Lisa Gibes is 50CAN’s vice president of strategy and external relations. She lives in San Francisco, CA.

Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

News & analysis:
Five More States Get NCLB Waivers

Five more states, including Virginia—a state that did not sign onto the Common Core State Standards Initiative—have received wiggle room from the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act. The other four states to receive waivers are Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota, and Utah. For those keeping score, that means 24 states have been approved, with 13 still waiting. Virginia’s waiver could put to rest the idea that states must adopt the common standards in mathematics and English/language arts in order to get NCLB flexibility from the U.S. Department of Education. Some conservative critics have said the federal government has overstepped its authority by requiring states to adopt college- and career-ready standards to get a waiver, which, they argued essentially forced states to embrace the common core. But the Obama administration has long insisted that the requirements merely call for states to set standards that will prepare students for college or the workforce. Those standards could be the common core, or they could be standards that the state’s university system agrees will prepare high school graduates for credit-bearing college coursework. Virginia’s waiver shows that second option can work. (Education Week – Politics K-12) 

Draft of Common Science Standards Draws Friendly Fire
The first public draft of common science standards is encountering some criticism from a prominent teachers’ organization and a Washington-based think tank, with the former complaining of a “lack of clarity and coherence” in the performance expectations, and the latter saying the draft serves up an overdose on scientific “practices” while omitting some key content knowledge that it argues needs to be explicitly included. In both instances, the feedback is essentially a “critical friend” approach, as the National Science Teachers Association is a partner involved in the development of the standards (and as such, has been privy to earlier, private drafts), and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is a strong advocate for producing common science standards. (Education Week – Curriculum Matters) 

LA Unified OKs $6.3B budget with layoffs, cuts
The Los Angeles Unified school board has approved a $6.3 billion budget for 2012-13 that calls for thousands of employee layoffs, a shortened school year and cuts to adult education and preschool programs. The budget proposal passed Thursday night with a 6-1 vote. District Superintendent John Deasy said at the board approval meeting that program cuts and layoffs would have been worst if employees had not agreed to take 10 furlough days, which will result in five fewer days of classroom instruction. The district had to cut $169 million due to a loss of state funding.
Deasy calls the budget “dramatically tight” but noted that some programs and furloughs could be restored if voters pass the tax initiatives on the November ballot that will raise more money for education. About 4,000 employees are slated to lose their jobs. (San Francisco Gate) 

School board approves nine new principals

The Prince George’s County school board approved nine principal appointments at its June 14 meeting. The board is expected to approve up to 17 more at its meeting today. Dennis W. Bilicic, the resident principal at Gaywood Elementary School in Seabrook, will take over at Baden Elementary School in Brandywine, as Baden’s current principal, Danielle Goddard, moves to lead Imagine Lincoln Public Charter School in Temple Hills. (The Gazette) 

New York:
Big school districts press for Common Core texts

Leaders of urban school systems, including New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C., announced a campaign Thursday to press for books and other educational materials that are aligned with the Common Core academic standards that have been adopted by all but four states. Josh Thomases, deputy chief academic officer in New York, said the urban districts would try to “shift the conversation in the publisher community from Texas and California defining the needs of the nation around what gets published.” Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of Great City Schools, an umbrella group of several dozen urban school districts, likened the campaign to a “purchasing pact.” “Our commitment is to stand together as a united front and to leverage our collective weight in the education marketplace to drive change and improve quality,” Casserly said. (Wall Street Journal) 

Rick Hess: Edu-Implications of Yesterday’s Supreme Court 7-2 Medicaid Ruling

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the bulk of President Obama’s health care reform. Amidst the drama, it was easy to overlook SCOTUS’s 7-2 ruling to strike down the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. Yet, that ruling had some important implications for education. The Court limited Uncle Sam’s ability to withhold aid from states which refuse to comply with new federal mandates. This has potentially big impacts on current and future education policymaking, on questions ranging from ESEA/NCLB to the Higher Education Act. In Ed Week’s “School Law” blog, Mark Walsh explained the issue succinctly: On the Medicaid issue, the court effectively ruled 7-2 that the Medicaid expansion violates the U.S. Constitution by threatening the states with the loss of their existing Medicaid funding if they decline to comply with the expansion. (Education Week – Straight Up) 

Sarah Butrymowicz: Is Online Teacher Training Good for Public Education?
Online teacher training involves much of the workload that traditional in-the-class instruction does: textbook lessons, classroom observations, student teaching. But the challenges of training successful teachers online were made clear to me during a recent online chat, when the professor in my “Foundations of Education” course slapped on heavy-duty headphones, peered into her computer screen and asked students what they liked or disliked about her internet course at National University. We were supposed to speak up but no one could figure out how to use the microphones. After a flurry of typed responses and awkward silences, Professor Lorraine Leavitt, who has taught online courses at San Diego-based National for seven years, filled the dead air time with a discussion of how hard it can be to produce great teachers from an online course. (Time) 



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