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Daily Headlines for December 19, 2011

Schools Race Teaches States A Hard Lesson
Washington Times, DC, December 18, 2011

Every race has losers, and the Obama administration’s Race to the Top education grant competition is proving to be no exception.

Education’s Coconut Cake Problem
Boston Globe, MA, December 18, 2011

There are public schools that are performing near miracles in deeply troubled urban districts, but nobody, not even those who run these schools, can say for sure what makes them work. Everyone has their theory – a longer school day, a little more discipline – but nobody knows the actual recipe.

STATE COVERAGE

ALABAMA

Charting a Course for Charter Schools
Dothan Eagle, AL, December 18, 2011

Pataula is located in Calhoun County, Ga. , and enrolls students from a five-county area. The school is 75 percent white and 25 percent minority, and accepts students for empty spots via a lottery. Students at the school must abide by a behavior contract to continue attending the school.

CALIFORNIA

Year In Review: 5 Most Disappointing Moments In Public Education
Los Angeles Times, CA, December 17, 2011

There were hopeful signs this year in public education. Test scores continued to rise in California and in the Los Angeles Unified School District , especially among younger students.

Gateway Would Link Its Teachers’ Pay, Performance
Redding Record Spotlight, CA, December 18, 2011

In the unionized public schools, however, the phrase “merit pay” constitutes fighting words. Most teachers’ contracts offer raises on a rigid schedule that rewards experience — a sensible enough principle — without regard to whether the students are actually enjoying the benefits of a particular teacher’s years in the classroom. Let’s face it: Burnout happens.

COLORADO

Report On “Innovation” Status In Denver Shows Mostly Positive School Cultures
Denver Post, CO, December 19, 2011

The first report from a three-year study of Denver’s innovation schools could lead to more in-depth research and more pointed work as the district grants innovation status to more schools.

Colorado Teachers Unions Under Fire For Taxpayer Subsidies From School Districts
Denver Post, CO, December 18, 2011

Taxpayers in Colorado’s largest school districts have spent more than $5.8 million during the past five years to subsidize the activities of local teachers unions.

FLORIDA

Critics Say Florida Lawmakers Are Too Cozy With Charter Schools
St. Petersburg Times, FL, December 18, 2011

State Rep. John Legg strode up to the podium to pitch the Pasco County School Board.

Florida’s School Rules Become Cumbersome
News Press, FL, December 18, 2011

When educators say there are too many regulations governing what they can and cannot do, Florida’s massive education code might explain their frustration.

Toughen the Law
Miami Herald, FL, December 17, 2011

In Florida, there are many successful charter schools, but there are troubling signs that a “free market” of educational ideas can hurt the very children charter schools were created to help.

Orange Charter High Schools Defend Reputation Against Pending F Grades
Orlando Sentinel, FL, December 17, 2011

When state grades came out for elementary and middle schools in July, charter schools were responsible for an outsized share of the F’s. And when high-school grades are released in coming days, three Orange County charters, all run by the same company, are poised to continue that trend.

Charter Schools, Virtual Education Bad For Children
Bradenton Herald, FL, December 18, 2011

Profiteering at the cost of our children’s education is reprehensible and must be condemned. I have come to the belief that the term “choice” has become another term for “greed” and has crept into our businesses, industry and our politics. If it ever takes over our education, we will no longer be a country governed by the people and for the people.

INDIANA

Judge To Decide Whether Indiana School Voucher Program Is Unconstitutional
December 19, 2011
, Chicago Tribune, IL
A judge will decide whether Indiana’s new school voucher program is unconstitutional. A hearing is scheduled for Monday in Marion County Superior Court 7 in Indianapolis.

Vouchers Add To Enrollment Drain At Some Public Schools
Post Tribune, IN, December 19, 2011

Students living within the Gary Community School Corp. boundaries participated in the state’s new voucher program at the highest levels in Northwest Indiana.

LOUISIANA

Is There Room For Black Leadership In New Orleans ‘ Charter School Movement?
Times Picayune, LA, December 18, 2011

Erika McConduit, an executive vice president at the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, recently complained to a committee of the Board of Secondary and Elementary Education that the overwhelmingly black student population in New Orleans public schools doesn’t see enough leaders who look like them.

MASSACHUSETTS

Opposition Dominates Charter School Hearing
Boston Globe, MA, December 18, 2011

For a hearing packed with charged opinions, frequent applause, and intense disagreement, Ruth Ronen’s three-minute testimony seemed crystallizing.

Deck Stacked Against SABIS
Boston Herald, MA, December 19, 2011

February will be decision time for another round of Massachusetts charter school applications. In 2012, the focus will be on “Gateway Cities” — middle-sized cities outside the Boston area.

Ed Chief: Charter Deserves 3 More Years
Gloucester Times, MA, December 19, 2011

The Gloucester Community Arts Charter School has traveled a rocky road over the last 15 months, with a contentious 2010 opening, a still-pending legal challenge from Gloucester city school parents, and low grades in its students’ first round of standardized tests.

MICHIGAN

State School Districts Seek Waiver to Teacher Evaluations
The Detroit News, MI, December 19, 2011

More than 40 percent of Michigan’s school districts are seeking waivers from a new state law requiring them to adopt a uniform teacher evaluation system by 2013.

Uncapped Charter Schools Stir Debate
Livingston Daily Press & Argus, MI, December 19, 2011

Kensington Woods High School Principal Jim Perry believes legislation lifting the cap on the number of charter schools in Michigan is a good thing for students.

Charter Truth and Fiction
The Detroit News, MI, December 18, 2011

On Thursday evening the Michigan House voted to increase the cap on charter schools that can be authorized by public colleges and universities. While it is unfortunate that the cap was not immediately lifted – its elimination is phased in over a three year period – the fact is that there will be greater competition is a boon for our K-12 education system in Michigan.

