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

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

News & analysis

California: Parents organize to push for better schools
Nancy Crop is a Palo Alto civil rights attorney. Cushon Bell is a Pasadena educational activist and former teacher. Teri Levy is a Los Angeles creative artist in fashion and photography. But even though all three high-powered women are privileged to send their children to excellent public schools, they say they are haunted by the countless California children stuck at low-performing campuses. This weekend, they are giving up free time to train with 100 other parent leaders organizing for more school funding, top-notch teachers and a high-quality education for all students. The leaders are part of Educate Our State, a fast-growing parent organizing network launched two years ago in San Francisco that now has 40,000 members throughout California. Their goal: to collect more than 1 million signatures to place a proposed constitutional amendment on next year’s November ballot that would lower the voting threshold for local communities to raise money for their schools through hikes in fees and taxes. (Los Angeles Times)

New York: For a homeless child, a long ride to fourth grade
Every night, N-Dia Layne would set the alarm on her mother’s cellphone to 4:45 a.m. If the two of them were not on the subway platform at 103rd Street and Broadway by 6:20 a.m., there was no way N-Dia would be on time for school. Even so, N-Dia, was often late. By the end of October, the fourth grader was just one tardiness away from the six allowed a student for the entire term. Her mother, Whitnee Layne, was frantic with worry. Ms. Layne and N-Dia, 9, live at the Regent Family Residence for the Homeless, a shelter on West 104th Street and Broadway. They were transferred last summer from their original family shelter in Brownsville, Brooklyn, two blocks from N-Dia’s school. It would have been easier for Ms. Layne if she had transferred N-Dia to a Manhattan school, but she was seeking continuity and stability for her daughter, and feared that a change of schools would set her back. So they took two trains — and traveled an hour and 15 minutes each way — so N-Dia could remain at Brooklyn Ascend Charter School. (New York Times)

New York: City teacher test turns into E-ZPass
Becoming a public-school teacher has never been easier. Just 84 out of 17,500 applicants failed the elementary or secondary school test required to become certified as a teacher in New York last year — the lowest number on record, The Post has learned. A second test required for certification, the Liberal Arts & Sciences Test, had a similarly ridiculous pass rate of 99 percent last year — with only 258 out of 17,250 test-takers failing the exam. The results are only the latest demonstration of a sky-high pass rate that has topped at least 94 percent for the two exams since 2000, and hasn’t dipped below 99 percent on either test since 2005. (New York Post)

New York: A growing divide in Buffalo
Phil Rumore walked into a meeting of Buffalo’s parent group one recent night and did what he has been doing for 30 years. Fight for Buffalo teachers. But something different happened, too. Parents fought back. “I take great offense on behalf of the teachers to think that the only thing we care about is a contract,” Rumore told the parents, his voice getting louder and cracking with emotion. “If you think for one second our teachers don’t care about the kids, you’re damn wrong. And I resent that. You insult the teachers, you insult me.” With that, Rumore grabbed his coat and headed for the door. But not before parent leader Sam Radford shouted back at him. “You’re willing to allow us to have another year of failing schools,” Radford said. “Every one of those schools lost the opportunity to get those resources. And we cannot get that year back. And so now, just like you’re offended, we’re offended.” (Buffalo News)

Maryland: Teacher of the year focuses on connections with students
Joshua Parker fell in love in 10th grade, discovering the power of words when his English teacher put a volume of Langston Hughes in his hands. He describes it as a moment so profound that it was like hearing chords of music for the first time. A dozen years later, Parker is not a poet but a teacher trying to make connections for his students between literature and the world they live in, just as Ms. Dew did the year he fell in love with literature and a girl. The recently minted Maryland Teacher of the Year teaches language arts at Windsor Mill Middle School in Baltimore County, a school whose population is predominantly African-American. But, he says, literature is just the medium. “Honestly, I am just trying to make these kids better people,” he said. (Baltimore Sun)

Maryland: BUILD activists call on business leaders to help city schools
As their bus rumbled through housing projects and dilapidated schools and toward Harbor East — one of the crown jewels of Baltimore’s revitalized waterfront — Zion Baptist Church Pastor Marshall Prentice asked his parishioners how they felt after hearing about the millions of tax breaks given to developers there. “I’m a teacher, and I’m really upset,” said Linda Jones, 62, recalling the three-inch cockroaches that scurried through her school and the library that was shut down due to budget cuts. Those on the bus were some of the hundreds taking part in a rally and tour sponsored by Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), a coalition of church groups, that contrasted tax breaks granted for downtown development with the rest of the city’s dilapidated schools and dwindling opportunities for youth. (Baltimore Sun)

Rhode Island: Sexual harassment in middle school on the rise
Sexual harassment is part of everyday life in middle and high schools, affecting nearly half of all students, according to a sobering report released by the American Association of University Women. The organization surveyed 1,965 students in grades 7-12 in May and June of this year, and its new report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School provides fresh evidence about students’ experiences, from being harassed to harassing someone else, as well as witnessing harassment. (GoLocalProv)


Proof that there is no proof for education reforms
Yes, we can agree that there is a great deal about the status quo in schools that deserves reform, but that tells us absolutely nothing about whether any given reform is helpful, harmful or simply useless. (As an aside, my hunch is that we might not all agree with Secretary Duncan if we separately compiled our list of grievances with the status quo.) This same minimizing of the importance of policy being guided by high-quality evidence is being played out at the state level, where misleading information is presented as fact. (Carol Corbett Burris via The Answer Sheet)


Recent Posts

More posts from Today in Education

See All Posts