Some of the News Fit to Print
WALTON FOUNDATION FUNDS NEW TEACHERS
The Arkansas-based Walton Family Foundation announced Wednesday that it was donating $20 million to a nonprofit that recruits talented college graduates to teach in public schools for two years. The largest number of instructors, more than 700, is slated for Los Angeles. The gift is a continuation of support that has totaled more than $100 million to New York City-based Teach for America over its 24 years. Walton's cumulative contribution to the group in Los Angeles is more than $10 million, according to the foundation. The article is in the L.A. Times.
RACE COMPLICATES A TRANSFER TO BETTER SCHOOLS
Public schools in the St. Louis region, as in many other metropolitan areas across the country, have struggled for decades to bridge a wide achievement gap between school districts — a divide that often runs along racial and socioeconomic lines. By affirming the right to transfer students out of failing school districts, the Missouri State Supreme Court opened the doors for hundreds of families to cross the lines and move their children into better schools. But the process remains a tricky one, complicated by class, race, geography and social perceptions. The article is in The New York Times.
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MOOC BILL DEAD FOR NOW
A controversial California bill to pass off untold thousands of state college students to nontraditional providers of instruction, some of them for-profit or unaccredited, is dead for now. The bill, unveiled in March by a powerful California lawmaker, initially would have required the state’s 145 public colleges and universities to grant credit for low-cost online courses offered by outside groups, including for-profits companies, among them the providers of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. The legislation was the subject of massive media coverage, with many citing it as evidence that traditional higher ed models were doomed. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
INPUTS TRUMP OUTPUTS
The easiest way for colleges to improve their graduation rates is to serve fewer disadvantaged students, according to two new studies released this week. The new research found that the characteristics of incoming students largely predict their likelihood of completing college. The papers arrive at a time when many politicians have been endorsing ideas for rewarding institutions that perform well on graduation rates. That concept, however, has been questioned by many at colleges that educate non-wealthy, less-prepared students. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
UNIVERSITY LEADERS CALL FOR MORE INVESTMENTS TO CLOSE THE ‘INNOVATION DEFICIT’
A group of more than 160 university presidents and chancellors on Wednesday sent a letter to President Obama and Congress urging them to increase investments in research and higher education in order to close what they called an “innovation deficit” that they said was harming the economy. The effort was guided by the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, and the leaders of their member institutions. Their letter appears as an advertisement in Politico, a newspaper in Washington, D.C. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
ARNE DUNCAN: SEQUESTRATION STILL ‘HEARTBREAKING’
Back in February, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan went on CBS' "Face the Nation" and warned that school districts could be forced to cut 40,000 teacher jobs, thanks to a series of across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration. It is nearly August and students around the country are starting their back-to-school shopping. Most school districts have finished their budgets for the 2013-14 school year—and there still aren't many stories of massive layoffs or even major programmatic cuts due to the sequestration. Now that Congress is set to revisit sequestration in the fights over raising the debt ceiling and the fiscal year 2014 spending bills, will Duncan's initial predictions come back to haunt him? He doesn't think so. "We are going to continue to be extraordinarily vocal," he said. "Reversing the sequester is extraordinarily high on my priority list. ... It's heartbreaking to me that somehow politicians here in Washington think those kinds of cuts are okay." The post is from Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog.
CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICERS MAKE THEIR WAY INTO SCHOOLS
Chief innovation officers are slowly popping up in districts around the country. Some say they fill a gap in leadership that's preventing education from moving forward. Large urban school systems including Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee have created this position. The officers might provide visionary leadership, assist with communications, or help prepare students for college. The article is in Governing magazine.
NEGATIVE IMPACT OF TEACHER TURNOVER
Student achievement in mathematics and English language arts frays when teachers leave. Turnover is particularly harmful to students in schools with large populations of low-performing and black students, this research shows. Teachers who stay also are hurt by turnover because they bear the responsibility of mentoring new teachers, carry more of the instructional burden, and have fewer opportunities for professional development. The report is from the Education Commission of the States.
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THE OLD COMMUNITY COLLEGE TRY
President Obama may have strong words for colleges about tuition prices, but he continues to push for more federal funding for community colleges. In a major speech Tuesday on job creation Obama repackaged a February budget proposal for an $8 billion “Community College to Career Fund.” The address follows the president’s vow six days ago to “shake up” higher education to ensure better value for middle-class students and their families. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
EFFORTS TO RECRUIT POOR STUDENTS LAG AT SOME ELITE COLLEGES
With affirmative action under attack and economic mobility feared to be stagnating, top colleges profess a growing commitment to recruiting poor students. But a comparison of low-income enrollment shows wide disparities among the most competitive private colleges. The article is in The New York Times.
