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
Gallup Poll: Confidence In America’s Public Schools Hits Record Low

Confidence in America’s public schools has hit a record low, with only 29 percent of respondents expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in them, according to results from a recent Gallup poll. The number is down 5 percentage points from last year, and represents a 4 percent decrease from the previous low of 33 percent in 2007 and 2008. Public schools rank eighth — tied with the criminal justice system — among 16 confidence categories that Gallup studies. Its position is unchanged from last year, and once again follows the presidency and U.S. Supreme Court, and ranks ahead of newspapers. (Huffington Post) 

Stalled Push to Close Charter’s Disabled-Student Gap
As a new federal report found that charter schools aren’t enrolling as many special-education students as traditional public schools, legislation designed to address that imbalance in New York remains stalled. The review by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, identified the disparity at the national level without breaking out state-level findings.  Special-education students made up 8.2% of charter school students during the 2009-2010 school year, below the average at traditional public schools of 11.2%. (Wall Street Journal blog) 

New Jersey
Christie Tries for Tenure Compromise

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has dropped his insistence on ending seniority-based layoffs for public schoolteachers as he negotiates a compromise that would overhaul the state’s century-old tenure system, said three people familiar with the talks. A bill with Mr. Christie’s support would include the first major changes to the nation’s oldest teacher tenure law and is set to pass the state Senate on Thursday. It would create a system in which teachers could lose tenure based on several performance measures, including student test scores, and speed schools’ ability to fire teachers. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, shown last month, signaled that he can live with a tenure bill without seniority, says a person with knowledge of the talks. The Assembly is expected to continue talks on its own measure on Thursday, setting the stage for a deal that could give Mr. Christie another significant victory over public-employee unions—albeit one without changes to the so-called last-in/first-out rule that requires newer teachers to be laid off before senior ones. (Wall Street Journal) 

New York
D-Day for teacher grade disclosures

Thousands of teacher evaluations could be made public in two months unless the state Senate votes today to approve a bill that would limit the disclosures, top state education officials warned. Scores for fourth- through eighth-grade math and English teachers and their principals are expected to be finalized by mid-August and could be released through a Freedom of Information request under the current law. “You’re going to have data on every math and ELA [English Language Arts] teacher in New York state,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told The Post. The scores would be based on the growth of standardized-test results for each teacher’s students compared with similar students, state education officials said yesterday. That is, unless the state Senate approves Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to block the names of teachers from full public disclosure. The bill, backed by the teachers union, is expected to pass the Democratic-controlled Assembly today, the last day of state lawmakers’ regular 2012 session. But it remained unclear yesterday whether the Republican-controlled Senate would approve the bill — which allows only parents to see evaluations by name, and only for their own kids’ current teachers. (New York Post) 

State auditor general: Charters draining $365M annually

Pennsylvania taxpayers could save $365 million each year if it fixed the state’s flawed formula for funding cyber and charter schools, state Auditor General Jack Wagner said Wednesday. Wagner released a report saying the state has spent “substantially more” than the national average on the charter and cyber charter schools that educate more than 100,000 students. “With the tightening of school budgets and funding available to school districts throughout the state,” Wagner said, “Pennsylvania’s flawed and overly generous funding formula for charter and cyber charter schools is a luxury taxpayers can no longer afford.” (Philadelphia Inquirer) 

Notes From the Education Underground

The U.S. is stress-testing Herbert Stein’s law like never before, but maybe the economist’s famous dictum—trends that can’t continue won’t—is being vindicated in education. Witness the support of America’s mayors for “parent trigger,” the public school reform that was denounced as radical only a few years ago but now is spreading across the country. Over the weekend in Orlando, the U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously approved a resolution endorsing new rules that give parents the running room to turn around rotten schools. At “persistently failing” institutions, a majority of parents can sign a petition that turns out the administrators and teachers in favor of more competent hires, or dissolves the school, or converts it to a charter. Teachers unions loathe this form of local accountability. The mayors note that this reform is targeted at the 2,000 or so high schools that count as “dropout factories,” where more than 40% of the freshman class fails to graduate. Most are in poor or minority zip codes where kids and parents have no other options. These 2,000 schools produce—if that’s the word—51% of U.S. dropouts. (Wall Street Journal Online) 



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