Education News from Washington Post

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The Washington Post Local Education section provides coverage and analysis of schools, home school and education policy for DC, Maryland and Virginia. With in-depth coverage and analysis of Washington, DC education and schools, including DC charter schools, DC Schools Chancellor, DC teacher contract news and map of DC schools.
Updated: 9 hours 37 min ago

Contentious teacher-related policies moving from legislatures to the courts

Sat, 02/28/2015 - 12:00pm
Opponents of the nation’s teacher unions won a landmark victory last year in a California lawsuit that challenged tenure protections, a case that became the beginning of a national effort to roll back teacher tenure laws in state courts. Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Strauss: Separating fact from fiction in 21 claims about charter schools

Sat, 02/28/2015 - 8:00am
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools  released a report last year titled “Separating Fact & Fiction: What You Need to Know About Charter Schools,” which takes 21 statements that it calls “myths” about charters and attempts to debunk them, one by one. Now three education researchers have completed a fact-checking analysis of the charter report, coming to some difference conclusions about each myth.  Following is part of the new analysis, which was published by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder, and which you can find in full, complete with extensive footnotes on the NEPC website. (I have removed the footnotes and endnotes from the text in this post but you can see them, as well other parts of the report, here.)Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Schools face new challenges as poverty grows in inner suburbs

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 10:58pm
The District and dozens of other city centers across the country are becoming younger, more affluent and better educated while poverty rates in inner suburbs are rising, according to a study from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Bowser announces ‘tweaks’ to D.C. school boundary plan

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 10:56pm
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced changes to newly adopted school boundaries on Friday, just three days before the close of the annual lottery in which families set preferences for where they’d like their children to go.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Strauss: Leonard Nimoy to BU arts students: Be persistent. And ‘don’t create any more reality TV shows.’

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 5:03pm
Leonard Nimoy, who died Friday at the age of 83, gave the  commencement speech at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts on May 19, 2012,  telling them about advice he once got from John F. Kennedy when Nimoy picked him up in the taxi he was driving, and dispensing some life lessons:Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

No Child Left Behind debate in the House suspended

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 4:29pm
The House suspended floor debate on a Republican bill to rewrite No Child Left Behind on Friday afternoon, with party leaders saying they had to shift the chamber’s focus to debate funding the Department of Homeland Security.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Strauss: Yes, Scott Walker really did link terrorists with protesting teachers and other unionists

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 4:18pm
His spokesman tried to walk it back, and he denied making the comparison, but Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, in an attempt to show just what a tough guy he is, really did say that his strength in taking on protesting union members qualified him for confronting radical Islamic terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Strauss: ‘The good teachers are starting to leave’

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 6:00am
Susan Barber has been teaching for the last seven years at Northgate High School in Coweta County, Georgia. In the following compelling open letter to new Georgia state School Superintendent Richard Woods, Barber lays out how standardized testing has affected teachers and students in her school, and asks that he find ways to give teachers more instructional time and reduce pressure to “teach to a test.” Her first paragraph refers to a letter that Woods wrote to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, which is published in the post below this one. Barber’s open letter to Woods, which I am publishing with her permission, appeared on her blog, Teach With Class.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Strauss: Georgia’s education chief has some words for Arne Duncan

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 5:00am
Richard Woods became the State School Superintendent of Georgia last month after spending 22 years in public education in various roles: teacher, teacher mentor, assistant principal, principal, curriculum director, testing coordinator, pre-K director and alternative school director.  He is also a former small business owner and was a purchasing agent for a multi-national laser company. This week, Woods wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and sent it, too, to members of Georgia’s delegation in the U.S. Congress and to the House and Senate education committees, which are currently working on legislation to rewrite No Child Left Behind. One of the key issues is whether annual standardized testing, as mandated in NCLB for grades 3-8 and once in high school, will continue in a new education law.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Swastikas and other vandalism at a GW dorm worry students

