Curtis Whatley is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

Here’s what educators, advocates, wonks and policymakers are talking about today:

News & analysis

Head Start faces new test
Some local Head Start programs for the first time will have to compete for a share of $7.6 billion in federal funding under a plan aimed at weeding out low-performing preschool centers. In its initial move, the Obama administration recently told 132 Head Start programs across the country that they have been identified as deficient, including the nation’s largest programs in Los Angeles County and New York City. The targeted programs, which serve low-income three- and four-year-olds, won’t lose current funding. But instead of having their grants renewed automatically, as has been the practice, the programs now have to prove they are effective in preparing children for kindergarten before they will be given future funding. The move is part of the administration’s broader goal to infuse competition and accountability into public education from preschool through college. Head Start, created in 1964, provides federal funds to public school districts, city agencies and community organizations to operate roughly 1,600 programs serving about a million children. Long championed by Democrats, Head Start has come under growing attack by Republican lawmakers and other critics who say it is costly and ineffective, and that local providers have a virtual monopoly on the money no matter how poorly they perform. (WSJ)

New York: Gov. Cuomo says he will not approve of making teacher evaluations public
Gov. Cuomo flatly rejected the “total disclosure” of teacher evaluations Wednesday, putting himself at odds with Mayor Bloomberg. Cuomo, in his most expansive comments so far on the hot-button topic, said he supports parents being allowed to see evaluations and expects to hammer out an agreement with the Legislature by the end of its session in June. “The teacher evaluation disclosure question is a question I believe has to be answered this session,” Cuomo told reporters. Cuomo said he disagreed with those who want to keep teacher evaluations completely private — but he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with those, including Bloomberg, who want them made available for widespread review. “I think you have to strike an intelligent balance between the teacher’s right to privacy and the parent’s right to know and the public’s right to know,” Cuomo said. “The question is where on that spectrum” do officials set policy. Cuomo noted other public employees, including cops and firefighters, do not have their evaluations made public. (Daily News)

New York: In Albany, a bill for mandatory kindergarten
Legislation that would compel New York City schools to make kindergarten seats available to 5-year-olds is now wending its way through the State Legislature, awaiting action by the education committees of the Assembly and the Senate. On Thursday, the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn; Councilman Robert Jackson, chairman of the education committee; and Councilman Stephen T. Levin issued a joint statement calling on lawmakers to swiftly pass the bills. The legislation calls for children who are 5 years old on or before Dec. 1 to attend kindergarten, and the city’s Education Department would be compelled to ensure that these students have a spot in a class in their district. Parents, however, can opt not to enroll their 5-year-old, and students who are homeschooled or enrolled in private schools would be exempt from the requirement. (School Book)

Minnesota: House votes for new teacher layoff rules
Despite opposition from Gov. Mark Dayton, the Minnesota House has voted to let schools lay off teachers based on their performance in the classroom and look beyond seniority in job-protection decision. If the Senate passes the legislation as expected, Dayton has said he will veto the bill. Thursday night’s vote was 70-61. Current law says that schools must only consider teacher seniority when making layoffs, unless districts negotiate different local policies. Under the bill, schools would be able to weigh teacher evaluations before seniority in layoff decisions. Supporters argue it aims to preserve the most effective teachers during staff downsizing. Critics say the performance measurements are too new and too subjective to play such a big role in shaping layoffs. They have also called it an attack on collective bargaining. (Brainerd Dispatch)

Pennsylvania: Maximum state-funded college grant amount to decrease to $4,210
College students bracing for higher tuition bills next year might want to brace themselves for their state grant award notices as well. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency board voted today on a grant distribution formula that lowers the maximum grant amount to $4,210, which is a decrease of $138 from this year.  Rep. William Adolph, R-Delaware, who chairs PHEAA’s board, said $20 million more is needed to avoid reductions in grant amounts for next year. The formula also raises the minimum grant to $500, from this year’s $200 minimum. Rep. Sandy Major, R-Susquehanna, a PHEAA board member, said that is intended to make the grants more meaningful to students who receive them. The average award is estimated to be $2,794, , which is up from this year’s $2,530. State grant amounts vary based on student’s financial need and college costs.The $407 million state grant program assumes PHEAA will kick in $50 million of its earnings to supplement the $362 million Gov. Tom Corbett built into his state budget proposal. The remaining $5 million is held in reserve for grants to students taking summer classes. (Patriot News)


Patriot News: Pennsylvania legislators have a slate of important issues that must be tackled by summer
Primary day is over. So are the excuses for stalled work in the state Capitol. As lawmakers return to Harrisburg next week, they have a lengthy to-do list to accomplish before summer recess and the heavy campaigning for the November election. Education funding is the biggest challenge for lawmakers. Districts statewide are struggling. This is well beyond a problem of districts just needing to penny-pinch on field trips and athletic equipment. The Harrisburg School District might have to cut kindergarten next year. No lawmaker should want that to happen — it would be the first time a district ended kindergarten in the state. The program costs Harrisburg only $1.6 million but given the district’s operating deficit, it says it has to take drastic steps. State lawmakers need to find money to fill these critical gaps for students. (Patriot News)


Recent Posts

More posts from Today in Education

See All Posts