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Daily Headlines: March 8, 2012

Teacher Evaluations Pose Test for States
Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2012

Efforts to revamp public education are increasingly focused on evaluating teachers using student test scores, but school districts nationwide are only beginning to deal with the practical challenges of implementing those changes.

Teacher Survey Shows Morale Is at a Low Point
New York Times, NY, March 8, 2012

The slump in the economy, coupled with the acrimonious discourse over how much weight test results and seniority should be given in determining a teacher’s worth, have conspired to bring morale among the nation’s teachers to its lowest point in more than 20 years, according to a survey of teachers, parents and students released on Wednesday.

Who Won Millions in Walton Foundation Grants in 2011
Washington Post Blog, DC, March 7, 2012

The pro-charter Walton Foundation handed out more than $159 million in 2011 in 16 metropolitan areas around the country to promote school choice.

Schools Shouldn’t Fine Tardy Students or Their Parents
Washington Post, DC , March 7, 2012

Money is not the answer to everything.
For example, consider the trend of schools forcing families to pay fines for various infractions such as not getting their children to class on time. It’s counterproductive, and the fines often hit people who can least afford them.

Teacher Incentives: Another If-Only That Doesn’t Measure Up
Los Angeles Times, CA, March 7, 2012

When it comes to raising achievement in public schools, theories abound. Not just theories. Absolute certitude. If only schools were smaller, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation used to think, before it pushed for and got such schools throughout the nation, and then its own studies found otherwise. If only we made all students take college-prep courses, others maintain, or if we linked teacher evaluations to their students’ scores.

FROM THE STATES

It’s Official: Two Oakland Elementary Schools Will Become Charters
Oakland Tribune, CA, March 7, 2012

The Oakland school board on Wednesday night voted unanimously to allow two elementary schools, ASCEND and Learning Without Limits, to operate as independently-run charters.

Adelanto Parents Resubmit Petition For Charter School
Los Angeles Times Blog, CA, March 7, 2012

Parents aiming to improve their struggling Mojave Desert school have resubmitted a petition asking district officials to transform it into a charter campus, supporters said Wednesday.

Hope Still Alive To House Inspire Charter School At Chapman Campus
Enterprise-Record, CA, March 8, 2012

While the future of installing a charter high school on the Chapman School campus still is an open question, all five members of the Chico Unified School District board said they firmly support the concept.

Colorado State Board of Education backs closing of Life Skills Center High School in Denver
Denver Post, CO, March 8, 2012

After nine years and multiple charter contract renewals of Life Skills Center High School, the State Board of Education on Wednesday voted to uphold Denver Public Schools’ plan to close it.

Finch Pleased With Vallas’ Education Plan
Connecticut Post, CT, March 7, 2012

Interim School Superintendent Paul Vallas’ five-year plan to transform the district was hailed Wednesday as bold and long-overdue by Mayor Bill Finch and others.

The Right Approach To School Reform
Connecticut Post, CT, March 7, 2012

I was pleased to read the Legislature turned down an opportunity to abet an end run by Mayor Finch and Governor Malloy around the state Supreme Court regarding its decision to nullify the state’s takeover of Bridgeport ‘s Board of Education.

D.C. To Add Middle School, Shake Up Ward 5 Education
Washington Post, DC, March 7, 2012

D.C. school officials said this week that they plan to open a new middle school in the Brookland neighborhood, seeking to address community concerns about education options in Ward 5.

Bill To Create Association for Private Schools Meets Resistance
Miami Herald, FL, March 8, 2012

Florida lawmakers Wednesday backed off of an idea to create a separate athletics association for private schools and charter schools.

For-Profit Schools not the Answer for Florida
Tampa Bay Times, FL, March 8, 2012

For generations, public education has been where the American dream begins. At a public school, all students — no matter who they are, what skills they start out with or where they come from — have a chance to learn and the opportunity to succeed.

House Agrees To Add More Cash To Corp Tax Vouchers For Schools
Palm Beach Post Blog, FL, March 7, 2012

Following a partisan skirmish, the Republican-ruled House agreed Wednesday to expand the state’s corporate tax credit scholarship program, with Democrats decrying the move for pulling dollars from the state treasury which could go to public schools.

