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  • New Survey Shows Nearly Two-Thirds of Likely Voters Support School Choice — but ‘Trump Effect’ Has Emboldened Opposition

    By Laura Fay | May 9, 2018

    This is the latest article in The 74’s ongoing ‘Big Picture’ series, bringing American education into sharper focus through new research and data. Go Deeper: See our full series.

    Public support for school choice has taken a small hit but remains high among likely November voters, according to a survey gauging public support for a range of school choice options. The survey was discussed at the recent conference of the American Federation for Children.

    The poll found that 63 percent of likely November voters support school choice, with 41 percent saying they “strongly agree.” The question was put to voters this way: Generally speaking, would you say you favor or oppose the concept of school choice? School choice gives parents the right to use the tax dollars designated for their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which best serves their needs. (The question has been tweaked slightly from previous years: Previous polls described the funding as “dollars associated with their child’s education” and used the word “better” instead of best.)

    Source: Beck Research LLC

    The Federation, an advocacy group that seeks to expand school choice and was founded by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, commissioned the fourth annual study.

    The decrease, which continues a trend that started last year, could be a “Trump effect,” with more voters viewing school choice unfavorably because of President Donald Trump’s support for the policies, the president of the research firm that did the survey, Deborah Beck, told Education Week.


    Support for school choice appears to be bipartisan: 75 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of Independents, and 54 percent of Democrats reported that they support choice. A 2017 Gallup poll found that federal funding for school choice programs was one of only four out of 15 policy actions or proposals associated with Trump that a majority of Americans supported.

    Related

    What Do Americans Think of School Choice? Depends on How You Ask the Question

    While overall support for choice dipped this year, the popularity of education savings accounts has increased, with 74 percent of voters supporting the idea, up from 69 percent last year. For the first time, the poll asked specifically about support for education savings accounts for children from military families, which 77 percent of respondents supported. Education savings accounts hold public dollars that families who take their children out of public school can use for costs such as private school tuition, online courses, tutoring, counseling, books, or other education-related expenses. They may be available for certain groups, such as students with special needs or who attend a failing school, depending on state laws.

    Source: Beck Research LLC

    Related

    Hard Battle Lines Drawn as Congress Considers Using $1.4B in Federal ‘Impact Aid’ to Expand School Choice for Military Families

    That a majority of Americans continue to support school choice policy is a relief for advocates like Tommy Schultz, director of communications at the American Federation for Children. Over the past year, Schultz told The 74, the school choice movement has faced attacks from teachers unions and negative media attention that threatened to sink public opinion. Instead, respondents showed they still support the policies, with 86 percent showing support for at least some form of private school choice through scholarships, vouchers, or education savings accounts.

    “Month in and month out in 2017, we saw these salacious headlines and attacks coming from various corners of the education establishment, and the poll numbers show that the attacks didn’t stick, and that parents still believe that they deserve to have some measure of educational freedom and choice for their child,” Schultz said.

    Beck Research LLC, a Democratic polling firm, conducted the survey by phone in both English and Spanish January 8–13, 2018, among 1,100 likely November 2018 voters; the margin of error is +/- 3.5%.

    This is the latest article in The 74’s ongoing ‘Big Picture’ series, bringing American education into sharper focus through new research and data. Go Deeper: See our full series.

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  • Braun Scores Upset Victory in Indiana GOP Senate Primary, Besting School Choice Advocates Rokita, Messer

    By Carolyn Phenicie | May 9, 2018

    Indiana businessman and self-styled outsider Mike Braun won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, beating out well-known Republican congressmen Todd Rokita and Luke Messer in a costly and vitriolic race.

    Though Rokita and Messer, both strong school choice advocates, had substantive K-12 education records, the race didn’t focus on the issue. The three GOP candidates disagreed little on policy; instead, they sniped at one another over residency, treatment of staff, and past ties to Democrats. Each tried to outdo the other in proving his fealty to President Donald Trump.

    Related

    K-12 Education Policy Heavyweights Squaring Off in ‘Nasty’ Indiana GOP Senate Primary

    Braun, who self-funded a large portion of his campaign, ran ads portraying Rokita and Messer as indistinguishable politicians, long focused on winning, while he had real-life business experience.

    Braun will face Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November. Donnelly is widely considered one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats, and control of the Senate could very easily come down to one or two seats.

    The noxious tone of the primary is already affecting the general election: a Democratic super PAC released an ad last night with video of Messer and Rokita accusing Braun of buying the seat, The Indianapolis Star reported. With Braun leading the way, the candidates spent millions on ads, most of them negative, in the most expensive race in the country this year.

    Braun won with about 41 percent of the vote, with Rokita taking 30 percent and Messer 29 percent.

    With their terms up in the House, Rokita, who chairs of the House subcommittee covering K-12 education, and Messer, who founded the Congressional School Choice Caucus, will depart Congress at the end of the year. Messer was just honored as a “charter champion” by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

    Related

    Exclusive: 20 Bipartisan ‘Charter Champions’ Honored by National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Sen. Orrin Hatch Receives ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award

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  • Under Shadow of Online Charter School Scandal, Mike DeWine & Richard Cordray Win Primaries in Race for Ohio Governor

    By Kate Stringer | May 9, 2018

    Old political rivals will face off once again after Ohio’s attorney general, Republican Mike DeWine, and his predecessor, Democrat Richard Cordray, won their parties’ primaries for governor Tuesday night.

    Many are calling the upcoming campaign a rematch of the 2010 race for attorney general, which DeWine won by a small margin.

    Cordray, who headed the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Barack Obama, defeated former Cleveland mayor and congressman Dennis Kucinich, earning 63 percent of the vote. DeWine bested Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor with 59 percent.

    Now, the two have their work cut out for them, convincing voters that they will address some of Ohio’s top issues, including the opioid crisis, mounting student debt, and unemployment compensation, the Dayton Daily News reported.

    Although Ohio’s legislature and governor’s office have been controlled by Republicans for 20 of the past 24 years, some have called this year the best chance for Democrats to retake the governor’s seat, especially as the party tries to capitalize on anti-Trump sentiment in major elections this fall.

    An unexpected education scandal could make this reality even likelier. Ohio’s largest — and now shuttered — online charter school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), allegedly overcharged the state millions of dollars for its students. An anonymous whistleblower claimed that the school’s leaders used software that intentionally miscounted attendance. Those same leaders have donated millions to Republican candidates, making the scandal a major problem for the GOP in the November elections.

    Related

    EDlection 2018: Could an Online Education Scandal in Ohio Cost the GOP the Governor’s Office?

    “The ECOT thing is going to be a huge issue in the fall — not just for the governor’s race, but almost every other race that’s out there,” said education commentator Stephen Dyer, “because there are such close connections from this school to nearly every Republican candidate who’s run for state office since, basically, 2004. And all those guys are running now.”

    President Donald Trump was quick to congratulate DeWine on Twitter and accuse Cordray of being a socialist.

    In a speech after his win, DeWine highlighted improving the state’s education system, preparing its future workforce, and fighting illegal drugs as issues he’d address as governor, Cleveland.com reported. “Republicans, Independents, Democrats, come with us,” DeWine said. “We need you to be part of this, to be part of creating our new future, this new Ohio that we will forge together.”

    Cordray used his victory speech to portray himself as a candidate for the working class while painting DeWine as a politician for the wealthy, Cleveland.com reported. “I congratulate Mike DeWine tonight for winning one of the ugliest campaigns I’ve ever seen,” Cordray said after the results were in. “We now have a clear choice in November, and the things we stand for cannot be more different.”

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  • EduClips: Discipline Program Failed to Intercept Parkland Shooter, Critics Say; LAUSD Averts Strike With Service Workers — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | May 9, 2018

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    SUPERINTENDENTS — Nearly everywhere, it seems, new superintendents have been sought recently.

    The country’s three largest school districts — New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago — have all seen new leaders appointed since the start of the year. School boards in Seattle and Las Vegas just picked new leaders, and the top job in Washington, D.C., has been open since February. Two of the most challenging districts in New Jersey, Newark and Camden, are also on the market.

