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

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

News & analysis

Pay data sought for for-profit universities
Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who is the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said he wanted to determine whether billions in federal education aid is used for the benefit of students or “to line the pockets of corporate executives.” Data indicated that the chief executives at three of the schools on Mr. Cummings’s list – the University of Phoenix, DeVry University and I.T.T. Educational Services – made more than $6 million last year, including salary, stock options and bonuses, the congressman said in soliciting the information. The executive compensation for the schools appears markedly higher than at public and nonprofit schools, past studies have suggested. At the same time, many for-profit or “career” colleges have reported higher default rates on student loans and a lower proportion of money spent on student education. (New York Times)

New York: Poor would benefit from aid change
The state Board of Regents has proposed changing an education aid formula to a model that would send more money to poor districts. Under a proposal put forward Monday, 73 percent of state aid would go to high-needs districts. The formula change recommendation is a recognition of the considerable financial strain placed on school districts by a property tax cap and school aid limit, said Regent James Tallon Jr. “This is not an environment that is going to revert back to 7, 8 or 9 percent increases in school support,” he said. Under the current system, wealthier districts are due to get higher percentage aid increases than poor districts, said Nikki Jones, spokeswoman for the Alliance for Quality Education, an advocacy group pushing for increased school aid. New York has one of the worst funding gaps between poor and wealthy districts in the nation. (Times-Union)

Rhode Island: Woonsocket may get state fiscal overseer after school deficit, state revenue director says
Woonsocket faces the prospect of a state monitor after the discovery of a school budget deficit. The Woonsocket Call reports that state revenue officials have given Woonsocket schools a Wednesday deadline to clarify its personnel costs after officials learned of the deficit of $2.2 to $2.7 million in last year’s school budget. (ProJo)

Minnesota: Incubator strategy aims for across-the-board charter excellence
Last week, the Minneapolis-based Charter School Partners (CSP) received national attention for being one of a handul of organizations succeeding in replicating winning charter formulas via a strategy known as incubation. Most of the schools that turn up on the annual lists of Twin Cities schools that post impressive test results despite serving impoverished, disadvantaged populations belong to CSP’s network of charters. Each reflects the philosophies and approaches of its founders, and all employ a number of winning strategies. Indeed, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently agreed to fund a novel effort in which CSP and other education advocacy groups and Minneapolis Public Schools have joined forces to identify practices that can be “scaled up” for use in mainline public schools. (Learning Curve)

Minnesota: New Anoka-Hennepin sexual orientation policy draws fire
People in the Anoka-Hennepin School District who have spent months divided over a so-called neutrality policy on sexual orientation now appear united in opposition to a new policy being proposed to replace it. The state’s largest school district is considering whether to abolish the sexual orientation language and replace it with a policy instructing teachers how to address controversial topics in the classroom, and the public got its first chance to weigh in Monday night. School board chairman Tom Heidemann told the 60 or so people at the school board meeting that the proposed changes are meant to provide clarity. Currently policy requires Anoka-Hennepin teachers and staff to remain neutral if the subject of sexual orientation comes up. Critics say the policy is confusing and contributes to a hostile environment for gay students. Two national civil rights groups — the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights — have brought lawsuits that seek the policy’s removal. (MPR)


Why should we care about integrating schools?
Integrated schools can better prepare all students for post-secondary-school success.  According to a recent Century Foundation study, “Low-income students attending more affluent schools scored almost two years ahead of low-income students in high-poverty schools. Indeed, low-income students given a chance to attend more affluent schools performed more than half a year better, on average, than middle-income students who attend high-poverty schools.” All students—minority, white, high-income and low-income—are far better prepared to succeed in college when they have been given the opportunity to learn and work with diverse peers. Many high school graduates of DSST Public Schools, the network of integrated charter schools I run, self-report an elevated level of confidence when they step on a college campus after having gone to high school with students from all races and economic backgrounds. (GOOD)


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