Quick on the Trigger
Tallahassee Democrat, FL, March 8, 2012

When their children’s school is failing, what can parents do? Well, they can become more involved in the school, volunteering, becoming active in a PTA or joining an advisory council. If it seems hopeless, they can send their children to a private school — or to a publicly funded charter school, as about 700 parents in Leon County already have done.

Fight Over Parent Empowerment Bill Becomes Latest Litmus
Miami Herald, FL, March 7, 2012

The expected Senate vote on Thursday over giving parents the right to order turn-around programs at their struggling schools is less about parents and more about undercutting the role of Florida ’s powerful teacher’s unions, say labor organizers.

General Assembly Debates Education Bills
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, GA, March 7, 2012

The Georgia House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pass legislation that would enable the state to implement a constitutional amendment on charter schools.

Guide Helps Parents Explore School Choices
Indianapolis Star, IN, March 8, 2012

Parents struggling to navigate Indianapolis ‘ growing array of school options now can get help.

Jindal Says His Education Package Is Ready For The Legislative Session
Times-Picayune, LA, March 7, 2012

Gov. Bobby Jindal said Wednesday that his administration will be ready for lawmakers to take up his education overhaul package as soon as Legislature session begins at noon Monday.

Compromise on Maryland Teacher Pensions Likely To Please Few
Washington Post, DC, March 7, 2012

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to shift half of rising teacher pension costs to counties has merged with the General Assembly’s effort to make it harder for counties to cut classroom spending, creating a proposed fix-all for education funding issues that have long confounded state legislators.

Charter Firm Moves Ahead With School
Boston Globe, MA, March 8, 2012

The company that will manage a recently approved charter school in Lowell will wait until the enrollment process is complete before addressing concerns over projections of high student-teacher ratios for those with special needs and English as a second language, according to a representative.

Innovation Schools Are Catching On
Boston Globe, MA, March 8, 2012

In Revere, in a brightly lit first-grade classroom at Paul Revere Elementary School , six groups of 6-year-olds are spread out. Some sit with their teacher, Erin London, while most of the others are settled in at desks and discuss questions from their assignment books. A couple of boys lie on a mat while a few others sit at a computer bank and do their work with a keyboard and a mouse.

Teachers Union Files Lawsuit Over Michigan Teacher Tenure Act
Detroit Free Press, MI, March 8, 2012

A local teachers union is challenging aspects of Michigan’s Teacher Tenure Act, saying in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday that a controversial amendment made to the law last summer is unconstitutional.

Get Charter Schools Started On Right Foot
Hattiesburg American, MS, March 8, 2012

If charter schools become a reality in Mississippi it would be a mistake to involve the state Department of Education in any authoritative role.

School Transfer Case Is In Judge’s Hands Again
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MO, March 8, 2012

Over three days, a St. Louis County Circuit Court judge has heard two very different versions of what might unfold if school districts were forced to comply with Missouri ‘s school transfer law

N.J. Lobbyist Spending Hits New High At $73M; Teachers Union Tops List Again
Star Ledger, NJ, March 7, 2012

The stinging ad campaign “Millionaires for Christie” paid for by the New Jersey Education Association — accusing the governor of siding with millionaires over the middle class — cost millions of dollars.

No Public Vote Is Needed To Start Charter Schools
The Record, NJ, March 7, 2012

A money-driven charter referendum process dominated by teachers unions and traditional school boards protecting their turf is not the type of education reform New Jersey needs. More than two-thirds of our school boards took their own budgets off the ballot as soon as they had the chance. Those that did should be ashamed of the self-serving hypocrisy they are teaching our children.

The Challenges That Teachers Face
New York Times, NY, March 8, 2012

It was refreshing to read these heartfelt views of an “everyman” involved in public education. As a long retired public school teacher, I deeply empathize with Mr. Johnson’s daily stresses that are part of public school education.