    But that churn, and the oft-cited statistic that superintendents on average stay on the job for only three years, may be an anomaly, according to a new report from the Broad Center released Tuesday. The three-year figure is for superintendents currently on the job, but a survey of all the superintendents who have served in the 100 largest school districts since 2003, including many who have since left, found that they had been in office an average of six years when they departed. (Read at The74Million.org)

    National News

    GRADUATION CONTROVERSY — Faculty Member Shoves Black Graduates Offstage, and the University of Florida Apologizes (Read at The New York Times)

    ELECTION — Two School Choice Champions in Congress Squared Off for a Senate Seat. Both Lost. (Read at Politics K-12)

    PHILANTHROPY — Gates, Zuckerberg team up on new education initiative (Read at The Washington Post)*

    ROBOTICS — FIRST Robotics Championship Boosts Diversity (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    District and State News

    FLORIDA — Did discipline diversion program fail Parkland? Superintendent vows improved policies. (Read at the Miami Herald)

    CALIFORNIA — LAUSD reaches contract deal with SEIU, avoids strike (Read at ABC 7)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Toxic City: Cleaning up Philly’s contaminated schools has a huge price tag | Editorial (Read at the Philadelphia Inquirer)

    NEW YORK — Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza gets Twitter support for stance on integration (Read at the New York Daily News)

    CALIFORNIA — GOP candidates for governor say California schools need changes, not more funding (Read at EdSource)

    NEVADA — Gubernatorial candidates spar over education funding at bipartisan forum (Read at the Las Vegas Sun)

    NEW YORK — A $24 million New York City program was supposed to prepare more black and Latino men for college. But a new study found it didn’t. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    TEXAS — Fort Worth ISD using billboards to recruit Oklahoma teachers (Read at Fox 4 News)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois bill looks to expand enrollment at high school (Read at the Seattle Times)

    Think Pieces

    DUNCAN AND SPELLINGS — What ails education? ‘An absence of vision, a failure of will and politics’ (Read at The Washington Post)

    FIGURE SKATING — Figure Skating Program Transforms Black and Latina Girls From Harlem and Detroit Into Champions on Ice & in School — and Beyoncé’s a Fan (Read at The74Million.org)

    BOOK CONTROVERSY — Parents Are Divided Over a Book in a Popular Student Reading Program in Oregon (Read at The New York Times)

    ABSENTEEISM — Why are these Mississippi students missing so much school? (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    TEACHERS — In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, 8 essays from educators who raised their voices this year (Read at Chalkbeat)

    RACISM — The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is a lesson students sorely need (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “I was shocked. He literally wrapped his arms around me. I didn’t understand what was going on.” —Oliver Telusma, a University of Florida graduate, one of several students who was yanked off stage by a faculty marshal after dancing onstage at the school’s recent graduation ceremony. (Read at The New York Times)

    *Disclosure: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports The 74.

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  • Exclusive: 20 Bipartisan ‘Charter Champions’ Honored by National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Sen. Orrin Hatch Receives ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award

    By Kate Stringer | May 9, 2018

    As the longest-serving U.S. Republican senator heads to retirement at the end of this year, he’s receiving a tip of the hat for his support of charter schools.

    On Wednesday, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools — a nonprofit that supports charters — announced that it is honoring Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah with an inaugural Lifetime Achievement Champion for Charters award for supporting funding of the federal Charter Schools Program and advising his legislative colleagues on how to best address financing and facilities issues for charters.

    Hatch’s honor is one of 20 the alliance is celebrating this week as part of its annual Champions for Charters awards. State, local, and federal politicians on both sides of the aisle are being recognized for advancing the cause of charter schools, which have now grown to serve 3.2 million students in 44 states and Washington, D.C.

    Related

    Nina Rees: National Charter Schools Week, a Time for Celebrating Great Public Schools — and the Teachers Who Make Them Possible

    “For 12 years, we have been honoring lawmakers at all levels of government who are making a difference for students by supporting high-quality charter schools,” Nina Rees, president and CEO of the alliance, said in a press release. “Each year, I am grateful for the ways these elected officials have been responsive to the students and families they serve by promoting more public school options. Without their support, the charter school movement would not be where it is today. This year’s honorees have fought for our students and deserve our gratitude and praise.”

    Among this year’s federal honorees are Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, both Democrats, and two Republicans — Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.

    “I am honored to be recognized by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools as this year’s Charter School Champion,” said Coons in a statement. “I have been a steadfast supporter of promoting high-quality charter schools in Delaware and increasing funding for all public schools so that our children and teachers have the tools they need to succeed.”

    The awards this year also include an inaugural recognition for an emerging leader, dubbed a Rising Champion for Charters. U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat of New York is this year’s designee, spotlighted for his work supporting additional funding for charter schools in the 2018 federal budget. His district includes Harlem, East Harlem, northern Manhattan, and the northwest Bronx.

    “It remains critical that we continue to lend our support as well as federal resources to ensure that successful public charter schools are able to thrive and help enrolled students succeed,” Espaillat said in a statement. “Public charter schools are responsible for educating more than 3.2 million students in nearly 7,000 schools around the nation.”

    Policymakers from California received the most nods from the alliance. The Golden State is home to the largest number of charter schools in the nation, with 630,000 students enrolled in 1,275 schools. Gov. Jerry Brown is being honored for his school finance reform that helped create equitable funding for charters and traditional public schools. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is being recognized for his advocacy for charter schools at local school board meetings and in written letters of support.

    The 2018 awardees:

    Lifetime Achievement Champion for Charters

    Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), Utah

    Rising Champion for Charters

    Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D), New York

    Federal Charter Champions

    Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D), Arizona

    Sen. Chris Coons (D), Delaware

    Rep. Luke Messer (R), Indiana

    Sen. John Cornyn (R), Texas

    State and Local Champions

    Gov. Jerry Brown (D), California

    State Sen. Steve Glazer (D), California

    Mayor Sam Liccardo (D), San Jose, California

    Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (D), California

    Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D), California

    State Sen. Owen Hill (R), Colorado

    State Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D), Colorado

    State Rep. Lang Sias (R), Colorado

    State Sen. Angela Williams (D), Colorado

    Gov. Dannel Malloy (D), Connecticut

    State Rep. Judy Boyle (R), Idaho

    State Sen. Lori Den Hartog (R), Idaho

    State Sen. Bob Nonini (R), Idaho

    Gov. Susana Martinez (R), New Mexico

    Disclosure: Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, The Walton Family Foundation, and the William E. Simon Foundation provide financial support to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and The 74.

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  • EduClips: Texas Special Ed Reform Faces Mistrust; LAUSD: Suggestions for New Chief Beutner’s To-Do List — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | May 8, 2018

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    TEACHERS — The extraordinary wave of teacher strikes highlights these crucial but often forgotten facts: In number, teachers are the largest profession in the United States. And collectively, they have the power to demand and win changes to funding and salaries. It’s a stark reminder in an era characterized by diminishing labor influence. And yet political scientists, researchers, and labor watchers say it’s tough to predict how teachers’ reawakened activism will continue to evolve.

    “Teachers are very humble. They just go about their business — we do the best with what we have and we don’t complain,” said Alberto Morejon, a teacher and the grassroots organizer of the Oklahoma walkout last month. But now, “People are finally realizing what we’re dealing with. … They didn’t know the truth, and now they know the truth. It’s slowly going to spread around the country.”

    Perhaps, but there are other possibilities, too. The activism could fade slowly away, as Occupy Wall Street and other protest movements of the past decade did. Or it could find a more permanent channel for its energy, perhaps through the regeneration of teachers unions — which are facing the probable loss of dollars and members as the result of an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision. (Read at Education Week)

    National News

    TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY — More Than Just a Job: Stories of Teachers Who Deserve an A+ (Read at NPR)

    FIRST LADY — Melania Trump Unveils Initiative to Bolster Emotional Health, Combat Bullying and Opioid Crisis (Read at Politics K-12)

    ESSA — Betsy DeVos Greenlights ESSA Plans for Alabama, Colorado, and Kentucky (Read at Politics K-12)

    TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY — Teacher Appreciation Day: A Look Back at 18 Incredible (and Inspiring) Ways Students & Schools Celebrated Their Teachers Over the Past Year (Read at The74Million.org)

    District and State News

    TEXAS — Texas Special Education Reform Comes With Mountain of Mistrust (Read at Texas Public Radio)

    CALIFORNIA — Analysis: What should top Austin Beutner’s to-do list (Read at LA School Report)

    TEXAS — Feds Expand Investigation of Dallas County Schools (Read at NBC Dallas–Fort Worth)

    NEW YORK — Teacher evaluation fight spills into New York’s Board of Regents meeting (Read at Chalkbeat)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Landmark Pa. school-funding suit clears legal hurdle (Read at the Philadelphia Inquirer)

    NEW YORK — Asked about a ‘divisive’ tweet about segregation, Carranza directs an Upper West Side parent to implicit bias training (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — Opinion: Could Beutner’s Lack of Ed Background Become His Greatest Asset at LAUSD? (Read at City Watch)

    NEVADA — Déjà vu: Clark County schools face $60M-plus budget deficit (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois Lawmakers Consider Change for Physical Education Requirements (Read at NPR Illinois)

    Think Pieces

    DENVER REFORM — Analysis: In Denver, Rising Expectations, a Generational Divide, and a New Education Reform Revolution on Its Way (Read at The74Million.org)

    POLITICS — How social pressures drive the partisan education gap (Read at The Hill)

    CHARTER SCHOOLS — Nina Rees: National Charter Schools Week, a Time for Celebrating Great Public Schools — and the Teachers Who Make Them Possible (Read at The74Million.org)

    TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY — So This Is What You Call ‘Teacher Appreciation’? (Read at Education Post)

    Quote of the Day

    “It’s really too little, too late. Especially [for] those children who needed early childhood intervention. You can’t get those years back.” —Jill Goolsby of San Antonio, Texas, on the state’s attempt to make reforms after the U.S. Department of Education found it had illegally barred tens of thousands of children with disabilities, including her son, from a free and appropriate education. (Read at Texas Public Radio)

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  • Teacher Appreciation Week: A Look Back at 18 Incredible (and Inspiring) Ways Students & Schools Celebrated Their Teachers Over the Past Year

    By Taylor Swaak and Laura Fay | May 7, 2018

    Classrooms nationwide on Tuesday will celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day. While teachers do important — and often thankless — work every day, this day is set aside to honor the nation’s estimated 3.6 million teachers for their endless contributions to schools and communities around the country. In ways both profound and silly, students and their communities have been sharing the love for their teachers. From students buying their teacher a new puppy to parents doling out personalized bottles of wine, here’s a roundup of 18 of our favorite moments of the past year.

