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

The States That Spend the Most (and Least) on Education — and How Their Students Perform Compared With Their Neighbors
Across the United States, current expenditures for public K-12 education rose by over $18 billion during the 2014–15 school year, according to a new report released by the National Center for Education Statistics. That uptick was part of a 5 percent increase since fiscal year 2013, and total expenditures stood at $575 billion overall for the year. In a development that may not prove shocking to education observers, many of the highest-spending states are thought to boast the best school systems. (The 74)

How diverse is the teaching force in your district? A new analysis highlights the gap between students and teachers of color
Maria Siskar vividly remembers when she was in 8th grade — the grade she now teaches at Girls Prep Bronx Middle School. She had just moved from Venezuela to Florida, but didn’t have immigration papers and couldn’t speak English. Today, many of her students can relate to her story when she tells it to them — especially those who are undocumented immigrants themselves. Will my parents be able to stay in the country? some ask her. Will I be able to attend college? (Chalkbeat)

After Loss of ‘Net Neutrality,’ Districts Weigh How to Protect Themselves
As school districts weigh the impact of losing assurances of “net neutrality,” a professional organization is encouraging them to protect themselves up-front against a potential decline in the speed and quality of their web access. The Consortium for School Networking on Tuesday released a tip sheet for district officials on content-delivery practices they should require in contracts with internet service providers. The consortium, which represents K-12 technology officers, concedes that the document is premised on some speculation and guesswork. (Education Week)

A teacher is handcuffed and jailed after criticizing school superintendent’s raise
Deyshia Hargrave couldn’t believe her Louisiana school district’s superintendent was slated to get a raise while teachers like herself struggled. So she spoke up at a school board meeting. “You’re making our job even more difficult,” she told the Vermilion Parish school board, according to video from CNN affiliate KATC.
“A superintendent or any person in a position of leadership getting any type of raise, I feel like it’s a slap in the face to all the teachers, cafeteria workers, and any other support staff we have.” (CNN)

5 Baltimore City schools remain closed, 3 more closing early amid widespread heating problems
Officials said nearly all of Baltimore’s public schools are expected to reopen for classes Monday after the school district, the city and private contractors spent the weekend addressing heating outages that left students in frigid classrooms and prompted a districtwide closure Friday. But five city schools are closed to students Monday due to facilities issues. At 9:50 a.m., the school system announced the whole district would close 3 hours early. (The Baltimore Sun)

New Jersey
Who earned a seat, who’s moving on — or up — and what does it portend for the coming legislative session? It was an almost-routine announcement in a day of big speeches yesterday, but the Democratic legislative leadership’s picks of committee chairs could portend some significant changes in how it will do business this coming year. The lengthy list released by each chamber’s Democratic leadership was full of changes on virtually every committee, as would be expected in the change of legislative sessions. (NJ Spotlight)

New York
The Rise and Fade of Education’s ‘Opt Out’ Movement
During the late years of the Obama administration, parents in New York State built a standardized-testing boycott that shook the education bureaucracy and inspired similar “opt out” movements nationwide. New York’s powerful education leaders were stunned almost three years ago when 20 percent of the state’s 1.1 million eligible students refused exams. That astonishing rate ticked up to 21 percent in 2016. The numbers translated into influence for the leaders of the protest, who wanted to reverse testing policies adopted in New York and elsewhere largely because of Obama’s Race To The Top initiative. (Medium)

The Philly school choice system no one is talking about
Mercedes White is not a morning person. Her day begins amid a symphony of alarms, each set about 15 minutes apart in order to keep her on schedule. White’s mom delivers daily phone calls to make sure she and her two children — 2-year-old Imir and 9-year-old Iman — make it out the door on time. On good days, they leave their row home in West Philadelphia’s Cobbs Creek neighborhood before 8 a.m., hustling over to Imir’s day care on 52nd Street. Then, the caravan continues another 15 minutes east to drop off Iman. (WHYY)

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


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