Daily Headlines for August 31, 2011

Going Back to School with More Choice
Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2011
Columnist Bill McGurn on Indiana school vouchers and Catholic school enrollment. Also, Heritage Foundation fellow Rachel Sheffield on the expansion of school choice.

FROM THE STATES

CALIFORNIA

L.A. Unified Gives Insiders First Chance At New Charter Campuses
Los Angeles Times, CA, August 31, 2011
District alters policy to allow teachers and administrators priority in submitting plans, instead of charter groups and other outsiders. Any group can still compete for existing, low-performing schools.

Schools Told To Follow Rules Or Lose Money
San Francisco Chronicle, CA, August 31, 2011
San Francisco school officials have some explaining – and complying – to do.
Last year, the district failed to follow the strict rules attached to a $56 million, three-year federal grant to improve student performance at 10 of its lowest-performing schools.

COLORADO

Daniels Fund Promises Up To $530,000 To Help Douglas County Schools In Voucher Case
Denver Post, CO, August 31, 2011
The Daniels Fund, known across the West for helping send needy and deserving kids to college, has agreed to pay much of the legal bill for the Doug las County School District as the district fights to keep its voucher program alive.

In Education, Money Isn’t All
Denver Post, CO, August 31, 2011
The amount of funding available for K-12 education in Colorado has led to considerable debate. The Lobato case being heard before the state Supreme Court challenges the constitutionality of our school finance system, and Proposition 103 is a ballot initiative for raising additional state revenues for public schools.

FLORIDA

From Pre-K to College: Invest Now
Miami Herald, FL, August 30, 2011
Florida voters feel so strongly about the importance of public education that more than a decade ago they passed a constitutional amendment calling it the state’s “paramount duty.” They also have approved a class-size amendment and a “high-quality” universal, voluntary pre-K program available at public schools or through private schools or faith-based organizations.

Staff Opposes Application of Charter School for ESE Students
Gainesville Sun, FL, August 31, 2011
Alachua County school district staff recommended denying a charter for H3 Direct Academy Inc., a charter school that would have served students with mild to severe cognitive disabilities.

GEORGIA

Misquote Clouds Charter’s Problems
Atlanta Journal Constitution, GA, August 31, 2011
Some charter school advocates are using a quote attributed to me to try to further their cause. Trouble is, they’re misquoting me – and they should know it, as they attended the Cherokee County school board meeting where I made the statement.

ILLINOIS

No Changes To CPS Admission Rules For Magnet, Selective Schools
Chicago Tribune, IL, August 31, 2011
The Chicago Board of Education passed a multiyear admissions policy for magnet and selective enrollment schools last week, allowing changes made last year to stay in place in the long term.

Brizard, Teachers Union Agree On More Rigorous Curriculum
Chicago Tribune, IL, August 31, 2011
After weeks of public feuding over teacher salaries and longer school days, Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard and the teachers union came together Tuesday to embrace a more rigorous curriculum for CPS students beginning the 2012-13 school year.

Chicago Public School To Vote On Converting To Charter
WBEZ, IL, August 30, 2011
It’s believed to be the first time ever: a local school council at a Chicago public school will consider a resolution to shut itself down for poor performance and convert to a charter school.

INDIANA

Public Learns More On Takeovers
Indianapolis Star, IN, August 31, 2011
Practical concerns about state intervention at some local schools dominated questions from community residents at public forums Tuesday night.

KANSAS

K-12 Reform Needed
Topeka Capital Journal, KS, August 30, 2011
According to the U.S. Department of Education, only a third of Kansas students are proficient in reading and roughly one out of four are functionally illiterate.

MASSACHUSETTS

Parent Power
Boston Globe Blog, MA, August 30, 2011
Used to be that Massachusetts was the epicenter of most of the innovations occurring in education. We had the best standards in the nation.

MICHIGAN

Snyder’s Education Plan Should Include Vouchers
Times Herald, MI, August 31, 2011
Gov. Rick Snyder wants to provide students with more learning opportunities by increasing the number of charter schools, expanding the Schools of Choice program and providing more access to online courses.

MISSOURI

Kansas City School District Loses Leader Who Began Turnaround Effort
New York Times, NY, August 31, 2011
John Covington arrived here two years ago with the promise of transforming a district that had become synonymous with the failures of urban education. He even managed to win support for his drastic recommendation to shut down nearly half its schools, saying it was a necessary step to achieve desperately needed stability.

NEVADA

At Start Of School Year, Teachers Unions Are Not Happy
Las Vegas Sun, NV, August 31, 2011
Teacher unions across Nevada are refusing to make concessions in contract negotiations and lashing out against politicians who were once their allies. The source of their anger? Budget cuts and changes to education rules.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

School Misstep On Lottery Baffling
Nashua Telegraph, NH, August 31, 2011
Since its opening four years ago, the Academy for Science and Design in Merrimack has made quite a name for itself as one of the top-achieving schools in the state – charter or otherwise.

State Education Official: School Choice Controversy Highlights NCLB Weaknesses
Portsmouth Herald, NH, August 31, 2011
The deputy commissioner of the N.H. Department of Education said the city’s recent struggles with the issue of school choice in its elementary schools points a spotlight on the weaknesses in the federal No Child Left Behind law.

NEW JERSEY

Jersey City Opens Math, Engineering Charter School
Jersey Journal, NJ, August 31, 2011
Joined by Jersey City Jerramiah T. Healy, METS Charter School officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday at its new schoolhouse at 108 Ninth St.

NEW YORK

City Teachers Union Seeks to Appeal Ruling
Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2011
The New York City teachers union has filed a request to appeal a judge’s decision that teachers’ names should be made public alongside scores that attempt to measure their students’ progress.

NORTH CAROLINA

Unite for Teacher Training
News Observer, NC, August 31, 2011
It’s fitting that most of the nation’s 55 million pre-K through high school students are going back to school just before and after Labor Day. The folks running the show in the classrooms and the offices have become the dominant force in today’s union movement.

NORTH DAKOTA

State Panel Delays New Teacher Evaluation Method
Argus Leader, ND, August 31, 2011
The department asked the six-member legislative rules committee to adopt a professional teachers rule that would set statewide standards for teacher performance and evaluation.

OHIO

Charter School Futility
Cleveland Plain Dealer, OH, August 30, 2011
The state has to find a better and more timely way to put poorly performing charter schools out of business.

PENNSYLVANIA

Catholic Teachers Ask For Mediator
Philadelphia Daily News, PA, August 31, 2011
THE UNION representing teachers at Catholic high schools yesterday asked for the Philadelphia Archdiocese to call in a mediator to resolve a contract dispute that threatens the start of the school year.

Democratic Legislators Seek To Abolish Philadelphia School Reform Commission
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, August 31, 2011
Skewering the Philadelphia School Reform Commission as an ineffective, dysfunctional body that answers to no one, four area legislators called Tuesday for its dissolution.

Could a Board Do Worse?
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, August 31, 2011
Sen. Mike Stack’s proposal to replace the School Reform Commission with an elected board of education is timely.

RHODE ISLAND

Charter Schools Give More Poor, Minority Children A Chance
Providence Journal, RI, August 30, 2011
You would have to have a heart of stone to visit the Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy in Cumberland, and come away wanting to block other children, particularly poor and minority ones, from having this opportunity.

SOUTH CAROLINA

School Board May OK Quick NC Charter Schools Jump
Myrtle Beach Sun News, SC, August 31, 2011
North Carolina is setting up a fast-track system to allow new charter schools to open in time for classrooms to open a year from now.