    1. Whittling down the bucket list: Texas students help sick teacher raise money to see the redwoods — and splash in the Pacific — before it’s too late.

    Michelle Wistrand, a middle school English teacher, was dying of terminal cancer. But she had a bucket list, including a desire to see the Redwood Forest and swim in the Pacific Ocean. Eager to help a teacher they loved, her Texas students raised more than $10,000 on GoFundMe for her trip. Wistrand was able to visit several bucket list destinations before she died last month.

    “I just feel loved and humbled by it and so extremely grateful I have these people in my life,” Wistrand said. (Read more at ABC 13)

    2. ‘We are going to carry you’: Ohio students promise to save their wheelchair-bound teacher in the event of a school shooting.

    The deadly Valentine’s Day massacre in Parkland, Florida, sparked difficult conversations among teachers and students around the country. What would they do if a shooter came into their classrooms? But for Marissa Schimmoeller, a high school English teacher in Ohio, there was an added level of anxiety: She uses a wheelchair. When her students asked what they should do if a shooting breaks out at school, Schimmoeller explained that their safety is her main concern; if they have a chance to escape, they should take it, she said — even if she doesn’t make it.

    What happened next brought her to tears. She described it on Facebook: Slowly, quietly, as the words I had said sunk in, another student raised their hand. She said, ‘Mrs. Schimmoeller, we already talked about it. If anything happens, we are going to carry you.’” (Read more at Upworthy.com)

    3. ‘We knew she loved us’: Fifty years later, Nashville students throw a party for their favorite teacher.

    There are some teachers you never forget, no matter how long you’ve been out of school. Marie Wiggins, 96, of Nashville, is one. The students she taught in the 1960s remembered that Wiggins had been there for them in difficult times, had helped them put on plays, respected them, and loved them — without putting up with their nonsense. Recently reconnected on Facebook, they organized a reunion to honor her.

    “She was so precious,” one student remembered. “We had her respect, and we knew she loved us. She was like our little mother.”

    “My sixth-grade year in school, President Kennedy was assassinated,” another said. “[Mrs. Wiggins] was there with us, I remember that we talked, I remember I felt safe and I felt calm.” (Read more at The Tennessean)

    4. In her first major post–White House speech, Michelle Obama credits educators with having ‘a far bigger impact on our kids’ lives than any president.’

    If you ask Michelle Obama, teachers basically run the world.

    In her first major post–White House speech in February, the former first lady gave a reminder that real change doesn’t happen “from the top down in Washington.”

    “It happens on the ground, in classrooms, in those face-to-face and heart-to-heart interactions between our kids and caring educators and counselors,” she told the audience at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., assembled for the School Counselor of the Year ceremony. “The men and women on this stage … have a far bigger impact on our kids’ lives than any president or first lady.” (Read more at Bustle)

    Start watching at 05:10 to hear Obama’s thoughts on teachers’ meaningful contributions to students’ lives:

    5. Two astronauts are bringing the ‘lost’ lessons of fallen teacher and Challenger astronaut Christa McAuliffe to life.

    Christa McAuliffe, tapped to become the first teacher in space, died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. Her lesson plans — which would have been filmed in space for students on Earth — faded into oblivion. But in January, the Challenger Center, an educational nonprofit created after the disaster, announced that astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold, both former educators, would use McAuliffe’s writings and notes to bring four of her six “lost lessons” to life.

    The pair planned to record the lessons on the International Space Station over several months, with video postings on the Challenger Center website slated for spring. McAuliffe’s lesson plans delve into topics such as liquids and Newton’s laws of motion.

    “We look forward to helping inspire the next generation of explorers and educators,” Acaba said during the January announcement. (Read about McAuliffe’s “lost lessons” here)

    6. Maybe their son didn’t drive his teachers to drink, but these Ohio parents knew he wasn’t the best-behaved. So they gave his teachers the perfect gift: personalized bottles of wine.

    For Christmas last year, the parents of Ohio eighth-grader Jake Sommers wanted to give his teachers something more than a stereotypical coffee mug. Since Jake has been a bit of a “school clown” since kindergarten — as his mother Mary Sommers affectionately told BuzzFeed News — alcohol seemed appropriate.

    So 10 of Jake’s teachers received a bottle of chardonnay with his face smack-dab on the label. The corresponding message read: “Our child might be the reason you drink so enjoy this bottle on us.”

    Jake’s mom told BuzzFeed News that “none of the teachers were shocked” by the gift. (Read more at BuzzFeed News)

    7. Chance the Rapper has given millions to Chicago schools. Now he’s heading a teachers awards show in June.

    Chicago teachers will be getting the all-star treatment this June, with rap icon and Chicago native Chance the Rapper spearheading a new awards ceremony to recognize “teachers, parents, principals, and students that convey leadership” in area schools.

    The annual “Twilight Awards” show, first announced in September, will feature special guest performances. CBS late-night personality James Corden will host.

    Chance is a known education advocate. His nonprofit, SocialWorks, allotted $100,000 grants to 20 Chicago public schools last year. (Read more at Pitchfork)

    Watch here, with mention of the Twilight Awards at 17:30:

    8. Indiana teacher receives the gift of color — with a Harry Potter–themed twist.

    When Beau Scott’s Indiana students made him dress like he was getting ready for a Quidditch match out of the Harry Potter books, he had no idea they had something truly magical in store. Scott’s students knew he was colorblind, so they pitched in $5 to $10 each for a $300 pair of special glasses to allow him to see colors.

    When Scott put on the fancy “Quidditch goggles” his students gave him, he saw colors for the first time — an experience he described as “awesome.” (Read more at U.S. News)

    9. This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown gives thanks to his high school advisor — ‘the first adult who spoke to me about life’ — at TIME 100 gala.

    Sterling K. Brown has made a name for himself, starring in the NBC drama This Is Us and nabbing a historic Emmy win in 2017. But at the TIME 100 gala in April, Brown took a moment to honor his high school adviser and middle school algebra teacher.

    Barbara Jenkins Bull taught him the ins and outs of the stock market. She’d encouraged him to explore other countries. She cheered him on at every football and basketball game.

    “She influenced the trajectory of my life in ways she and I could never have imagined,” he said. “I felt like I could run through a brick wall, and I wanted to do it for her.” (Read more at TIME)

    Watch the video starting here:

    10. Students wanted to honor a Harvard educator who loves Sesame Street. So they transformed him into a muppet.

    A few students in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education wanted to thank professor Joe Blatt last June for bolstering the school’s relationship with Sesame Workshop, a Sesame Street–based nonprofit that supports children’s educational development.

    Nothing seemed more fitting than a look-alike muppet. So they reached out to Sesame Workshop CEO Jeffrey Dunn and commissioned the professorial miniature — complete with a balding head, fluffy white mustache, rimmed glasses, and red tie.

    “Joe was such an inspiration to us this year; he has done so much to bring the Sesame relationship back to Harvard,” one student presenter said at the muppet’s unveiling. Another added jokingly, “When [the Sesame Workshop team] got the pictures, they said, ‘He already looks like a muppet.’” (Read more at GoodNewsNetwork.org)

    Watch the unveiling and Blatt’s reaction here:

     

    11. Puppy love: Alabama teacher’s class buys him a dog after he loses his.

    Troy Rogers, a high school teacher in Athens, Alabama, told his students in December that his dog of 11 years had run away, probably to die. After hearing the news, his senior class pooled their money and surprised him with a new puppy because they knew how much their teacher missed his old dog. Rogers named the puppy Clementine.

    “I love these kids. There are no words,” Rogers wrote in a Facebook post. “I will consequently be adding the estimated cost of the puppy to the senior fund, out of my pocket.” (Read more at Fox 13)

    12. ‘This is everything’: Utah teacher breaks down when a former student shows up at her door after four decades.

    Utah teacher Margaret Foote had an unanticipated visitor last May: a former student from four decades prior, bearing a bouquet of red roses and a tiered, personalized cake.

    In 1978, Foote was a pillar of support for Cindy Davis, a Salt Lake City third-grader struggling with her mother’s remarriage, a recent move, and a lack of friends. Davis is now an educator herself.

    “All throughout my career I have remembered you and thought about what a great teacher you were to me,” Davis told Foote. “I’ve tried to pay it forward.”

