February 14, 2019 - Volume 39 Issue 6



The Charleston (SC) Post and Courier (2/12, Lovegrove) reports hundreds of South Carolina “teachers, parents, students and education advocates flooded the Statehouse on Tuesday to give lawmakers an earful about a proposed overhaul of the state’s school system in a legislative hearing that stretched deep into the evening.” Many attendees’ complaints “followed a few repeated themes, including soliciting more input from teachers, reducing what many view as excessive testing requirements and upping a proposed increase in teacher pay.” State House Speaker Jay Lucas (R) in January unveiled “a sprawling, 84-page bill” calling for “new approaches in not only K-12 schools but also technical colleges and universities’ teacher-training programs.” Lucas and other supporters of the measure “repeatedly stress that the bill’s introduction is the start of a long process,” but “several teachers griped that they were only being listened to after an initial version of the bill has already been released.”

In commentary for The Hill (2/13), Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and RJ Martin, a research assistant at AEI, write about the growing focus on career and technical education in recent years, citing state legislation and growing numbers of high school students focusing on CTE courses. “All this raises a big question, given education’s long experience with fads and shifting sentiment: Is the boom in career and technical education one more fad, or does it reflect something more substantial?” The writers describe their research, concluding that “career and technical education has become a prominent part of the national conversation” and that “it seems a good bet that career and technical education’s gradual build will give it more staying power than other contested, high-profile 21st-century reforms. For better or worse, CTE appears poised to be a focal point in the post-NCLB, post–Common Core world.”

The Tennessean (2/13) reports Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has proposed legislation “to boost opportunities for students statewide, including the creation of statewide K-8 computer science standards.” The proposal “would create the Future Workforce Initiative focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Lee is proposing $4 million to create the initiative.”

Education Week (2/1, Sawchuk) reports Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) “has signed an executive order to end the Sunshine State’s use of the Common Core State Standards.” The state Department of Education will be tasked with making “recommendations on how to eliminate those standards ‘and ensure we return to the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic,’ the order states. The state education commissioner, Richard Corcoran, will submit the plan to the legislature in time for its 2020 session, DeSantis said”

U.S. News & World Report (2/1) reports DeSantis’ order “officially eliminates any lasting vestige of the Common Core State Standards – a set of academic benchmarks that most of the country adopted before becoming the standards became a political lightning rod.” The order “marks the final nail in the coffin for the controversial standards after nearly a decade of slow dismantling. The Sunshine State adopted the standards in 2010, but it began walking them back four years later, when a task force reviewed them, altered them and ultimately rebranded them as ‘Florida Standards.’” The Washington Post (2/1, Strauss) also covers this story.


The Dallas Morning News (2/13, Ayala) reports on criticisms of partnerships between Texas districts and private charter school operators, saying such critics “fear any move by a district to hand over school operations to an outside entity amounts to the ‘privatization’ of children’s education and opens the door to risky experimentation. But school officials in Dallas and Fort Worth insist they want to use a new Texas law that encourages in-district charters to funnel more state money to their schools by partnering with universities or nonprofits.” Both districts’ school boards “are discussing whether to undertake different approaches in how to implement the contentious law that provides them with financial incentives to create charter campuses.”

Chalkbeat (2/13) reports that “a bill that would prohibit virtual charters from shuffling students between schools” passed out of an Indiana Senate committee Wednesday. If it comes law, “it could prevent online schools from bypassing state efforts to hold them accountable.” The bill’s author, Sen. Jeff Raatz (R), “said the idea came from the Indiana Department of Education, which noticed two virtual charter schools in the same network were moving around large groups of students.”

Resource opportunities

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.”

The Wall Street Journal (2/12, Castellanos, Subscription Publication) reports United Technologies Corp. is committing to investing $1 million over several years into Girls Who Code, the nonprofit high school computer science initiative. United Technologies senior VP and Chief Digital Officer Vince Campisi said the effort will help Girls Who Code expand and thereby increase the number of female technology workers.