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
Trump expected to order study of federal role in education

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order Wednesday that would require Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to study how the federal government “has unlawfully overstepped state and local control,” according to a White House official. Trump has repeatedly pledged to downsize the Education Department and its role in U.S. schools and colleges. The order he plans to sign is “intended to return authority to where Congress intended — state and local entities,” the White House official wrote in an email.​ (The Washington Post)​

U.S. News Ranks America’s Top Public High Schools — and for the First Time, Charters Dominate Top 10
U.S. News and World Report has released its 2017 rankings of America’s public high schools, and for the first time ever, the majority of the schools in the top 10 are charters.
BASIS Scottsdale, BASIS Tucson North, and BASIS Oro Valley — all Arizona public charter schools in the BASIS network — placed one, two, and three atop the 2017 list. Rounding out the top tier are Arizona’s BASIS Peoria and BASIS Chandler schools (ranking #5 and #7 respectively) and California’s Pacific Collegiate Charter (#10).​ (The 74)​

Building an Education Marketplace
With school choice supporters helming both the White House and the U.S. Department of Education, media attention to school choice has focused on potential changes at the federal level. It’s true that change could come from Washington: Trump could make good on his promise of $20 billion for school choice, or after hearing arguments last week in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, the Supreme Court could pave the way for more choice programs by ruling that Blaine Amendments, which prohibit state funds from going to religious schools in 37 state constitutions, are unconstitutional. However, the real action to date on school choice has been at the state level, as evidenced with this month’s dramatic expansion of education savings accounts, or ESA, in Arizona.​ (U.S. News & World Report)​

Sued once over school tax increases, Lower Merion calls for another hike above state cap

After being sued for raising property taxes above the state cap last year, the Lower Merion School District — which lost the case — is proposing to do the same to fund next year’s budget. On Monday night, about 200 people packed district headquarters in Ardmore to hear administrators make a brief pitch for their $266 million budget proposal for 2017-18, a 2.7 percent increase over the current school year. The tax rate would rise 2.99 percent, meaning a homeowner with a property at the median assessed value of $250,000 — an estimated market value of $445,000 — would pay an additional $205.​ (The Inquirer Daily News)​

New Jersey
Freehold Borough school district to sue state over lack of school funding

The borough’s school district intends to sue the Department of Education over millions in state aid the district claims it’s not receiving.  ​A resolution that sets the stage for litigation unanimously passed the Freehold Borough Board of Education at its meeting Monday evening. A lawsuit will be filed in about a week or so, said attorney Bruce Padula, who is representing the school district.​ (NJ.com)​

New York
The Research Argument For NYC’s Preschool Plan For 3-Year-Olds

Mayor Bill de Blasio this week pushed ahead with plans to make New York City one of nation’s few big cities to offer free, full-day preschool for all 3-year-olds­­.
The plan would serve, when fully rolled out over several years, more than 60,000 children a year. It builds on one of de Blasio’s signature accomplishments of his first term – universal pre-K for 4-year-olds. (NPR)​

North Carolina
House committee approves charter school growth, enrollment ‘perks’ for charter partners

RALEIGH, N.C. — The House K-12 Education Committee approved several charter school bills Monday, including one that would allow faster growth and another that would give children of charter school business partners enrollment priority. House Bill 779 would allow North Carolina charter schools to grow by 30 percent without an additional performance review by the state. Any school seeking to grow more than 30 percent would have to be reviewed. The current law sets the bar at 20 percent. Lawmakers initially proposed allowing schools to grow by 40 percent but lowered the threshold to 30. (WRAL)

State explores new approach for improving five failing Hamilton County schools

State and local school leaders want to create a separate district tasked with turning around five of Hamilton County’s lowest-performing schools. “The district’s iZone has not been as successful as we would have hoped for, and you have an opportunity because all of these students are in the same feeder pattern to do something very unique and supportive of 2,300 kids,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen. (Times Free Press)


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