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

Will Trump Help Rebuild America’s Schools?
President Donald Trump called on Congress to pass a sweeping $1.5 trillion infrastructure package Tuesday night during his State of the Union address. The infrastructure proposal itself wasn’t a surprise. Trump has been making the pitch since his campaign trail days. But what he left off his infrastructure to-do list surprised some: Schools. For the past year, the president has been consistent in pledging to bolster the country’s K-12 schools as part of an infrastructure plan to right what he’s characterized as a facilities problem. (U.S. News & World Report)

Why Is the NFL Using Super Bowl Weekend to Celebrate a High School Where 90% of Students Are Graded ‘Falling Behind’?
The first athletes out of the tunnel to play on this year’s Super Bowl field won’t be the New England Patriots, nor the Philadelphia Eagles — but a high school football team hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota. But shrouded amid the glory of this great honor, bestowed and sponsored by the NFL, is the abhorrent — and possibly worsening — academic performance among the school’s 400 or so students. (The 74)

With Thousands Of Homeless Students, This District Put Help Right In Its Schools
Mike Moran, the principal at Bryan Adams High School in Dallas, says oftentimes when students are homeless, they’re too embarrassed to tell anyone. “A lot of times it is revealed that there’s a temporary living situation, they’re in a motel, they’re now staying with an aunt and uncle,” he says. Principal Moran has heard similar stories about 50, or so, kids at his school, just one of dozens of high schools in the district. That’s why Dallas schools have put something called a drop-in center at nearly every high school in the district. (NPR)

Study: Gains from Oklahoma’s pre-K last through middle school
Eighth graders who attended Oklahoma’s universal pre-K program as 4-year-olds had higher math scores, were more likely to enroll in honors classes, and were less likely to repeat a grade than those who didn’t attend, according to new research from Georgetown University. The first to measure the impact of public pre-K on students in the middle school, the study shows that the findings held up after several “robustness checks.” The researchers, however, did not find lasting positive effects on students’ reading scores, letter grades, special education placement, gifted designation, absenteeism or suspension. The researchers tracked 3,045 students from the original sample of 4,033, which included those who attended pre-K in Tulsa Public Schools (TPS), Head Start or neither. Results on Head Start students, which also carry into 8th grade, are not included in the study. But the researchers wrote that a strong Head Start program allows more 3-year-olds to arrive in pre-K with stronger skills. A strong Head Start program “makes it easier for elementary school teachers to cover more advanced material if they choose to do so,” the authors wrote. (Education DIVE)

Rural schools find an online resource to fill gaps in mental health services for students
In rural Kentucky, students go to school with people they’ve grown up with. It’s not uncommon for their teachers and principals to be family friends or even relatives. This can create a tight-knit school community, but it can also make privacy hard to come by. Vivian Carter, a longtime teacher and principal and the current innovation coordinator at Hazard Independent Schools, in Eastern Kentucky, said students don’t always open up to the adults in the school building if they have issues at home. And as the role of counselors has changed, demanding they focus more on assessment and college advising, the time available to help students sort through personal problems has dwindled. Some schools in rural Appalachia don’t even have counselors. Budget cuts in Kentucky have hit districts hard and funding for these types of supports has disappeared. (The Hechinger Report)

Letters to the editor Friday: Why I love my public charter school
On the heels of National School Choice Week, it’s important to reflect on the benefits of school choice options for Georgia parents and students. I’m thankful that my daughter has the opportunity to attend Susie King Taylor Community School, a public charter school located on Bull Street. In the past, she has attended another charter school and a district academy. For her, charter school is the best option. (SavannahNow)

Lawmakers propose ‘lockbox’ to direct gambling revenue to education funding
Maryland’s legislative leaders are betting on a bill that would send gambling revenue to bolster education spending. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D) were flanked by dozens of lawmakers on Tuesday morning when they expressed support for an “education lockbox” that would tuck away about half a billion dollars in gambling revenue each year for public schools. The bill, which is expected to be formally introduced this week, would put the option of creating the fund to voters, through a referendum at the November election. (The Frederick News-Post)

New Jersey
All eyes are on Newark’: As the city regains control of its schools, a look at what’s to come
For years, votes cast by Newark’s elected school board carried mostly symbolic weight. On Thursday, as the board reclaims full control of New Jersey’s largest school district after a 22-year state takeover, even its smallest decisions will acquire new significance. A preview of that transformation was on display at a board meeting last week, as members debated when to hold their next round of elections. Moving them from April to November, when other local elections are held, could save the school district about $250,000 per election. But doing so could also politicize the board race, discouraging ordinary citizens from throwing their hats into the ring. (Chalkbeat)

New Mexico
New Mexico may become the first state in the nation to make students apply for college
Students in New Mexico would have to apply to a college or commit to some other post-graduation plan in order to graduate from high school, under a bill working its way through the state’s legislature. If it became law, New Mexico would be the first state in the nation to require its students to spell out what they’re doing after high school. “Requiring students to do that would be unique in the nation; no other state in the nation has done that,” said Jennifer Zinth, director of high school and STEM for the Education Commission of the States, an education policy think tank based in Colorado. (CNN)

South Carolina
SC lawmaker wants to crack down on school bullies by having parents share the blame
Called stupid because she has dyslexia and teased about her appearance, Sarafrances Kaser used to beg her mother to let her stay home last year from North Charleston’s A.C. Corcoran Elementary School. The 8-year-old would come home from school asking why a classmate had pulled her hair, spit on her jacket, called her names or threatened her. But Sarafrances’ bullies never seemed to face strict punishment from A.C. Corcoran, according her mother, Dawn Kaser. The problems continued until the school district — which declined to comment — agreed in December to let Kaser send her daughter to another school. (The State)

Do schools lose ground when losing top teachers to turnaround schools? A little, but it’s worth it, says Tennessee research
Since 2012, Tennessee has used financial incentives to lure some of its most effective teachers to work in struggling schools under an intense turnaround model known as the Innovation Zone. The strategy appears to have worked. But even as students in iZone schools have shown academic gains, one question has nagged: Did students in schools left behind have to lose in order for students in iZone schools to win? Researchers examining student achievement in the exited schools are now offering answers. In short, their analysis shows that those students experienced a small negative effect, especially in reading and science. But it wasn’t enough, they concluded, to offset the positive work happening in the iZone. (Chalkbeat)

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


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