Leading the News
Second High School Football Team’s Season Canceled Over Hazing.
The AP (10/23, Carlina) reports that Superintendent David Weitzel has canceled the remainder of the football season for Central Bucks High School West near Philadelphia, “after allegations rookie players were subjected to what officials called humiliating and inappropriate initiation rites.” Noting that the move comes “just weeks after the football season at Sayreville War Memorial High School in neighboring New Jersey ended over a hazing investigation,” the article reports that Weitzel “said in a letter Thursday to the school district community that players engaged in pre-season hazing at the school in Doylestown that included a requirement that rookies grab another player’s genitals while fully clothed.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer (10/24, Boccella, Palmer, Finley) reports that Weitzel wrote in a letter to parents that “an investigation determined that new players on the Doylestown-based team had been required to grab the private parts of other players, while fully clothed in front of the rest of the team.” Weitzel “also faulted players who he said did not participate but witnessed the activities, and a coaching staff he said failed to supervise the teens.”
In a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer (10/24), Rick O’Brien writes that this Friday was to have been the team’s homecoming game, and that there was one more game scheduled for October 31.
In the Classroom
Polis, Microsoft Exec Tout Student Data Privacy Pledge.
In commentary for The Hill (10/24) “Congress Blog,” Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Microsoft, write about advances in technology used for education and the fact that policymakers and corporations have not always appropriately addressed concerns about “appropriate security precautions to protect student privacy.” The writers suggest that Federal laws are not adequate to address the issue, and tout the “student privacy pledge” that was recently floated by Microsoft and other education technology firms. The writers note that the pledge includes “12 strong commitments that its charter signatories have promised to abide by regarding the collection, maintenance, and use of student personal information.”
New Los Angeles Unified Head Says Bonds Should Not Pay For iPad Curriculum.
The Los Angeles Times (10/22, Blume) reports newly Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines opposes the $1.3-billion iPad curriculum project, arguing voter-approved bonds should instead go toward a $40-billion backlog of vital construction and modernization projects; he has yet to be fully briefed on the technology program, however, and stated he is open-minded. The piece overviews the technology curriculum initiative and its tumultuous rollout, including resurgent concerns across the state over the legality of purchasing the digital curriculum with bonds.
Industry Expert Evidences Nationally Expanding Utilization Of Education Technology.
In the Huffington Post (10/24, Vander Ark), author and Getting Smart CEO Tom Vander Ark writes on the Highlander Institute’s Fuse RI initiative, supported by the Learning Accelerator, to integrate blended learning into all 57 districts and Local Education Agencies in Rhode Island. That example of education technology’s statewide expansion segues into a list of three other initiatives (Education Innovation Fellowship in DC, Vanguard Teachers in Georgia’s Fulton County, and the social learning platform Edmondo) before highlighting Next Generation Learning initiatives to promote student autonomy. The piece closes with the pillars of Vander Ark’s book, which are general principles cities should consider when designing or enlisting in such programs.
New York Attorney General, Education Department Review Immigrant Student Enrollment.
Newsday (10/24, Napolitano, Ramos) reports the New York attorney general’s office and Education Department will view schools’ compliance with enrollment procedures for immigrant students, beginning with Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, and Westchester counties, which have the largest numbers of unaccompanied minors. Nassau and Suffolk counties have witnessed an influx of 2,600 unaccompanied minors from January through September, the highest count in the tri-state and among the highest nationally. Districts have until November 13 to provide data including the number of unaccompanied minors seeking enrollment, the number of students denied between June 1 and October 22, and the average wait time before enrollment. The piece is contextualized within the declaration of education as a constitutional right under Plyler V. Doe (1982) and focuses on Hempstead as a center for the debate.
Alumni Leader: Don’t Remove Merit-Based Testing For New York City’s Best Schools.
Larry Cary, president of the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation and a leader of the Coalition of Specialized High Schools Alumni Organizations, argues in Newsday (10/24, Carry) against replacing admissions tests, “used at 100 other city high schools,” for New York City’s eight most elite high schools “in a misguided effort to promote certain minority groups.” Carry argues that two-thirds of Brooklyn Tech’s students qualify under Federal anti-poverty guidelines for free and subsidized lunches, calling the school and seven others “havens for working-class children from poor immigrant households.” Carry’s piece applauds de Blasio’s universal pre-K program but criticizes the removal of merit-based testing rather than identifying and nurturing African-American and Latino candidates earlier in middle schools.
Early Education Panel Calls For More Guided Play.
Kara Brounstein writes at the Education Week (10/24) “Early Years” blog about a panel discussion this week organized by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the First Five Years Fund, at which Temple University psychology professor Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek “lamented what she calls the ‘filling the gap’ solution to the nation’s lackluster student achievement and low graduation rates, essentially cramming more content into the early grades.” She and other panelists “called for more guided play in early-childhood classrooms—where the adult sets up the environment or toy in an interesting way, and then within that context, the child directs what goes on.”
