes findings on how many states are acting on those recommendations, with effective action highlighted.
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (11/21, Williams, Subscription Publication), Joe Williams, director of Democrats for Education Reform, praises Poll Williams, a longtime Wisconsin state representative who died on November 9, for her efforts to build a school-choice system in the state. Williams says that she was driven by her desire for black students to have the chance of getting an excellent education.
The AP (11/21, Johnson) reports that former Assistant Secretary Diane Ravitch, in Nashville this week for a meeting of career and technical education professionals, said that Gov. Bill Haslam’s Common Core review process “can be effective if teachers’ ideas are taken seriously.” The AP notes that Ravitch opposes the standards, and that her visit coincides with a renewed push in the Tennessee legislature to jettison the Common Core.
The AP (11/21, AP) reports Birmingham City Schools placed a recently hired, sixth-grade math teacher on administrative leave after a background check revealed Sandra Ward pleaded guilty to withholding evidence from investigators in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal. Ward avoided prison time, ward ordered to repay bonus money, and performed 250 hours of community service. Ward was one of 35 Atlanta educators indicted.
The New York Times (11/19, Harris, Subscription Publication) reports 20% fewer New York State teaching candidates passed certification exams this year compared to the previous two, following the state’s introduction of higher performance standards. The piece cites an 81% passing rate on one of the four exams (edTPA), which requires a portfolio including a video recording of the candidate teaching, while another had a 68% passing rate. Candidates cannot teach without passing and education programs below 80% passing rates may lose accreditation. New York’s education commissioner, John B. King Jr., stated that it may be better for the state to have fewer, more selective programs; National Council on Teacher Quality president Kate Walsh made similar statements.
NPR (11/20) reports in its “NprEd” blog that there is a “wide range” of how the economy values early education workers. A study by the University of California Berkeley shows that child care workers make less than preschool workers since the preschool workers tend to work in licensed, publicly funded centers while child care workers typically work from home.
The AP (11/20, Deslatte) reports that US District Judge Shelly Dick heard arguments Thursday from Federal attorneys seeking to have Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s lawsuit against ED over the Common Core Standards dismissed. The piece notes that Jindal accuses ED of “manipulating $4.3 billion in federal grant money and policy waivers to illegally pressure states to adopt Common Core standards and testing.” Dick said that she expects to rule on the motion to dismiss in December, the AP reports, adding that DOJ attorney Caroline Lewis Wolverton “said Louisiana’s decision to use the Common Core and its aligned testing was voluntary, not coerced by the federal government.”
The Baton Rouge (LA) Advocate (11/21, Gyan) reports that Wolverton argued that Jindal “has no right to sue the federal government over Common Core academic standards that Louisiana voluntarily decided to use,” and “noted that the governor once supported the standards and that they are still backed by the state’s education board and Jindal’s hand-picked education superintendent.” The Advocate notes that Education Secretary Arne Duncan was named as a defendant in Jindal’s complaint.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune (11/21, O'Donoghue) reports that Dick requested that both sides “provide additional information to the Middle District Court of Louisiana before she determines whether the governor is even able to bring the case against the Obama administration.”
Catherine Gewertz writes at the Education Week (11/20) “Curriculum Matters” blog about the controversy surrounding the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s release of cut scores for its Common Core-aligned assessment. The announcement “injected new vigor into a debate about what test scores mean and how they should be reported.” Gewertz points to a letter from Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe to other Smarter Balanced state schools chiefs relating “Vermont’s objections to the cut scores that the consortium was considering.” Holcombe “views reporting scores by performance levels, with a threshold score for each level, as fundamentally unfair, inaccurate, and counterproductive for schools and students.”
Meanwhile, Valerie Strauss writes a post at the Washington Post (11/20, Strauss) “Answer Sheet” blog arguing that SBAC’s instructions on how to interpret scores are complicated to the point of being unworkable.
The Chicago Sun-Times (11/21) reports that Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that “he’s staying out of a tussle between the Illinois State Board of Education and Chicago Public Schools over whether CPS students will take” the PARCC assessment. The piece notes that CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett “has said she wants to delay the implementation for at least another year,” in part because of technology infrastructure issues. The piece quotes Duncan saying, “I don’t know all the details. That’s actually something CPS has to work out with the state. Well, I think the state and CPS need to work that out together.”
