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

On State Accountability Plans, Another Test for Betsy DeVos
Monday marks the final deadline by which nearly all states must have submitted a K-12 accountability plan to the Department of Education, marking a pivotal – if not yet final – step in how schools will operate under the new federal education law. The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, gives states new flexibility to create accountability systems that suit their unique needs. Those plans must be vetted and cleared by the Department of Education before states begin implementing them in the near future. (U.S. News & World Report)

Top Dems: DeVos ESSA Oversight Has ‘Failed’ on Several Fronts, Must Improve
The top Democrats on education issues in Congress say that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ oversight of states’ new plans for education has “failed to adequately address several shortcomings” in plans that have been turned in so far, and urged the secretary to do better in the next round of plans. In a Monday letter, Sen. Patty Murray of, Washington, and Rep. Bobby Scott, of Virginia, told DeVos that while the U.S. Department of Education correctly identified several areas where state plans fell short of meeting the Every Student Succeeds Act requirements, DeVos and other federal officials missed other violations in those plans, and thus allowed states to skirt the law in certain areas. (Education Week)

Rating the Ratings
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) grants states more authority over their school accountability systems than did No Child Left Behind (NCLB)—meaning that states now have a greater opportunity to design improved school ratings. Rating the Ratings: Analyzing the First 17 ESSA Accountability Plans examines whether states are making the most of the moment. In our view, three of the most important improvements that states can make are to ensure that their accountability systems: Assign annual ratings to schools that are clear and intuitive for parents, educators, and the public; Encourage schools to focus on all students, not just their low performers; and Fairly measure and judge all schools, including those with high rates of poverty. (Fordham)

While the rest of the world invests more in education, the U.S. spends less
The world’s developed nations are placing a big bet on education investments, wagering that highly educated populaces will be needed to fill tomorrow’s jobs, drive healthy economies and generate enough tax receipts to support government services. Bucking that trend is the United States. U.S. spending on elementary and high school education declined 3 percent from 2010 to 2014 even as its economy prospered and its student population grew slightly by 1 percent, boiling down to a 4 percent decrease in spending per student. That’s according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s annual report of education indicators, released last week. (The Hechinger Report)

It’s back to school, again, for students across South Florida after Hurricane Irma closures
It’s the first day of school — all over again. Students in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties were back in school today after more than a week of closures because of Hurricane Irma. In Broward, parents will have a little help in getting their children fed for the time being. “We are providing free breakfast and free lunch for every student at every school for the next several weeks,” Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said Saturday. (Sun Sentinel)

Georgia’s education plan will affect students, schools, testing
What’s next for Georgia in the continuing back-and-forth with federal educational authorities over setting achievement standards for students, schools and teachers? Georgia will submit its latest plan to conform to federal guidelines on Monday. It wants to shift away from the tough test-and-punish regime of the past that some say was unrealistic and unfair but others say held schools accountable for all students, including their worst performers. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

New York
In year three of New York City’s massive school turnaround program, the big question is: What’s next?
On a recent Tuesday morning, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña walked into a classroom at Longwood Preparatory Academy in the Bronx, where students were absorbed with gleaming iMacs and recording equipment. She paused for a moment, watching the teacher shuttle between students experimenting with audio-editing software. “Look at the attention these kids are getting,” Fariña said, praising the school’s new vocational program in digital media. “It’s a feeling of renewed vigor and energy.” With the smell of fresh paint still hanging in the air, Fariña’s visit was meant to highlight the enormous investments the city has made in dozens of schools that have floundered for years — including this one. (Chalkbeat)

Fair funding advocates decry Pa. leaders for playing politics with specialty school money
For years in Pennsylvania, school funding coming from state government was criticized as being irrational, unpredictable, and too-tied to backroom politics. That’s a large part of why many celebrated last year when the state adopted a new student-weighted school funding formula built entirely on objective data. But there are still times when lawmakers throw that objectivity out the window. (News Works)

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


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