May 2012 Archives

Former New York City and Miami schools chief Rudy Crew will be named Oregon's "Chief Education Officer" by Gov. John Kitzhaber, and will have extensive powers in implementing Kitzhaber's education policies.

Eight states have received waivers from No Child Left Behind, the U.S. Department of Education announced May 29. Six of those states are Race to Top grant winners, and all of them have adopted the Common Core State Standards.

The American Civil Liberties Union says it is attempting to stop states from implementing what the group calls the discredited and potentially illegal practice of separating male and female students into single-sex classrooms.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association voted to approve a new contract it had previously rejected that includes student academic growth as a factor in teacher evaluations. But Gov. Neil Abercrombie's position appears to be that the contract is no longer considered a valid agreement by the state.

Various state are grappling with education funding problems that touch on a number of issues, from the possibility of a much shorter school year for many California districts, to the amount of "payback" North Carolina districts owe the state, and accusations New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is overstepping his authority on school funding.

Illinois appears ready to ditch the legislative scholarships program that has been derided as a patronage plum for the children of friends to state politicians, after legislators approved a ban on the scholarships and sent it to Gov. Pat Quinn (D) for his signature.

Stand for Children's Washington state chapter announced May 18 that it was endorsing GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. The group supported Democrats for the most part in recent years, but the group's executive director said McKenna was "incredibly aligned" with Stand for Children's policy goals.

The role of state legislators, in a time when outside advocacy groups, think tanks and others have high profiles in education policy debates and decisions, could be in an interesting transition period.

Over 95 percent of school districts had their budget proposals approved by voters in New York State in the first year of a new law capping property tax increases. Districts that proposed going above those caps to pay for their budgets succeeded at only a 60-percent rate.

The New Hampshire Senate was scheduled to consider a bill May 16 that would block schools from using the International Baccalaureate course of study, which detractors say promotes a distasteful international ideology.

Tougher scoring guidelines on Florida's state reading test resulted in a significant drop in the percentage of passing students this year, prompting a change in the "cut score" by the state school board that means schools' grades won't be hurt this year by the lower score.

In the wake of news that California's budget deficit has grown to $15.7 billion, $6.5 billion more than a January estimate, California education groups are now worried that a proposed take hike in November to fund schools won't be enough to staunch deep cuts.

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, please go read "The Changing Face of Education Advocacy" by my colleagues Stephen Sawchuk and former State EdWatch maestro Sean Cavanagh. They both put a huge amount of work into the articles, which are running in two parts, this week and next week. One of the articles focuses on the state-level influence of these advocacy groups, but every article in the series should be read to give you a complete picture of what's going on....

The American Legislative Exchange Council's board of directors asked its Education Task Force to revise language in a resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards at its May 11 meeting in Charlotte, after which the resolution will be reconsidered by the board.

Charter school proposals in Alabama and Mississippi have gone down to defeat, with the foes ranging from Republican suburbanites in one state to a state teachers' union in another.

A May 11 vote by the American Legislative Exchange Council on a resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards is drawing attention from both foes and champions of the standards.

The Albuquerque Teachers Federation voted "no confidence" in New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera due to her planned teacher evaluation system and decision to lay off education employees.

Connecticut lawmakers approved several changes to the state's public schools proposed by Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, although some of his most controversial proposals, such as eliminating current teachers union contracts, were not among them.

Tom Barrett, who lost the 2010 gubernatorial race to GOP Gov. Scott Walker, has won the right to a rematch on June 5 by winning the May 8 state Democratic primary poll.

A new report from the Southern Regional Education Board highlights the growth in child poverty, particularly in its 16 member states, and warns about its long-term affects on educational attainment and personal income.

Senators in Michigan passed a bill that would move up the cut-off date by which time children must turn 5 in order to attend kindergarten during that school year from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1 by 2015-16, in a move they say helps other students in kindergarten and would save $50 million annually.

Hawaii gets to keep its Race to the Top grant for now but remains on "high risk" status, the U.S. Department of Education told the state May 4.

A new study of California public schools from 2007 to 2011 paints a fairly grim picture that includes "small progress" but major challenges remaining. Among the findings is that the state's per-pupil spending in K-12 dropped by $522, a 6 percent slump.

A May 3 letter from the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governors Association, and other groups urges Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act before the 112th Congress adjourns.

A new poll for the Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial primary on May 8 appears to give Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett the edge over the preferred candidate of the teachers union, Kathleen Falk. A majority also do not favor a gubernatorial pledge to veto a state budget if it does not restore collective bargaining rights.

CORRECTED In case you haven't seen it already, it's worth noting on State EdWatch that Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott has announced that he will step down from his post on July 2. Reading the Associated Press story, Scott comes across as an education official conscious that he was caught between warring priorities and political factions. It's not every day that an official personally apologizes to school leaders for funding cuts, as Scott did in February after public schools in Texas lost $5.4 billion in state budget cuts back in 2011 (an official might be more likely to say ...


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