NPR (11/20) reports in its “NprEd” blog that parents of students with special needs in New Orleans are having difficulty getting the services they are entitled to under Federal law for their students. Critics argue that the “problem is systemic” throughout schools in the New Orleans area, which the article notes are made up almost entirely of charter schools.
Reuters (11/21, Johnson) reports on text and social media messages sent by the gunman in the Washington state high school cafeteria shooting last month, which killed five. The messages included how to divide his property, how he wanted to be dressed in his casket, a picture of the handgun, and cryptic threats. The piece mentions the shooter’s rejection by a girl and a complex social situation involving friends and cousins, who he targeted. The Snohomish Multi-Agency Response Team says it could take weeks to determine if family or friends will face criminal charges for not reporting the messages.
The Huffington Post (11/21, Klein) reports some schools in Ferguson, Missouri plan to cancel class in the event of an acquittal. The St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office told district leaders they would be given 24 hours’ notice of a weekend decision and three hours’ notice of a weekday decision. Security and law enforcement are prepared to protect schools while the transportation department will re-route buses to displaced students. Hazelwood district will utilize inclement weather procedures to call community members and has set up partnerships with local faith-based organizations to provide food and shelter to students; Riverview Gardens School District has given more weekend homework this month in anticipation of a cancellation.
The Los Angeles Times (11/19, Megerian) reports California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office have said that the state is generating more revenue from income and corporate taxes and that the state’s schools and community colleges could receive almost $2 billion in additional funds as a result. The comments came in a report that highlights how the state’s finances are showing improvement after years of downturn.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal (11/21, Myers) reports the Nevada’s state Majority Leader and outgoing Assembly Speaker advocated for the legislature to increase funding for education and reform the tax system in order to find new revenue for schools. The two have been meeting with other state lawmakers to discuss taxes and education, and have voiced that they are willing to work with the governor to help fix a $175 million to $200 million shortfall in education funding.
KOLR-TV Springfield, MO (11/21) reports on its website that Arkansas’ Joint Budget Committee rejected a proposal for $14 million in funding for Pre-K programs throughout the state. Lawmakers rejected the proposal over concerns about where the money would come from. Others said they would continue to work for more Pre-K funding, noting they could try and amend the state’s budget during an upcoming legislative session.
|November 20, 2014|
The New York Times (11/19, Baker, Subscription Publication) reports that President Obama on Wednesday gathered school superintendents in the East Room of the White House to advance his ?ConnectED? program to ?wire more of the nation?s schools to the Internet.? The President last year ?set a goal of connecting 99 percent of American students to high-speed broadband Internet in their schools and libraries within five years.? He told the gathering Wednesday that currently, ?fewer than 40 percent of American public schools have high-speed Internet in the classroom,? and ?announced that two online education companies, EdX and Coursera, will join others in the initiative as well.?
McClatchy (11/20, Lee, Subscription Publication) reports that the President stressed the importance of schools bringing ?the world to every child?s fingertips through improved technology, because this generation of students? digital savvy means they will lose interest in school otherwise,? saying, ?In most American schools, teachers cannot use the cutting-edge software and programs that are available today. ... They literally don?t have the bandwidth. And even in schools where there is high-speed Internet, so often there aren?t enough computers to go around, so only a small percentage of our classrooms have the 1-to-1 ratio of students to computers or tablets.?
The AP (11/19, Superville) notes that ?several private companies have committed more than $2 billion in computers, software and other support to the president?s ConnectEd initiative.? In addition, the FCC ?set aside $2 billion from special service fees to help pay for some initial wiring, and the agency?s chairman announced a proposal this week to spend $1.5 billion annually on the program.?
