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

This Week’s ESSA News — Inside the Dept. of Education’s Feedback to 10 States on Testing, Accountability & Disadvantaged Students
In the past weeks, the U.S. Department of Education sent feedback to 33 of the 34 states that submitted ESSA plans in September 2017. The Department has also approved ESSA plans for 15 states and the District of Columbia — all of which were submitted earlier in the year. (Only Colorado’s plan is still pending from the spring submission period.)​ ​Below, we dig into the details of the Department’s responses to 10 of the second-round plans that received feedback (in chronological order): Utah, Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming, Florida, and Iowa. We will provide detailed descriptions of the Education Department’s feedback on the 21 remaining second-round state plans in the weeks ahead (plus South Carolina, when the Department shares its thoughts with state officials). Earlier feedback received by Maryland and Georgia is available here.​ (The 74)​

Congress Changed 529 College Savings Plans, And Now States Are Nervous
If you’re like most Americans, you don’t have a 529 college savings plan.​ ​If you’re like most Americans, you don’t even know what it is.​ ​All the more reason to keep reading.​ ​That’s because, with the new tax law, Republicans have made important changes to 529 plans that will affect millions of taxpayers, not just the ones saving for college. Before that news, though, a quick primer.​ (NPR)​

In Schools, Classroom Proximity Breeds Teacher Collaboration
When a teacher has a problem, she might go to a mentor or an instructional coach—but often, she goes to whomever is closest at hand. ​​That’s why a new series of studies suggests that school administrators can boost teacher collaboration and build on formal teacher training by paying more attention to how teachers are assigned to classrooms within the building.​ ​“Clearly, it can make a big difference,” said co-author James Spillane of Northwestern University, whose most recent work is published Tuesday in the magazine Education Next. “If you want to maximize the returns from master teachers or mentor teachers, you would want to carefully place them in a building to maximize the overlap in their [work] zone and that of new teachers … so you increase the likelihood they will interact.”​ (Education Week)​

Mistakes made as kids shouldn’t limit futures as adults: Delaware Voice
A new year can bring resolutions of all sorts. Some people want to shed a few pounds, while others want to save more money.​ ​For many of the clients I’ve worked with over the last few months, their resolution is different: they want to clear their juvenile record.​ ​There are nearly 25,000 people with juvenile records from Delaware that are eligible for mandatory expungements, according to data collected by the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System, or DELJIS. Many people don’t even know they still have a record until they get background checks for a job, or school, or housing.​ (Delaware Online)​

Atlanta school board taps Esteves as chairman
The Atlanta Board of Education picked an attorney to lead its nine-member board, whose members also were sworn in Monday.​ ​Jason Esteves, 34, will serve a two-year term as board chairman after a unanimous vote. At his first meeting, he announced the creation of an equity task force charged with making sure the board has an equity policy in place and monitors the policy’s implementation. “I want to make sure that this board as we look at all the various issues that we tackle [that] we are looking at it through the lens of equity,” he said. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitition)

​New Mexico
​Digging Deep: The Story Behind Our State Charters
The story of state charter grades in New Mexico is of two extremes. On one end, we have an outsized number of high-performers doing well by their students. On the other end we have a large number of laggards bringing the whole lot down. What paradigms and practices do these high-performing school leaders have in place which can be shared more widely? And how do we turn over those low-performing schools to the impressive leaders of “A” schools so they may right the ship​ ? (New Mexico Education)

Vouchers have dominated Tennessee’s ed debate for years, but won’t in 2018. Here’s why — and what could come next.
When Tennessee lawmakers convene on Tuesday for the first time in 2018, one big issue isn’t expected to be on the education agenda: school vouchers.​ ​For 11 straight years, Brian Kelsey has asked his fellow legislators to let parents use taxpayer money to send their students to private schools. But not this year.​ ​Last month, the Republican state senator — himself a product of private schools — quietly told other Memphis-area leaders that he didn’t plan to pursue his voucher bill in 2018.​ (Chalkbeat) ​

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


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