Education Week - April 24, 2013 - (Page 4)

4 EDUCATION WEEK n APRIL 24, 2013 n NEWS IN BRIEF MINDS FOR BUSINESS An 8-year-old boy was one of the three victims confirmed dead from the explosions that rocked the Boston Marathon on April 15. Two separate explosions tore through the area near the marathon’s finish line just before 3 p.m. Of the more than 180 injured from the two blasts, at least eight were children, according to media reports. Martin Richard, the boy who was among the fatalities, was “rushed from the scene” moments after the bombing, rescue officials told the Boston Herald. He was a 3rd grader at the Neighborhood House Charter School in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood. Boston schools were closed on race day in recognition of Patriot’s Day, the state holiday commemorating the first battles of the American Revolution. The district had its spring recess already scheduled for last week, which means public schools weren’t expected to reopen until April 22. Students recite the Pledge of Allegiance before beginning their workday in BizTown, a simulated city operated by Junior Achievement in Maplewood, Minn., that allows practical lessons in business and finance. Fourth and 5th graders from the nearby Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district spent a day learning to run a business, work for a boss, write a check, pay taxes, and do payroll as part of the program. —BRYAN TOPOREK School Safety Measure On Hold in U.S. Senate A gun-control and school safety bill that had the potential to address school-based mental-health services is stalled in the U.S. Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last week the entire measure is on hold for now. The Senate had already voted 95-2 to pass an amendment to that legislation last week that addresses school-based mental-health programs and emergency planning. The legislation suffered a major blow earlier in the week, when an amendment that would expand background checks for gun buyers failed. The mental-health amendment, a bipartisan measure sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., would encourage states to provide districts with technical assistance on implementing school-based programs. It would also make it clear that schools can use Title I money for schoolwide intervention services and to create or update school emergency-management plans. —NIRVI SHAH Title IX Lawsuit Filed Against Mich. District The National Women’s Law Center filed a Title IX lawsuit against a Michigan district last week, charging that it had failed to respond to the alleged sexual assault of a female high school student by a player on the school’s basketball team. Title IX prohibits gender discrimination, including sexual Jim Gehrz/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT Boston Student Killed In Marathon Bombing violence in any federally financed education program or activity. The suit contends that the Forest Hills school district failed to address student-on-student harassment as required under the law. A second student later allegedly told the principal that she had been assaulted by the same basketball player while in the school parking lot. The plaintiff, referred to in the lawsuit as Jane Doe, ended up leaving Forest Hills in the 201112 school year after learning that the basketball player would be al—B.T. lowed to return. School Board Guide Targets Suspensions The National School Boards Association has labeled the use of out-of-school suspensions a “crisis” in a new policy guide. It urges change, citing statistics that show 3.3 million students were suspended out of school during the 2009-10 school year, including one in six black students. The guide, “Addressing the Outof-School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members,” provides specific steps board members can take and questions they should ask, such as whether and how their districts collect data about discipline and whether research-based approaches are being used to address and prevent discipline problems. —N.S. Charter-Expansion Bill Passes in Mississippi Legislation that will expand the scope of charter schools in Mississippi was signed into law last week by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant. Early Learning a Target of Fresh Federal Grants $490 million in total to be awarded in latest Race to the Top round Armed with another $490 million, the U.S. Department of Education is poised to award new Race to the Top grants to districts for general education improvement ideas and to states for more early-learning initiatives. About $120 million of the federal fiscal 2013 funds will go to a second round of the Race to the Top district competition, which awarded $383 million to 16 districts in 2012 for proposals that focused on personalized learning. The rest of the money, or about $370 million, will go to early-learning initiatives, including to six states that only received half their awards the first time around: California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin. The remaining funds will go for new states that pitch earlylearning improvement ideas. (Preschool is a top priority for President Barack Obama.) But there are some things that aren’t clear, including how much will go for early learning in new states. Also unknown is whether the department will conduct an entirely new Race to Under the new measure, charter schools are required to be run as nonprofits or managed by nonprofit charter-management organizations. School boards in districts with an A, B, or C rating under the state’s grading system have the power to veto charter schools within their districts’ boundaries. And no student can cross district lines to enroll in a charter. The bill also directs the state to set up a seven-member authorizing board to approve up to 15 charter schools each fiscal year. Although Mississippi has had a charter school law since 2010, no charters are operating in the state. —KATIE ASH the Top district competition, or make awards to districts that came close, but did not win, last year. In previous Race to the Top competitions, whether it be the general state contest or the early-learning challenge, when the department had extra money, it gave awards in a follow-up round. And so this could be good news for the handful of districts that narrowly missed winning last year: Jefferson City public schools in Missouri, Mapleton in Colorado, Reynoldsburg city schools in Ohio, Vancouver public schools in Washington state, and the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative. Regardless, any future competitions would be subject to some tweaks, based on proposed regulations that also came out last week. For one, the maximum award would be $30 million, down from $40 million. The minimum award would also be reduced from $5 million to $4 million. The department also wants to add another priority so that districts would have to address the behavioral, social, and emotional needs of students and families in their proposals. That is in addition to devising plans that personalize teach—MICHELE McNEIL ing and learning. Minn. Computer Crash Halts State Math Test Thousands of students across Minnesota could not take the online state math assessment they spent much of the school year preparing for because of a technology failure last week. A computer problem at testing contractor American Institutes of Research, or air, prevented students from beginning or completing the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments online, said Charlene Briner, the chief of staff for the Minnesota education department. The contractor also provides online testing services to Delaware, Hawaii, and Oregon, but Minnesota is its largest client. Jon Cohen, the director of assessment for the air, said servers that process tests experienced two “slowdowns” as 15,000 students tried to access the system. About 9,000 students were able to complete the tests, he said. —ASSOCIATED PRESS Hawaii Union Reaches 4-Year Contract Deal After a standoff that lasted two years, the Hawaii State Teachers Association last week approved a contract that ties teacher evalu-

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 24, 2013

Education Week - April 24, 2013
Union Sues Over Basis of Appraisal
In San Antonio, Pre-K Initiative Sets Steep Goals
New Teachers Search for Place in New Orleans
FOCUS ON: CAREER READINESS: States Seek High School Pathways Weaving Academic, Career Options
News in Brief
Report Roundup
PARCC Proposes Common-Core Test Accommodations
Some States Seek GED Alternative as Test Price Spikes
Blogs of the Week
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Online Socialization Is Hot Topic Among Researchers
Overhaul of the E-Rate Seen as a High Priority by FCC Commissioner
Comments Weighed on Vending Machine, ‘A La Carte’ Proposals
Corralling Local Support Still a Challenge
FOCUS ON: CAREER READINESS: Swiss Academic, Career Paths Designed to Cross
Obama’s Proposed Fix on Student Loans Ruffles Allies
Head Start Officials Tight-Lipped on Which Centers to Lose Aid
Policy Brief
Legislative Briefs
School Safety Legislation: A Tally by State
LAUREN BLAIR ARONSON: Advice to TFA From a Former Insider
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace

Education Week - April 24, 2013