Curtis Whatley is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

Here’s what educators, advocates, wonks and policymakers are talking about today:

News & analysis

School Districts wary of federal funding fight
An overwhelming majority of school districts don’t think they’ll be able to absorb a big, blunt federal funding cut headed their way if Congress can’t reach a deal on long-term spending by January 2013, according to a survey released today by the American Association of School Administrators. Almost 80 percent of the school districts surveyed by AASA said they didn’t think their states had the capacity to cope with a planned, across-the-board cut to all federal programs of 7.8 percent to 9.1 percent. And even more districts, 83.9, don’t think they have the local capacity to deal with such a hefty reduction. The survey provides ammunition to an army of inside-the-Beltway education associations who are working to convince Congress that the cuts are a bad idea and will be harmful to their communities. (Politics K-12)

Maryland: State to receive another round of federal funds to overhaul failing schools
Maryland will receive another infusion of federal funding to continue turnaround efforts in the state’s worst schools, the U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday. The state will receive $6.7 million in federal school improvement grants to dole out to districts with chronically low-performing schools, the bulk of which in past years has been invested in Baltimore city and Prince George’s County schools. To date, Maryland has received $60.7 million since the SIG program was redesigned in 2009, according to a release from the federal department. “We’ve stood on the sidelines for too long as our lowest-performing schools failed our children year after year,” U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan said in the release from the department. (Baltimore Sun)

Maryland: Undocumented Montgomery college student given reprieve from deportation
Jorge Steven Acuna, an undocumented student at Montgomery College, was detained and awaiting deportation last week with his parents. After an outpouring of protest, his family was granted a one-year reprieve from deportation late Tuesday — and a rally scheduled Wednesday to protest their detention turned into a celebration, according to an account by my colleague Pamela Constable. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, and many are children who have the right to be educated in public schools. For those who succeed academically, opportunities for college are limited, though, with no access to federal student aid and few opportunities for professional work on the horizon. In Maryland, lawmakers passed a bill last year that would have given undocumented students discounts at in-state colleges. But implementation was suspended after opponents organized against it. A referendum this year will decide its fate. (WaPo)

Minnesota: House GOP approves payment to schools
Republicans in the Minnesota House have passed their plan to dip into the state’s rainy day fund to repay some of the money owed to public schools. The bill, which passed 74-59 Thursday evening, would make a down payment on the K-12 payment deferment made to help erase the last two budget deficits. But Gov. Mark Dayton and other Democrats have called the move irresponsible. State lawmakers held back $770 million in K-12 education funding last summer as part of the budget agreement that ended a government shutdown. Combined with an earlier budget deferment, it pushed up the total owed to schools to $2.7 billion. State financial projections now show a modest surplus. The deferred amount has dipped to $2.4 billion, and there is some money back in the budget reserves. (MPR)

New Jersey: Bill requiring NJ towns to approve charter schools gets approved by state assembly
The Assembly has passed a measure that would require local approval of charter schools, even after they’ve been given the green light by the state commissioner of education. Under the bill (A1877), which last year passed the Assembly but never made it through the Senate, either a school district’s voters or the local board of school estimate – school boards that are appointed by a town’s governing body — would have to grant final approval to the school. If a charter school wins approval and seeks to expand, the bill would also require them to get approval from voters or the boards of estimate. The measure, which today passed 45-27 with four abstentions, comes in response to complaints that charter schools drain resources from regular schools in the district. (Star-Ledger)


Curtis Valentine & Eric Cole: Parents shouldn’t have to choose
Too many Maryland parents are engaged in a tug of war between their family’s financial livelihood and their children’s education. Sadly, in this economic downturn, financial needs often win the day. The state cannot legislate parental involvement, but it can do everything in its power to reduce any barriers to it. That is why MarylandCAN: The Maryland Campaign for Achievement Now and the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council stand together in support of SB 329/HB 567, a bill before the Maryland General Assembly that provides parents and guardians with the right to attend parent-teacher conferences, Individualized Education Program meetings, Individualized Family Service Plan meetings and 504 meetings without penalty from their employer. Why is parent-teacher meeting attendance an urgent matter? The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory reports that, regardless of family income or background, “students with involved parents are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores and enroll in higher-level programs; be promoted, pass their classes, and earn credits; attend school regularly; have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school; and graduate and go on to postsecondary education.” (Gazette)

Andy Rotherham: More Devil Dogs!
There is obviously a visceral dislike of many things military in the education world – it’s one symptom of the troubling divide between those who protect us and the rest of American society.  But an irony that jumps out at me is that when you talk to Marine officers and seasoned NCOs, including some pretty battle-hardened guys, some are better at articulating how all the soft skills matter, teamwork, leadership, even feelings etc…than many people in our allegedly hopelessly touchy-feely field are. (Eduwonk)


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