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
Charters, Vouchers, ESAs Add Heat to State Legislative Debates

The appointment of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has brought plenty of national attention to the debate over vouchers, Education Savings Accounts, and charter schools. But the real action at this point is still at the state level, where legislators and governors have the most say over the future of these sorts of policies. That’s because states, in most instances provide the bulk of K-12 funding, not the federal government, and changes in state education governance would have to come from them. (Education Week)

Trump Takes Aim at School Lunch Guidelines and a Girls’ Education Program
The Trump administration took aim Monday at two signature programs of the former first lady Michelle Obama, rolling back her efforts to promote healthy school lunches nationwide and potentially rebranding her program to educate adolescent girls abroad. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that school meals would no longer have to meet some requirements connected with Mrs. Obama’s initiative to combat childhood obesity by overhauling the nation’s school menus. (The New York Times)

The School Discipline Revolution: How Policy and Rhetoric Outstrip Hard Evidence
School districts across the country have dramatically altered how they deal with student misbehavior. From Los Angeles to Chicago to New York City, schools have reduced the frequency with which they give out-of-school suspensions, saying taking students out of the classroom does more harm than good. A recent analysis of California schools found that suspensions there declined precipitously across all ethnic groups between 2013 and 2015. (The 74)

Pre-K: Decades Worth of Studies, One Strong Message
Some of the nation’s top researchers who’ve spent their careers studying early childhood education recently got together in Washington with one goal in mind: to cut through the fog of studies and the endless debates over the benefits of pre-school. And they came away with one clear, strong message: Kids who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than kids who don’t. (NPR)

Title I ‘portability’ debate comes to Florida Legislature

Proposed changes to the way federal funding flows to public schools have set off a late-session debate in the Florida Legislature. Proponents of the changes argue money should follow students to whatever school they attend, and school leaders — not district administrators — should decide how the money gets spent. School districts are fighting to keep their authority to decide where the money goes. They argue the changes would dilute funding intended to help disadvantaged students in schools with concentrated poverty. In short, it’s a state-level version of the national debate over funding “portability.” (RedefinED)

New Jersey
Good kids, bad decisions: Why Camden schools are suspending fewer students

Camden High principal Alex Jones can point to a few stories that make him believe his school’s new approach toward suspensions is making a difference, like one recent day when a teacher told him about a ninth-grade student who was acting out in class. A year ago, the student’s behavior might have triggered an automatic visit to the office, possibly angering the student further. Had the student yelled or thrown something, he might have faced a two-day suspension or worse. (The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News)

New York
State Senate boss John Flanagan suggests renewing Mayor de Blasio’s control of schools only if NYC adds more charters

The leader of the GOP-controlled state Senate said Monday that renewal of Mayor de Blasio’s control of the schools should be linked to an expansion of charter schools. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County) also signaled that the Senate intends to press the de Blasio administration for more detail on how it spends state education dollars before signing off on any renewal of the law that gives de Blasio control of the school system. (NY Daily News)

House Speaker Says Philly Charter School Action Could Imperil Funding

The state House Speaker is suggesting that Philadelphia school funding could be affected because of what he called “overreaches” by the district charter school office. The School Reform Commission Monday night renewed eight charters, non-renewed Laboratory charter and tabled action on Memphis Street Academy. This, on a day when House Speaker Mike Turzai warned that it would be tough to justify more funding for Philly schools if the district put up roadblocks to charter renewals. Charter operators – including Boys Latin CEO David Hardy — say the district is forcing them to sign burdensome renewal agreements. (CBS Philly)

Washington D.C.
Congress expected to reauthorize D.C. school vouchers in sweeping budget deal

Congress is expected to extend the D.C. school voucher program as part of a bipartisan budget deal this week, a move that follows the release of a new federal analysis showing that some voucher recipients in private schools trailed their public-school counterparts on standardized tests. The legislation would re­authorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps 1,100 low-income students attend private schools, through fiscal 2019. The program is the only federally funded effort of its kind. (The Washington Post)


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