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Updated: 50 min 48 sec ago

Denver youth build video games at Denver’s IdeaLAB

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 18:23

PHOTO: Monique Collins/Chalkbeat

Most people haven’t heard of 3D modeling, and they probably have never created a video game from scratch, either, but a group of Denver students who participated in Denver Public Library’s 2014 Summer of Tech knew exactly what they were doing.

The 19 students — most not much older than 12 — met on Thursday afternoon. Almost all of them, when asked by the workshop’s leader Chris Brown, said they had heard of and used the 3D modeling and gaming software to make their own first-person video game.

The software used to build the games is free to download, which was an important aspect for the workshop’s leaders because it gave participants the opportunity to access the software outside of the lab and work on the skills on their own time, Brown said.

In class, the students spent the time creating a simple, three-dimensional world for their characters, then used different software to enable characters to interact with one another.

This was just the beginning of a month-long science, technology, engineering and math program offered at the library’s ideaLAB, a free digital media center for teens. The ideaLAB’s goal is to create a space for local teens to practice vital (and potentially lucrative) computer skills and prepare themselves for the future.

Throughout the summer, students will have the opportunity to turn their video games into movies, create songs, make mobile games and more. The program runs every Thursday from 3:30-5:30 p.m., through August 14.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: Littleton receives federal tragedy grant

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 09:14

Band of schools

The state released the names of who would be joining the voluntary turnaround network. So why did these schools hop on board? A variety of reasons. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Facelift

Thanks to a grant, a playground that has been a dirt lot for fifty years will get a makeover. ( Gazette )

(No longer) a shot in the dark

Parents can now request the opt-out rates of immunizations at schools and daycare clinics, due to a law originally intended to cut back on exemptions. ( Chieftain )

Arapahoe High School shooting

Littleton Public Schools received a federal tragedy grant to cover counseling and security measures in the wake of the Arapahoe school shooting. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Around the network

Former Indiana schools chief Tony Bennett was found guilty of an ethics violation for working on campaign efforts during work hours. ( Chalkbeat Indiana )

At the rebuilt National Civil Rights Museum, student engagement is part of the design. ( Chalkbeat Tennessee )

An assistant principal in New York sees "a tale of two schools" in public education. ( Chalkbeat New York )

Categories: Urban School News

8 struggling schools opt in to Colorado’s new turnaround network

Thu, 07/10/2014 - 23:10

When Rob Stein, chief academic officer for the Roaring Fork School District, learned third-grade reading scores at Crystal River Elementary School dipped this year, he called his old friend and former colleague Peter Sherman to ask for some advice.

Unlike his other elementary schools, which saw spikes in reading scores, something just wasn’t working at Crystal River, which has been on and off the state’s school accountability watch list for four years.

Sherman, the state’s executive director of school and district performance, suggested Crystal River apply to be a part of his new endeavor: the Colorado Turnaround Network, a state-run but voluntary co-op of schools working together to boost student achievement.

The network borrows some inspiration from efforts by other states that share a federal mandate to track and improve low-performing schools.

But unlike controversial initiatives in Louisiana and Tennessee, which have concentrated weak schools in districts run directly by the state, Colorado is leaving control of the turnaround schools up to local districts. Colorado also formed the network quietly, rather than trumpet its tough-on-struggling school approach, as some other states have done. And instead of requiring all low-performing schools to undergo the same changes, Colorado is asking schools to opt in — and to decide for themselves what changes would help students.

Colorado’s Turnaround Network

  • Adams 12 Five Star Schools: Hillcrest Elementary
  • Adams County School District 14: Rose Hill Elementary
  • Pueblo City Schools: Haaff Elementary, Irving Elementary
  • Calhan School District RJ1: Calhan Elementary
  • Roaring Fork School District: Crystal River Elementary
  • Lake County School District: West Park Elementary, Lake County Middle

The collaborative approach piqued Stein’s interest. “What I like about the network is that it’s do-with, not do-to,” he said.

The eight schools in the network — which include Stein’s Crystal River — met for the first time last month to hear more about Sherman’s vision for school-based solutions to four kinds of challenges: culture, internal operations, personnel, and district relations.

Entering the turnaround network doesn’t take schools or districts off of the state’s “accountability clock,” in which persistently low-scoring schools get five years to improve or their school districts could face state sanctions.

But it does offer a last-ditch effort for schools that have failed to boost performance for as much as four years already.

“Our belief and one of our theories of action is that we can provide some resources, some frameworks, for what we believe is necessary for success,” Sherman said. “We believe strongly that solutions for low-performing schools will come from the local communities.”

Balancing its influence against Colorado’s cherished local control could be a challenge for the turnaround network.

Pat Sanchez, the superintendent of the Adams 14 School District, said he got on board only after becoming convinced that the state’s priorities for Rose Hill Elementary, his lowest-scoring school, corresponded to the district’s own. The state network will provide training for the school’s new leader and will offer support to help the school reach the district’s reading and math goals.

“A big selling point is that the network will not create a new set of priorities for my principal,” Sanchez said. “She won’t have two sets of marching orders. The state is about supplementing that will hopefully help accelerate learning.”

Colorado’s approach has benefits, according to Ashley Jochim, a researcher for the Center on Reinventing Public Education, or CRPE, who has researched the role of state education agencies like CDE.

Because the state is acting more like a broker of resources and advice than directly running the schools, the state’s limited turnaround staff of five isn’t likely to be strained.

But Jochim said the resources will only be fruitful if principals are allowed to adopt the best ideas, even if they run counter to district polices — something that could be a challenge when it comes to personnel, budget, and curriculum.

If Colorado stumbles, it won’t be alone, Jochim said.

“We’re not in a place where anyone has done [a turnaround network] right,” she said.

Categories: Urban School News

Littleton schools get federal grant for shooting recovery

Thu, 07/10/2014 - 12:00

The Littleton school district has received a $121,200 federal grant to help pay for counseling and school security measures in the wake of last December’s shootings at Arapahoe High School.

A U.S. Department of Education news release reported that “administrators and guidance counselors have seen an increase in student absences, health office visits, discipline referrals and suicide and threat assessments” since the shootings.

