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

News & Analysis
Boosts for Head Start, Title I, Special Education in Federal Spending Bill
Federal funding for most schools would be largely restored after the biggest cuts to K-12 spending in history, under a giant spending bill unveiled Monday night by Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress. And the Head Start early childhood program would see a major, $1 billion boost. (Education Week)

Information Fuels Support for School Reform
The Common Core State Standards initiative (CCSS) seeks to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn” at various grade levels. For some education observers, CCSS will finally clarify for students, parents, and educators what students need to know and be able to do if they are to be prepared for college or a career. For others, CCSS interferes with local control of schools, limits teacher creativity, and diverts classroom time and energy away from instruction to test preparation. But as pundits and practitioners thrust and parry over these issues, they may be overlooking the potential impact of CCSS on public perceptions of school quality and public support for school reforms. (Education Next)

On Michelle Rhee’s Latest State-Policy Report Card, No ‘A’ Grades Once Again
StudentsFirst, the K-12 advocacy organization run by Michelle Rhee, the former District of Columbia schools chancellor, on Tuesday released its “State Policy Report Card” for 2014, giving states letter grades for their education policy environment. StudentsFirst, based in Sacramento, Calif., favors school choice, report cards for schools, performance pay for teachers, and the elimination or significant alteration of many established teacher-tenure systems. (Education Week)

Promise Zones Launched in Five Communities
On Thursday, Jan. 9, President Obama announced the first five “Promise Zones,” where local communities and businesses will work together to create jobs, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing, and improve public safety. (Department of Education’s Homeroom Blog)

New Jersey
Opinion: A county-wide approach to desegregating NJ schools
It’s an old problem: New Jersey has one of the most segregated public school systems in the country. (NJ Spotlight)

North Carolina
New NC charter schools have work to do to open this fall
North Carolina’s newest charter schools have a long way to go before they can open this fall. The 26 charter schools approved Thursday by the State Board of Education now have to complete a lengthy checklist of items over the next several months, including hiring staff, recruiting enough students and securing a location. Failure to meet the requirements could result in their opening being delayed a year or even losing their charter – situations that have occurred before. (News and Observer)

NC budget director cites teacher pay in planning
The administration of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is forming a budget proposal for the next fiscal year that could boost the salaries of teachers and state employees. (Education Week)


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