    Foote was moved to tears. “You don’t know what this means to me, as a teacher,” she said. “This is everything.” (Read more at KSL.com)

    Watch their reunion here:

    13. Rhode Island teacher’s dream comes true when high schoolers create prosthetic arm for her son.

    All Rhode Island middle school math teacher Nicole Mancini wanted was for her 9-year-old adopted son, Olly — born without a lower left arm — to have a semblance of normalcy and independence. Last December, a group of Scituate High School students gave him just that, manufacturing a plastic prosthetic arm with a 3-D printer.

    The arm is green and purple, Olly’s favorite colors. In a Providence Journal video, Olly, sporting a huge grin, curled his new fingers a few times and leaned over to give his mom a hug.

    “This is the greatest gift anyone could have given me,” Mancini told the Journal. “Olly is blessed to have these kids in his corner.” (Read more at the Providence Journal)

    See the gallery here, and watch the video of Olly trying on his new arm:

    14. New Mexico students surprise their teacher with a Christmas gift for his sick son.

    Widowed math teacher Nathan Neidigk, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, didn’t think he’d be able to afford Christmas presents for his son, who is struggling with leukemia and has required frequent hospital visits. His students surprised him, chipping in for a Nintendo Switch gaming console. The high schoolers also set up a GoFundMe page to help with other health care costs. (Read more at GoodNewsNetwork.org)

    15. Avengers’ Chris Hemsworth asks Twitter to support ‘the real superheroes’ — teachers like his mom.

    Avengers franchise star Chris Hemsworth, a.k.a. Thor, whose mom was a teacher, took to Twitter on April 30 to promote a partnership between Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War and Ziploc, which has pledged $100,000 in funding for classroom projects.

    Those who purchase Ziploc’s superhero-themed bags and containers that celebrate the film’s release will help support the donation, part of Ziploc’s #MoreThanATeacher initiative.

    “As the son of a teacher, I know that educators like my mom are the real superheroes,” said Hemsworth. “My mom taught me everything I know, and I continue to learn from her every single day.” (Read more about the initiative at TriplePundit)

    16. Fairbanks, Alaska, Girl Scouts give their highest honor to a retired — and beloved — Fairbanks teacher and Girl Scout leader. 

    Claudia Pierson, a retired teacher who has worked with Girl Scouts in Fairbanks for decades, recently received the highest award the organization bestows on a volunteer, the Thanks Badge II, for dedicated service to the organization. A self-described “volunteer addict,” Pierson led her daughter’s Girl Scout troop in the 1980s and now leads her granddaughter’s. She also volunteers at a youth homeless shelter and at her granddaughter’s school, organizes a Christmas charity event, and hands out food boxes at her church. (Read more at the Daily News-Miner)


     

    Despite her credentials, [Pierson] is a humble volunteer, willing to do what needs to be done, whether it is moving a Coke machine, fixing a bulletin board, selling tickets for charity or cleaning up after a charity event.
    —the Daily News-Miner


    17. A sweet gesture: Huntsville, Alabama, student gives her ice cream money to teacher to help pay for father-in-law’s funeral.

    Price Lawrence was teaching his sixth-grade students one morning when they noticed something was off. He explained that he was worried about his wife because her father had recently died. When class ended, one student slipped a piece of paper and some coins in Lawrence’s hand. The note said “I’m sorry.” The coins were the student’s ice cream money for that day.

    “This is for your wife. I know it was real expensive when my daddy died and I don’t really want ice cream today anyways,” the student said. Price shared the touching story on Facebook, where it was shared more than 250,000 times. (Read more at GoodNewsNetwork.org)

    18. Students throw surprise party for Iowa teacher who’s been in the same district for 50 years.

    David Houseman has been teaching in southern Iowa’s Moulton-Udell School District for 50 years, and he still hasn’t updated his chalkboard to a SmartBoard. His former students, some of them teachers themselves now, recently reunited for a party to celebrate his half-century in the classroom. Houseman, who has no plans to retire, said his students keep him coming back.

    “I think the kids are actually better, a lot of people think kids are worse,” Houseman said. “Maybe I’m just more liberal or more tolerant. … At M-U, and Moulton, I think the kids … and the community has an appreciation for education. And that’s one reason why I like this school district.” (Read more at the Daily Iowegian)

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  • $14 Million From Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Will Nearly Double Personalized Learning in Chicago Public Schools

    By Kate Stringer | May 7, 2018

    The number of personalized learning schools in Chicago will nearly double with a $14 million grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to expand the student-centered approach in America’s fourth-largest district.

    Most of the money will be spent on professional development for teachers, with some going toward technology for classrooms. Chicago Public Schools will receive $4 million, and LEAP Innovations, a national personalized learning organization that has worked closely with Chicago to develop its student-centered learning models, will receive $10 million.

    “The goal of this grant is to expand the number of schools that are getting access to personalized learning,” said Phyllis Lockett, founder and CEO of LEAP Innovations. “This opportunity for equity is really huge, just from the standpoint of personalized learning meeting kids where they are and valuing differences.”

    Related

    New Analysis of Personalized Learning Programs Shows Reading Gains for Chicago Students

    Personalized learning in Chicago is opt-in, meaning principals and teachers can choose to adopt the approach. LEAP helps support those schools. Lockett said there’s great demand from Chicago schools, making the extra funding critical for expansion. Nearly 100 schools will be added to the 120 that already have personalized learning models.

    LEAP’s work will center on redesigning traditional teaching and learning practices, which includes professional development sessions throughout the school year, in-school job coaching, classroom resources, technology, and social-emotional support. The personalized learning model involves more student agency over classwork, collaboration with other students during the day, and teachers working in tandem with their peers and having more one-on-one time with students.

    Though not every district has $14 million to spend on personalized learning support, Lockett said the approach is still scalable. She pointed to a recent report showing that although upfront costs in Chicago ranged from $338,000 to $780,000 per school, they decreased over five years to become 2 percent of a school’s budget.

    “We’re partnering with Chicago Public Schools and LEAP Innovations to redesign learning environments and put far better tools in the hands of teachers — helping them do the work of their lives and provide transformative and personalized learning experiences that let students unlock their potential,” said Jim Shelton, president of education for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, in a press release. “We’re proud to support CPS and LEAP’s efforts to help educators understand and meet the needs of each and every student.”

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    Disclosure: LEAP Innovations and The 74 both receive funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.



  • EduClips: In TX Courts, Questions About Whether Charter Schools Are Private; New LAUSD Chief Beutner Faces Tough Road Ahead With Teachers — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | May 7, 2018

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    OHIO — No matter the outcome of Tuesday’s primary vote in the 2018 Ohio governor’s race, already one of the most closely watched in the country, the electorate won’t be greeted with any fresh faces.

    Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine, the state’s two most recent attorneys general, have emerged as frontrunners after decades in the public eye. To win, they’ll have to fend off challengers with comparable or greater name recognition. Former Cleveland mayor and eight-term congressman Dennis Kucinich has needled Cordray from the left, while Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor’s Trumpian bid has clearly spooked DeWine, the veteran of seven statewide races.

    All four candidates have built lengthy careers in anticipation of an opportunity like this. But their time on the stage is quickly being overshadowed by a far-reaching scandal that has developed right alongside them — one that makes Ohio the rare state in which education could sway the outcome in several major elections. That’s why a race occurring in the aftershock of Donald Trump’s historic 2016 victory, featuring a cameo by a Middle Eastern dictator, may hinge on the most parochial of concerns: a shuttered charter school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT); its political patrons, including most of the notable Republicans in the state; and the money that passed between them. (Read at The74Million.org)

    National News

    AZ TEACHERS’ STRIKEIn aftermath of #RedForEd walkout, Arizona teachers vow to continue political activism (Read at USA Today)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — AP review: More than 30 mishaps from armed adults at schools (Read at the San Francisco Chronicle)

    IMMIGRATION — Pending Tennessee Law Could Lead Children of Immigrants to Leave School, Advocates Fear (Read at Nashville Public Radio)

    ESSA — ESSA: Which States Are Eschewing School Grades? (Read at Politics K-12)

    VAPING — ‘Juuling’ Craze: Schools Scramble to Deal With Student Vaping (Read at Education Week)

    District and State News

    TEXAS — Are charter schools private? In Texas courts, it depends why you’re asking (Read at The Texas Tribune)

    CALIFORNIA — Austin Beutner’s got his work cut out for him if he wants to win over LAUSD teachers (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    NEVADA — New Clark County schools chief faces angst over selection process (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    CALIFORNIA — L.A. Unified school bus drivers and teacher assistants are planning a daylong strike (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    NEW YORK — A month into the job, it’s clear Chancellor Carranza isn’t Carmen Fariña version 2.0 (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ILLINOIS — Will Illinois Be the Next State to Require Public Schools to Teach LGBT History? (Read at Education Week)

    FLORIDA — Parkland students face dilemma over standardized tests (Read at Sentinel Source)

    NEW YORK — New York’s top policymakers leave open questions about testing, teacher evaluations (Read at Chalkbeat)

    FLORIDA — With fewer teachers around, some schools find backups from far away (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    Think Pieces