Last Dec. 13, student Karl Halverson, 18, entered the school armed with a shotgun and three Molotov cocktails. During the brief incident he shot and killed student Claire Davis, 17, and then killed himself. Halverson reportedly was looking for his debate coach, with whom he had a disagreement.

The funds came from a DOE program that provides grants to schools that have experienced violence or disasters. The Colorado Department of Education earlier received a separate $750,000 grant to help districts affected by last year’s floods. That money was used to reimburse districts for things like transportation costs, additional staffing for relief work, mental health costs and overtime costs.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: Dougco staff propose plan for maintenance on district buildings

Thu, 07/10/2014 - 09:48

Choosing Schools

A report published by the Center for Reinventing Public Education shows more parents are choosing their kids' schools, but many parents, especially those with less education and lower incomes, still face obstacles. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Under Construction

Douglas County School District staff have proposed a plan to pay for $275 million in building repairs with no increase in taxes, but the School Board of Education is hesitant to take action. ( Denver Post )

Opposition on All Fronts

Newark schools Superintendent Cami Anderson has a new three-year contract, but lack of support from parents, teachers and political leaders may prove a challenge for her in the coming years. ( EdWeek )

Failure to Act

A University of Denver student said school administration failed to impose sanctions on her rapist or offer counseling after the fact, a direct violation of the school's policy of sexual misconduct. ( Daily Camera )

Turned Away

Hundreds of parents were turned away Wednesday as they tried to sign up their children at New Orleans' online public school enrollment center due to lack of staff. ( The Times-Picayune )

Categories: Urban School News

Report: More parents are choosing their students’ schools, but barriers persist

Wed, 07/09/2014 - 17:16

A majority of parents — regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds — are now choosing which schools their students attend, according to a new report by the Center on Reinventing Public Education.

But too many parents, especially those with less education and lower incomes, continue to face barriers in selecting schools.

The report, released today by the education reform-minded Seattle-based think tank, is based on surveys from 4,000 parents across eight cities with active choice options — including Denver. It is the first report in a series by CRPE that will examine choice programs across the nation. The report was funded in part by the Walton Family Foundation.

Barriers families face when choosing a school — neighborhood or charter — include inadequate information, lack of convenient transportation, and uneven school quality, the report found.

Parents of students living with special-needs are also more likely to experience difficulties finding a school of their choice.

“For school choice advocates, this report paints a cautionary picture,” the study’s authors concluded. “Although the expansion of choice in American cities has clearly empowered many parents and provided their children an escape from chronically low-performing schools, leaders today need to face crosscutting access and quality problems that get in the way of all families benefiting from choice. Given the state of education governance in many big cities, where agencies charged with overseeing public schools operate independently, addressing these problems requires new thinking and strategies.”

The report recommends school officials provide parents more detailed school information and offer better transportation options. In some cases, especially in those cities with multi-level governance structures (including district-run neighborhood and charter schools, private charter operators, and state-run schools), a single city-wide choice system like Denver’s may simplify the process for parents.

Denver’s SchoolChoice process is a three-year old initiative billed as “one form, one timeline, all schools,” which aimed to make school enrollment fairer. Parents submit up to five choices for potential schools. Those who do not participate or do not get one of their five choices are automatically enrolled in their neighborhood school.

Data released earlier this year by Denver Public Schools found this year is the first since the system’s launch in which the number of participants who received a top choice declined.

Denver parents also shared their love-hate relationship with the school district’s choice program earlier this year during a series of town-hall meetings the city’s school board hosted as it reworked its strategic governing document.

The next CRPE report is expected to dive into the results of the survey by localities and is due out in the fall.

Disclosure: Chalkbeat is a grantee of The Walton Family Foundation. 

CRPE choice report DV.load('http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1214560-crpe-makingschoolchoicework-report.js', { width: 620, height: 600, sidebar: false, text: true, pdf: true, container: '#DV-viewer-1214560-crpe-makingschoolchoicework-report' });
Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: A special summer school keeps students with autism on schedule

Wed, 07/09/2014 - 10:05

Due to technical difficulties, your morning Rise & Shine headlines are here. Check back tomorrow where your headlines will — hopefully — return to their normal home. 

Evaluating the evaluations

State Sen. Mike Johnston, in an interview with Chalkbeat, discussed how his signature teacher evaluation legislation is and should be impacting rural school districts. He believes teacher evaluations should be useful and about improvement not burdensome and accountability. Chalkbeat Colorado

Human resources

Another Douglas County School District administrator has made the move to Jeffco Public Schools. Syna Morgan, chief system performance officer for the Douglas County Schools, has been hired as chief academic officer for the Jeffco school district. Chalkbeat Colorado, Denver Post

The Greeley-Evans School District has a new interim superintendent: Chief Operations Officer Wayne Eads. Greeley Tribune

No interruptions, please

Keeping to a routine can be important for some students living with autism. That’s why one Lakewood teacher and her school psychologist created a special summer school to keep the momentum going. 9News

Dinner at 5:30

A national nonprofit, with an office in Colorado, hopes to help some students create the right environment to become effective scholars. That includes creating a strict routine and — in some cases — providing students with a new home during the school week. Huffington Post 

Back to school safety

Three schools in the Harrison School District will be outfitted with new security updates. Colorado Springs Gazette 

Tennessee turnaround

While President Obama is eager to highlight Tennessee’s early success with its Race to the Top Grant, a closer look illustrates a much more complexed and dogged overhaul. EdWeek

Top of the class

Last week the KIPP Foundation — which supports the charter school network — was awarded a $250,000 grant $250,000 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools last week. New York Post

Categories: Urban School News

Top Dougco administrator hired as Jeffco chief academic officer

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 19:11

Syna Morgan, chief system performance officer for the Douglas County Schools, has been hired as chief academic officer for the Jeffco school district.

Jeffco Public Schools announced the appointment Tuesday, a week after Dan McMinimee started work as that district’s superintendent. McMinimee was the assistant superintendent of secondary schools in Dougco before taking his new job.

In a statement, McMinimee said this of Morgan: “Her knowledge of curriculum, instruction and assessment is exceptional. She will lead our team forward in a positive and balanced way with a focus on student achievement and growth.”

