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

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

News & analysis

Burr NCLB would consolidate 59 education programs
Despite new momentum lately, it doesn’t look like Congress will get around to renewing the No Child Left Behind Act by the end of this year. But it’s (almost) a sure bet that lawmakers will be looking to reshape the programs in the U.S. Department of Education, either by eliminating some, or by consolidating smaller programs into broader funding streams. (Politics K-12)

Why do so many Americans drop out of college?
Midday presents an American RadioWorks documentary, “Some College, No Degree.” There are an estimated 37 million college dropouts in this country. The program looks at why so many people start college but don’t graduate, and what kinds of things are being done to bring them back. (MPR)

Incentives for advanced work let teachers and students cash in
Joe Nystrom, who teaches math at a low-income high school [in Worcester, MA], used to think that only a tiny group of students — the “smart kids” — were capable of advanced coursework. But two years ago, spurred by a national program that offered cash incentives and other support for students and teachers, Mr. Nystrom’s school, South High Community School, adopted a come one, come all policy for Advanced Placement courses. Today Mr. Nystrom teaches A.P. statistics to eight times as many students as he used to, and this year 70 percent of them scored high enough to qualify for college credit, compared with 50 percent before. One in four earned the top score possible, far outpacing their counterparts worldwide. (New York Times)

Maryland: Voters split on gay marriage and immigrant tuition
A new poll finds Maryland voters almost evenly divided over the legalization of same-sex marriage and over allowing children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state college tuition rates — two issues that could be decided at the ballot box next year. (WaPo)

Minnesota: State’s social studies standards take a knock
Minnesota is one of 34 states that earned an F, meaning our standards include none or less than 20 percent of recommended content. Indeed, as outlined by the report the standards are maddeningly vague. (Beth Hawkins)

New Jersey: Charter school measure heads to Gov. Christie’s desk
Nonpublic schools in which students score, on average, above the 65th percentile on national standardized tests would be eligible to apply to the state Department of Education to become charters in any districts designated “in need of improvement” under the federal No Child Left Behind law. (Asbury Park Press)

Connecticut: When green jobs open up, will workforce be there?
…only two of the [green jobs] courses [at Gateway Community College] have enough people enrolled to make them viable, and they’re only about half full. Similar programs at other community colleges also are under-subscribed. The problem speaks to continuing education’s unique role in workforce training through non-credit education. It involves such issues as how continuing ed is and is not subsidized, the availability of student funding programs, and the confusing jumble of worker training programs in the state. (CT Mirror)

Opinion

What if the NFL played by teachers’ rules?
Imagine the National Football League in an alternate reality. Each player’s salary is based on how long he’s been in the league. Let’s face the truth about this alternate reality: The on-field product would steadily decline. Why bother playing harder or better and risk getting hurt? If you haven’t figured it out yet, the NFL in this alternate reality is the real -life American public education system. Teachers’ salaries have no relation to whether teachers are actually good at their job—excellence isn’t rewarded, and neither is extra effort. (Fran Tarkenton)

New Jersey should identify charter school application reviewers
Now, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and state Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) are demanding the DOE identify the volunteers, to make sure there are no conflicts of interest. That’s a good idea — not because there’s evidence of anything objectionable, but because the public has a right to know. It will protect the integrity of the very necessary job these screeners are doing. And it’s just one more way of ensuring that the very best charter schools are chosen. (Star Ledger)

Room for Debate asks “Are top students getting short shrift?”
It sounds so democratic, a very American idea: break down the walls of “remedial,” “average” and “advanced” classes so that all students in each grade can learn together, with lessons that teachers “differentiate” to challenge each individual. Proponents of this approach often stress that it benefits average and lagging students, but a new study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute suggests that the upsides may come at a cost to top students — and to the international competitiveness of the United States. (New York Times)

Peter Meyer responds to Mike Petrilli’s argument that college isn’t for everyone
The amazing turnaround in the lives of the children participating in the National Math and Science Initiative, as described by Dillon, stands as yet more evidence that schools and teachers can indeed make a difference in poor kids’ educational lives. Now, all we have to do is convince our educators that whether a kid wants to be a plumber or a lawyer, a soldier or a physicist, he or she should finish high school armed with enough knowledge to pursue any of those careers. (Flypaper)

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