WASHINGTON

Teachers Ignored In Education Reform
Spokesman-Review, WA, August 31, 2011
If you want to “fix schools,” apparently, there’s one group of people you should ignore. Teachers.

WISCONSIN

Charter Schools: Starting With Boys Makes Sense
Wisconsin State Journal, WI, August 31, 2011
It’s an odd twist to the intriguing proposal for an all-male charter school in Madison. The state Department of Public Instruction told the State Journal last week that it’s reviewing whether the proposal for Madison Preparatory Academy complies with federal and state laws requiring boys and girls to receive equal educational opportunities.

Ag-Based Charter School Gets Boost From State
Fond du Lac Reporter, WI, August 31, 2011
Two years ago, when massive budget deficits forced school officials to shutter three grade schools in the Waupun Area School District, the small communities of Alto and Fox Lake particularly mourned their loss.

Racine School Voucher System Gets Mixed Reviews
WISN, WI, August 30, 2011
One of the governor’s controversial budget items is playing out in Racine this week as kids go back to school.

VIRTUAL EDUCATION

MC Joins Virtual Academy
Lancaster News Era, PA, August 30, 2011
After paying fees of more than $1 million over two years for student enrollment in cyber schools, Manheim Central board members agreed Aug. 16 to join the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13′s Virtual Academy.

Norman Named Pilot Site For National Virtual Learning Program
The Oklahoman, OK, August 30, 2011
Norman Public Schools was selected from districts across the nation to pilot an online learning program for the next three years. The pilot program is being completely funded by Gen. Colin Powell’s Americas Promise Alliance.

Oregon Students Taking Classes Online
KDRV, OR, August 30, 2011
Most Oregon students will return to class next week; but for Oregon Connections Academy Students, today was their first day back to school. Unlike other students, starting their school day was only a click away. This school year, some students have opted for a different type of
learning, and teachers are also exploring this virtual classroom setting, both in hopes of finding an environment that suits them best.

Newswire: August 30, 2011

BACK TO SCHOOL ’11

Forget the notebooks, pens and binders. What we need to help our kids start school right is some common sense in policy! Here’s the first of our BTS wishes for the new school year. More next week!

WISH # 1  MORE BLENDED LEARNING. You know an innovation is on the rise when they write a white paper about it. And, so it is with blended learning, a mixture of on-line and brick-and-mortar education. “The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning: Profiles of Emerging Models,” the white paper, was published by Innosight Institute, a research firm, and the Charter School Growth Fund, which invests in charter school management organizations. Report authors call blended learning a “disruptive innovation,” a term coined by Harvard’s Clayton M. Christensen that describes those innovations that “fundamentally transform a sector by replacing expensive, complicated and inaccessible products or services with much less expensive, simpler and more convenient alternatives.” Blended learning, which is beginning to bubble up around the country, may be the spark that totally transforms the delivery of American education. In 2000, only 45,000 K-12 kids took an online course. By 2010, 4 million students participated in some type of on-line learning, according to “The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning.” The paper tells us that it started with a small group of students – homeschoolers, gifted kids needing classes their schools didn’t offer, rural students, kids needing remedial support and others. But, now it is weaving its way into a broader population, sometimes embraced because it is seen as soft on the budget and sometimes because it simply supports student and family flexibility.

At a recent conference, Harvard reformer (yes, it’s true) Paul Peterson spoke of digital learning as a “trend to blended learning.” It seems to be an outgrowth of a combination of homeschooling and widespread digital opportunities in school. Some districts look at it as a way to regain homeschoolers who need flexibility in their schedules (kids at high levels in the arts, sports). Whatever the reason behind the growth in blended learning, the tools and technology coupled with a focus on individualization of education are reason enough to put more blended learning on our wish list. The white paper provides multiple models for blended learning and defines the various forms it already is taking. Blended learning is a choice option on the move. So, let’s get disruptive and encourage more blended learning opportunities for families.

(Open Solution’s Tom Van der Ark tells us why teachers should like blended learning)

WISH #2  REPLICATE WHAT’S WORKING. A major problem in American education is not that we don’t have the information and models for what’s working to improve student achievement. Blocking our path to create positive change is the inability to replicate success which, in many cases, is fueled by a lack of urgency to do what’s right. In his study, “The Other Lottery: Are Philanthropists Backing the Best Charter Schools?,” Cato Institute’s Andrew Coulson not only makes the same charge, but shows via sound research the lack of connection between philanthropists’ dollars and California’s charter school outcomes. Coulson briefly reviews charter school research, concluding that while it is difficult to state with certainty how charters stack up against traditional public schools in terms of student test scores, “we can say with greater confidence. . . that some charters perform significantly better . . . “). But, are these successful charters the ones receiving grants that could go a long way toward replication? No, not at all in the state under review. The highest-performing California charter school networks (American IndianOakland Charter AcademiesWilder’s Foundation) rank significantly lower in terms of grant money they receive. Coulson concludes that given his findings, we cannot “assume that philanthropy is a reliable mechanism” for replicating success in education. But, knowledge is power, so spreading the word on his report may encourage some of those high donors to make our wish to replicate success come true.

WISH #3 TAKE THE EDUCATION MAJOR SERIOUSLY. For some time, the ed major has been considered “Mickey Mouse” material, eg. “look at those nice kids who care about children going to college to study education!” Certainly a care for kids is fundamental to teaching and yes, there are some high-achieving students in teacher prep programs, but what is driving many of the top minds away from those ed schools is that they offer little intellectual challenge. A report from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) gives depth to this long-but-little-known fact. “Grade Inflation for Education Majors and Low Standards for Teachers: When Everyone Makes the Grade,” suggests that low grading standards are the reason students in ed schools are consistently higher than grades in other disciplines. This is not a recent phenomenon. A 1960 analysis shows undergrads taking education classes were twice as likely to receive an “A” compared with students in business or liberal arts departments. Of course, the consequences are severe. First it means we are training teachers who know less (no kidding); and second, it means that education departments are contributing to the culture of low standards for educators (perhaps a reason why there is so much outrage over new and more rigorous teacher evaluation systems). Even the AFT admits teacher educators and their liberal arts counterparts fail to collaborate to ensure that ed majors have both pieces of the teaching equation: pedagogy AND subject matter. While the AFT thinks the Common Core may be reason enough for the two sides to play together, we do not. But, what may do the job is tougher teacher evaluations — and performance pay. But, that’s a wish for another day!

Daily Headlines for August 30, 2011

Union Ties To Anti-Rhee Site Roil Schools Fight
USA Today, August 29, 2011
The USA’s school-reform conversation just got a bit nastier. A student-advocacy group run by former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee said today that an anonymous website that for months has published sharp and sometimes personal criticisms of Rhee was created last February on a computer registered to the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers union.

The Answer: Zero In On Reading
Boston Globe, MA, August 30, 2011
The dichotomy is striking, and it highlights the trouble with our current efforts to equalize schools. We do need standards to guarantee success. But standardized tests are a cudgel that creates a whole new set of problems.

FROM THE STATES

CALIFORNIA

LAUSD Vote on Changes to Public School Choice Expected
Daily Breeze, CA, August 29, 2011
Los Angeles Unified officials are expected to vote Tuesday on a plan that could dramatically change the rules of the district’s landmark Public School Choice reform program.