In her Dougco job, Morgan was head of research, assessment and accountability for the district since August 2010. Prior to that she owned a local educational consulting firm and worked for the Nevada Department of Education. She was elementary teacher in Nevada from 1989 to 1996. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from Fort Lewis College and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Nevada-Reno.

Morgan was recently appointed to serve on the Standards and Assessments Task Force, a new study panel created by the legislature to review the state testing system.

McMinimee, hired by a new conservative majority on the Jeffco board, has sparked concerns among board critics that he will try to copy some of the controversial initiatives undertaken in Dougco. Learn more about the new superintendent’s first day in this Chalkbeat Colorado story and read what he has to say on key issues in this article.

In Jeffco, Morgan takes the position vacated by Heather Beck, who left the job last month to become a superintendent in Oregon.

Corrections in Morgan’s professional background were made on July 10.

Categories: Urban School News

Sen. Mike Johnston: Districts have “a lot of freedom” under SB191

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 16:43

Sen. Mike Johnston has been at the forefront of reform efforts in the Colorado legislature since his appointment in 2009. His signature measure, the overhaul of the state’s teacher evaluation system that kicked into gear this year, has received mixed reviews, especially from rural districts.

Recently, Holyoke, a small district in northeastern Colorado, signaled its intentions to apply for a waiver under the 2008 innovation schools law that would free the district from a key portion of the evaluation law –  basing half a teacher’s evaluation on student academic growth as measured by state and local tests.

Chalkbeat spoke with Johnston by phone recently to discuss the Holyoke waiver and the implications of education reform for rural districts, as well as what reformers can learn from rural educators. 

(The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.)

Let’s start with the recent push from Holyoke to apply for innovation status. Speaking to Superintendent Bret Miles, I think their feeling on the test scores is there is already a high level of accountability for teachers. They release their state scores in the newspaper and they know exactly who is responsible for those test scores. Does that do the same thing in your mind as the state system?

The purpose of any good evaluation should be improvement, so giving people feedback they can use to get better. And our initial belief behind the design of Senate Bill 191 was that you want that evaluation to consist of two components. One is an agreed-upon set of quality standards about what effective teaching practices look like. And then a link to actual student outcomes so we know the work we are doing with adults is having an impact on the learning of students. The law as it exists already allows a great deal of flexibility about how one measures student growth measures.  So I don’t think we would want to depart from the notion that students’ actual improvement ought to be a significant part of what our work is focused on.

In the Kit Carson context, it was more about providing full autonomy to all the schools in a way that innovation schools have sought. That’s a pretty significant overhaul of how the district operated before. [The Kit Carson district in eastern Colorado received an innovation waiver from some SB 10-191 elements in 2011.]

When the original innovation bill was passed, it was before we had passed other state performance bills like 191. So it was somewhat silent on whether you could innovate out of other requirements. The Kit Carson example seemed to be in the spirit of both innovation and accountability because they wanted to give schools and districts more autonomy, which often meant more control for principals over budget and hiring and firing and program. If in fact that’s the case with the Holyoke proposal, I’d be interested to see it.

One issue I’ve heard about SB-191 is the question of how much time it takes to fill out the paperwork, struggles that come down to some pretty practical considerations. And in Holyoke, they felt that those actually took away from teachers’ time with students and principals’ time in the classroom.

I’d be curious to learn more about what that is. One of the changes that exists is that people should be evaluated every year, instead of every three years. I don’t think it’s unnecessary paperwork to say that a professional ought to get good feedback once a year on how their work is. I think that that seems to be meaningful interaction between supervisors and teachers.

If they’re talking about what the evaluation system is itself, they have plenty of room to innovate in terms of how they design or use an evaluation system, without adjusting the balance of student growth measures and teacher quality standards. So I think a lot of freedom is in place within the law. So I’d be very curious to know what is the paperwork burden that they see and how do we make sure that that aligns to actual student outcomes.

What feedback did you get this spring from districts? We’re now several months into SB-191 implementation.

The most feedback we got this spring was, “We need more resources to support implementation of this,” which is why we spent all of the last year working on the school finance issue. People said, “This is the right work. We think it’s important but we need additional resources to provide that support.”

So we talked a lot about how we want to provide dollars for professional development, we want to provide dollars for technology so they have resources to provide assessments. And they all very clearly said, “Don’t target any of those resources to specific needs like professional development or technology, but rather give them to us with flexibility and we the local districts will determine what the best way is to use those.” So that’s exactly what we did. We invested almost $450 million into K-12 this year. So now the really important thing is to see how exactly are we going to develop and support this implementation. What are districts doing with the resources that are effective and making an impact and what lessons can we learn to share statewide?

How do you prevent flexibility from turning into overwhelming complexity?

I think that’s why we tried to set some guardrails around some common forms of practice. For instance, that’s why we’ve had educators work over the past two years to build the common evaluation rubric. I think we prevented districts from feeling like they have to reinvent their evaluation system on their own, if they don’t have the time or people to do it, and so there would be some commonalities. How you measure growth is up to you, but the fact that we have a shared commitment that growth is 50 percent of the evaluation is one of the things that keeps the statewide system common. I think the same fact that all the evaluation systems will roll up to the same basic effectiveness measures means we can start the process a little bit of making sure there’s some common and consistent feedback for educators and common language around what success looks like across the state, while still allowing for local flexibility.

I think that is one of the key challenges of statewide action is how to both preserve local flexibility and maintain some sense of statewide coherence.

It seems to me like you could have districts doing so many different things and having to come up with so many different solutions that the question becomes how much of a value is this for districts and how much of this is truly a change.

The nice thing about local control, like federalism in our federal system, is you’ll have different districts who’ll find different ways to revise and innovate. That means we’ll really learn from some innovative practices we hadn’t anticipated before. I think that helps the state grow strong. I don’t think we ever presumed the state was going to have one hard and fast best answer and everyone else was going to have to comply with it. We built the system with  a common set of outcomes and a common set of standards, but with flexibility for districts to implement with their needs the best. The needs are so different from an 80,000-student urban district to a 120-student rural district. You have to allow for some flexibility.

I think the question for a lot of folks in rural areas is, can you even ask the same thing? Can you even ask for an evaluation system that goes statewide?

