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Daily Headlines for March 4, 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. 

STATE COVERAGE

ALABAMA

Alabama House passes school flexibility bill
Dothan First, AL, March 3, 2014
Six hours of instruction per day, for 180 days per year. That’s the traditional school calendar. But state lawmakers want to give local school systems a little leeway.

ARIZONA

Arizona House postpones debate on voucher program expansion
Arizona Capital Times, AZ, March 34, 2014
The Arizona House will debate a bill vastly expanding the state’s voucher program that allows students to use public funds for a private education.

CALIFORNIA

Group petitions for World Language Academy
Stockton Record, CA, March 3, 2014
A northern California charter school group has petitioned the San Joaquin County Office of Education to start a school that doubles as a Spanish language dual immersion and International Baccalaureate program in east Stockton.

In survey, union leader vows to file complaints over ‘teacher jails’
Los Angeles Times, CA, March 3, 2014
Los Angeles teachers union president Warren Fletcher lashed out at the school district Monday for its handling of teachers accused of misconduct, vowing to file federal and state age-discrimination complaints.

COLORADO

Colorado tries to revive education overhaul
Denver Post, CO, March 3, 2014
Colorado lawmakers started work Monday on what may be the Legislature’s trickiest job of the year: Crafting an education overhaul without $1 billion a year in new taxes.
The House Education Committee heard testimony on two bills that attempt to salvage a school-reform plan that was rejected by voters last year. That plan included an income-tax hike of about $1 billion a year.

FLORIDA

Henderson: Teacher evaluation tool pure gibberish
The Tampa Tribune, FL, March 3, 2014
A lot of words come to mind when trying to make sense of the formula the state has mandated to evaluate how well public school teachers are doing their jobs.

Facts needed for informed debate on school vouchers
Opinion, Sun-Sentinel, FL, March 4, 2014
Since we opened Mount Bethel Christian Academy in 1990, we have worked with a steady stream of students who arrived in our classrooms academically behind. Many of them were in danger of falling through the cracks in school – and in life.

Lawmakers eying broader landscape for school vouchers
First Coast News, FL, March 4, 2014
Florida lawmakers are taking a hard look at broadening a voucher program that would enable children from low-income families to afford a private education.

Public school siege
Editorial, Gainesville Sun, FL, March 4, 2014
It’s no wonder that public school educators would feel like they’re under attack in Florida.

School voucher program should be expanded
Letter, Sun Sentinel, FL, March 4, 2014
As a recipient school of the Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship program administered by Step Up for Students, we know firsthand the financial sacrifices made by our parents to give their children the education we provide. This is evident among the least fortunate of families, who would not otherwise be afforded that opportunity without assistance from this program.

IDAHO

Sen. Lacey’s motion on teacher pay approved by state budget writers
Idaho State Journal, ID, March 4, 2014
Sen. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, gained bipartisan support Monday among state budget writers with a successful motion to increase Idaho’s K-12 public schools teacher pay by 1.6 percent.

ILLINOIS

ISAT boycott is met by CPS saying test is crucial
Chicago Tribune, IL, March 4, 2014
Many Chicago Public Schools students found themselves Monday in the middle of a tug of war between parents and teachers calling for a boycott of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test and district officials who continue to stress the exam’s importance.

MAINE

Michaud, Cutler, LePage offer differing views on virtual charter schools
Portland Press Herald, ME, March 4, 2014
Independent candidate for governor Eliot Cutler offered cautious support Monday for virtual charter schools while the Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, said the online schools are “not the right answer.”

NEW MEXICO

New classwork + tests = no fill-in-the-blank evals
Editorial, Albuquerque Journal, NM, March 4, 2014
The classes of 2013 prepared for and took Standards Based Assessment tests. The classes of 2014 are preparing for new Common Core Standards but will take a modified SBA that includes, but does not count, Common Core test questions for grading. And the classes of 2015 and beyond will prepare for Common Core and take its Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam.

NEW YORK

De Blasio heads to Albany for pleas and protest
Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2 014
Bill de Blasio’s journey to Albany marks a key date in his young mayoralty, as he heads to the capital to make a late push for his signature pre-kindergarten plan amid a backdrop of a protest organized by well-financed charter school advocates.

Not a ‘for the kids’ point of view
Editorial, Orange County Register, CA, March 4, 2014
Success Academy Harlem 4 is an exemplary charter school. Some 55 percent of its low-income, preponderantly black students passed English exams last year, while 83 percent passed math exams. Those figures are far above averages for New York City public schools.

Success breeds success
Opinion, New York Daily News, NY, March 4, 2014
In the best American political tradition, families and students from Success Academy charter schools are visiting Albany on a school day to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

NORTH CAROLINA

Wake and Durham school leaders to oppose new teacher contracts
News & Observer, NC, March 4, 2014
Two of the Triangle’s largest school districts are poised this week to publicly oppose the state’s new requirement that systems encourage 25 percent of their teachers to give up their tenure rights in return for bonuses.

OHIO

Cleveland and Columbus charter school concerns will be taken on by upcoming bills in the legislature
Cleveland Plain Dealer, OH, March 3, 2014
The “loophole” in state law that allowed two charter schools to start in Cleveland this fall with little state oversight and none by the city, could soon be closed.

Two new charter schools win the backing of the Cleveland school district
Cleveland Plain Dealer, OH, March 3, 2014
The Cleveland school district agreed Tuesday to support two new charter schools that will add to the mix of charter and district schools that families and students can pick from.

PENNSYLVANIA

Erie School Board votes to deny charter for Huxley school
Erie Times-News, PA, March 4, 2014
The Erie School Board denied a charter application from the proposed Huxley Charter School for the Liberal Arts and Sciences after the board’s lawyer outlined numerous problems with the application and plan for operation.

Fixing public charter schools
Editorial, The Intelligencer, PA, March 4, 2014
One of the obstacles to effective government reform on any issue is disagreement on the problem. Without a shared understanding of what’s broken and why, fixing it can be darn near impossible, at least in a collaborative way.

TEXAS

Five charter schools warned for failing to meet state academic and financial standards
San Antonio Express-News, TX, March 4, 2014
The Texas Education Agency has warned five local charter school networks that their accreditation status is in jeopardy after they failed to meet academic standards, financial integrity ratings or both.

WEST VIRGINIA

House Ed Committee botches teacher pay bill
West Virginia MetroNews, WV, March 4, 2014
Governor Tomblin, teacher unions and key lawmakers have spent the last two months trying to shepherd a pay raise for teachers and service workers through the Legislature. It’s been a challenge, for a variety of reasons.

ONLINE LEARNING

Commission approves Maine’s first virtual charter school
Portland Press Herald, ME, March 3, 2014
The Maine Charter School Commission voted unanimously Monday to approve the state’s first virtual charter school, while rejecting applications from another virtual school and a school whose backers allegedly have ties to an imam at the center of political upheaval in Turkey.

Greenfield schools’ involvement in virtual school nearing end
Greenfield Recorder, MA, March 4, 2014
By month’s end, the Greenfield School Department will no longer be involved with the virtual school it helped create four years ago.

Maine shouldn’t reduce opportunities for all students to provide virtual learning for a few
Opinion, Bangor Daily News, ME, March 4, 2014
Former Superintendent Rich Abramson’s points regarding the benefits of online learning opportunities for Maine students in his Feb. 26 BDN OpEd were right on the mark. Distance learning must be a tool in the educational toolbox of all Maine communities.