New Charter School Opens in Berkeley
The Daily Californian, CA, August 29, 2011
After much anticipation, Berkeley Unified School District’s first and only charter school opened Tuesday, welcoming sixth and ninth grade students to its West Berkeley campus.

CUSD Works Well With Charter Schools
Chico Enterprise-Record, CA, August 30, 2011
As Chico Unified School District’s director of alternative education, it’s time to clear the air on CUSD and its relationships with charter schools.

COLORADO

Field of Nine Jockeying for Position in Denver Public School Board Race
Denver Post, CO, August 30, 2011
This year’s election for three open seats on the Denver Public Schools board will likely be a nail-biter for movers and shakers who are ready to throw in cash and candidate support with hopes of shaping education policy in the city.

Judge Denies Douglas County Schools Request For Stay On Voucher Injunction
Denver Post, CO, August 30, 2011
Denver District Court Judge Michael Martinez on Monday denied a stay requested by the Douglas County School District for its voucher program.

GEORGIA

A Divided Dekalb School Board Selects Atkinson
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, GA, August 29, 2011
A divided DeKalb County school board ended its two year hunt for a new school boss Monday and hired Cheryl L. H. Atkinson to become the next person to take over Georgia ‘s third largest school district.

ILLINOIS

Brizard Sailing Into Rough Waters At Helm Of CPS Reform
Chicago Tribune, IL, August 30, 2011
The escalating battle with the Chicago Teachers Union is just one of the many challenges Brizard has encountered in his first 100 days with the Chicago school system. (He’s scheduled to register his car in Illinois next week, his staff said).

INDIANA

Takeover Advances
Indianapolis Star, IN, August 30, 2011
The first state takeover of local schools in Indiana moved forward Monday, but not without some cautions by the State Board of Education.

NEVADA

Teacher Contract Negotiations
Las Vegas Review-Journal, NV, August 30, 2011
The excitement and optimism of the first day of school Monday was a welcome distraction from the Clark County School District’s labor problems.

Teachers Union Gives Nevada Legislature F Grade
Las Vegas Review-Journal, NV, August 29, 2011
Nevada legislators failed K-12 schools this session with deep budget cuts and changes to teacher evaluation and collective bargaining rules, according to a report card the state teachers union released Monday that flunks every elected Republican and serves near-failing grades to some high-ranking Democrats.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Teachers’ Unions Are A Monopoly
Exeter News, NH, August 30, 2011
Teachers’ unions are virtual monopolies which are driving up the cost of educating our children and, in many cases, compromising educational results. When discussing problems with our educational system, many of us are careful to direct our critical comments toward teachers’ unions rather than teachers. It is as if we feel the teachers are union victims along with taxpayers, students and their parents.

NEW JERSEY

N.J. Approves of Christie’s Education Proposals – To A Point
NJ Newsroom, NJ, August 29, 2011
Most New Jerseyans support education reforms proposed by Gov. Chris Christie, such as tenure reform and voucher programs, according to a Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll released on Monday.

NEW YORK

Ruling That Gives Unions A Veto Over State Teacher Evaluations Of Their Members Must Be Overturned
New York Daily News, NY, August 30, 2011
A judge has put the teachers union in command of the drive for school reform in New York. Good luck with that.

OHIO

7,000 Teachers Could Face Tests On Their Smarts
Columbus Dispatch, OH, August 30, 2011
If Ohio’s new teacher-retesting program were in place now, nearly 900 teachers in 41 struggling Columbus schools would have to take tests to prove they know their subjects.

PENNSYLVANIA

Catholic Teachers And The Philadelphia Archdiocese Are Far Apart On Contract Talks
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, August 30, 2011
After five months of talks, the Office of Catholic Education and the union representing lay teachers at 17 Catholic high schools remain far apart on terms of a new contract, with the existing agreement expiring Wednesday.

City Schools Struggle With Disparity
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PA, August 30, 2011
Members of the
city’s board of education met in a workshop Monday evening to address the school district’s progress — or lack of progress — with the continuing struggles of African-American students.

Avon Grove Extends Charter
Journal Register, PA, August 29, 2011
“We are very proud of the relationship that has existed over the past 10 years with the Avon Grove School Board,” Brady said. “This is a model of how things should work for the benefit of the students.

TENNESSEE

Teachers Question Evaluation Plan
The Tennessean, TN, August 29, 2011
Tennessee teachers are back in school and gearing up for a productive year with their students. This is always an exciting time for educators and children, a time to make a fresh start.

Feds Test Teacher Bonuses
The Tennessean, TN, August 30, 2011
This year, 1,500 Metro teachers and principals in 22 low-income, low-performing schools could win a share of $1.75 million in performance-based bonuses. The Metro Nashville school district is participating in a federally funded pilot study to see if educator incentive pay will increase students’ test scores and teachers’ desire to stay in their jobs.

VIRGINIA

Patrick Henry Charter School Pressed On Bus Service
Richmond Times-Dispatch, VA, August 29, 2011
The Richmond School Board wants a commitment by Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts to offer reliable transportation for needy students, even though it’s not required in the agreement that created the charter school.

WISCONSIN

Milwaukee Scholars Charter School Begins First School Year
Fox6now, WI, August 29, 2011
Milwaukee Scholars Charter School opened its doors to excited uniformed students. By recess time the students were feeling more relaxed what when they walk through the school doors for the first time.

VIRTUAL EDUCATION

Virtual Schooling, Real Results
Detroit News, MI, August 30, 2011
Every principal looks forward to the first day of school when students return with fresh minds eager to learn and ready to work.

Daily Headlines for August 26, 2011

Standardized Tests: Time For A National Opt-Out
The Baltimore Sun, MD, August 25, 2011
With every new testing mandate, combined with recent scandals chipping away at the once impossibly smooth veneer of test-based education reforms, many teachers, parents and administrators are getting frustrated. Where have market-driven and data-obsessed policies taken us over the last 10 years?

Ed Chief Duncan: Locals, Not Feds, Must Run Schools
Newsmax, August 26, 2011
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is downplaying the role of the federal government in the nation’s schools, pushing the responsibility to the local level.

FROM THE STATES

CALIFORNIA

California Asks to Be Excused from No Child Left Behind Requirements
The Sacramento Bee, CA, August 26, 2011
State schools chief Tom Torlakson has asked for a reprieve from the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Schools Chief Seeks Relief From Law Labeling Schools As ‘Failing’
Los Angeles Times, CA, August 25, 2011
California’s top school official has requested immediate relief from federal guidelines that, if unaltered, would label nearly 80% of schools serving large numbers of low-income students as failing.

FLORIDA

Race to the Top: Florida to Seek Grant for Early-Childhood Education
The Orlando Sentinel, FL, August 25, 2011
Florida plans to compete for $100 million in the federal government’s latest Race to the Top program, assuming the Florida Legislature is willing to accept other federal money it had previously rejected.

Charter School Enrollment Climbs 56% in Hillsborough
WTSP, FL, August 25, 2011
State legislators and the governor have given families more school choice this school year and among the options are charter schools. These are publicly funded schools that are privately owned and operated. Hillsborough school district officials say charter school enrollment is up 56%.

ILLINOIS

Teachers Reject 2 Percent Pay Hike For 90 More Minutes In School Day
Chicago Sun-Times, IL, August 26, 2011
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis Thursday rejected an offer of a 2 percent raise for working a 90-minute-longer school day, saying teachers would not be “bullied” by public attempts to push through a slapdash plan.

