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

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

News & analysis

Think NCLB waivers mean an end to SES? Think again
In awarding Florida a waiver under the No Child Left Behind Act, the U.S. Department of Education gave the state’s school districts freedom from having to set aside 20 percent of Title I funds for tutoring and choice in low-performing schools. But what the feds gave, the state legislature took away. Earlier this month, not long Florida received its waiver, the state legislature passed a law requiring schools to set aside 15 percent of their Title I funds in 2012-13 for tutoring. (No doubt the tutoring industry was ecstatic about this.) And districts are not happy. They complained forcefully to federal officials at a meeting of the Council of the Great City Schools earlier this month that the state was backtracking on its promise in its waiver application. (Politics K-12)

New York: A tale of two public schools
Two Bronx schools — just three miles apart — serve similar kinds of kids: most from poor families, some needing special-ed, and many immigrants learning English. Both schools are huge, bursting at the seams, and squeeze up to 33 kids into each classroom. But the two schools showed starkly opposite results on the “teacher data reports,” which estimate how well fourth- to eighth-grade instructors improved student tests scores in math and English. PS 89, the Williamsbridge Middle School, had 10 teachers score in the bottom 10%, the worst in the city. Just 12% of the teachers rated “above average” or “high” in math, and 0% in English. PS 86, the Kingsbridge Heights School, had 13 teachers score in the top 10% — more than any other school. Also much better than the city average, 50% rated “above average” or “high” in math, 51% in English. The United Federation of Teachers and other critics argue that the teacher ratings are flawed. But they aren’t the only yardstick that shows the dichotomy. PS 89 is graded C on its latest Department of Education progress report, and teachers and parents say the school has struggled for years to rise above malaise and mediocrity. PS 86, meanwhile, earned an A for the past five years — and long shined as a gem. (New York Post)

New York: Albany eyeing ways to shield teacher data
A top Albany lawmaker said Friday that restrictions on public access to schoolteacher evaluations could be taken up as soon as legislators return from a two-week hiatus in mid-April. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Friday he wants to work out a compromise with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to protect teacher privacy while also ensuring that parents have access to information. “Information and evaluation should be out there for parents to know,” Mr. Silver said Friday on an Albany radio program. “But beyond the parents, I’m not sure that we shouldn’t treat teachers” like police and firefighters whose records are prohibited from release. Mr. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who counts teacher unions as key supporters, called releasing teacher evaluations “a difficult issue” that his chamber would “take up post-budget.” The Legislature passed on Friday the last of a series of bills making up the state’s $132 billion budget, and Mr. Cuomo signed them. Mr. Silver’s comments come as momentum appears to build for shielding teacher evaluations from public scrutiny. Unions were incensed in February after New York City released rankings of about 18,000 schoolteachers from a pilot program. (WSJ)


An Interview with Andrew J. Blumenfeld
In a previous era, someone like Andrew J. Blumenfeld, 20, would have finished his college education and applied to Teach for America. Instead, the Princeton junior ran for and won a seat on his local school board back home in Southern California. He campaigned on a pro-reform platform and called on the district to provide better AP courses for students pursuing rigorous studies. Board members like Blumenfeld could become increasingly common in the next wave of school reform efforts, which are focusing much more on leadership and advocacy than on classroom- or school-level changes. Blumenfeld is cofounder of a group called Students for Education Reform, which has 71 chapters and a national office in New York City. Clearly, there are lots of Blumenfelds out there. (Scholastic Administrator)


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