Marin County, California Code Club Encourages Girls’ Computer Programming.
The Marin (CA) Independent Journal (10/24, Aghalagha) reports on Marin County, California’s independent, after-school, weekly Code Club programs, with classes offered exclusively to grade-school-aged girls. The piece also highlights the girls-only Intel Computer Clubhouse in San Rafael. Code Club began last year in software developer Douglas Tarr’s living room for 12 boys including his son; its popularity continues to grow across the county by word of mouth, now including 125 children (20 girls) in Mill Valley and prompting a second club to open in Greenbane, servicing 30. Tarr has eight employees and two high school students providing additional tutelage, which he believes is the key to the program’s success.
K-12 Education Blamed For Growing Inequality.
James Piereson, president of the William E. Simon Foundation, and author Naomi Schaefer Riley write in the Washington Post(10/24), that many in Washington including President Obama appear to believe that higher education is the key to reducing income inequality. They note that a number of colleges have been increasing efforts to recruit low-income students, but they argue, K-12 education is the real ground for inequality. They argue that successful charter schools show that low-income children can get into and do well in selective colleges. They maintain that the reason few low-income students apply to selective colleges is that they are unprepared to attend such schools, because of “the shameful state of our primary and secondary schools.”
On the Job
Survey: Fewer Teachers Support Common Core.
The Hechinger Report (10/23) reports that according to a new survey from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Scholastic, “fewer teachers are enthusiastic about Common Core implementation and fewer think the new standards will help their students.” The article reports that the percentage of teachers who express enthusiasm has dropped from 73% to 68% over the past year, and that “while more teachers continue to believe that the standards will help not hurt their students,” the number “who think the Common Core standards will be good for most of their students is down sharply.”
Half Of New York City’s New Superintendents Led Low-Performing Schools.
The New York Post (10/24, Short) reports seven of the 15 new superintendents appointed by New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña led schools that were rated below average, with many of their schools’ math and reading performances provided. The article further cites incidences of leadership oversights, as well as poor graduation rates and college enrollment rates from high schools led by appointees, before presenting the Department of Education’s argument that the new superintendents achieved better results than comparable schools. The article concludes with Fariña’s assurances that she will hold them accountable.
Oklahoma Education Department Budget Request Includes $2,500 Teaching Salary Raise.
KRMG-AM Tulsa, OK (10/24, Hill) reports the Oklahoma Department of Education’s $2.78 billion budget request for 2016 features a $2,500 salary increases for teachers in exchange for five more days of instruction. The budget request also includes $5.5 million for a transition back to No Child Left Behind requirements following the loss of the state’s flexibility waiver.
Tulsa (OK) World (10/24, Eger) reports the wage increases, which cost $213.4 million including the five additional days, Federal Insurance Contributions Act benefits, and state Teachers Retirement System obligations, was pushed as the “first step” to address the state’s teacher shortage. The budget, nearly $297 million higher than last year’s appropriation, includes $6.6 million more for the Reading Sufficiency Act and $2.3 million more for reading readiness for third-graders and those older below proficiency.
Idaho Teachers, Administrators Fight Tiered Licensing Proposal.
The Idaho Statesman (10/23, Richert) reports none of the 250 educators, administrators, or parents to attend the last of three public hearings on Idaho’s proposed, tiered teacher licensure system testified in favor of the measure. The proposal grants: three-year licenses for new teachers, renewable for up to three more; five-year renewable professional licenses for teachers meeting performance and student achievement expectations; and master licenses for high-performing, experienced teachers. The State Board will take 30 to 60 days to review public comments; State Board member Rod Lewis expects an adjusted plan to come before the 2015 Legislature.
Column: Female Teachers Preying On Students Has Far Reaching Consequences.
Petula Dvorak argues in the Washington Post (10/23, Dvorak) that sexual misconduct between female teachers and male students has far reaching consequences undermining gender equality and healthy relationships, contextualized within the trial of 22-year-old DC substitute teacher Symone Greene, who has pleaded not-guilty, and the 17-year-old student she engaged with in oral sex. The example is complicated by Greene’s strong résumé, status as a substitute, the student being above the age of consent, and the student videotaping the encounter, which went viral throughout the school. The article discusses the thousands of cases to occur, including several this year, and the perpetration of one in every three sexual encounters between students and teachers by female teachers.
Law & Policy
Opposition To Common Core Growing At Local Level.
Politico (10/23, Simon) reports that local school districts in many parts of the country are “revolting against the coming Common Core tests.” While many governors of both parties have begun to “back away” from the standards, the “hottest battles have shifted to the local level, where education officials are staging public revolts against state and federal mandates to administer Common Core exams.” The piece highlights the opposition of Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, saying her “defiance was striking in a district that has long been viewed as a national leader in test-based accountability” and the system was once run by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Tennessee Governor Announces Common Core Review Two Years Early.
