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:
Chicago Strike Puts Spotlight on Teacher-Evaluation Reform

While wages and benefits have played important roles in the ongoing dispute between the Chicago Teachers Union and the city’s school district, the issue about which the two sides have remained most entrenched in their opposing views is teacher evaluation. In that respect, the flare up in Chicago is, in many ways, reflective of broader tensions about changes to evaluation policies being rolled out across the country. (Education Week) 

Striking Chicago Teachers And City Still ‘Miles Apart’ On Contract
As a strike by Chicago’s schoolteachers enters a third day, the president of their union says negotiators are still “miles apart” from an agreement to get 350,000 students back in the classroom, the Chicago Tribune reports. The talks were set to resume Wednesday morning, but Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said there had been only “centimeters” of progress and that the union and city were still “kilometers apart.” Switching from the metric analogy, she acknowledged that there had been some progress, but that the two sides were still “miles apart.” (NPR) 

Paul Ryan Budget Proposal To Cut Federal Spending Could Pull Millions From Some School Districts
A New America Foundation analysis has calculated that under Paul Ryan’s budget proposal to cut federal spending by 20percent, 77 percent of the 1,500-plus school districts that rely on federal funds for 20 percent or more of their annual revenue could wind up losing millions. The districts most at risk of losing more than 10 percent of their annual revenue are smaller ones — enrolling between 100 and 2,000 students — that rely heavily on the federal government for education funding. (Huffington Post) 

Rhode Island:
Schools given the chance to become charters

The Providence schools superintendent and the president of the teachers’ union are about to embark on a groundbreaking experiment that will change the way students learn in some of the city’s 42 public schools. Every school is being asked to become a district-operated charter school. In a system where more than half of the schools are identified as chronically low-performing, charter school status would enable schools to tap into federal money and have greater flexibility over everything from the length of the school day to the way the school day is divided. Susan Lusi, together with Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith and School Board President Keith Oliveira, are promoting the idea of district-operated charters, which would give principals greater say over what happens in the classroom without sacrificing union protection for teachers. (Providence Journal) 

Recounts sought in nine races
Now that the voting is over in primary races across the state, the political analysis, the finger-pointing and the demands for recounts have begun. In the aftermath of Tuesday’s primaries, the apparent losers of nine tight state and local races asked the state Board of Elections for recounts, including Carlos E. Tobon, the 30-year-old finan- cial adviser who lost to longtime Rep. William San Bento, of Pawtucket, by three votes. The divide between Tobon and San Bento was 543 to 540, and there are still three unopened “provisional ballots” cast by voters — who have since been deemed eligible to vote — that have not been counted. Lawyers are researching who would decide the winner if there is a tie, with the Pawtucket Democratic city committee emerging as the likely arbiter. Recounts were also requested Wednesday by Democrat Jon Restivo in House District 40 in Foster, by Republican Sharon Gamba in House District 32 in North Kingstown, by Democrat Louis Azar in Senate District 17 in Lincoln, and by Democrat Timothy Chapman, who placed second in a three-way Democratic primary for the House District 65 seat in East Providence, among others. (Providence Journal) 

View Points:
Nicholas D. Kristof: Students Over Unions

The most important civil rights battleground today is education, and, likewise, the most crucial struggle against poverty is the one fought in schools. Inner-city urban schools today echo the “separate but equal” system of the early 1950s. In the Chicago Public Schools where teachers are now on strike, 86 percent of children are black or Hispanic, and 87 percent come from low-income families. Those students often don’t get a solid education, any more than blacks received in their separate schools before Brown v. Board of Education. Chicago’s high school graduation rates have been improving but are still about 60 percent. Just 3 percent of black boys in the ninth grade end up earning a degree from a four-year college, according to the Consortium on Chicago School Research. America’s education system has become less a ladder of opportunity than a structure to transmit inequity from one generation to the next. That’s why school reform is so critical. This is an issue of equality, opportunity and national conscience. It’s not just about education, but about poverty and justice — and while the Chicago teachers’ union claims to be striking on behalf of students, I don’t see it. (New York Times) 


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