Well, I think you have to ask the question. Can you even ask for rural teachers to be evaluated? I think you can say yes. Can you even ask for rural students to make growth every year? I think you can say yes. I’ve never talked to a rural educator who said their students couldn’t do that. I’ve never heard someone say I think we can’t expect our students to make progress each year or I don’t think we should give our teachers meaningful feedback each year. I’ve never heard them say that. I’ve never heard the argument that we should abandon the basic value that all students should be expected to grow and professionals are entitled to good feedback.

I think one of the questions is not whether this work is hard but whether this work is useful. I think if we are building a system that gives educators really good feedback and helps them improve their practice, gives really strong support to kids and helps them learn, then I think it’s worth doing. And I think that becomes the most important question now.

What kind of supports can the state provide to help rural districts recruit teachers?

One of the biggest challenges we find in retaining staff in rural districts is compensation. This is why when you look at my efforts on the school finance reform two years ago on Senate Bill 213, Amendment 66, we tried to change the measures on the school funding formula that really disproportionately hurt rural districts and made it much harder to get competitive salaries in those districts. I think we need to find ways to attract and incentivize teachers to stay in rural districts. And I think that’s one ongoing challenge we’re going to have to work on.

What about changes to licensure?

We’ve worked on it some. We’ve heard a lot from rural districts who’ve said, “We want more flexibility in being able to choose the folks that we think are best and we can train to support our needs.” I think that’s an issue that still remains. We have to figure out how to provide more opportunities to recruit and hire high quality staff for some of the tougher to serve regions of the state. I think they’re going to need some more tools in the toolbox than they have now.

What do you think larger districts can learn from smaller districts?

I think that smaller districts have a tremendous sense of intimacy and sense of teamwork that comes from the adults in the community because they all know each other so well and they all work well together.

No kid is a number. Every student is not just a name, but is a name with history, with brothers and sisters and cousins and parents and grandparents that they know. I think there’s a real sense of teamwork and collaboration in rural districts. Not that you don’t find that in urban districts, but it’s just not as familiar. I think that when you talk to career educators who’ve worked in rural districts, they’ll say they’d never do it anyplace else because it’s everyone at the grocery store they know and then everyone at the football team that they know. That sense of community is really, really powerful. What you find is a lot of urban schools are trying to recreate structures that make the community come closer, that really wonderful sense of community that a lot of rural parts of Colorado have.

What about innovation? Do you think small districts are able to be more nimble or are they going to run into resource issues?

Some of our rural districts are some of our most innovative. Sometimes they’ve had to be by necessity because they didn’t have the resources or they didn’t have the people and so you don’t find a lot of urban districts in which the principal is also the bus driver or the custodian. I remember one district in particular where we were coming to do an event. All the bleachers and all the setup for that was all done by the high school students because they had practice right afterwards and they didn’t have paid staff to set up and break down the gym. So they came in and got the whole thing set up and got ready to go.

There’s just a sense of all hands on deck and we’ll figure out what we need to get done and do it, instead of saying there’s going to be a set procedure or policy or process for everything that’s done. There’s going to be more of a sense of teamwork and innovation. I think some of our rural districts will probably come up with some of our best innovations on all of these.

Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?

An issue I wanted to raise that I’ve talked to a bunch of rural educators about, what I’ll continue to focus on, is they’ll say, “We think early literacy is important. We think evaluations are important. We think college readiness is important. The problem is we have all these other things on our plate, that we’re asked to do five or 10 or 15 years ago that aren’t as important as these things.”

We pushed them on this and said, “Well, what would go?” They said, “Well, it’s not that we think we should stop doing early literacy support or stop doing teacher evaluations. It’s that there are other things that take up hours in the day that aren’t so useful and aren’t so directly linked to student outcomes.”

So one of the things I’ve been asking people is what would put on the “stop doing” list. I think that there’s increasing sense that standards and evaluations and outcomes are all important. But when there are reports that are taking up a lot of your time and energy that don’t have a direct link to student outcomes that we are asking you to do because of legislation a long time ago, I think we should take a look at what some of those things are and what are some things we can take off the list.

So I am in full support of saying, can we simplify the work and let educators get back to the core work that draws them to schools?

I think the core work that draws us to schools are finding ways to support students to improve their learning and finding ways to support adults to support their practice. That’s what this system focuses on so I don’t think we should take our focus off of that. I think we should see if there are other parts of the system that are more distracting and more disconnected from actual student learning that we should take off the plate. I think that should be part of the conversation, absolutely.

Is there any area that comes to mind specifically, that you are potentially looking at?

I’m just asking every superintendent, principal, educator that I meet to make that list for me. They’ve all said they’re going to do it and going to send it to me so we can start building our own list of things that are burdensome and not linked to impact.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: Final budget for Montezuma-Cortez includes more spending

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 10:02

Teacher talk

The U.S. Department of Education kicked off a push to get more experienced teachers in classrooms with low-income and minority students. So what does that mean for Colorado? ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Schools (not) out for the summer

First through fifth graders in Pueblo are wrapping up summer school and it was a big hit for some. ( Chieftain )

But a closer look at summer school education revealed a lack of information across the country and one big question: what, exactly, is summer school? ( NPR via KUNC )

Simple fixes

A Colorado program that provides contraceptives to low-income women contributed to a large drop in teen pregnancy -- and drew national attention. ( Vox )

By the numbers

Montezuma-Cortez's school board approved the budget for the next year, which includes a 4 percent increase in spending over last year. ( Cortez Journal )

A change in how funding is disbursed has opened up more opportunities for extracurriculars in Routt County. ( Steamboat Today )

On fire

An arson attempt at Boulder middle school resulted in $500 worth of damages. ( Daily Camera )

Categories: Urban School News

Feds push to get experienced teachers in low-performing schools

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 18:30

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has some updated marching orders on how to ensure all students have effective teachers – orders that could require action from state departments of education, including Colorado.

Duncan unveiled the “Excellent Educators for All Initiative” Monday with a letter to chief state school officers, a White House news conference, a roundtable discussion with teachers and principals and a conference call with reporters.

In Colorado, 5 percent of all students were enrolled in schools with 20 percent or more first-year teachers in 2011-12, compared to a 4 percent rate nationwide. Colorado also had higher percentages of black and Hispanic students enrolled in such schools, according to a DOE “Data Snapshot – Teacher Equity” document released in March.

