Rise & Shine: Nationally, charter enrollment rose 13% last year

  • The number of students in charter schools nationally rose 13 percent in 2011-2012, to 2 million. (Times)
  • Attendance in schools relocated due to Sandy rose on Tuesday. (GothamSchools, NY1, SchoolBook)
  • Some Rockaways parents are upset that shuttle buses to relocated schools are returning so late. (NY1)
  • A football matchup last weekend was more than a game for Beach Channel students. (GothamSchools)
  • Parents and children expressed relief as their Queens schools returned to their buildings. (NY1)
  • The last evacuees are leaving today from Brooklyn Tech, used as a shelter since the storm. (DNAInfo)
  • Some teachers are embracing the Common Core even before Regents exams change. (GothamSchools)
  • New York Cares, the volunteer nonprofit, gives hundreds of students SAT help each year. (Daily News)
  • At a preschool in Stockholm, staff and children use gender-neutral activities and pronouns. (Times)
  • A conservative think tank found 50 New York State superintendents making more than $260,000. (Post)
  • An inquiry found that three officials at a top Newark charter school violated test security. (Star-Ledger)
  • D.C. is aiming to close 20 under-enrolled schools this year in a sweeping overhaul. (Washington Post)

Betsy DeVos

‘Underperformer,’ ‘bully,’ and a ‘mermaid with legs’: NYMag story slams Betsy DeVos

PHOTO: New York Magazine
A drawing of DeVos commissioned by an 8-year-old starts the New York Magazine article.

A new article detailing Betsy DeVos’s first six months as U.S. education secretary concludes that she’s “a mermaid with legs: clumsy, conspicuous, and unable to move forward.”

That’s just one of several brutal critiques of DeVos’s leadership and effectiveness in the New York Magazine story, by Lisa Miller, who has previously covered efforts to overhaul high schools, New York City’s pre-kindergarten push, and the apocalypse. Here are some highlights:

  • Bipartisan befuddlement: The story summarizes the left’s well known opposition to DeVos’s school choice agenda. But her political allies also say she’s making unnecessary mistakes: “Most mystifying to those invested in her success is why DeVos hasn’t found herself some better help.”
  • A friend’s defense: DeVos is “muzzled” by the Trump administration, said her friend and frequent defender Kevin Chavous, a school choice activist.
  • The department reacts: “More often than not press statements are being written by career staff,” a spokesperson told Miller, rejecting claims that politics are trumping policy concerns.
  • D.C. colleagues speak: “When you talk to her, it’s a blank stare,” said Charles Doolittle, who quit the Department of Education in June. A current education department employee says: “It’s not clear that the secretary is making decisions or really capable of understanding the elements of a good decision.”
  • Kids critique: The magazine commissioned six portraits of DeVos drawn by grade-schoolers.
  • Special Olympics flip-flop: DeVos started out saying she was proud to partner with the athletics competition for people with disabilities — and quickly turned to defending a budget that cuts the program’s funding.
  • In conclusion: DeVos is an underperformer,” a “bully” and “ineffective,” Miller found based on her reporting.

We’ve reached out for reaction from DeVos’s team and will update when we hear back.

home sweet home

‘Finally! Something useful’ or a dangerous mistake? Detroiters respond to city’s housing deal for teachers

PHOTO: Detroit Land Bank Authority
This home on Harvard Road was up for auction the week after Detroit announced a half-off-on-city-owned housing deal for teachers.

Friday’s announcement that all Detroit school employees — whether they work for district, charter, or parochial schools — will get a 50 percent discount on houses auctioned through the Detroit Land Bank Authority stirred a lot of discussion.

Some of our commenters on Facebook had high hopes for the deal:

But one commenter wondered if it’s the city of Detroit that’s actually getting the best deal, not the employees — or other people seeking to buy homes in the city:

And others argued that people who already live in Detroit won’t benefit from this deal:

Still, some readers appear to be ready to move — and have even picked homes to bid on (though not necessarily from the Land Bank Authority)!