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

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

News & analysis

At top public schools, the arts replace recess
In the art room at P.S. 188 in Bayside, Queens, a group of 9-year-olds was busily putting the finishing touches on an enormous poster for the fourth-grade play. Its topic: saving the Earth. Down the hall in the music room, beneath portraits of Mozart and Bach, classmates were breaking into a spirited rendition of “Hear Those Bells” on fluorescent-colored recorders. Cheerleaders in the gym were perfecting a victory chant, jumping, twisting and stamping their feet. And in the library, children in a Suzuki violin class were toiling away at “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” while their music teacher, a professional violist from Iceland, coached them “to stand straight and tall.” All of this concentrated learning — activities parents commonly think of as enrichment — was taking place not after school hours, but during recess, the once-unstructured midday break that for some elementary school students is slowly being squeezed out of the day. (New York Times)

New York: Schools’ Ex-CFO is Fined
The former chief financial officer for New York City schools has been fined $6,500 for using his city email account to line up his next job and manage his personal real-estate investments. An investigation earlier this year found that George Raab, who was responsible for handling the department’s roughly $20 billion operating budget, had started planning his “exit strategy” from the Department of Education less than a year after he started in October 2008. Several consultants working for the DOE helped Mr. Raab set up a department at Guggenheim Securities LLC, a registered broker-dealer, while billing the DOE for their time, according to the Special Commissioner of Investigation for schools. The consultants had previously worked with Mr. Raab at Bear Stearns Cos., according to the SCI report. (WSJ)

Minnesota: Minn. Among states with least prescriptive anti-bullying laws
Minnesota is given low marks in a U.S. Education Department analysis and report on bullying laws. The report puts Minnesota in a group of ten states with the least prescriptive laws. Just 37 words long, Minnesota’s law only requires local districts to enact a bullying prevention policy; it does not outline what those policies should include, except to include a mandate that the local policies also address online, or cyber-bullying. In 2010, the federal department issued guidance that outlined specific components that officials considered essential to an effective anti-bullying law. Those components include requirements that districts develop local bullying policies; that laws outline legal remedies and require schools to train staff how to address bullying. (MPR)

Ohio: State schools chief wants to raise bar
If more than half of Ohio’s school districts are rated excellent or better on the latest school report cards, why do 41 percent of high-school graduates need to take remedial classes when they get to college? State Superintendent Stan W. Heffner says state expectations for Ohio students fall far short. Schools might be doing a good job of meeting minimum standards set by the state, but those goals are no longer enough to ensure that graduates are ready for college or work. “Good enough is no longer good enough,” Heffner told charter-school teachers and administrators gathered yesterday in Columbus for an annual conference hosted by the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools. (Dispatch)

Pennsylvania: School voucher proponents push for House passage
A bill to provide vouchers for private schools and to expand tax credits for businesses that contribute to scholarship programs was approved by the Senate in October. The House of Representatives has yet to consider the legislation, with discussions amongst the majority Republican caucus continuing this week. Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver, who has put forward a voucher proposal, said he’s “still very optimistic” that the House of Representatives could vote on the issue during the half-dozen remaining session days. He and Rep. Tom Quigley, R-Montgomery, said their caucus has been considering potential tweaks, such as altering which schools’ students would be eligible or re-evaluating the program after five years. (Post-Gazette)

Rhode Island: Pawtucket board approves site for charter school
A proposal to turn a former Pawtucket industrial building into a charter school for middle-school students has been approved. The Pawtucket Times reports the Pawtucket Zoning Board of Appeals voted on Monday to allow the former site of the Red Farms Studios greeting card company to be used as a school. The vote clears the way for the operators of the Blackstone Valley Prep charter school to renovate the building into a school for 320 middle school students. The middle school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013. (ProJo)
 

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