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Pache & Rotherham: Being Prepared for a School Shooting Doesn’t Mean Scaring Kids. It Just Means the Adults Have to Be Ready (Read at The74Million.org)

    MATH — Why U.S. Students Are Bad at Math (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    FREE SCHOOL LUNCH — Free school lunch for all, meant to reduce stigma, may also keep students healthier (Read at Chalkbeat)

    AP CLASSES — Eighth-graders taking Advance Placement language classes? Sí. (Read at The Washington Post)

    TEACHING — 20 judgments a teacher makes in 1 minute and 28 seconds (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Threat assessments crucial to prevent school shootings (Read at The Conversation)

    TEACHING — 11 Teachers Who Aren’t Afraid to Keep It Real (Read at Education Post)

    Quote of the Day

    “This ECOT thing is going to be one of those local issues that trumps national issues. No pun intended.” —Stephen Dyer, an education fellow at the progressive think tank Innovation Ohio, on the role that a scandal stemming from an online charter school called the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow could play in Ohio’s gubernatorial election. The state’s primary is Tuesday. (Read at The74Million.org)

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  • The Week Ahead in Education Politics: SCOTUS Rulings Coming Soon, Melania Trump’s Latest Projects, Food Stamps vs. School Lunch & More

    By Carolyn Phenicie | May 4, 2018

    THIS WEEK IN EDUCATION POLITICS publishes most Saturdays. (See previous editions here.) You can get the preview delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter; for rolling updates on federal education policy, follow Carolyn Phenicie on Twitter @cphenicie.

    INBOX: SCOTUS WATCH BEGINS The Supreme Court wrapped its oral arguments for this term last week, and there are several important education-adjacent cases pending before the justices.

    On unions, justices will in the coming weeks decide Janus v. AFSCME, a case that challenges a 40-year-old precedent that permits dissenting public employees to opt out of the political portion of union dues but requires them to pay “agency fees” that fund contract negotiations and similar activities. Those employees say that in the realm of public sector employment, everything is inherently political, and forcing them to pay for advocacy they disagree with violates the First Amendment. Unions say requiring those fees prevents free riders from benefiting from union contracts without paying for them.

    Justices will also decide whether the Trump administration’s ban on travelers from some Muslim-majority countries is unconstitutional. The so-called Travel Ban 3.0, which is currently in effect, bans travelers from Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, North Korea, and Venezuela. Challengers have said that given President Trump’s campaign pledge to ban immigration by Muslims, it amounts to an unconstitutional breach on religious freedom; the government says it’s a lawful way to keep the country safe.

    Higher education advocates have also weighed in on the travel ban case, saying it limits colleges’ ability to attract international scholars.

    Rulings on the Janus case and the travel ban case are due before the end of the court’s term next month; announcements on decisions begin May 13.

    Several cases concerning the DACA program are also pending. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that the Trump administration must keep the program in place while court challenges proceed.

    Seven states, meanwhile, sued in Texas federal court last week to stop the program immediately. The Supreme Court has so far refused to hear the case, but if judges in Texas order the Trump administration to stop the program, that would set up dueling orders that would have to be resolved by the high court, Bloomberg reported.

    IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Before their week-long recess last week, Senate leaders cut a deal to vote, at a time to be determined, on the nomination of Mitchell Zais to be deputy secretary of education. That vote will come after 10 hours of debate, down from the 30 hours Democrats could have forced Republicans to burn. The Education Department ranks among the lowest Cabinet-level agencies in terms of confirmed nominees, even after Carlos Muñiz was confirmed as general counsel last month.

    MONDAY: FIRST LADY — First Lady Melania Trump will announce several new initiatives during remarks in the Rose Garden. She will focus on challenges facing children, including social media, health, and the opioid epidemic, NPR reported. She has previously said she’d focus on cyberbullying.

    TUESDAY: FOOD STAMPS The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, holds a discussion on House Republicans’ efforts to reform the food stamp program, currently known as SNAP. Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Conaway gives remarks. The proposal would expand work requirements. Democrats and progressives say it could imperil children’s access to the school lunch program, for which children whose families receive food stamps are automatically eligible.

    TUESDAY: BABY INVASION — Infant and toddler advocacy group ZERO TO THREE holds “Strolling Thunder,” a gathering of babies and families from across the country at the U.S. Capitol to encourage policymakers to focus on babies when making policy.

    WEDNESDAY: SKILLS GAP — A House Education and the Workforce subcommittee holds a hearing on private sector solutions to closing the skills gap.

    FRIDAY: HATE CRIMES — The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights holds a day-long meeting on the federal government’s role in responding to hate crimes, including “the role of the Education and Justice departments in prosecution and prevention of these heinous acts.”

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  • NYC Delays Releasing Teacher Misconduct Records for Two Years Despite Public Records Reforms

    By David Cantor | May 3, 2018

    New York City education officials missed a deadline again this week for providing teacher misconduct records, pushing The 74’s wait for the documents, which are public, past the two-year mark.

    In a March 2 letter, the Department of Education set a date for providing remaining materials in response to a submission made under the state’s Freedom of Information Law 23 months earlier.

    Owing to “the age of your request” and because the records office recently completed “several voluminous requests,” a DOE letter said, the agency would be able to provide “a final response” on April 30, 2018 — 508 business days after The 74 asked for the information.

    Officials previously missed a January 31 deadline set by the DOE general counsel.

    Related

    467 Days & Counting: Despite New Rules and a Promise by Its Top Lawyer, New York City Continues to Withhold Teacher Misconduct Records

    In March, as in some previous instances, the DOE provided a disk with a portion of the requested files, though it wasn’t possible to know how much remained outstanding.

    Another letter arrived on the April 30 due date. It said that “additional time is required to respond substantively to your request. Accordingly a further interim response is currently anticipated by May 16, 2018.” (Underscore in original.)

    The DOE declined to respond to a request for comment this week about the latest missed deadline or answer questions on how it is handling public records requests like this one that preceded reforms it instituted last year. The changes were put in place after the department was widely criticized — and sued — for its lack of transparency.

    Observers of the agency’s procedures for handling FOIL requests have hoped its practice of repeatedly extending time limits was past. In settling a New York Post lawsuit last month — the tabloid accused agency officials of engaging in a “pattern and practice” of “gifting themselves more time” — lawyers negotiated changes to FOIL policy that now oblige the records office to provide a “date certain” for requests that require more than 20 days. (The city denies that the Post litigation played a significant role.)

    Related

    NYC Education Dept. and NY Post Settle Case That Post Says Was Real Reason Behind City Reforming Public Records Rules

    This provision was already enshrined in the law, but DOE administrators interpreted it as allowing them to reset timetables within 20 days after an existing deadline and for no longer than an extra 20 days — a practice that sometimes recurred for years.

    The agency’s failure to honor January and April deadlines — explicitly described that way, not merely as extensions — may indicate that the new regulations are ineffective. Another possibility: the revamped approach only applies to submissions after November 29 of last year, when the changes went into effect.

    The city says 570 FOIL requests were open at the time. These may remain subject to the old regime, in which “the only certainty” was “another monthly Form Delay Letter,” as the Post alleged in its lawsuit.

    Past statements by the DOE suggest the answer is somewhere in between, at least at the moment.

    “The DOE’s FOIL Unit is working diligently to implement the new regulation across all open FOIL requests, including requests pre-dating the new regulation,” DOE spokesman Douglas Cohen said in March. “Because of the large number of existing requests, and an increase in new requests since the regulation was adopted, implementation remains ongoing.”

    In April 2016, The 74 asked the DOE for decisions in teacher disciplinary hearings dating back to the start of 2015. A new teachers contract negotiated in 2014 was more detailed than past agreements in defining misconduct.

    Investigators substantiated 59 misconduct charges of an undisclosed nature against pre-K staff in 2015 and 2016, according to the Special Commissioner of Investigation. Across all grades, investigators substantiated 131 misconduct charges that included “a sexual component” between 2014 and 2016.

    The outcomes of these cases, which The 74 was seeking and which have not been made public, could range from termination to little or no punishment. It was unclear whether some of the sexual allegations involved pre-K students and whether the 2014 contract revisions affected how cases were decided.

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  • Florida School Board Rejects 2 Proposed Charter Schools to Protest New State Laws

    By Beth Hawkins | May 3, 2018

    In a move intended to send an angry message about new state laws governing the creation and funding of new charter schools, Florida’s Leon County School Board recently voted unanimously to reject applications from two groups hoping to open new schools in the Tallahassee area.

    “It is time for the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Legislature to fix this flawed system,” Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna wrote in a commentary published in the Tallahassee Democrat. “Until then, I will not be recommending the approval of any new charter school applications.”

    The vote, which took place at a contentious meeting April 24, is the latest in a series of protests by traditional districts against a new Florida law, House Bill 7069, that facilitates the expansion of the charter school sector. A number of districts have pushed back against the law’s provision requiring them to share local tax revenue raised for building and maintaining schools.

