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

Betsy DeVos Approves ESSA Plans for Nevada, New Jersey, and New Mexico
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Wednesday gave Nevada, New Jersey, and New Mexico the green light on their plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. The three states join just one other, Delaware, whose plan was approved earlier this month. All four states will begin implementing the law when the 2017-18 school year kicks off. (Education Week)

Democrats to DeVos: Fire civil rights chief
A group of 50 congressional Democrats is criticizing the Trump administration’s civil rights record in U.S. schools and colleges, saying its leadership signals an “abandonment” of the federal government’s responsibility to protect students from discrimination. In a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the lawmakers urge her to appoint a “qualified individual” to oversee the department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), now run by acting Assistant Secretary Candice Jackson. They say Jackson “has displayed hostility towards the very mission and functions of the office she is charged to lead.” (USA Today)

As Congress Mulls Slashing $2B in Title II Funds, Educators See Cuts Devastating Critical School Leadership
Action by the House Appropriations Committee last month to gut a $2.1 billion funding stream used to train teachers, principals, and other staff could be disastrous for school districts throughout the country, advocates and administrators say. (The 74)

Shortage of Bus Drivers Leave Maui Students, Parents Scrambling
Facing a shortage of school bus drivers on Maui, state education officials say the company that operates many of the island’s routes is working on a fix: bringing drivers in from Oahu. Oahu-based Ground Transport Inc., which won the Department of Education contract last December to operate some bus routes in Maui, is short 17 drivers. The shortage has affected an estimated 683 students on the island, prompting the DOE to consolidate bus routes in a situation that has left students waiting for their rides to school up to an hour or more longer than they normally would. (Honolulu Civil Beat)

Lack of progressive schools in New Orleans frustrates parents
After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans made parents a big promise: they could choose their child’s public school. But what were they choosing from. An education revolution was underway. The Louisiana Recovery School District seized 80 percent of the campuses from the Orleans Parish School Board, and charter schools – independently run, publicly funded – sprouted everywhere. (The Times-Picayune)

New Jersey
NJ Parent Summit readies parents, educators for new era in Newark
As Newark sits on the cusp of regaining local control of its schools, educators and parents are preparing to help lead the charge towards education reform. And at this year’s NJ Parent Summit, it was all about parent engagement, student advocacy and readying for the change that many believe is coming. Now in its second year, the summit brought together 200 parents from across the state for an opportunity to connect with policymakers, school leaders, education experts and advocates for a three-day event aimed at motivating, educating and empowering parents. (TAP into Netwark)

New York
Education Uncommon Schools Creating Pipeline of Teachers of Color in Brooklyn
Crystal Sanchez is captivating her audience of sixth graders, asking deep questions about a particularly rigorous section of the novel, Lord of the Flies. The students raise their hands at every question, excitedly leaning out of their chairs to share their thoughts and opinions. When they get too excited, Sanchez gently, like a teacher with years of experience, reminds them to listen to their classmates. This is summer school. But the fact that students can be so engaged in a discussion about literature on a hot summer day isn’t the most interesting thing happening in this classroom at Uncommon Schools’ Ocean Hill Collegiate. Instead, it’s the fact that Sanchez is not at all a veteran teacher. In fact, not too long ago, she was a student at an Uncommon school herself. (Kings County Politics)

Tennessee teachers are warming to evaluations as a tool to improve their work, survey says
When Tennessee launched a massive overhaul of its education system in 2011, the biggest outcry came from educators upset about the new process for evaluating their work. Most questioned the fairness and accuracy of capturing good teaching on a scale of 1 to 5. Others called the process burdensome and bewildering. Making student test score data a lynchpin of the change prompted even more concern. (Chalkbeat)

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


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