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

State Grades on K-12 Education: Map and Rankings
Examine the grades and scores that states and the nation earned on Quality Counts 2018 with this interactive map, grade-summary table, and top-to-bottom ranking. For a description of what these education indicators mean, view the grading scale and methodology. (Education Week)

Education Department faced turbulent year during Trump’s first year in office
2017 was a turbulent year for the federal Department of Education — an agency that oversees education policy for around 50 million kids nationwide. Before Trump even swore the oath of office, his nominee for secretary, Betsy DeVos, seemed to flounder through her confirmation hearing. In a testy exchange with one lawmaker, she apparently confused the terms “proficiency” and “growth.” During another, she appeared unaware of a federal civil rights law protecting students with disabilities. And in perhaps her mostly widely ridiculed comment to date, she suggested that guns could be allowed in schools to ward off “potential grizzlies.” (ABC News)

Cold-Weather Closures Expose Years of Underinvestment in Urban Schools
Thousands of schoolchildren in Baltimore missed classes last week as a cold snap forced officials to close schools. Frigid temperatures and ruptured water pipes made some school buildings uninhabitable for students and teachers. Those kinds of closures could become more frequent in cities across the country, many education advocates say, thanks to a generation of underfunding construction and maintenance costs in urban districts. (Governing)

Christina once again tables vote on Wilmington schools partnership
The Christina School Board on Tuesday voted again to table a vote on a memorandum of understanding with Gov. John Carney and the state Education Department, saying discussions over the document are ongoing. Two board members — Meredith Griffin and Harrie-Ellen Minnehan — were not at the meeting. The proposed agreement has been revised several times. The school board was scheduled to vote on a final draft last month, but postponed, with one member calling it “a power-play gut punch” that didn’t focus on students, but on buildings and adults instead. (Delaware Online)

New Jersey
Murphy says N.J. will ‘soon’ end PARCC testing
As Phil Murphy succeeds Chris Christie as New Jersey’s governor Tuesday, there’s at least one thing students and teachers in the state’s public schools can expect: an end to controversial PARCC testing. But when and how that will happen remains unclear. Murphy on Monday reiterated his campaign promise to eliminate the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career tests, which are computerized exams designed to be more challenging than previous standardize tests. (NJ Advance Media)

New Mexico
NM ranked 49th in child well-being
A persistently high child poverty rate in New Mexico continues to offset slight improvements in some indicators of child well-being, according to the 2017 New Mexico Kids Count Data Book, just released by New Mexico Voices for Children and timed for the opening day of the state Legislature. The state rates 49th overall in child well-being, with only Mississippi faring worse. Many of the numbers are based on statistics compiled in 2014 and 2015, and these figures in some cases update New Mexico numbers that were used in the national Kids Count Data Book that was released last summer. (Albuquerque Journal)

Rhode Island
My Turn: Clay Johnson: The power of school choice in R.I.
As we celebrate National School Choice Week, we often hear hyperbolic and derogatory rhetoric aimed at Rhode Island’s charter schools. Somehow these charter schools are being blamed for every tax increase that has taken place since the dawn of time. Another scapegoat would have been found if the charters did not exist. It seems anathema to government boards to spend less year-over-year. Experience tells us, it is always easier to spend other people’s money. Despite the school age population trending down, school budgets continue to rise. School districts justify these increases as cost-of-living increases, contractual obligations and the inability to reduce costs when such a small number of students leave. (Providence Journal)

Washington D.C.
Students Across D.C. Graduated Despite Chronic Absences, An Investigation Finds
A high-level investigation into chronic absenteeism in Washington, D.C., high schools has found that students across the city graduated despite missing more than 30 days of school in a single course, in violation of district policy. The findings today follow an investigation late last year by WAMU and NPR Ed into widespread violations of this policy at Ballou High school. That reporting has led to two investigations and the placement of the school’s principal, Yetunde Reeves, on administrative leave. Results from the other inquiry are expected later this month. (NPR)

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


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