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

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

News & analysis

Line grows line for free meals at U.S. schools
Millions of American schoolchildren are receiving free or low-cost meals for the first time as their parents, many once solidly middle class, have lost jobs or homes during the economic crisis, qualifying their families for the decades-old safety-net program. The number of students receiving subsidized lunches rose to 21 million last school year from 18 million in 2006-7, a 17 percent increase, according to an analysis by The New York Times of data from the Department of Agriculture, which administers the meals program. Eleven states, including Florida, Nevada, New Jersey and Tennessee, had four-year increases of 25 percent or more, huge shifts in a vast program long characterized by incremental growth. (New York Times)

Gauging public opinion on tax hikes for schools? Good luck
A couple recent polls out of Pennsylvania and California—two states that have made significant cuts in K-12 spending—appear to show a public willing to pay more in taxes to stave off future budget reductions. But how much can be gleaned from those polls? Voters aren’t always as eager to support tax hikes for education as they claim to be in the abstract. Earlier this month, voters in [Colorado] thoroughly rejected a ballot item that would have raised an estimated $3 billion for schools over five years. Observers on both sides of the issue said that ongoing state and national economic woes almost certainly pulled many voters into the “no” column—despite many accounts of the impact of recent school budget shortfalls. (State EdWatch)

Child poverty up in 96 of top 100 schools districts, census says
The child poverty rate rose during the recession in 1 of every 5 counties across the nation, the U.S. Census Bureau said today. The increase in poverty between 2007 and 2010 was especially pronounced in the nation’s largest school systems, where 96 of the top 100 districts reported growth in the number of poor children, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. (Bloomberg)

Maryland: Gaithersburg teacher wins Milken Education Award
Madeline Hanington, a seventh-grade English teacher at Gaithersburg Middle School, got a surprise award of $25,000 today for her sterling performance in the classroom. “Entertainers have Grammy’s, Oscars, Emmies … but our educators, who have the most important job of all, haven’t had that kind of celebration,” said Jane Foley of the Milken Family Foundation, at an assembly called this morning to announce the winner of the Milken Education Award. Hanington has been a reading and English language arts teacher for a decade. She was recognized for her students’ strong academic performance and her ability to inspire even reluctant students. “Hanington turned a school troublemaker into a model learner who later nabbed the Science Student of the Year award,” according to a news release. (WaPo)

Minnesota: Task force is no guarantee state’s bullying law will change
Gov. Mark Dayton says he’d like to update the state’s bullying prevention law, but he’s unlikely to push for changes before the 2013 session. Dayton today announced a task force to consider options for changing the law and other bullying prevention policies. However, that panel’s recommendations won’t be due until next summer, after next year’s session is over. A report earlier this year found 13 percent of all Minnesota students in grades six, nine and 12 report being bullied at least once a week or more. If that percentage were true for the state’s entire student population, it would mean more than 100,000 Minnesota youths are bullied regularly. (MPR)

Rhode Island: Cranston council seeks assembly’s OK to sell ads on school buses to raise cash
City officials want to sell ads on school buses to raise money for the cash-strapped district. State law currently prohibits such advertising. But the City Council on Monday voted to ask the General Assembly to the change the law. Selling ads on buses could generate as much as $300,000, said City Councilman Paul Archetto, who proposed the idea. “This is one way to think outside the box.” Eight states — including Massachusetts — allow advertising on school buses, and several more are considering it. (ProJo)

New York: National report praises school-choice system for NYC students
New York has the most effective school-choice system of any of the nation’s largest school districts, allowing students and parents the most freedom and providing them with the most relevant information on educational performance, according to a new Brookings Institution report scheduled for publication online Wednesday. But even New York got a B under the report’s A-to-F grading system, with Brookings saying the city provided the least useful online information for comparing schools and giving it low scores in several other categories. The Chicago public school district, which has the nation’s third-largest student population, after New York and Los Angeles, ranked second in choice, with a B. Los Angeles was 21st, with a C, and the Orange County district in Florida, which includes Orlando, came in last, with the report’s lone D. (New York Times)


Pedro Noguera: We must do more than merely avoid the NCLB trainwreck
It is time for the federal government to go further than to simply allow waivers under the law. Federal education policy should be focused on helping schools improve, not on punishing them. It should support the “whole student” vision of education that Juneau and others have championed, based on standards that go far beyond test scores. Most importantly, during the worst recession to hit this country in the last seventy years, we must acknowledge the need for schools and local government to address the impediments to learning posed by poverty. This does not mean allowing poverty to serve as an excuse for poor academic performance, but it does mean that we must do more to support the schools that serve the most disadvantaged children so that they can focus on authentic evidence of learning and be held accountable for student outcomes. (HuffPo)

John Merrow: While we lavishly pay our CEOs, teachers barely get by
I’d like to begin by thanking my teachers in the fifth, sixth and seventh grades, Mrs. Pulaski, Mr. Burke and Miss Elmer. They taught us percentages and showed us how to “round down,” which I am doing now. The U.S. population is 312,624,000, and we have 3,198,000 public school teachers, which computes to 1%. But this is not the 1% composed of Wall Street fat cats, professional athletes, entertainers and other rich people. I guarantee there’s no overlap between the two groups. The average teacher today earns about $55,000. At least 75 CEOs earn that much in one day, every day, 365 days a year. According to the AFL-CIO’s “Executive PayWatch,” the CEO who ranked No. 75, David Cote of Honeywell, was paid $20,154,012, for a daily rate of $55,216.47. (Daily News)


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