Roundup: NYC Rally Delayed, DC Grad Rates Up, Chicago Principals Protest Cuts

After weather postpones education rally, debate on the ground likely to continue ChalkbeatNY: The rallies, which Families for Excellent Schools has staged since 2013, have become a potent weapon in the larger political battle the group is waging with the teachers union to influence education policy in the city and state. That battle has intensified as charter-school enrollment has grown to nearly 100,000 students and the city government under Mayor Bill de Blasio has cooled to the charter movement, which grew rapidly under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Special education cuts get focus at CPS board meeting WBEZ: Principals found out over the weekend that more special needs staff would be eliminated. CPS has never before cut special education staff after the first day of school. Officials said it was due to enrollment, but there was no correlation between enrollment declines and special education staffing cuts. Those cuts came in addition to 500 positions that were eliminated over the summer. See also Tribune.

Math content in schools adding to achievement gap, new study finds Washington Post: A peer-reviewed study published in the journal of the American Educational Research Association estimated that nearly 40 percent of the gap in U.S. student performance in math can be traced to that unequal access; the researchers attributed the remaining 60 percent to family and community background.

Graduation Rates Surge for D.C. Public Schools, Reaching 64 Percent in 2015 Washington Post: The percentage of high school students who graduated from D.C. Public Schools in four years increased by six points for the Class of 2015, reaching 64 percent, a significant boost after several years of incremental growth. A closely watched statistic in the District — and one that city leaders have vowed to improve — the graduation rate still rests well below the national average of 81 percent.

New York May Implement ‘Total Reboot’ On Common Core Daily Caller: Some of the names on the panel are national education figures: Randi Weingarten is president of the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-largest teachers union, and Geoffrey Canada is president of the Harlem Children’s Zone

Shift $15 Billion in Prison Spending to Teacher Raises, Arne Duncan Urges PK12: The education secretary says that much could be saved by redirecting some non-violent offenders away from prison, and the money used to boost salaries at high-poverty schools. See also Washington Post.

In Houston’s Gifted Program, Critics Say Blacks And Latinos Are Overlooked NPR: Houston school leaders asked Ford to take a close look at their enrollment in the program, and she gave it a failing grade. “Racial bias has to be operating, inequities are rampant. Discrimination does exist whether intentional or unintentional,” she told the school board in May of this year.

History Repeats Itself in Brooklyn School Rezoning WNYC: There are indeed strong parallels between the situation with P.S. 307 now, and how P.S. 8 was viewed in the community, said David Goldsmith, president of the Community Education Council for District 13.  

First Lady Encourages Girls to Make the Most of Education NBC News: First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at a Glamour magazine panel discussion about the power of educating girls.  See also CBSAP.

When Schools Get a Failing Grade (Some) Voters Rush to the Polls, Study Says EdWeek: Rating a school as “failing” didn’t spur voters across the board. Rather, those who had voted in prior school board elections were more than five times likelier to vote in response to a local school’s failing grade than those who had not voted in the last election. Moreover, Holbein found that failures of local elementary and middle schools drove stronger voter turnout than did failing high schools.

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 alexanderrusso@gmail.com.