Leading the News
Lawsuit Challenges Jindal’s Abandonment Of Common Core Standards.
The Washington Post (7/22, Layton) reports that a group of parents, teachers and a foundation that operates charter schools filed a lawsuit on Tuesday alleging that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal “lacks the authority to withdraw his state from the Common Core national academic standards.” Jindal, who is seen as a possible 2016 presidential contender, “was once a strong backer of the Common Core State Standards, which spell out the skills and knowledge every U.S. student should possess in math and reading from kindergarten through 12th grade,” but “as the standards came under fire from critics – particularly tea party groups – Jindal’s support dissolved.” In June, Jindal, after unsuccessfully lobbying the state legislature to drop the standards, announced that he “was unilaterally withdrawing Louisiana from the standards.”
The New Orleans Times-Picayune (7/23) reports that the plaintiffs say that Jindal has “overstepped constitutional boundaries in his fight with the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education over contracts and tests.” The lawsuit alleges that Jindal and his administration have disrupted education policy in the state, and call on the courts to “immediately to unfreeze next year’s testing contract, to allow schools to proceed with their plans.”
The AP (7/22) reports that the plaintiffs allege that Jindal has “‘sown chaos in the education system’ and violated the Louisiana Constitution by issuing a series of executive orders aimed at undermining Common Core.” The piece notes that Jindal once supported the standards, but now calls them “a federal intrusion into local education, echoing criticisms levied by tea party supporters around the country.”
Andrew Ujifusa covers this story at the Education Week (7/23) “State EdWatch” blog, while the Baton Rouge (LA) Advocate (7/23), the Huffington Post (7/23, Resmovits), and ABC News (7/23) also have reports.
Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Blasts Jindal Over Common Core. The New Orleans Times-Picayune (7/23) reports that Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne “harshly criticized Gov. Bobby Jindal Monday” for his efforts to block the Common Core Standards, quoting him saying, “It is an executive overreach in my view. I am at a loss to see how this is beneficial to the students of Louisiana.” Dardenne stopped short of a full-throated backing of the Common Core, but said that Jindal’s “approach to scrapping the academic standards has not been productive.”
Columnist Questions Need For Litigation. In a column in the New Orleans Times-Picayune (7/23), Danielle Dreilinger writes about the drawn-out debate over the Common Core Standards in Louisiana, suggesting that given the cacophony of legal action and other moves makes it difficult to determine the state of affairs. She concludes by asking readers whether it is “time to take the Common Core fight to the courts.”
In the Classroom
Virginia Governor Won’t Appeal Ruling Against Recovery District.
The Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch (7/23) reports that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, speaking Tuesday at a conference of the Virginia School Boards Association conference, announced that his office “will not appeal a ruling that deemed the state’s school takeover division unconstitutional.” The piece notes that the association had opposed the “embattled” Opportunity Educational Institution, which “has faced headwinds since its inception under then-Gov. Bob McDonnell, with the decision by a Norfolk Circuit Court judge being the latest.”
The Washington Post (7/22, Shapiro) reports that a circuit court recently ruled the board unconstitutional, adding that McAuliffe’s decision “effectively neutralizes state lawmakers’ efforts to hand control of the state’s worst-performing public schools to universities or private charter groups.” The article notes that the education community “overwhelmingly opposed the OEI.”
The Newport News (VA) Daily Press (7/22) reports that McAuliffe’s decision is “a potential death blow for the state’s Opportunity Educational Institution,” noting that his move was expected, “given his public stance on the institution.” As regards the struggling schools the OEI was established to help. “McAuliffe said his secretary of education, Anne Holton, will ‘come up with concrete steps’ to help these schools.”
WPost Defends Harmony Charter Network’s Plans To Open STEM School.
The Washington Post (7/22, Board) editorializes about the opposition of some DC school officials to the decision by Harmony Public Schools, “a Houston-based network known for its high-performing college preparatory schools, to open an elementary school with a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) focus across the street from Langley Elementary.” The Post argues that “competition generally tends to make people feel threatened,” but it is “also healthy, spurring extra effort and better performance,” and defends Harmony as having “a proven record of success in STEM education.”
North Dakota Schools Chief Wants American Indian Culture Taught.
The AP (7/23, MacPherson) reports that North Dakota School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler wants the culture of American Indians taught in the state’s classrooms to gain “a common understanding of where we came from in order to have vision for the future.” She told about 60 teachers at the Indian Education Summit in Bismarck that she would look to the Montana program called “Indian Education for All” to create a curriculum. Montana requires schools to teach “all students about its American Indian tribes and reservations.” Baesler added that North Dakota’s “teachers are excited about this.” It would “integrate Indian education throughout the day into existing curriculums such as math, reading, music, history, physical education and other subjects” and also set aside specific time.