Charter Schools Are Fine, But Not Reckless Expansion
Adrian Daily Telegram, MI, December 18, 2011

It’s hard to argue with charter schools in principle. They provide educational alternatives and give kids in areas with failing schools a chance to get a better education.

MINNESOTA

Minnesota Teachers’ Q Comp Performance-Pay System Collides With New Requirements
Pioneer Press, MN, December 17, 2011

New questions are being raised about Minnesota’s system for compensating exceptional teachers even as stakeholders develop a new evaluation system that may keep the state in the national spotlight.

MISSOURI

Tuition Dispute Could Hold Up KC Student Transfers
Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, MO, December 18, 2011

Kansas City students could have a tough time taking advantage of a state law that allows them to transfer from unaccredited to accredited schools.

NEW JERSEY

N.J. Should Revisit Fundamental Reasons For Creating Charter Schools
Trenton Times, NJ, December 19, 2011

New Jersey lawmakers are rightfully concerned about the proliferation of applications for new charter schools and their subsequent lack of effective oversight, but legislation proposed by Assemblywoman Mila Jasey requiring proposed charter schools to be approved at the polls is thoroughly misguided and symptomatic of a disappointing trend in how we view charter schools and the role they play in addressing the horrible inequities in our state.

NEW MEXICO

English Immersion Charter School To Provide Opportunity
Silver City Sun News, NM, December 19, 2011

There are many different ways in which to learn a second language, and the importance of that is magnified in southern border areas.

NEW YORK

How We Help Failing Schools: A Plan For Reform
New York Daily News, NY, December 19, 2011

Opponents of closing low-performing schools are right when they say that shuttering schools alone isn’t going to make the public education system any better. What these opponents fail to recognize is that under Mayor Bloomberg, closure has been just one piece of a larger effort to improve the quality of and access to great public schools.

NORTH CAROLINA

NAACP Opposes Proposed Charter School
Herald Sun, NC, December 17, 2011

A member of a prominent black family and the local NAACP are at odds over a proposed charter school in Orange County.

OHIO

Teacher Evaluations Tested
Columbus Dispatch, OH, December 18, 2011

Schools in state pilot program find that measuring student growth can be a challenge.

OKLAHOMA

Conflict Over Teacher Evaluation System Emerges In Barresi-Ballard Exchange
Tulsa Today, OK, December 17, 2011

However, the choice of the Tulsa model must ultimately be approved by the Oklahoma Board of Education, and thereby lies a story that will unfold rather quickly, but which is not yet resolved.

PENNSYLVANIA

Legislators Spar Over Vouchers, Spending For Charter Schools
Centre Daily Times, PA, December 19, 2011

A proposal to create taxpayer-funded school vouchers in Pennsylvania may have suffered a fatal blow for this legislative year. But Republican lawmakers hope they can revive another one of Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed education initiatives in the coming months.

TENNESSEE

Teacher Reviews Are Still A Concern
Daily News Journal, TN, December 18, 2011

When the General Assembly reconvenes next year, it’s likely a resolution urging lawmakers to limit the number of evaluations high-performing teachers must undergo will be introduced.

TN Bill Would Force Failing Eighth-Graders To Stay Behind
The Tennessean, TN, December 18, 2011

A state lawmaker wants Tennessee schools to stop promoting eighth-graders to the ninth grade when they are not academically ready.

Voucher Plan Requires Study
Commercial Appeal, TN, December 17, 2011

While there might be a niche for vouchers, emphasis should be on perfecting the public schools.

TEXAS

Austin District To Take Up Charter School Issue Today
Austin American- Statesman, TX, December 19, 2011

Those who were disappointed to have missed last week’s Austin school board meeting and the drama surrounding a proposed partnership with a South Texas-based charter school operator to run two East Austin campuses can rest easy.

UTAH

Choice and Accountability In Education
Deseret News, UT, December 18, 2011

We are pleased to see Utah’s state budgetary discussion turning first to education. Education must be a budgetary and cultural priority. Although Utah’s thriving population continues to put logistical and budgetary pressure on classrooms, the state’s moral and economic future depends upon training the hearts and minds of its children to the highest possible standard.

VIRGINIA

Patrick Henry Officials Fire Back At School Board Criticism
Richmond Times Dispatch, VA, December 17, 2011

The Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts is firing back at Richmond School Board criticisms that the fledgling school has “fundamental concerns” and is not meeting conditions of its charter.

WASHINGTON

Alarming’ New Test-Score Gap Discovered In Seattle Schools
Seattle Times, WA, December 18, 2011

For the first time, Seattle Public Schools officials have broken down test scores by specific home language. The recently announced results revealed a surprising trend that may have implications for policy around the district.

WISCONSIN

Where Is UW Support For Charter School?
Wisconsin State Journal, WI, December 18, 2011

Last week I wrote that it seemed hypocritical that average Madisonians and other liberals in city government and the left-leaning Madison press haven’t been beating the drum for proposed charter school Madison Preparatory Academy .

VIRTUAL EDUCATION

With Cyber Charter Competition, School Districts Start To Advertise
Scranton Times Tribune, PA, December 18, 2011

An electronic billboard on Business Route 6 in Dickson City flashes an image of smiling students and teachers.

Virtual Schools Booming As States Mull Warnings
Associated Press, December 16, 2011

More schoolchildren than ever are taking their classes online, using technology to avoid long commutes to school, add courses they wouldn’t otherwise be able to take – and save their school districts money.

Online Schools Panel Fizzles Without Proposal
Statesman Journal, OR, December 18, 2011

A committee created in a grand bargain to settle issues from one of the most contentious battles of the last Oregon legislative session — the expansion of online charter schools — has disbanded without proposing any changes.