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

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

News & analysis

Testing Fan Romney ekes narrow victory in Iowa caucuses
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucus by the thinnest of margins, edging out former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum by just eight votes, according to published reports. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a longtime critic of the federal role in education who has said he wants to scrap the federal student lending program, placed a close third. Romney has a long record and a lot of ideas on education redesign. He’s a fan of standardized testing, and has credited the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 with providing a much-needed boost to accountability. In fact, he was one of the NCLB law’s biggest champions when he ran for president back in 2008. But this year, he has also emphasized the need to step up the state role when it comes to K-12. (Politics K-12)

Minnesota: Demand for tech classes strong, classes cut
Administrators say more high school students are turning to career and technical classes in Minnesota as the cost of college rises. But, despite the growing demand, the number of career and technical classes has declined from about 2,750 to 1,200 between 2008 and 2011. Limited federal and state funding and a greater emphasis on meeting standards of the No Child Left Behind Act have left technical schools with fewer classes and more students. (SC Times)

Minnesota: 104 school districts reached deals with teachers
Teacher contracts in Minnesota are approved every other year. State law previously required contracts to be in place by January 15 of every even-numbered year, or districts risked a fine from the state. That deadline was removed last year. The state’s teachers’ union Education Minnesota says 104 districts have reached deals for the current budget cycle. Two years ago, 126 districts had deals in place at this time and 148 districts did four years ago. The union says those numbers prove the deadline helps by giving both sides a due date. Just 77 districts had contracts in place at this time in 2004, the last time there was no deadline. Opponents argue the penalties are unfairly levied against the school district, which forces them to make deals they otherwise might not. (MPR)

New York: Governor expected to set up panel on education reform
Merryl H. Tisch, chancellor of the New York Board of Regents, said she would urge Mr. Cuomo and his commission to help advance a statewide teacher evaluation system, which has stalled over opposition from teachers and district officials. Dr. Tisch said they should also look at consolidating school districts to reduce costs, and review unfunded state mandates, including pension and health care costs, imposed on districts. Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, an advocacy group, said that he welcomed the commission as a way to bring more attention to education, but cautioned that its focus should not be just to raise test scores. (New York Times)

Connecticut: Union enters CT education debate
As Connecticut lawmakers head into a February session devoted to education, the state’s largest teachers union on Tuesday issued a policy agenda, stepping squarely into the looming debate over public schools. The Connecticut Education Association, which represents more than 41,000 public school teachers, presented its ideas at a Hartford press conference featuring one of its historical adversaries, the state education commissioner. The CEA’s report in some cases overlapped with the broad education policy agenda outlined by Gov. Dannel Malloy last month. The union called for expanding early-childhood programs, crafting a mandatory yearly teacher evaluation process, and making changes to current tenure and dismissal rules. The education commissioner, Stefan Pryor, said the state and the teacher’s union “may finally be finding the way to work together….I could delineate areas where we don’t agree as much, but there’s an awful lot of common ground. (WSJ)


Ted Nesi: What Chafee may see — or at least used to — in Diane Ravitch
Education Sector’s Kevin Carey had a long and less-than-sympathetic profile in The New Republic recently looking at the career of Diane Ravitch, the iconoclastic education historian who’s influenced Governor Chafee’s views on K-12 reform. Everyone knows the governor’s story at this point – scion of a Rhode Island Republican family, he became disenchanted with the party during the Bush years and wound up leaving it altogether in 2007, to the point where liberals and teachers unions rallied around his successful gubernatorial candidacy last year. (WPRI)


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