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Newswire – July 31, 2018

A PERSONALIZED FUTURE. An overview of the Summit Learning Program and four schools that have adopted the approach provides a glimpse into a future of education that could be closer than many think. An excerpt: “Twenty percent of the school day is devoted to what Summit calls Personalized Learning Time, or what students more commonly call PLT. Using their laptops, students log into the Summit Learning Platform and access online playlists related to topics such as the structure of DNA and trigonometric ratios. ‘PLT is my favorite,’ said Ely Villagrana, a 9th-grader. Just as technology facilitates student learning, it also helps teachers connect with students, said Nicholas Kim, who was the school principal from 2013-17. “We have so much clarity about what students know and can do,” he said.

WHITTLE SCHOOL & STUDIOS. Speaking of the future, if you haven’t been following the activities of Chris Whittle (education entrepreneur, reform pioneer, and, we’re honored to say CER board member) over the last couple of years, you’ve missed a lot, namely, the formation of Whittle School & Studios – the world’s first truly global school which will offer a reimagined PreK-12 education for the modern world to provide children with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in a modern world. . (The first two campuses are slated to open in the fall of 2019 in Washington, D.C. and Shenzhen, China). Also of note, you can nominate a student for the Founding Whittle Scholars program – a highly selective scholarship for exceptional, high-achieving students – offering scholarships that will cover 50%-100% of the cost of attending Whittle School & Studios!  (A WS&S open house – featuring faculty, school and division heads, demonstrations of experiential learning methods, and more – is scheduled for September 30, so mark your calendar.) Read here for more information.

THE UNIONSContinued It’s like a new reality TV drama. Every week a new episode! This week, the action moves to Utah, where the teachers’ union, the Utah Education Association, has canceled its annual convention for 2018 citing years of declining participation (less than a quarter of its 18,000 members attended the event in 2017). Turns out that the state used to compensate teachers for participating in the conference; now, only a few districts do. The event also was once the only place where educators could fulfill continuing education requirements or get credits to keep a license up to date; for years, however, even better ways exist to do so online. So what other reasons do teachers have to attend the annual labor shindig?  Apparently, none.

THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG. Anticipating steep membership and funding losses as a result of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Janus v. AFSCME the education unions, in this case the American Federation of School Administrators, are going on the prowl for new blood. Their target: charter school leaders. As EdWeek reports, “The largely non-unionized charter sector could present ample—albeit rocky—territory for expansion for unions.” Rocky indeed. The likelihood of any of the education unions winning significant support from the charter sector is extremely low, especially given unions’ long-time, on-going opposition to charters and ed reform in general. The last thing most charter school teachers and administrators want is to give up their freedom to support out-of-touch and out-of-step labor bosses.

SO WE’RE ALL IN AGREEMENT. In addressing an issue we’ve been harping on for years, last week the House passed – unanimously – and the President signed this week The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act that looks to close a skills gap by helping post-secondary students receive on-the-job training in fields short on skilled workers like manufacturing, health care and cybersecurity. However, what’s now in law isn’t nearly innovative and expansive as it could and should be. Indeed we wonder why CTE legislation isn’t more closely tied to higher ed legislation, something we will be talking more about in the coming days, weeks and months as CER is dedicated to bringing the transformations in education it is known for in the K-12 sector to all facets of higher learning and workplace preparation as well. Schools are thrilled of course that the new CTE bill increases funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Program so more students can participate, and lawmakers are happy that it shifts the authority to local states and community colleges and high schools, something reinforced by Senator Lamar Alexander when his chamber passed the bill last week. But we must do more than send money to local programs – we must actually change the way we do business in educating and training students for their future in dramatic new ways. Anyway, we know most agree. We’ll keep demanding it, too.

A STRONG EDITORIAL POSITION IN RI. The editorial board of the Providence Journal issued a strong statement this week: Rhode Island Needs More Charters, writing, in part: “…the demand for charter schools far outweighs the availability. Last year, the state’s charter schools received more than 15,000 applications for about 1,700 available seats… That is a stunning statement that traditional schools are not serving the needs of large numbers of students — and that the state’s weak and timid educational reforms are not cutting it… Our society pays a steep price for each child who might have gained a first-rate education but does not. Education is the key to opportunity for all. Rhode Island’s failure to do whatever it takes to help poor and minority children thrive is a tragedy that will have lasting implications.

AGAIN WITH THE MAYOR. NYC’s Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz wants to put middle school students in the space formerly occupied by her elementary school, which she operated until June, but because she didn’t ask to make the change last February, she’s getting tossed from the space. An appeal to Mayor de Blasio, Moskowitz wrote: “Throughout your political career, you have promised New Yorkers protection from landlords who are egregiously unfair. Yet without urgent action, it will be your own administration that evicts 70 diverse children, plus their teachers and staff, from a nearly-empty school building without cause.”  This is just the latest battle in Moskowitz’s on-going war with de Blasio to free-up space for charters in NYC and it’s time the mayor ends his opposition. (Listen to a conversation with Eva Moskowitz from earlier this year on Reality Check with Jeanne Allen, Episode 18)

REALITY CHECK WITH JEANNE ALLEN, EPISODE 31. Listen in on Jeanne’s conversation with Mike McShane, Director of National Research for EdChoice in Indianapolis, as they discuss educational options and the affects the newest Supreme Court Justice nominee might have on opportunities.