The News Journal
High-quality preschool crucial for pupils’ later success
Although a floppy-eared bunny hopped around the room, two preschool-aged girls diligently worked to line up and fit color-coded wooden cubes back into a special box. At the Montessori Academy at Christina, the students were working with something called the “cube of the trinomial.” It is meant to help them learn algebraic concepts. “When they encounter these abstract ideas later they will be familiar with it,” said teacher Sarah Williams. In his State of the Union speech last month, President Barack Obama signaled that he wants to increase access to state-funded preschool programs for low-income 4-year-olds through a cost-sharing program with states. Key details of how that might work have not been announced, including where the money would come from.
State pushes for schools to develop gifted programs
Public schools that create programs for gifted students could be eligible for two-year start-up grants. The grants, if funded by the state legislature, would be eligible for grades K through 12. Rep. Darryl Scott is the bill’s prime sponsor. “We’re introducing a system of competitive grants. We’re challenging our schools to get creative in finding ways, new and innovative ways to serve students and help them get the best educational experience possible,” says Scott.
States draw a hard line on third-graders, holding some back over reading
A growing number of states are requiring children to pass a reading test in 3rd grade or be held back from 4th grade. Thirteen states have adopted laws that require schools to identify, intervene and, in many cases, retain students who fail a reading proficiency test. Lawmakers in several other states and the District of Columbia are debating similar measures.
Parent-trigger bills progress in states’ legislatures
At least three states have advanced parent-trigger laws, although none of those efforts have yet become laws. In Florida, H.B. 867 passed the House education choice and innovation subcommittee. The Georgia House passed H.B.123, which would allow parents and teachers to petition their local school boards to turn regular schools into charters. And in Oklahoma, S.B. 1001 has cleared the Senate.
Arizona Capitol Times
Arizona house passes anti-federal education bill
The Arizona House passed H.B. 2318, which would allow roughly 130 district and charter schools that don’t receive federal money to ignore federal and state mandates. The schools would be able to throw out federal education policy regulating academic standards, teacher evaluation requirements, and student tracking systems.
New York Times
Panel rejects proposal to stop school closings
A city panel on Monday night rejected a proposal to stop city-mandated school closings in a tense, often raucous meeting, effectively putting any hopes of reversing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s education policy into the next mayor’s hands. The proposal would have withdrawn current plans to close, co-locate or phase out struggling public schools and also would have placed a moratorium on such future plans until the system, a centerpiece of the mayor’s education strategy, could be re-evaluated. The plan was sponsored by four members of the Panel for Educational Policy, a school oversight board, who are not administration appointees.