While lack of educator experience isn’t necessarily equivalent to low quality of teaching, concentrations of new teachers in low-performing schools has been a concern for policymakers for some time. Discussion of equity also includes placement of highly effective teachers in such schools, as well as teachers who have appropriate subject-matter expertise.

In unveiling the latest effort, Duncan said, “All children are entitled to a high-quality education regardless of their race, zip code or family income. It is critically important that we provide teachers and principals the support they need to help students reach their full potential. Despite the excellent work and deep commitment of our nation’s teachers and principals, systemic inequities exist that shortchange students in high-poverty, high-minority schools across our country. We have to do better.”

The new federal initiative has three elements:

  • States are requested to analyze their data and consult with teachers, principals, districts, parents and community groups to create locally developed educator equity plans. States have to report by April 2015. An earlier set of such plans were required by the federal government in 2006.
  • A $4.2 million program of federal assistance to help districts implement their plans.
  • Publication of “educator equity profiles” for each state by DOE this fall.

The problem has been a topic of discussion in Colorado for several years, dating back to a 2006 report titled “Shining the Light – The State of Teaching in Colorado.” (See text of report here.)

But the issue hasn’t been the focus of major legislative or policy initiatives. State reform efforts have been focused on implementation of new standards, rollout of the new educator evaluation system and improvements in early literacy, all things that districts had to juggle for the first time in the school year that just ended.

Do your homework

In a statement Monday afternoon, the Colorado Department of Education noted, “Even before today’s announcement by the U.S. secretary of education, Colorado has been working with each district with high numbers of minority and poverty students and a high percentage of novice teachers to address any inequitable distribution of teachers through its state improvement plan.” (Districts and schools have to file improvement plans as part of the annual accreditation and rating process.)

CDE has developed a data tool to help districts analyze staffing patterns and “identify equity staffing between schools,” according to Janelle Asmus, CDE chief communications officer. (See the tool here. Use the links on the right of the page to search any school district.)

The CDE statement sounded a cautionary note about the initiative, saying, “While Colorado has been working with districts and schools on these issues, the commissioner of education is extremely wary of any additional burdens that may be placed on districts which are already stretched beyond their means.”

The DOE collects some data about students and novice teachers in the civil rights information it compiles. Here are U.S. and Colorado figures from the Data Snapshot – Teacher Equity report, which covers the 2011-12 school year.

Nation

  • 4 percent of all students were enrolled in schools with 20 percent of more first-year teachers
  • 1 percent of white students
  • 4 percent of black students
  • 3 percent of Hispanic students

Colorado

  • 5 percent of all students were enrolled in schools with 20 percent of more first-year teachers
  • 4 percent of white students
  • 7 percent of black students
  • 8 percent of Hispanic students

Last year the DOE considered tying state action on teacher equity to renewal of NCLB waivers but backed off the idea. (Colorado’s waiver was renewed last week – see story.)

Leaders of the nation’s two largest teachers unions were briefed on the plan Monday and were generally supportive, if cautious.

“The Excellent Educators for All project, with its goal of attracting, retaining and supporting good teachers for all of America’s children, especially those in the highest-need schools, is necessary and important—but the actual work of achieving a comprehensive solution to inequity is far from easy,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT.

Dennis Van Roekel, outgoing president of the National Education Association, said. “We urge the Department of Education and the Obama administration to take a comprehensive approach to equity that includes access to high quality pre-school and early learning opportunities and access to high quality, rigorous curriculum, adequate facilities and other learning conditions in schools and attention to out-of-school needs so we are educating the whole child.”

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: NEA delegates want Duncan gone

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 11:07

NEA in Denver

Outgoing union president Dennis van Roekel had a message for the thousands of gathered educators: Take charge of reforming schools. And he has some suggestions for how to do it, some of which Colorado is already pursuing. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

What We're Reading

Catch up on the top education stories we found surfing the Web over the last few days. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

R2T

Federal education dollars will continue to flow to Colorado after the U.S. Department of Education announced it has granted the state a one-year extension to its No Child Left Behind waiver. ( Chalklbeat Colorado )

Jeff Q&A

Dan McMinimee, Jeffco Public Schools’ new superintendent, sat down with Chalkbeat Colorado for a wide-ranging interview. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Enough of Arne

Delegates to the National Education Association's annual convention passed a motion calling for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to resign. ( EdWeek )

No Core

Why are more states backing off the Common Core standards? ( PBS Newshour )

Child abuse reporting

Few people who by law are supposed to report suspected child abuse — such as teachers, nurses, coaches and clergy members — ever face punishment for failing to report, a Denver Post review has found. And the punishment for failing to report can be as little as $50. ( Denver Post )

Commentary

Paul Lundeen, chair of the State Board of Education, argues that a new pilot program for use of Title I funds by an online school is an important step toward having funding follow students. ( Denver Post )

Categories: Urban School News

How Colorado stacks up on national union leader’s priorities

Thu, 07/03/2014 - 18:08

On the eve of Independence Day and the election that will determine the leadership of the nation’s largest teachers union, the outgoing president, Dennis Van Roekel, had a message for the thousands of gathered educators: take charge of reforming schools. And he has some suggestions for how to do it, some of which Colorado is already pursuing.

“We allowed the politicians to define the solution and their solution was No Child Left Behind,” Van Roekel said, referring to the 2001 law passed under former President George W. Bush which set out strict accountability for schools based on test scores.

Yesterday, Van Roekel and other union leaders kicked off an anti-testing campaign yesterday, after months of turmoil over the nationwide rollout of tests tied to the Common Core State Standards. Van Roekel predicted the entire system of standardized testing would crumble. And when that happens, Van Roekel said educators will have an opening to define the future of public education in the U.S.

“I figure there will be a vacuum, a void for one nanosecond,” Van Roekel said. And at that moment, he said, “we the educators must define the solution and we must lead.”

His declaration, during a lunch at the union’s national conference being held this week in Denver, received noisy support from the gathered educators, as did the statement that departing from the current system did not mean reverting to old ways. Van Roekel reeled off a list of fixes ranging from dollars for schools to early education which could define union priorities for the coming years.

