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

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

News & analysis

State teacher policy yearbook: Breaking it down
If you’re not up to reading all 9,000 pages of [NCTQ’s] State Teacher Policy Yearbook, relax! We’ve broken down the 52 volumes of this year’s State Teacher Policy Yearbook into searchable categories so that you can delve into the meat of states’ laws, rules, and regulations on the teaching profession. Just visit [their] new Search by Topic page, where you can access 50-state charts and graphs as well as state-by-state policy analyses on teacher evaluation, support, preparation, testing, layoffs, and much more. (NCTQ)

Lawmakers want rural focus in district Race to Top
A bipartisan group of senators wants to make sure the Obama administration doesn’t leave rural schools out in the cold when it crafts the next generation of the Race to the Top competition, which is aimed at districts and could be funded at as much as $417 million. The seventeen lawmakers, lead by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., worry that cash-strapped rural districts with tiny central office staffs will have trouble competing with big, urban school systems for the grants, since larger districts can devote more muscle and manpower to the application process. The department should provide a lot of technical support for rurals, they said in a letter outlining their concerns. And the lawmakers want education service agencies (regional or district-based agencies that coordinate services, including career and technical education, pre-kindergarten, and professional development for groups of schools) to be able to be able to apply for the grants. They also want the department to allow consortia, or groups of districts, to apply together. And they want the department to put these applications out soon, to give rurals “with less grant-writing capacity as much time as possible to develop thoughtful, high-quality applications.” (Politics K-12)

New York: Regents Board may offer alternate HS grad requirements to five classic exams
It is a right of passage. To graduate from high school in New York State, students need to pass five specific exams. But that might change. On Monday, the state Board of Regents decided to move forward with a plan to offer three of what it calls “pathways” to graduation. “We have been criticized for this ‘one size fits all,'” said Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. Students would be able to choose whether to pass the traditional five exams — in English, math, science, U.S. history and global history — or to focus more on either science and math or career and technical skills. Students who choose the two new options would not have to pass the global history exam. Of the five required exams, global history has been the toughest, with just 56 percent of city students passing it last year. For years, the Regents have been saying they want to raise the bar for a high school diploma. But some are worried that by proposing the most difficult exam become optional, they are watering down the requirements. (NY1)


The 3 main obstacles in the way of education reform
Last year, Adam Gray was named the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. Despite the honor, Gray, who is in his twenties, was dismissed from his South Boston high school shortly thereafter because of rules that make seniority more important than performance when deciding layoffs. He now teaches at the prestigious Boston Latin. Not surprisingly, follies like this are commonly cited as examples of how archaic practices persist in education. Yet focusing on these absurd examples to score some easy points — as is typical in the education debate — obscures the larger, far more serious systemic problems that underlie them. To me there are three big culprits in American education policy that are crippling the ability of our schools to respond to today’s challenges. (Atlantic)


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