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Daily Headlines: March 26, 2012

Parents: The Missing Engine Behind School Reform
New America Media, March 26, 2012

A series of first-ever forums brought front line education reformers and community media representatives together in Atlanta, Memphis, Miami and New Orleans. The consensus was clear: improving schools is a civil rights issue but will become a movement only when parents are fully involved — and a movement in which media must play a more a compelling role.

Cheating Our Children: The Story Behind the Story
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, GA, March 25, 2012

After The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s analysis of test scores led to the state investigation and 2011 findings of widespread cheating in Atlanta schools, a national testing expert suggested we could do the same thing on a nationwide scale. We were intrigued.

Graduation Rates Rise
Washington Post, DC, March 25, 2012

THE NATION’S high school graduation rate rose from 72 percent to 75.5 percent between 2002 and 2009. The progress reflects intensive efforts by a number of states to develop and implement strategies to keep students from dropping out. And one key factor in prodding states to act was federal pressure — most notably, the oft-maligned No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

FROM THE STATES

Charter Schools Can Be Good For Traditional Schools
Press Register, AL, March 25, 2012

I am very pleased to see that Gov. Robert Bentley and leaders in the Alabama Legislature are supporting a charter school system for Alabama. I really believe that having charter schools will greatly improve the whole public school system.

Education Topics Among Hot-Button Issues So Far This Legislative Session
Ahwatukee Foothills News, AZ, March 25, 2012

Arizona lawmakers have brought a number of education bills to the Legislature this year.
But as the bill-making part of the session nears a close, and the focus turns to the budget, it’s becoming clearer what bills survived and what didn’t. Arizona parents will no longer wonder what it means if their child’s school is “performing” or “performing plus.”

California Urged To Consider Non-Seniority-Based Teacher Layoffs
Los Angeles Times, CA, March 26, 2012

State legislative analyst’s report also says school districts issue more pink slips than needed because of deadline issues and recommends changing the layoff notice deadline.

Report Praises Modesto Area Charter Schools
Modesto Bee, CA, March 26, 2012

Aspire Public Schools, which operates three Modesto-area schools, was recognized as being among the top- performing charter school companies in the country.

Lagunitas Parents Push For Charter School
Marin Independent Journal, CA, March 25, 2012

A popular program at the Lagunitas School could become its own charter school if the district board accepts the petition offered next month by a group of San Geronimo Valley parents.

Colorado Tests of New Teacher Evaluation System Raise Doubts
Denver Post, CO, March 26, 2012

Though Colorado is more than a year away from implementing its new teacher-evaluation system, doubts have surfaced about the state’s ability to launch such a sweeping initiative on time and with adequate resources for professional development.

Conn. Schools Face Test
Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2012

When Trailblazers Academy opened in 1999, the charter school was hailed for taking in low-achieving students that the city’s traditional public schools ignored. Now, with the school’s charter up for renewal in May, its unusual model is being scrutinized. State test scores at Trailblazers and its sister high school, Stamford Academy, are among the lowest in Connecticut , and community leaders are concerned about its large concentration of minority students.

Continue The Conversation On Quality Charter Schools
Tallahassee Democrat, FL, March 25, 2012

Legislation was proposed to allow high-performing public charter schools to replicate their academic model to serve more students across the state, and to give more dollars, more opportunities and more resources to public charter school students. These proposals however, were unsuccessful.

Education: Charter Schools Are Just A Fad
Florida Times Union, FL, March 26, 2012

One day I read in the paper about another failing charter school — one of Duval County’s oldest. Then the next day I read that the Legislature still wants to pursue the “trigger” bill next year, which allows a majority of parents to decide to turn their failing school into a charter school.

Public Military Academy to Open This Fall in Broward
Miami Herald, FL, March 25, 2012

The school’s location will be announced this week. The idea is borrowed from Chicago, where Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie previously worked.

School Days Could Be Longer Next Year For Some Volusia/Flagler Students
Daytona Beach News-Journal, FL, March 26, 2012

Students at struggling schools across the state will get an extra hour of class time each day next year. The state’s budget calls for districts with the 100 lowest-performing elementary schools on the state’s rating assessments to receive an additional $30 million to provide extra reading instruction.

Charter Schools Up For Statewide Vote
Fayette Citizen, GA, March 25, 2012

The idea of putting a referendum before voters to restore the state’s ability to approve charter schools turned out to be more than an idea. The Georgia Senate in a 40-18 vote on March 20 continued the move by the Georgia House of Representatives to have voters decide the issue for themselves later this year as a constitutional amendment.

Legislators Mull Changes To School Voucher Program
Marietta Daily Journal, GA, March 24, 2012

Special needs children in Georgia may soon be able to forgo the required year of enrollment in a public school before they can receive a voucher that uses taxpayer dollars to pay for private school.

