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:
Obama Proposes $1B for Science, Math Teachers

The Obama administration unveiled plans Wednesday to create an elite corps of master teachers, a $1 billion effort to boost U.S. students’ achievement in science, technology, engineering and math. The program to reward high-performing teachers with salary stipends is part of a long-term effort by President Barack Obama to encourage education in high-demand areas that hold the key to future economic growth — and to close the achievement gap between American students and their international peers. Teachers selected for the Master Teacher Corps will be paid an additional $20,000 a year and must commit to participate multiple years. The goal is to create a multiplier effect in which expert educators share their knowledge and skills with other teachers, improving the quality of education for all students. (Time) 

Does 5 weeks of training make a teacher ‘highly qualified?’ House panel to vote
Should someone with five weeks of teacher training be considered a highly qualified teacher? Today a U.S. House appropriations subcommittee will consider legislation that would allow students still learning to be teachers to be considered highly qualified teachers under federal law. The nonprofit organization Teach for America places college graduates into high needs schools after giving them five weeks of training in a summer institute. The TFA corps members, who are required to give only a two-year commitment to teaching, can continue a master’s degree in education with selected schools while teaching. (Washington Post-The Answer Sheet) 

Public Strong on Local Control of Schools, Study Finds
A study of 40 years of public opinion polls shows that the public wants to run and improve local schools via elected school boards, but looks to federal and state authorities to ensure equitable distribution of funding and shared standards for what children learn in school. Education scholars from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. found that Americans support local control of their schools—even as some have tried to portray school boards as “dinosaurs” of governance. The public believes that all three levels of government—local, state and federal—should be involved in education policy, and that local officials should be in charge of day-to-day operations of the schools, Rebecca Jacobsen, lead researcher on the project, is quoted as saying in a Michigan State release about the paper. (Education Week – Parents and the Public) 

Master’s Degree Bump: States Nationwide Spent Nearly $15 Billion In 2007-2008 Paying Teachers With Advanced Degrees                                                                                                                                                                                                        States across the nation spent $14.8 billion on the so-called master’s degree bump — compensating teachers who hold advanced degrees with additional salary or stipends — in 2007-08, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress. This represents a 72 percent increase from 2003-04, when nearly $8.6 billion was spent on master’s bumps. The surge is conceivable given steep increases in school budgets during the four-year period combined with the growth of online providers of master’s degrees. (Huffington Post) 

Stimulus Aid Saved Education Jobs, Research Group Concludes
The federal economic-stimulus program’s $100 billion in education aid largely met its goals of preserving or creating K-12 jobs and jump-starting education-redesign efforts at the state level, according to a new study from the Center on Education Policy, a research organization in Washington. A series of surveys by the CEP looked at the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in 2009, which poured emergency aid into the states to help alleviate the effects of the Great Recession and wound up giving K-12 education its biggest windfall ever. The ARRA was followed by the $10 billion Education Jobs Fund, which was created in the summer of 2010. (Education Week – Politics K-12) 

Anoka-Hennepin online summer school aims at ‘summer slide’

For students who fall behind academically, summer can be a time to catch up before the next school year begins. But it’s hard for some families to fit summer school classes into their schedules. This summer, Minnesota’s largest school district, Anoka-Hennepin, is trying something new — summer classes online. The district hopes to help students catch up on their math and reading, and — over the lazy days of summer — retain what they’ve already learned. (Minnesota Public Radio) 

New York:
Student Test Scores Jump in New York

Test results for third- through eighth-graders across New York state improved this year even amid concerns about the length of the standardized exams and reports of erroneous questions, according to data released Tuesday by the state Education Department. Statewide results for the 2011-12 school year found 55.1% of students tested at or above the state’s bar for proficiency in English, up from 52.8% the prior year. In math, 64.8% were at or above the proficiency standard, up from 63.3%. New York City also posted gains, with 46.9% of students proficient in English, up from 43.9%; 60% of students tested proficient in math, up from 57.3% last year. About 436,000 third- through eighth-graders in New York City took the English exam and approximately 445,000 took the math exam. (Wall Street Journal) 


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