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

Trump: Nobody Should Ever Feel Unsafe In American Schools
President Donald Trump is extending his prayers and condolences in the wake of a shooting at a South Florida high school, saying that nobody should fear for their safety in American schools. In a tweet Wednesday, Trump offered: “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” (U.S. News & World Report)

In Her Words: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Assesses a Year on the Job
For a year now, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been trying to give away her $199,700 salary. With every government-issued paycheck, which she pledged she would not take, the billionaire cabinet secretary grew more frustrated by ethics rules that restricted her ability to donate to charities in her official capacity.But this week, after finally getting the go-ahead to donate in her personal capacity, she was able to call four organizations of her choosing to inform them they would evenly split the money: Kids Hope USA, a faith-based organization that connects mentors with schools that Ms. DeVos was long affiliated with, including as a mentor; the Special Olympics, the global sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities; Vision to Learn, a program that provides free eye exams and eyeglasses to students in low-income communities; and Dreams Soar, which supports girls in aviation and science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. (The New York Times)

‘It’s Dark in the Classrooms’: Stories From Puerto Rico Show the Stress on Schools
A veteran Puerto Rican educator worries that her daughter, a fellow teacher at her school, will leave the island. A physical education teacher worries that the generator at his home will be stolen—without it, his daughter would have to do her homework in the dark. A school security guard says his building needs students who have fled to the U.S. mainland to return, in order for the school to remain open. A student is losing her best friend, who will soon move to Wisconsin with her family. (Education Week)

Opinion: Stop funding Georgia charter schools ‘on the cheap’
Corey DeAngelis is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom. In a guest column, DeAngelis endorses a bill in the Georgia Legislature that would increase state spending on charter schools. Sponsored by Rep. Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners, House Bill 787 would increase charter school investment by about $10 million. (Along with raising the per-pupil spending, the bill would add money for some school buildings in higher-cost areas and computers.) At a recent legislative hearing, Hilton maintained the increase for charters would not take money from other public schools because it wouldn’t come out of the $9 billion state education budget. Instead, the new funds would come from the general fund. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

New Jersey
PARCC debate in Newark continues amid calls from Murphy for its dismantling
Ever since New Jersey began using the PARCC exam in the 2014-15 school year, the state teacher’s union and other groups have criticized the the standardized test and called for the state to stop using it to assess student performance. During the campaign for governor last year, Phil Murphy, who was endorsed by the New Jersey Education Association, promised to ditch the test. Since becoming governor, Murphy has reiterated his support for doing away with Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career tests, though the exact timing remains unclear. (TAPintoNewark)

New Mexico
Students can’t learn if they don’t show up at school
Danielle Burnett, a truancy prevention social worker in Albuquerque Public Schools, spends her days figuring out why students miss school. Her job is to identify the underlying reasons and help families change course. Some students don’t show up because their parents can’t afford school uniforms. Burnett can get these students vouchers for free pants and tops. (The Hechinger Report)

Protesters decry Philly district’s ‘overreach’ with charters
Decrying a proposed policy shift they say would hamper their ability to operate charter schools in Philadelphia, dozens of administrators, parents, and students demonstrated outside the city’s school district headquarters Wednesday. The School Reform Commission is scheduled to have a first reading on a new charter policy Thursday and would presumably adopt it in March. Charter officials said the policy, which would govern charter school amendments, is onerous and represents “an overreach” by the school system, said Amy Hollister, CEO of Northwood Academy Charter School in Frankford. She and others said the policy could require them to clear even small school changes through the district, a violation, Hollister said, of Pennsylvania charter law. (The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News)

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


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