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:
Pushing for Class Size of One

Private schools have always praised the value of intimate classes, where teachers and students have a chance to connect. Now the New York state Education Department is weighing whether to approve an independent school that takes that idea to its ultimate conclusion: Every class has only one student. Fusion Academy, a chain of for-profit California private schools, is seeking to bring the unusual educational approach to New York, with campuses planned for Long Island and Manhattan this fall and a third targeted for Westchester in January. Each class, including private yoga sessions, is conducted one-on-one with a teacher, so that the pace can be molded to each student’s interest and abilities, officials say. The school targets students in grades 6-12 who have struggled in traditional classroom environments. (Wall Street Journal) 

Chicago Public Schools teachers: Monday strike date still on
Chicago Public Schools officials freshened their economic offer to teachers Wednesday but teachers union officials immediately labeled the deal “unacceptable’’ and held firm to a Sept. 10 strike date. CPS didn’t budge from its May offer of four years of 2 percent raises, but for the first time it formally dropped the requirement that the fourth-year raise be tied to a form of merit pay and “differentiated compensation,’’ Chicago Teachers Union officials said. “I have some reasonable news: The board has moved off of merit pay,’’ CTU President Karen Lewis told reporters after the union’s House of Delegates held its monthly meeting. But, Lewis said, “We have some . . . problems we are very concerned about.’’ (Chicago Sun Times) 

‘Hot Cheetos’ and cool philanthropy target importance of after-school programs

By now, you must have seen the Y.N.RichKids’ hip-hop video, “Hot Cheetos and Takis.” The pop culture oracles at Rolling Stone, the Village Voice and Grantland all decreed it “the jam we’ve been searching for all summer.” Three weeks after the song was uploaded, nearly 2 million YouTube viewers agreed. Takis are rolled tortilla chips that come in three flavors, Fuego, Salsa Brava and Crunchy Fajita. Fuego, which is hot chili and lemon in the purple bag, is the original and most beloved. The ode to them is five minutes of infectious, tightly produced beats by a crew of precocious North Minneapolis kids who love their snacks and love to rap. You can view it on YouTube, or if you’d rather skip the ad, you can buy it at the iTunes store for 99 cents. I’d suggest buying it; you’re going to play it over and over. While you listen, this column will work its way closer to its point, which is that Y.N.RichKids could also be the poster crew for a local effort to measure the link between after-school enrichment, academic achievement and social and emotional well-being and to win providers of this type of programming a formal seat at the education policymaking table. (MinnPost) 

New Jersey:
Christie’s education task force releases report detailing proposed changes

Governor Christie’s task force on cutting red tape in education recommended a raft of changes Wednesday that the administration said would give districts the autonomy they need to help students learn. The report sparked immediate criticism from advocates who said some proposals would undermine safeguards that protect the most vulnerable students. The proposals ranged from mundane — such as an end to mandates about what kind of paper schools should use — to substantive, such as allowing experiments with voluntary single-sex classrooms and online learning for students with long absences. ( 

New York:
Buffalo schools to go ahead with teacher transfers

The Buffalo Public Schools will move forward with plans to involuntarily transfer 54 teachers out of three low-performing schools, district officials said Wednesday. “We know 80 to 90 percent of the students in these schools have failed for years, and that’s not an acceptable proposition to the board or myself,” Superintendent Pamela C. Brown said. The Board of Education met with outside attorney Karl Kristoff behind closed doors for about 40 minutes during a special meeting Wednesday to discuss a recent arbitration ruling in the case. (Buffalo News) 

View Points:
Ditching private schools

A study released last week by the libertarian Cato Institute showed that students are transferring in unexpectedly large numbers from private schools to charter schools, but it framed the shift as a largely negative development. It’s true, as the study reported, that such transfers cost states and taxpayers more; unlike private schools, charter schools get most of their funding from state tax dollars. Still, we see a lot to celebrate. For years, urban public school systems such as the Los Angeles Unified School District have tried, with limited success, to lure private school families as a way of bringing in more enrollment and resources. The state funds public schools largely on the basis of how many students attend, so higher enrollment means more money for school districts. And private school parents tend to have more education and more money that they might use to help out at their schools, helping all students there. They might also become involved in lobbying for more funding for education, which would be good for public schools and charters alike. (Los Angeles Times) 


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