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:
Lawmakers Explore Impact of Automatic Cuts on Education

A set of sweeping, across-the-board trigger cuts set to go into effect in January would be “devastating” to education programs, particularly if Congress decides to spare only defense programs while allowing K-12 cuts to go through, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Democratic lawmakers said at a hearing today. Right now, domestic spending programs—like education‐and defense programs are supposed to share the pain of the trigger cuts equally, with all programs facing a cut of up about 7.8 percent on January 2, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But, if Congress reaches some sort of deal that exempts only defense, the cuts to domestic programs would be much steeper, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees education spending, said at hearing today on the impact of the cuts. They could be as high as 17.6 percent, across-the-board, he estimated. (Education Week – Politics K-12) 

African-American Education Office: Obama Announces White House Initiative On Educational Excellence
President Barack Obama is creating a new office to bolster education of African-American students. The White House says the office will coordinate the work of communities and federal agencies to ensure that African-American youngsters are better prepared for high school, college and career. Obama is announcing his election-year initiative Wednesday night in a speech to the civil rights group the National Urban League as he seeks to rally black voters. Aides say his executive order, to be signed Thursday, will set a goal of producing “a more effective continuum” of programs for African-American students. (Huffington Post) 

New York:
The Dirty Two Dozen

One of the modern civil-rights tragedies is the immutability of public education, especially at the lousiest schools run for the benefit of their employees rather than students. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest lesson in teachers union intransigence is a case in point. The saga began this spring, when Mr. Bloomberg backed an ambitious plan to revamp 24 of the city’s worst performing schools. Under President Obama’s Race to the Top program, the dirty two dozen would officially close down and then reopen this fall with new missions, curricula, faculty and administrators. (Wall Street Journal) 

Pa. releases list of 414 worst-performing schools

The state Education Department has published a list of Pennsylvania’s lowest-achieving schools, whose students may now qualify for scholarships to enroll elsewhere. The list revealed Wednesday includes 414 public schools in 74 districts statewide. No Monroe County schools were on the list. View the list Their status among the bottom 15 percent is based on math and reading scores from last year’s state standardized tests. (Associated Press) 

Kevin Chavous: If You Want Our Economy Fixed, Fix Education

News flash:  Do you want to know the best way to solve the economic problems in America?  By closing the education achievement gap.  That’s right. If we fix education, we will fix our economy.  That fact became clear to me in 2009 when I was invited by US Education Secretary Arne Duncan to a presentation of the findings of a report on the economic impact of the achievement gap in America’s schools. This report was conducted by McKinsey & Company, a highly regarded global consulting firm.  I had always believed that there was a link between education and our economy, but I had no idea how closely the two were related until these findings were revealed. In their landmark report, McKinsey describes not one, but four different achievement gaps that have a direct impact on the nation’s economic viability: the international achievement gap, the racial achievement gap, the income achievement gap, and system-based achievement gap, which quantifies the significant differences in achievement levels between states, school districts, schools, and classrooms serving students with similar demographics.  After defining the specific achievement gap categories, McKinsey then went on to quantify the impact of our failing to close these gaps on our nation’s budget. (Huffington Post) 


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