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


From Little Rock to Parkland: A Brief History of Youth Activism
It’s too early to know if politicians will heed the calls for increased gun control after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But one thing is clear: If change comes, it will be because of the passionate activism of the schools’ students. The teens appear to have galvanized a new, national movement and inspired student activists across the country, spurring high school walkouts in Washington D.C., Arizona, and Minnesota. While this surge of teen organizing around gun control may feel new, the U.S. has a rich history of youth activism. Here’s a quick look at three big moments when children and teens became agents of change. (NPR)

Secret probe points to widespread enrollment fraud at acclaimed D.C. high school
An investigation by District officials has uncovered signs of widespread enrollment fraud at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a nationally recognized incubator of theatrical talent and one of the city’s most revered public schools, according to current and former D.C. government officials with knowledge of the probe. Scrutiny of the records of an initial sample of roughly 100 students whose families claimed D.C. residency — thus avoiding the annual tuition of more than $12,000 charged to nonresident students — found that more than half may live outside the city, two officials said. (The Washington Post)

West Virginia schools will be closed for sixth day, Department of Education says
The West Virginia Department of Education said late Wednesday all public schools in the state’s 55 counties will remain closed Thursday despite the announced agreement Tuesday night between leaders of the unions representing striking teachers and school service personnel and Gov. Jim Justice to end the walkout. Strikers protesting low pay and rising health care costs have expressed doubts about politicians’ promises short of actions that will guarantee raises and protect them from further hikes in benefit costs they say are squeezing them further. (CBS News)

OPINION: Many students who need mentors still don’t have them
If it weren’t for Amanda Gallardo, Steffan Barahona’s road to becoming the first in his family to attend college in the United States might have been much bumpier. As it was, during his senior year of high school in Arlington, Virginia, Barahona felt completely overwhelmed by the application process. Gallardo — the coordinator of a student-support program at Barahona’s high school, and a first-generation college student herself — had faced similar challenges. She’d been there. (The Hechinger Report)

Christina school board is blocking progress for kids, local advocate writes
The Christina school board has perfected the art of pushing paperwork that produces little progress for Wilmington kids. Its members recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Gov. Carney’s office designed to take a bolder approach to education in a district whose graduation rate has dropped each of the last three years and is the lowest in the state (69 percent). Yet, as interesting as some of the details of the MOU may sound, experience tells us they are sure to fail. With a school board that has failed to follow through on previous reforms, Christina School District’s kids will not see change until we address the deep dysfunction of its school board. (Delaware Online)

New Jersey
School funding remains one of biggest questions ahead of Murphy budget address
New Jersey has a new governor who has promised what no politician has managed in the last nine years: to fully fund the school funding formula so that every public district receives the amount of aid it prescribes. It won’t be easy. By most estimates, Murphy and lawmakers will need to agree to add at least a billion dollars to the considerable sum already divvied out to public schools. And billions more would be needed to make up for the nine previous years that the formula was underfunded. Murphy, who is expected to deliver his first budget proposal to the Legislature next month, hasn’t set a timetable for how soon he hopes to keep one of his biggest, and arguably most difficult, campaign promises, although he has said he intends to ramp up school funding as quickly as possible. (Burlington County Times)

Strike averted after Pittsburgh Public Schools, teachers union reach tentative deal
Pittsburgh teachers won’t strike Friday, after the union and the school district successfully negotiated a tentative three-year contract in a marathon bargaining session with a state mediator. Representatives of Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers negotiated for about 14 hours Tuesday, announcing that they reached a tentative agreement around 11:30 p.m. The teachers union said Monday it intended to strike Friday if an agreement wasn’t reached, which would have forced more than 24,000 students to stay home from school. (Pittsburg Post-Gazette)

South Carolina
Education starts with parents but has to include schools to be successful
Civil rights trailblazer and educator, Septima P. Clark, said, “I believe unconditionally in the ability of people to respond when they are told the truth,” I share in this belief and the truth, presented in the new data released by Charleston RISE, is that 80 percent of Charleston’s African American third graders who were enrolled in a Charleston County School District school during the 2016-17 year were unable to meet grade level standards on the state’s annual reading assessment. This “truth” has garnered lots of response from our community! Sad to say, there is plenty of blame (and in a few spots, praise) to go around. Some parents shared their frustration about the statistics while others expressed the need for more “involved parenting in the home” to combat this issue. (The Chronicle)

SCS ready to defy state on its plan for two schools, but is it too little, too late?
Shelby County Schools will reject the state’s plans for two local schools in desperate need of interventions, an attempt to keep both schools open and under SCS control. The school board on Tuesday approved a resolution to put American Way Middle into its Innovation Zone turnaround program, against the state’s insistence that the school should be converted into a charter school under either SCS or state control. The ultimate decision on putting a school in the iZone is up to Superintendent Dorsey Hopson, who said he supports the idea and plans to include it in his budget for next school year. (Commercial Appeal)

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


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