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

News and Analysis
Education Budget Hearing Exposes Chasm Between GOP and Trump
When Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testified before a Senate appropriations subcommittee Tuesday regarding the president’s budget proposal, her remarks that private schools must follow federal law if they receive federal funding received the lion’s share of attention. But the hearing, during which nearly every GOP members criticized aspects of the spending plan, also exposed just how far apart the Trump administration’s education agenda is with that of Republicans in Congress, perhaps foreshadowing how likely – or not – the White House is to achieve any of its policy priorities. (U.S. News & World Report)

Education Aid Eludes Countries That Need It Most
In the West African country of Burkina Faso, nearly 50 percent of children do not attend school. The reported cost of getting them there would be close to $182 million, and yet the small, francophone country received only $17 million in education aid in 2012. This comes from a new policy paper released this week by UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report, which found that the countries most in need of education funds aren’t getting them. (NPR)

Gates, Zuckerberg Philanthropies Team Up on Personalized Learning
Two of the biggest names in technology and education philanthropy are jointly funding a $12 million initiative to support new ways of tailoring classroom instruction to individual students. The grant marks the first substantive collaboration of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, chaired by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic and investment arm of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan. (Education Week)

Michelle Obama reminds tech industry — again — girls can code
Michelle Obama spoke at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, on Tuesday, where she emphasized the importance of encouraging young girls to pursue careers in technology.​ ​The former first lady, who launched an education initiative in 2015 called Let Girls Learn, said society has a long way to go when it comes to establishing equality and access in the workspace. The tech industry’s lack of diversity continues to make headlines, with companies including Apple​ ​and Google undertaking efforts to hire and promote more women and minorities.​ (CNET)​

New Jersey
The state Board of Education has seen no shortage of political drama these past few months — and still faces some weighty policy decisions. Both were on display yesterday. First, the policy decisions. The board announced it will likely move in the next month to end the state’s 30-year takeover of Jersey City schools, the oldest such state takeover of a local school district in the country. (NJ Spotlight)

New Mexico
Skandera stepping down as education chief
After nearly seven years on the job, New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera is stepping down. Skandera told the Journal on Wednesday that her tenure will end June 20. The Cabinet secretary said she has not settled on her next career move but is considering options in New Mexico and other states. (Albuquerque Journal)

​New York
Once and for all, eliminate New York’s charter school cap: The evidence is overwhelming that these schools serve kids and families
New York City is again approaching the cap imposed by Albany on charter schools; after some new approvals are announced, only about two dozen slots will be available for new charters.​ ​The statewide cap, established with the original charter law in 1998, splits the number of charters evenly between the city and the rest of the state. The cap, raised in 2007 and 2010, was adjusted in 2015 to give unused charter slots to the city, but it’s time to end this semi-annual ritual and scrap the cap once and for all.​ (NY Daily News)​

North Carolina
Elementary schools struggle to meet state’s new class-size rules
CARY–Wake County elementary schools are struggling to meet new state-mandated cuts in elementary school class sizes this year in advance of deeper reductions that go into effect in 2018. State lawmakers lowered the maximum class sizes for kindergarten through third grade for the 2017-18 school year by one child to an average of 20 students for school districts and a maximum of 23 kids in individual classes. Wake elementary schools will be required to keep an average of 20 children in K-3 classes to help maintain the district’s average, resulting in schools juggling their rosters around. (The News & Observer)

PA’s Pension Crisis and the Cost of Doing Nothing
If you are even remotely interested in state politics, then you know that the General Assembly is poised to pass a pension reform bill that Governor Wolf has indicated he will sign. And if you are interested in education policy, then you also know that rising pension costs are the number one issue keeping superintendents and school board members up at night. (PennCAN)

Rhode Island
Senate Bill 557: Collaboration between school districts + charter public schools
House Bill 5976 and Senate Bill 557 establish district-charter compacts between charter public schools and traditional public schools and would establish a compact fund in support of these collaboration efforts.​ ​Read our bill summary to find out why RI-CAN supports greater charter-district collaboration and the benefits it has for our students.​ (RICAN)

Washington D.C.
A School of Their Own?
The fanfare that greeted D.C.’s first public college preparatory school for African-American and Latino young men—Ron Brown High School in northeast has given way to an inevitable nag from the ACLU. If they’re not going to admit young women, the ACLU says, then D.C. should at least give girls a school of their own. As it happens, the District still might. (The Weekly Standard)

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


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