INDIANA

IPS Board Votes To Sue Over Takeovers
The Indianapolis Star, IN, August 26, 2011
Next school year, four Indianapolis Public Schools will be among the first to be taken over by the state of Indiana, if the state Board of Education — as expected — approves that recommendation Monday.

Schools Work To Keep Pace With New Students
Daily Journal, IN, August 26, 2011
Greenwood Christian Academy’s 4-year-old building is too small. The private school has no classrooms to spare. Teachers have converted space in the school’s front lobby and a staff member’s office into classrooms, and next year three more will be built above the auditorium.

LOUISIANA

Ousted New Orleans Principals Sue the Recovery School District
The Times-Picayune, LA, August 25, 2011
State education officials will head to New Orleans civil district court Friday, facing a lawsuit from three public school principals they fired back in July.

Cao Wants To Be La. Education Chief
Associated Press, August 25, 2011
A former Republican congressman from New Orleans is pitching himself to be Louisiana’s next education superintendent.

MISSOURI

KC Schools Chief Says He’s Leaving
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MO, August 26, 2011
The possible departure of a popular Kansas City school superintendent has stirred concerns that the historically troubled district could fall back into a routine of uncertainty, one that has seen heavy turnover in the top leadership role for years.

Missouri Preparing To Apply for Millions of Dollars In Early Learning Grant
Southeast Missourian, MO, August 26, 2011
Improved access to early education in Missouri and other states could come soon in the form of federal grants, but only if the states can show efforts to improve on their own

NEW YORK

Teacher Rankings Ordered Released
Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2011
A state court on Thursday ordered New York City to release data that ranks thousands of schoolteachers based on student test scores, saying the public interest in disclosure overrides privacy concerns.

NY Appeals Court Rules That Teacher Ratings Can Be Made Public
Los Angeles Times, August 26, 2011
The New York City school system and its teachers union had been fighting in court over the ratings, which are based on a “value-added” analysis that links teachers to their students’ standardized test scores.

OREGON

Oregon Students Who Meet Common Core State Standards Will Be Ready For College, Study Says
The Oregonian, OR, August 25, 2011
High school students who meet new common state academic standards, as Oregon youth will be expected to do in three years, will be well prepared for college, according to results of a Eugene research center study released Wednesday.

PENNSYLVANIA

Hearing In Neshaminy Blasts Teacher Strikes
The Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, August 26, 2011
Pennsylvania must prohibit teacher strikes to ensure that children get the education they deserve and school districts are able to negotiate affordable contracts, lawmakers, school board officials, and parents told the state House Education Committee on Thursday.

Time For Ackerman To Get Specific With Her Accusations
The Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, August 26, 2011
Whatever else you can say about Arlene Ackerman’s $905,000 buyout, you can’t call it hush money. The former school-district superintendent has been on blast since she floated to a soft landing in her public/private parachute Wednesday.

Ackerman Blames Nutter, Union, And Politics For Her Ouster
The Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, August 25, 2011
In her first public comment since quitting as city school superintendent, Arlene C. Ackerman blamed Mayor Nutter, the teachers’ union, and other political forces for her removal, and said her troubles began when she refused to overrule parents in favor of a politically connected contractor.

Senate Considers Charter School Regs
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PA, August 26, 2011
A proposal to update the state’s rules for charter and cyber schools could bring more oversight to those institutions, but critics said Thursday that it still wouldn’t resolve issues with how those schools are funded.

RHODE ISLAND

Charter School Foes Speak Out
The Providence Journal, RI, August 26, 2011
Speakers at a packed rally Wednesday called Mayor Allan W. Fung’s plan for a new charter school a mistake and urged him to spend money on the city’s neglected public schools instead

City To Impose New Terms On Teachers
The Providence Journal, RI, August 25, 2011
After reaching an impasse in contract negotiations with the city’s teachers union, School Supt. Frances Gallo said late Wednesday afternoon that the district would unilaterally impose new terms on the district’s 330 teachers starting Sept. 1 — a move made only
once before by a school district in Rhode Island

UTAH

The Year of Choice?
Deseret News, UT, August 26, 2011
KSL-TV reported this week that school choice is gaining popularity in Utah, with some parents willing to drive many miles out of their way to deliver children to schools that best meet their needs.

VIRGINIA

Roanoke County School Board Considers Forgoing Federal Funds
Roanoke Times, VA, August 26, 2011
Roanoke County School Board members said they may forgo federal Title I funding to release some schools or even the entire division from the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

WASHINGTON

Everett School Board Meeting And Fighting Starts – Literally
Seattle Times, WA, August 25, 2011
Tuesday night, three Everett police cars showed up at that city’s school district offices after two 911 calls alleging Everett School Board members were assaulting each other.

VIRTUAL LEARNING

Metro’s Virtual School has 135-plus Openings
The Tennessean, TN, August 26, 2011
Metro Nashville Public Schools has openings for 135 full-time and several part-time students in its online high school.

Daily Headlines for August 25, 2011

How to Fix Our Math Education
New York Times, NY, August 25, 2011
There is widespread alarm in the United States about the state of our math education.

Duncan: No Link Between Cheating, NCLB
Washington Times, DC, August 25, 2011
Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Wednesday denied that there is a direct “causal” effect between the high-stakes testing under the No Child Left Behind law and the cheating scandals that have erupted in school systems across the country, including the District.

FROM THE STATES

ARKANSAS

A New Civil Rights Struggle in Little Rock?
Arkansas News, AR, August 25, 2011
Giving poor children vouchers from public money to attend private, parochial or charter schools – could that possibly be the new civil rights struggle in American education?

CALIFORNIA

Achievement Gap Persists
Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2011
Affluent Los Altos is home to some of the best public schools in the state, but the district serving most of the town has larger gaps in math scores between fourth-graders of different income levels than any other in the Bay Area.

LAUSD’s John Deasy Stresses Administrator Responsibility, Promises Aid
Los Angeles Times, CA, August 25, 2011
Los Angeles Unified Supt. John Deasy addresses administrators and says they must take more responsibilities; he also promises to help free them from bureaucratic restraints.

COLORADO

DPS Gets $12 Million Grant To Help New Principals
Denver Post, CO, August 25, 2011
Denver Public Schools received its largest grant ever from a foundation this week – $12 million over five years – to help recruit, train and support new principals.
Aspiring principals in licensure programs will have more opportunities to take full-year residencies working with master principals.

FLORIDA

New State Laws Help Spur New Charter School Applications
The Ledger, FL, August 24, 2011
With new state laws making it easier to set up charter schools, school districts statewide are seeing an increase in charter applications.

The Broward School District Seeks Repayment From Some Teachers
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, FL, August 24, 2011
Two years ago, the Broward School District erroneously gave about 158 teachers a salary bump, paying out an extra $193,551. Now it’s demanding they repay the money – even though 18 of those teachers have since lost their jobs or resigned.

ILLINOIS

School Board Passes Property Tax Increase, CPS Pushes Longer Day
Chicago Sun-Times, IL, August 25, 2011
Chicago School Board members Wednesday unanimously approved a budget packing a $150 million property tax increase as school officials offered elementary teachers raises totaling $15 million to work a longer day.

CPS Board Approves Tax Hike And Budget For Next Year, But Challenges Remain
Chicago Tribune, IL, August 24, 2011
Chicago Public Schools’ governing board on Wednesday unanimously approved a tax increase to support a $5.9 billion budget for next year amid growing concerns about the district’s long-term financial health and an escalating public battle with the teachers union over longer school days and pay.

