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

Charters and the Common Good
Charter schools represent a small share of the national education market: just 6.2 percent of all public schools and 4.6 percent of all students. But their rapid growth over the past two decades has captured an outsized measure of public attention, especially in communities where district and charter schools operate side by side. Take New York City’s Success Academy, a network of 46 schools led by Eva Moskowitz. Despite long waiting lists and well-documented academic gains for Success students, leaders are in a near-constant battle with city education officials for the space in under-utilized public-school buildings that will allow their programs to continue to grow. Most recently, Moskowitz issued a high-profile rejection of a city plan to house new students from six middle-school programs in two sites, which she and local newspaper editorial boards criticized as an unstable, temporary fix that would force families to travel too far to school. (Education Next)

Why The News About Graduation Rates May Actually Be Good News
The news that D.C. Public Schools found a sharp increase in the number of students graduating despite missing a large proportion of instructional days at school was a punch in the gut for a district that’s been hailed as the fastest improving and one that’s touted its increasing graduation rates for the past six years in a row. In fact, only 178 graduates out of 2,307 from all DCPS high schools had satisfactory attendance during the 2016-2017 school year. But D.C. isn’t the only school system unearthing issues with graduation rates. (U.S. News & World Report)

Laptops And Phones In The Classroom: Yea, Nay Or A Third Way?
How should teachers — both K-12 and college — deal with the use of computers and phones by students in class? On the one hand, those sleek little supercomputers promise to connect us to all human knowledge. On the other hand, they are also scientifically designed by some of the world’s top geniuses to feel as compelling as oxygen. So where does that leave teachers? Should you ban these devices in the classroom? Let students go whole hog? Or is there a happy medium? (NPR)

Janus, We Hardly Knew You: Rank-and-File Union Members Remain in the Dark About a Pivotal Dues Case Headed to the Supreme Court
Last September, union President Michael Mulgrew sent a letter to his members that included a warning and a reminder. “The Janus case is paid for and brought to us by people who want to destroy unions so your benefits and rights can be taken away,” wrote the United Federation of Teachers chief, referring to the Supreme Court–bound challenge to mandatory dues. “As we brace for this challenge ahead, remember that all of us together are the union. Because we have stuck together, we have pensions, employer-paid health insurance, job security, due-process rights, a grievance process and a voice in how our schools are run.” (The 74)

A Root Cause of the Teacher-Diversity Problem
Having just earned a teaching degree from Pennsylvania’s Millersville University, Rian Reed set out in 2011 to find a position working with special-needs students. Born and raised in a suburb outside of Philadelphia, she had built an enviable academic record, earning induction into the National Honor Society in high school and speaking at her university commencement. She sought to use her leadership skills and creativity in a classroom in her own community. So Reed, a biracial woman who identifies as black, applied to work in her hometown school district. (The Atlantic)

Carney offers plan for English language learners
Gov. John Carney recently visited North Georgetown Elementary and unveiled a strategic plan to address the educational needs of Delaware’s increasing population of students who do not speak English as a first language. “Our challenge is to come up with a state plan to meet these students where they are and take it forward to increase literacy and graduation rates,” he said. The plan, which he said will be accomplished through a mixture of school district funding, referendums and state funds, if available, is intended to provide more support for English Language Learners and recognize their unique educational needs as a priority. (Cape Gazette)

Baltimore considers funding schools based on student poverty rates
The Baltimore city school system is considering sweeping changes to its funding formula that would direct more money to schools with many students from poor families. The proposed formula, which the city school board is scheduled to vote on Tuesday, would allocate resources based largely on student poverty rather than on standardized test scores. “We are acknowledging that, given what some kids are exposed to, they have additional needs and that actually costs more,” said Cheryl Casciani, who chairs the school board. (The Baltimore Sun)

New Jersey
Analysis: 4 Education Promises New Jersey’s New Governor Can’t — or Shouldn’t — Keep
New Jersey’s new governor, Phil Murphy, slalomed into office powered by gusts of anti-Christie sentiment and clutching a grab bag of gift-wrapped education promises. Chief among these are fully funding schools; repairing the broken teacher pension system; eliminating PARCC standardized tests; and halting the expansion of the state’s popular charter school sector. (The 74)

New Mexico
Funding issues put pre-K providers at odds while young children miss out on early education
A tall chain-link fence splits the preschool campus behind Anthony Elementary in southern New Mexico: federally funded classrooms on one side, state-funded classrooms on the other. The fence serves as a literal and symbolic divide segregating two sets of classrooms outfitted with the same child-size tables, chairs and toys; two sets of highly trained teachers; two separate playgrounds — and a bitter competition for 4-year-old children. (NM Politics)

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


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