Otter Signs Bill To Lift Charter School Cap
Idaho State Journal, ID, March 24, 2012

Charter school advocates celebrated victory after Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed a bill to eliminate limits on how many of these alternative public schools can be created annually. Otter’s signature on Friday ends the cap of six new charter schools.

Charter Group Vows To Try Again
Northwest Herald, IL, March 25, 2012

The Vision Group, which had a proposed charter school that was rejected by District 26 on Monday, vows to keep working on its proposal and eventually present it again. Terry Trobiani, speaking on the behalf of Vision Group, apologized to District 26 residents “for any of the shortcomings” when discussing the charter school at a public hearing.

Vouchers’ Fate Up To High Court
Post-Tribune, IN, March 24, 2012

It’s hard to deny that Indiana’s fledgling school voucher system has had some effect on parochial classrooms.

Problems Continue to Plague Des Moines Charter School
Des Moines Register, IA, March 26, 2012

Des Moines Public Charter School faced challenges even before it opened 15 months ago. And since January 2011, when it finally did open, it has been plagued with problems.

Orleans Parish School Board President Cites Public-Private Collaboration of Fascists
Times-Picayune, LA, March 24, 2012

It may be unusual to hear the idiosyncratic economic theories of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini surface in the middle of a debate over public education in Louisiana, but they have, courtesy of Orleans Parish School Board President Thomas Robichaux.

What Happens When Charter Schools Close?
Times-Picayune, LA, March 24, 2012

Education leaders say it’s inevitable that some percentage of New Orleans ‘ charter schools will fail to live up to state standards and close. Already, the boards of Sojourner Truth and the New Orleans Free Academy have agreed to close their schools and the state has decided to hand over two other low-performing charters — Harriet Tubman and McDonogh 42 — to new operators.

Like Never Before, Teachers Under Scrutiny
Minneapolis Star Tribune, MN, March 25, 2012

From evaluations to seniority changes to basic-skills tests, educators face unprecedented pressure to measure up.

Charter Schools Battle Ahead
Desoto Times-Tribune, MS, March 24, 2012

Battle lines over proposed charter school legislation are being drawn in Jackson, and DeSoto County lawmakers say they are firmly in the camp of protecting high-performing public schools from being undermined by the prospect of private chartered schools.

Paterson School Is A Test Case For Obama’s Education Reform Policy
The Record, NJ, March 26, 2012

In one of the toughest sections of Paterson, a hulking brick school with metal grates protecting the windows is on the front lines of President Obama’s battle for education reform.

Voucher Bills Fall Prey to False Advertising and Small Thinking
New Jersey Spotlight, NJ, March 26, 2012

It didn’t take long for school voucher advocates two file not one but two versions of the Opportunity Act. Last session’s versions cleared committee before dying in the Democratic Assembly caucus.

City Rejects Top-Rated Canarsie Middle School’s Proposal To Expand
New York Daily News, NY, March 26, 2012

Department of Education is expected to approve plan for Leadership Prep charter school to move into space in IS 211′s building

Charter School Wins Ruling On Buses
Buffalo News, NY, March 24, 2012

A judge Friday ordered the Buffalo Public Schools to pay $6.8 million to the Charter School for Applied Technologies in the Town of Tonawanda for improperly ending yellow bus service for its students who live in Buffalo .

Chancellor: Expect 50 More NYC Charter Schools
Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will meet his goal of opening 50 more charter schools before he leaves office at the end of 2013, but the future of charter school expansion after he leaves office is anybody’s guess, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Friday.

Chapel Hill Alternative School Program Teaches Life Lessons
News & Observer, NC, March 25, 2012

he Social Skills Girls Group is a new program at Phoenix Academy , created this year with grant funds from the state’s PRC 29 program. Organized by Glenda Sanders, an assistant to district behavior specialist Kendra Suggs-Shealey, the girls group brings professional women to speak on topics including personal finance, insurance, appearance, and other life skills.

Hundreds of Students Placed Into Wake County Magnet Schools
News & Observer, NC, March 24, 2012

Hundreds of waitlisted Wake County students are being placed into the schools they requested for this fall – which could appease parents who haven’t been happy so far with the new student assignment plan.

Harding Program Works To Close The Gap
Marion Star, OH, March 26, 2012

The program, more commonly known as C-Tag, provides a safety net to help students transition from Grant Middle School to Marion Harding High School . Its linkage coordinators act as liaisons for freshmen and sophomores at risk of failing. That means acting as part-tutor, part-counselor and even part-parent depending on the day and its challenges.

Don’t Miss This Chance
Columbus Dispatch, OH, March 25, 2012

Ohio lawmakers should provide the legislative backing for Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s dramatic reform proposal for his city’s deeply troubled schools.

