Education Week - June 3, 2015 - (Page 4)

NEWS IN BriEF U.S. Supreme Court to Weigh Drawing of Electoral Lines In a case that could hold implications for elected school boards, the U.S. Supreme Court last week took up the "one person, one vote" principle in drawing electoral lines. Texas voters are challenging the state Senate map adopted after the 2010 U.S. Census that drew district lines based roughly equally on total population, including nonvoters and noncitizens. The challengers say the voting districts "grossly malapportion" actual voters among the districts. The case, Evenwel v. Abbott, has several implications for school districts, including the fact that any decision by the justices on the relevant population for drawing district lines would apply equally to school board elections. -MARK WALSH District May Not Be Sued Under RICO Law, Court Says When 11 Atlanta educators involved in test-cheating were convicted of racketeering in April, some observers questioned whether a state law originally aimed at organized crime was the appropriate legal tool for prosecutors in that case. In a separate case, a federal appeals court last month ruled that a district was not a proper defendant in the federal version of such a law, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or rico. The decision came in a civil case involving alleged bribery in construction contracts of the Houston school district. Other defendants could be sued under the rico law, the appeals court ruled, but the school district itself could not be. A governmental entity cannot form the mental state demonstrating the intent to commit a criminal act as required by the statute, the court ruled. -MARK WALSH Phila. Voters OK Measure To Restore Elected Board Philadelphia voters have approved a ballot measure to abolish the School Reform Commission, the unelected board made up of gubernaW-I-N-N-E-R-S Vanya Shivashankar, second from left, 13, of Olathe, Kan., and Gokul Venkatachalam, right, 14, of St. Louis, are congratulated by their families after being named cochampions of the the Scripps National Spelling Bee last week. torial and mayoral appointees that runs the school system, and put a locally elected board in charge. The outcome of last month's primary follows that of voters in Chicago, where residents voted overwhelmingly in February to end their mayorally appointed school board. In both cities, the measures are nonbinding, and each would require the support of their respective state legislatures and governors to go into effect. In recent years, Philadelphia's School Reform Commission and education activists have been at odds over the expansion of charter schools, the closures of neighborhood schools, and budget cuts that have eliminated many school supportstaff jobs. N.Y. Opt-Out Proponents Win School Board Seats An overwhelming majority of school board candidates endorsed by Long Island Opt Out, a New York group advocating for parents to refuse standardized testing on their children's behalf, won election bids last month, according to local news accounts. A flier posted on Long Island Opt Out's Facebook page shows that the group endorsed more than 70 candidates in more than 40 districts. Newsday reports that more than 50 of those candidates, including incumbents, won their campaigns. -KARLA SCOON REID Governor's Schools Aide Paid Through Agency Facing Cuts Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is paying the hefty salary of his new education secretary from the budget of the state -DENISA R. SUPERVILLE human-services agency, which he targeted for millions of dollars in cuts to programs dealing with autism, epilepsy, and burials for the indigent, according to records the Chicago SunTimes obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Mr. Rauner hired former charter school director Beth Purvis at an annual salary of $250,000, making it the highest-paid position in the governor's Cabinet at the time. Her contract indicates that she will be paid under the human-services department, even while reporting directly to the gop governor's office. Three weeks after the contract was signed, the governor's office announced that the agency was strapped for cash and called for $26 million in REPORT ROUNDUP STUDENT CELLPHONES "Technology, Distraction, and Student Performance" All those teachers who collect mobile phones at the beginning of class may be onto something: A new study of English secondary students suggests student test scores rose in middle school classes that banned phones. In a study released last month by the Center for Economic Performance at the London School for Economics and Public Policy, economists tracked the performance of students from ages 11 to 16 who attended 91 secondary schools between 2001 and 2013. After controlling for changes in student demographics at the schools during that time, the researchers compared differences in student test scores for each school before and after it restricted phones. For high-achieving students, the researchers found no significant | OBITUARY | Grant Wiggins, a nationally prominent educator and author who helped usher in a shift in pedagogy, died May 26 of a heart condition. He was 64. In 1998, with Jay McTighe, Mr. Wiggins wrote Understanding by Design, a book that extolled the virtues of backward planning, in which teachers focus on learning goals and craft a curriculum that drives toward the desired outcomes. The book had a major influence on instructional practices. He was also the president of Authentic Education, a New Jersey-based education training and consulting firm. He previously worked in secondary education for 14 years, as an English and philosophy teacher, as well as a coach. Mr. Wiggins wrote like an unstoppable engine, whether through his personal blog "Granted, and ...," op-ed essays, Twitter, his Authentic Education blog, or letters to the editor. He sought to "facilitate serious and spirited discourse about educational topics of import," his wife, Denise Wilbur, said last week. Of Mr. Wiggins' impact on classroom practice, Diana Neebe, an English teacher and instructional technology coach in California, blogged last week: "The best units, the best lessons, the biggest 'aha!' moments in my classes have been fueled by his work." -ROSS BRENNEMAN effects. Younger teens whose classes banned cellphones were 2 percentage points more likely to pass subject-specific national exams, called General Certificates of Secondary Education. Students who were initially low-performing were 4 percentage points more likely to pass the exams after the cellphone bans took effect. -SARAH D. SPARKS CHILD WELL-BEING "Suicide Trends Among Elementary School-Aged Children in the U.S. From 1993-2012" A stable overall rate of suicide among children ages 5-11 over the last two decades obscures a troubling demographic shift: While rates of suicide dropped for white children during that time period, they climbed significantly for black children, a new study has found. Rates for white children dropped from 1.14 per million in the period between 1993 and 1997 to 0.77 per million for the period between 2008 and 2012. For African-American children, suicide rates increased from 1.36 per million in the period between 1993 and 1997 to 2.56 per million from 2008 to 2012, according to the 4 | EDUCATION WEEK | June 3, 2015 | Andrew Harnik/AP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - June 3, 2015

Education Week - June 3, 2015
New S.C. Standards Ease Political Pushback
Summer-Job Demand Outstrips Opportunities
Districts Use Student Insights To Guide Policy, Practice
Charters Look Anew At Teacher Retention
With Common Core, Algebra Course Undergoes a Face-Lift
News in Brief
Report Roundup
PARCC Shortens Testing Time, Shifts to Later in the School Year
Ties Deepening Between Schools, After-School Providers
Parent Engagement on Rise As Priority for Schools, Districts
Charter Sector Challenged by Caliber of School Boards
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: The E-Rate Overhaul in 4 Easy Charts
Studies Probe How Students Can Apply Math More Widely
NAEP to Gather Data on Grit, Mindset
Blogs of the Week
Teacher-Retention Data For Charters Still Murky
Stakes High for Bureau of Indian Education’s Overhaul
California Seeks Waiver on Use of Federal Title I Tutoring Money
Blogs of the Week
FRANCESCA STERNFELD: Necessary Lessons, Schools’ Critical Role in Reducing Family Violence
BENJAMIN RILEY: Can Teacher-Educators Learn From Medical-School Reform?
RANDI WEINGARTEN: States Should Ditch ‘Cut Scores’ on New Tests
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
TERRY B. GRIER: Creating a College-Bound Culture in an Urban School District

Education Week - June 3, 2015