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

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

News & analysis

Senate blocks money for teachers, firefighters
Nine days after President Obama’s $447 billion jobs package was blocked in the U.S. Senate, one of the plan’s key components — which would provide $35 billion to states and local governments to hire teachers and first responders — suffered the same fate late Thursday. (WaPo)

Senate education panel approves ESEA rewrite bill
After a long delay, the Senate education committee has just approved a bill that would rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. [Senator] Harkin, the committee’s chairman, hopes to move the bill to the floor of the Senate before Thanksgiving, and he thinks it’s possible that Congress could approve a rewritten version of the law before Christmas—in time to negate the need for the Obama administration’s waiver plan. (Politics K-12)

Jay-Z and Warren Buffett team up to teach kids financial literacy
One is worth $39 billion, while the other has a comparatively meager $450 million but significantly more street cred with young people. So Warren Buffett and Jay-Z are teaming up to teach kids about financial literacy. Buffet’s animated series Secret Millionaires Club is set to move from the web to television this month, and an animated Jay-Z is the guest star for the first episode on October 23. (GOOD)

Minnesota: Exploring lessons from “beat the odds” schools
Last month, when the results of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments were released, for the second year running more than half of those schools that “beat the odds” — that is, have both high test scores and high poverty rates — catered to a single ethnic or racial group. The north Minneapolis charters Harvest Prep and Seed Academy, for instance, serve impoverished African-Americans who score well above state averages. Twin Cities International Elementary and Higher Ground Academy both post higher-than-average scores from African immigrants. But Dr. Suárez-Orozco says the reality is that most new immigrants become isolated in public schools, and that large numbers of them become alienated over time and fail to graduate. (Learning Curve)

Minnesota: Local leaders rally for Race to the Top (YouTube)

New York: Commissioner King tells Buffalo “It’s not rocket science”
State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. offered some limited praise Wednesday for Buffalo’s interim school superintendent but said the real test of Amber M. Dixon’s month-old leadership lies in submitting acceptable turnaround plans for seven failing schools by Jan. 1. Thirteen of Buffalo’s schools — nearly one in four — have been designated as persistently lowest-achieving. In the next several weeks, more of the city’s schools will receive the designation. “That’s a death sentence for the community — a community can’t survive with failing schools,” King told The Buffalo News. “People ought to be outraged. People ought to be camping out in parks over the performance of their schools.” (Buffalo News, School Zone)

New York: State seeks another Race to the Top grant
New York State is entering the competition for another federal Race to the Top education grant — this time by seeking $100 million for early childhood learning programs. Noting that 44 percent of third graders did not meet New York State’s learning standards on this year’s English Language Arts exam, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pointed to research showing children do better in school when they are given a strong early foundation. If awarded the grant, he said the state would use the money to close the achievement gap among students by improving early childhood programs that prepare them for school. (School Book)


Tea Party and teachers’ union make strange brew
Talk about bizarre bedfellows. The National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers’ union, and the Tea Party are both arguing against federal accountability standards in education. (Bloomberg)


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