Michelle R. Davis writes at the Education Week (11/19) ?Digital Education? blog that Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan ?unveiled new resources for school districts to use in boosting broadband infrastructure and improving ed-tech programs during a meeting with more than 100 school superintendents at the White House on Wednesday.? She writes that the superintendents signed the White House?s Future Ready District Pledge, promising ?to improve connectivity, foster access to devices and digital content, and mentor other districts in the transition to digital learning.? She adds that Duncan ?acknowledged financial hardships? districts face in funding their technology programs, and urged ?districts still spending significant dollars on paper textbooks to instead accelerate the transition? to digital resources. Davis quotes Duncan saying, ?We have to level the playing field for (students) and in many ways we have not.?
Local Coverage Of Superintendents In Attendance. Meanwhile, several lower-tier media outlets are continuing to run reports on local superintendents who were invited to the event. In one example, the Tulsa (OK) World (11/19) reports that a pair of Oklahoma superintendents, Kirt Hartzler of Union Public Schools and Marsha Gore of McAlester Public Schools, were invited to the event. KTUL-TV Tulsa, OK (11/20) and KOKI-TV Tulsa, OK (11/19) also run reports on Hartzler. Other media outlets running similar reports on superintendents from around the country include the San Diego County (CA) Seaside Courier (11/20), the Arkansas Democrat Gazette (11/19), an AP (11/20) story out of Arkansas, an AP (11/20) story out of Virginia, the Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal (11/19), and WIBC-FM Indianapolis (11/20).
Obama Teases Duncan For ?Playing Hooky.? On its website, MSNBC (11/20) posts a clip of Obama?s welcoming remarks to the gathered superintendents, during which he introduces Duncan. Obama quips, ?Where is he? He?s gone! He?s playing hooky too!?
The Dallas Morning News (11/18) reports the Support Our Public Schools Group has unveiled a draft constitution for the Dallas Independent School District that would exempt the district from state laws restricting the length of the school day and how early school can start. The proposal also lengthens the time that members can sit on the board of trustees, but limits the number the terms they can serve. The article details the main tenets of the constitution and notes that the group has until June to submit two draft constitutions for voter approval.
Education Week (11/20, Gewertz) reports Achieve, organizers of the Next Generation Science Standards, released on November 18 a draft of sample assessment tasks that gauge student progress on new science expectations and common core expectations in mathematics. The organization is ?encouraging teachers to...modify them to suit their needs, and offer feedback? so that a final draft can be released in upcoming months.
WHYY-FM Philadelphia (11/20) reports the Philadelphia, City Council Education Committee heard comments from parents, teachers, and education advocates decrying Pennsylvania?s emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing. The comments are ?a sign that the ?opt-out? of testing movement is gaining traction,? and the crowd voiced ?particular concern? over Keystone exams required for high school graduation. Parties also used the hearing to voice concerns about school funding throughout the state.
The Washington Post (11/19, Layton) reports that Code.org ?is preparing to unveil its second annual ?Hour of Code? lesson, but with an assist from Disney designed to attract more girls to participate.? The nonprofit will include ?two female characters from Disney?s wildly popular ?Frozen? movie? in its latest ?free lesson that teaches students to write computer code.?
THE Journal (11/19) reports on how several Napa County Schools are using technology to help pre-kindergarten students learn literacy skills. The article profiles the use of three different apps that are teaching children to recognize letters and words and interact with text.
Mehera Bonner argues in TIME (11/20, Bonner) in favor of the push from students in Nevada?s Clark County for a comprehensive sex education curriculum from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, which covers anatomy, contraception, sexual identity, and gender identity. The piece discusses parental ?outrage? over the SIECUS curriculum?s discussion of rape, sexual assault, and masturbation. The piece provides a substantial statistical and cultural background for current initiatives to prevent sexual assault, arguing at the end of the piece that programs such as SIECUS are ?a vital opportunity for high schoolers to be taught the sexual and physical boundaries that help prevent sexual violence.?
The AP (11/20) reports Christoper Koch was selected to join the Council of Chief State School Officers? board. Koch is currently the Illinois schools chief and said that he is excited to work with the board.
The Bozeman (MT) Daily Chronicle (11/20) reports 72 Bozeman, Montana teachers will partake in a $1.3 million National Science Foundation funded, three-year IMMERSION study on how intensive training can affect teachers? use of mathematical modeling in class. The research will be led by Montana State University with collaboration from George Mason University and Harvey Mudd College. Teacher selection will begin in the spring, with professional development planned for the summer; the project will continue through 2017.
