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:
Teachers Unions Give Broadly

What do the American Ireland Fund, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network have in common? All have received some of the more than $330 million that America’s two largest teachers unions spent in the past five years on outside causes, political campaigns, lobbying and issue education.The contributions—totaling more than $200 million from the National Education Association and more than $130 million from the American Federation of Teachers—were disclosed in annual reports that unions file with the Labor Department detailing their spending on political activities and advocacy work, as well as separate political-action-committee filings. (Wall Street Journal) 

ED: Waivers Won’t Get States Out of Reporting
Just because 26 states have been granted waivers from certain accountability requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act doesn’t mean they will be able to avoid the reams of student achievement data reporting required by the law. The Education Department is in the process of changing its requirements for the federal EDFacts system, which consolidates data from various education programs including Title I grants to districts and the School Improvement Grant program, to adapt to the varied state accountability systems which will be created by the waivers, Ross C. Santy, the Education Department’s deputy assistant secretary for data and information, told state and district officials at the annual STATS-DC conference here Wednesday afternoon. To the obvious surprise of many of the officials who packed the room, Mr. Santy noted, “There are no exceptions to the reporting rules in the statute; the components of [adequate yearly progress] are still required.” (Education Week – Politics K-12) 

New Jersey:
Opinion: Richard Bozza: N.J. education officials continue work on tenure, charter schools

School’s out, but that doesn’t mean chief education officers are taking a vacation this summer from key issues that affect education in New Jersey. A look back at the 2011-12 school year shows plenty of controversy that’s sure to carry over into the coming school year. Here’s what we need to consider about tenure, charter schools, teacher and principal assessment and core curriculum standards. Basing tenure on performance. Both houses of the New Jersey Legislature unanimously approved legislation sponsored by state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) requiring teachers and principals to “ace” an annual test in order to qualify for tenure. Under the bill, teachers would get tenure after three years of “highly effective” or “effective” teaching. Teachers who receive a “partially effective” rating, or an “ineffective” one, would lose their tenure if they didn’t improve the following year. Gov. Christie has not decided whether he will sign the legislation, which he believes may not go far enough. ( 

New York:
Report: City Students Likely to Improve on State Tests

Typical New York City public-school students who were third-graders in 2005 did as well or better by state proficiency standards when they finished sixth grade, according to a report by the city’s Independent Budget Office. Using individual student data, the report released Thursday took an unusual look at city students’ test scores, which are combed over every year by the Bloomberg administration. Usually, however, test scores for a grade are compared with those of different students in the same grade the previous year. The approach in the IBO report allowed researchers to say whether students were making progress based on the state’s standards for proficiency. The standards, however, have changed over the years and critics say the bar for “proficiency” changes from year to year, and the tests measure how students match up to state expectations for their grade — not necessarily their personal academic improvement. (Wall Street Journal) 

North Carolina:
North Carolina Considers Longer Days With Shorter Years

North Carolina’s schools may see some restructuring in their academic calendars this school year if new legislation passed by the General Assembly is signed into law by the governor.The new legislation would give districts the latitude to decide whether to meet minimum day requirements for the year or minimum hour requirements in the day, rather than both, as mandated before. This means, North Carolina schools could keep students in school for longer days but shorter years, if they so desired. There are also provisions to provide the state’s 115 districts with more flexibility on when they start and end the year.
The state’s consideration of providing districts more freedom with their calendar comes as conversations continue on expanded learning time and how the strategy for school turnaround could best be implemented to improve student outcomes. (Education Week – Beyond Schools) 

Analysis Reveals Firm’s Involvement in Phila. School Reform

The Boston Consulting Group has identified up to 60 Philadelphia school buildings as potential candidates for closure and helped line up private vendors willing to replace the school district’s unionized blue-collar workforce at a $50 million discount. These steps are just part of the blue-chip consulting firm’s far-ranging behind-the-scenes effort to help the beleaguered city school system rethink how it does business. The broad scope of BCG’s efforts this spring are detailed in previously unreleased “statements of work” obtained by theNotebook/NewsWorks under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law. (Education Week)



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