Bloomberg Praises a Charter-to-Charter Turnaround
New York Times Schoolbook, NY, March 7, 2012

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has used public school closings as a cornerstone of his school reform strategy, sometimes replacing them with charter schools.

Charity Boosts Cash To Charters
Albany Times Union, NY, March 7, 2012

That makes Albany one of the top areas for the Foundation’s investment in the country and one of the group’s 16 investment sites.

Teachers Affirm Stance On Student Attendance
Buffalo News, NY, March 8, 2012

The Buffalo Teachers Federation’s council of delegates voted overwhelmingly Wednesday night to maintain an attendance clause in this year’s teacher-evaluation agreement — a move that appears all but certain to cost the district $9.3 million this year.

Charter Schools Possible On Post, Downtown
Fayetteville Observer, NC, March 8, 2012

A Michigan company is looking to open charter schools on Fort Bragg and in downtown Fayetteville.

Teach for America Recruits to Work for Cleveland Charter Schools This Fall
Cleveland Plain Dealer, OH, March 8, 2012

Fifty or more recruits from Teach for America will be in Cleveland-area classrooms this fall, the program announced Wednesday.

When A Public Meeting Seems Best
Lebanon Express, OR, March 7, 2012

In this case, PIE board members followed the law, but we hope they will personally take more interest in how their school is being administered.

Question Findings In Test-Cheating Probes
Philadelphia Inquirer, PA, March 8, 2012

The appointment of a “testing integrity adviser” by the School Reform Commission was long overdue amid mounting allegations of cheating on standardized state tests.

Profits At Expense of District Students
York Dispatch, PA, March 7, 2012

Unfortunately the charter school process in Pennsylvania, which in essence deregulated controls on education, was instituted in a hurried, haphazard, unregulated manner under the Ridge administration similar to the way the federal government deregulated banks and other financial institutions.

SD Teachers Union Tries To Block Bonus Bill
KDLT News, SD, March 7, 2012

A bill that would give top performing teachers bonuses continues to cause controversy, even after being passed by the South Dakota legislature. The bill still needs to be signed by Governor Daugaard before it will become law, but a South Dakota teachers union is hoping to stop that from ever happening.

Knox School Board Denies Proposed Charter School Location
Knoxville News Sentinel, TN, March 7, 2012

If officials with the Knoxville Charter Academy are unable to find another location for their proposed school by April 1, they may find themselves starting from scratch.

Tennessee Teachers’ Performance Grading To Go Online; Evaluation Open To Public View
Memphis Commercial Appeal, TN, March 8, 2012

The job review scores of thousands of Tennessee teachers will be made available to the public, starting this summer.

Call A Special Session On School Finance
Austin American Statesman, TX, March 7, 2012

The Texas State Teachers Association is urging Gov. Rick Perry to call a special legislative session and appropriate $2.5 billion from the rainy day fund to restore the money cut from school budgets for the 2012-13 term.

Legislation Promotes ‘School Choice’
Fairfax Times, VA, March 7, 2012

A new tax credit, approved by the Virginia General Assembly, would offer breaks to individuals or corporations that donate to nonprofit organizations providing educational scholarships to low-income students or those with disabilities.

VIRTUAL LEARNING

Tempers Get Short In Online Education Talks
Quad City Times, IA, March 7, 2012

Tempers flared during a House committee meeting on online education that saw one lawmaker walk out in disgust, claiming she was disrespected by the CEO of a company that has set up an online school in Iowa .

Parents Question Lawmakers On Cyber And Charter Schools, Funding Changes
Michigan Public Radio, MI, March 8, 2012

Last year Michigan lifted the cap on how many charter schools public universities can run. Now, there’s a bill proposed that would allow more cyber charter schools to operate.

Online School Adds Up To Right Answer
Kenosha News, WI, March 7, 2012

Faced with growing class sizes and a lot of noise about cuts at Kenosha Unified, Kim McMahon took a big leap last spring: she enrolled her son, Christopher, 6, and oldest daughter, Lauren, 9, in Wisconsin Virtual Academy, an online public school licensed to accept students anywhere in the state.