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

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

News & analysis

Longevity up in U.S., but education creates disparity, study says
Americans are living longer, but the gains in life span are accruing disproportionately among the better educated, according to a new report by researchers from the University of Wisconsin. Researchers have long known of the correlation between education and length of life, but the report provides a detailed picture of what that link looks like across the country’s more than 3,000 counties. The study, which was financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, uses government data to rank each American county by health indicators like obesity, smoking, drinking, physical inactivity and premature death. It even considers factors like the density of fast-food restaurants in a county. Its findings show that the link between college education and longevity has grown stronger over time. Premature death rates differed sharply across counties, and a lack of college education accounted for about 35 percent of that variation from 2006 to 2008, the most recent years available, said Bridget Booske Catlin, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, who directed the study. That was up from 30 percent over an equivalent period seven years earlier. (New York Times)

Pennsylvania: Officials okay nearly 200 school districts to raise taxes
State education officials have given nearly 200 school districts permission to raise property taxes without seeking approval from voters. Of the 199 school districts that asked to be exempt from a 2006 law that requires a voter referendum to raise taxes above a rate set by the state, 35 are in Western Pennsylvania, according to the Department of Education. The Taxpayer Relief Act gives districts two options to increase tax rates above the prescribed index. They can either seek an exception from the state or place a referendum on the ballot for voters to consider. Ligonier Valley School Board President James Cunkelman said the exemption was requested because of the uncertainty in state funding. “We’re in the same position as every other district,” Cunkelman said. “We don’t know what we’ll be getting, but we do know that we have obligations that we have to meet. We’d like to not have to raise taxes at all, but that might not be an option.” Of the 228 districts that applied for exemptions last year, 135 raised taxes. The previous year, 133 districts applied and 84 raised taxes. (Penn Live)

Minnesota: Lawmakers finalize teacher layoff bill
Minnesota lawmakers have finalized a bill that would let schools lay off teachers based on their performance in the classroom. A conference committee finalized the bill Monday and sent it back to the Senate and House for final votes. However, Gov. Mark Dayton said last week he would not sign the bill. Current law says that schools must only consider teacher seniority when making layoffs, unless districts negotiate different local policies. Under the bill, schools will be able to weigh teacher evaluations before seniority in layoff decisions. (Brainerd Dispatch)

North Carolina: School superintendents discuss classroom cuts
Local public school superintendents from around North Carolina are being invited to talk about how reduced education funding affected classrooms this year. The state Board of Education is holding a special meeting Tuesday to give local school superintendents a platform to describe how they coped with this year’s budget cuts and further cuts planned for next year. The state school board’s regular meeting is Wednesday and Thursday. The General Assembly’s Republican leaders and a conservative interest group have pointed out that state funding for teaching jobs increased for the current academic year. (News Record)

New York: Young, in school and employed
For generations young New Yorkers have struggled with a juggling act: holding down jobs while trying to complete high school. Emily Berl, a photographer based in Brooklyn, focused her lens on several teenagers leading such double lives. Ms. Berl met teenagers with parents who do not have jobs, and others who support families back in their native countries. One of those she followed was Osama Al-Mulaiki, 17, who opens a deli in Brooklyn before sunrise and returns after school to work into the night. (New York Times)


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