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

School Choice Would Get Boost From Proposed Amendments to Senate Tax Bill
Two amendments introduced by senators to the GOP tax bill in the Senate could increase access to private school choice. One amendment states that a “charitable deduction would be allowed for certain qualified tuition and related expenses relating to qualified religious instruction. It’s been introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which will consider the GOP-backed tax overhaul legislation. If adopted, the amendment would require an “appropriate offset” in terms of federal revenue, but doesn’t specify what that offset might be. (Education Week)

State ESSA Plans Fail to Adequately Address Educator Inequities
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), originally signed into law in 1965, was designed, in part, to provide “all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.” More than half a century later, data continue to demonstrate that in many states, districts and schools, pernicious educator equity gaps persist. Far too many students, and particularly low-income students and students of color, continue to attend schools that lack the necessary resources, including equal access to effective, in-field and experienced teachers. (RealClear Education)

The ‘A’ Word: Wicks & McKenzie — The 4 Things That Accountability Should Do Well
Our experts agree: Accountability allows us to organize and operate schools in ways that put kids first, and the stakes could not be higher for us to get this right. Either we master the duet of accountability and support or we risk what makes our country distinct and what has accelerated its prosperity — educated citizens who are able to provide for themselves and their families, who create new ideas and opportunities, who engage in their communities, and who value democracy and the right to vote. A society that declines to meaningfully invest in all of its youth will steadily weaken over time, both morally and structurally. (The 74)

Better tests don’t lead to better teaching, study finds
Ever since the federal government mandated annual testing for U.S. public school children in 2001, educators (and parents) have fretted over whether too much class time has been allocated to drilling and preparing students for standardized tests. Unfortunately, there’s very little research on test prep and its effect on teaching quality. Teaching quality is a very hard thing to study. Researchers usually don’t know exactly what teachers are teaching behind closed doors. And, even if you could be a fly on the wall in every classroom in America, one person’s view of a good lesson might differ from another’s. (The Hechinger Report)

School choice is good for parents, kids. Here’s how to learn more: Delaware Voice
Every parent in Delaware has the right to choose the school that works best for their children. After nine years with three kids in Delaware public schools, I know how important that choice has been to my family. As a young mother who did not grow up in Delaware, I was very intimidated by the choice system and all of the options available to us. But we got lucky when we found Odyssey Charter in its first years. (Delaware Online)

Grants aim to help Louisiana schools promote healthy eating
BATON ROUGE — Fifteen Louisiana schools will receive grants to help them promote healthy eating and physical activity. Louisiana’s education and health departments announced Thursday that federally-funded grants of $5,000 are available to applicants that meet a list of criteria aimed at supporting healthier school environments. The schools will need to agree to incorporate nutrition education into classrooms and to promote health messaging. To be eligible, schools must participate in certain federally-financed school meal programs. (The Times-Picayune)

New York
De Blasio’s real school passion: Standing in the way of children’s dreams
“We need the school system to look entirely different in the coming years,” Mayor de Blasio said the day after he’d won a second term. “That will be the issue I put my greatest passion and energy into.” Problem is, he spent his entire first term resisting change, when he wasn’t looking to roll the clock back. Consider his signature school-turnaround effort, the Renewal Schools program. As The Post’s Selim Algar noted Thursday, 24 of the 32 Renewal high schools are far short of the 67 percent graduation rate that Chancellor Carmen Fariña set as a key benchmark. (NY Post)

South Carolina
Old and fire-prone: Some SC school buses are as old as students’ parents
COLUMBIA –The parents of roughly 350,000 S.C. students who ride the school bus every day should not have to be concerned about their child’s safety, state educators say. But many are. Why? Hundreds of the state’s school buses are old, with some overheating and bursting into flames. (The State)

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


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