Common Core, Choice, and a Teenage Clockmaker Highlight Ed. in GOP Debates PK12: Fans of discussions about K-12 policy had little to cheer about Wednesday, but education did get occasional mentions from some of the GOP candidates. See also Washington Post, LA Times.

Obama Invites Ahmed Mohamed And His ‘Cool Clock’ To The White House For Astronomy Night HuffPost: President Barack Obama on Wednesday invited 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed to the White House for some stargazing next month. See also NBC NewsSlateNYT.

De Blasio’s Plan to Lift Poor Schools Comes With High Costs and Big Political Risks NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio framed his $186 million commitment to help struggling schools as a way to address income inequality, but questions remain about how these programs will work. See also WNYCChalkbeatNYChalkbeatNY.

Teachers’ union head spars with education reformer over New Orleans Washington Examiner: During the event’s final panel, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Paul Pastorek, former Superintendent of Education in Louisiana, exchanged words.

Head of firm chosen for new Wisconsin test gave Scott Walker $10,000 Journal-Sentinel: The president and CEO of the Minnesota firm chosen to produce the new Wisconsin Forward Exam is a former Wisconsin Republican lawmaker who last year donated $10,000 to Gov. Scott Walker’s re-election campaign.

Spurred by strike support, groups continue education fight Seattle Times: With the Seattle teachers strike suspended, public-education advocates are hoping to harness the outpouring of support for the city’s teachers toward the ongoing effort to boost state spending for public education. See also AP.

KIPP’s explosive growth came with slight dip in performance, study says Washington Post: For the analysis, researchers looked at eight elementary, 43 middle and 18 high schools in 20 cities, including Washington. They compared test scores of KIPP students with those of students who had applied to a KIPP school but failed to win a seat through a lottery and enrolled elsewhere. They also conducted student and parent surveys. See also Houston Chronicle.

New Type of Public School Becomes Reality in Camden AP: Renaissance Schools, which started last year, are run by large, nonprofit charter school organizations. But unlike charters, they fall under control of the local school board and are responsible for educating all children who live in their areas. They also receive more taxpayer money per student than charters do.

Preliminary Illinois PARCC Scores: Fewer than 4 in 10 Students Reach Proficiency State EdWatch: Proficiency rates hovered at about one-third for English/language arts, and were a bit lower in math, ranging from 17 percent proficiency on the high school math exam to 36 percent in 3rd grade math.

US to build new school for dependents at Guantanamo base AP: The children of military and civilian personnel at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be getting a new school in another sign that the Navy won’t be leaving the installation anytime soon….

School Nurses Stock Drug To Reverse Opioid Overdoses NPR: With deaths from heroin and painkillers on the rise, more nurses at high schools and middle schools are prepared to intervene in the event of an overdose on school grounds.

New York Will Trim Common Core Exams After Many Students Skipped Them NYT: The State Education Department said that the tests for third through eighth graders would be shortened next spring, and that they would be trimmed further in 2017. See also ChalkbeatNY.

The Surgeon Who Became An Activist For Baby Talk NPR: In Suskind’s new book, Thirty Million Words: Building A Child’s Brain, she explains her personal journey toward the surprising answer: The kids who thrived generally lived in households where they heard lots of words. Millions and millions of words.

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at