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

U.S. Graduation Rate Hits New All-Time High, With Gains in All Student Groups
The national high school graduation rate has risen to a new all-time high: 84 percent, the fifth straight year of increases, according to data published by the federal government today. The graduation rate for the high school class of 2015-16 is nearly a whole point higher than the one for the previous year’s class, which was 83.2 percent, according to the new data from the National Center for Education Statistics. The rate measures the proportion of each freshman class that earns a diploma four years later. (Education Week)

Betsy DeVos Allies See New Obstacle to School Choice Efforts: Trump
NASHVILLE — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos often rattles off the list of detractors standing in the way of expanding school choices for the nation’s children: the unions, the Democrats, the protesters and the bureaucrats. But her allies and observers in the movement to overhaul education say it is time to add another to the list: her boss. (The New York Times)

4 Ways the Republican Tax Plan Could Affect Teachers, Students and Schools
In varying ways, the tax bills recently passed by Republicans in the House and Senate could put college further out of reach for some Americans. Democrats and education advocacy groups have criticized both bills, warning that they could make higher education less affordable and less accessible to historically underrepresented students and those from low-income families. (TIME)

School Voucher Programs Should Be Clear About Disability Rights, Report Says
School voucher programs need (at least) three key ingredients: 1. Multiple schools (don’t roll your eyes, city dwellers, this one’s a brick wall for many rural parents). 2. A system that makes private schools affordable for low-income parents. Choice isn’t choice if it’s only the rich who get to choose. 3. And transparency, so that a child’s caregiver can review the options and make an informed choice. This story is about that last ingredient. (NPR)

Controversy continues over proposed policies for transgenders in Delaware schools
Ahead of the public comment deadline for the Department of Education’s proposed anti-discrimination policy, including the controversial regulations for transgender students, the President of the Delaware Education Association has publicly expressed his support for the proposals. Mike Matthews, President of the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA), released a statement to union members and the press regarding the DSEA’s position on Regulation 225, which calls for schools to be “required to work with students and families on providing access to locker rooms and bathrooms that correspond to students’ gender identity or expression,” without having to notify parents. (Delaware 105.9)

New Mexico
New Mexico predicts more education funding from investments
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Public education is expected to get a financial boost in the coming year from New Mexico’s two major sovereign wealth funds, based on investment returns and income from the oil sector. The State Investment Council has estimated that New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund and Severance Tax Permanent Fund are likely to pay out $963 million for the coming fiscal year, a $64 million increase from the fiscal year that started in July. The majority of annual distributions from the two state trusts go directly toward public schools. A little over $200 million flows to the state’s general fund, which also underwrites public education. (AP News)

North Carolina
NC a leader in state vouchers for private school
RALEIGH — Charlonda Brown, a single mother in Goldsboro, North Carolina, says she only wants for her boys what any parent wants: the best possible education. With 4-year-old son Julian diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, leaving him with only one working arm, Brown already pays more than $700 out-of-pocket every two weeks for his physical therapy. Unhappy with local public school options, she’ll gladly accept state help toward paying for private school and services if it’s awarded to them next year. (Citizen-Times)

At one Baltimore public charter school, there’s always time for a checkup
In the classroom, a student complaining about having trouble breathing can turn into a health emergency in a heartbeat. But for students enrolled in KIPP Baltimore, a public charter elementary and middle school, a quick trip to the school-based health center allows them to be treated on site as they would at a doctor’s office, keeping them out of the emergency room and in their seats so they can learn. (HUB)

One teacher, one student: A new type of school coming to Philly area
Paige Andreassi, 17, seemed to have it all when she was a student at the prestigious George School in Bucks County, capping her long day of classes and study hall with varsity tennis, school plays, and plans to apply to top universities. In the end, Andreassi said, it all got to be too much for her. “I wasn’t taking care of myself,” she said. “When I went through the college application process, it got to the point where the stress was unhealthy for me. I was getting two to four hours of sleep a night.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News)

South Carolina
State board stops exodus of virtual charter schools to new authorizer
A statewide school board voted Thursday to stop an exodus of online charter schools that sought to continue receiving state tax funding while moving to the auspices of a private Christian liberal arts college. Nine public charter schools, including three virtual schools, had applied to transfer out of the S.C. Public Charter School District and into the newly formed Charter Institute at Erskine College. The statewide district’s board voted to allow five schools to make the jump: Gray Collegiate Academy in West Columbia, Oceanside Collegiate Academy in McClellanville, Coastal Leadership Academy in Myrtle Beach, Royal Live Oaks Academy Charter School in Hardeeville and Mevers School of Excellence in Goose Creek. (The Post & Courier)

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


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