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MarylandCAN News Roundup: Top 10 Education News Stories of the Week

MarylandCAN's pick of the top 10 education news stories of the week.

1. Three steps for better American schools

January 7, 2013 | James Campbell, The Baltimore Sun

Education policy wasn't a significant issue in the 2012 presidential election, but it needs to be one in 2013. Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with public education, and no small wonder: studies continue to show that our schools, once the envy of the world, have fallen to the middle of the pack or worse. Such concern prompted a task force led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former New York City School Chancellor Joel I. Klein to issue a report for the Council on Foreign relations stating that the "The United States' failure to educate its students leaves them unprepared to compete and threatens the country's ability to thrive in the global economy."

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2. How will Obama tackle education reform?

January 10, 2013 | Jenée Desmond-Harris, The Root

Between now and the inauguration on Jan. 21, The Root will be taking a daily look at the president's record on a number of policy issues, including his first-term accomplishments and what many Americans hope to see him accomplish in a second term. Today: the educational achievement gap. See previous postings in this series here.

Background: Racial and economic disparities in education -- known as the "achievement gap" -- have been stubborn parts of the American landscape of social inequality since long before President Obama was elected to his first term, and they persist today. As reform advocate Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a blunt speech in September, "As a nation, we are still far from truly achieving equal educational opportunity. In America, in 2012, children of color not only confront an achievement gap; they confront an opportunity gap that, too often, is unacceptably wide ... Closing the opportunity gap will require that school resources, talent and spending be targeted to the kids who need help the most.".

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3. St. Mary’s, Calvert school unions push legislators for answers

January 9, 2013 | Jesse Yeatman, Southern Maryland News

Educators and their union representatives rang in the new year by inviting elected officials for breakfast and peppering them with questions about the upcoming session of the Maryland General Assembly.

Top on the list of concerns from the St. Mary’s and Calvert education unions was adequate funding for schools, addressing whether to require teachers to join unions, and the impact of shifting a part of the state’s share of teacher pensions to county governments.

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4. Baltimore Co. wants to increase schools’ 2014 budget

January 9, 2013 |WBALTV


Baltimore County public officials are looking to increase the budget for the 2014 school year to help close the achievement gap, adjust to an influx of new students and invest in the future.

Superintendent Dallas Dance presented his new $1.3 billion budget plan Tuesday evening that marks a 3.3 percent increase from the 2013 budget.

"We have to make sure that we are closing the achievement gap, but we're not doing it by bringing everyone down to the middle. How do we actually raise the bar and bring individuals up and accelerate them quicker?" Dance questioned.

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5. Balto. Co. schools budget would add 100 teachers

January 8, 2013 | Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore County classrooms would have about 100 more teachers next school year under a budget proposal unveiled Tuesday by Superintendent Dallas Dance.

In his first spending plan since taking the post, Dance presented a $1.3 billion operating budget to the county school board, saying a top priority will be managing growth in the school system of 107,000 students.

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6. City school board OKs 10-year facilities plan

January 8, 2013 | Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore school board approved Tuesday a sweeping plan that would close or renovate more than 150 schools, with the goal of bringing the oldest school infrastructure in the state up to 21st-century standards in one decade.

The board voted unanimously to approve the $2.4 billion plan, introduced by city schools CEO Andrés Alonso in November. The vote came on the eve of the 2013 legislative session, and a day after Gov. Martin O'Malley said he would devote $336 million to school construction this year.

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7. 11 states get failing grades on public school policies from advocacy group

January 7, 2013 | Motoko Rich, The New York Times

In just a few short years, state legislatures and education agencies across the country have sought to transform American public education by passing a series of laws and policies overhauling teacher tenure, introducing the use of standardized test scores in performance evaluations and expanding charter schools.

Such policies are among those pushed by StudentsFirst, the advocacy group led by Michelle A. Rhee, the former schools chancellor in Washington. Ms. Rhee has generated debate in education circles for aggressive pursuit of her agenda and the financing of political candidates who support it.

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8. Moco schools chief on new teacher/principal evaluation systems

January 7, 2013 | Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post

Here is a new message to the public from Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr about forced changes to the district’s nationally known teacher/principal evaluation system.

Moco’s teacher evaluation system has been seen as a model because it has been successful in removing ineffective teachers without the use of standardized test scores and it is led by teachers.

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9. Amid states RTTT amendments, USDE expresses concerns

January 7, 2013 | Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun

The Maryland State Department of Education has made a new round of revisions to its plans under the federal Race to the Top program to tie student achievement to educator effectiveness, but the U.S. Department of Education has expressed concern about the state's ability to implement the radically new system that is due to be rolled out this fall.

In a letter sent to state officials last month, USDE approved a series of tweaks the state has made to its application, the majority of which altered how much weight will be given to various student achievement measures that will account for half of an educators' evaluation.

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10. AACPS: OMalleys school construction funding ‘terrific news

January 7, 2013 | Jonathan Moynihan, Anne Arundel Patch

After Gov. Martin O’Malley announced plans Monday to spend $336 million on school construction projects throughout the state, an Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) official expressed optimism about receiving necessary funding to finance local facility improvements.

For the 2014 fiscal year starting in July of this year, AACPS asked the state to finance certain school construction projects—ranging from the revitalization of Annapolis Elementary to kindergarten additions throughout the county. Superintendent Kevin Maxwell’s proposed $239 million capital budget for fiscal year 2014 asks the state to provide about $47.2 for facility upgrades.

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This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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