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

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

News & analysis

Minnesota: Dayton vetoes overhaul of teacher tenure rules, a top GOP priority
With a veto Thursday of a proposal to upend schoolteacher layoff rules, Gov. Mark Dayton wiped out one of state Republicans’ top priorities. Dayton said the measure was an example of “prejudice against public school teachers” that singled out hard-working teachers by negating long-establishing bargaining rights, replacing them “with only vaguely formulated ideas.” The veto heightens the tension between the DFL governor and the Republican-dominated Legislature. The education measure would have ended the “last-in, first-out” seniority-based system of layoffs that governs Minnesota public school teachers whose local contracts do not already allow consideration of other issues such as teacher effectiveness. “The governor has dealt a major blow to teachers, schools, students and parents across the state,” said the proposal’s chief sponsor, Rep. Branden Petersen, R-Andover. Petersen and other supporters met with Dayton repeatedly to urge him to sign the bill. Petersen issued what he called a “public apology” for Dayton’s veto. “I am sorry that Governor Dayton chose to side with big-labor special interests and sell out our children’s futures,” he said. The measure moved through the Legislature with almost no DFL support. According to Petersen, the bill got the votes of one DFLer in the House and one in the Senate. The issue inspired heavy lobbying inside and outside the Capitol. It raised the ire of union groups, particularly the powerful Education Minnesota teachers union, which spent $500,000 lobbying last year. Bill supporter Vallay Varro, executive director of the Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now (MinnCAN), said she expected the veto. “You always hold out hope that [Dayton’s] going to do the right thing at the end of the day, considering what research is saying about keeping the best teachers in the classroom and considering what Minnesotans have been saying,” she said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t shake out that way.” (Star Tribune)

New Jersey: Low test scores outweigh lofty challenges as Trenton charter school faces closure
Emily Fisher opened 14 years ago and serves some of the state’s toughest-to-educate children. Almost all of the nearly 400 students are poor and about 40 percent have special education needs. Many failed in other schools: The mission statement includes reaching out to “disruptive” students. There are kids who were incarcerated, and several dozen have children of their own. But next month, the school is expected to close. The state Department of Education this spring denied a renewal of Emily Fisher’s charter, due in large part to low test scores, citing a “culture of low expectations” and “little evidence of learning taking place.” If the school closes, students will “transition” back to regular Trenton schools. Emily Fisher is appealing saying the state cited incorrect data in its non-renewal. Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf maintains the state’s data and analyses are correct, and denied requests for reconsideration. The school is seeking a stay in state Appeals Court and a decision may be announced as early as today. School officials say part of the reason the state may want the closure is that DOE wants access to its facilities — several former parochial schools — for another charter school. G. Dallas Dixon last week wrote to Cerf, saying he learned that the acting director of the state’s charter school office reached out to the Diocese of Trenton, attempting to “broker” a deal to lease the facilities to a new charter. (Star Ledger)

New York: Sex ed furthers mission of special needs school
It can be one of the most awkward classes for students — and most controversial among parents. But at Aaron Academy, a Manhattan school for special needs students, sex ed is a key part of its mission to prepare responsible, successful adults. “Everything that we do here is to better prepare them to handle situations when they are faced with them,” said Aaron Academy Social Worker Martine Soren. Aaron Academy serves middle and high school students with a variety of special needs. It’s a private school, but administrators say the city pays most students’ tuition, after determining it’s the best school for them. And for the students, the staff says sex ed is particularly important. “Adolescence is such a challenging time for any teenager and I feel that for students with special needs, this time is even more difficult,” Soren said. “Their hormones are raging and chronologically while they might be 14, 15 or 16, emotionally and cognitively they are not able to manage all these changes.” As for the debate over whether sex ed should be taught at home or in school, Aaron Academy says it should be both. “We believe that the information – the technical information, the knowledge – has to be taught in school. And then the ethics and the values and the responsibilities for making decision is the family responsibility,” said Aaron Academy Director Barbara McKeon. (NY1)


Washington Post: Keeping Maryland’s dream alive
A CRUCIAL TEST on illegal immigration will appear on Maryland’s ballot this fall — whether undocumented students shall be eligible for in-state college tuition providing they graduate from a state high school, have a record of filing tax returns and commit to pursuing legal status. That’s the thrust of the state’s so-called Dream Act, the first state law of its kind (not counting a much broader measure in California, in 1994) to get a vote at referendum. The General Assembly approved the Dream Act last year, but opponents collected enough signatures to put it before voters. It’s critical that it be approved, and not only because teenagers brought to this country as children, through no fault of their own, deserve compassionate treatment. The vote will also send an important signal to supporters of the federal Dream Act, so far spurned by Congress, that would lay out a path to citizenship for unauthorized youngsters who go to college or serve in the military. Already, the Dream Act’s foes are distorting the facts. They warn it would make Maryland a magnet for illegal-immigrant families seeking tuition breaks for their kids. But there is no evidence for that in any of the other 11 states that grant in-state tuition to undocumented students. They argue that native-born students would be displaced from state colleges. But undocumented students would compete with out-of-state applicants, not Marylanders. Opponents contend it’s a waste to encourage unauthorized students to attend college, since they cannot be legally employed — an argument that overlooks the fact that legally or not, 7 million undocumented immigrants have jobs, and the nation depends on them. It makes no sense for Maryland to educate bright, ambitious youngsters through high school, then deny them a realistic shot at higher education. Maryland will be a litmus test of the proposition that compassion as well as self-interest justify the Dream Act. The state’s leaders have to make the sale. (WaPo)

Sara Mead interviews Matthew Chingos
At only 29, Matthew Chingos has already conducted research with some of the nation’s leading education researchers and on some of the most pressing education policy questions, including issues related to teacher effectiveness, accountability, and higher education attainment. His first book, Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities (co-authored with William Bowen and Michael McPherson) was published by Princeton University Press in 2009. Raised on the North Fork of Long Island, Chingos earned both a bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in government from Harvard, and is currently a Fellow at the Brown Center on Education Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. (Policy Notebook)


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