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

This Week’s ESSA News: Amid ‘Mounting Concerns,’ U.S. Department of Education Approves Two States, Offers Feedback to Others on Testing, Accountability & Equity
U.S. News & World Report’s Lauren Camera discusses the increasing alarm among federal officials and education advocates about the efficacy of state ESSA plans. “As states cement education plans for their schools under” ESSA, she writes, the Department of Education “is working furiously to assess them amid mounting concerns about states’ commitment to following the law, their proposals to ensure historically disadvantaged students have access to quality education, and the department’s capacity—and in some cases, lack of desire—to police it all.” (The 74)

Using Data to Help ELLs Succeed Requires Partnerships, Persistence, Report Argues
Illinois’ use of English-language-learner data as an “emerging bright spot” for states looking to better serve and understand the growing, but often misunderstood, student population, according to a report from a Washington-based think tank. In the new report, New America examines how the state’s effort to use longitudinal data could serve as a model for other states seeking guidance on how to accurately evaluate the academic growth and needs of their English-language learners. New America also praises Illinois’ partnership with the Latino Policy Forum, a Chicago-based advocacy group that advises state on English-learner issues. (Education Week)

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to Congress: Make School Funding More Equitable
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is urging Congress to take “bold action” to address inequitable funding in the country’s public school system, publishing Thursday a sweeping report examining how K-12 funding negatively impacts the educational opportunities of low-income students and students of color. “Although the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that public education is a right that should be available to all on equal terms, the longstanding and persistent reality is that vast funding inequities in our state public education systems render the education available to millions of American public school students profoundly unequal,” the report states. (U.S. News & World Report)

Delaware organization focuses on raising generation of ‘MLK’ leaders
A Wilmington organization remains committed to helping young people, especially when it comes to helping young boys become the next generation of leaders. The Martin Luther King holiday marked the end of a week of action strategically called, “Raising Kings”. It was organized by the One Village Alliance in honor of Dr. King’s legacy. Community members organized a series of events, including one at the Delaware Art Museum to encourage inner city youth, and teach children things such as how to put on ties. (WHYY)

New Jersey
Murphy turns to Asbury Park for N.J.’s next education commissioner
Gov.-elect Phil Murphy announced Friday he’s nominating the superintendent of Asbury Park schools to be New Jersey’s next education commissioner — and tasked him with helping “revolutionize learning” in the state. Murphy said Lamont Repollet — who has run the Monmouth County city’s school system since 2014 — will help him with some of his biggest goals for education: eliminating controversial PARCC testing and improving the state’s relationship with teachers after eight years of Republican Gov. Chris Christie. (NJ Advance Media)

New York
Some Bright Hopes for New York’s Schools
Mayor Bill de Blasio took control of New York City’s school system, the nation’s largest, four years ago, denouncing the aggressive, data-driven approach to school improvement that his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, had used with considerable success. Mr. de Blasio’s schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña — who recently announced her retirement — shared his vague agenda. The mayor has not yet appointed her successor. And the proven school managers whose accomplishments make them appealing candidates will be hesitant to accept the post in the absence of a clear, compelling mayoral vision and backing for forceful action on behalf of students. (The New York Times)

North Carolina
Charlotte speakers say King’s legacy is built through education and critical thinking
Yes, Charlotte’s Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture offered free art and music to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday Monday. But it was lectures about King’s call to educate youth in critical thinking that brought overflow crowds to hear civil rights leaders who span the city’s generations. From Gantt himself, a 75-year-old former Charlotte mayor who is the center’s namesake, to millennial leaders and promising students, all agreed that education is vital to racial justice, economic opportunity and personal fulfillment. But there were lively exchanges about how to make that happen. (The Charlotte Observer)

Judge rules against Nashville schools in fight over student contact information
A Nashville judge said Metro Nashville Public Schools must give the state’s Achievement School District contact information for students zoned to failing schools. The ruling, however, gives the Nashville school board two months to work with the Tennessee General Assembly to lobby for a change to the state law requiring the district turn over the information. The Metro school board was notified of Nashville Chancery Court Chancellor Bill Young’s ruling in a Wednesday email from Metro Legal attorney Lora Fox. (Tennessean)

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


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