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

Schools shift to Free, Public-Domain Curricula

The Mentor Public School district in suburban Ohio hasn’t bought textbooks since 2012, when it spent more than $1 million on them. Its leaders hope to stop paying for textbooks altogether. They want teachers in this district for 7,700 students to use free materials available online as much as possible. Teachers are cooking up their own classes in economics, government and high school English, without off-the-shelf commercial products. (The Wall Street Journal)

Will the Same Conservative Coalition That Derailed Health Care Bill Now Kill Federal School Choice?
Republicans, it seems, are turning out to be President Donald Trump’s own worst enemy.​ ​Last week, the conservative House Freedom Caucus opposed the Republicans’ health care bill on the grounds that it didn’t do enough to repeal Obamacare regulations and return health care insurance to the free market. Their opposition, combined with that of more-moderate Republicans, was enough to sink the bill, forcing Republican leaders to pull it from the House floor after promising a repeal of Obamacare for seven years.​ (The 74)​

The Education Silo
Most states agree on what students should be taught, so why not collaborate on curricula?​ ​Congress and new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are focused on providing more local control over education and ensuring that states have freedom and flexibility to innovate within their education systems. But the focus on local control could keep states from recognizing or acknowledging opportunities to collaborate, pool resources and work as allies to support students.​ (U.S. News & World Report)​

State education officials oppose Assembly’s bid to curb their power over failing schools

St​ate education leaders are infuriated by the General Assembly’s passage of legislation that would diminish their role in deciding how schools are held accountable over the next 15 years.​ ​Members of the Maryland State Board of Education see the measure, which would forbid the state from using charter schools and vouchers to fix failing schools, as a power grab by the legislature.​ (The Baltimore Sun)​

New York
With diversity still dismal at specialized schools, New York City officials and parents shift focus to gifted programs​

​It’s a long-established fact that New York City’s gifted programs and elite specialized high schools don’t serve all communities equally.​ ​But what’s causing those disparities — and how to address them — are both still matters of debate. That much was made clear at a forum in Bedford-Stuyvesant hosted this week by the Brooklyn and Bronx borough presidents.​ (Chalkbeat)​

​Lawmakers approve charter school bill

Legislation to ease access to buildings and money for charter schools was approved late Thursday after a failed attempt to merge it with a school grant program as the legislative session neared its final hour.​ ​House Bill 430 calls on state education agencies to establish charter school authorizing standards, and mandates hearings for charter schools that are trying to obtain unused school buildings.​ (AJC)​


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