“What he mentioned is either in line with what we are attempting to do or are ongoing conversations,” said Henry Roman, in an interview following the speech. Roman heads up the Denver teachers union.

So how does Colorado stack up against Van Roekel’s proposed initiatives? Well, it’s a mixed bag.

School readiness

Van Roekel’s first suggestion: early education for all.

No one doesn’t want their children to be prepared to enter school, Van Roekel said. “Why don’t we believe it’s important for other people’s children, for all children?” he said.

Colorado legislators, including many of those most supportive of education reform, have pushed for universal preschool and full-day kindergarten. Denver, in particular, has been at the forefront of providing access to all families, at affordable levels. And the efforts have received support both from reformers and the local teachers union.

“Kindergarten, who could say no to that?” said Roman. Denver leaders plan to go to voters this fall to ask for additional funds for the city’s preschool program.

Early childhood received a funding bump this year in the state education budget, although not as large as initially proposed.

Still, early education efforts haven’t been universally popular. In the state’s second largest district, Jeffco Public Schools, a new school board majority curtailed a program to expand full-day kindergarten.

More on Colorado’s early childhood education initiatives here.

Dollars for schools

Among the most popular suggestions Van Roekel listed was to bolster money for classrooms, not tests.

“Instead of spending billions on toxic tests, spend it on the learning conditions of students,” he said. “To those people who say learning conditions don’t make a difference, you’re just wrong.”

Recession-era cutbacks to school spending are still in place for Colorado, even as the state’s finances have improved. School finance proved to be the defining education issue of this year’s state legislative session, with school administrators, teachers, and boards of education across the state banding together to defend money for schools without strings attached. They got some of what they asked for, but many school leaders remained dissatisfied with the outcome and some districts still faced six-figure cuts to spending.

And a recent lawsuit suggests the fight isn’t over. A group of school districts and parents filed suit against the state to abolish the practices that maintain recession-era cuts. The lawsuit promises to fuel the fire in the fight over school finance for the coming year.

See more on Colorado’s school finance practices here.

Preparing the next crop of educators

His final proposal: raise the bar for entering the teacher profession, so every new teacher is “profession-ready” on day one.

“What kind of crazy world do we live in that we let in anybody?” Van Roekel said. In an indirect reference to a recent legal decision striking down California’s teacher tenure laws, Van Roekel said that it should be harder to become a teacher, rather than easier to fire one.

Teachers without licenses and without extensive preparation are placed in the highest-need schools, Van Roekel said. Some research suggest low-performing students are placed in the classrooms of inexperienced teachers more often than their higher performing peers.

The state department of education is likely to roll out an accountability system for teacher preparation programs, based on teacher performance, in the next couple years. But efforts to alter how teachers are licensed have stalled out. A committee charged with coming up with recommendations for potential legislation couldn’t come to agreement over whether to tie teacher licenses to the results of the state’s evaluation system.

Another sticking point? Whether to allow alternate licenses in hard to staff positions, especially in rural areas — a particular area of vitriol for Van Roekel, who said all teachers should have to clear a high bar to enter the profession.

For more on the laws governing the teaching practice in Colorado, see here.

Categories: Urban School News

What We’re Reading: Newark school chief gets new contract, same conflict

Thu, 07/03/2014 - 17:42
  • Newark’s embattled superintendent could stay another three years but internal strife seems unlikely to die down. (PolitickerNJ)
  • Could the war over Common Core testing contracts take down the whole initiative? (Politico)
  • What’s right way to teach students how to read? A debate. (Room for Debate)
  • The problems with school discipline and mental health for students of color extend far beyond the classroom. (Colorlines)
  • In North Carolina, legislators are pushing out the Common Core, over the objections of the teachers’ union. (WFDD)
  • Beloved author Walter Dean Myers, who took on stories of adolescence that are rarely told, passed this week. (A.V. Club)
  • Longer school days haven’t gone over well with Washington D.C.’s teachers union. (Washington Post)
  • The national teachers union head and Los Angeles’ superintendent go head to head over Vergara on stage. (Atlantic)
  • What’s wrong — and what’s right — with a “need-to-know” list of facts on education reform. (Shanker blog)
  • A teacher reflects on what it takes to write good math problems. (Rational Expressions)
  • Even doctors and airplane pilots struggle their first year. Why should we expect anything different of rookie teachers? (Education Next)
  • There’s a new degree specifically for those who hope to open a charter school or redesign an existing school. (EdWeek)
  • Reading Rainbow is for getting kids to enjoy reading, not teaching them reading in the first place. (New Yorker)
Categories: Urban School News

Colorado gets one-year extension on federal policy waiver

Thu, 07/03/2014 - 14:31

Federal education dollars will continue to flow to Colorado after the U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has granted the state a one-year extension to its No Child Left Behind waiver.

But in a letter to the Robert Hammond, Colorado’s education commissioner, the department noted it still has to sign-off on changes to Colorado’s school and district accountability system.

The department also said the waiver was contingent on the state working with the department to smooth out its teacher and principal evaluation tools. That’s because the Colorado General Assembly earlier this year passed two pieces of legislation that tweaks those two policy initiatives.

Colorado was one of the first states to receive a waiver after the Obama administration began using them to circumvent the federal education law, which Congress has not revised since it expired in 2010. The waivers let states maintain their federal funding even if they do not meet the law’s requirement that 100 percent of students pass state tests — as long as the states put policies in place that conform to the Obama administration’s priorities.

Those policies include adopting new college- or career-ready standards and aligned tests, developing teacher evaluations that include student growth data, and identifying and monitoring the bottom five percent of schools based on various data points.

But how those policies are adapted to local jurisdictions is broadly left to the states.

The Colorado Department of Education did not have a comment on the extension.

Other states that received a one-year extension today include Arkansas, Connecticut, Nevada, South Dakota and Virginia.

