Education Week - November 12, 2014 - (Page 4)

NEWS IN BRIEF 26 Applicants Poised to Win Federal Innovation Grants Twenty-six nonprofit groups, school districts, and universities are on track to win a slice of the nearly $130 million Investing in Innovation grant fund, a federal initiative intended to help scale up promising education ideas with a strong research base. The high-rated applicants will have to secure private matching funds by Dec. 10 to claim their "i3" grants- something all previous winners have been able to do, although it hasn't always been easy. For the first time in three years, the U.S. Department of Education named a winner in the "scale up" competition, which provides the largest grants-worth up to $20 million-to big proposals with a proven record of success. The winner: North Carolina New Schools, which helps train teachers and principals. Those on the list for lesser grant amounts include the research organization WestEd, based in San Francisco; the Neighborhood Charter School in Atlanta; the Montgomery County, N.C., schools; and Ohio State University. -ALYSON KLEIN Urban School Chiefs' Tenure Falls Off, Survey Finds The average time that urban superintendents stay on the job dropped this year, new survey results show. Nationwide, the average tenure is now 3.2 years, a dip downward from what had been an uptick over several years, the survey conducted by the Council of the Great City Schools found. The survey-for the 2013-14 school year-includes responses from 53 of the group's 66 members, among the nation's largest school systems. The average tenure for urban schools chiefs had grown from 2.8 years in 2003 to 3.6 years in 2010. The slight decrease was attributed to significant turnover in 2013-14. So far, it appears the churn will continue for the current academic year. Notable examples include John Deasy from Los Angeles; Winston Brooks from Albuquerque, N.M.; Craig Witherspoon from Birmingham, Ala.; and Heath Morrison from CharlotteMecklenburg, N.C. -MADELINE WILL APPLAUSE Students at Ruckel Middle School in Niceville, Fla., welcome veterans as the school celebrates military service in advance of Veterans Day. More Black Students Expelled Over Social-Media Use in Ala. The Huntsville, Ala., district expelled 14 students last year based on the findings of a private contractor who monitored students' socialmedia activity as part of greater school security efforts, according to a review by The Huntsville Times. Twelve of them were black, drawing concerns that the program unfairly targeted African-American students. Overall, the district expelled 305 students last year, 238 of them black. Seventy-eight percent of all expulsions involved black children, in a system where 40 percent of students are black, the newspaper found. Expulsions related to social-media investigations were a small part of that total. Superintendent Casey Wardynski said that security personnel had investigated the social-media accounts of 600 of the district's 24,000 students since January. -EVIE BLAD District Technology Chief In Los Angeles Resigns Following the botched rollout of an ambitious plan to provide iPads to students and an ongoing software fiasco that has undermined class scheduling and the ability to verify the accuracy of students' transcripts, the chief information officer of the Harvard Launches Initiative to Prepare Seniors to Enter Teaching Harvard University plans to launch a fellowship program to prepare seniors at the college to become K-12 teachers, giving them more than a year of student-teaching, a lightened courseload, and followup supports once they've started to lead their own classrooms. The university already has an undergraduate teacher-preparation program, but it's small, enrolling on the order of 25 students per year. Most of the teachers Harvard prepares are graduate students. But in recent years, it has seen an increased interest among undergraduates in pursuing a teaching career, said James Ryan, the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. For instance, the adviser for the small teacherprep program has been fielding an increasing number of inquiries from undergraduates. And a set of courses on education at the undergraduate level has proved to be highly popular. One of them, Dilemmas of Equity and Excellence in American K-12 Education, has a 65-person cap, but has hundreds of students vying for spots. The new program will begin in the 2015-16 academic year with about 40 slots. The university eventually wants to expand it to 100 a year. Harvard's move comes as many states are seeing large declines in the number of enrollments in teacher-preparation programs. That phenomenon has triggered soul-searching about how recent changes in policies on teacher evaluation and the tenor of media coverage of the profession are affecting perceptions of teaching. -STEPHEN SAWCHUK 651,000-student Los Angeles Unified School District has stepped down. Ronald Chandler's departure was announced Oct. 31 in an update from interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines on the district's troubled student-information system, which has cost more than $130 million. The superintendent's weekly report provided a snapshot of how faulty the software remains, listing ongoing problems such as "transcript(s) showing dropped classes under courses in progress," "student passed Algebra 1 course in middle school but end-ofcourse credits are not calculated in total," and "courses that cannot be repeated are being counted twice in the total credits." -BENJAMIN HEROLD Parents Sue School Districts After Football Player's Death The parents of a 16-year-old who died last fall from football-related brain trauma are suing the New York districts he played for and the medical responders who tended to him. Damon Janes, a running back for the combined Brocton Central School/Westfield Academy and Central School football team, died after losing consciousness following a helmet-to-helmet hit. According to the suit, Mr. Janes was allowed to continue playing even though he "exhibited signs of having experienced at least one concussion" several times throughout the game. It alleges both districts failed to comply with the Westfield school board's concussion policy, failed to administer preseason baseline testing to help with the diagnosis of concussions, and employed coaches who failed to complete required concussion training, among other acts. -BRYAN TOPOREK 4 | EDUCATION WEEK | November 12, 2014 | New Orleans Not Liable For Post-Katrina Job Losses A Louisiana Supreme Court panel has overturned a lower-court class action stemming from the dismissal of teachers after Hurricane Katrina, a decision that for now spares the New Orleans district and the state of Louisiana from having to pay up to $1.5 billion in back pay. About 7,500 teachers lost their jobs after Katrina hit the city in 2005, and nearly all the Orleans Parish schools were turned over to the state-run Recovery School District and reopened as charter schools. Teachers had already won some $7 million under prior litigation. As other claims came in, the state and the district argued that such suits weren't valid under a state statute that prohibits additional litigation on the same issue after a judgment has been rendered. The state supreme court ruled that there were no exceptional circumstances to allow the plaintiffs to proceed further, as well as no due process violations. -STEPHEN SAWCHUK Teacher Told to Stay Away On Return From Africa A teacher in a Roman Catholic school was told to take a leave of absence for 21 days when she returned from a mission trip to Kenya, even though the country is thousands of miles from the center of the Ebola outbreak. The school, St. Margaret Mary in Louisville, Ky., told religion teacher Susan Sherman to take mandatory leave when she returned Oct. 26 because several parents were worried about the Ebola outbreak, Nick Tomecek/Northwest Florida Daily News/AP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 12, 2014

Education Week - November 12, 2014
Republicans Enhance State-Level Advantage
Broad Poverty Index Gives Fuller Picture Of Stressed Schools
Chromebooks Gaining Popularity in Districts
Key Obama Priorities Facing Lack of Allies
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study: Close Screening Process Can Improve Teacher Hires
Study Finds Few Payoffs in Short-Term Career Certificates
Blogs of the Week
Chromebooks Ascend in K-12 Market to Challenge iPads
Perceived Threat to Net Neutrality Sparks Furor
GOP Leaders in Congress Outline Education Priorities
More Than $60 Million Later, Scant Payoff for Teachers’ Unions
California Chief’s Win a Bright Spot For Teachers’ Unions
Election 2014 Results
Blogs of the Week
RANDI WEINGARTEN: Collaboration Takes Two
FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: Overlooked and in Need: Black Female Students
JOE FELDMAN: Grading Standards Can Elevate Teaching
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
APRIL BO WANG: What About Helping Rural Schools?

Education Week - November 12, 2014