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Daily Headlines for March 17, 2014

Click here for Newswire, the latest weekly report on education news and commentary you won’t find anywhere else – spiced with a dash of irreverence – from the nation’s leading voice in school reform.

NATIONAL COVERAGE

Editorial: New York, Chicago, and the war on charter schools
Chicago Tribune, March 17, 2014
As we discuss in another editorial on this page, innovative school choice efforts have been launched in several other states but have been stifled here. The rhetoric against charter school expansion is so strong in some quarters, you’d think they were crack houses or strip clubs angling to come in and pollute a neighborhood.

Send in the “ban bossy’ brigade for De Blasio
Opinion, March 17, 2014, New York Post
Here’s hoping Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg brings her “Ban Bossy” campaign to New York. Maybe she can get Mayor de Blasio to find a healthier response to Eva Moskowitz, and to end his war on charter schools and the children whose lives have been ever changed by them.

Vouchers proposed for kids in Tennessee’s worst schools
Watchdog.org, March 17, 2014
More than a thousand Tennessee parents trekked to Nashville in January to rally in favor of school choice.

STATE COVERAGE

ALASKA

Private school principals hopeful but leery of voucher impact
March 16, 2014, Juneau Empire
Although nobody knows for sure what a school choice program would look like in Alaska, one buzzword has been thrown around quite a lot since the start of session: vouchers.

ARIZONA

Editorial: Don’t dismantle public schools yet
March 17, 2014, Arizona Republic
Educators are a notoriously independent lot. Getting more than 230 school leaders to agree on anything is quite a feat. So, it says something that all but eight of Arizona’s public-school superintendents endorsed a letter critical of efforts to “dismantle our local public schools, endanger the health of our communities and diminish decision-making at the local level all the while undermining the fabric of our democracy.”

CALIFORNIA

“Dozier-Libbey teachers, district battle over effort to convert to charter school
March 16, 2014, Antioch Herald
At issue was the petition filed by the teaching staff of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School (DLMHS) to convert to a public charter school, and, once the meeting started, it didn’t take long before Superintendent Dr. Don Gill began to attack the teachers responsible for the petition.

COLORADO

Colorado school leaders act in unison to pressure lawmakers on funding
March 17, 2014, Denver Post
School superintendents across the state are employing a rare, unified message that has intensified the pressure on lawmakers to significantly bolster education funding this legislative session.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Bill Gates calls on teachers to defend Common Core
March 17, 2014, Washington Post
Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder who is spending part of his considerable fortune trying to improve U.S. public education, called on teachers Friday to help parents understand the new Common Core academic standards in an effort to beat back “false claims” lobbed by critics of the standards.

D.C. parents press city to help fund building renovation for D.C. International school
March 15, 2014, Washington Post
Parents are calling on Mayor Vincent C. Gray to restore city funding meant to help provide a permanent home for D.C. International, a new foreign-language-immersion charter school for students in grades six through 12.

FLORIDA

Charter schools break new ground with Doral College
March 15, 2014, Miami Herald
Doral College offers courses to high school students as a full-service, in-house college. But the school district has lots of questions.

Editorial: Stop flipping coins
March 14, 2014, Pensacola News Journal
Thanks to a legal challenge by the Florida Times-Union, Floridians now have yet another glimpse at just how dysfunctional and absurd school accountability standards are in this state.

School choice bills spark much debate, plenty of controversy
March 16, 2014, Miami Herald
Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate have ambitious plans to provide the state’s 2.7 million schoolchildren with more choices in education. Their focus: fostering the growth of charter schools and voucher programs.

ILLINOIS

Editorial: Making school choice a priority
March 17,2014, Chicago Tribune
Candidates for governor and the General Assembly have spent a great deal of time debating the state’s fiscal woes, and justifiably so. But the direction of education policy in this state deserves equal time. This state needs a more urgent push for choice and innovation.

LOUISIANA

Close to 1,300 students apply to Lafayette charter schools
Nearly 1,300 students have applied so far to the three charter schools set to open in August, according to information provided by the schools’ organizers.

East Baton Rouge school audit finds ‘uncommon,’ ‘troubling’ discrepancies in district’s academic rec
March 17, 2014, The Times-Picayune
Last school year, at one school in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, there were 29 students in the graduating class who had problems with their academic records.

MAINE

Multinational giant set to run first virtual school in Maine
March 17, 2014, Portland Press Herald
Some educators worry about outsourcing control, but supporters say a global company can reduce costs by serving so many users.