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 7:17pm
Three swastikas were drawn inside a George Washington University dorm housing a number of sororities and fraternities.“The walls have been repainted and GWPD is actively investigating the matter,” Darrell Darnell, senior associate vice president of safety and security, said in a statement. “On Wednesday, the university held a community meeting with International House residents to discuss this disturbing incident. Staff members have communicated with students and concerned parents to reassure them of the university’s comprehensive response to this incident.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

This robot at U-Md taught itself to cook by watching YouTube

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 4:52pm
Finally. A robot that can not only do something completely great — like make you a salad — but doesn’t need to be taught how to do it.It can just figure it out by watching YouTube.At the University of Maryland, researchers are designing robots that can learn how to do things by watching people. Instead of being intricately programmed step by step to make a series of movements to accomplish a goal, these robots can figure out how to do it themselves.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Documentary on campus sex assault opens in New York and California

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 4:47pm
“The Hunting Ground,” a documentary that provides first-hand accounts from numerous women and men about sexual violence on college campuses, opens Friday in selected theaters in New York and California and was previewed this week at the White House.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Strauss: Judge rules Missouri’s membership in Common Core testing group is illegal

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 4:07pm
The fighting over the Common Core initiative continues: A Missouri judge said the state’s membership in a federally funded testing consortium charged with creating an assessment aligned with the Common Core standards is illegal. And what’s more, he ruled that the state should stop paying fees to the group, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Strauss: Why names matter: The fight at Clemson over iconic university building named after racist governor

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 1:52pm
There has been a heated debate at Clemson University playing out over whether the name of an iconic building, Tillman Hall, should be  changed because its namesake, Benjamin Tillman, was a former South Carolina governor (1890-94) who was a vicious racist. Students and teachers are pushing for a change, while the head of the school’s Board of Trustees, David Wilkins, said the name would not be changed, according to the Greenville News.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Strauss: Teachers at popular school ask parents for help: This may sound ‘absurd’ but it’s true.

