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

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

News & analysis

New Jersey: Newark mulls teacher buyouts
Borrowing a page from New York City, Houston and other cities, Newark could soon use money from the foundation started by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to offer buyouts to teachers in a cost-saving move. Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson has approached the teachers’ union with the idea, which has a twofold intent: give weak educators incentive to leave and pare what she calls the district’s oversize payroll. The effort comes as lawmakers in Trenton negotiate a bill to weaken tenure protections and evaluate teachers based on student performance, which is supported by Newark Mayor Cory Booker. “Superintendent Anderson has two hands tied behind her back,” he said at a meeting of education writers in Philadelphia on Friday. “If we could fire the 300 to 400 lowest-performing teachers, she wouldn’t have a financial crisis.” In an interview, Mr. Booker said he hoped the buyouts would be a temporary fix until schools can oust teachers based on performance rather than seniority. Mr. Booker, unlike New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, doesn’t have control of the schools and isn’t part of negotiations over a new contract. Ms. Anderson declined to comment, citing contract negotiations. As charter schools have grown in Newark, students have been leaving traditional public schools, and taking funding with them. District enrollment fell to 36,068 this year from nearly 39,695 in the 2007-08 school year, while charter enrollment grew to 7,878 from 3,940, according to Newark schools figures. Meanwhile, Newark expects to send $148 million to charter schools next year, up from $93 million in 2010-11. Union President Joseph Del Grosso said he is open to buyouts if the offer is sweet enough. But he said if the highest-paid teachers leave the system, the union as a whole could suffer from the loss of their dues. (WSJ)

Rhode Island: Gist heads to Central Falls
State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist holds a public meeting tonight in Central Falls. She’ll take questions from the community while seated alongside a panel of local school leaders. Numerous concerns have emerged about the tiny school district in the wake of the Central Falls bankruptcy. The school department has agreed to merge some services with the city including finance, human resources and sports. In April, state education officials announced they were taking over day-to-day finances at the Central Falls School Department, including the budget and teacher contract negotiations, which remain unresolved. (Elisabeth Harrison)

Minnesota: Schools are poised to get new grades
Minnesota parents and educators will soon see the results of a whole new yardstick for measuring schools that gives state tests new meaning and the state’s schools new labels. The Minnesota Department of Education on Tuesday will present a new accountability system that reshuffles the rankings and removes the biggest penalties for schools at the bottom. “Personally, what I find most exciting is that we’re not just focusing on failures,” said Sam Kramer, the department’s point man for the new accountability system. “We’ve created a system that has incentives in place for success. And we know that in education people tend to respond to rewards, rather than just punishment.” The new system arises from the waiver granted to Minnesota by the U.S. Department of Education that frees the state from some of the tougher requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Law, such as the mandate that all students be proficient in reading and math by 2014. Under the new plan, schools will still be judged on their students’ scores in math and reading, but they will also have to show academic growth in individual students, a strong high school graduation rate, and a shrinking achievement gap between middle-class white students and their classmates. Many Minnesota educators are cautiously endorsing the system, which they believe is more fair than the old one. (Star Tribune)

Check out the trailer for “Won’t Back Down,” the parent trigger movie

Then take a look at the College Board’s “Don’t Forget About Ed” PSA


David Kirp: Integration worked. Why have we rejected it?
AMID the  ceaseless and cacophonous debates about how to close the achievement gap, we’ve turned away from one tool that has been shown to work: school desegregation. That strategy, ushered in by the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, has been unceremoniously ushered out, an artifact in the museum of failed social experiments. The Supreme Court’s ruling that racially segregated schools were “inherently unequal” shook up the nation like no other decision of the 20th century. Civil rights advocates, who for years had been patiently laying the constitutional groundwork, cheered to the rafters, while segregationists mourned “Black Monday” and vowed “massive resistance.” But as the anniversary was observed this past week on May 17, it was hard not to notice that desegregation is effectively dead. In fact, we have been giving up on desegregation for a long time. In 1974, the Supreme Court rejected a metropolitan integration plan, leaving the increasingly black cities to fend for themselves. To the current reformers, integration is at best an irrelevance and at worst an excuse to shift attention away from shoddy teaching. But a spate of research says otherwise. The experience of an integrated education made all the difference in the lives of black children — and in the lives of their children as well. These economists’ studies consistently conclude that African-American students who attended integrated schools fared better academically than those left behind in segregated schools. They were more likely to graduate from high school and attend and graduate from college; and, the longer they spent attending integrated schools, the better they did. What’s more, the fear that white children would suffer, voiced by opponents of integration, proved groundless. Between 1970 and 1990, the black-white gap in educational attainment shrank — not because white youngsters did worse but because black youngsters did better. (New York Times)

Kathleen Porter Magee: Failure is (and must be) an option
There isn’t a Common Core supporter in the nation who hasn’t qualified her enthusiasm for what the standards can do with “if they are implemented properly.” On the other hand, I’m not sure there’s a Common Core opponent who isn’t standing in the wings, waiting for implementation to fail. There isn’t a Common Core supporter in the nation who hasn’t qualified her enthusiasm for what the standards can do with “if they are implemented properly.” On the other hand, I’m not sure there’s a Common Core opponent who isn’t standing in the wings, waiting for implementation to fail. Some may point to those schools—the “failures”—as proof that network isn’t worthy of the praise it often receives. In reality, though, the opposite is true. The reason KIPP has so many schools worth celebrating is exactly because they accept that failure may well be a critical element of success. (Flypaper)


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