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:
Bill Gates Talks Teacher Evaluation, Common Core at ECS Forum

Among the elements of a good teacher evaluation system, some of the “most surprising” results can come from what students say about their teachers on surveys, said Microsoft founder Bill Gates, speaking at the Education Commission of the States’ National Forum on Education Policy in Atlanta today. Delivering the keynote speech on support for high-quality teachers, Gates said, “Asking the students the right question is very, very diagnostic.” He cited surveys as among the three components that can go into a good teacher evaluation system, along with supervisor observations and test scores. And he stressed the importance of identifying and replicating the practices of excellent teaching, saying that if he had to pick one thing that would give the United States the best chance of a strong future, “I would pick great teaching in America’s classroom.” (Education Week – State Ed Watch) 

ACLU alleges Michigan school district violated students’ ‘right to learn to read’
In the first case of its kind, the American Civil Liberties Union is charging that the state of Michigan and a Detroit area school district have failed to adequately educate children, violating their “right to learn to read” under an obscure state law. The ACLU class-action lawsuit, to be filed Thursday, says hundreds of students in the Highland Park School District are functionally illiterate. “None of those adults charged with the care of these children . . . have done their jobs,” said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan. “The Highland Park School District is among the lowest-performing districts in the nation, graduating class after class of children who are not literate. Our lawsuit . . . says that if education is to mean anything, it means that children have a right to learn to read.” (Washington Post) 

Percent of young adults with college degree rises slightly, remains far below Obama’s goal
The percentage of young adults earning a college degree has increased slightly but still remains far below the level needed to reach the president’s goal of having the U.S. rank first worldwide in college graduates. Rising tuition costs is one of several reasons why more young adults aren’t graduating from college. (Washington Post) 

Md. school test scores edge up in Montgomery, Prince George’s schools

State test scores for elementary and middle schools in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties continued to inch — or, in some cases, centimeter — upward this year as most schools in Maryland reached new academic targets. A Washington Post analysis of test data that state officials released Tuesday shows that nearly 91 percent of Montgomery elementary students passed the 2012 Maryland School Assessments in reading and math. That was up about two percentage points from 2008, and four-tenths of a percentage point higher than last year. In middle schools, the passing rate for the county was about 85 percent, up about three points over four years, and three-tenths of a percent from last year. (Washington Post) 

New Jersey:
PolitiFact N.J.: Chris Christie says under new bill, teachers lose tenure after two negative evaluations

Gov. Chris Christie, in a speech touting his ability to broker compromise, cited teacher tenure reform as one example of New Jersey lawmakers working in a bipartisan way.
Christie said after the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, spent two years campaigning against his tenure reform proposals, they “came to the table. And we negotiated New Jersey’s tenure law, which is over 100 years old, the oldest tenure law for K to 12 education in the country, has now been reformed to say that if teachers get two years of partially effective or ineffective ratings they lose tenure,” Christie said during a July 9 speech at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. (

New York:
City Retreats On School Closure Plan

After a six-month battle to purge teachers and administrators at 24 low-performing schools, the Bloomberg administration retreated Wednesday and said the schools should plan for the return of the same employees in the fall. The city still hopes to win an appeal that would allow it to close and immediately reopen the schools with largely new staffs. The schools had been placed on a state list of failing schools that made them eligible to compete for $58 million in federal grants. But the Department of Education lost several legal rounds with teachers and principals unions, which called the closings an end-run around contractual seniority protections. The latest blow came Tuesday when a state judge denied the city’s request to allow it to move forward with the plan pending the outcome of the legal case. (Wall Street Journal) 


Recent Posts

More posts from Today in Education

See All Posts