STATES OFFER STUDENTS AN INCENTIVE TO GRADUATE: MONEY
WASHINGTON — Every year states hand out more than $11 billion in financial aid to college students with no certainty as to whether they’ll ever graduate. Many states don’t track the money. They simply hand it over and hope for the best, as one educational consultant put it. It’s a “one-sided partnership,” according to Stan Jones, the president of the advocacy organization Complete College America. “The states provide the funds, but the expectations states have of students are really pretty low. The article is in The Hechinger Report.
NORTH CAROLINA ENDS TEACHER TENURE
North Carolina became the latest state to overhaul its teacher tenure rules, directing school administrators to offer four-year contracts to top performers but one- or two-year contracts to everybody else. Longer-term job security will be limited to the 25% of teachers who are ranked most effective. ECS' Kathy Christie offered examples of states that have made changes to tenure laws. Check ECS' tenure brief and policy database. Note: Idaho voters repealed the state's tenure reforms in 2012. The article is in Stateline.org.
SCHOOLS NEED MORE MONEY, RESOURCES TO IMPLEMENT COMMON CORE
Many K-12 schools are worried about meeting the requirements of new Common Core State Standards. The schools are in need of adequate IT infrastructures to successfully meet the standards, and both implementation and cost present serious challenges to districts. According to Debra Donston-Miller of Information Week, schools are struggling to implement new standards as they need more and updated IT resources. Schools and districts have found it difficult to meet standards faithfully using out of date technology and skills. The article is at EducationNews.org.
MATH TEACHERS FIND COMMON CORE MORE RIGOROUS
A large majority of middle school math teachers say the common core is more rigorous than their state's prior mathematics standards. At the same time, most teachers reported receiving fewer than 20 hours of professional development over the past year related to the common core, according to the new study. These and other findings come from a joint project among researchers at several universities supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The article is in Education Week.
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WHAT ONLINE EDUCATION CANNOT TEACH
CUNY philosophy professor Jennifer Morton writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education: For students from low-income families who manage to overcome the tough odds, college is the first place where they will be asked to defend a position and to engage in vigorous intellectual debate. It is also likely to be the first place where they have to consistently engage with middle-class students and professors and navigate middle-class social norms. Yet more and more colleges are adopting MOOCs (massive open online courses), consisting of recorded lectures and online assignments.
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MAKEOVER FOR TECHNICAL COLLEGES, BASED ON GRADUATE’S EARNINGS
SWEETWATER — Striking a tone that has become increasingly fashionable among Texas politicians, House Speaker Joe Straus urged his fellow lawmakers at the outset of this year’s legislative session to “expand opportunity in Texas this session by improving coordination among high schools, community and technical colleges and the private sector so that no young person feels destined to spend life drifting from one low-skilled, minimum-wage job to the next. The article is in The New York Times.
AN ONLINE REVOLUTION IS COMING
Danielle Allen from the Institute for Advanced Study writes in The Washington Post: Whether for good or ill, MOOCs augur a disruption of the relationships among students, colleges and trade schools, and the credentials those schools offer — a relationship that has stabilized higher education for at least a century. Yet if done right — a big if, as recent events at San Jose State and Colorado State universities have shown — they may help address the quality and cost of higher education.
WHY 'FISHER' MEANS MORE WORK FOR COLLEGES
In Fisher v. University of Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a decades-old principle that colleges and universities may use race-conscious affirmative-action plans in order to enroll a diverse student body. To consider race in admissions, however, institutions must prove to courts that race-neutral alternatives—such as relying on socioeconomic status or where students live—will not work. In the court's words, colleges must prove that "no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity." The commentary, by Thomas Kane and James Ryan with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
THE MOST BACKWARD LEGISLATURE IN AMERICA
John Wilson blogs for Education Week: Once known for having the most innovative and progressive public school system in America, North Carolina is now a trajectory of backwardness. This legislature has put North Carolina in a race to the bottom on per pupil expenditures. This legislature chose to cut education by a half a billion dollars--even though the state had more resources available than in previous years. North Carolina will lose over 5,000 teachers, counselors, and school psychologists. A reading program that provided teaching assistants for K-3 classrooms was decimated by the elimination of almost 4,000 positions. Cuts to textbooks and instructional supplies exceeded $120 million. This is backward.