Categories: Urban School News

McMinimee on teacher evaluations, the Jeffco budget, and his role as peacemaker

Thu, 07/03/2014 - 11:58

On Tuesday, we told you about how Dan McMinimee, Jeffco Public Schools’ new superintendent, introduced himself to district staff. Prior to the meeting, McMinimee sat down with Chalkbeat Colorado for a wide-ranging interview. Here are some highlights from our conversation:

First 100 days

McMinimee’s No. 1 goal during his first 100 days is high visibility. “I want people to feel I’m accessible,” he said. “My door is wide open. I want to meet with anyone.” Acknowledging his role as a chief peacemaking officer, he pledged to attend any meeting he’s invited to and will host anyone in his office who asks. He also said he wants to start putting together a coalition, or as he said, “setting a table,” of individuals from throughout the district and county to work on shared goals — especially around the Board of Education’s academic achievement goals, post secondary readiness and teacher effectiveness. “A lot of people want to be engaged in these conversations,” he said. “The challenge is how do we get people to move toward common goals.”

His predecessor

McMinimee confirmed he has been in communication with his predecessor, Cindy Stevenson, who left abruptly in February after she felt she could no longer work with a newly configured board. McMinimee called Stevenson a “respected educator” and characterized the conversations as productive. Stevenson offered her support to McMinimee through his transition, he said. “I appreciate it,” he said.

Lost time

McMinimee said he wants to move quickly to make up for any impact on the classroom the ongoing turmoil between between the board’s three-member conservative majority and certain portions of the community may have had. “The last six months some momentum may have been lost,” McMinimee said, quickly pointing out that “great” work has and continues to be done in Jeffco Public Schools.

Statewide education policy issues and Jeffco

As the superintendent of the state’s second largest school district (largest if you only count K-12 enrollment, as Jeffco officials point out), McMinimee will now have a very prominent role in helping shape statewide education policy. McMinimee said he plans on not only leveraging Jefferson County lawmakers but also his old Douglas County contacts.

He said the three biggest issues challenging school districts statewide are teacher evaluations, standardized testing and how the state funds its schools.

The challenge with teacher evaluations, McMinimee said, is how does a district evaluate a teacher fairly, consistently and within different contexts.

While teacher evaluations may be the most important conversation for those working within schools, state testing is the biggest conversation moving forward, McMinimee said. He said the state and its school districts need to strike a balance and noted that sometimes districts — and not the state — are the culprits behind excessive testing.

McMinimee also said he’s looking forward to working with other superintendents to find a better way to fund schools. He said the funding debate is bigger than just Jefferson County. “We have to look out for all of our students,” he said. “That’s the future of this state.”

Compensation

McMinimee’s salary, which makes him the highest paid CEO for any school district in Colorado, was hotly debated last month. McMinimee said time will tell if he’s worth it, but he hopes in five years peoplewill consider his total $280,000 compensation as a “bargain.”

Budget

Another contentious issue the Jeffco Board of Education took up last month was the district’s budget. In the end the board approved an $18.5 million placeholder for increases in compensation and directed an extra $5 million to charter schools. McMinimee said he was “very comfortable” with how the budget ended up. And he’s confident he can sit down with Jeffco staff to find the $5 million in cuts — if necessary — the district’s finance team is projecting in subsequent years.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: Manitou teacher expects to bring space into classroom

Thu, 07/03/2014 - 07:52

Mad About Tests

The nation's largest teachers union is holding its annual conference in Denver during the holiday weekend. While there's plenty on the agenda, the convention has a target: ending high-stakes testing. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Meet the 15 people who may decided whether Colorado schools are testing too much and what to do about it. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

The largest causality in the war over the Common Core State Standards so far aren't the standards themselves, but it appears to be the tests that are supposed to measure student proficiency. ( Politico )

(Outer) space in the classroom

A Manitou Springs teacher has plenty of new science lesson plans for her students after returning from Space Academy in Huntsville, Ala. She studied space on a scholarship and hopes to incorporate what she learned into her third-grade class next fall. ( Gazette )

Continious Improvement

State Sen. Andy Kerr, who's also a Jeffco teachers, says the 2014 legislative session wasn't perfect, but did a lot for the state's students. ( Denver Post )

What's old is new again

A trend in education reform has been smaller schools. Now — in large part due to technology — some schools are so small, they're just one classroom. ( KUNC )

Categories: Urban School News

NEA president: Current testing system “will crumble”

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 16:48

Two National Education Association leaders Wednesday called for a massive reduction in the amount of student testing and predicted accountability systems based on such assessments “will crumble.”

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the 3 million-member NEA, told a handful of reporters (and several dozen cheering members), “This entire accountability system that’s based on tests will crumble. It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.”

He appeared with Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association, an NEA affiliate. Dallman, citing a CEA teacher survey that concluded 30 percent of the school year is consumed by testing, said, “Let’s cap it at 5 percent.”

The two leaders appeared a day before the NEA’s representative assembly convenes for four days of elections, voting on resolutions and deciding on union initiatives for the upcoming year.

The national meeting at the Colorado Convention Center is the first in Colorado since 1962.

Testing, which has come under increasing criticism from state and national teacher groups in the last year, is expected to be a major topic of discussion. One agenda item proposes creation of a “NEA Campaign Against Toxic Testing” that “will conduct a comprehensive campaign to end the high stakes use of standardized tests, to sharply reduce the amount of student and instructional time consumed by tests, and to implement more effective forms of assessment and accountability.” (Read about full proposal here.)

Dennis Van Roekel (left) and Kerrie Dallman.

Van Roekel and Dallman pounded on those themes Wednesday, with Van Roekel saying testing “has failed the children of America” and “I don’t need five more years of the same results to show me which students aren’t getting what they need.”

Dallman criticized “the corporate-driven testing culture” and said it’s “taking the joy” out of schools.

“We are here to tell Colorado we are all more than a score. … We are not anti-testing. Teachers invented testing. But too much of a good thing is a bad thing,” she said.

Asked about a new state task force that will study the issue, Dallman said she hopes the group will “separate student testing from high-stakes decisions” about accountability. “I hope that recommendations come out of that task force to put a cap on testing.” (Get more details on the task force here.)

Criticism of the Common Core State Standards and testing also is on the rise among conservative groups. Asked if the liberal NEA might make common cause with such groups on testing, both Van Roekel and Dallman avoided answering.

Nearly 9,000 people started gathering last week for the NEA’s annual meeting, attending a variety of events including special-interest caucuses, committee business meetings and state delegation sessions, plus service and educational events.

