Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

News and Analysis
Betsy DeVos’s comments on discrimination drew headlines, but her stance isn’t unique among private school choice backers
Betsy DeVos drew incredulous reactions this week when she said she would let states decide on the rules for voucher programs vying for federal money — including whether schools that discriminate against LGBT students could participate.​ ​But the education secretary’s position isn’t out of the mainstream among voucher supporters, or out of step with how private school choice programs work across the country.​ (Chalkbeat)​

Hall Passes, Buses, Lunch Duty: What If The Principal Could Focus On Achievement?
Pankaj Rayamajhi hears something. Senioritis? The director of school logistics and operations has a kind of sixth sense about that unique Spring affliction as he roams the hallways of Columbia Heights Education Campus, a public middle and high school in Washington, D.C. Rayamajhi quickens his pace, walkie-talkie in hand, and turns a corner into a stairwell. Yep, senioritis. When they see him, the small group of students loitering on the stairs scatters back to class. (NPR)

Free Play or Flashcards? New Study Nods to More Rigorous Preschools
A group of students at Woodside Community School in Queens peered up at their teacher one morning this month, as she used an overhead projector to display a shape. It looked like a basic geometry lesson one might find in any grade school, except for the audience: They were preschoolers, seated cross-legged on a comfy rug. “What attributes would tell me this is a square?” asked the teacher, Ashley Rzonca. (The New York Times)

States struggle with oversight of online charter schools
As U.S. children flock to virtual charter schools, states are struggling to catch up and develop rules to make sure the students get a real education and schools get the right funding. The future of virtual schools is part of the larger school-choice debate seeing renewed attention since the installation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, an online charter investor and advocate who sees them as a valuable option for students. (U.S. News & World Report)

Can this Florida school district be saved? A charter school operator hopes so
MONTICELLO, Fla. — A charter school company is taking over a struggling county school district east of Tallahassee, and half of its teachers will be out of a job this coming school year, a county education official said.​ ​This is the final week of school for students under the old Jefferson County School District. In April, the Jefferson County School Board, under pressure to improve both finances and academics, became the first in Florida to choose a charter school company to run its schools.​ (USA Today)

Atlanta school plan could transform city — or leave families stranded
Atlanta is in the midst of a complex, expensive effort to improve the city’s worst schools. Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, with the school board’s backing, has hired charter school groups to run some schools, while the system closes and consolidates others and spends tens of millions to improve other low-performing schools.​ (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) ​

​New Jersey
Taxpayer-funded teachers union gigs at center of legal dispute
JERSEY CITY — A conservative watchdog and the Jersey City teachers union are set to face off in court tomorrow over the school district’s policy allowing two employees to work full-time for their union on the taxpayers’ dime.​ ​Two New Jersey residents, working with the Goldwater Institute, sued the district in January alleging the district’s “release time” policy violates the gift clause of the New Jersey Constitution. Oral arguments are scheduled for tomorrow morning in Hudson County Superior Court.​ (​

North Carolina
Expansion of vouchers sparks debate
House and Senate Republican leaders are planning to expand the state’s school voucher program by nearly one-third next year, but Democrats say the money should be spent on reducing class sizes in public schools instead.​ ​The 2016-17 budget allotted $34.8 million for the vouchers, called Opportunity Scholarships. A proposal in both the House and the Senate budgets would add $10 million more in 2017-18, and another $10 million in 2018-19.​ (WRAL)​
Frustrated with high suspension rates, Memphis schools shift to restorative justice
Taking a cue from Nashville, Memphis school leaders are working to change the way their educators discipline students in an effort to reduce the high rate of suspensions in Shelby County Schools.​ ​This month, about a hundred educators participated in a day-long training session to learn about restorative justice techniques already used in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. The Nashville district, which like Memphis serves mostly minority and low-income students, has seen its suspension rate drop since incorporating the disciplinary approach more broadly in 2014.​ (Chalkbeat)​

Mimi Woldeyohannes is the Executive Assistant to the CEO at 50CAN. She lives in Maryland.


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