MARYLAND

Editorial: Balto. Co. should have a hybrid school board
March 17, 2014, Baltimore Sun
That said, the desire for elected members on the school board in Baltimore County has been so consistent for so long that it cannot be ignored. Given that there are pros and cons to all of the possible configurations for a school board, it is hard to argue against one that allows for the direct participation of the voters. The lengthy deliberations about this idea appear to have produced a bill that addresses many of the concerns of previous proposals, and the legislature should give the measure its approval.

MASSACHUSETTS

Cash vs. kids in battle over more charter schools
March 16, 2014, The Eagle-Tribune
Tens of thousands of kids are on waiting lists for charter schools in Massachusetts. The lists are long for a simple reason. Parents desperately want to give their children a chance at a better education and a better life, and they see charters as the way out of substandard public schools and a life of dependency.

Gov. candidates put conditions on support for charter schools
March 16, 2014, Fall River Herald News
Lifting the cap on charter schools in certain underperforming school districts is a question that may test Gov. Deval Patrick this year or his successor next year, and a News Service survey of contenders for the Corner Office found broad, but qualified support that crosses party lines.

Letter: For sake of her daughter, parent calls for lifting charter cap
March 16, 2014, Boston Globe
AS A graduate of a Boston public school, and the parent of a student in the Boston Public Schools, I have been looking for an alternative education for my youngest child. I was upset to read the article stating that the bill to increase the number of charter school seats might not make it by the end of the session (“Bid to add charter school has stalled,” Metro, March 9).

Op-Ed: Hub lawmaker should listen to voters, not unions
March 16, 2014, Boston Herald
Since last year, legislation to lift the cap on public charter schools in Boston and other low-performing Massachusetts school districts has been stalled. If the Legislature’s Education Committee opts not to act by March 19, the bill dies.

What new seats at charter schools could mean for Fall River’s existing schools
March 16, 2014, Fall River Herald News
It remains to be seen just how the addition of 1,227 new public charter school seats will impact the other schools citywide.

MINNESOTA

Commentary: Reforming the status quo of K-12 mediocrity
March 14, 2014, Star Tribune
The mediocrity of K-12 education in the United States originates in departments, colleges and schools of education wherein professors do not believe that systematically acquired knowledge of the liberal arts is important. They believe, instead, in so-called “constructivist” approaches that begin with the knowledge base and life experiences of the student as a foundation for seeking information that is relevant to each particular young person.

MISSISSIPPI

Dozen applicants seeking to open charter schools in Miss.
March 16, 2014, Hattiesburg American
A dozen groups have filed applications for the first charter schools in Mississippi. Charter School Authorizer Board Chairman Tommie Cardin released Saturday the list of groups that met the 5 p.m. Friday deadline.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Nashua’s arts-based charter school seeks to accelerate enrollment schedule
Officials at a new charter school in Nashua with an emphasis on arts-based curriculum hope to add spots for another 40 students when it opens in the fall.

NEW JERSEY
March 17, 2014, New Jersey Spotlight
Figuring out exactly how New Jersey’s public school teachers will be rated under the state’s new evaluation system has been a little vexing, so the state Department of Education has put out an online “calculator’ for teachers to figure out how they might fare.

NEW YORK

Critics fault city school district on delays in submitting choice plans
March 16, 2014, Buffalo News
Buffalo education leaders have struggled for years to turn around their lowest-performing schools, and in October, it seemed they had come up with a new way to revamp two of their struggling programs.

Editorial: Charter Schools
March 17, 2014, New York Times
Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on the promise of re-evaluating the practice of co-locating charter and noncharter schools in public school buildings. Critics of charter schools were encouraged; charter enthusiasts feared he would damage schools that served students well.

Rivalry between Mayor de Blasio and Eva Moskowitz stretches beyond charter schools
March 16, 2014, Daily News
The two figures share a heated, political rivalry that goes much deeper than the charter school issue they are currently fighting over.

NORTH CAROLINA

Families wait as voucher program faces uncertain future
March 16, 2014, WRAL
Medina applied for a voucher through the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Act, a bill that grants up to $4,200 in vouchers to parents to enroll their child in a private or religious school rather than a public school. “I want him to have the same thing I had — the opportunity to go to college,” Medina said. Now, that opportunity is in limbo.

Some NC charter schools violate open meetings law
March 16, 2014, Charlotte Observer
When Kathey Dailey asked about attending a charter school board meeting, she says administrators at her son’s school said those meetings were closed to the public. They were wrong.