LOUISIANA

New Orleans Shows Most Gains As Region’s ACT Scores Improve
The Times-Picayune, LA, August 24, 2011
Average scores on the ACT exam — considered an important gauge of college readiness — generally improved, or at least held steady, for pupils across the New Orleans area this year, according to state data released Wednesday.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

State To Keep Eye On School Lottery
Nashua Telegraph, NH, August 25, 2011
State education officials will supervise an admissions lottery if one is necessary at the Academy for Science and Design next year, after the school acknowledged it wrongly barred dozens of students from a chance to attend the school this year.

NEW JERSEY

Newark Mayor Cory Booker Angered By ACLU’s Lawsuit Over Facebook Founder’s $100M Donation To City Schools
The Star-Ledger, NJ, August 24, 2011
A lawsuit filed by the ACLU seeking greater transparency over Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to Newark schools set off a firestorm Tuesday, drawing a rare angry response from Mayor Cory Booker.

NEW YORK

Teacher Tests Overhaul Goal Struck Down
Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2011
New York’s effort to overhaul its system for evaluating teachers suffered a setback on Wednesday when a state judge ruled that public-school educators can’t be deemed ineffective based only on the performance of their students.

A Quiet First Day for an Upper West Side Charter School
New York Times Blog, NY, August 24, 2011
But the months leading up to the opening of this charter school, part of the Success Charter Network run by Eva S. Moskowitz, a former City Council member, were anything but typical.

NORTH CAROLINA

Parents And Advocates Helped Save CMS From Drastic Cuts
The Charlotte Observer, NC, August 25, 2011
When the first school bell rings this week, there will be no science lab at Shamrock Gardens Elementary. Smith (now Waddell) Language Academy will have half the security staff of last year. Double Oaks Pre-Kindergarten Center, along with 13 other schools, will not open its doors.

OHIO

Cleveland Schools Chief Celebrates Gains, Evaluates Setbacks On First Day Of School
The Plain Dealer, OH, August 25, 2011
Eric Gordon, the new CEO of the Cleveland schools, delivered a clear message Wednesday on the first day school at John Marshall High School: Well done. The West Side high school moved from academic watch to
continuous improvement on newly released state report cards.

Charter Schools Partnering With the Cleveland School District Score Well on State Report Card
The Plain Dealer, OH, August 24, 2011
The group of charter schools that the Cleveland school district partners with excelled on this year’s state report cards.

First-Class School
Columbus Dispatch, OH, August 25, 2011
It isn’t fairy dust that creates an excellent school, in which teachers teach effectively and students learn well. No, the magic results from hard work, high expectations and effective management.

PENNSYLVANIA

More Than 200 Central Bucks Students Opt Out of Blogging Teacher’s Classes
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, August 24, 2011
More than 200 Central Bucks High School East students have requested to be kept out of the classes of a teacher suspended for a time over her blog comments, a district spokeswoman said Tuesday.

City School Board Cuts 30 More Jobs
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PA, August 25, 2011
The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools voted Wednesday night to eliminate an additional 30 jobs through a mix of furloughs and layoffs, most of them classroom paraprofessionals

Ackerman Blames Nutter, Union, And Politics For Her Ouster
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, August 25, 2011
In her first public comment since quitting as city school superintendent, Arlene C. Ackerman blamed Mayor Nutter, the teachers’ union, and other political forces for her removal, and said her troubles began when she refused to overrule parents in favor of a politically connected contractor.

Penn Hills Charter School Opens
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PA, August 25, 2011
For most of the summer, the hallways of the old William Penn Elementary School in Penn Hills have been teeming with construction crews and school officials eager for classes to begin.

RHODE ISLAND

Gist to Report on Use of Race to Top Funds
The Providence Journal, RI, August 24, 2011
One year ago, Rhode Island won a portion of an unprecedented $4-billion federal grant program, securing $75 million over a four-year period to improve local schools – the largest single competitive grant in state history.

Meeting Marks RI’s Race to Top Grant, Challenges Ahead
Providence Journal, RI, August 24, 2011
Rhode Island’s top political and education leaders gathered Wednesday morning to commemorate the anniversary of the state’s Race to the Top grant which is bringing in $75 million in federal money to improve local public schools.

TENNESSEE

Few Students Take Option of Leaving High-Priority Murfreesboro Elementary
The Tennessean, TN, August 25, 2011
Mitchell-Neilson Elementary will only lose a handful of students in the coming days because of its classification as a high priority school. “We have only had six families request the move. I am very pleased with that number,” said Principal Robin Newell.

Memphis Reaches Tentative Plan For Makeup Of Education Board During Schools Merger
The Tennessean, TN, August 25, 2011
School officials in Memphis and Shelby County reached a tentative agreement Wednesday about the makeup of a 23-member board of education that will oversee the merger of the two systems.

Daily Headlines for August 24, 2011

How Does Obama Want To Reshape Preschools? Education Department Shows Its Hand.
Christian Science Monitor, MA, August 23, 2011
The Education Department announced the guidelines for its latest Race to the Top competition, which will target preschools. The rules show what President Obama wants to change.

FROM THE STATES

CALIFORNIA

California Education Bill Gets an A
Los Angeles Times, CA, August 24, 2011
SB 547 improves on California’s current yardstick for measuring improvement in schools in important ways.

COLORADO

Jefferson County Among 6 Colorado School Districts with Financial Red Flags
The Denver Post, CO, August 23, 2011
Six Colorado school districts – including Jefferson County – are considered at high risk for financial crisis, down from 19 identified by the state auditor last year.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Time to Evaluate D.C. Charter Schools
Washington Examiner, DC, August 23, 2011
Some D.C. Public Schools officials and supporters have become increasingly concerned about the close proximity of charter schools to their institutions. They have argued the current situation promotes creaming, a process where some of the brightest students are stripped from a neighborhood.

FLORIDA

Schools Flooded With New Charter Applications
Sunshine State News, FL, August 24, 2011
Florida school districts are flooded with applications for new charter schools, motivated by several new laws that make it easier to start traditional and virtual charters.

ILLINOIS

CPS Budget To Be Considered Wednesday As Teachers Union And Mayor Fight Battles
Chicago Tribune, IL, August 23, 2011
As the Chicago Board of Education prepares to approve a 2011-12 budget Wednesday, school officials and the teachers union are battling publicly over related issues of withdrawn raises and the mayor’s push for a longer school day.

LOUISIANA

Drew Brees Donates to New Orleans Education Groups
August 23, 2011, The Times-Picayune, LA
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is handing off a pile of cash to two of the city’s most prominent education groups: Teach for America and the Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP. The Brees Foundation said Tuesday that its fundraising arm, the Quarterback Club, is giving each organization $75,000.

Recovery School District Leader Selects Four Top Aides
Times-Picayune, LA, August 23, 2011
The head of the state-run Recovery School District, now 100 days into the job, named four new deputy superintendents and other top district officials on Tuesday, filling out a leadership team drawn mainly from the ranks of those already involved in local schools and education reform efforts.

MASSACHUSETTS

Tenure-Hearted Education System Dissected
Boston Herald, MA, August 24, 2011
As Casey Stengel used to say, you could look it up. Anybody who makes it through three consecutive years in a school district becomes a “professional teacher,” which means tenure under Massachusetts law.

NEW JERSEY

Facebook Gift Spurs a Lawsuit
Wall Street Journal, NY, August 24, 2011
A group of parents, with the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, is suing the city of Newark for failing to turn over correspondence related to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to the city’s struggling school system.