Chalkbeat Tennessee (10/22) reports in continued coverage that Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has announced that the Common Core Standards “will undergo a period of intense review by the public and committees of educators.” The article notes that such reviews are normally conducted every six years, but that this one is taking place only four years after the state implemented the Common Core. The article hints at the “volatile” nature of the Common Core debate in Tennessee, noting that Haslam, state DOE officials, and the business community support the standards.
The Murfreesboro (TN) Daily News Journal (10/22) reports also covers this story, noting that Haslam “laid out the review process Wednesday that may produce changes to Tennessee’s standards by the end of 2015.” This piece focuses on the reactions of local educators.
Haslam: Review Doesn’t Indicate Retreat From Common Core. The AP (10/24, Schelzig) reports that Haslam on Thursday “insisted that his decision...doesn’t signal a retreat from the education standards in view of heavy criticism from teachers and tea party groups.” Haslam said that “he wants to clear up what he called misconceptions about Common Core, but stressed that he’s not backing off more rigorous math and language requirements.”
CPS CEO Seeking Permission To Delay PARCC Implementation.
Liana Heitin writes at the Education Week (10/24) “Curriculum Matters” blog that Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has announced that she is planning to ask ED and the state BOE for permission to “let the district hold off on giving PARCC tests districtwide for another year.” Byrd-Bennett said that she wants “to continue piloting PARCC, but delay full implementation for a year given that students will already be taking common-core-aligned tests.”
Writing at the Washington Post (10/23) “Answer Sheet” blog, Valerie Strauss paints Byrd-Bennett’s move as bad news for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, noting that Byrd-Bennett said on Wednesday “that she still has big concerns about the test and doesn’t want to administer it to students this spring.” Strauss relates other ways in which “things haven’t been going well for PARCC.”
Common Core Debate Roils Wyoming.
The Casper (WY) Star-Tribune (10/24) reports on the debate over the Common Core Standards in Wyoming, which adopted them in 2012. The article describes the general pros and cons of the argument, and describes failed legislation that would have pulled the sate out of the standards.
Research Explores Math Common Core’s Developmental Appropriateness.
Forbes (10/23) reports on the complaints that the Common Core math standards are too complicated for young students, noting that some fear that in their efforts to be rigorous, the standards could backfire by confusing students. The piece notes that educators and child development researchers have expressed reservations about “the appropriateness of the curriculum at each grade level,” particularly in the early grades.
Advocates Seek End To Federal Role In Common Core.
The Columbia (TN) Daily Herald (10/24, Phenicie) reports advocates on both sides of the debate say “the federal government should not be involved in adoption of the Common Core State Standards.” Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, said at a panel Wednesday, “The federal involvement in this has just been not helpful in every scenario that we’ve been following.” Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute agreed with Minnich that “there should not be set federal timelines for adoption of Common Core-aligned tests and tying teacher and principal evaluations to the results of those tests.”
Safety & Security
New Hampshire Education Department Gets $10 Million Federal Safety Grant.
The Washington Times (10/24) reports three New Hampshire school districts will share a five-year $10 million Federal grant to improve mental health service access in schools. The grant will aid 4,000 students by training 700 teachers, coaches, and other adults annually to better respond to mental health issues, making schools safer by reducing bullying, suspensions, substance abuse, and behavioral problems. The program also seeks to reduce the need for intensive mental health treatment, out-of-home placement, hospitalization or incarceration of children.
Texas Districts Face Rising Construction Costs.
The Houston Chronicle (10/24, Binkovitz) reports that increasing demand for construction in Texas will result in school district having to pay “a higher price tag than they might have even just a year ago” for expansion. A survey of general contractors in the state is showing that they are “struggling to keep up with demand and find workers.” Meanwhile, “districts in Texas, particularly suburban districts have been overwhelmed with demand.” Now those districts are “contending with rising construction costs.”
Illinois House Will Not Take Up School Funding Proposal This Year.
The Times of Northwest Indiana (10/24, Lee) reports that the Illinois General Assembly will not debate “a controversial proposal to overhaul how Illinois funds public schools.” State Rep. Linda Chapa Lavia (D-Aurora), chair of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee said that more discussion was required before bringing the proposal forward.
Thursday's Lead Stories
• Sayreville School Board Suspends Football Coaches Indefinitely.
• New York Officials To Review Long Island Schools’ Handling Of Immigrant Children.
• Nearly All Louisiana Teachers Subjectively Rated “Effective” Or “Highly Effective.”
• Chicago Schools Chief To Request Delay On PARCC Exam.
• Philadelphia City Controller Report Calls For New Charter-School Funding Formula.