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:
House Panel OKs Bill to Scrap Race to the Top, SIG, i3

President Barack Obama’s signature education programs would be scrapped under a bill approved this morning by the House Appropriations Committee panel that oversees education spending. The measure would cut about $1.1 billion from the U.S. Department of Education’s roughly $68 billion budget, according to an analysis by the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying coalition. The bill covers fiscal year 2013, which starts on Oct. 1. The Senate Appropriations Committee has already passed a similar measure. (Education Week – Politics K-12) 

6 more states, DC granted No Child Left Behind waivers from key provisions of education law
Six more states and the District of Columbia have been granted waivers from key provisions of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law. The Education Department will announce Thursday that Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oregon and South Carolina, along with Washington, D.C., are being exempt from some of the law’s most rigorous requirements. All told, 32 states have now been granted waivers; four others have outstanding requests. (Washington Post) 

Study Renews Call to Slow Growth of K12 Inc. Virtual Schools
The National Education Policy Center has renewed its call for states to curb the growth of full-time virtual schools until they can demonstrate dramatically improved academic results. “Understanding and Improving Virtual Schools,” released Wednesday, stems from an analysis of federal and state data sets for revenue, expenditures, and student performance across the 59 full-time virtual schools run by Herndon, Va.-based K12 Inc., the nation’s largest for-profit online learning provider, according to a press release from NEPC, a nonprofit research organization based in Boulder, Colo. Among the key conclusions of that analysis is that students in virtual schools run by K12 are performing worse academically and dropping out of courses at much higher rates than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. (Education Week – Digital Education) 

New York:
Education reform panel hears host of complaints

A dozen members of the governor’s education reform commission Wednesday heard a host of complaints about the state’s education system – and many proposed solutions to specific aspects of it. Two main issues that got a lot of attention: union contracts and state funding for education. FSome speakers argued that teacher contracts in some districts place too many restrictions on schools, including how and when teachers can receive training. (BuffaloNews) 

Rhode Island:
Rating Rhode Island’s schools

There are different ways to measure the performance of America’s public schools. The federal No Child Left Behind law, for example, was meant to achieve more accountability by using standardized test scores to determine whether a school was up to snuff. If too many students failed such tests, it was not. Recently, the Rhode Island Department of Education rolled out a more finely tuned system that has won the approval of the U.S. Education Department. It seems more nuanced and may be less unpopular with teachers unions. The new rating system brings in a number of variables, including whether schools are closing achievement gaps between “vulnerable” students and others. “Vulnerable” students include those from low-income families, those in special education, and black and Hispanic students. (Providence Journal) 

Opinion: Melody Barnes and John Bridgeland: Closing America’s opportunity gap

Important ideological differences divide Republicans and Democrats on many issues, but there is one tenet of American life that should prompt bipartisan action: ensuring that all people — regardless of class, race, ethnicity, gender or ZIP code — have opportunities to rise as far as talent and hard work can take them. Our future depends on it. Whether it is called revitalizing the American dream, revving up the engine of economic mobility or simply creating opportunity, that promise is now under threat for millions. (Politico) 


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