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

President Trump Signs Spending Bill That Includes Billions More for Education
President Donald Trump signed into law spending legislation that provides a significant funding increase for the U.S. Department of Education, including more money for educator development, after-school programs, and special education, among other programs. During the 2016 campaign, Trump said he was interested in either eliminating or dramatically shrinking the Education Department. But after months of failing to agree on fiscal 2018 spending levels, lawmakers finally passed a spending package that rebuffed Trump’s attempt to cut the department’s budget by the largest percentage in its history. (Education Week)

Advice For Student Activists: It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint
On Saturday, thousands of youth activists are expected to participate in the “March for Our Lives,” — in Washington, D.C.; in Accra, Ghana, Israel, Chile and elsewhere around the world. Lane Murdock, a 15-year-old from Connecticut, will be in D.C. for the protest. Murdock wrote a petition after the Parkland shooting calling for gun control — it went viral and morphed into a school walkout planned for April with more than 1,000 schools. (NPR)

School Choice May Be Accelerating Gentrification
When Francis Pearman was studying at Vanderbilt, he and a fellow graduate student noticed a striking phenomenon in Nashville: White, affluent families were moving into low-income neighborhoods without sending their children to the neighborhood schools. “We were really curious to see what that relationship looked like at the national level,” said Pearman, now a professor at the University of Pittsburgh. (The Atlantic)

Opinion: Ivy Prep and other charter schools deserve more state funding
Alisha Cromartie, formerly Alisha Morgan, was an early supporter of charter schools, breaking with Democratic colleagues in the Georgia House to endorse the concept early on. In 2002, at age 23, Cromartie became the first African-American to represent Cobb County in the state House of Representatives. In 2014, she ran and lost a bid for state superintendent. A year later, Cromartie took a job leading what was considered a Georgia charter school success story, Ivy Preparatory Academy, which began in Gwinnett but expanded to DeKalb. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Louisiana House eyes preschool education bills to improve kindergarten readiness
Louisiana lawmakers gave initial support Thursday (March 22) to two measures aimed at improving the state’s early childhood education system. The bills, which passed through the House education committee, aim to create a committee that can create a broader vision for early childhood education in Louisiana, and provide a new source of funding to help parents afford child care. (The Times-Picayune)

New Jersey
Dear Gov. Murphy and Comm. Repollet: NJ Voters Want You to Maintain State Standardized Tests
The public school advocacy group called We Raise NJ just released a the results of a recent poll exploring NJ residents’ views on current course content standards, aligned tests, and school quality. According to a press release, “the poll — conducted by Global Strategy Group — revealed that voters, especially those of color, believe strongly in high standards, aligned assessments, and importance of being prepared for college and career.” (NJ Left Behind)

New Mexico
PED rejects APS plans for three failing schools
Denied. Albuquerque Public Schools’ plans to turn around its worst-performing schools were denied by the New Mexico Public Education Department, but the state agency is giving APS one more chance to resubmit. NMPED is giving the district three more weeks to submit more acceptable plans, telling the Journal APS’ submissions didn’t significantly redesign or restructure three schools needing “more rigorous interventions” or MRIs in every way. (Albuquerque Journal)

New York
Promotion ‘outrageous’ for teacher who set kid on fire, critics say
City educators, parents and students were sickened Thursday to hear an Upper West Side teacher found a pot of cash and a cushy job at the end of a rainbow experiment that burned two students. Beacon High School teacher Anna Poole has landed $23,000 in raises since the 2014 accident that permanently disfigured one teen and prompted nearly $40 million in lawsuits. She is now an instructional leader assigned to Education Department headquarters and teaches city teachers how to perform science lessons. (NY Daily News)

North Carolina
CMS leader wants $9 million to fortify schools. But he’s not eager to share details.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Clayton Wilcox plans to seek about $9 million in county money to fortify schools with fences, cameras and “hardened” doors, he said this week. The preliminary plan came up at a joint meeting Tuesday between the school board and Matthews town commissioners, who voiced anxiety about the safety of students in mobile classrooms. The thought of a shooter attacking the trailers – CMS uses about 1,300 to add space at crowded schools – “really scares me,” said Matthews Mayor Pro Tem John Higdon. (The Charlotte Observer)

Banking on city cash, Philly school district introduces $3.2B budget
With the promise of a massive cash infusion from the city, the School Reform Commission on Thursday green-lighted the broad outlines of a proposed $3.2 billion budget for next year that would include new spending on additional teachers, supports for struggling students, and building repairs. It is a vastly different picture from last year, when officials projected a budget gap of hundreds of millions of dollars over five years. The Philadelphia School District’s lame-duck governing body lacks the ability to raise its own revenues. Those are rising at a slower pace than its fixed costs. (The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News)

Shelby County Schools plans to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour
Shelby County Schools plans to raise its minimum wage for all its employees to $15 an hour, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said. That would mean increases for about 1,200 employees who currently make between $10.60 and $14.98. The majority of those currently make between $13 to $14.50 an hour. The total cost will be $2.4 million, but only about $900,000 to the district’s general fund budget. Many of the low-wage employees are funded through federal grant programs like Title 1. (Commercial Appeal)

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


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