OHIO

Editorial: Extend reading guarantee to all
March 16, 2014, Columbus Dispatch
The Dispatch has supported the state’s EdChoice program of private-school tuition vouchers as an important way for students stuck in failing public schools to have another option. This doesn’t mean, however, that students attending private schools with taxpayer-paid vouchers should be exempt from the standards designed to hold schools accountable.

OKLAHOMA

Intersession classes help Oklahoma City students facing upcoming state tests
March 17, 2013, The Oklahoman
While most students in the Oklahoma City school district spent the first week of spring break relaxing, more than 5,000 attended voluntary classes to prepare for upcoming tests that could determine whether they repeat the third grade or receive a high school diploma.

PENNSYLVANIA

Advocates debate charter school accountability at A.G. hearing
March 16, 2014, Philadelphia Daily News
EDUCATION ADVOCATES CALLED for increased oversight and transparency of the state’s charter schools, while sparring over a state Senate proposal that would allow universities to authorize new charters during a public hearing yesterday at City Hall.

Commentary: Grading teachers: Union resistance to more useful evaluations perpetuates mediocrity or worse
March 15, 2014, Trib Live
Every student in our city deserves the highest quality teaching possible and we must be willing to do everything to provide it. Fairness for both the provider and receiver of services is the prime motivator for any effective evaluation system, whether it is for something as mundane as finding a coffee shop or as vital as finding excellent teachers and great schools.

Erie schools take stance against charters
March 16, 2014, Erie Times-News
Members of the Erie School Board answered one by one, each giving the same response Superintendent Jay Badams wanted to hear: no.

Pittsburgh schools promoting rewards for attendance
March 17, 2014, Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Pittsburgh schools are among those throughout the county engaged in a “Be There” campaign as part of a partnership with the United Way of Allegheny County, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and others.

SOUTH DAKOTA

South Dakota’s low teacher pay in ‘crisis’
March 16, 2014, Capital Journal
Roehrich’s story is one many school districts in the state hear, and low teacher salaries has become an increasing problem, school district officials say. It’s no secret that South Dakota’s teacher pay never has been at the top when comparing average teacher pay across the nation, but school officials say the state continues to fall further behind.

TENNESSEE

Metro Nashville Public Schools wants Common Core test even if Tennessee delays it
March 15, 2014, The Tennessean
If the Tennessee General Assembly halts the state’s conversion to a new test aligned with Common Core, Metro Nashville Public Schools would seek special permission to start using the assessment this fall anyway.

Push to reverse teacher licensure policy picks up steam in statehouse
March 17, 2014, The Tennessean
A proposal to prohibit students’ standardized test scores from influencing Tennessee teacher-licensing decisions has gained momentum as state lawmakers look to upend a controversial education policy of Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration.

TEXAS

Charter Serving High School Dropouts Fights Closure
March 17, 2014, The Texas Tribune
As a wide-reaching law intended to encourage the growth of high-quality Texas charter schools and shutter underperforming ones takes effect, the state is facing questions over the guidelines used to decide which schools to close.

WEST VIRGINIA

Editorial: Don’t further tie hands of school principals
March 16, 2014, Charleston Daily Mail
It’s been covered so many times before. The report completed in January 2012 by Public Works LLC after its comprehensive audit of West Virginia’s education system put it bluntly: “West Virginia has one of the most highly centralized and impermeable education systems in the country: no other state education system is so highly regulated in code.” With that fresh in mind, why then, would the Legislature pass a bill to further restrict the ability of principals from effectively running their schools?

ONLINE LEARNING

Hamden teachers ‘flip’ classrooms to stay on track after snow days
New Haven Register, March 16, 2014
Several snowstorms may have forced many schools to close and left teachers and students pushing back against the weather. However, students at Sacred Heart Academy are right on track by “flipping their classrooms” to stay on track.

Editorial: K12 Inc. is part of the evolving role of education
March 17, 2014, The Daily Times
Education in the United States is in a state of flux. Advances in technology. Explosive growth in access to information. Instant and broad-based communications available almost anytime, anyplace. Increasing international cooperation and competition. Concern about the academic achievement of U.S. students compared to their peers overseas.

Opinion: NY needs online public education policy
March 15, 2014, The Journal News
It’s time for New York state to develop a progressive statewide online public school education policy. Students in New York should have access to free online K-12 public school education.

Severe winter weather not a problem for cyberschools, officials say
March 16, 2014, Lehigh Valley Express-Times
For many public school students, falling snowflakes spur hopes of closings, delays or early dismissals. The opposite is the case at cyberschools.

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