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

Trump, Congress, and Education in 2018: Eight Big Questions
There’s plenty of suspense heading into President Donald Trump’s second year in office when it comes to education, and some big issues on the horizon for the GOP-controlled Congress as well. What will be the fate of the U.S. Department of Education’s budget? Will U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos get to applaud any new school choice initiative? And will Congress prevent hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” from being deported? (Education Week)

Best public high schools in every state
Among all public services in this country, few are as uneven in quality as the American public education system. While schools must follow certain guidelines and are held to public standards, they are largely funded by property taxes — which means their budgets largely depend on neighborhood wealth rather than per student or by need. A review of data on public high schools in the United States shows a substantial diversity in quality and educational outcomes between school districts. (USA Today)

Teacher Shortages Linger in Many States
All 50 states began the current school year short on teachers. And schools nationwide still are scrambling to fill positions in a range of subjects, from chronically hard-to-staff ones such as special education to usually easy-to-staff grades such as kindergarten. Districts that can’t find a qualified teacher may stop offering a certain class or hire a rookie with an emergency credential, a move that could lower the quality of instruction. So lawmakers in several states took action this year to increase the supply of new teachers or raise teacher compensation. (The Pew Charitable Trusts)

The Benefits of Merit Pay? New Study Shows That Federally Funded Teacher Bonuses Led to Improved Student Performance
New research conducted by Mathematica Policy Research attributes small improvements in student achievement to merit pay systems established under the federally funded Teacher Incentive Fund. While the overall effects of the program were generally positive, less than half of school districts surveyed said they intended to continue paying performance bonuses after federal grant dollars ran out in 2016, citing problems with program sustainability and awareness among educators. (The 74)

Inside the fight over how to address San Francisco’s ‘state of emergency’ for black student achievement
Black students in San Francisco would be better off almost anywhere else in California. Many attend segregated schools and the majority of black, Latino and Pacific Islander students did not reach grade-level standards on the state’s recent tests in math or English tests. (Los Angeles Times)

Sussex Academy receives state’s first 10-year charter renewal
The Delaware State Board of Education granted Sussex Academy a 10-year charter renewal Dec. 14, making it the first school in the state to receive such a distinction. While charter renewals in Delaware are generally for five years, Sussex Academy has both met and exceeded overall standards in academic, organizational and financial performance measurements for all prior charter renewals. Because Sussex Academy met these qualifications, the Delaware State Board of Education invited the school to apply for the 10-year renewal. (Cape Gazette)

New Jersey
Newark to pick own schools chief for first time in 22 years
The state-appointed superintendent for Newark schools will step down in February, paving the way for the district to select its own leader for the first time in 22 years. Superintendent Christopher Cerf announced last week he would resign on Feb. 1 — the same day the state’s takeover of Newark schools will officially end. (NJ Advance Media)

New York
New York City students share why they’re fighting for school integration
Students filled the New York City council chambers earlier this month to share their experiences in segregated schools and offer solutions. But they faced a mostly empty dais: Only two members of the council’s education committee stayed to hear the students’ testimony. New York City schools are among the most segregated in the country, and students are playing a growing role in the budding movement to do something about that. After much prodding from integration advocates, the de Blasio administration released a plan this summer to spur more diversity in city schools. (Chalkbeat)

Two-plus hours on a school bus: How a Chester charter taps Philly kids to grow
Imagine waking your 5-year-old kindergarten student before 5 a.m., walking him to a street corner in the city’s Far Northeast, then watching him board a bus for a 2½-hour ride to a school more than 30 miles away. Then, imagine he endures the same trip in reverse each afternoon. Five days a week. For some parents, it’s not just a bad dream. Such a routine is customary for an increasing number of Philadelphia students enrolled at Chester Community Charter School. (The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News)

Tennessee sponsors of voucher bills won’t pursue issue in New Year; will push extra resources for public schools
The leading supporters of school vouchers in the Tennessee General Assembly say they won’t file any legislation on the issue ahead of the upcoming legislative session. Instead, the lawmakers said they will focus on boosting resources for the state’s public schools. School vouchers are publicly funded scholarships for students to attend private school. (Tennessean)

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


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