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Newswire: April 16, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 15

TRAGEDY IN BOSTON. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of yesterday’s tragedy at the Boston Marathon. As our nation grapples with yet another act of terror, children no doubt have questions and concerns of their own. We’ve pulled together a few resources for parents and schools to provide reassurance and guidance to children when talking to them about tragedy.

WAFFLING ON CHOICE. Last week, TN Gov. Bill Haslam killed a very modest voucher plan at a time when senate republicans were poised to expand the plan beyond just those students trapped in what the state defines as “failing” schools. Why pull your own bill that had increasing support in the legislature? Evidently, as the Wall Street Journal uncovered, “to please the teachers unions.”

Some lawmakers in the Tarheel State may be waffling on this same issue as the Opportunity Scholarship Act that would provide approximately 360,000 low-income and middle-class families with a scholarship to attend a school of their choice was filed in the NC General Assembly yesterday. Some speculate Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenberg) isn’t going to be pushing so as not to lose the favor of the establishment as he makes his bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate. We’ve seen political aspirations get in the way of doing what’s right for kids play out before. Hopefully the 60,000+ parents, educators and students that have already vowed their support for this effort will be enough to sway the Speaker in their favor and remind him that he works for them, not special interests. Join the effort and sign up to attend Answering the Call for Our Children on April 23 in Greensboro, NC.

10,000 STRONG. Last Wednesday, 10,000 parents, students, educators and community leaders rallied in Buffalo in support of the NY Education Investment Tax Credit bill that would allow up to $300 million in individual and corporate tax credits. The bill enjoys bi-partisan support in the NY General Assembly, and as Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer Jim Kelly remarked, “How often is it that Albany could pass one bill and everybody wins.” This editor couldn’t agree more, as a Buffalo native who knows far to well how desperately parents in the Empire State need choice. If passed, the bill would allow low-income and middle-class families to choose from a number of public, private and parochial schools. Help spread the word and help to secure the thousands of voices still needed to see this through to Governor Cuomo’s desk.

THROWING GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD. West Virginia—‘Wild’? Yes. ‘Wonderful’? That remains to be seen: the state ranks 43rd in affording parents power. Only 24% of the state’s eighth graders can read at proficiency. Rather than push for systemic change, the State Board of Education has decided to throw more money at 32 failing schools, essentially rewarding them for poor performance. State Superintendent Jim Phares said, “When schools continue to perform in the bottom 5 percent of the state and aren’t showing signs of growth, they need help.” With all do respect Mr. Phares, the children trapped in these persistently failing schools need the help finding a way out!

EVERY CHILD READY. Last week, Education Week, the national newspaper of record for education, profiled the DC-based AppleTree Institute for its evidenced-based preschool instructional model. Developed with federal Investing In Innovation (i3) funds, Every Child Ready has become a model for preschool instruction whose method is learning through play. AppleTree President and CEO Jack McCarthy explains in the article how the model is particularly effective for children from under-resourced communities, whose backgrounds may not have prepared them for the rigors of elementary school. “We’re really focused on the children who are starting the furthest behind. They’re the ones who make the most gains through our program,” says the edreform pioneer. Be sure to check out the full article to see how AppleTree is starting early to change the trajectories of hundreds of children.

DEVELOPING OUR IRREPLACEABLE TEACHERS. The National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE), an intensive two summer program (10 days in residence each summer) designed specifically for experienced high-performing teachers from across the nation, is accepting applications from qualified candidates for the July 2013 program taking place in Providence, RI. The program is designed for high-performing Grade 3 – 12 teachers in their 3rd – 8th year of teaching in core subject areas with the goals of 1) further improving their classroom practice, 2) enhancing their ability to lead their peers and other adults outside the classroom, and 3) recommitting them to the profession of teaching. To find out more about the curriculum, the case study’s method and cost, and to learn about nominating teachers for the program, please call 401-371-0001 or e-mail info@naate.org.