    Earlier last month, a Leon County Circuit Court judge dismissed a suit filed by several districts challenging provisions of the law, which also grants charter schools more autonomy from the traditional districts where they are located. Though Leon County Schools was not among the plaintiffs, Judge John Cooper made reference to Hanna’s opinion piece during the April 4 hearing at which he issued his ruling.

    Initial denials of charter school applications are common in states where traditional school districts are the first stop for would-be school founders. But district overseers or board members typically cite deficiencies when rejecting applications, even if hostility to competition from charter schools is a driving factor.

    District reviewers raised questions about some aspects of the applications for the two new charters, Tallahassee Classical School and Plato Academy, ultimately recommending them for approval. But in his request that the school board override the recommendations, Hanna did not cite those concerns. Instead, he noted that Florida had denied the district permission to build new facilities, and he decried the state and federal per-pupil dollars the district will no longer receive if the charters are allowed to open.

    “It’s simple economics,” he said. “There is only so much money to go around.”

    Backers of the two charters have 30 days to petition the Florida Department of Education. Tallahassee Classical is an independent nonprofit organization. Plato Academy would be the newest outpost of the for-profit Superior Schools.

    Supporters of the charters counter that the funds don’t belong to the district. “The money follows the child, as do the expenses associated with educating that child,” said Jana Sayler, Tallahassee Classical’s board chair. “We see a distinct need for a classical public education option in Leon County.”

    In his formal recommendation to the school board, Hanna cited the department’s 2016 denial of Leon County Schools’ request to build a new facility. If the state did not see a need for more district capacity, he reasoned, there is no need for additional seats in charter schools.

    Related

    Florida Judge Throws Out Suit Challenging Equitable Funding for Charter School Students

    When the applications were submitted in February of this year, Hanna described charter school expansion as “unregulated” and referred to a screening at Leon High School of the controversial documentary Backpack Full of Cash, which depicts charters as a means of transferring public dollars to private concerns.

    Tallahassee has four public charter schools and a pent-up demand for a classical-style option, said Sayler. She said the charter’s backers have heard from more than 165 families seeking a public classical school.

    Critics note that one of the school’s board members is married to Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, an architect of House Bill 7069.

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  • Teachers of the Year Bring Support for Marginalized Students, Concerns about Empathy to White House Visit With Trump

    By Carolyn Phenicie | May 3, 2018

    The national Teacher of the Year finalists Wednesday brought messages from — and support for — marginalized students to a White House often seen as hostile to immigrants and LGBT students.

    Mandy Manning, the 2018 Teacher of the Year, teaches English and math to refugee and immigrant high school students in Spokane, Washington. She brought letters from about 45 students and delivered them to President Trump, who has limited admissions of refugees and cracked down on illegal immigration.

    Related

    2018 Teacher of the Year Wants Her Refugee Students to Know They Are Wanted and Loved, to Give All Students and Teachers the Chance to Connect

    “It was very empowering for me to be able to hand-deliver the letters directly to the president himself, and also I got to highlight a little bit of what was in the letters when I gave my remarks,” Manning told reporters on a call Wednesday evening after the White House reception.

    Trump handed the letters to an aide and asked that they be placed on his desk to read later, Manning said. She also invited the president to visit the newcomer program for immigrant and refugee students at her high school, she said.

    Manning, along with the three other finalists for the award, said it was an honor to be invited to the White House, and noted that everyone she encountered at the White House went out of their way to make the teachers feel welcomed. Several said a panel the four finalists sat on with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta was a particular highlight.

    The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

    Trump gave brief remarks honoring Manning and the other finalists. He did not address the immigrant population Manning teaches, according to a transcript released by the White House.

    Ohio Teacher of the Year Jonathan Juravich said he highlighted his school’s emphasis on teaching respect and empathy to students, and how “that begins with us as the adults, as the educators, as the policymakers, us modeling those behaviors for our students.”

    Trump said, “That’s great, I like that,” Juravich said.

    Research from advocacy groups and anecdotal evidence have shown an uptick in bullying, particularly against immigrants, Muslims, and other minority groups, in the wake of Trump’s caustic 2016 campaign and election.

    One of the letters Manning gave Trump was from a refugee student from Rwanda who has had more “negative experiences” with those born in the U.S. in the past two years, she said.

    During her speech — which Trump did not attend — Manning highlighted her message “that our students, whether they are immigrants and refugees, members of the LGBTQ community, or even just my girls that I coach every year in basketball, that they are wanted, they are loved, they are enough, and that they matter,” she said.

    She also wore pins supporting immigrant and refugee students, transgender students, and DACA recipients, she said. A pool report from a journalist in the room also said she wore pins backing the National Education Association and the Women’s March.

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  • EduClips: Study Casts Doubt About Whether NYC School Segregation Is Chiefly a Housing Problem; AZ Teacher Strike Continues Thursday — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | May 3, 2018

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    TEACHER PAY — The latest wave of foreign workers sweeping into American jobs brought Donato Soberano from the Philippines to Arizona two years ago. He had to pay thousands of dollars to a job broker and lived for a time in an apartment with five other Filipino workers. The lure is the pay — 10 times more than what he made doing the same work back home.

    But Mr. Soberano is not a hospitality worker or a home health aide. He is in another line of work that increasingly pays too little to attract enough Americans: Mr. Soberano is a public school teacher.

    As walkouts by teachers protesting low pay and education funding shortfalls spread across the country, the small but growing movement to recruit teachers from overseas is another sign of the difficulty some districts are having providing the basics to public school students. (Read at The New York Times)

    National News

    AZ TEACHERS’ STRIKE — Arizona teachers will walk out again Thursday as budget votes drag on (Read at The Arizona Republic)

    DESEGREGATION — There Are Wild Swings in School Desegregation Data. The Feds Can’t Explain Why (Read at Education Week)

    TEACHER PAY — Unionized or Not, Teachers Struggle to Make Ends Meet, NPR/Ipsos Poll Finds (Read at NPR)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Students Hold School Walkout to Support Gun Rights, Though Turnout Was Dwarfed by Recent Post-Parkland Protests (Read at The74Million.org)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — Why Are New York’s Schools Segregated? It’s Not as Simple as Housing (Read at The New York Times)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois Senate passes mandatory LGBT history curriculum for schools (Read at Illinois News Network)

    NEVADA — Florida educator named next Clark County schools superintendent (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Two black men arrested at Starbucks settle with Philadelphia for $1 each; City to fund high school program for young entrepreneurs (Read at The Washington Post)

    CALIFORNIA — New L.A. schools chief Beutner pledges to listen, learn and take action (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    NEW YORK — How school choice differs for black and white families in New York City and other takeaways from a new report (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — Educators face new challenges in ‘superdiverse’ classrooms where multiple languages are spoken (Read at EdSource)

    Think Pieces

    DEMOCRATS — How Far Left Will Democrats Go on Education? (Read at The New Republic)

    ABSENTEEISM — Can a Few Simple Letters Home Reduce Chronic Absenteeism? New Research Shows They Can (Read at The74Million.org)

    NEIGHBORHOODS — Can a school save a neighborhood? (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    NEW YORK CITY — For the Smartest Students, a Tale of Two Cities: What Enrollment Numbers Reveal About How NYC’s Top Boys & Girls Are Sorting Themselves Into Different Schools (Read at The74Million.org)

    TEACHER PAY — Are teachers losing their grip on the middle class? (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “In these times, you have to be innovative and creative in recruiting. We embrace diversity and really gain a lot from the cultural exchange experience. Our students do as well.” ­—Patricia Davis-Tussey, head of human resources for Arizona’s Pendergast Elementary School District, which has recruited more than 50 teachers from the Philippines since 2015. It is part of a small but growing movement nationally to recruit teachers from overseas to deal with funding shortfalls. (Read at The New York Times)

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  • Students Hold School Walkout to Support Gun Rights, Though Turnout Was Dwarfed by Recent Post-Parkland Protests

    By Mark Keierleber | May 2, 2018

    In a twist on recent school-based activism, students across the country marched out of class Wednesday to show their support for the Second Amendment and to oppose new gun control policies.

    The event was a direct response to previous school walkouts that popped up in support of new gun control measures after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14 and left 17 people dead. Wednesday’s event, however, was far smaller in scale, with students from roughly 300 schools registering to participate.

    Will Riley, an 18-year-old senior at Carlsbad High School in New Mexico who organized Wednesday’s “Stand for the Second” national school walkout, said he was satisfied with the engagement he saw from students across the country. In organizing the walkout, Riley received support from the National Rifle Association and the conservative nonprofit Tea Party Patriots.

    “This is not a united front from our generation on gun control issues,” he told The 74. “I’m glad that we are at least able to give the people who knew about this [walkout] a platform to speak up.”

    Riley said the event was also a test for school districts across the country. Schools that punish students for walking out Wednesday, he said, could be engaged in “viewpoint discrimination.” On March 14, students from about 2,800 schools across the country walked out of class to support gun control. While students from some schools faced punishment for their civil disobedience, protesters in other districts walked out of class without repercussion. In some cases, educators participated in the walkout alongside students.