The Bemidji (MN) Pioneer (7/22, Nowatzki) also reports on Baesler’s plans.
Philadelphia School District Urges Ideas For “School Redesign Initiative.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer (7/22, Graham) reports that the Philadelphia School District is launching a “School Redesign Initiative” that encourages ideas from the community for up to 10 schools the district will transform, beginning in 2015. Teams whose ideas are accepted “would receive grants of up to $30,000 – to be raised through donations – to plan the overhauls, although teachers on redesign teams would have to do the work on their own time, and schools are not guaranteed bigger budgets to make the changes.” The report points out the redesign program represents “a shift for a system that has relied heavily on charter conversions to reform struggling schools.”
Study Suggests Charter Schools More Cost-Effective, But There Are Caveats.
NPR (7/22, Kamenetz, Sanchez) reports in its “NPREd” blog with embedded audio on a research finding from the University of Arkansas that US charter schools appear to deliver student performance in reading and math that is “roughly on par with public school performance,” but the charter schools deliver it for less money. NPR says it’s important to look at the study closely, however, in part because its findings are based “on the University of Arkansas group’s earlier research claiming that charter schools have less money to spend per student than traditional public schools.” Moreover, the study used one standardized test, the NAEP, or “Nation’s Report Card,” for score data.
Summer Programs Look To Increase Minorities In STEM Pipeline.
NBC News (7/23, Nobles) reports on several education programs looking to fix the “pipeline problem” that results in small percentages of minorities being employed at major tech companies like Yahoo, Facebook, and Google. One program, Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH) is a three-year high school program in California where “students of color are provided with mentors and college prep classes with the aim of getting them into top college science, math, and tech programs.” A series of hackathons were also held in Oakland, New York, and New Orleans focused on having students develop a “commercially viable” app that educates students on domestic violence. Lastly, a program in Harlem, New York called Hk teaches students about science and engineering during the summer and after school.
West Philadelphia School Focuses On Project-Based Education.
NPR (7/22, Mccorry) reports in its “Ed” blog, on The Workshop School in West Philadelphia, which has decided to focus entirely on project-based learning initiatives. The school focuses on STEM subjects and career technical education. The school divides its class by project group instead of traditional class periods by subjects. Students get traditional math and English instruction in the afternoon and work in two 90-minute project blocks in the morning.
School Ends Experiment With Longer School Day.
The Hechinger Report (7/22, Bailey) reports, on “a cautionary tale of what can happen when a low-performing school rushes to add time” to the school day in order to close the achievement gap. The article tells the story of New Haven Connecticut’s Brenna-Rogers school, which decided to extend the school day by an hour and 25 minutes one year and revert back to the original school time the following year. The school noticed no difference in student test scores despite the extended time, putting to bed any debate in the community about the extended school day.
On the Job
ED’s Teacher Equity Push Could Conflict With NCLB.
Alyson Klein writes at the Education Week (7/23) “Politics K-12” blog that teacher effectiveness has been a major focus of the Obama Administration over the past five years, noting that states’ Race tot he Top grants and NCLB waivers have both been tied to “teacher evaluations that take test scores into account.” Meanwhile, the Administration is advancing its “‘50-state strategy’ to ensure that low-income students have access to as many good teacher as their better-off peers” by means of “‘Educator Equity’ profiles that paint a picture of how states are doing when it comes to distributing teachers between high-poverty and wealthier schools, based primarily on ‘inputs.’” The article explores whether this approach conflicts with teacher equity mandates in NCLB.
Research Suggests Teachers Include More Physical Activity To Drive Comprehension.
The Scientific American (7/23) reports on a the success of teaching programs that encourage students to “act out” as a way to boost learning. For example, one reading program has students manipulate pictures on a computer screen that coincides with the meaning of a sentence. The trend reflects “a growing body of research” that show that acting out grounds the abstract material into bodily experiences. The research suggests that classrooms “should include more physical activity in their instruction” so that students comprehend what a sentence says rather than simply decode the words.
Scranton, Pennsylvania Teachers May Strike If No Deal Is Reached.
The Scranton (PA) Times Tribune (7/23) reports teachers in Scranton, Pennsylvania could strike if they are unable to reach a contract agreement with the Scranton School District by the first day of school. The news comes after the school board rejected a fact-finding report in a 4-3 vote at a meeting on Monday. The report would have been the basis for a contract had it been accepted.
Law & Policy
Report Calls On Colleges To Take Active Role In Supporting Common Core.
