Ex-Chicago schools chief pleads guilty in federal corruption scandal WBEZ: “I am terribly sorry,” Barbara Byrd-Bennett said after her arraignment at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. “They deserved much more. Much more than I gave to them.” See also WSJ, District DossierAPNYT.

State clarifies PARCC scoring standards; description of lowered cutoff said to be error Arkansas Online: In a statement, state Education Commissioner Johnny Key said that score information from the department last week “left a misleading impression that Arkansas was backing away from high standards” on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, exams.

Unions forge alliance to fight growth of charter schools in L.A. LA Times: The union representing Los Angeles teachers has pulled together a coalition of other employee unions to oppose a controversial plan to more than double the number of local students attending charter schools.

Plenty of College Talk, But K-12 Takes a Backseat in First Democratic Debate PK12: If you were hoping for a meaty discussion of the big issues facing K-12, including testing, teacher evaluation, fixing low-performing schools, you were out of luck. See also Washington Post.

Young, Gifted Students Facing a Gap WSJ: Her district is one of four in the city without a gifted program. The city’s other 28 districts each have at least one gifted program; District 20 in southwest Brooklyn, which includes Borough Park, Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, offers 10.

Educators try to come to terms with low math scores on Smarter Balanced tests EdSource: Only one-third of California students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 met the math standard – compared to 44 percent of students who met the standard in English language arts. That is also significantly lower than the percentage who scored at a proficient level in math on the old California Standards tests.

Montgomery’s Hispanic student enrollment surges in early grades Washington Post: Hispanic students represent the largest ethnic group in most elementary school grades.

Colored Pencils, Watercolors, Brushes: Art Supplies Add Up NPR: Teachers spend a lot of their own cash on school supplies. But art teachers, with all kinds of special materials, can spend even more.

Hundreds Of Thousands More Students Will Be Learning Mandarin Soon. Here’s How. HuffPost: McGiffert, president of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, which was formed in 2013 to oversee the eponymous initiative, is also leading the new 1 Million Strong push.

Scranton Teacher Strike Ends After Two Weeks of Stalemate Teacher Beat: The Scranton Federation of Teachers ratified a new two-year contract; students will return to class Wednesday.

Experiment Tests If Teacher-Student Relationship Helps Performance NPR: Let’s take a minute to explore the relationships between students and teachers. A good teacher tends to be well- trained and well-informed. Turns out, though, it might help kids just to have a teacher they like. 

Why American Schools Are Starting To Recruit More Teachers From Foreign Countries Stateline: A major target for their efforts is Puerto Rico: the teachers, already U.S. citizens, don’t require a visa if they decide to leave the island and its struggling economy to go work on the mainland.

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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.