February 8, 2019 - Volume 39 Issue 5



U.S. News & World Report. (2/7) reports teachers “are preparing to strike on Monday after newly elected Democratic Gov. Jared Polis declined to intervene in a pay dispute between teacher union officials and school district officials, setting up the first strike in Colorado’s biggest school district in 25 years.” The parties “have a last-ditch negotiation effort scheduled for Friday, where they will try to close what Polis characterized as ‘small, limited differences.’” The piece explains that the district’s “payment structure for bonuses, which allow Denver educators to earn more for things like strong evaluations, students’ high test scores and teaching in a high-performing or high-poverty school,” is the key point of contention.

An editorial in the Denver Post (2/7) expresses disappointment in Gov. Jared Polis’ decision to allow the strike to move forward. “`We think his agencies could have helped negotiate an agreement that would have benefited everyone in this city, especially the teachers, parents and students.” The piece expresses sympathy with the teachers’ “legitimate concerns,” but counters that “the district has come a long way in its proposal. Denver Superintendent Susana Cordova has proposed an innovative new salary schedule that combines traditional steps and lanes with the historic (voter approved) professional compensation system that provides bonuses to teachers who are in the most difficult-to-fill positions. Her proposal intuitively makes sense to us and could bring much-needed stability to teacher salaries.”



EdSource (2/5, Freedberg, Zinshteyn) reports that California Governor Gavin Newsom “has called on State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to establish a panel of experts to examine the impact of charter school growth on district finances,” following the recently settled teacher strike in Los Angeles. The United Teachers of Los Angeles “applauded” Newsom in a statement, but reportedly questioned the usefulness of a panel, saying an “immediate cap on charter schools is urgently necessary,” with large urban districts “well past the saturation point for charter school growth.” Thurmond stated, “As Governor Newsom stated in his first budget proposal, rising charter school enrollments in some urban districts are having real impacts on those districts’ ability to provide essential support and services for their students.”

The Chicago Tribune (2/4, Perez) reports teachers at four Chicago International Charter Schools “went on strike Tuesday, launching the city’s second work stoppage at the independently operated campuses after hours of negotiations failed to reach a last-minute contract agreement.” Teachers “have been bargaining for months with Civitas Education Partners, which manages those four CICS campuses. The 175 teachers and paraprofessionals, represented by the Chicago Teachers Union, rejected a recent proposal that union leaders described as inadequate.”

The Chicago Sun-Times (2/5) reports the educators on Tuesday “kicked off the second charter teacher strike in the city this school year.” The piece quotes Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates saying, “We’ll be on strike until our class sizes are smaller. We’ll be on strike until we have special education resources. We’ll be on strike till they understand that social workers and counselors are necessary parts of our community inside our schools.” Teachers “are looking to bring their salaries in line with those of Chicago Public Schools teachers. The management firm says they’ve offered raises totaling 30 percent over four years as they seek a ‘financially sustainable’ agreement.”

The Washington Post (2/4, Stein) reports that a “proposal to force charter schools to post more information to their websites has exposed a long-simmering debate in the District” on “how much access the public should have to data and information from charter schools, which are funded by taxpayer dollars but privately operated.” DC Public Charter School Board Executive Director Scott Pearson “said the proposed rules are a starting point,” but some teachers, parents, and education activists “have contended that the proposal does not go far enough and say charter schools should share the same information with the public as the traditional system does.” The “conversation unfolding in the District – where nearly half of the city’s public school students attend charters – reflects roiling tensions nationally between supporters of the traditional public school systems and backers of robust charter sectors.” National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Senior Vice President for State Advocacy Todd Ziebarth “said a similar push also exists in California.”

Arizona Republic (2/4) columnist Laurie Roberts says Arizona “has a crying need for reform that would stop the outrageous practice of owners using their charter schools as their own personal ATMs,” but the “long-awaited” charter reform bill proposed by state Sen. Kate Brophy McGee (R) falls short. Roberts adds that it also “has overwhelming support from the Arizona Charter Schools Association, which has blocked past reform efforts.” Roberts says McGee’s bill rightly “requires that charter schools be overseen by a governing board,” but that provision has a “massive loophole” because it does not prohibit charter operators from “stacking the board.” The bill also calls for greater financial transparency, but that, too, contains “a whopping loophole that would allow charter school owners to continue to hide specifics of how our money is being spent.” Roberts urges state lawmakers to “just write a bill that would require charters to follow the same procurement, open meeting and public records laws as the state’s school districts.”

The Wisconsin State Journal (2/4, Rickert) reports that the University of Wisconsin System “narrowly rejected an application for what would have been the third charter school in Madison not authorized by the Madison School District.” The proposed Arbor Community School planned to open this fall at a space rented from St. Bernard Parish, but UW System President Ray Cross on Monday said the site “lacks meaningful access to green space, which is a significant departure” from the four “pillars of strength” – community, nature, equity, and well-being – that Arbor identified in its application. Arbor co-founder Lynn Munsinger Brown “said the school initially wanted to become a charter through the Madison School District, but officials there showed no interest.” According to the State Journal, MSD “has historically been hostile to charter schools – especially ones it doesn’t authorize and directly control – and documents from the district show officials there were seeking to derail the Arbor school.”


