Here are several stories in today’s news about Delaware education and from across the nation:
The News Journal
School district paraprofessionals fight for their jobs
Paraprofessionals in the Brandywine School District facing layoffs at the end of the year pleaded for their jobs during a school board meeting Monday night in another chapter of the statewide drama over education budget cuts. “These positions are very important to students,” said Karen Kennedy, president of the union that represents Brandywine’s paraprofessionals. “This is a serious loss to this district.” District officials empathized, but said they don’t have an alternative. “I’m not happy in this position, either. This is the worst part of my job,” said Superintendent Mark Holodick. “If these people didn’t bring value to our students, we wouldn’t have hired them. But we simply don’t have a choice.”
Charters focus of House legislation
A bill that would toughen oversight of charter schools would also award more money to charters with proven track records. The bill’s supporters say it will help successful charters grow while holding them more responsible, but some critics worry it could take resources from traditional public schools. They also say some of the oversight measures don’t go far enough. Gov. Jack Markell supports the bill and says it mixes measures to better hold charters accountable with efforts to give them more ability to succeed.
Cape school board continues elementary school discussion
Cape Henlopen school board focused on the bigger picture for the district’s future elementary schools after weeks of discussing possibly reconfiguring the Milton schools. “We need to discuss the fifth school that could draw from and thin out our other schools,” said board member Jen Burton during the May 23 board meeting.
New law revamps school choice program
Governor Markell was at Newark’s Forest Oak Elementary School Monday to sign a bill streamlining the process students use to apply to a school different than the one they are assigned. The new law standardizes School Choice applications and deadlines statewide. The bill’s primary sponsor State Rep. Kim Williams says complaints from the parents spurred her effort require those changes. “Once I started reviewing the policies of the different districts, I noticed that there was inconsistencies throughout the state,” said Williams. “There is the law, but then each district had their own policy so it’s hard for parents to follow.” In addition to making the program easier to navigate, Williams expect the law to eliminate discrimination in the process by limiting the information the school districts can gather. The law prevents districts from asking for an applicant’s grades or DCAS testing scores.
Colonial School District holds second vote on operating referendum
Residents in the Colonial School District vote again today on a budget referendum. The district’s wants to raise taxes an additional 35 cents per $100 of assessed property value to add $9.6 million to its operating budget. Officials say the district currently faces a $6 million deficit. Colonial superintendent Dorothy Linn previously said if this referendum fails the district will be forced to eliminate 84 jobs, including 59 teachers. Summer school, the Chinese language immersion program and middle school and ninth grade sports would also be on the chopping block. Even if approved, Colonial officials expected to cut 16-27 staff members, including 8-12 teachers.
The New York Times
Trade Schools offer hope for rural migrants in China
When he was 14, Li Yangyang’s prospects were grim. A middle school graduate who moved to Beijing with his parents from the countryside in 2009, he worked long hours in a restaurant for less than 700 renminbi a month. Then a fellow rural migrant, who had also moved to Beijing, introduced him to BN Vocational School, China’s first tuition-free, nonprofit vocational secondary school. For those like Mr. Li, the children of China’s 200 million migrant laborers, vocational schools offer the promise of better-paying, more stable work than their parents had. While China has long had state-run vocational schools, critics say that they are bogged down by bureaucracy and overwhelmed by the huge number of youths who need training.
Into the Common Core: one classroom’s journey
As an English/language arts teacher in the common-core era, Ms. McNair-Lee is part of a huge national push to turn millions of students into strong readers and writers. In its second year of K-12 implementation in literacy, the District of Columbia is farther along than many in putting the standards into practice. But it also faces long odds as it works to help its largely disadvantaged student population master them.
Bill allows students to take more online courses
A South Carolina Senate committee advanced S.B 3752, which would remove the limits of three online credit hours per year and 12 toward a high school diploma for 7th-12th graders. The program was designed to help students who have fallen behind to graduate and increase access for students in rural schools. But the current law’s three-credit limit may prevent students from recovering the credits they need to catch up.