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

This Week’s ESSA News: DeVos Lauds ESSA Flexibility, but Critics Say There Might Be a Bit Too Much Wiggle Room
The 74’s Carolyn Phenicie reports that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos strongly believes in state flexibility in education policy, and that states are responding positively to having such flexibility under ESSA — as evidenced by accountability plans states submitted to her department. “Enabling and encouraging creativity and innovation at a local level can help bubble up a lot of really effective solutions and outcomes for students,” DeVos said. “There’s a wide variety in approaches to how individual states are proposing to look at things and meet the students’ needs. I think that’s laudable, and I think we should see a wide variety.” (The 74)

A Commentary by Betsy DeVos: ‘Tolerating Low Expectations for Children With Disabilities Must End’
Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision. The justices ruled 8-0 in Endrew F. vs. Douglas County School District that Endrew, a child with autism, was entitled to an educational program that required more than the “de minimis”—or minimum—progress set by his assigned school. This landmark decision was rightly hailed as a victory for the millions of children with disabilities and their families in America today. Too often, the families of disabled children have felt that their children are not being adequately challenged academically or given the support needed to grow and thrive. (Education Week)

Civil Rights Spat Takes Center Stage in Education
Two major Obama-era civil rights regulations that the Trump administration is considering eliminating were front and center Friday as the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a hearing on federal laws designed to protect students of color with disabilities from discriminatory disciplinary actions. The panelists, who sparred over decades of research and the current state of discipline as well as the role of the federal government in shaping discipline policy, provided a preview of the charged debate that is set to consume the education sector in the coming months as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her team decide whether to nix the current guidance. (U.S. News & World Report)

The Contradictions of Good Teaching
Is a good teacher one who makes students enjoy class the most or one who is strict and has high standards? And are those two types even at odds? A new study that tries to quantify this phenomenon finds that on average, teachers who are good at raising test scores are worse at making kids happy in class. “Teachers who are skilled at improving students’ math achievement may do so in ways that make students less happy or less engaged in class,” writes University of Maryland’s David Blazar in the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Education Finance and Policy. (The Atlantic)

Christina school closure proposal — which timetable is best?
The Christina school board has endorsed a plan to close three Wilmington elementary schools and convert two others into K-8 buildings, but wants to delay the changes one year, until the 2019-20 school year. The seven-member board’s move on the timetable for a major shakeup of Christina’s five schools in Wilmington puts it at odds with a partnership led by the Carney administration, district leadership and the teacher’s union. (WHYY)

Pa. kids will take fewer tests, given later in the year, Gov. Wolf announces in Montgomery County
Amid a national pushback against standardized tests, Pennsylvania students will soon take fewer state exams and they will be administered later in the school year, Gov. Wolf announced Wednesday. “We were learning to the test, we were teaching to the test” too often, the governor said during a stop at Colonial Middle School in Plymouth Meeting. “That’s not the way learning is supposed to go. This is about putting the focus more to classroom teaching.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News)

New York
New York City Planned to Put 400 Teachers in Jobs. It’s Placed 41.
Earlier this year, New York City’s Department of Education announced that it would place roughly 400 teachers who had been caught in a kind of educational limbo — without full-time jobs but getting paid — in classrooms full time. But on Thursday, the department said that it had placed only 41 of the teachers, who were part of a pool known as the Absent Teacher Reserve. As critics of the plan had feared, they were disproportionately employed in schools that serve high-needs students. (The New York Times)

Other Shelby County Schools could be investigated following Trezevant grade fixing report
Despite Shelby County Schools leaders’ previous insistence that a grading scandal at Trezevant High was an isolated incident, the six-month investigation into grade changing practices across the district revealed that may not be the case. “Additional investigation of academic improprieties at other schools in the District is warranted,” the report from Butler Snow law firm concluded. (The Commercial Appeal)

New coalition plans to show needs of small and rural school districts to General Assembly
WYTHEVILLE — Close to a third of Virginia’s school divisions are backing a new coalition to make the case for small and rural localities’ education needs to the General Assembly come January. Some educators drove as many as six hours to attend the Small and Rural Schools Coalition’s kickoff. The group’s goal, Bristol Superintendent and organizer Keith Perrigan said, is to give voice to people and places that are struggling and feel left behind. (The Roanoke Times)

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


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