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

Data Helps K–12 School Districts Hire, Set Curricula and Improve Student Outcomes
What does it take to manage four of the top-five public high schools in America, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report? For BASIS Curriculum Schools, the answer is next-generation technology, including analytics that inform not only curriculum planning, but also hiring, test creation and student performance. “We’re doing pretty complicated analytical work on everything from the kids’ scores to specific questions on our exams,” says BASIS.ed CEO Peter Bezanson. “We have more IT, more analytics and more quantitative firepower than anyone else in the country.” (EdTech)

Government watchdog report finds racial disparities in school discipline practices
A new report from the Government Accountability Office released Wednesday found that black students are still disciplined at school disproportionately, compared to their peers. The report provides the first national analysis of disparities in school discipline since the Obama administration issued guidance in 2014 urging schools to examine their disciplinary practices and move away from those that disproportionately impacted minority students.
GAO’s new analysis found that in the 2013-2014 school year, the most recent year for which data is available, black students accounted for 15.5% of all public school students, but represented about 39% of students suspended from school. (CNN)

Schools Named for Confederate Leaders: The Renaming Debate, Explained
Despite a wave of recent campaigns to remove the names of Confederate leaders from public schools, roughly 140 buildings in K-12 school districts still honor figures from that foregone era, an Education Week Research Center analysis of federal education data from the 2015-16 school year found. But that number has been dropping, as school leaders have decided to change the names of at least 36 Confederate-themed schools since June 2015 when a white supremacist shot and killed nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. That mass murder, along with the death and injuries at a 2017 white supremacist rally and counter-protest in Charlottesville, Va., marked critical junctures in the ongoing public debate around celebrating men who waged war to maintain slavery. (Education Week)

New Report: In 46 States, High School Graduation Requirements Aren’t Enough to Qualify for Nearby Public Universities
High school graduation rates have soared across the country over the last decade, accompanied by the cheers of educators and lawmakers alike. But in the vast majority of states, simply attaining a high school diploma does not qualify students to attend a public university, according to a study released Monday by the Center for American Progress. The report examines coursework requirements in math, English, science, social studies, foreign languages, art, physical education, and electives for both graduation from a public high school and entrance to a public university in every state, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Each state issues different mandates for different subjects, and a handful want to see a demonstration of mastery rather than completion of specific courses. (The 74)

Carney administration launches new initiative to help Delaware children
The Carney administration on Thursday announced a new initiative aimed at helping at-risk children in Delaware. First Chance Delaware is envisioned as a unifying umbrella group that will coordinate and promote a network of public-private partnerships organized around three objectives. Those goals include expanding access to nutritious food, helping parents better prepare their children for school and assisting students suffering from emotional trauma. (Delaware Online)

Ige appoints three members to Hawaii State Board of Education
The Hawaii State Board of Education is getting a little makeover after Gov. David Ige made three appointments on Tuesday. The governor appointed former teacher and principal Catherine Payne and University of Hawaii administrator Dwight Takeno to the board. Payne is currently the commissioner and chair of the state Public Charter School commission, and an educational consultant for Ke Alakai Mau LLC. She previously served as principal at Farrington High School and Olomana School, and was vice principal at Waianae High School. Payne is appointed to the “at large” seat and will serve as the board’s chair if confirmed. (Pacific Business News)

New Jersey
Charter schools are expanding to new turf in N.J. and bringing the same bitter debate
Deep in South Jersey, on the sprawling grounds of a summer camp surrounded by rolling farmland, Upper Pittsgrove Township is about to have something in common with the state’s big cities. The Salem County town, marked by cornfields and country roads, will soon play host to a charter school — perhaps the most visible sign yet of the controversial and far-reaching expansion of school choice in New Jersey. “It’s uncharted territory,” said Peter Koza, superintendent of the nearby Upper Deerfield School District. (NJ Advance Media)

North Carolina
More than one-fifth of NC teachers are chronically absent. How does it affect your child?
More than 20 percent of North Carolina teachers are chronically absent from work, state officials say, costing school districts money to hire substitutes and hurting student learning. Last school year, 22.6 percent of the state’s 97,839 teachers were chronically absent, meaning they used 10 or more nonconsecutive sick days. State education officials who presented the data Wednesday attributed the high absenteeism rate in part to how some teachers no longer view it as a profession they plan to stay in for the rest of their lives. (The News & Observer)

Washington D.C.
Teachers walk out, cancel classes for an hour at D.C.’s Anacostia High
Frustration at Anacostia High boiled over Wednesday, with the entire teaching staff walking out of class midmorning to protest building conditions — conditions teachers say city officials should have addressed with greater urgency. Teachers said the cafeteria was flooded and no toilets were working when educators arrived at the Southeast Washington school at 8 a.m. Teachers made a last-minute decision to organize a 9:30 a.m. walkout. The school system said repairs to toilets were complete by 10:15 a.m. (The Washington Post)

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


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