POLITICO. April 15, 2014.
PARCC SHOWDOWN IN LOUISIANA: If the Louisiana state legislature won’t scrap the PARCC exams, then Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal should withdraw from the testing group on his own authority, a group of state lawmakers wrote. Jindal, who originally supported the Common Core but more recently has spoken out against it, appears more than willing to consider that move, calling it “a very viable option.” In a statement issued by his office Monday, the governor added: “We share the concerns of these legislators and also of parents across Louisiana.
— But Louisiana state Superintendent John White told Morning Education that Jindal’s move is “deeply disappointing” — and illegitimate. The memorandum of understanding committing Louisiana to the PARCC consortium was signed three years ago by the state superintendent, the governor and the president of the state board of education. The document clearly states that the current officeholders in all of those three posts must sign off on any move to withdraw from the consortium. And White, for one, has no intention of signing.
— “To me, it’s a simple question: What’s right for the kids of the state of Louisiana?” White said. He said he believes — and state legislators have repeatedly affirmed — that “a test whereby Louisiana’s kids compete against kids from the rest of the country is good for our kids and good for our state.” It’s been more than four years since the state adopted the Common Core, White added, and during the long and sometimes difficult transition “our teachers have put their heart, soul and lives into this change. The thought that we would throw it in reverse at the last minute when we know this is right for our kids is deeply disappointing.”
— White described the governor’s recent actions as growing out of a “political spat,” not a legitimate educational debate, and expressed frustration that similar tussles are breaking out in other states long committed to the Common Core, including South Carolina and Oklahoma. “In our state and so many states around the country the same thing is happening,” White said. “Teachers are looking forward to the next year and wondering when their leaders are going to get on the same page and give them a plan.”
— Asked how long he could stay in his job after such a public repudiation of the governor’s approach, White replied: “My job is not to think about my own job security. My job is to think about what’s right for the kids. This is right for the kids.”
— White was referring to South Carolina's plan to pull out of the Smarter Balanced assessments, after all, just five days after the state board of education voted to stick with the testing group. South Carolina will seek competitive bids to replace the assessments. More for Pros: http://politico.pro/1qXWn8x. And outgoing state Superintendent Mick Zais' letter in which he said he belatedly realized he has sole authority to cancel participation in Smarter Balanced: http://1.usa.gov/1jFs0Cu.
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AN ACCREDITATION BAND-AID FOR CCSF? Members of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges suggested a path forward for the embattled City College of San Francisco in a blog post Monday. The college, plagued by lack of fiscal control and deficient student services, is set to lose its accreditation on July 31. But if it applies for “candidacy status,” it can buy two to four years of time it could use to recover and ensure it’s meeting accreditation standards. “A candidate college is eligible for federal financial aid and state funding; its students’ course credits are generally transferable, and its degrees or certificates are recognized, as long as the college is eventually successful in obtaining accreditation after a period of candidacy,” members of ACCJC write. “Candidate status would allow City College a fresh start.” http://bit.ly/1eHEOE6
SUSPEND SUSPENSIONS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN: A group of parents and advocates will spend a half hour making a case to the Dayton, Ohio, school board this evening that the district should ban suspensions of students in pre-K through third grade. Nearly half the district’s third graders were retained this school year, because of a new Ohio law that requires students to repeat the year if they fail a state reading test. “These are small children. There have to be better ways,” Zakiya Chinyere Sankara told Morning Education. The retention rate won’t get any better if students are missing school because they've been suspended, she said. Sankara works with the Dignity in Schools Campaign, which wants a nationwide ban on out-of-school suspension.
— Sankara's goals go beyond a ban on suspending the district’s youngest students — a disproportionate number of black students are suspended in Dayton — and advocates expect to hear by mid-June what part, if any, of its proposal the district will adopt. District officials seem open-minded but the local teachers union is expected to show up in force at tonight’s school board meeting to air concerns. How some of the suspension stats break down in Dayton: http://politico.pro/1t2g82o.
ILLUMINATING STUDENT FINANCIAL SUCCESS: The Lumina Foundation commissioned 15 reports detailing various steps for student financial success. The papers, written by experts and analysts and released Monday, are based off a set of design principles created by the foundation to inform institutions, states and the federal government . Find all of the papers here:http://bit.ly/QmoW44.
— The Brookings Institution, for example, ran a cost-benefit analysis of current income-based repayment options and found that IBR can prove up to four times more expensive than necessary. The authors recommend ditching loan forgiveness, saying it accounts for half the cost of IBR. Another strike against loan forgiveness: It “creates incentives for students to borrow too much to attend college, potentially contributing to rising college prices for everyone,” the report says. Bachelor’s degree recipients coming out of expensive colleges see the most benefit from IBR because the plans allow them to borrow so much. The report: http://bit.ly/1n6FsD1.
— Meanwhile, the Education Department is working on a multiyear plan to create performance metrics and pricing models that are uniform across the department’s four main loan servicers and the secondary handful of servicers who each manage far fewer accounts. The department is also “re-examining” how it pays these companies. More from Inside Higher Ed: http://bit.ly/P2mD58.
RUNNING THE NUMBERS ON GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT: The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog last week awarded two Pinocchios to an Education Department claim that 72 percent of for-profit programs have graduates making less than high school dropouts [http://wapo.st/P1lrio]. The Post wrote that graduates of 32 percent of community college programs earn less than high school dropouts. And graduates of 57 percent of private institutions earn less than high school dropouts, too. The Education Department fired back with a long protest [http://1.usa.gov/1ijCMyL] and sticks by its original number.
— But New America Foundation’s Ben Miller said both pieces miss the point. “The department’s initial comparison was to high school dropouts,” he writes. “The Post is saying that high school dropouts actually earn less than what the department said. But gainful employment isn’t looking at the earnings of high school or even college dropouts. It’s of college graduates. Given that a major premise of higher education is that it improves incomes, comparing the gainful results to the population it is supposed to mirror would only look worse.”http://bit.ly/1hCZ0vP
BOYCOTT BUMP? The American Studies Association caught a lot of flack after it endorsed a Palestinian call for an academic boycott of Israel back in December of 2013. Legislators in Illinois and Maryland even considered making it illegal to stage such academic boycotts. But those bills went nowhere — and now, the association is reporting that its stance seems to have given it quite a bump in popularity. The ASA has gained more than 700 new members in the past few months and reports collecting more member revenue in the past three months than in any other quarter in its 25-year history. It even got a nod from Nobel Peace Prize Winner Desmond Tutu, who released a statement praising boycotts as an effective means of pressing social change without violence. For more on the boycott movement: http://www.pacbi.org/
— NCAA lobbies college administrators to make student athlete unions sound awful. The Associated Press: http://huff.to/1kVdQRA.
— Small U.S. colleges battle death spiral as enrollment drops. Bloomberg:http://bloom.bg/P0P7w0.
— Washington state lawmakers will reconvene April 29 to finalize its report to the state Supreme Court on a long-term plan to fund education in Washington. News Tribune: http://bit.ly/1qXZld8.
— Why are black students being paddled more in public schools? Hechinger Report: http://bit.ly/RiSsJ0.
— University of Southern Maine’s president reverses course on faculty layoffs. Chronicle of Higher Education: http://bit.ly/1hOjay2.
— Harry Potter fans made a MOOC for Hogwarts. Slate: http://slate.me/Qm9LYA.
— Milwaukee, Wis., educators return from NASA flight. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:http://bit.ly/Q7dABa.
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