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

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

News & analysis

New Jersey: Christie seeks new testing
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday proposed expanding high-school testing by requiring students to pass multiple subject exams in order to graduate, similar to their counterparts in New York. As part of a long-term testing approach, current fourth-graders would be the first required to pass the new tests, which acting state Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf said would be a better measure of whether students are ready for college and beyond. Mr. Christie said: “We need to make sure that the students that we send from New Jersey high schools to go into the work force or into higher education are prepared on their first day to sit in that classroom or perform a job that a business has asked them to perform.” Under the existing high-school testing system, students have to pass a single test that covers math and English. The new tests would also cover math and English, and the administration is reviewing recommendations that students pass tests in social studies and science, for a total of 12 tests. (WSJ)

New York: Study finds charters service fewer high-needs students than public schools
Publicly financed but privately run, charter schools are a lightning rod for controversy. Supporters argue they often outperform local schools, giving parents better options. Critics say that is because they attract better students, leaving local schools overwhelmed with more needy kids than before. Now a new report helps shed a bit more light on who charter schools are serving and how they compare to the schools down the street. The report comes from the New York Charter School Center, a nonprofit that supports charter development, but it is frank about charters’ weaknesses, as well as their strengths. “It’s the first step in trying to be as transparent as we possibly can and hopefully have a productive conversation on how we arrive at a day when every public school, charter or district, works for every child,” said James Merriman of the New York Charter School Center. Charters have higher test score averages and attendance rates but do not serve as many high-needs students as the average school in their districts: 72 percent of charters serve fewer special needs students. The report also finds 80 percent of charters serve fewer low-income students eligible for free lunch and 96 percent of charters serve fewer English Language Learners. Charter schools also have much higher rates of teacher and principal turnover: 30 percent of charter school teachers left their position last year. In public schools, it was 13 percent. (NY1)

New York: School advocates put District 9 in the Bronx first because education department doesn’t, they say
School District 9 has been on the state’s failing list for the last seven years, and community advocates and parents say there is still no sign of improvement. So they are taking matters into their own hands. The New Settlement Parent Action Committee has demanded a copy of the most recent district comprehensive educational plan, spearheaded a sprawling outreach effort dubbed “26 Schools in 26 Days!” and on Saturday hosted a community education forum with parents, teachers principals, elected officials, students and a representative from the state Department of Education. They participated in break-out sessions to brainstorm a new plan for the district. “It feels like the beginning of something, and that’s what we were expecting,” said Julia Allen, an organizer at New Settlement Parent Action Committee, of the forum. “I hope that it will be the beginning of a new way of thinking about how we try to solve the problems in our schools,” said Sasha Warner-Berry, an organizer at PAC, “So that we are working together and incorporating the input of everyone who is directly affected by the issue.” (Daily News)

Minnesota: Bill altering teacher tenure heads to Dayton
A bill making significant changes to the process for teacher layoffs is headed to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who has pledged a veto. The legislation would eliminate so-called “last in, first out” rules that protect more senior teachers. The Senate voted 35-28 on Saturday to send the bill to Dayton, following a House vote a couple nights earlier. Current law says that schools must only consider teacher seniority when making layoffs, unless districts negotiate different local policies. Under the bill, schools would be able to weigh teacher evaluations before seniority in layoff decisions. Advocates say layoffs should put a premium on performance over classroom longevity, but opponents argue that teacher evaluations can be too subjective and that it’s an end-run around collective bargaining. (Brainerd Dispatch)

Rhode Island: Providence teachers circulate petition for Superintendent Lusi
A petition is circulating on social media sites that asks Mayor Angel Taveras to appoint Susan Lusi as the next superintendent of the Providence schools. The petition, started by several teachers at Pleasantview Elementary School, says that Lusi, interim superintendent for the past nine months, has “earned enormous support from administrators, teachers and families through her steadfast leadership. If you care about collaboration as well as educational outcomes and want a leader who has united teachers and administrators to work together to do what is best for the students of Providence — sign this petition for Mayor Angel Taveras to select Susan Lusi as the superintendent of the Providence public schools.” (ProJo)


John King: Why all students have to be counted on teacher evals
On the issue of attendance, it’s very clear. I believe that every student is entitled to an excellent education. Any policy that would render students invisible is not acceptable — there have been proposals that would render the majority of students in a building invisible, proposals that would render the majority of students in a subgroup invisible. While I accept that attendance is not solely the responsibility of educators, I reject the notion that educators do not contribute to student attendance. I ran a school. I was a principal of a school in a very high-needs community. We had systematic strategies to ensure students came to school. One was academic engagement, making sure students are learning and excited about learning. Two was reaching out to students’ families and engaging them with the work that’s going on in school, showing them why school matters for their children’s future. But also being incredibly persistent about attendance. I would call relentlessly, go to students’ homes — do whatever it took to make sure that families saw the importance of having children come to school. What we have to be careful of is that in this discourse about teacher evaluations, that we do not engage in a culture of blaming — whether it’s a blaming of educators or a blaming of parents. We are all adults responsible for all of the students. (School Zone)

Linda Darling Hammond: Education and the income gap
There is much handwringing about low educational attainment in the United States these days. We hear constantly about U.S. rankings on assessments like the international PISA tests: The United States was 14th in reading, 21st in science, 25th in math in 2009, for example. We hear about how young children in high-poverty areas are entering kindergarten unprepared and far behind many of their classmates. Middle school students from low-income families are scoring, on average, far below the proficient levels that would enable them to graduate high school, go to college, and get good jobs. Fewer than half of high school students manage to graduate from some urban schools. And too many poor and minority students who do go on to college require substantial remediation and drop out before gaining a degree. There is another story we rarely hear: Our children who attend schools in low-poverty contexts are doing quite well. In fact, U.S. students in schools in which less than 10 percent of children live in poverty score first in the world in reading, out-performing even the famously excellent Finns. In high-achieving countries like Finland and Singapore, strong social safety nets ensure that virtually all schools have fewer than 10 percent of their students living in poverty. Although the poverty-test score association is similar across 14 wealthy nations (with the average scores of the poorest 5 percent of students just over half those of their wealthiest peers), our poverty rate for children is much higher than others: 22 percent of all U.S. children and 25 percent of young children live in poverty. Furthermore, our supports to counter it are much weaker. As a result, many children lack preschool education, health care, and social supports. The proportion of children who lack even the basic support of stable housing has increased dramatically in the past few years, with 1 child in every 10 now homeless in many California school districts near my home. (The Answer Sheet)


Recent Posts

More posts from Today in Education

See All Posts