School Budgets Look Super Tight

School Budgets Look Super Tight

School budgets look bad again, says the Tribune. A former accountability hawk goes doveish on teacher evaluations.  Preckwinkle’s pension reform is moving — is that a good thing? Plus national news, and local school news.
Tough times continue for Chicago schools Chicago Tribune: CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett said that with the new budgeting system tied to student enrollment, schools that gain students get increased funding and those that lose students see less money.

Using test scores to evaluate teachers creates problems Chicago Tribune:Using test scores to evaluate teachers seems like a great idea on the face of it, but it does not stand up to scrutiny. There are several basic problems, most having to do with the fact that relatively few teachers will have any test data at all and that there aren’t enough students in most classes to yield reliable growth estimates.

Illinois Senate passes Preckwinkle’s county pension reform package Sun Times:  Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s pension-reform package passed the state Senate on Tuesday despite opposition from some public employee unions that contended her plan is unconstitutional.

School funding overhaul clears Senate The State Journal-Register: It also ends the Chicago Block Grant, an off-the-top lump grant Chicago Public Schools can choose to distribute as they see fit.

Safe Passage reimbursement measure picks up steam Tribune: A measure to help Chicago school children get a free ride to and from school if they live in special Safe Passage routes through high crime areas is gaining steam at the Capitol.

The younger generation of Chicago pols comes to the Hideout June 3 Chicago Reader: For instance, in the March primary, Mitchell used a strong endorsement from his political mentor, Toni Preckwinkle, to defeat Jay Travis, who was backed by Karen Lewis and the Chicago Teachers Union.

Mayor Emanuel provokes a fight with Chicago school principals Reader: ost teachers view the principals’ association as the biggest collection of mayoral suckups outside of the City Council.

Summer programs facing cuts in federal dollars Catalyst: Some community organizations that depend on state money to provide after-school and summer programs for thousands of low-income children in Chicago say they’re upset with how long it’s taken the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to issue a request for proposals for millions of dollars in 21st  Century Community Learning Centers funding.

U High ranked among ‘most challenging’ Pantagraph:  University High School is the only high school in the region to make the Washington Post’s recently released ranking of “America’s Most Challenging Schools.” The Illinois State University laboratory school was ranked 55th among Illinois high schools. The others are mostly in the Chicago area.


Colorado Law Helps Remedial College Students Be Successful NPR: Each year, 1.7 million students are told they’re not ready for college. States are mobilizing to fix the remedial system. Colorado’s efforts to help students are showing promising results.

Like Seattle, Boston Pushes For Universal Pre-K Seattle Public Radio: Marcie Sillman talks to WBUR reporter David Scharfenberg about Boston’s efforts to expand its preschool system. Here in Seattle, the City Council is considering a property tax levy to fund universal pre-k.

Academic Progress in Boston’s Schools in Jeopardy, Report Finds District Dossier: In an external review commissioned by the Boston district, the Council of the Great City Schools finds discord and disorganization that threaten the school system’s long record of progress.

Kicked out of school: Disparities are a looming crisis for all districts MinnPost: Last week, a group of classroom teachers took the highly unusual step of showing up at a regular meeting of the St. Paul School Board to plead for changes to the district’s policies regarding discipline and the mainstreaming of many special education students.

Principals can collect lesson plans but can’t say what goes in them, arbitrator rules ChalkBeat: The arbitrator, Deborah Gaines, sided with the union in ruling that teachers have authority over the content of their lesson plans. But she did not bar administrators from ever collecting the lesson plans, as the union had requested.


Obama Meets Scientists, One Age 6 NYT: More than a hundred students displayed their projects and inventions at what President Obama, who has been promoting the STEM subjects, called one of his favorite events.

Obama Unleashes His Inner Geek (Again) at White House Science Fair NBC News:  Science education went to the head of the class at the White House on Tuesday, with President Barack Obama announcing a $35 million competition for teacher training programs — and checking out an all-star lineup of science fair projects.

Obama Promotes Science, Math Education as Economic Need Bloomberg: In conjunction with the event, Obama announced a $35 million Department of Education competition program to help reach his goal of training 100,000 new teachers. The administration also plans to expand the Americorps volunteer program to provide…

First Lady Responds To School Meal Critics AP: First lady Michelle Obama is striking back at House Republicans who are trying to weaken healthier school meal standards, saying any effort to roll back the guidelines is “unacceptable.”

First Lady Rebuts Effort to Weaken School-Lunch Rules NYT: Pushing back against a measure pending in the Republican-controlled House, Michelle Obama met with school officials who attested to the success of the new standards.

5 Things to Know About the National Spelling Bee ABC: Vocab and Taylor Swift: 5 things to know about this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee.

What it’s like to win the National Spelling Bee Vox: The National Spelling Bee is a bizarre ritual. Every spring, hundreds of middle-school students cram into a hotel ballroom and attempt to spell obscure words that few human beings have ever uttered — or will ever utter — in the course of their lifetimes.

Federal Teacher-Prep Grants Emphasize STEM, Common Core TeacherBeat: The U.S. Department of Education wants new grants to improve STEM teaching and new teachers’ fluency with the Common Core State Standards.

The Common Core FAQ NPR: It’s not just Louis C.K. and Stephen Colbert who are confused about the Common Core. Get the facts here.

Finns beat U.S. with low-tech take on school Politico: Finnish students and teachers didn’t need laptops and iPads to get to the top of international education rankings, said Krista Kiuru, minister of education and science at the Finnish Parliament. And officials say they aren’t interested in using them to stay there.

Temporary portable classrooms get sustainable makeover NewsHour: When you think of a school, you might imagine something that looks like this. But many students actually spend a lot of time in buildings that look like this, this, and this.


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  • Lessons from Finland and Mission Hill | @catalystchicago

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