Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

News and Analysis
The bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law in December 2015, replacing No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The passage of ESSA turned control of the country’s K-12 education system back over to the states, giving local legislatures more flexibility surrounding decisions about standards, assessments and other accountability measures. Since Congress passed ESSA, states have been busy writing their own accountability plans which have to be submitted for approval from the federal Department of Education no later than September 2017. (The 74)

Four States Receive Grants to Improve Early-Childhood Workforce Conditions
Four states have received grants from the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) to study and improve early-childhood education workforce conditions.​ ​Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, and New York each received $14,000 grants through a competitive process. The money will be awarded over two years through a grant from the Foundation for Childhood Development.​ (Education Week)​

Give the incarcerated a chance at an education
I have heard it said that one cannot place a value on education, but when it comes to education versus incarceration, you actually can. Taxpayers save five dollars on incarceration costs for every dollar invested in prison education, and incarcerated people who take educational courses in prison are 43 percent less likely to return. (The Hill)

Where Poor Students Are Top of the Class
Children in schools dotting the districts along the Rio Grande River in Texas are overwhelmingly poor and Hispanic, and many of them are still learning English – all indicators associated with low academic achievement. But in a handful of cities there, students are bucking that assumption by performing just as well, and in some cases better, than their wealthier peers. (U.S. News & World Report)

Florida Teachers take State Ed and Pearson to Court
Twenty-year veteran Broward County, Florida teacher Julie McCue and physical teacher Daryl Bryant, who has taught at a charter school near Cape Canaveral for three years, are suing the Florida Department of Education (FDOE). In 2010, as part of its application for a federal Race to the Top grant, Florida proposed making teacher certification exams more difficult, supposedly to raise standards. The current exams were introduced in 2015. On the revised tests failure rates have soared by up to 30% on some sections. (The Huffington Post)

New Jersey
Thousands of Newark students exposed to STEM with hands-on program
NEWARK — Hunched over desks with pencils in hand, students in Ridge Street School set out Monday morning to simulate what most seasoned scientists are still wrestling to accomplish: building a colony on the Moon. Equipped only with cotton balls, coffee filters, sand and their brains, the 7th graders began the week designing water purifiers that could clean contaminated water on a lunar planet. (

PFT contract now in force; SRC says it could mean layoffs or tax hikes
The Philadelphia School District and its teachers’ union have a new contract, with the School Reform Commission signing off on the pact Tuesday.​ ​But the vote was 4-1, with Commissioner Bill Green labeling the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers deal as “unaffordable and irresponsible,” warning that it could mean either 3,800 teacher layoffs or 17 percent property-tax hikes for city residents.​ (The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News)​

White, Wealthy Communities Want Their Own Schools
In recent years, Tennessee has been the pace setter when it comes to adopting new education policies, including things like tougher standards and corresponding tests, and new ways to evaluate and pay teachers. It has even been at the forefront of the free college movement. Such moves, driven in large part by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, have helped make the state one of the most respected in the country when it comes to trying to find ways to help close achievement gaps and better serve historically disadvantaged students – namely, poor students of color. (U.S. News & World Report)

Washington D.C.
For the first time, a D.C. charter school has voted to create a teachers union
Teachers and staff at a D.C. charter school voted Thursday to unionize, the first time a charter in the District has taken such a step​. ​The educators at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School at Chavez Prep Middle School in Northwest voted 31 to 2 to form a union, which they say will help secure more resources for students, give them a say in school decision-making and create job security.​ ​(The Washington Post)

Mimi Woldeyohannes is the Executive Assistant to the CEO at 50CAN. She lives in Maryland.


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