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

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

News & analysis

Bill would overhaul NCLB
The 865-page bill, filed by Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who heads the Senate education committee, became the first comprehensive piece of legislation overhauling the law to reach either Congressional chamber since President George W. Bush signed it in 2002.  Mr. Harkin’s bill would keep the law’s requirements that states test students in reading and math every year in grades three through eight, and once in high school, and make the scores public. But for about 9 of every 10 American schools, it would scrap the law’s federal system of accountability, under which schools must raise the proportion of students showing proficiency on the tests each year. That system has driven classroom teaching across the nation for a decade. (New York Times)

Civil rights, disability groups trash Harkin NCLB bill
Advocates for poor and minority students, students with disabilities, and others sent a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., expressing deep concerns with legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act put forth today. (Politics K-12)

NCES releases comparative indicators of education in the United States and other G8 countries
This report describes key education outcomes and contexts of education in the Group of Eight (G-8) countries—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The report is organized into five topical areas: population and school enrollment, academic performance, contexts for learning, expenditures for education, and educational attainment and income. (NCES)

Maryland: School board starts superintendent search process
The Baltimore County school board began the process of selecting the next superintendent Tuesday night by creating a committee to set guidelines for public participation and choosing a search firm. The board decided in a private vote more than a month ago not to extend Superintendent Joe A. Hairston’s contract, and Hairston told the school board chair on Monday that he will be leaving at the end of the school year. The superintendent has been in the job for 12 years. (Baltimore Sun)

Rhode Island: Education reform is “not just about poor kids”
Speaking at the Rhode Island Convention Center Tuesday, Canada, a native of the South Bronx and a graduate of Bowdoin College, said this country is willing to spend millions of dollars to incarcerate youngsters when, for a lot less money, they could educate them. “This is not just about poor kids,” Canada told the crowd. “This is about the entire nation. Thirty percent of our kids don’t have a high school diploma. Ten percent have felony arrests and 27 percent are so obese they can’t join the military.” (ProJo)

New York: In heated hearing, council grills chancellor over school layoffs
Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott on Tuesday faced the harshest criticism in the six months since he took the job, as he was chastised at a City Council hearing over his leadership and choices ahead of the layoffs of 672 school support workers last week. (New York Times)

New York: A push to improve diversity at top city high schools
For more than a decade, the number of black and Hispanic students scoring high enough to be offered a seat at the city’s specialized high schools has been on the decline. Last February, just 12 black and 13 Hispanic students were admitted to Stuyvesant High School, which had 3,287 students. At Brooklyn Technical High School, which is the largest of the elites and offered seats last school year to more black and Hispanic students than any other specialized high school, the percentages are dropping. During the 2010-11 school year, black students were about 11 percent of the school’s 5,140 students, a drop from 21 percent in 2002. Admission to those schools hinges on a single exam, given every October to thousands of eighth graders (this year’s test is on Oct. 29 and 30). Now a handful of graduates from the elite schools have started tutoring programs with a singular focus, meant to prepare low-income, minority students to pass it. (New York Times)


Movie review: “To be Heard” gives three teenagers a voice
The film offers more substantive insights into pressing issues of public education and urban poverty than many political commentators muster in a career. Situations are presented in all of their messy detail. While the psychological toll of systemic racism and pervasive financial hardship is dramatized in powerfully human terms, the film refuses to elide less readily sympathetic problems, like drug use, single-parent households and domestic abuse. “To Be Heard” contains and invites passionate debate. As one teacher remarks about a troubled student, “There is no facile solution.” (New York Times)

What can we learn from Finland?
Teachers and principals repeatedly told me that the secret of Finnish success is trust. Parents trust teachers because they are professionals. Teachers trust one another and collaborate to solve mutual problems because they are professionals. Teachers and principals trust one another because all the principals have been teachers and have deep experience. When I asked about teacher attrition, I was told that teachers seldom leave teaching; it’s a great job, and they are highly respected. (Diane Ravitch)


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