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

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

News & analysis

9 states to win to Race to the Top education grant
Nine states will share $500 million in grant money won in a high-profile competition intended to jump-start improvements in often-overlooked early childhood programs, The Associated Press has learned. The winners to be announced Friday at the White House are California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the winners had not been officially announced. (MPR)

North Carolina: New Schools Project wins $15M federal grant
The North Carolina New Schools Project has won a $15 million federal grant to bring new ways of teaching to rural high schools and to pay for their students’ college courses. Fourteen companies, foundations and individuals pledged $1.5 million to cover the private-money match required to win the federal grant. “The U.S. Department of Education has signaled its confidence in the state’s progressive efforts to improve educational opportunities for all students, and key leaders in North Carolina think that such education innovation is an important investment,” said Tony Habit, New Schools Project president. The New Schools Project supports innovations in high school education, including five-year early-college programs where high school students earn up to two years of college credit. The early colleges have lower dropout rates than traditional high schools. (News Record)

California: UC Berkeley caps college costs for middle-class families
The University of California at Berkeley is sending an early holiday gift to middle-class families struggling to send their offspring to America’s top-ranked public institution of higher education. As of fall 2012, the flagship campus in the UC system will cap the amount that families with annual incomes between $80,000 and $140,000 must pay at 15 percent of household income. The MCAP (for Middle-Class Access Plan) is the first such initiative at a public university. Several top-tier private schools such as Harvard, Princeton, and Wellesley College have either capped tuition at 10 percent of income for families earning under $200,000 or limited the amount of student debt at graduation to less than $15,000. (Christian Science Monitor)

Rhode Island: Supreme Court to take up truancy lawsuit
The state’s highest court has agreed to decide whether a lawsuit over Rhode Island’s truancy court program can proceed. Plaintiffs have accused the truancy court of operating in near-secrecy and imposing overly harsh, onerous punishments. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit as a class action on behalf of students and parents who came in contact with the program. Defendants, including the chief justice of Rhode Island’s Family Court and several magistrates, have questioned whether the Superior Court has jurisdiction over the Family Court. A superior court judge ruled against their request for dismissal, and that is what defendants went on to appeal to the State Supreme Court. (Elisabeth Harrison)


Gary Rubenstein: Pro vs. Khan
When I watched some sample videos, I was very surprised about the amount of attention they were getting. If a bank of video tutorials is supposed to revolutionize education, they should be taught by an incredible teacher. But what I found was that Khan was just an OK teacher. His examples are not well planned. His pacing is inconsistent. I’d say that at least half the math teachers in this country could do at least as good a job as Khan does. What is ironic about Bill Gates admiration of Khan is that Gates is investing so much energy right now into identifying what makes a great teacher to create better teacher evaluations. Yet the person he considers the best teacher is merely adequate. So I decided I’d make a video sample to show how an online math video can be much better, including a bit of interactivity. I spent about two hours planning and recording this thirteen minute lesson. You can judge for yourself, but I think that it is much better than Khan’s. And I’m sure that there are many teachers out there who could do better than me. (Gary Rubenstein)


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