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

How Do Trump’s K-12 Campaign Promises Hold Up a Year After His Election?
President Donald Trump was elected one year ago Wednesday, promising a huge new school choice initiative, a slimmed down—or nonexistent—U.S. Department of Education, the end of the Common Core State Standards, new tax incentives to cover child-care costs, and more. So how are those campaign pledges coming one year after Trump’s upset presidential victory? Here’s a score card: (Education Week)

Betsy DeVos lauds innovative teaching practices at awards ceremony
At Calvert Elementary School in Auburn, Neb., students are free to move at their own pace rather than being pushed to keep up with the class. At Alabama’s Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle School, teachers took project-based learning to the next level, helping students produce a Spanish-language soap opera and build an amusement park to simulate functions of the human body. Teachers begin preparing middle-schoolers at Doral Academy of Technology near Miami for Advanced Placement coursework so they can be ready for rigorous classes in high school. (The Washington Post)

The Hidden Mental Health Crisis in America’s Schools: Millions of Kids Not Receiving Services They Need
Millions of American students suffer from mental health problems, and only a fraction are receiving necessary treatment, warns a brief from the American Institutes for Research. And the prevalence of mental health problems appears to be growing. Sixty-two percent of college students reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety” over the previous year in 2016, up from 50 percent just five years prior. More alarming still, hospitalizations for mood disorders among children ages 17 and under leaped by 68 percent between 1997 and 2011. (The 74)

(Re)Searching for a School
School choice has the potential to promote equity by allowing students to attend schools outside their neighborhood zone. But school choice can only fulfill this potential if parents are informed about their options. Information about school quality has proliferated in the past decade, thanks to federal accountability rules and the widespread accessibility of school performance data via the Internet. Yet despite the increase in the supply of information, critics allege that many parents still don’t know enough about local schools to take full advantage of school choice. (EducationNext)

Would you trade Florida’s strict class size caps for higher teacher pay?
Florida’s class size amendment has been the target of potential revisions since voters approved it 15 years ago. The latest effort to lessen its strict class-by-class caps comes courtesy of Patricia Levesque, chief executive officer of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. But she’s made her proposal with a different twist. “We actually want the funds to stay in our schools,” said Levesque, who serves on the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. (Tampa Bay Times)

Official: Georgia teacher pension to cost at least $351 million more
With only two months to go before the start of the 2018 legislative session, the Deal administration is finding that propping up Georgia’s teacher pension system is making its job difficult as it seeks to write a balanced budget. The administration had been warning for months that there wouldn’t be a lot of extra money to spend next year. But during a conference at Georgia State University, Teresa MacCartney, the governor’s budget director, made it clear the reason is a huge jump in payments to the teacher pension system. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

New Jersey
N.J. election results 2017: Steve Sweeney wins re-election despite battle with teachers union
TRENTON — State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the most powerful lawmaker in New Jersey, won re-election Tuesday despite an expensive and bloody effort by the state’s largest teachers union to oust him from the seat he’s held for nearly 16 years. Sweeney, a Democrat, beat Republican Fran Grenier by about 9,000 votes or 18 percentage points — 59 percent to 41 percent — to keep the Senate seat in south Jersey’s rural 3rd legislative district. (NJ Advance Media)

Wolf lets bill become law that weakens teacher protections amid other school policy shifts
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has allowed a bill to become law that weakens teacher seniority protections and gives school districts more flexibility in their rationale for making layoffs. School districts now will be able to cite “economic reasons” as a rationale for furloughing teachers. Previously, districts could only slash staff by closing schools, cutting whole academic programs, or pointing to enrollment declines. (WHYY)

South Carolina
Inside the $1 Million Fight to Hold South Carolina’s For-Profit Virtual Charter Schools Accountable
When South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster stepped onto the stage at Charter Schools USA’s annual summit in August, it was to thunderous applause. Alternately smoothing his tie and shielding his eyes from the floodlights, he told a couple of folksy jokes before pivoting to the message he’d come to deliver. (The 74)

McQueen wants teacher pay to go up and local costs to go down for Tennessee’s student intervention program
As Gov. Bill Haslam prepares the final budget of his administration, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen is asking to increase teacher pay for a third straight year. She also wants the state to finally help school districts pay for Tennessee’s required but unfunded intervention program aimed at keeping struggling students from falling through the cracks. McQueen presented her wish list to the governor during budget hearings Tuesday at the State Capitol. (Chalkbeat)

Voters approve millions in bonds for Northern Virginia schools
Voters in three Northern Virginia school districts approved millions of dollars that will go toward building new schools and renovating facilities, which officials say is necessary to ease overcrowding and replace outdated infrastructure. Bond referendums totaling more than $515 million were approved easily by voters in Fairfax County, the city of Falls Church and Loudoun County on Tuesday night. (The Washington Post)

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


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