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

Trump’s State of the Union Address and Education: What to Watch For
President Donald Trump will give his first honest-to-goodness State of the Union address since taking office Tuesday night. So just how is education likely to show up in the speech? Education was a sleeper star of last year’s pseudo SOTU. (It technically wasn’t a State of the Union address because Trump had just taken office.) The speech included a big shout-out for school choice in general, and specifically for Denisha Merriweather, then a graduate student, who benefitted from Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program. (Merriweather is now working at the U.S. Department of Education to champion choice .) (Education Week)

In Defense Of Education’s “Wild West”
The Senate confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the U.S. secretary of education saw critics hurl accusations that the charter school sector in her home state of Michigan was a “Wild West” of low student performance and authorizing chaos. These charges seemed odd, given that the best studies available on the subject—from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO)—show that Michigan charter students make large academic gains relative to similar students at district schools, particularly in Detroit. The use of “Wild West” to describe Michigan seemed odder still to those of us who live in the actual West, especially those of us who pay attention to charter school results. Many of us are happy to embrace the “Wild West” label as it pertains to charter schooling. (EducationNext)

School Choice of the Future: Jeb Bush Says Education Savings Accounts Can Empower Parents To Customize Their Children’s Schooling
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush envisioned Education Savings Accounts as the driver behind school choice of the future during an event Friday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. Traditional school districts don’t allow for the customization needed to prepare students for the future economy, Bush said in his keynote address, adding that parents should be the drivers of education for their children. (The 74)

The Rural School Reform Opportunity
As we pass the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration as president, the divisions that marked his rise to power are just as deep and bitter as the day he was elected. The president’s opponents have spent most of their time resenting, rather than trying to understand, the political forces that propelled him to office. And the president and his supporters wear this scorn as a badge of honor, almost reveling in how much “the swamp” or “the establishment” detests him and, by extension, them. (U.S. News & World Report)

Charter Schools And Special Ed Will Be In The Legislative Spotlight
The lineup of K-12 education proposals in the Hawaii Legislature this year is anchored by two recurring issues: boosting funding for public charter schools and improving the quality of education for special needs and rural students. HB 2508 reintroduces the idea of creating a separate facilities funding stream for start-up charter schools, which must locate and pay for their building leases from their operating budgets without additional assistance from the state. (Honolulu Civil Beat)

New Jersey
COMMENTARY: Camden parents hopeful about schools’ future
Five years ago, when the state took over control of Camden’s schools, less than half of our high school students made it to graduation and parents were jumping through hoops for a chance to get their children into one of the city’s handful of high quality schools. After decades of falling standards in classrooms and mismanagement at the Board of Education, many parents had lost hope that Camden’s public schools would ever improve. (Courier Post)

South Carolina
Virtual school helps kids who can’t make it to classroom
Recently, I heard an educational speaker say, “If a school does not tell its story, someone else will.” These words rang true to me in light of the state charter school district’s charge that the S.C. Virtual Charter School is “poor performing” and “failing.” Every charter school sets different goals, serves different populations and should not be measured with the same metrics as others. As a faculty member for almost eight years at our online public school and an educator in S.C. public schools for almost 43, I would like to share some of our story. (The State)

Editorial: Tennessee’s next governor must build on education progress
All Tennesseans deserve a quality education. That is key to obtaining a good job, opportunities for advancement, better pay and self-fulfillment. The path is not the same for everyone. Some will choose the traditional college route and perhaps graduate school, while others will seek career technical education for high-paying posts after high school. Tennessee has made great strides under two gubernatorial administrations over nearly two decades — that of Gov. Bill Haslam and former Gov. Phil Bredesen — in terms of improving academics, better compensating educators and investing more in higher education. (Tennessean)

Washington D.C.
In D.C., 34 Percent Of Graduates Received A Diploma Against District Policy
More than 900 students in Washington D.C.’s public high schools graduated last year against district policy. That’s according to a new report Monday from the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent. The comprehensive report was ordered by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in December, just days after WAMU and NPR published an investigative story looking into how students at Ballou High School were able to graduate last year despite missing months of school. “We are tremendously disappointed,” Bowser said about the findings at a news conference Monday. (NPR)

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


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