NEW YORK

777 School Employees Will Be Let Go, in the Largest Layoff Under Bloomberg
New York Times, NY, August 24, 2011
Nearly 780 employees of the New York City Education Department will lose their jobs by October, in the largest layoff at a single agency since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took office in 2002.

Gwinnett Co. Schools To Get Up To $12.5M Grant
Wall Street Journal, NY, August 23, 2011
The state’s largest school district is getting up to $12.5 million from a private foundation to develop quality school leaders and track whether they impact student achievement.

JPS Board Questions Teacher Grading
The Post-Journal, NY, August 24, 2011
Discussion on the state’s new principal and teacher evaluation system brought several questions to the table of the Jamestown Public Schools Board of Education on Tuesday.

OHIO

Charter Schools Gain, Still Lag
Cincinnati Enquirer, OH, August 23, 2011
Ohio’s charter schools, including the 31 in Southwest Ohio, kept up with their public school counterparts in making overall gains on the 2011 Ohio Report Card.

OKLAHOMA

Errors In Testing Data Hold Up Results For Districts, Students
The Oklahoman, OK, August 24, 2011
State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi is calling for a review of the multimillion dollar contract with a nationwide testing company after serious errors were found in final standardized test results sent to school districts across the state this month.

Oklahoma’s Math, Science Scores Must Improve
The Oklahoman, OK, August 23, 2011
Oklahoma’s continued below average marks on ACT college readiness benchmarks indicate the state needs to shore up instruction in math and science.

PENNSYLVANIA

Education Chief Slams 101 Schools
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PA, August 24, 2011
State Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis announced $66 million in School Improvement Grants to 26 of the state’s lowest-performing schools on Tuesday, but he focused as much on money not given away as that awarded.

Now, the SRC has Questions to Answer
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, August 24, 2011
The departure
of city School Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman turns the focus to the board that hired her and paid her to leave – and particularly to its quiet, well-connected chairman.

Democrats Get Secret Donors To Ease Out School Chief
Washington Times, DC, August 23, 2011
Philadelphia’s Democratic machine is under fire after officials arranged for private, anonymous cash payments to buy out the contract of the unpopular school superintendent in the nation’s eighth-largest public school district.

TENNESSEE

Charter Schools Head for Suburbs
The Tennessean, TN, August 23, 2011
The Tennessee legislature seems to have an irrational enthusiasm for charters. As with some other education “reforms,” the legislative majority ignored the research and forged ahead with decisions that were politically motivated but not educationally sound.

Charters Held Accountable At Any Site
The Tennessean, TN, August 24, 2011
What do you think of an effort to give the principal, teachers and parents at a public school more autonomy to help their students reach the district’s academic achievement goals?

VIRTUAL LEARNING

Montgomery County School Board Cries Foul over Virtual School
The Leaf-Chronicle, TN, August 23, 2011
Clarksville-Montgomery County School Board members on Tuesday night reviewed a draft of the legislative agenda – submitted each year to local legislators for possible consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Lawrence School District Reports Boost In Unofficial Enrollment Numbers
Lawrence Journal-World, KS, August 24, 2011
As of Tuesday, during the first full week of the 2011-12 school year, the district reported having 11,250 students in kindergarten through 12th grades. The totals include students from throughout Kansas attending the Lawrence Virtual School.

Oregon Online Charter Schools Fought Hard To Lose Enrollment Limits, But End Up With Fewer Students Than Limits Allowed
The Oregonian, OR, August 23, 2011
The 2011 Legislature’s bruising political battle to remove enrollment limits on statewide online charter schools has translated into almost no practical effect.
The state’s two large virtual public schools both reported Tuesday that they have enrolled fewer students than would have been allowed had the caps stayed.

eCademy Opens Doors to First Class of Students
Turlock Journal, CA, August 23, 2011
eCademy Charter School is the newest addition to Turlock Unified School district, but it isn’t your typical K-12 school. The school has a physical site at Crane – several classrooms and two mobile units under construction – but most of the high school level courses offered by the school take place online.

Newswire: August 23, 2011

Vol. 13, No. 33

BACK2SCHOOL.It’s that time again, when kids start packing their bags and getting back on a routine that makes families happy and, hopefully, makes student life productive for the future. This week all over the South schools are back in session. But despite an increase in charter school seats (estimated to be at nearly another 10 percent by CER number crunchers!) and increased availability of school choice passed this year in several states, most students have no choice. They have just their assigned or zoned public school or district to attend, and looking at the latest proficiency numbers, those schools are still producing students at every level that are barely 40% proficient in reading and math, to name just two. Parents need to be savvy and policymakers need to be aware. Whether you’re happy with what you have or want better, Parent Power fundamentals are essential. Parents and citizens – get informed, and engaged!

DON’T BELIEVE. In legislatures and in newspapers, people who want to be skeptical about the potential for charter school success often quote a report from early 2010 by a group called CREDO, whose work at the Stanford-based research institution is often sound and believable, except when they produced a report comparing error-riddled state data on charter schools to data on a virtual set of traditional public school students in 16 states and made conclusions that are not borne out by individual analysis state-by-state. Having heard it twice this week in state halls and reading it repeatedly as gospel in the news, it’s important to know the full story behind that one CREDO report that fails the standards of responsible research. Here’s our our take on it. And here’s a summary of what other prominent prominent researchers conclude.

SPEAKING OF BELIEVING. The much talked about Class Warfare by Steve Brill is in at the Newswire HQ and we’re waiting to read it from cover to cover. We’re still not sure how a history on fixing schools can fail to cover the point of view of this 18-year old institution or NAPCS, or CSF or BAEO or people like Lisa Keegan or Kevin Chavous or Nina Rees and dozens of others) but hey, we’re open minded and looking forward to reading it. You should, too.

THE BLOB STRIKES BACK. There’s an old saying in ed reform; when the NSBA and AASA want something, it must not be reform. That’s the case – again – with their call for blanket waivers from NCLB. Wow, it was just a matter of time till they could get away from the heat in the kitchen. Chiefs for Change — a group of 8 current and 2 former school chiefs who share a zeal for reform — took umbrage with this, this week. They “oppose suspending accountability provisions of the ESEA through blanket waivers or universal modifications, as the American Association of School Administrators and the National School Board Association recently petitioned.” Until a real reauthorization occurs, we cannot be lowering standards and weakening the quality of education. Kudos to these new leaders, who dare to step out of the box. Let’s hope they stay there a good long time and that others follow suit.

PRINCETON CHARTER v. DISTRICT? When the NJ Commissioner of Education approved the Princeton International Charter School (PIACS), he probably didn’t know that the district would fight so vigorously to thwart his – and the Governor’s authority by extension – so vehemently. But this small, Mandarin-English dual language immersion, inquiry-based framework with international math standards has given the district power brokers so much aggravation that they’ve convinced the municipality not to approve their ability to secure a facility for which they have not only the funds but students willing to attend starting next year. This is not a new blocking tactic. It happens nationwide. But many don’t have the bandwidth to fight. Not Princeton. Rather than sit down and take it, PIACS has filed suit, asking the Commissioner to block the district’s use of public monies to thwart the opening of a new public school. He’s bucked it to an administrative law judge, which may or may not play in the schools’ favor. But perhaps it’s time for the bold and talented Governor Chris Christie to vocalize in support of this schools’ right to exist, and their parents’ rights to make that choice. Because no amount of legal maneuvering will ever stop the Blob. It takes political muscle. To get more information about the Princeton Charter, go to www.piacs.org.

