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:
States With Education Waivers Offer Varied Goals

In excusing more than half of the states from meeting crucial requirements of the No Child Left Behind education law, the Obama administration sought to require states to develop more realistic tools to improve and measure the progress of schools and teachers. A report being issued on Friday by the liberal Center for American Progress shows that while some states have proposed reforms aimed at spurring schools and teachers to improve student performance, others may be introducing weaker measures of accountability. “The increased flexibility of the waivers means that some states will experiment and move ahead,” said Jeremy Ayers, associate director of federal education programs at the organization, “while others may backtrack.” (New York Times) 

Spellings, Alexander Debate Future of No Child Left Behind Act
Back in 2001, when Congress was first considering the No Child Left Behind Act, then-U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., were on more-or-less the same page when it came to a strong, federally driven accountability system. But since then, Alexander (who served as President George H.W. Bush’s secretary of education) and the Republican party have been moving farther and farther away from the idea of a federally-driven accountability system. Spellings, meanwhile, has stayed true to the law she once compared to “Ivory Soap—it’s 99.9 percent pure.” Can these two find common ground? That’s what the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank in Washington with long-standing relationships with both Alexander and Spellings, tried to figure out today. If you’re an edu-politics nerd, you should absolutely check out the video here. (Education Week – Politics K-12) 

Hechinger Report: Mixed Neighborhoods Could Save America’s Schools
During the half century that Theresa Cartwright has lived in the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta, she has twice seen the area’s schools undergo a complete transformation. In the 1960s, black families like her own moved to the neighborhood’s Craftsman bungalows and a new public housing project, driving out their white, middle-class neighbors. When she was in second grade, her elementary school was all black. By the time she was in sixth grade, the projects were so violent they had earned the name “Little Vietnam” and her mother refused to let her go to the failing local middle school.
Instead, she signed up to be bused to the white, upper-class neighborhood of Buckhead, in North Atlanta, where her mother knew the schools would be better. (Huffington Post) 

Philadelphia School Reform Commission approves $300,000 salary for Hite

New Philadelphia School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. will be paid $300,000 annually under a five-year contract endorsed Wednesday by the School Reform Commission. It’s a big salary, but about $50,000 less than his predecessor, the controversial Arlene C. Ackerman, was paid. “We were very mindful of the history of the School District,” SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos said at a special meeting. “This agreement is a better deal economically for the taxpayers of Philadelphia than the previous two deals.” Ramos called Hite “an eminent educator” and said his hiring would help stabilize the district, which is dealing with a fiscal crisis and preparing to overhaul the way its 200-plus schools are managed and run. (Philadelphia Inquirer) 

New York’s Charter Schools Get an A+

During the eight years I served as chancellor of New York City’s public schools, the naysayers and the apologists for the status quo kept telling me “we’ll never fix education in America until we fix poverty.” I always thought they had it backward, that “we’ll never fix poverty until we fix education.” Let me be clear. Poverty matters: Its debilitating psychological and physical effects often make it much harder to successfully educate kids who grow up in challenged environments. (Wall Street Journal) 


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