May 2, 2013
The News Journal
A closer look at Pencader Charter vs. Christina School District
An opinion by Barbara Finnan, a former public school teacher
We all know there’s a “Delaware Way” in getting things done in this state, but, really, why are our politicians, movers and shakers, taking things to a ridiculous extreme on the issue of the state Department of Education’s oversight of charter and/or traditional public schools and allowing what certainly seems like a double standard to be applied by DOE?
IRSD’s high schools score big in national report
The Indian River School District’s two high schools received favorable marks in this year’s U.S. News & World Report Best High School rankings. The report, released April 23, has Sussex Central High School and Indian River High School ranked second and third in the state, and 2,094th and 2,233rd in the nation, respectively. Both schools received silver medals based on their national rankings. “We’ve both received bronze medals before, but never silver,” said Mark Steele, principal of Indian River High School “It’s great to be validated for all of the hard work of the staff,” said Jay Owens, principal of Sussex Central High School. “We’re really proud of this accolade.”
N.Y.C.-IBM partnership focuses on students’ tech. skills
Many schools aspire to give students the skills they need to make it in the workforce. The school known as P-TECH is trying to accomplish that goal in a more direct way—by bringing the workforce to students. The school has worked directly with one of the nation’s best-known technology companies, IBM, and with public universities in the city, which together have helped shape a curriculum and academic approach that allows students to graduate from high school with an associate degree—and possibly with a jump-start on a job at the company or elsewhere in a technology-related field. IBM’s involvement is not limited to helping hone the curriculum. The company, with headquarters in Armonk, N.Y., is arranging to have its employees individually mentor each of the school’s 230 students, providing them with everything from help with academic lessons to broader advice on career and life goals.
Teachers’ union president: halt all high stakes linked to Common Core
AFT President Randi Weingarten is calling for a moratorium on all stakes associated with the Common Core State Standards, saying that teachers have not had enough time or support to understand them deeply and shift their instruction accordingly. In a speech, Weingarten said that it’s unfair to judge students, teachers, and schools on test scores that reflect material that hasn’t been adequately taught yet.
Funding phantom students
Many state education leaders are taking a fresh look at school finance in hopes of containing costs. Some are reworking transportation formulas, or zeroing in on special education eligibility, or merging districts. Others are investing more in digital learning, charter innovations, and information systems. But state leaders too often overlook a common practice that inhibits both efficiency and productivity, namely, funding students who do not actually attend school in funded districts, herein called “phantom students.” Policies that fund phantom students take several forms: protections against declining enrollment, hold-harmless provisions for districts competing with charters, small district subsidies, minimum categorical allocations. In each case, affected districts receive funds in excess of what they would receive if only the students on their rolls were funded.
The Washington Post
Virginia’s first statewide virtual school likely to close
The Carroll County School Board plans to end its partnership with the contractor that operates Virginia’s largest full-time statewide virtual school, effectively shutting down a program that serves more than 350 students. The decision to close what was also the state’s first online school deals a blow to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s goal of expanding virtual education options. It also leaves hundreds of families, including many in Northern Virginia, in the lurch for the coming school year. The School Board in the southern Virginia county voted in mid-April to discontinue the contract, citing administrative and liability concerns.
Turmoil swirling around Common Core education standards
As public schools across the country transition to the new Common Core standards, which bring wholesale change to the way math and reading are taught in 45 states and the District, criticism of the approach is emerging from groups as divergent as the tea party and the teachers union. The standards, written by a group of states and embraced by the Obama administration, set common goals for reading, writing and math skills that students should develop from kindergarten through high school graduation. Although classroom curriculum is left to the states, the standards emphasize critical thinking and problem solving and encourage thinking deeply about fewer topics.