In other news…

THINK-FAB. A confab of state think tanks, national tanks and policy experts from across the nation convened today in Bellevue, Washington, coming together to reassert the power of states as laboratories of innovation. That’s clearly the case in education and many meeting this week are with the leaders of what has become the modern edreform movement. For more information about the State Policy Network or think tanks in your area, go to www.spn.org. Have fun out there, friends!

Daily Headlines for August 23, 2011

Shortchanged by the Bell
New York Times, NY, August 23, 2011
After a summer of budget cuts in Washington and state capitals, we have only to look to our schools, when classes begin in the next few weeks, to see who will pay the price.

The Year of School Choice
Washington Times, DC, August 22, 2011
We’re used to hearing bad news from the education front: poor test scores, falling literacy, slipping standards. But the new academic year brings a welcome change: School-choice programs have expanded significantly in recent months. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal has already dubbed 2011 the Year of School Choice.

What Works To Close The Education Gap
National Public Radio, August 22, 2011
It’s a persistent and troubling problem: the gap between white students and students of color in academic achievement. There are many theories about how to resolve these disparities, from interventions with parents, increased accountability for teachers, school programs and testing, and others.

FROM THE STATES

CALIFORNIA

California Charter School Association Gets $15-Million Grant
Los Angeles Times, CA, August 23, 2011
The grant is the largest yet to the California charter schools group and the biggest of its kind from the nonprofit set up by the founders of the Wal-Mart Corp.

DELAWARE

Charter School Revision Ensures Future Progress
News Journal, DE, August 22, 2011
The state’s newly revised law on charter schools is part of one big learning curve when it comes to education reform.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Feds’ Role In Schools Re-Emerges As ’12 Issue
Washington Times, DC, August 22, 2011
Republican presidential candidates are increasingly using the federal Department of Education as a punching bag, citing it as yet another example of big government’s heavy hand in local affairs.

D.C. Charter Schools Have A ‘Voice At The Table’
Washington Post, DC, August 22, 2011
Principal Zoe Duskin unlocked the front door just after 6 a.m. Monday. The seven classrooms at the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School, a new public charter school in Northeast Washington, were in perfect order. But she lingered over the last details, policing bits of dust from the floors with tissue paper and making sure each room had a doorstop.

New Year, New Hopes for D.C. Schools
Washington Post, DC, August 22, 2011
It’s been five years since the District upended its dysfunctional system of education, abolishing the old school board and making schools the mayor’s responsibility.

ILLINOIS

Talks Between CPS, Teachers Hit Snag
Chicago Tribune, IL, August 22, 2011
School officials refuse to consider requests union made in exchange for forgoing across-the-board raises

Ruling Favors KC District In Money Battle With Charters
Kansas City Star, MO, August 22, 2011
A long-running attempt by area charter schools to wrest more funding from the Kansas City School District may have backfired, at a potential cost of $9 million.

PENNSYLVANIA

Acting Philly Schools Chief Nunery Facing Tough Path Forward
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, August 23, 2011
The new leader of the Philadelphia school system – at least for now, and perhaps permanently – is known for molding consensus and moving forward.

Head of Philadelphia Schools Leaves Post Early
Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2011
Philadelphia’s schools chief Arlene Ackerman stepped down unexpectedly Monday with three years remaining on her contract, ending an embattled tenure marked by improved graduation rates, a widening budget deficit and clashes with officials.

Ackerman Is Ousted, So What’s Next?
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, August 23, 2011
It’s a shame that it had to end this way – with Philadelphia schools Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman being unceremoniously shown the door – but to a large extent the educator’s demise was self-inflicted.

RHODE ISLAND

Providence School Board Endorses Mayoral Academy
Providence Journal, RI, August 22, 2011
Contrary to the Cranston School Committee’s unanimous opposition in June, Providence’s School Board Monday night chose to unanimously endorse a proposed mayoral academy for the two cities’ students.

TENNESSEE

Veil Of Silence Shrouds School-Merger Talks
Commercial Appeal, TN, August 23, 2011
Secretive efforts to settle the school-merger lawsuit continued Monday, and it remained unclear whether U.S. Dist. Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays oversaw any progress because a gag order has prevented details from leaking out in a case where legal costs now exceed $1million.

Daily Headlines for August 19, 2011

Survey Suggests Americans Support Teachers, But Not Online Education
eSchool News, August 18, 2011
New poll results from Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup reveal that the American public has an overall positive outlook on its children’s schools, although poll respondents seem to oppose online learning.

Rhee And Ravitch, Leading Schools Figures, Square Off In Martha’s Vineyard
Washington Post, DC, August 18, 2011
It wasn’t quite the Smackdown in Edgartown, but two leading figures in the national education debate politely collided here Thursday over the causes of failing schools and the best ways to rescue them.

Poll: Nation’s Schools Stink, But Own OK
Washington Times, DC, August 18, 2011
The public may have serious doubts about the quality of the nation’s education system, but faith in American teachers remains high, according to a major new survey from Gallup and the professional education association Phi Delta Kappa International.

School Accountability Is Still A Good Idea
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, August 19, 2011
This basic reality – that people cannot accurately evaluate their own work – is key to understanding the recent battles over school accountability. No Child Left Behind revolutionized public education by emphasizing data and transparency. Public schools now measure and report student achievement by subgroup: ethnicity, disability, English-language proficiency, and income. Those failing to educate any group are labeled as “needing improvement” – which no school administrator wants on his resumé.

FROM THE STATES

CALIFORNIA

California Loses $11.5 Million In Federal Funding For Charter Schools
Sacramento Bee, CA, August 19, 2011
The reduction came months after officials at the U.S. Department of Education warned that the state did not meet requirements of the Charter Schools Program, which funds two- and three-year grants for new charter schools, said Lupita Cortez Alcalá, a deputy superintendent with the California Department of Education.

Yucaipa School Raises Flag As Newest Charter School
Press-Enterprise, CA, August 18, 2011
The Yucaipa-Calimesa school district placed the charter school at the former Meadow Creek Elementary School . Administrators hope to attract new students and retain the ones they have with the addition of the charter school.

COLORADO

Lobato Case Is Crucial To Education
Denver Post, CO, August 19, 2011
The Colorado school budget landscape is not a pretty picture. To make ends meet, many districts offer fewer hours of instruction, switch to four-day weeks, or cut electives and foreign languages. Numerous districts can’t even offer coursework necessary for a student to enter a four-year college.

CONNECTICUT

Parent Groups, Magnet And Charter Schools Left Off School Finance Panel
Connecticut Mirror, CT, August 18, 2011
The task force named this week to propose reforms to the way the state finances local education includes a number of high-level members from the Malloy Administration, the legislature and the education world–but no representation from a parent organization or a magnet or charter school.

New Norwich Charter School Proposal Is In The Offing
The Connecticut Day, CT, August 19, 2011
Unfazed by a City Council committee’s renewed recommendation to tear down the former Greeneville School, resident Ron Ward said he will submit a new application to the state this fall for a Montessori-based charter school there or elsewhere in the city.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

D.C. Commissions a Schools Analysis
Washington Post, DC, August 18, 2011
The Gray administration has commissioned an Illinois firm with close ties to the charter school movement to study how D.C. neighborhoods are served by the public education system and help officials decide which schools should be closed and where new ones might be opened.

