Rise & Shine: State to extend school year with foundation funds

  • New York is among five states to get Ford Foundation funding to extend the school year. (Times, AP)
  • The number of districts that, unlike NYC, have reached teacher evaluation deals is up to 633. (Post, NY1)
  • Brooklyn’s District 23 became the third to adopt districtwide choice, the second in a week. (Daily News)
  • Park Slope’s controversial school rezoning plan could make P.S. 10 lose pre-kindergarten. (Daily News)
  • The Post pans the city for giving high grades to high schools that don’t prepare students for college.
  • Los Angeles’s teachers union tentatively agreed to use test scores in teacher ratings. (WSJ, L.A. Times)
  • An L.A. union activist says smaller districts are paving the road to a new unionism. (Washington Post)
  • A state judge ruled that Louisiana’s school voucher system is unconstitutional. (WSJ, Times-Picayune)
  • In some cities, school are losing students because of demographic shifts and charter schools. (WSJ)
  • Debate over the Common Core’s nonfiction guidelines is heating up nationally. (Washington Post)
  • A former D.C. teacher and current professor says credit recovery is used too liberally in D.C. (WSJ)

Last week on GothamSchools:

  • The city is scrutinizing homegrown high school courses to see if they meet high standards. (Friday)
  • Mayoral hopefuls came before a group that opposes Mayor Bloomberg’s school policies. (Thursday)
  • A related group released research briefs to make their case against Bloomberg’s policies. (Thursday)
  • The city and others would like student surveys to affect evaluations, but the UFT doesn’t. (Wednesday)
  • Timing and implementation issues could cloud any teacher evaluation deal that gets made. (Wednesday)
  • Some schools that got progress reports still have investigations open about last year’s scores. (Tuesday)
  • Even with college readiness metrics, more high schools got top progress report scores this year. (Monday)
  • Still, the city increased the number of high schools it is considering closing, shortlisting 24. (Monday)
  • City officials said they are considering making it harder to get high scores in the future. (Monday)
  • The principal of one of four schools with two straight F’s said he doesn’t fear being closed. (Monday)

Rise & Shine

While you were waking up, the U.S. Senate took a big step toward confirming Betsy DeVos as education secretary

Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as education secretary is all but assured after an unusual and contentious early-morning vote by the U.S. Senate.

The Senate convened at 6:30 a.m. Friday to “invoke cloture” on DeVos’s embattled nomination, a move meant to end a debate that has grown unusually pitched both within the lawmaking body and in the wider public.

They voted 52-48 to advance her nomination, teeing up a final confirmation vote by the end of the day Monday.

Two Republican senators who said earlier this week that they would not vote to confirm DeVos joined their colleagues in voting to allow a final vote on Monday. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska cited DeVos’s lack of experience in public education and the knowledge gaps she displayed during her confirmation hearing last month when announcing their decisions and each said feedback from constituents had informed their decisions.

Americans across the country have been flooding their senators with phone calls, faxes, and in-person visits to share opposition to DeVos, a Michigan philanthropist who has been a leading advocate for school vouchers but who has never worked in public education.

They are likely to keep up the pressure over the weekend and through the final vote, which could be decided by a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence.

Two senators commented on the debate after the vote. Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who has been a leading cheerleader for DeVos, said he “couldn’t understand” criticism of programs that let families choose their schools.

But Democrat Patty Murray of Washington repeated the many critiques of DeVos that she has heard from constituents. She also said she was “extremely disappointed” in the confirmation process, including the early-morning debate-ending vote.

“Right from the start it was very clear that Republicans intended to jam this nomination through … Corners were cut, precedents were ignored, debate was cut off, and reasonable requests and questions were blocked,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Week In Review

Week In Review: A new board takes on ‘awesome responsibility’ as Detroit school lawsuits advance

PHOTO: Erin Einhorn
The new Detroit school board took the oath and took on the 'awesome responsibility' of Detroit's children

It’s been a busy week for local education news with a settlement in one Detroit schools lawsuit, a combative new filing in another, a push by a lawmaker to overhaul school closings, a new ranking of state high schools, and the swearing in of the first empowered school board in Detroit has 2009.

“And with that, you are imbued with the awesome responsibility of the children of the city of Detroit.”

—    Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens, after administering the oath to the seven new members of the new Detroit school board

Read on for details on these stories plus the latest on the sparring over Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos. Here’s the headlines:


The board

The first meeting of the new Detroit school board had a celebratory air to it, with little of the raucous heckling that was common during school meetings in the emergency manager era. The board, which put in “significant time and effort” preparing to take office, is focused on building trust with Detroiters. But the meeting was not without controversy.

One of the board’s first acts was to settle a lawsuit that was filed by teachers last year over the conditions of school buildings. The settlement calls for the creation of a five-person board that will oversee school repairs.

The lawyers behind another Detroit schools lawsuit, meanwhile, filed a motion in federal court blasting Gov. Rick Snyder for evading responsibility for the condition of Detroit schools. That suit alleges that deplorable conditions in Detroit schools have compromised childrens’ constitutional right to literacy — a notion Snyder has rejected.


In Lansing

On DeVos

In other news