A Fulton County, Ga., judge sentenced eight of the 11 former Atlanta schools employees convicted in a test-cheating scandal to prison Tuesday, reserving the harshest penalties for those who refused to reach sentencing agreements with the district attorney.
Almost all the defendants will spend time behind bars, a reality that hit home hard for some in the courtroom. Crying and sobbing could be heard as Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter handed down the first of the sentences.
Eleven former Atlanta public school teachers and administrators were convicted of racketeering Wednesday for their roles in a widespread cheating scandal and face up to 20 years in prison, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
"Grit" has in recent years captivated the imagination of educators and policymakers, leading many to embrace the idea that schools should seek to cultivate in their students a set of personality traits demonstrated by researchers to be closely tied to academic and personal success.
Increasingly, though, critics are offering a different take, arguing that grit is a racist construct and has harmed low-income students by crowding out a focus on providing children with the supports they deserve and the more-flexible educational approach enjoyed by many of their more affluent counterparts.
That view was on full display Saturday at EduCon 2.7, a progressive education-technology conference being held in Philadelphia.
Friday marks the opening of EduCon 2.7, an unorthodox ed-tech conference that stands apart from other such gatherings because of its approach (a strident commitment to progressive, inquiry-driven teaching), its location (a high school, Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy), and especially for the way it is funded (no vendor sponsorships, product exhibition spaces, or sales pitches allowed, in stark contrast to other large events in the sector).
President Obama used his penultimate State of the Union address to call for a dramatic expansion in college access and increased investments in early childhood, including help for parents in covering child-care costs. But both proposals are part of a broad overhaul of the tax system that is already getting the thumbs-down from a Republican-controlled Congress.
Meanwhile, K-12 policy largely took a back seat, despite an escalating debate in Congress over federally mandated student testing.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is using a speech in Washington on Monday to assert that the Obama administration is not backing off on K-12 policies it has pushed for the past six years, even as Republicans in Congress are poised to release proposals to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that would significantly scale back the federal footprint in education.
Instead, according to prepared remarks circulated before the speech, Duncan is calling for an additional $2.7 billion for education. He also wants any ESEA rewrite to continue teacher evaluations through student outcomes, the targeting of resources to the lowest-performing schools, and — most relevant to the current debate over updating the law — the law's current system of annual, statewide assessments.
Fielding phone calls from parents asking about enrollment is part of everyday business for schools, but for some charter schools, the person on the other end of the line may only be posing as a parent.
Modeled after “mystery shopper” or “secret shopper” services used in retail, authorizers in the District of Columbia and Massachusetts are using a similar tactic to make sure the charter schools they oversee are not turning away students with more specialized needs, such as children with disabilities or who are still learning English.
This issue has long dogged the charter sector, which nationally, some studies show, enrolls a lower percentage of students with disabilities compared to regular public schools. The discrepancy, some charter critics say, comes from the publicly funded but independently run schools turning away such students in order to improve test scores.
Beset by an epic budget crunch, the SRC unilaterally canceled its expired contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers earlier this month and declared that the union's 11,500 members will begin paying a portion of their health-insurance costs.
Observers across the political spectrum view the action as the latest salvo in an ongoing national battle over the collective bargaining rights of public-sector workers. In recent years, teachers and other public employees from Louisiana to Wisconsin have found themselves on the defensive as management has sought to roll back benefits and job protections.
Consistently ranked as one of the most "endangered" governors when it comes to reelection prospects, Keystone State Gov. Tom Corbett has consistently trailed Democrat Tom Wolf this year, and he is the only Republican governor whose race is now considered safely in the Democratic column, according to Real Clear Politics. (I wrote about Wolf's position on education funding earlier this year.) However, Corbett has closed the gap in recent months, and what was once a deficit of approximately 20 percentage points is now getting closer to single digits, as the Real Clear Politics polling average below shows:
Finding ways to create "innovative" high schools seems to be a perennial policy priority for the beleaguered Philadelphia School District—and a topic that we at Education Week just can't seem to stay away from.
This school year, despite being beset by a financial crisis, stalemated labor negotiations, and a toxic reform climate, the 131,000-student district opened three new outside-the-box high schools, the planning of which we covered last spring.