    “I’ve had a lot of students tell me, ‘They allowed the other walkout. Now they’re saying I’m going to be expelled for participating in this walkout,’ ” Riley said. “It is based entirely on the fact that the school does not agree with this viewpoint.”

    At his own school, Riley accused administrators of putting up several roadblocks to discourage participation, though school leaders had supported previous walkouts in favor of gun control. At schools across the country, Riley had encouraged students to walk out at 10 a.m. for 16 minutes, one minute less than the walkout on March 14. In order to avoid disrupting standardized testing, students at Carlsbad High School scheduled their walkout for 3:34 p.m., the last 16 minutes of the school day.

    In response, district superintendent Greg Rodriguez said school officials worked collaboratively with Riley as he planned the walkout. He said school officials treated student protesters, both those for and against gun control measures, equally. Neither camps faced punishment at school so long as their activism didn’t disrupt the school environment.

    “The administration and the principal have been very supportive of the students expressing their First Amendment rights,” Rodriguez said. “We are willing to work with all our students to make sure that they’re actively engaged. We support their constitutional rights, and as public school servants, we are proponents of supporting the Constitution and all of the amendments.”

    Related

    In an Attempt to Counter Parkland Activists, Student Second-Amendment Enthusiasts to Stage Walkout in Support of Gun Rights

    Wednesday’s walkout did face some opposition, even among Second Amendment proponents. Kyle Kashuv, a Parkland student survivor who met with President Donald Trump to share his support for the Second Amendment, tweeted that he would not participate in Wednesday’s event. “There’s a time and place for civil disobedience, I just don’t believe that time is now,” he wrote.

    Responding to Kashuv’s tweet, Riley said he didn’t want the walkout to unduly disrupt learning, but he still believes the protest was important.

    “I think if we really look at the underlying issues here,” Riley said, “it is important that we do it in this way in order to expose viewpoint discrimination.”

    Although Riley said the event was designed to highlight students who oppose gun control policies, a recent poll of school-age youth suggests they are in the minority. In the Pew Research Center survey, conducted after the Parkland shooting, 86 percent of teens ages 13 to 17 said laws that prevent people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns would be effective in preventing school shootings, as would improving mental health screenings and treatments.

    Meanwhile, 79 percent of surveyed teens said metal detectors in schools would be an effective strategy to prevent shootings, and 66 percent said the same about a ban on assault-style weapons. A far smaller portion of the students — 39 percent — said arming teachers would be effective in preventing school shootings.

    Related

    Delaying College, Getting Out the Vote: As They Stage Another National Walkout Over Gun Violence, Students Look to Movement’s Sustainability

    Here’s a roundup of social media posts from Wednesday’s student walkout:

    Related

    17 Minutes of History: Wednesday’s Walkout Part of Long Tradition of Students Speaking Out, From Tinker v. Des Moines to Black Lives Matter

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  • Awkward in Wisconsin: Assistant Supe Tweets Personalized Learning ‘Is Like Teenage Sex’

    By Kate Stringer | May 2, 2018

    Personalized learning has been compared to many things, but teenage sex usually isn’t one of them.

    The assistant superintendent of the Kettle Moraine School District in southeastern Wisconsin changed that this week. In a now-deleted tweet, Theresa Ewald forwarded the message: “Personalized learning is like teenage sex: Every[one] talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everybody thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it,” WISN 12 News reported.

    Community members called her comments “inappropriate.” In a statement emailed to WISN 12 News, Superintendent Patricia Deklotz apologized, saying the tweet was aimed at an adult audience and did not endorse teenage sex.

    It’s worth noting that a similar quote has been attributed to Dan Ariely, a professor at Duke University, who posted on Facebook in 2013, “Big data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it…”

    Related

    Your Child’s Education, Explained: What the Heck Is ‘Personalized Learning’ Anyway?

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  • EduClips: AZ Teachers May Return to Class Thursday; LAUSD Selects Beutner as Superintendent — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | May 2, 2018

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    AZ TEACHERS’ STRIKE — Arizona teachers will return to class Thursday if the Legislature passes the budget by then, organizers have announced, marking the end to the largest walkout in modern American history.

    At a Tuesday evening news conference at the capitol, the leaders of the Arizona Educators United group and Arizona Education Association, the state’s teachers union, credited the teachers’ movement for the additional education funding lawmakers are expected to approve.

    But they also acknowledged that all of their funding demands haven’t been met and vowed to continue the unprecedented wave of teacher activism beyond this legislative session. The organizers of both groups said the realization that state lawmakers were unlikely to budge on addressing more of their funding demands outweighed stretching the walkout beyond Wednesday. (Read at USA Today)

    National News

    SEGREGATION — Why Are New York’s Schools Segregated? It’s Not as Simple as Housing (Read at The New York Times)

    DEVOS — The nation’s top teachers met with Betsy DeVos, and not all of them were thrilled with what she had to say (Read at The Washington Post)

    PERSONALIZED LEARNING — Sketchbooks. Makerspaces. Student Startups. Inside America’s Largest Personalized Learning Experiment, How One Rhode Island ‘Lighthouse Laboratory’ Is Reimagining School (Read at The74Million.org)

    TEACHER STRIKES — What’s driving the latest wave of teacher strikes? Pension problems, some say (Read at PBS NewsHour)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — In an Attempt to Counter Parkland Activists, Student Second-Amendment Enthusiasts to Stage Walkout in Support of Gun Rights (Read at The74Million.org)

    CHARTERS — Success Academy Chairman, Daniel Loeb, Is Stepping Down (Read at The New York Times)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — Austin Beutner is named superintendent as board members choose strong leadership to tackle LAUSD’s deep academic and fiscal challenges (Read at LA School Report)

    FLORIDA — State Supreme Court accepts 2009 school funding case (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    GEORGIA — Gwinnett school board race may make history by electing a non-white member (Read at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    NEVADA — Arbitrator Sides With Teachers in Clark County Pay Dispute (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    CALIFORNIA — CA governor’s race becomes proxy fight over education reform (Read at The Hill)

    NEW YORK — Mayor de Blasio shelling out $5M to fight sexual harassment in city schools (Read at the New York Daily News)

    TEXAS — Mayor Turner pitches HISD partnership plan TEA says is not allowed (Read at Chron)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Philadelphia’s Housing Authority Bought a High School: What Does That Mean for One of the City’s Poorest Neighborhoods? (Read at The Root)

    ILLINOIS — Opinion: School funding reform crucial for Illinois (Read at the Northwest Herald)

    NEW YORK — ‘You’re going to see a lot of me’: Carranza promises to be a presence among Albany lawmakers (Read at Chalkbeat)

    NEVADA — CCSD wants marijuana money to help pay for teacher raises (Read at the Las Vegas Sun)

    Think Pieces

    VALUE-ADDED — Disadvantaged Kids Don’t Have Equal Access to Great Teachers. Research Suggests That Hurts Their Learning (Read at The74Million.org)

    AFFIRMATIVE ACTION — Affirmative action in education looks an awful lot like bigotry — especially to Asian-Americans (Read at The Hill)

    CIVIC ENGAGEMENT — Contributing to a ‘More Perfect Union’: Mathematica Study of Civic Engagement of Students at Democracy Prep Is Encouraging but Only a Beginning (Read at The74Million.org)

    MUSEUMS — Museums Are Dabbling in Teacher Training, and the Results Are Promising (Read at Education Week)

    YOUNG ASTRONAUTS — Indiana Teacher Reviving Young Astronauts Program (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “We want kids to own things, not just test well. ‘Can they apply it?’ is more important than ‘Can they regurgitate it?’ ” —Paula Dillon, assistant superintendent at Barrington Public Schools, on the district’s commitment to personalized learning. (Read at The74Million.org)

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  • In an Attempt to Counter Parkland Activists, Student Second-Amendment Enthusiasts to Stage Walkout in Support of Gun Rights

    By Mark Keierleber | May 1, 2018

    In an attempt to counter a student-driven campaign to promote gun control after February’s massacre at a school in Parkland, Florida, young Second Amendment proponents are preparing a walkout of their own Wednesday — this time, in support of gun rights.

    While it is bound to be much smaller in scale than recent gun control rallies, students from more than 300 schools across the country have signed up to walk out of class at 10 a.m. in support of gun rights, said Will Riley, a high school student from New Mexico who organized the event, “Stand for the Second.” Not a gun owner himself, the 18-year-old senior at Carlsbad High School said he wants to show that not all young people support new gun control laws.

    Will Riley (Courtesy Will Riley)

    “For me this is about rights, this is about the foundation of our country, and I believe that the Second Amendment is key to the entire Bill of Rights,” Riley said in an interview with The 74.

    Though he’s received support from the National Rifle Association and the conservative nonprofit Tea Party Patriots, Riley said the movement began in his living room. A map on the Tea Party Patriots’ website highlights schools where students plan to participate.

    Following the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, students who support gun control measures have held two national school walkouts and a “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C., which attracted hundreds of thousands of participants.

    A majority of Americans support stricter gun control measures, according to recent polling, and millennial perspectives don’t differ drastically from those of older generations. However, in a Pew Research Center survey conducted after the Parkland shooting, school-age Americans overwhelmingly said some gun control policies would keep young people safe on campus.

