NYC took steps to boost academic diversity in 2015, new report shows ChalkbeatNY:  The department stopped most middle schools in three districts from screening applicants based on their academic records, and allowed 51 low-performing middle schools to recruit students from beyond their normal catchment areas, the report said. The department also added 20 new “educational option” high school programs.

Parent Council Readies for Vote on Brooklyn School Rezoning WNYC: The Jan. 5 vote by the District 13 Community Education Council, made up of parent leaders, will be the latest-ever vote on a school rezoning proposal to take effect in September. More pressing, the decision to rezone affects the current kindergarten application process, already underway. 

At the 10th largest school system, a violent threat comes every other day Washington Post: Retired Secret Service agent Tom Vaccarello analyzes threats to schools in Fairfax County.

Chicago Seeks More Charter Schools WBEZ: A CPS spokesperson providing written responses “on background” said CPS will host public hearings on any charters that make it through the application process. The applications will be viewable online, and a “feedback portal” is being set up for community members to share their views. 

The revival of Foster High: A school filled with refugees makes a comeback Seattle Times: Just four years ago, Foster High’s test scores were low and morale lower. But in a dramatic turnaround, achievement now is way up, especially in math.

Preschool Without Walls NYT: Bundle up, buttercup. A growing number of preschools are situating their classrooms under the open sky and towering trees, regardless of weather.

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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