An editorial from the Cleveland Plain Dealer (11/20) argues that the Ohio legislature?s replacement of minimum salary schedules with merit or alternative pay systems is ?micromanagement of Ohio?s public-school policy at its worst.? The defeat of 2011?s Senate Bill 5, which tied pay directly to student testing, is evidenced as disapproval for the new HB 343. Further, the piece contends ?there are far too many unknowns,? and that a statewide system should not be discussed until insights from other systems, such as Cleveland?s teacher-negotiated compensation system, are available.
The AP (11/19, Mishak) reports that as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush considers a potential 2016 presidential bid, ?his education policies ? a likely cornerstone of a White House campaign ? are drawing fire from critics who argue they place too much emphasis on testing.? Mover, as a vocal supporter of the Common Core Standards, Bush is ?at odds with the conservative activists any GOP presidential hopeful would need to win the party?s nomination.?
Bloomberg (11/19) has a similar piece, noting that Bush ?may be figuring a way out of the conservative firestorm? surrounding his support for the Common Core. The piece notes that in a recent interview, Bush stood by the standards, but stressed that states have the right to adopt them on an as-is basis, to modify them, or to create their own vigorous standards.
The Bismarck (ND) Tribune (11/20) reports that business groups and educators in North Dakota ?are speaking out against proposed legislation that would require the state to dump the Common Core education standards and craft its own standards for K-12 students.? The piece notes that the legislation would require the state to pull out of SBAC, and reports that its sponsor, Rep. Jim Kasper (R), ?said the bill drafted at his request is a response to the ?uproar? among parents in North Dakota and nationwide over what he called the ?detrimental effects? of Common Core.?
An editorial in the Bellingham (WA) Herald (11/19) expresses support for high academic standards, but argues that NCLB sets its standards ?so far out of reach even high quality school districts can?t possibly touch it.? The article pans Congress for failing to prioritize reauthorizing the measure, and notes that despite strong improvement in a number of area schools, they are still considered ?failing? under NCLB. The piece notes that Washington state?s loss of its waiver exacerbates the problem in the state, and expresses the hope that incoming Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander will follow through on his vow to ?make rewriting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act a priority.?
Education Week (11/20) reports Representative John Kline (R-MN) has been officially named as the chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee once again for the 114th Congress. Kline has been leading the committee since 2011 and in his past leadership has helped successfully guide updates to the No Child Left Behind law, a charter school bill, and several bills on Federal student aid through the House of Representatives.
The AP (11/20, AP) reports Bill Mack, the director of Minnesota?s new School Safety and Technical Assistance Center, has resigned for personal reasons after less than three months. The initiative, established under a new state anti-bullying law, aimed to help schools combat bullying.
The Boston Globe (11/19, Vaznis) reports the nonpartisan Lawyers? Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice has released a report finding Boston charter schools are far more likely than traditional schools to suspend students, usually for minor infractions. Of the top 10 Massachusetts school systems with the highest out-of-school suspension rates, all but one were charters and nearly all were in Boston. The piece frames the suspension rates of the top four schools within the national debate over the use of school suspensions and ?zero tolerance? policies.
The AP (11/20) reports the Chicago City Council approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel?s $7.3 billion budget along with a $62.4 million tax increase in a vote on Wednesday. Supporters of the mayor ?touted investments in early childhood, after school and summer jobs programs.?
Philadelphia Daily News (11/20, Leach) reports Philadelphia Mayor and other leaders and experts testified in front of state lawmakers about the need for greater school funding for Pennsylvania?s city schools. The members ?insisted that poorer districts should receive more? state funds in order to make up for a less local funding. A state commission is expected to propose legislation in June that will change the state?s funding formula.
Philadelphia Inquirer (11/20) reports the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission ?got an earful Tuesday? during a meeting in Philadelphia?s City Hall. The ?testimony varied,? but all the parents, principals, education advocates, experts, and city school district officials ?all said the state needed to provide more funding for schools and to develop a fair method for disbursing? money for special services.