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

Scratch This: The Fall (and Possible Rise) of State Lotteries in Education Funding

The purchase of a lottery ticket offers an assurance of virtue with its promise of vice. Shell out for a Powerball or scratch ticket, ads declare, and you’ll be making a deposit to your state’s education fund — customers, local businesses, and students all benefit. If there can be such a thing as a win-win in the transactional arena of budget-making, surely this is it. Today, 15 states dedicate all or most of their lottery proceeds to schools, including California, New York, and Texas. Across the country, lotteries generate around $70 billion in annual sales, more than the combined profits from music, books, video games, and tickets to movies and sporting events. (The 74)

School vouchers, rising in many GOP states, founder in Texas
Gary VanDeaver describes himself as a conservative less than a minute into many conversations. The Texas state representative blames “unelected federal judges” for imposing gay marriage on America and has been endorsed by anti-abortion groups and the National Rifle Association. But when it comes to one centerpiece conservative initiative — allowing tax-subsidized vouchers for students to enroll in private schools — VanDeaver says absolutely no way. (ABC News)

If You Mostly Care About Test Scores, Private School Choice Is Not For You
If you mostly care about test scores, private school choice is not for you.  Despite the vast majority of randomized control trials (RCTs) of private school choice showing significant, positive test score effects for at least some subgroups of students, some of those gains have been modest and other effects have been null for at least some subgroups.  And now we have two RCTs, in Louisiana and DC, showing  significant test score declines for at least some subgroups and in some subjects.  The Louisiana decline is large and across-the-board, but the significant, negative effect in the new DC study appears to be  “driven entirely by students in elementary grades not previously in a needs-improvement school.” (Education Next)

Deal signs school turnaround legislation, calls it a ‘dramatic step’

With the stroke of a pen Thursday, Gov. Nathan Deal initiated an experiment that could yield innovative strategies for improving Georgia’s lowest-performing schools or saddle him and future governors with an intractable problem. House Bill 338 was not Deal’s first choice of tools to fix schools. Last year, voters rejected a referendum on establishing a much more powerful statewide Opportunity School District. Had that constitutional amendment passed, Deal would have had authority to seize “chronically failing” schools, put them into that special district and appoint someone to run them. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

New Jersey
The 50 N.J. school districts paying their teachers the most

Trenton-The median salary among New Jersey teachers is $66,117 this school year, but the paycheck for a typical teacher can vary greatly from school district to school district. Statewide, the median teacher salary in school districts ranges from as low as $43,911 to as high as $105,650. Why such a big difference? A number of factors can affect teacher pay, such as regional cost of living, grade levels offered in the district and faculty experience, among others. Plus, the median salary in a district can swing by thousands of dollars in a given year if a district has a rash of retirements or major layoffs. (NJ.com)

North Carolina
Governor kicks off inaugural Education Cabinet meeting

Democratic Governor Roy Cooper held his first Education Cabinet meeting yesterday, calling on members to work together and eschew ideology and politics. “We all owe the citizens of this state to put all that political stuff aside … regardless of what happens, we need to be working in the same direction,” he said.  But politics did crop up earlier in the meeting. When asked to introduce his staff, cabinet member Mark Johnson, the state’s Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction, made introductions and then pointed out one significant omission. (EdNC)

Charter supporters ask SRC for a second chance

Students, parents, and teachers from a Port Richmond charter school that the Philadelphia School District has recommended for nonrenewal turned out in force Thursday to ask for a second chance. Citing poor academic performance, the district’s charter school office said Memphis Street Academy at J.P. Jones should not receive a new charter. The  school, which serves grades five through eight, has been run for the last five years by American Paradigm Schools, a local education management company. (The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News)

Sweeping charter school bill passes Tennessee legislature

Tennessee is close to overhauling the way it oversees charter schools. The state Senate voted 25-1 on Wednesday to approve the so-called High Quality Charter Act, which now heads to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature. The proposal overwhelmingly passed the House last week. The bill would replace Tennessee’s 2002 charter school law. (Chalkbeat)


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