POLITICO. July 18, 2014.
ROCKETSHIP RAMPS DOWN EXPANSION: Rocketship Education, the charter network hailed for its blended learning model, has withdrawn its application to open eight schools in Dallas and eight schools in San Antonio. The charter network embarked on an ambitious expansion, but it sputtered. It failed to meet enrollment targets in California last fall [http://politico.pro/1r7ykqF], signed up fewer students than anticipated in Milwaukee and withdrew an application to open a school in Santa Clara County, Calif., following community opposition.
— Katy Venskus, VP of policy at Rocketship, tells Morning Education that the charter network will continue to expand and remain engaged in Texas. But Rocketship wants to focus on existing projects for now. “Rocketship will continue to open schools in the regions where we currently have schools: Northern California, Milwaukee, Nashville, and D.C.,” she said. “We have been in the growth phase for the last three years — growing from opening schools in one region to schools in four regions in just three years. While we will continue to expand our impact (the network will double in size over the next few years) we have decided not to pursue growth outside our four existing regions.”
— “Our focus to grow deep instead of wide, working to open schools in our current regions as community need and our work with districts demands, is an acknowledgement of our overall network success,” Venskus added.
CRISIS AT THE BORDER: Thousands of unaccompanied minors are crossing the border and Washington is trying to figure out what to do about it. House leaders weren’t optimistic [http://politi.co/1t9TvYB] Thursday that the House could come to a compromise on a package that would provide $3.7 billion to help address the influx of migrant children. Why? House Democrats oppose changes to a 2008 anti-trafficking law that’s part of the package. Meanwhile, the number of unaccompanied children apprehended [http://politi.co/1r6RxZD] by U.S. customs at the southwest border has skyrocketed, climbing from 2,760 in March 2012 to 10,664 this past June. According to more than 100,000 case records obtained and analyzed by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse [http://bit.ly/1jvnVEu], almost half of the migrant children showing up at court to determine if they have to be sent home show up without the help of an attorney. Only one in 10 of those children are allowed to stay. Of the children represented by an attorney, five out of 10 were allowed to stay.
— The Associated Press reported [http://apne.ws/1mRiY7U] earlier this week that schools are becoming a safe haven for many unaccompanied minors, serving as one of the few places where they can receive guaranteed services, “from science instruction to eye exams.” AASA: The School Superintendents Association also released guidance [http://bit.ly/1jCmPGR] earlier this week for its members dealing with unaccompanied children. The Office of Refugee Resettlement offers a number of resources, for example: http://1.usa.gov/1wAxS3Y.
— Hugh Hewitt, host of a nationally syndicated talk show, writes for POLITICO Magazine that these unaccompanied children should become Americans: http://politi.co/1qMk9W8
BAYOU STATE TALKS BREAK DOWN: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Superintendent John White met Thursday and failed to come to an agreement on exams for the coming school year. Jindal wants the state to dump PARCC and open up a competitive bidding process. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education recently pitched Jindal two compromises, but he rejected both. One would have allowed for tests combining state questions and questions from PARCC. The other called for immediately issuing a request for proposal for testing services while adhering to several requirements outlined by BESE, like making sure the test questions measure nationally recognized standards. Jindal said BESE can’t set terms for the procurement process because it violates state law. Since Jindal and White’s meeting Thursday failed to move the needle, White will now report to BESE and the board will decide what to do next.
— That could include legal action against Jindal’s administration. “This situation today should highlight that we need legal clarity,” White said during a call with reporters. Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell approved legal counsel obtained by the board last week. But Division of Administration Commissioner Kristy Nichols, Jindal’s former deputy chief of staff, also has to sign off on the contract.
WALKER WANTS OUT: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called on state lawmakers Thursday to repeal the Common Core when the legislative session convenes in early January. He’s not the standards’ biggest fan — in late January, Walker said he wanted to create a commission led by state Superintendent Tony Evers to revise the standards. Earlier this year, his office helped draft a bill that would have kicked off a process to repeal the Common Core, but he didn’t get enough support. Hours before Walker made his statement, two state Republican lawmakers called for a delay in using new assessments aligned to the Common Core, the Wisconsin State Journal reported [http://bit.ly/1p1jCQC].
WAIVER WAVERING IN UTAH: Utah state school board members on Thursday ultimately put off a decision on requesting an extension of the state's NCLB waiver until their Aug. 8 meeting. Board member Debra Roberts reasoned that the waiver is far less intrusive than NCLB, with its prescriptive measures of a school's progress. And one speaker said going back to NCLB would be like reverting to when doctors employed leeches and bloodletting in the name of good health. But most who spoke about the issue panned the waiver, and they got in several digs at the Common Core, too.