FLORIDA

Academy Controversy Now Is Academic
Marco Eagle, FL, August 18, 2011
Monday is the big day for one of the boldest moves in public education ever on Marco Island . Unless there’s been some delay after our column’s deadline, the Marco Island Academy will open its doors in leased space on Winterberry Drive . There are some remarkable facets to the story of this school.

A Challenging School Year Awaiting Students
Bradenton Herald, FL, August 19, 2011
Students, beware. Parents, too. Florida continues to tighten the screws on the public school system with new laws intended to improve student achievement even with deep cuts in education spending.

ILLINOIS

The Fourth Revolution
Chicago Tribune, IL, August 19, 2011
The Chicago Public Schools system has gone through three attempted revolutions in the 16 years since state lawmakers handed power over the schools to the mayor of Chicago . Three revolutions. Three impressive revolutionaries in charge: Paul Vallas,Arne Duncan, Ron Huberman.

Benefits of Merit Pay Unclear
Chicago News Cooperative, IL, August 19, 2011
As Chicago Public Schools officials begin to shape a new system of merit pay for principals, experts say there are important lessons to be learned from cities that have experimented with similar initiatives.

INDIANA

Trust Parents With School Choice
Indianapolis Star, IN, August 19, 2011
Can parents be trusted to make wise choices on behalf of their children’s education? That’s the real question at the heart of the ongoing debate about Indiana ‘s new school voucher program.

Voucher Students Relish Chance At Private School
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, IN, August 19, 2011
St. Therese Catholic School Principal Chuck Grimm believes there are some problems that are good to have. And this year, he said, his Catholic school is blessed with several.

MISSOURI

Legislative Committee to Study Impact of School Transfer Rulings
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MO, August 18, 2011
Six state Senators have been named to a joint legislative committee that will examine the potential impact of court decisions involving parents in failing school districts who want to tra
nsfer their children to better schools.

NEW JERSEY

Transportation Costs Imperil School Choice
Asbury Park Press, NJ, August 18, 2011
Students opting for another public school need to know well in advance about transportation costs, which will be one of the main issues that limits participation in both the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program and, if it ever passes, the scholarship program for kids to leave failing public schools in New Jersey and attend better private schools.

NEW MEXICO

Two Charter School Options Should Get State Go-Ahead
Rio Grande Sun, NM, August 18, 2011
Española Valley parents have a great education opportunity in front of them. Two good charter school models were presented last week to the state’s Public Education Commission.

OKLAHOMA

Urban Teacher Academy Produces Teachers With Real-World Experience
The Oklahoman, OK, August 19, 2011
First-year teachers trained through the Urban Teacher Preparation Academy at the University of Central Oklahoma say the new school year has been challenging in a rewarding way.

OREGON

Oregon Teachers Union Hands Out Harsh Grades, Even To Longtime Legislative Allies
The Oregonian, OR, August 18, 2011
The Oregon Education Association scorecard for the 2011 legislative session looks something like the report card received by John Belushi’s wayward fraternity in “Animal House:” Senate President Peter Courtney: F.

PENNSYLVANIA

Former Pa. Education Secretary Suggests Lawmakers Consider Limited Voucher Plan
Patriot News, PA, August 18, 2011
A former state education chief who advocated school vouchers in the 1990s suggests state lawmakers first consider a more limited voucher plan targeted to kids in failing schools.

Tuition Vouchers Are Unconstitutional
Pottsville Mercury News, PA, August 19, 2011
The continuing battle over taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers, fueled by wealthy out-of-state billionaires, has become a distraction from more important political action items, including developing the commonwealth’s economy, creating new jobs, and continuing the underreported academic progress made by public schools in recent years.

RHODE ISLAND

Providence Mayor Taveras Supports RI Mayoral Academies
Providence Journal, RI, August 18, 2011
Mayor Angel Taveras Thursday said he fully supports the establishment of mayoral academies in Rhode Island.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Charter School Effort Behind Before It Starts
Beaufort Gazette, SC, August 18, 2011
The 1996 state law allowing charter schools was intended to infuse public education with new ideas and instructional methods, not to serve as a form of protest for the aggrieved.

TEXAS

IDEA Starts New Year Ready To Work Harder
The Monitor, TX, August 18, 2011
Since IDEA’s first school opened 10 years ago in a renovated church in Donna, the district has accepted more than 9,600 students and successfully matriculated every graduate into college. And more than 90 percent are in college today.

WASHINGTON

Charter School Loses Appeal
Spokesman Review, WA, August 19, 2011
A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of an Idaho charter school’s lawsuit against state officials who barred use of the Bible and other religious texts as a teaching tool in the classroom.

VIRTUAL EDUCATION

The Growth of Virtual Learning
New Hampshire Public Radio, NH, August 19, 2011
The idea of virtual learning is growing in the American education system. More students from Kindergarten through 12th grade are learning in front of a screen rather than from a live teacher. While some say the format is cost efficient and tailored to each individual’s learning speed, others say essential components of the schooling system, such as development of social skills and hands on lessons, are being compromised in the process.

Cyber Schools Deserve Support
The Altoona Mirror, PA, August 19, 2011
As a parent of two children who attend a Pennsylvania public cyber charter school, I couldn’t agree more with Hollidaysburg Superintendent Paul Gallagher in the Mirror’s July 12 story when he said, “Public education is the backbone of our country, and we need to support it.”

Bedford County Begins Offering Online Classes For Students
WDBJ, VA, August 18, 2011
Through an effort called “blended learning,” students will be able to take certain classes on the internet, instead of in a traditional classroom

Highland Holding Off On Online Classroom Option
West Side Leader, OH, August 18, 2011
After announcing last month the possibility for students to make up excessive calamity days in online classrooms, Superintendent Catherine Aukerman recommended Highland Local Schools not pursue it this year at the Board of Education’s Aug. 15 meeting.

Enrollment Request Pulled By Online Charter School
The Advocate, LA, August 18, 2011
Faced with opposition, leaders of Louisiana’s first online charter school for most grades has dropped plans to immediately expand its enrollment by 67 percent.

Community Voices Concern Over Online Education Requirements
Idaho Press-Tribune , ID, August 19, 2011
Residents of Ada and Canyon counties had an opportunity to voice their opinions regarding a controversial proposal that would require Idaho high school students to take two online courses to graduate.

Poll: Americans support teachers, but not online education

“Survey suggests Americans support teachers, but not online education”
by Jenna Zwang
eSchool news
August 18, 2011

New poll results from Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup reveal that the American public has an overall positive outlook on its children’s schools, although poll respondents seem to oppose online learning.

While those surveyed overwhelmingly support access to the Internet and technology in schools (61 percent said it is “very important” for public school students to have access at schools), 59 percent oppose having high school students attend school for fewer hours each week if they are using computer technology to learn at home.

Despite this finding, 74 percent of respondents said that public schools should invest more in computer technology for instructional purposes, although that number is down from 82 percent in 2000.

Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, said the PDK/Gallup poll results are somewhat misleading, because of the lack of context that pollsters provide.

“The public allegedly supports more technology use in schools but opposes online learning,” said Allen. “In reality, the poll does little to define it, inferring that such a notion is about learning at home, rather than learning in a fully integrated online environment supported by professionals.”

Survey respondents are more positive regarding their own children’s schools than they have been in the past 36 years, with 79 percent giving an “A” or “B” rating to the school their oldest child attends. Teachers received similarly high marks, with 69 percent of survey respondents giving them “A” or “B” ratings, up from 50 percent in 1985.