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

I’m the new Assistant to the President at 50CAN and will now be posting daily clips of what educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are saying. Enjoy!

News & analysis:
Justices Decline Review of K-12 Race Case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to step back into the issue of race-conscious actions by school districts to promote student racial diversity. The justices refused without comment to take up the appeal of a federal appeals court ruling that upheld a Pennsylvania school district’s attendance-zone plan that took neighborhood racial demographics into account but did not assign individual students based on race. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, in Philadelphia, in December unanimously upheld the assignment plan adopted in 2009 by the Lower Merion school district. The plan for the district’s six elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools was related to a capital program to modernize the schools and achieve goals such as equalizing the enrollments of the high schools and keep the use of bus transportation to a minimum. (Education Week – School Law) 

Teachers’ Union to Open Lesson-Sharing Web Site
Teachers seeking lesson plans on anything from fractions and multiplication tables to Shakespeare or the Civil War can take to the Internet for a boundless array of work sheets, reading lists and classroom tips, available free or for a fee. Now the American Federation of Teachers is forming a partnership with TSL Education, the British publisher of the weekly Times Educational Supplement, to create a Web site where teachers can share curriculum materials with one another. In a somewhat belated entry to a market overflowing with online educational advice, the teachers’ union believes that its site, to be called, will become a go-to destination because of the union’s imprimatur. (New York Times) 

Map of the Week: Four-day school week’s hidden cost
With schools across Minnesota feeling an increasing budget pinch, several districts have opted for or considered moving to a four-day school week to save money. While it’s debatable whether or not schools see a significant savings going to four-day weeks, we know this move winds up costing most parents more in childcare costs. Over time, a significant economic and education equity narrative also emerges. A perfect example of this narrative can be found in the Sleepy Eye School District. In April, Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Commissioner Brenda Cassellius rejected the district’s four-day request due to concerns about achievement goals, student time out-of-school, staff time, and evaluation. Cassellius also pointed to the impact of a four-day week on student nutrition, specifically regarding the free or reduced lunch program. This decision affirms the realization that implementing four-day school weeks holds ramifications beyond the classroom. (Twin Cities Daily Planet) 

New Jersey:
Tighter teacher tenure measure advances
The idea of making tenure tougher for New Jersey teachers to get and easier to lose took a big leap forward Monday when a state Senate committee advanced a bill and Gov. Christie endorsed it. Bills on the issue have won committee approval in both chambers of the state’s Legislature in the last five days, with the support of the state’s education-advocacy cottage industry. The Senate bill was put together by Teresa Ruiz (D., Essex), who worked out the details with groups representing a variety of interests. A stream of those advocates, including officials of two teacher unions and a socially conservative group, urged passage of the bill in testimony before the budget committee, which approved it unanimously. (Philadelphia Inquirer) 

New York:
Cuomo Tries to Save Teacher Rankings Deal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a last-minute bid late Monday just before midnight to salvage a possible deal with teachers unions and lawmakers to limit the public disclosure of teacher evaluations. The governor introduced a bill that would let parents view records about the performance of their children’s currently assigned teachers. The proposal would let the general public view overall school performance data, but it would be scrubbed of teachers’ names. Mr. Cuomo’s proposal would let the public see how schools are doing across various cross-sections: by grade, poverty level, subject and other characteristics. School districts would also have to disclose how many teachers and principals moved between levels from one year to the next. (Wall Street Journal) 

North Carolina:
Court ends charter schools’ lawsuit against CMS
Mecklenburg County commissioners were notified Monday that the N.C. Supreme Court has ended a three-year legal battle over whether charter schools can receive public construction money. County Attorney Marvin Bethune told commissioners in an email that the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a lower court’s August decision that charter schools cannot receive the funds. Jeanette Doran, executive director and general counsel of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, said she was “disappointed, but not surprised” by the outcome of the suit, which was filed in September 2009. The institute filed the suit on behalf of nine North Carolina charter schools, including Sugar Creek Charter School in Charlotte, and dozens of charter school parents and students. Charter schools – independent public schools licensed by the state – receive per-student allocations from the state and local school districts, but they cannot request public dollars for capital construction projects. (Charlotte Observer)

Gary Huggins: Untapped strategy for ed reform: summer learning

An important strategy that would help us make the most of our investments in education remains largely untapped — summer learning. And the absence of summer learning from the reform conversation ignores a significant body of research that documents the critical losses students face when the school year ends. Most youth lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math computational skills over the summer. Students from low-income families fall even further behind, losing more than two months in reading achievement while their middle-income peers maintain or make slight gains. The effects of this “summer slide” are cumulative and lead to a widening achievement gap, placement in less rigorous high school courses, higher high school dropout rates, and lower college attendance. In fact, summer learning loss accounts for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading by the ninth grade, according to a Johns Hopkins University study. (The Answer Sheet blog) 


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