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

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

News & analysis

Districts pay less in poor schools, report says
Education experts have long argued that a basic inequity in American schooling is that students in poor neighborhoods are frequently taught by low-paid rookie teachers who move on as they gain experience and rise up the salary scale. Until now, however, researchers lacked nationwide data to prove it. That changed Wednesday when the Department of Education released a 78-page report. Its conclusion: Tens of thousands of schools serving low-income students are being shortchanged because districts spend fewer state and local dollars on teacher salaries in those schools than on salaries in schools serving higher-income students. “Low-income students need extra support and resources to succeed, but in far too many places, policies for assigning teachers and allocating resources are perpetuating the problem rather than solving it,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a conference call. (New York Times)

Texas: Keeping kids in school and out of court
The sort of offenses that might land a student in the principal’s office in other states often send kids in Texas to court with misdemeanor charges. Some schools have started rethinking the way they punish students for bad behavior after watching many of them drop out or land in prison because of tough disciplinary policies. This summer, an exhaustive study by the Council of State Governments found that by 12th grade, more than half of all 14- to 15-year-olds in Texas are ticketed, expelled or suspended at least once. After they’re ticketed, sent to court and fined hundreds of dollars, students aren’t always allowed to go back to their home school. Instead, they’re sent to an alternative school, a holding pen of sorts where kids are supposed to “learn their lesson.” (NPR)

New York: State’s testing director resigns
The director of New York State’s educational testing program resigned on Tuesday, according to education officials, the same day the state dropped a plan to extend the length of reading tests given in Grades 3 through 8 to nearly four hours. Principals received word of the plans to extend the length of the tests on Monday via e-mail, The Daily News reported. Some of them expressed outrage that young children would be asked to sit for such lengthy testing, and by the next day, officials had dropped the plan, saying it was a mistake to issue the order without first consulting principals. David Abrams, the director of the testing program, resigned the same day. Dennis Tompkins, a department spokesman, would not say whether the news reports had influenced Mr. Abrams’s decision to resign, but said it was a “fairly sudden resignation.” (School Book)

North Carolina: Longer school year opposed by some officials
North Carolina public school systems shouldn’t count on another exemption from a longer school year. This school year, the State Board of Education allowed nearly all of the state’s 115 school districts to ignore a new legislative requirement that extends the school year by five days. But the response is expected to be less positive today when the state board discusses requests from 69 school districts and four charter schools to again exempt them from adding five days to the 2012-13 school year. (News Observer)

California: E4E expands to Los Angeles
An organization of young teachers who support overhauling union contracts launched a new chapter in Los Angeles Wednesday, part of a growing faction of groups that have successfully challenged old-guard labor leaders to overhaul the nation’s schools. The New York City-based Educators 4 Excellence said nearly 200 Los Angeles teachers had joined the group and signed a declaration calling for linking teacher evaluations to student test scores and ending policies that allow the least veteran teachers to be laid off first. The announcement by the nonprofit group comes as the Los Angeles school district and union leaders are locked in tough contract negotiations. (WSJ)

Minnesota: Short on cash, school districts will borrow to meet expenses
More than two dozen metro-area school districts say they will have to borrow money this year to meet cash flow needs — and this year’s state budget is to blame. The provision in the state budget to defer a larger payment to schools is draining the districts’ cash on-hand, says the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, which conducted the survey. In all, 26 districts reported they’ll have to borrow a total of $382 million to meet cash needs. In doing so, they’ll incur $3 million in financing costs. That’s money they say could be used for teachers or other classroom necessities. In addition, the 42 districts who are members of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts report having cut more than 600 staff members this past spring, including more than 400 teachers. (MPR)

Maryland: Superintendent Starr explores theories of intelligence in his first book club
Montgomery superintendent Joshua Starr offered a glimpse of his educational philosophy, and his cerebral personality, Tuesday night during his first official book club gathering. The auditorium of the central office was transformed into a talk show studio for the evening, which was scheduled as part of the new superintendent’s transition plan. Starr relaxed in a leather chair, surrounded by green plants and dark wooden book case. A panel of guests sat on a sofa across the coffee table. The featured guest — author Carol Dweck — was beamed in via Skype from her study in California. A cardboard display of her book, Mindset , was propped up on a side table. Dweck is a psychologist at Stanford University. Her book talks about the importance of developing a “growth mindset,” or a belief that your intelligence or abilities can be developed through hard work. Research shows that people who believe this, as opposed to the notion that talents and abilities are fixed traits, are more likely to be successful. (WaPo)

Rhode Island: Resolution would give municipalities say over mayoral academies
City Councilor Bryan Principe has submitted a resolution that would require City Council approval before the state could endorse a mayoral academy in its city or town.”No matter where you stand, this protects the authority of city councils to control what goes on in their districts,” Principe said. Principe is an outspoken critic of a proposal to open two elementary charter schools in Providence that would be run by Achievement First in conjunction with the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies. The first school would open in 2013. (ProJo)


Martin Perez: Opportunity scholarship would help NJ kids escape failing schools
In this post-election period, the state Legislature has a chance to make a real difference in the lives of thousands of New Jersey students shackled to low-performing schools. It’s a chance that leaders genuinely concerned about the future cannot afford to let slip. The Opportunity Scholarship Act is ready for the final few steps of the legislative process and could be on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk by the end of December, if lawmakers do what they know is right for their constituents. (Star Ledger)


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