— Board members want to hear from superintendents, principals and teachers about what ditching the waiver would mean, and they want the legislature to hold a special session devoted to funneling more money to schools — to cushion any financial hit low-performing Title I schools will feel if the state reverts to NCLB.
— Coincidentally, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday he'll ask the state attorney general to look into whether any federal entanglements have been involved in Utah’s Common Core: http://bit.ly/1p1OvnK.
** Presented by JPMorgan Chase & Co.: In 1990, the U.S. ranked 1st in four-year degree attainment — as a study from the Office of the President shows, we’ve dropped to 12th in 2014. College-educated young people have far lower unemployment and poverty rates — and are more likely to live longer and healthier lives. Yet in the U.S., the gap between students who graduate high school and college and those who can’t widens each year. See how one organization is trying to change that: http://politi.co/1lsiYqh **
FLORIDA TWEAKS READING LAW: The Tampa Bay Times reports [http://bit.ly/1yAawOF] that Florida quietly changed its third grade reading retention law in a bill that also expanded the state’s school voucher system. The law has always included a number of exemptions, but now there’s one more: A student can’t be retained more than once in the third grade. Florida is the birthplace of reading retention policies, introduced by former Florida Jeb Bush more than a decade ago. Here’s my refresher on how politics is weakening third grade retention policies across the country: http://politico.pro/1repTLZ.
PANNING PAY IT FORWARD: “Pay it forward” financing options for college would ultimately force students to pay more, not less, for their degrees, argues a policy brief from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The report takes an in-depth look at the growing pay it forward movement, under which students would pay for their education using a portion of their post-graduation income. It concludes that pay it forward options would introduce “considerable uncertainty” into campus budgeting and planning efforts. And it argues, “the class divides in public higher education, and more broadly, in American society, could intensify.” More:http://bit.ly/WfvwN4.
— A handful of states are currently weighing pay it forward proposals. The most prominent case has been in Oregon, where a group of Portland State University students pitched a program that has caught the eye of legislators [http://bit.ly/STI22H]. And in Michigan, a bill that would require students to pay a fixed percentage of their paychecks for roughly 20 years is currently sitting in the state’s Committee on Michigan Competitiveness [http://1.usa.gov/1r74YZD].
ACT: LOW-INCOME STUDENTS HAVE BIG COLLEGE GOALS: While 95 percent of low-income students who take the ACT want a college degree, less than 60 percent immediately enroll in postsecondary education after graduating from high school. That's according to a new report released by ACT and the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. Just 69 percent of low-income, ACT-tested students took a recommended core curriculum in high school, compared to 84 percent of students from high-income families, according to the report. And the report found just 20 percent of low-income students met at least three of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, compared to 62 percent of high-income students. The report: http://bit.ly/1p1kvIU.
VIDEO: POLITICS & DORITOS INSIDE THE SCHOOL NUTRITION CONVENTION: More than 6,500 school nutrition professionals met in Boston this week to hear both sides of the debate over school lunch standards and be inundated by 400 food manufacturers trying to get a piece of the school lunch market. Pro Agriculture’s Helena Bottemiller Evich was there. She sits down with Editor Jason Huffman to discuss: http://politi.co/1mZiDA7.
— How Chicago's school choice system is tracking kids into separate high schools based on achievement. WBEZ: http://bit.ly/1r6Bb3p.
— Alabama to review sexual education policy after sodomy ban ruled unconstitutional. AL.com:http://bit.ly/1mYixsE
— Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s office takes stronger stance against Superintendent Janet Barresi as secretary of education. Oklahoma Watch: http://bit.ly/1wAeN1U.
— North Carolina school vouchers may flow before court hearing. News & Observer:http://bit.ly/1mZqQ7s.
— LAUSD expands probe into Magnolia charter schools. LA School Report:http://bit.ly/1mZr8LJ.
— North Carolina has spent tens of millions on the Common Core. WRAL:http://bit.ly/1svkGzG.
— Financial review of D.C. charters includes new scrutiny of management contracts. The Washington Post: http://wapo.st/1jEbfLn
— Some universities crack code in drawing women to computer science. The New York Times:http://nyti.ms/1n0fvnz
CAMPAIGN PRO LUNCHEON BRIEFING: Join members of the Campaign Pro team for an interactive conversation about who is up, who is down, what to expect for the 2014 midterm elections and implications for 2016 on Monday. Find more information and RSVP:http://politi.co/Wi98ml.