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

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

News & analysis

Study links academic setbacks to middle school transition
While policymakers and researchers alike have focused on improving students’ transition into high school, a new study of Florida schools suggests the critical transition problem may happen years before, when students enter middle school. The study, part of the Program on Education Policy and Governance Working Papers Series at Harvard University, found that students moving from grade 5 into middle school show a “sharp drop” in math and language arts achievement in the transition year that plagues them as far out as 10th grade, even risking thwarting their ability to graduate high school and go on to college. Students who make a school transition in 6th grade are absent more often than those who remain in one school through 8th grade, and they are more likely to drop out of school by 10th grade. (EdWeek)

States’ ESEA waiver bids murky on teacher evaluations
Only five of the 11 states that have applied for ESEA waivers have a firm mechanism in place for implementing teacher-evaluation systems statewide, according to a review of the plans. Those guidelines, and systems for helping districts adopt them in a timely fashion, are the core teacher-quality requirement in the U.S. Department of Education’s application. This isn’t a dealbreaker for getting a waiver. At least in theory, states only need to have plans in place regarding evaluations. But plans and requirements are, obviously, two very different things—just ask Hawaii, which won a Race to the Top bid, but hasn’t come to agreement with its teachers’ union on evaluations. (Teacher Beat)

Georgia: New system to grade teachers
For the first time, student test scores soon will factor into evaluations for teachers and principals in many school systems across Georgia under a new statewide program. The state will roll out a pilot of its new educator evaluation system in January, starting with the 26 school districts – including Richmond County – that signed on to Georgia’s application for the federal “Race to the Top” grant competition. The state won $400 million last year to launch a host of programs aimed at improving student achievement and turning around low-performing schools. (News-Times)

Illinois: Budget deal averts closures, layoffs, Quinn says
Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative leaders agreed Monday to cancel plans for closing state facilities and cutting nearly 2,000 jobs by taking money from elsewhere in the state budget, including about $100 million originally earmarked for education. (Daily Herald)

Louisiana: Teach for America has become embedded in New Orleans education
At every corner of the city’s education establishment, you’ll find alumni of Teach for America, a group founded two decades ago to channel some of the country’s most promising and ambitious college students into underserved urban classrooms. As with so much else that defines the post-Katrina school system, the group’s ubiquity in New Orleans sets the city apart, but also places it squarely at the center of national debate over the future of the teaching profession. With its profile in Louisiana growing, the same questions that have dogged the group since its founding are echoing loudly around the state. Do its members ever stick around past their two-year teaching commitment? Are they really prepared for the grinding challenges of an inner-city classroom? And what makes TFA alumni, with only two or three years teaching experience and no formal degree in education, fit for the most important education jobs in the state? (Times-Picayune)

New York: CUNY Board approves tuition hike
With a raucous protest outside summoning all of the volume, but not the violence, of a similar clash last week, City University trustees approved on Monday a series of $300 annual tuition increases that will extend through 2015. The first of those increases, to $5,130, already took effect this year. The board’s 15-to-1 vote will raise tuition for undergraduates at CUNY’s four-year colleges to $6,330 in 2015-16, with about $500 a year in additional fees. The State University system’s trustees recently approved a set of parallel increases. (New York Times)

New York: NYPD release quarterly report on school arrests
This is the first time the Police Department has complied with the Student Safety Act, a law passed by the City Council last year that requires the Police Department and Department of Education to issue quarterly reports on student arrests, summonses, and suspensions. The council passed the law after expressing concerns that police officers were moving too aggressively to arrest students. The Police Department released the figures without commenting on them to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which then released them to reporters. Though black students make up roughly a third of the student body in city schools, they represent 68 percent of students who were arrested, the figures show. The Police Department does not collect racial data on summonses. For both arrests and summonses, the vast majority of students who received them were male. (School Book)

Rhode Island: Mayor Taveras visits Achievement First school
Mayor Taveras on Monday visited the Achievement First Amistad Academy in New Haven, Connecticut to meet with students, teachers and school administrators and personally view Achievement First’s nationally lauded public charter schools. “Today’s inspiring visit to Amistad Academy demonstrated for me the need to increase the number of high-performing, public charter schools in Providence as part of our work to raise the bar on education for every child in our city, and reaffirmed my deep commitment to bringing Achievement First’s successful model to Providence ,” said Mayor Taveras. (GoLocalProv)


Dana Goldstein: Thoughts on history, ideology, and Kevin Carey’s profile of Diane Ravitch
In short, I believe that to understand Ravitch, you must understand her as a certain sort of lifelong counterintutive liberal, not all that constitutionally different, come to think of it, from the editors who established the tone of Slate and The New Republic in the 1980s and 1990s. Those magazines moved left when confronted with the the know-nothing conservatism of the post 9/11 era, and Ravitch has moved left, too, though she has applied her new beliefs to a subject — school reform — that many liberals continue to see through the lens of the bipartisan consensus that developed around “A Nation at Risk.” Whether that center will hold over the coming years depends, I think, on how history evaluates the education reform records of Bloomberg, Klein, Rhee and their allies. Right now, I think we’re lacking the perspective and longterm data we need to truly make that assessment, but as Kevin points out, Ravitch has put herself out in front of the debate by essentially predicting, before all the evidence is in, that this movement has failed. (Dana Goldstein)


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