The business portion of the meeting kicks off in earnest Thursday when the NEA’s representative assembly digs into business items, constitutional amendments and – starting Friday – election of officers. Van Roekel is ending his term, so a new president will be elected. Those sessions run through Sunday. (See agenda here.)

The resolutions could take some time. The table of contents for proposed resolutions runs to more than nine pages by itself, not counting proposal texts. (See the full set here.)

The teachers unions’ annual summer conventions come at a time of increasing pressure on the groups. (The smaller American Federation of Teachers holds its convention in Los Angeles starting July 11.)

EdWeek on Wednesday posted a set of graphics showing the changing membership, finances and other stats about the two groups. A recent article on Politico concluded, “As the two big national teachers unions prepare for their conventions this summer, they are struggling to navigate one of the most tumultuous moments in their history.”

Categories: Urban School News

Long summer and fall ahead for testing task force

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 12:48

Members of the 15-member task force assigned to review Colorado’s school testing system, whose names were released Wednesday, represent a fairly wide spectrum of backgrounds and include a number of familiar figures.

The Standards and Assessments Task Force could play an important role in the growing debate over the role and form of testing.

Creation of the task force was something of a compromise plan for the Democratic majority (and a few Republicans) during 2014 legislative session.

Some conservative Republicans, backed by a variety of citizen groups, pushed bills to delay rollout of the new PARCC tests next year or allow districts to opt out of tests. And some Democrats tried a last-minute rollback of the new social studies tests.

The delay and opt-out proposals had no chance of passage, given potential disruption to the state’s accountability system if such measures were passed. (The social studies gambit also failed.) But Democratic leaders needed to show some response to rising public and teacher criticism of testing, so conversion of the opt-out bill into a task force measure provided a way to do that.

The 15-member panel’s assignment is to study the impact of testing on teaching time, the interaction of testing with the state accountability and educator evaluation systems and the feasibility of waiving some assessment requirements, among several other issues. (Get more information on the task force in this legislative staff memo.)

As is the case with most legislative task forces (and permanent state boards and commissions), members had to reflect a careful balance of interest groups and professional backgrounds. The appointment power also was divided, with members being named by all four political party leaders in the legislature and by the chair of the State Board of Education.

Here are the members, organized by who appointed them:

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver

  • Bill Jaeger, Colorado Children’s Campaign vice president, representing organizations that advocate for low-performing students
  • Donna Lynne, chair of Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, representing business
  • Dan Snoweberger, Durango superintendent, representing administrators
  • Ilana Spiegel, leader of the activist parent group SPEAK, representing parents

Senate President Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora

  • Adele Bravo, Boulder Valley teacher, representing teachers
  • Lisa Escarcega, Aurora chief accountability officer, representing administrators
  • Nancy Tellez, Poudre board member, representing school boards
  • Susan Van Gundy, associate director of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, the group that developed the new tests Colorado is supposed to start using in 2015

Paul Lundeen, Republican chair of State Board of Education

  • John Creighton, St. Vrain board member representing school boards
  • Tony Lewis, executive director Donnell-Kay Foundation and Colorado Charter School Institute board member, representing CSI
  • Syna Morgan, Douglas County chief performance officer, representing administrators

House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland

  • Luke Ragland, vice president of Colorado Succeeds, representing business
  • Dane Stickney, Strive Prep Charter School teacher, representing teachers

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs

  • Jay Cerny, CEO of Cherry Creek Academy, representing charter schools
  • Bethany Drosendahl, author and educator, representing parents

The legislation that created the task force, House Bill 14-1202, also allocated $142,750 to the Department of Education to coordinate the group’s work, commission a testing cost study, pay for a separate review analyzing how different testing schemes would affect the accountability system and obtain legal advice on the implications of letting parents and districts opt out of some testing requirements.

CDE also has an outside consulting group, WestEd, reviewing the administration of online science and social studies tests last spring.

The task force and CDE are to report findings and recommendations to the legislature by next Jan. 31, giving the 2015 session plenty of time of consider the issue.

The November elections could provide a wild card in the process, as the terms of the testing debate could change if Republicans take control of the governor’s office, or of one or both houses of the legislature.

A poll released Tuesday showed Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican Bob Beauprez neck and neck. Republicans are pushing hard to flip the Senate, where Democrats only have a one-vote majority, but they face longer odds in trying to take the House.

The task force’s first meeting will be July 15, at a time and place to be determined. (Parts of the Capitol are under renovation this summer, so staff still are trying to find an available meeting room.)

Learn more about Colorado’s testing system, planned changes and about the debate in this Chalkbeat Colorado story.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: What’s the state of the unions?

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 09:58

Going to work

On his first official day as superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools, Dan McMinimee attempted to soothe the fears of district staff after months of angst and uncertainty. ( Chalkbeat Colorado, 9News )

Money doesn't matter?

Both candidates who won the contested State Board of Education primaries on June 24, Valentina Flores and Marcia Neal, raised less money than the people they defeated. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Summer of study

Fifteen members have been selected for a state task force that’s supposed to come up with recommendations for oversight of multi-district online schools. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

State of the unions

As the NEA in Denver and the AFT in Los Angeles hold their national conventions this month, what are their financial assets, political spending, membership trends and governance structures? ( EdWeek )

Core politics

An anti-Common Core activist has told a Dougco Republican group that unseating Gov. John Hickenlooper is the key to repealing Colorado's adoption of the Common Core Standards and urged support of Republican candidate Bob Beauprez. ( Castle Rock News-Press )

Commentary

Thousands of teachers have converged upon Denver this week for the National Education Association's annual convention. A great many of those educators, when it comes to government reforms in education, are mad as hell and are not taking it anymore. ( Teacher Alan Isbell via Denver Post )

Evaluation + licensing

The Tennessee Board of Education has given initial approval to a revamped teacher licensure policy that offers high-performing teachers a fast pass to licensure and renewal. (The idea has stalled in Colorado.) ( Chalkbeat Tennessee )

Things looking up

As the new fiscal year starts, 40 states have budgets that boost spending and dedicate extra funding primarily to education. ( Reuters )

About face

The School Nutrition Association has changed its mind and is leading a lobbying campaign to allow schools to opt out of the federal healthy-meals rules it helped to create. ( NY Times )

Categories: Urban School News

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