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

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

News & analysis

Moderate senators push back on ESEA bill’s teacher evaluation
Three moderate senators—Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana; Scott Brown, a Republican from Massachusetts; and Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut—are not happy with recent changes scaling back the teacher evaluation provisions in a bill sponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Michael B. Enzi, the top Republican on the panel. (Politics K-12)

A route-to-teaching rumble in ESEA amendments
Just when you think everyone’s ready to move on from the seemingly endless debate about traditional teacher preparation vs. alternative certification, along comes something to remind you that that old war is still being actively waged. Exhibit A comes in the form of amendments that Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is prepared to offer Wednesday on a committee markup of the Harkin-Enzi ESEA reauthorization bill. One of the amendments would disallow teachers in alternative routes from being deemed “highly qualified,” as is currently the case. Only those teachers that had “fully completed” their programs could be called highly qualified. The other one would require districts to disclose to parents that their teachers have not completed their teacher-preparation program, and to assign a mentor to such teachers. (Teacher Beat)

Minnesota: School finance inequities have multiple causes
The rest of the reasons underlying the inequities are historical, however. Most of Minnesota’s property wealth — the aforementioned commercial and industrial land — is located in the cities and first-ring suburbs. “That’s because that’s where the roads are,” explained Brad Lundell, executive director of Schools for Equity in Education (SEE), a St. Paul-based nonprofit that advocates for more than 50 Minnesota districts on the losing end of the spectrum. Many were small towns when those first-tier suburbs were landing manufacturing facilities, office parks and malls. (Learning Curve)

Minnesota: State submits application for Race to the Top grant
Minnesota education officials have submitted the state’s application for a competitive federal grant called “Race to the Top.” The Obama administration has used Race to the Top to reward states that enact education reforms. This third round of $700 million is focused on states with the best plans for early childhood education. Minnesota is asking for $45 million. More than $20 million would be used in four high-poverty areas — in St. Paul’s Promise Neighborhood, Minneapolis’s Northside Achievement Zone, the White Earth Reservation and Itasca County. The rest would fund the infrastructure for pre-kindegarten oversight. (MPR)

New York: High-powered Eva Moskowitz wants to open a charter school in MS 447
Eva Moskowitz — a former Councilwoman who runs the multi-million dollar not-for-profit, Success Charter Network — announced last week she wants to open a kindergarten-through-eighth grade school in Brownstone Brooklyn next fall, saying the “need for more better schools” and “underutilized buildings” in the area makes it a perfect fit. Parents at MS 447 are pushing back, saying that the 1,200-odd students currently at the building — which houses the High School of the Arts and the so-called NEST Program for autistic kids — already attend 30-student classes and compete for gym, auditorium and cafeteria space. (Brooklyn Paper)

Ohio: State lines up for share of early learning grants
Ohio could get as much as $70 million in federal money to help better prepare youngsters for kindergarten. The Kasich administration will submit its application this week for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. More than 40 states are expected to vie for a share of the $500 million available. (Columbus Dispatch)


Proving why parents need a revolution
Last week, Dr. Diane Ravitch launched a broadside against Parent Trigger and the parent empowerment movement, calling it a “stealth assault” and a “deceptive scheme” to undermine public education. She employed a series of personal attacks, half-truths and conspiracy theories that have come to characterize the other side’s desperate attempt to defend an indefensible status quo. The Parent Trigger is a simple, yet potentially transformational law that gives parents real power over the educational destiny of their own children. This law empowers the majority of parents at any failing school to either bring in new leadership and new staff or transform their school into a high-performing charter school. The California law was first passed in January 2010, and has since spread to two additional states — Texas and Mississippi — meaning that over 22 percent of public school parents in America are now empowered to transform their child’s failing school through community organizing. (HuffPo)

Do too many kids go to college?
Getting a college degree is often touted as a way to increase your income and your ability to compete in the job market. But are too many unprepared students being pushed into taking on large amounts of debt? And would top students with an entrepreneurial bent be better off forgoing college and instead trying to become the next Steve Jobs? A team of experts took on the topic in the latest debate from Intelligence Squared U.S. — the program’s first live debate in Chicago. They faced off two against two on the motion “Too Many Kids Are Going To College.” (NPR)

Harkin-Enzi bill now officially bad
The essential dynamic of federal education policymaking circa 2011 is that the two most powerful forces at work are (A) anti-federalist Tea Partiers who object to all federal education policy (including money) on general principle / aversion to paying taxes and (B)  interest groups representing states, school boards, principals and teachers who object to all federal education policy (excluding money) on the grounds that they would rather not have federal policymakers judge them or tell them what to do in exchange for money. In order to get an education bill like ESEA reauthorization through Congress, therefore, you have to appease both sides and as such write a bad bill. Today, Senators Tom Harkin and Mike Enzi announced a bipartisan deal for exactly such a piece of legislation. (Quick and the Ed)

Accountability and the AYP straw man
Straw men can be enormous fun. After all, it’s so easy to set them up, rip them apart, and appear oh-so-smart in the process. That’s how this current Adequate Yearly Progress fight feels to me. The truth is I don’t know anyone who’s proposing that the current version of AYP be continued, mainly because there is broad agreement that we’ve learned a lot in the last 10 years that needs to be reflected in a new Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Yet all the chatter in Washington is about whether AYP should live or die. (Kati Haycock)

Reformers sit-out ESEA debate at their own peril
Where have all the reformers gone? A year ago they were everywhere, pushing to revamp teacher evaluation and end LIFO.  Now when the NCLB debate is heating up it seems like they’re nowhere to be found. If a bad bill goes through, reformers will spend the next year trying to work out operational fixes and the next decade having to work around it. (Alexander Russo)


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