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

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

News and Analysis
Trump’s First 100 Days: How Does He Stack Up to Obama, Bush on K-12?

Have you been waiting for President Donald Trump to work with the Republican-controlled Congress and get rolling on a big K-12 education initiative? If so, you might be getting a little bit antsy. But is that unusual during the first 100 days or so of a presidential administration? Here’s a quick sketch of some of the bigger things the Trump administration has gotten done so far on public school policy after nearly 100 days in office. (Education Week)

Kane: States and Governors Must Collaborate as They Again Learn to Drive Education Under ESSA
With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, Congress tossed the keys for K-12 education back to states and school districts. However you feel about the expanded federal role in K-12 education since No Child Left Behind was signed in 2002 — whether you saw it as a necessary nudge or federal overreach — that era has officially ended. Our schools need state and local leaders to take the education wheel now. But after 15 years of complying with federal regulations, their driving skills may be a little rusty. (The 74)

Nation’s Report Card Finds Mixed Grades For U.S. Students In Visual Arts, Music
For only the third time ever, the government released today a national report card examining the knowledge, understanding and abilities of U.S. eighth-graders in visual arts and music. And in many ways, the numbers aren’t great, with little progress shown in most categories since the last time the assessment was given in 2008. One bright spot: The achievement gap between Hispanic students and their white peers has narrowed. But Hispanics and African-Americans still lag far behind white and Asian eighth-graders. (NPR)

The Privilege of School Choice
On November 23, the morning after his home was drawn into a different school zone, Mark Gonsalves slipped out of his office in Midtown Manhattan and rode the subway to the Upper West Side. He met his wife outside a tan-brick building on West 61st Street. It was P.S. 191. Together, they entered the school’s library, a sparse room with butterfly stickers pasted to the wall and wooden shelves full of donated books. A promotional video was playing. It showed children of different races smiling as they made papier-mâché sculptures and visited a local museum. Gonsalves, who is an executive at a sportswear company, pulled out a pen and paper. The couple had come to size up the school. (The Atlantic)

New Study on Charter School Applications Is Useful, in Measured Doses
How can we ensure charter school quality without recreating the bureaucracy that suffuses public education? That’s a persistent challenge. Last week, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a report analyzing factors in charter school applications that predict mediocre performance in a school’s first two years of operation. Used wisely, the report offers some real value. But as with so much education research, how it’s used matters immensely.​ (Real Clear Education)​

District of Columbia
The Capital of Education Reform

Ten years ago this week, the Council of the District of Columbia passed the D.C. Public Education Reform Amendment Act, which gave then-Mayor Adrian Fenty control over public education in the nation’s capital. In doing so, it unleashed new reform energies in Washington, D.C., accelerated efforts already underway and had impacts that extend well beyond the district’s 10 square miles.​ (U.S. News & World Report)

Lawmakers’ weekend homework produces omnibus education bill, including testing reform

Lawmakers in the Florida House took a priority proposal aimed at reforming the standardized testing schedule in K-12 public schools and transformed it Monday into a broader education policy bill — a move intended to set up negotiations with the Senate before the scheduled end of the 2017 session on May 5.​ (Miami Herald)​

N​ew Jersey
​NJ spending per pupil rose nearly 4 percent last year

New Jersey school districts spent an average of $20,385 per pupil in the 2015-16 school year, up 3.8 percent from the year before, according to figures the state released Thursday.​ ​Among regular districts in the counties of Bergen and Passaic, total per-pupil spending ranged from a high of $33,000 in Carlstadt-East Rutherford to $13,837 in Fairview.​ (NorthJersey.com)​

New York
In New York City Schools, an Ever-Rising Tide of Homeless Students

The number of New York City public school students living in homeless shelters has increased in each of the last five years, reaching nearly 33,000 in the 2015-16 school year, the city’s Independent Budget Office said in a report on Monday. That is 4,000 more students than at any point during the previous academic year, an increase of 15 percent. (The New York Times)

North Carolina
Deal announced in NC class-size fight that put school arts, PE classes at risk

North Carolina elementary school art, music and physical education programs appear to be safe from deep cuts this year under a compromise announced Monday by Senate leaders. A new version of House Bill 13 announced by Senate leader Phil Berger would push back extensive class-size reductions in kindergarten through third grade for a year. School districts said the change, which was to go into effect for the 2017-18 school year, would take away their flexibility to fund arts and PE classes. Under Monday’s deal, class sizes in kindergarten through third grade will be smaller in the coming school year, but not as small as the original plan called for. (The Charlotte Observer)

Charters host forum to hear from city school board

The first candidate forum last week for those vying for a seat on the Pittsburgh Public Schools board had an unlikely host: A group of Pittsburgh charter school​. ​Environmental Charter School at Frick Park held a similar forum for a single district race in 2015. But Thursday’s event is thought to be the first coordinated effort from a group of charters inviting all city school board candidates to share their views on topics — including the well-established tension between them. (Pittsburg Post-Gazette​)​


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