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

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

News & analysis

Backer of common core school curriculum is chosen to lead college board
David Coleman, an architect of the common core curriculum standards that are being adopted in nearly all 50 states, will become the president of the College Board, starting in October. The College Board, a membership organization of high schools and colleges that administers the SAT, the Advanced Placement program and other standardized tests, helped design the standards — an outline of what students should learn in English and math from kindergarten through high school — meant to ensure that all high school graduates are prepared for college. Mr. Coleman’s new position will involve a continued focus on college readiness. “We have a crisis in education, and over the next few years, the main thing on the College Board’s agenda is to deliver its social mission,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. “The College Board is not just about measuring and testing, but designing high-quality curriculum.” For the last year, Mr. Coleman, 42, a former Rhodes scholar and McKinsey & Company consultant, has been barnstorming the nation, speaking to thousands of teachers to explain and promote the standards. He will succeed Gaston Caperton, who last year announced his plans to step down. Mr. Caperton came under some criticism for his salary of $1.3 million; Mr. Coleman will earn a base of $550,000, with total compensation of nearly $750,000. (New York Times)

Sleep timing a weighty problem for students
Anyone who has struggled to get a teenager out of bed on Monday morning—or wake themselves—knows how difficult it can be to make the transition from lazy weekend days to the work-and-school week. Now a new study from the University of Munich suggests that the often-sharp contrast between weekday and weekend sleep habits may also contribute to obesity. It’s pretty well documented that sleep improves academic achievement and athletic performance—and that most students today just aren’t getting enough. Researchers led by Till Roenneberg of the University of Munich analyzed sleep logs of more than 65,000 Europeans ages 10 to 80. They found that weekly average sleep plummets between ages 10 and 20, largely because of increased social and work obligations. More than 80 percent, the researchers found, used an alarm clock to wake during the week, indicating that they had to wake earlier than their natural sleep cycle, and those with a later circadian rhythm, such as teenagers, had even more disrupted sleep patterns. (Inside School Research)

Rhode Island: State honors Fort Barton School for NECAP scores
The Rhode Island Department of Education and local legislators honored Fort Barton School recently for its high test scores on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP). According to Principal Suzette Wordell, State Sen. Walter Felag  (D-Bristol, Tiverton, Warren) and Rep. John Edwards (D-Tiverton, Portsmouth), presented a proclamation to the school last Friday, May 11 from the General Assembly. Additionally, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist recognized the school during her May 1 State of Education address. Wordell said Fort Barton reportedly improved their NECAP reading scores by 15 percent over the past three years to 97 percent proficient, which is the top reading score in the state for elementary schools. Overall, Fort Barton ranked second in the state in combined reading and math scores.  Last month, education reform advocacy group Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now ranked Fort Barton second in the state for elementary school student performance. (Tiverton-Little Compton Patch)

New York: Legal ruling favors teachers’ union
In the news, the United Federation of Teachers had a good day on Monday when it received favorable legal rulings in two cases affecting its members. As Gotham Schools reports, the Public Employment Relations Board, the arbiter of matters involving public employees in the state, ruled that the city must use a mediator to continue negotiations with the union over establishing a teacher evaluation system at 33 troubled schools — even though the city has moved beyond the plan that would have required such an agreement. The board also weighed in on a long-simmering matter involving the unionization of teachers at the city’s first charter schools, the Sisulu-Walker Charter School in Harlem. The board certified the United Federation of Teachers as the bargaining agent at the schools. (School Book)

New York: Bronx borough president calls for changes in elite high schools admissions
Two of the city’s eight elite high schools are in the Bronx, but most of the schools’ students are from everywhere else. For years, the Bronx High School of Science and the High School of American Studies at Lehman College have drawn most of their students from the other four boroughs, especially Manhattan and Queens, which send many students to the city’s specialized high schools. The Bronx, which has the highest percentage of poor households, sends the fewest, a fact that has prompted Borough President Rubin Diaz Jr. to propose an overhaul of the schools’ admissions. Mr. Diaz believes that basing admissions solely on the results of one test taken by thousands of eighth graders each year has excluded too many Bronx children who are academically gifted, but whose families cannot afford the private test prep classes that wealthier families pay for. In a report that Mr. Diaz is releasing on Wednesday, he recommends that children performing in the top five percent of each Bronx middle school automatically be enrolled in one of the specialized high schools, and that the city open more of these elite high schools in his borough. And instead of basing admissions decisions solely on students’ test scores, the schools should consider applicants’ grade-point averages and personal essays, the report recommends. “We have some of the brightest middle school students in the City, if not the nation, right here in the Bronx. It is time for the Department of Education to provide the Bronx with the proper resources to make sure that their minds can thrive,” Mr. Diaz said in a statement. (School Book)


Sara Mead interviews Ben Miller, Policy Advisor, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, U.S. Department of Ed.
Concerns about the equity, quality and outcomes of K-12 education have long been a feature of education policy debates, but analysts and policymakers have recently come to realize that our higher education system also suffers from poor outcomes (fewer than 60 percent of new students graduate college within 6 years), huge disparities in quality across institutions, and rapidly increasing college costs. As a result, our international lead in higher education attainment, which powered economic growth in the later half of the 20th century, has disappeared. And if the United States is to meet President Obama’s goal of once again being first in the world in college completion, something’s got to change. As a Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Education, Ben Miller helps shape the administration’s efforts to improve college quality and access, and also advises on elementary and secondary education issues. I first met Miller when he was a recent college graduate working at the New America Foundation, and have been excited to see the progress of his career since then. (Policy Notebook)

Panel: Parental involvement is key to success of young men of color
In front of a modest but engaged audience at a panel discussion about raising young men of color, Sheron Smith, mother of the actor and rapper Mos Def, delivered a message that received an enthusiastic response. “When you have a child, it’s not about you anymore,” she said to applause. A few minutes later, Brenda Greene, a professor of English at Medgar Evers College and the mother of the rapper Talib Kweli, agreed that parents play a crucial role in their child’s upbringing. “We have to take that responsibility or no one else will,” she said. The importance of parental involvement in all aspects of a child’s life was a sentiment repeated throughout the panel, which was held at the Fashion Industries High School in Chelsea on Saturday afternoon. The discussion was the closing event of Eagle Week, a weeklong series of activities organized by the Eagle Academy Foundation to inspire and educate young men of color. Dr. Greene drew upon her personal experience as a parent, saying that when her sons were growing up, she was heavily involved in their education, attending PTA meetings, monitoring their homework and progress in class, and building relationships with teachers. Even now, she said, although her sons are grown, she attends parent-teacher conferences for her grandchildren. “Whether mothers are raising their sons alone or with their father, they need to bring the village together and put their kids first,” Dr. Greene said. “You can’t let your kids go.” Cassandra Mack, chief executive of Strategies for Empowered Living, agreed, saying parents needed to shift from seeing their child “as a challenge, to one as a priority.” Another panel member, Alan Farrell, who works on the city’s Fatherhood Initiative, summed up the sentiment that most panelists expressed. “One of the take-aways is advocacy,” he said. “And advocacy means we have got to show up.” (School Book)


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