Revised Grades Put Charters In Peril
Columbus Dispatch, OH, March 25, 2012

Getting lower-than-typical grades on state report cards would sting for schools and districts. But for charter schools, lower grades can kill.

Ohio Has Too Often Looked Past Charter Schools’ Shortcomings
Youngstown Vindicator, OH, March 26, 2012

Carl Shye may be one of the worst examples of Ohio’s failure to monitor operations of charter schools in the state, but he’s not the only example.

State Teacher Evaluation Plan Gets B- in 2011, Up from D- in 2009
Tulsa World, OK, March 26, 2012

Oklahoma is ahead of most states in implementing policies to identify effective teachers and get rid of those who aren’t, according to new 2011 rankings by the National Council on Teacher Quality.

State Scrutinizes Teacher Evaluations
Muskogee Daily Phoenix, OK, March 24, 2012

The Oklahoma Department of Education is about to make teacher evaluation even more stringent and detailed. Oklahoma school districts must adopt one of three teacher evaluation frameworks starting the 2014 school year.

Many Variables Will Affect Education Plan’s Success
Statesman Journal, OR, March 25, 2012

If it works the way its proponents say it will, Oregon’s plan to improve education will force school districts to focus intensely on producing successful graduates and will shine a light on the best — and worst — performers.

Going Private: Is This The Future of Our Public Schools?
The Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, March 25, 2012

Privatization of education has been a political football for decades, but somehow it takes on a more strident tone during an election year.

Several Local Catholic Schools To Merge
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PA, March 26, 2012

Consolidation is in the works for some parishes and schools in the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese. Using a “consortium model,” the Diocese of Pittsburgh will merge elementary schools in the East Hills and Mon Valley into two regional schools, both supported by multiple parishes, a model that may be used more frequently in the future.

Parents Cry Foul Over School Closings
Memphis Commercial Appeal, TN, March 26, 2012

The unified Shelby County School Board is expected Tuesday to close three underused city elementary schools, saving taxpayers $20 million over 10 years.

With Stakes High, 3 Groups Want Say In School Board
The Tennessean, TN, March 25, 2012

For the first time in Nashville’s history, three special interest groups are actively recruiting Nashvillians to run for the Metro school board, hoping to gain control.

Tracy Wrong To Cut Open Debate On Eval Records
The Daily News Journal, TN, March 25, 2012

State Sen. Jim Tracy apparently pulled off a legislative sleight of hand last week when he sponsored a bill closing public access to teacher evaluation data.

Uplift Education Charter School Group Picks Sites for Fort Worth Campuses
Fort Worth Star Telegram, TX, March 25, 2012

The prominent Uplift Education charter school group has selected sites for two campuses in southeast Fort Worth , including one at the long-abandoned Masonic Home and School.

Charter Schools Aren’t A Silver Bullet
Bennington Banner, VT, March 25, 2012

Talk K-12 education for more than five minutes, and inevitably, the conversation turns to charter schools — those publicly funded, privately administered institutions that now educate more than 2 million American children. Parents wonder if they are better than the neighborhood public school. Politicians tout them as a silver-bullet solution to the education crisis. Education technology companies promote them for their profit potential. Opponents of organized labor like the Walton family embrace them for their ability to crush teachers unions.

VIRTUAL EDUCATION

Cyberschool Bill Poses Question: Is Expanding Choice Or Improving Academic Achievement The Greater Priority For Lawmakers?
Kalamazoo Gazette, MI, March 25, 2012

So what’s more important: Expanding school choice or improving outcomes?
Are Lansing Republicans sincere in preaching the gospel of best practices in K-12 education? They’ve suggested a top priority is improving high school graduation rates. But when push comes to shove, is creating market competition the real agenda?

Don’t Waste Taxpayer Dollars On Cyber Charter Schools
Holland Sentinel, MI, March 24, 2012

I am a retired teacher and active school board member, and I am very much against the proposed increases in cyber schools in Michigan. I would like to share the following information from the Michigan Association of School Administrators.

Pass Cyber School Bill
Detroit News, MI, March 24, 2012

A bill that would lift the cap on cyber charter schools in Michigan is getting a bit stale as it sits in the House.

Carroll County Seeks Stand-Alone Virtual School
WSLS, VA, March 24, 2012

The Carroll County school division wants to create a separate school within its system for its virtual program students, a move that, if allowed, would make it the first stand-alone virtual school in Virginia .

State Needs To Keep An Eye On Online Schools
Press-Citizen, IA, March 25, 2012

When you speak with Allan Nelson, he hardly comes across as a revolutionary. Indeed, Nelson seems more likely to be typecast as a by-the-book bureaucrat than as a radical willing to transform the whole state of Iowa into an educational battleground.