Education Week - May 20, 2015 - (Page 4)

neWS IN bRIef Education Dept. Denies NCLB Waiver for Seattle The U.S. Department of Education has told the Seattle school district that it cannot get its own waiver from the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act. Washington state became the first to lose its nclb flexibility more than a year ago because the state didn't require districts to incorporate state test scores into its teacher-evaluation system. In applying for the federal leeway, Seattle argued that its district-level system should pass federal muster, since its evaluation does require state test scores to be part of the picture. But because federal officials and policymakers in Washington state haven't given up hope that the state can get its waiver back, Seattle's bid was denied. District waivers are only supposed to be for school systems whose states have essentially given up on the flexibility. -ALYSON KLEIN California Unions Appeal Teacher-Quality Ruling California's teachers' unions have filed their opening brief in their appeal of the ruling in Vergara v. California, launching the next salvo in the ongoing battle over teacher quality in the state. A judge last fall overturned sections of state law dealing with teacher tenure, due process, and layoffs. He said those provisions infringed on poor and minority students' state constitutional right to an equitable education. The action was then put on hold pending an appeal. In their filing, the unions argue that the judge's 16-page decision was "perfunctory," and that the plaintiffs didn't show the statutes in question cause direct harm to students. Most of the evidence Impromptu Lesson Students and teachers from Prattville Intermediate School in Prattville, Ala., listen to U.S. Rep. John Lewis as he gives an inspirational talk on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. The Georgia Democrat and civil rights activist, who was born in Troy, Ala., talked with the group about civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. brought by the plaintiffs was anecdotal, the unions argue, and the laws don't set out to discriminate against any particular class of students, since they apply uniformly to all. -STEPHEN SAWCHUK Group Asks Baltimore Not to Suspend Students A coalition of youth and juvenilejustice advocates has called on Baltimore's school system to refrain from suspending or expelling teenagers arrested during the recent rioting there. In the days after the civil unrest, schools ceo Gregory Thornton said students who had taken part in the incidents would face consequences. A coalition that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the Maryland Disability Law Center, Advocates for Children and Youth, and the Office of the Public Defender issued a statement asking the district to employ "restorative practices," such as community service and anger-management counseling, rather than expulsion. District officials said they were conducting their "own exploration into any potential violations of the code of conduct." Chicago District's Debt Downgraded to Junk Status E-Rate Funding Requests by Schools, Libraries to Be Paid in Full Schools and libraries will receive full funding of their E-rate program requests this year, as a result of a modernization of the policy and budget changes enacted last year, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Until last year, the E-rate program, which helps schools and libraries underwrite the cost of telecommunications services, had not been modernized in 18 years. The fcc updated the program in July to prioritize aid for broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity while phasing out support for older technologies. In December, the funding cap was raised by $1.5 billion, to $3.9 billion a year. Last week, the fcc announced that under the E-rate program for 2015, it will be able to honor nearly $2.3 billion in eligible requests for telecommunications, telecommunications services, and Internet access and about $1.6 billion for internal connections and managed Wi-Fi services. For the past three years, the commission had been unable to allocate any Wi-Fi funds. Ratepayers will be spared an increase in universal-service-fund fees to cover the boost in funding this year, said Jon Wilkins, the fcc's managing director. When the fcc changed the E-rate program, it projected a need to raise fees on telecommunications providers, which are typically passed on to consumers. It had been projected that would amount to about $1.90 per year per phone, or less than $6 per household, this year. Instead, a reserve in unspent money that had been freed up will be allocated to meet schools' and libraries' needs for 2015, the fcc indicated. In the future, new money for the program is expected to come from these increased fees on telecommunications providers. -MICHELE MOLNAR The Chicago school district's debt was downgraded to junk status last week by Moody's Investors Services, one day after the ratings agency did the same for the city's bond rating. The downgrade means the district may face higher borrowing costs. Moody's action is the latest fallout for the city and the district after the Illinois Supreme Court struck down changes in state law that had sought to reduce benefits under the pension system for public employees. (See related story, Page 19.) -DENISA R. SUPERVILLE Amid Kan. Budget Changes, Schools to End Year Early Because of a late-year change in state aid-fueled by a change in the way schools are funded in Kansas-schools in at least seven districts will close earlier than scheduled this academic year. 4 | EDUCATION WEEK | May 20, 2015 | -McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE A new financing law passed in March restored a $28 million automatic cut by the governor that had affected all districts. But it also slashed $51 million in equalization aid meant to close funding gaps between rich and poor districts that has largely benefited urban districts such as Kansas City and Wichita. The legislation reduced funding districts had expected this school year. Closing school early is one way to save money and close the gap caused by the reduction. Some districts had more flexibility in their calendars because of a lack of snow days this past year. -MCT Survey: School Bullying Lowest in 10 Years Fewer students say they are being bullied at school. Those who are bullied are more likely to be girls than boys and more likely to be white than minority students. The U.S. Department of Education announced survey results last week that found 22 percent of students age 12 to 18 said they were bullied in 2013. The figure, down 6 percentage points from 2011, is the lowest level since the National Center for Education Statistics began surveying students on bullying in 2005. -ASSOCIATED PRESS ACT Plans to Expand Use of Online Testing Greater numbers of high school students will be able to take the act college-entrance exam on computers. Act Inc. has announced that Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 20, 2015

Education Week - May 20, 2015
Gifted Programs Miss Disadvantaged Students
Army of Scorers Tackles Common-Core Tests
Groups Aim to Smooth Student-Police Relations
U.S. Senate Proposal Puts Spotlight On ‘Open Educational Resources’
Civil Rights Data Detail Increase In Complaints
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Accountability Measures for Traits Like ‘Grit’ Questioned
Long-Term Gains Seen for Kids Who Move Out of Poverty
Blogs of the Week
Selective Public Schools Struggle to Diversify Enrollments
Illinois Policymakers Scramble After Pension Law Struck Down
Student-Data Use a Key Issue In Debates Over Privacy Bills
Blogs of the Week
Why Not Practice What We Preached?
Education Has to Be a ‘Human Business’
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Making the Right Commitment to Student-Data Privacy
Is the Public Ever Really Private?

Education Week - May 20, 2015