The Chronicle of Higher Education (7/23) reports that according to a new report from the New America Foundation, “higher education cannot afford to sit on the sidelines as states and secondary schools devise common standards that seek to define who’s ready for college.” Dubbed “Common Core Goes to College: Building Better Connections Between High School and Higher Education,” the report “calls on colleges and public schools to work together to agree on what it means to be college-ready.” The report faults colleges because they “have not adjusted their admissions, financial-aid, and remedial-education policies to line up with the standards.”
North Carolina Governor Signs Common Core Bill.
The AP (7/23, Ferral) reports that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has signed legislation mandating “the review and revision” of the Common Core Standards in the state, noting that the law orders “the State Board of Education to rewrite the Common Core standards based on recommendations from a new 11-member standards advisory commission.”
WRAL-TV Raleigh, NC (7/23) reports on line that the legislation is “designed to replace the controversial Common Core academic standards in North Carolina public schools with standards drawn up by a new state commission.” The piece notes that McCrory “has supported Common Core in the past,” but more recently has “acknowledged that some may need to be reviewed and corrected.”
Wisconsin Governor’s Move Against Common Core Sparks Criticism.
The Fond du Lac (WI) Reporter (7/22) reports that some Wisconsin educators, administrators, and Republican legislators are criticizing Gov. Scott Walker’s “recent call to scrap Common Core academic standards,” noting that one lawmaker called it “monkey business.” The article reports that some in the state call his move purely political.
Michigan Solicits Public Input On SBAC Replacement.
The AP (7/23) reports that the Michigan Department of Education is soliciting public input on “what Michigan’s next standardized test for students should look like.” The article notes that the state is transitioning away from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, and had “planned to administer the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced test next school year but ran into resistance from the Legislature.”
The Detroit Free Press (7/23, Higgins) reports that the DOE will also hold a public hearing on the issue, and has “established a two-week public comment period in which residents can share their thoughts.” The piece notes that the legislature “balked” at plans to adopt the Common Core-aligned SBAC tests, “and the state budget for this fiscal year bars the department from moving to the Smarter Balanced exam next year.”
ED Grants Idaho NCLB Waiver Extension.
The Boise (ID) Weekly (7/22) reports that ED has granted Idaho a “second extension for implementation of No Child Left Behind standards,” and notes that transitioning back to NCLB’s rules “could be difficult for schools with high poverty rates, have a high concentration of students for whom English is a second language, and other at-risk populations.”
The Twin Falls (ID) Times-News (7/23) reports that ED announced the extension on Friday, noting that instead of AYP, the state now uses “a five-star scale” to rate schools, including “multiple measures of student achievement, including academic growth, test scores, graduation rates and how many students are taking advanced classes.”
ED Yet To Announce Decision On Florida’s Waiver.
The Tampa Bay (FL) Times (7/23) reports that Florida “agreed to include the test scores of students still learning English when rating school performance” as a condition of receiving its NCLB waiver, but “activists fought back, saying that inclusion of results from” ELL students was in appropriate. The piece explains that in applying for a waiver extension, the state sought to refrain from using “accountability measures until after they had at least two years’ worth of learning in English.”
Safety & Security
High School Lacrosse Athletes Sustaining More Injuries.
The NPR (7/23, Hensley) “Shots” blog reports that according to research published online July 22 in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, high-school athletes that play lacrosse are sustaining more injuries, not just in games but also in practices. “Overall, there are about two injuries for every 1,000 exposures to the game,” the study found after analyzing “a database of reports compiled by athletic trainers at high schools across the country.”
HealthDay (7/23, Dallas) reports that even though “the most common injuries are sprains and strains, more than 22 percent are concussions,” the study found. “Boys sustained 67 percent of all injuries and had an overall higher injury rate than girls.” But, because “concussions accounted for 23 percent of all injuries sustained by girls,” the study authors pointed out that some people may argue that girls should wear helmets, too. Currently, the majority of girls’ lacrosse teams require only “protective eyewear and mouth guards.”
Study: US Principles More Likely To Consider Students Poor.
The New York Times (7/23, Leonhardt, Subscription Publication) reports that a new international study found that “principals in American schools believe that many of their students come from socioeconomically disadvantaged homes” more than any of the other 29 countries included in the study. The Times notes that this could be because US principles have lower expectations of low-income students.
Tuesday's Lead Stories
• Research Paints Mostly Positive Picture Of New School Lunch’s Success.
• School Nutrition Group Doubles Amount Spent On Lobbying This Year.
• Duncan Praises Rhode Island’s Teacher Equity Efforts.
• Louisiana Legislators File Suit To Prevent Common Core Implementation.
• Indiana One Of 15 States Meeting New Special Education Performance Evaluations.
• Poor Students Who Attend Better Schools May Engage In Less Risky Behavior.