    In the survey of teens 13 to 17, 86 percent said laws that prevent people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns would be effective in preventing school shootings, as would improving mental health screenings and treatments. Meanwhile, 79 percent of surveyed teens said metal detectors in schools would be an effective strategy to prevent shootings, and 66 percent said the same about a ban on assault-style weapons. A far smaller portion of the students — 39 percent — said arming teachers would be effective in preventing school shootings.

    Despite the widespread attention paid to mass school shootings, teen deaths on campus are quite rare. In fact, less than 3 percent of youth homicides over the past two decades occurred at school, according to recent federal education data. The data suggest schools have become increasingly safe in recent years, and student shooting incidents have been declining since the 1990s.

    Although Riley disagrees with outspoken Parkland student survivors who promote gun control, he was able to find common ground. The walkout on Wednesday, he said, will promote youth civic engagement.

    “As far as encouraging students to get out and vote, I agree with that,” he said. “One of the things that we are encouraging student organizers to do around the country is encourage people to register to vote.”

    Riley said the event will be a test for school districts where students choose to participate. As student activists planned walkouts to promote gun control measures, the responses from district leaders varied. While some districts suspended students for ditching class, others opted against disciplining the activists. Wednesday’s event, Riley said, could show that gun-rights proponents suffer from “viewpoint discrimination in our public schools.”

    “It’s important to do a walkout because we’re going to see if we’re afforded that same courtesy,” Riley said.

    One month after the Parkland tragedy, students walked out of class for 17 minutes to honor each of the people killed in the shooting. Riley said Wednesday’s gun-rights event will last 16 minutes, “which is sort of symbolic to say, ‘Look, we’re asking for one minute less than they did, can you please let us do this? We’re just asking that we have the same opportunity as they did.’ ”

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  • EduClips: LAUSD Poised to Select Beutner as New Superintendent; NYC’s Carranza Apologizes for Retweet — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | May 1, 2018

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    LOS ANGELES SCHOOLS CHIEF — The Los Angeles Board of Education is poised to select philanthropist and former investment banker Austin Beutner to be the next superintendent of the nation’s second-largest school system.

    Barring a last-minute development, the only mystery is whether Beutner emerges with four or five votes from the board’s seven members. Terms of his contract already have been under discussion, according to sources close to the process who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak.

    The selection of Beutner, 58, who has no experience managing a school or a school district, would be a signal that the board majority that took control nearly a year ago wants to rely on business management skills instead of insider educational expertise. (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    National News

    TEACHERS’ STRIKE — Arizona teachers vow to keep striking as lawmakers negotiate (Read at Reuters)

    DEVOS — Betsy DeVos Loves School Choice. But You Don’t See Much of It in ESSA Plans (Read at Politics K-12)

    TENNESSEE TESTING — A Cyberattack, a Cut Cable & a Software Glitch: Why Tennessee Is Discounting Student Test Scores — and Wants the Feds to Do the Same (Read at The74Million.org)

    COMPUTER-BASED TESTS — Computer-based tests are another challenge for low-income students, teachers say (Read at The Washington Post)

    EDUCATION LEADERSHIP — Exclusive: Education Pioneers Founder to Step Down as CEO After 15-Year Push to Train Diverse School Leaders (Read at The74Million.org)

    District and State News

    TEXAS — Future of Houston ISD’s struggling schools now in hands of Texas Education Agency (Read at the Houston Chronicle)

    NEW YORK — New City Schools Boss Backtracks On ‘Wealthy White Manhattan Parents’ Tweet (Read at CBS)

    ILLINOIS — Records show how much SE Illinois school districts have paid for spiking teacher pensions ahead of retirement (Read at Southeast Illinois News)

    CALIFORNIA — LAUSD’s interim superintendent looks to liberate principals in the most struggling schools from requirement they hire teachers sent by the district (Read at LA School Report)

    FLORIDA — Florida school districts and counties work to make campus security a reality (Read at Tampa Bay Online)

    NEVADA — Arbitrator sides with Clark County teachers over back pay (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    NEW YORK — Lashing out at de Blasio administration, Mulgrew says educators lack paid parental leave because of ‘gender bias’ (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — How a Major Tech Company Could Help Educate California High School Students (Read at Capital Public Radio)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois pilot program connects students with therapists (Read at Education Week)

    Think Pieces

    PRE-K — The Perks of a Play-in-the-Mud Educational Philosophy (Read at The Atlantic)

    ED REFORM — Successful Education Reform Depends on Student Buy-In (Read at National Review)

    SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION — Why Tech Is Prepping to Overhaul School Transportation (Read at Forbes)

    PRE-K — Finding a good preschool isn’t easy: Try it. (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    FLORIDA SCHOOLS — The Push for Better Schools Is Paying Off in Florida (Read at Education Post)

    Quote of the Day

    “I will always pay more attention in the future when I re-tweet to make sure the language that is automatically generated in the retweet is something I would say.” —New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, on his sharing of a tweet at 1 a.m. Friday that read, “WATCH: Wealthy white Manhattan parents angrily rant against plan to bring more black kids to their schools.” (Read at CBS)

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  • Exclusive: Education Pioneers Founder to Step Down as CEO After 15-Year Push to Train Diverse School Leaders

    By Mark Keierleber | May 1, 2018

    Scott Morgan, the founder and CEO of the school leadership training program Education Pioneers, announced Tuesday he will step down from his role at the nonprofit in June — one day shy of the organization’s 15th anniversary. Melissa Wu, who has served as the organization’s chief program officer since last year, will become CEO effective June 15.

    Morgan founded Education Pioneers in 2003 after serving as legal counsel at Aspire Public Schools, a charter school network with campuses in California and Tennessee. A former teacher and attorney, Morgan said he recognized at Aspire a benefit to building leaders by bringing together diverse candidates with backgrounds in education and business. More than a decade later, the organization he founded has trained nearly 4,000 education leaders through its fellowship programs focused on education leadership. Although fellows typically have professional training outside education, most go on to work in the field, in areas including data analysis, operations, finance, and human resources.

    As the Oakland, California–based nonprofit approaches its 15th anniversary, Morgan said he reflected on Education Pioneers’ “core values,” which say one person or idea alone cannot solve the complex challenges public education is up against. Stepping back to look at the organization’s next chapter, he discovered it could benefit from a leader with different skills and a new perspective.

    “Our fundamental belief at Education Pioneers is about the power of people, and I truly believe that in education the most important question we’re answering is not the question about what, it’s the question about who,” said Morgan, who is still exploring opportunities for the next step in his career. “I always hoped, ever since the earliest years, that I would be the type of founder who could step down from the CEO role when the time was right for the organization, and the time is right.”

    Wu came to Education Pioneers in 2017 after more than six years at TNTP, a national education nonprofit that recruits and trains teachers. Wu began her career at the TEAK Fellowship, a New York City–based after-school program that helps students from low-income families get into and succeed at top high schools. She previously hosted Education Pioneers fellows on her team at TNTP, she said, which helped motivate her decision to join the organization.

    “[Education Pioneers] has built this strong network and this large body of alums who are doing incredible work in the field, so it felt like an exciting moment to me to both think about how you sustain that momentum, sustain it with real quality, and to think about what the next phase would look like,” Wu said.

    Education Pioneers began with a class of nine fellows working at seven education organizations, but it now trains nearly 400 education leaders per year. The nonprofit has partnered with more than 750 organizations across the country.

    Education Pioneers offers a 10-week summer fellowship program, composed predominantly of graduate school students, and a 10-month impact fellowship, in which emerging leaders are recruited and placed with education organizations to focus on data and analytics and strategic project management.

    School districts and charter school networks make up more than half of partnerships, but the group also places fellows at state education departments and other education nonprofits. Among Education Pioneers alumni, 53 percent identify as leaders of color, though the group has put a greater emphasis on diversity in recent years, Wu said.

    “We recognize that we need leadership in education that reflects the really diverse communities that we’re serving,” Wu said. “We have a very deep and strong commitment to equitable outcomes for kids and excellent outcomes for kids, but also diversity, equity, and inclusion in how the sector is being led.”

    As the network of Education Pioneers alumni continues to grow, Wu said she plans as CEO to further engage the network of leaders who got their start through the fellowship program. Beyond recruiting, selecting, and training education leaders, the next phase at Education Pioneers will focus on alumni outreach and “how we mobilize and catalyze those people over time throughout their careers.”

    As Morgan transitions out of the job, he offered optimism as Wu takes the helm. “This work is people-powered at the end of the day, and we need thousands of more exceptional, diverse leaders driving this important work advancing equity and excellence,” he said. “This work is more important than ever for our nation, and I’m just incredibly excited for the next chapter under Melissa’s leadership at Education Pioneers.”

    Disclosure: Education Pioneers and The 74 receive financial support from The Walton Family Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. 74 Senior Editor Andrew Rotherham serves on Education Pioneers’ Washington, D.C.–area advisory board.

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