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

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

News and Analysis
Democrats link party rivals to DeVos as 2018 fights emerge

It’s rare that Democrats are cast as puppets of the Trump administration. But on the issue of education, many Democrats who have long supported school choice are newly on the defensive within their party, forced to distance themselves from President Donald Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos. (Politico)

Betsy DeVos may have a point: Here’s the unique case for rural charter schools
The appointment of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education has brought rural schools into the national conversation in ways never seen before. At her confirmation hearing, DeVos said that guns might have a place in schools in order to protect from “potential grizzlies” in places like Wapiti, Wyoming. While the comments about grizzly bears and guns were well-publicized, there was considerably less talk about how DeVos’ pro-charter school agenda could play out in rural communities like Wapiti. (Salon)

Minority teachers in U.S. more than doubled over 25 years — but still fewer than 20 percent of educators, study shows
The number of minority teachers more than doubled in the United States over a 25-year period but still represent less than 20 percent of the country’s elementary and secondary school teaching force, a new statistical analysis of data shows. And black teachers, while seeing an increase in the number of teachers, saw a decline in the percentage they make up of the overall teaching force. ​(The Washington Post)​

The Real Reason Black Kids Benefit From Black Teachers
For black students, having even one black teacher can make a huge difference. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which found that that black boys who had a black teacher during their elementary school years were less likely to drop out of high school. It also linked the presence of black teachers to kids’ expectations of attending college. (The New York Times)

School Choice Implications in Religious Rights Case at High Court
Advocates on both sides of the debate over private school choice are paying close attention to a case before the U.S. Supreme Court involving recycled tires—specifically, whether Missouri violated the Constitution in refusing to give a church a grant to use scrap tire material to improve its preschool playground. The court’s decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer (Case No 15-577), which it was slated to hear this week, could weaken or eliminate one of the last legal barriers to vouchers and tax credits for use at private religious schools: state constitutional provisions that strictly bar government aid to religion. (Education Week)

Atlanta charter school receives $850,000 grant

A downtown Atlanta charter school has received a $850,000 grant to help its youngest students learn to read and do math. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant to Centennial Academy, an Atlanta Public Schools charter school, will help the school work with pre-schools, social service agencies and housing organizations to create a pre-K to third grade “educational consortium” for families in the neighborhood. The school plans to use the money for teacher training and improving lessons, among other purposes. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

North Carolina
NC Republicans fighting among themselves over education, court papers show

The State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson are on opposite sides of a legal battle over who controls public education. Lawyers for both sides filed court documents in the case this week, asking a three-judge panel to decide the case in their favor. The state education board is suing the state over a law passed in December that transfers some of its powers to Johnson, who is serving his first term. Johnson has entered the suit on the state’s side. Republicans run both the legislature and the state education board, and Johnson is a Republican. (The News & Observer)

An unconventional teacher-prep program on the rise in Philly

On a recent Wednesday evening, Leandra Handfield spent her graduate-school class practicing delivering an English lesson, fine-tuning it and getting feedback from professors and peers. The next morning, she taught it to her class of seventh graders at Mastery Charter Prep Middle School in North Philadelphia. (The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News)

It’s past the halfway point at the Tennessee legislature. Here are the proposals that still have a chance to change the state’s schools.

Only time can tell which bills passed by the Tennessee legislature will end up altering the lives of Tennessee’s students and teachers.​ ​Sometimes, like in the case of a bill requiring more recess last year, the impact is accidental, and lawmakers have to rush back to undo what they did the year before. And other times, bills end up barely making ripples, like a 2015 proposal that created a voucher-like program with special education students — that as of now, has only 35 participants.​ ​(Chalkbeat)


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