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

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

News & analysis

Budget cheat sheet: What to watch
President Barack Obama is expected to release his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal on Monday. And even before the official release, we already know some of what will be in there. Obama already has said he’ll be seeking $1 billion for a version of his Race to the Top franchise, this time for higher education. He wants to double funding for college work-study programs, and to get $53 million for a “First in the World” fund to help colleges scale up promising practices. And he wants $80 million for a new science and math teacher initiative. There may also be a new competitive-grant program for teacher quality, but there aren’t too many details right now of what it would look like and how it would differ from the existing Teacher Incentive Fund. All told, that likely means a bigger bottom-line proposal for the U.S. Department of Education, since it’s unlikely that Obama will cut programs to pay for those initiatives, said Joel Packer, the executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying coalition in Washington. (Politics K-12)

Minnesota: State among 10 others to get NCLB waiver
President Barack Obama on Thursday will free 10 states from the strict and sweeping requirements of the No Child Left Behind law, giving leeway to states that promise to improve how they prepare and evaluate students, The Associated Press has learned. The first 10 states to receive the waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The only state that applied for the flexibility and did not get it, New Mexico, is working with the administration to get approval, a White House official told the AP. (MPR)

New York: Radford elected president of parent group
Last night, the District Parent Coordinating Council elected Sam Radford as its president. For the past two years, Radford has pretty much been the public face of the DPCC, but technically, he was the vice president. I’m also asked fairly often exactly who the DPCC is, or who it is that Radford represents. Each school has a representative on the DPCC, which is basically the parent group that’s officially recognized by the district. To elect officers, each school gets one vote. Forty of Buffalo’s 59 schools were represented at the DPCC meeting on Tuesday. Thirty-two of them were eligible voters (meaning they were the official DPCC rep for their school). (Buffalo News)

New York: Push for mandatory kindergarten is planned
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will propose making kindergarten mandatory for all 5-year-olds and will pitch a new program to provide affordable child care for middle-class families during her State of the City address Thursday. “Every year nearly 3,000 5-year-olds in New York City don’t enroll in kindergarten—that means thousands of kids enter first grade every year having never set foot in a classroom,” Ms. Quinn will say, according to an excerpt of her speech. Ms. Quinn, who is contemplating a bid to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg next year, is working with the Legislature to introduce a bill to allow the city to make kindergarten mandatory. According to council officials, 4% of 5-year-olds citywide are not enrolled in kindergarten; in some neighborhoods, as many as 11% aren’t enrolled. Council officials said the cost of making kindergarten mandatory would be negligible because the city has the capacity to absorb the inflow of roughly 3,000 youngsters. (WSJ)

Maryland: Baltimore County school board passes budget
Baltimore County school board members voted unanimously Tuesday night to adopt a $1.23 billion budget with an amendment that would add two more auditors at a cost of $190,000. Board members said they believed the existing auditors had been burdened recently with additional duties that involved checking out tips from the public. The school system recently out-sourced a hotline for tipsters to call to report problems with the school system. The new system has created a higher volume of reports to be checked out, according to school board members. School board president Larry Schmidt said legislators had asked that an internal auditor to report to the board. The board already has several auditors. (Baltimore Sun)

Connecticut: State legislature session opens with Malloy proposing education reform, pension funding changes
Gov.Dannel P. Malloyopened the 2012 legislative session Wednesday with plans for education reform, pension funding changes and the largest increase in funding for affordable housing since Gov. William A. O’Neill was in office more than 20 years ago. In the education session, Malloy is offering an overall plan that calls for $128 million in spending increases in various education categories. That includes an additional $50 million in educational cost-sharing funds that would go largely to the 30 school districts with the worst results on standardized tests. An additional $12 million will be spent on early childhood programs and $13 million for recruiting and developing teachers, particularly those who would work in the low-performing schools.”We will require these districts to embrace key reforms or they will not get the money,” Malloy told a packed House chamber in his second State of the State Address. (Hartford Courant)

New Jersey: Christie calls for NJEA official’s resignation after controversial response to voucher question
Gov. Chris Christie and the executive director of the state’s largest teachers union today called on each other to resign, in an escalation of a nasty feud between the Republican governor and the New Jersey Education Association. The volley began when Christie lashed out at the union official, Vincent Giordano, for a comment he made on the NJTV program “New Jersey Capital Report” on Sunday about school vouchers, which would provide students public money to attend private schools. Commenting about how the poor can’t always attend private and charter schools, Giordano said, “Life’s not always fair and I’m sorry about that.” Earlier in the conversation, he had said poor parents should have access to the same options as those who can afford to send their children to high-performing schools: “We don’t say you can’t take your kid out of the public school. We would argue not and we would say, ‘Let’s work more closely and more harmoniously.’” (Star Ledger)

Rhode Island: Oh, those graduation requirements!
Starting in 2014, Rhode Island will require a score of “partially proficient” or better on standardized state tests to graduate from high school. The rule was originally supposed to take effect last year but state officials delayed it because many too many schools weren’t ready. Now some community groups and state lawmakers are looking to block the requirement. Rep. Eileen S. Naughton (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) and Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence) say they will introduce a bill this week to outlaw test scores as a graduation requirement. The bill would also call for parental notification if a student is scoring significantly below the bar. “We don’t want educators to teach to the test,’” Representative Naughton said in an announcement about the bill. “We want them to use the test as a tool for achievement.” The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is one of a dozen organizations backing the bill. Executive Director Steve Brown says he has serious concerns about what will happen when the new requirements take effect in 2014. (Elisabeth Harrison)


New York Times: Successes of small schools
School reform advocates are rightly encouraged by new data showing that New York City students at small, specialized high schools are more likely to graduate than students in large, traditional high schools. The findings, part of a continuing study by the nonprofit research group MDRC, offer hope for reformers trying to save children from dropout factories in the poorest communities. It also vindicates the small school strategies of the Bloomberg administration, which has shut down about 30 large high schools in the past decade and created about 300 small schools, about a third of which are the focus of the study. Some of the large schools that the city closed down enrolled 3,000 students or more and had graduation rates under 40 percent. (New York Times)

Matthew Levey: How to measure teacher quality? Ask parents
Meaningful parent feedback should be part of the evaluation of teacher quality. If reform is really about empowering parents, tools like school closings and vouchers are blunt instruments. By intervening early on to ensure a school has the best teaching staff it can assemble, parents are less likely to have to resort to extreme measures like pulling a child out of the school, or shutting it down, as advocates of so-called parent-trigger laws would like. (School Book)


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