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 12:30pm
PS 321 in Brooklyn’s Park Slope area is a popular school. Parents and kids like going there because of the dedication of its principal, Elizabeth Phillips, and its approximately 100 teachers. Now, in an unusual move, those teachers are publicly turning to parents for help against school reform proposals by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo that they say will harm the school. The letter clearly explains why some of the proposals that Cuomo has advanced to change teacher evaluation  will negatively impact schools around the state. These reforms are not unique to New York, so the letter speaks to what is happening in schools around the country.The reference to Liz in the letter is to the principal, Elizabeth Phillips. In 2012, I published a letter from Phillips to then New York State Education Commissioner John King (who is now a senior advisor to Education Secretary Arne Duncan) saying that there were many “flawed questions” on the state’s mandatory English Language Arts standardized test given to students for “accountability” purposes.  The letter was sent after King had invalidated one set of now infamous questions on a the eighth-grade test about a talking pineapple.Here is the new letter from PS 321 teachers to parents, on the school’s website, which I am republishing with permission.February 23, 201550% of a teacher’s rating would be based on state test scores. (Currently it is 20%).35% of a teacher’s rating would be based on the findings of an outside “independent observer” who will conduct a one time visit to the classroom. (This has never been done before. Currently our principal and assistant principals’ observations count for 60%).15% of a teacher’s rating would be based on observations by the principal or assistant principals. The very people who know our work best would have the least input into our evaluation.50% + 35% = 85% of our evaluations would be removed from the hands of our community and placed in the hands of the state. And then, using these numbers, any teacher who is rated ineffective two years in a row can be fired. Liz might have no say in this. So what might that do to PS 321? Realistically, many of us could be fired. Every year. And many more of us would be pushed away from the profession we love. Here’s something parents need to understand. Even though, when our students take the standardized tests, most of them do just fine … many PS 321 teachers do not . Teachers’ ratings are not based on their students’ raw scores for the year, but whether their students improved from one year to the next. If a student with a ‘3’ gets one fewer question correct in 4 th grade than she did in 3 rd , that student might not have demonstrated the “added value” their teacher is expected to have instilled. Even though the student has mastered that grade’s content. Even though it’s just one question. And that teacher might, therefore, be rated in the bottom percentile of teachers. That may sound patently absurd. However, that has already happened here. If Governor Cuomo’s evaluation proposals come to pass, it might start to happen more and more. And if we are rated ineffective as a result two years in a row, we might be fired. That is why so many schools in NYC spend so much time prepping for the tests. One or two wrong answers can make or break a teacher’s rating. Faced with these changes, we’ve already been hearing from so many of our colleagues from across the city and state who will be forced to do more test prep. Even when they know that the tests do not give an accurate picture of student learning, or of the effectiveness of teachers. Even though they know teaching to the test is bad teaching. Faced with the reality of the loss of a paycheck — the loss of the career they are building, have built, or want to build — these proposals will push them to teach in ways they know to be counterproductive. That breaks our hearts. But the truth is, faced with the same reality, there are those of us here who would be feeling the very same pressure. Not because we’d want to. We would try to resist. But it is inevitable that if the governor’s proposals go through, all schools will narrow their curriculum to some extent. And that’s scary. And it breaks our hearts even more. Because we know what we have here. We love what we have— in you, in our students, in all that the PS 321 community represents. The joy that is present— every day, in our school. The value that is placed on intellectual curiosity, on creativity, on the arts. The love of learning that is visible when you enter our building, when you go into classrooms, and when you talk to students and teachers. The values present in Governor Cuomo’s proposals are antithetical to our own. And they place them at risk. The numbers are clear: 50% of our value will be six days of tests. 35% of our value will be one day with an independent observer. And 15% of our value will be in evaluation by Liz and the assistant principals, those who know us best as educators. Those are their values. Our joy, our love of learning, our desire to help students become deep thinkers and problem solvers, our community, our commitment to constantly improving our practice … those are ours. PS 321 Families: don’t let them take our values away. We need your help. And we need it now. The education law is folded into the state budget. It goes up for a vote before April 1 st . We need you to let your legislators know that you disagree with this plan : Post this issue on Facebook and tell your friends. Use social media to spread the word. Go to Albany. Make whatever noise you can.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Former Montgomery schools chief sets up business to open way for consulting

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 10:23pm
Montgomery County’s former superintendent, Joshua P. Starr, has established a new consulting business, according to Maryland state records and a statement relayed through the school district.The limited liability company, called Education Solutions LLC, was registered with the state Feb. 17, a day after Starr’s resignation took effect, according to online records from the Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Fed up with low pay and job instability, some adjunct professors walk out

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 6:45pm
It didn’t bring higher education to its knees. But an effort to raise awareness about the disparity in conditions for full- and part-time faculty, “National Adjunct Walkout Day,”  did make its point Wednesday — more often by word of mouth than by people actually refusing to teach a class.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Fairfax elects new student school board member

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 2:55pm
A Madison High School junior will serve as the 45th student representative to the Fairfax County School board to advocate on behalf of children in the nation’s 10th largest school system.Ben Press will take on his new position beginning July 1, succeeding Harris LaTeef, a senior at Langely High School. The student representative is elected by the county’s student advisory council and serves a one-year term in a non-voting role of the 12 member-board, frequently highlighting issues concerning the district’s 187,000 students.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Arne Duncan talks early childhood education at Alexandria school

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 2:49pm
Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Wednesday got a first-hand glimpse of early childhood education in a busy Alexandria preschool classroom, where he got down on the rug with youngsters playing with blocks, chatted up students building a “neighborhood” with sand and talked to a young girl about her writing.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News

Montgomery superintendent search revs up, with forums planned

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 2:00pm
Montgomery County’s national search for a new school superintendent is revving up.An online survey for those interested in expressing opinions about what’s most important in a new schools leader was posted late Tuesday on the district’s Web site, and community forums are planned for next week.Read full article >>






Categories: Education News
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