School safety

The Atlantic (2/6, Christakis) reports that the “scale of preparedness efforts” for active-school drills “is out of proportion to the risk.” Fatal school shootings “remain extremely rare compared with those resulting from accidental injury, which is the leading cause of death for children and teenagers.” According to the Washington Post, fewer than 150 people total “have been shot to death in America’s schools” in the two decades since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. In addition to “school-preparedness culture...instilling in millions of children a distorted and foreboding view of their future,” the time and resources spent on drills and structural upgrades “could otherwise be devoted to, say, a better science program or hiring more experienced teachers.”


School Closures/European study regarding progress of students with same-sex parents/Early Childhood Education in California

Chalkbeat (2/5, Barnum) features an analysis of 17 studies published during the past decade which “look at how closures affected students’ academic performance in different cities and states.” The outlet found that while some students whose schools closed saw jumps in test scores and graduation rates, most of these students faced negative effects on scores; additionally, four studies “found that closing schools clearly hurt the academic progress of students whose schools weren’t closed but received new students as a result.” Chalkbeat also writes that some studies highlighted “the pain caused by shuttering a community institution,” with one finding “40 percent of students reported that the closure of their high school damaged their friendships or other relationships.”

The Washington Post (2/6, Long) reports a group of European economists has released a study indicating that “children of same-sex couples perform better in school than kids raised by a mom and a dad. ... The researchers found that children raised by same-sex couples had higher test scores in elementary and secondary school and were about 7 percent more likely to graduate from high school than children raised by different-sex couples.”

EdSource (2/4) reports that in a poll conducted by the nonprofit PACE and the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education, “2,000 registered voters ranked making schools safe from gun violence and college affordability the most important education issues in California, far higher than early education, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s top priority on his children’s policy agenda.” In his state budget, which was released last month, “Newsom proposed spending $1.8 billion, a historic amount, for early childhood education and well-being, including money to pave the way for full-day kindergarten for all children and, within three years, full-day preschool for all low-income students.” While state legislative leaders “have indicated they’re fully behind the spending,” the poll “indicates that support for early childhood education, although high, lags behind other issues among potential voters – particularly when it comes to questions of spending.”


Resource opportunities

February 1, 2019

Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is seeking partnerships with organizations across the state to help feed children and provide supervised activities during the summer months. When school is out of session during the summer months, community programs and organizations are vital to ensuring children in West Virginia are still receiving the nutrition they need, especially in low-income areas.

County boards of education, local government agencies and other nonprofit organizations can participate in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which ensures children (ages 18 and under) in lower-income areas continue to receive free, nutritious meals during the summer when they do not have access to the programs that are available to them during the school year, like the School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program. Feeding sites often include schools, churches, community centers, pools, parks, libraries, housing complexes and summer camps.

“Supporting summer feeding sites in your community is one of the most important things you can do to ensure no child goes hungry this summer,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Paine. “Children require consistent, good-quality nutrition for development of their minds and bodies. We want to make certain every child returns to the classroom in the fall ready to learn.”

An average of 208,000 children in West Virginia or about 76 percent of school children, depend on free and reduced-price meals at school, yet only about 21,000 receive the free meals provided by the SFSP.

“In 2018, 554 Summer Food Program sites provided nutritious meals to children in West Virginia and we believe many organizations will renew their commitment for 2019,” said Amanda Harrison, Executive Director of the Office of Child Nutrition. “We encourage new organizations in communities all across the Mountain State to join us so the number of sites can grow and more children have access to healthy meals.”

Organizations interested in becoming a 2019 summer sponsor should contact Cybele Boehm or Samantha Reeves with the Office of Child Nutrition by calling (304) 558-3396. Summer sites will be announced in June 2019.

For more information, contact Kristin Anderson at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699 or

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Grant Opportunities

The Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraiinitiative seeks to support these libraries, as well as archives and related organizations, in their work through grants of up to $50,000. IMLS will award grants across three categories, including Transforming School Library Practice. Deadline to apply: Feb. 25.

In a Bloomberg View (9/4) piece, Andrea Gabor, Bloomberg chair of business journalism at CUNY’s Baruch College, writes, “For two decades, the prevailing wisdom among education philanthropists and policymakers has been that the U.S. school system needs the guiding hand of centralized standard-setting to discipline ineffective teachers and bureaucrats. Much of that direction was guided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has spent billions since 2000 to influence both schools and education policy.” However, “top-down national initiatives based on standardized testing and curricular uniformity” have waned in popularity, and now groups including Gates are moving toward a more local approach. Gates’ “K-12 philanthropy will concentrate on supporting what it calls ‘locally driven solutions’ that originate among networks of 20 to 40 schools.”