Lisa Gibes is 50CAN’s vice president of strategy and external relations. She lives in San Francisco, CA.

Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

News & analysis

Senate Appropriations Committee Adds School Improvement Option
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill June 14 that would make some big changes to the $533 School Improvement Grant program. The measure, which would provide about $68.5 billion for the U.S. Department of Education, would allow add a fifth option to the four highly-controversial choices spelled out in the original regulations for the SIG program. The bill would permit schools to use a “whole school reform model” that has at least as much research to back it up as programs that won a “validation” grant (the middle level) under the federal Investing in Innovation grant competition. That’s good news for schools that want to partner with programs like Success for All, which works on turnarounds and has won multiple i3 grants. Success for All got a “Scale Up grant” in the first round of i3 and would meet the benchmark laid out by the panel. (Education Week – Politics K-12) 

Mayors back parents seizing control of schools
Hundreds of mayors from across the United States this weekend called for new laws letting parents seize control of low-performing public schools and fire the teachers, oust the administrators or turn the schools over to private management. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, meeting in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday unanimously endorsed “parent trigger” laws aimed at bypassing elected school boards and giving parents at the worst public schools the opportunity to band together and force immediate change. (Reuters) 

Mass. Union, Advocacy Group Strike Seniority DealThe Massachusetts Teachers Association, a National Education Association affiliate, and the state chapter of the Stand for Children advocacy group have struck a deal on teacher seniority in the Bay State. Under the compromise, the union will support a legislative proposal weakening the place of seniority in layoff and transfer decisions, and Stand for Children will drop an aggressive ballot initiative that would have gone even further into areas like due process. The union protested that Stand for Children’s ballot initiative was far too complicated, while Stand for Children said it was necessary to make good on a teacher-evaluation law and regulations passed in 2010 and 2011, respectively. (Education Week – Teacher Beat) 

New York:
A weekend deal on NY teacher evaluations expected
New York parents will see for the first time the job evaluations of the teachers who instruct their children under a deal expected soon. Parents won’t get a detailed performance review, but rather broad categories such as “highly effective,” and “ineffective.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Senate’s Republican majority and the Assembly’s Democratic majority were expected to agree on a bill in closed-door negotiations with staff by a deadline Monday night, with the Legislature voting by the end of this year’s regular session Thursday. The deal isn’t expected to make evaluations publicly available. (Wall Street Journal)

Integrating a School, One Child at a Time
Her bow flopping on her head, Kylie Cao pirouetted alongside her fellow kindergartners in pink tutus and black leotards. The girls smiled with nervous concentration. They were, unwittingly, performing the delicate dance of desegregation. One child was white, one was black, and seven girls were Hispanic. Kylie was the only Asian student onstage — and in the kindergarten class this year at Public School 257, a magnet school of the performing arts in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “She’s become very, very popular,” her father, Benson Yang, said at the school’s family night in early spring, when the children performed. “She gets a lot of attention.” Kylie’s mother, Angie Cao, was so pleased with her daughter’s experience that she persuaded some friends to enroll their children at P.S. 257 next year. “Everybody will come here after seeing her,” she said. If only change were as swift and simple as a child’s dance recital. Instead, P.S. 257, where 73 percent of the students are Hispanic, has found integration to be far more intricate. One of four Williamsburg elementary schools to win a 2010 magnet grant from the United States Education Department to spur desegregation, it has struggled to follow a federal model created decades ago while focusing on more urgent battles: for resources, students and, above all, test scores. (New York Times)

AVI delayed, schools get $40 million under Council deal

City Council reached a deal today to amend a series of budget bills that would delay the implementation of a controversial new property tax system for one year, but would nonetheless raise real estate taxes and a separate business tax to collect an extra $40 million for the School District of Philadelphia. The compromise among Council members was hashed out during a long day of back-and-forth between Council leaders and Mayor Nutter. Council passed the package of proposals around 9 p.m. The bills will come up for final passage next week, along with the rest of the necessary budget and spending bills, unless Council wants to further amend the bills and call for another meeting before the end of June. (Philadelphia Inquirer) 

David Feith- Keystone State Kop-Out on Education

The recent Wisconsin recall election showed that even voters in blue states are willing to reward leaders who take on entrenched government unions. Have Pennsylvania Republicans missed the memo? The question is raised by Pennsylvania’s continued failure to enact school vouchers, even as Harrisburg has been run for two years by Republicans who campaigned on school choice. Gov. Tom Corbett has talked the talk, calling education “the civil rights issue of the 21st century,” blasting a system in which “some students are consigned to failure because of their ZIP codes,” and identifying vouchers as his top educational priority. But with legislators’ summer break approaching on June 30 (and elections dominating the calendar after that), vouchers are already off the table. Apparently the fury of teachers unions would be too much for the Keystone State to bear. (Wall Street Journal) 



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