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

Trump Ed. Dept. Critiques ESSA Plans From Arizona, North Dakota, and Vermont
Arizona, North Dakota, and Vermont will have to make changes to their plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act when it comes to accountability, low-performing schools, and more, according to feedback letters released Thursday. (Education Week)

DeVos closes civil rights complaints at faster clip than predecessor
Betsy DeVos’ Education Department has closed more than 1,500 civil rights complaints at the nation’s schools — including dismissing more than 900 outright — in the two months since her acting civil rights chief took steps to reduce a massive backlog. The June directive from acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson told the department’s investigators to narrow their focus to the merits of a particular claim, rather than probing systemic issues, as they had done during the Obama administration. Jackson also gave regional civil rights offices more autonomy to close cases without approval from D.C. (Politico)

The Best School Districts In America For 2018: Niche
As the 2017-18 school year kicks off, students heading to their first day of school and their parents can see how their particular school district stacks up against others in the state as has released its annual rankings of best schools and school districts in the country. The 2018 rankings released this month rank elementary, middle and high schools as well as school districts. (Across America Patch)

Miami-Dade school district agrees to join suit over controversial state education law
Miami-Dade joined a growing number of school districts challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s sweeping new education law. At a School Board meeting on Wednesday, board members voted 8 to 1 to join litigation seeking to overturn portions of a bill some critics say was designed to boost the fortunes of the politically powerful charter school industry. One provision forces school districts to share with charter schools local tax dollars earmarked for school construction and maintenance and others limit the board’s authority over charter schools. (Miami Herald)

4-H Is Helping Kids Plant The Seeds For Healthy Relationships
“Remember, it’s Vegas rules, guys. What happens here, stays here,” says Alexander Chan to a room full of giggling high school teenagers as he goes over the ground rules for a workshop all about healthy relationships. Chan’s background is in marriage and family therapy. Now he’s an educator with 4-H in Prince George’s County, Md., where he leads a youth development program, through University of Maryland Extension, to help local teens understand and cultivate positive romantic partnerships. (NPR)

New Jersey
New Jersey One of the Few States To Win Approval of Fed Education Plan
New Jersey this week became one of the first states to win federal approval of its latest accountability and monitoring plans — with districts next required to submit their own extensive plans for following the law by the start of the school year. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos yesterday announced New Jersey’s approval under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), one of just four states that have so far won approval from the Trump administration. Also announced yesterday were approvals for Nevada and New Mexico. Delaware had previously won approval. (NJ Spotlight)

New York
A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry
Few middle schoolers are as clued in to their mathematical strengths and weakness as Moheeb Kaied. Now a seventh grader at Brooklyn’s Middle School 442, he can easily rattle off his computational profile. “Let’s see,” he said one morning this spring. “I can find the area and perimeter of a polygon. I can solve mathematical and real-world problems using a coordinate plane. I still need to get better at dividing multiple-digit numbers, which means I should probably practice that more.” (New York Times)

Court: charter schools cannot unilaterally change contracts with school districts
In a victory for school districts, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that charter schools cannot unilaterally change their operating agreements to add more students, schools or other functions that are not specifically listed in a contract. The unanimous decision overturned multiple lower court rulings issued in recent years in favor of charter schools and could lead to more calls for the Legislature to fix the state’s much-maligned 1997 charter school law. (The Morning Call)

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


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