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Are Public Schools Under Attack?

InformED Report - January 17, 2017

12/05/2016 | Washington, DC | MSNBC

With cabinet choice, Trump readies fight with public schools

Steve Benen | MSNBC | Twitter

When it comes to choosing the personnel for his top administrative posts, Donald Trump’s selections have thus far fallen into two broad categories: the conventionally wrong and the unconventionally wrong.

The latter is made up of people who aren’t just ill-suited to lead a cabinet agency, but who are also ridiculous political personalities who have no business even being considered for important federal responsibilities. Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell Jr., for example, said Donald Trump offered him the job of Education Secretary, which the right-wing Virginian turned down for personal reasons. Eyeing Falwell for such a post is unconventionally wrong.

Betsy DeVos, apparently Trump’s second choice for the Department of Education, is merely conventionally wrong.

To read more visit MSNBC

Here’s what you need to know about Betsy DeVos, likely Education Secretary

Laura Ascione Devaney | eSchool News | Twitter

With his nomination of billionaire Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education, President-elect Donald Trump seems to be making good on his campaign promise to promote school choice.

Trump has proposed a $20 million fund to support school choice for students, namely through charters and vouchers. DeVos, who has no professional experience working in schools, is a vocal proponent of school choice and vouchers. Currently, she chairs the American Federation for Children, which promotes school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs.

A Polarizing Issue; A Potentially Polarizing Nomination

Vouchers are a polarizing issue for many in the education community, with opponents saying they funnel valuable public school dollars to private institutions that aren’t always accountable. Several state courts have heard cases involving students using vouchers to attend private religious schools.

Voucher supporters say they enable students to break free from geographical or financial constraints and pursue a quality education at the institution of their choice.

To read more visit eSchool News

Trump’s choice for education secretary raises questions

Sara Ganim and Linh Tran | CNN Politics | Twitter Ganim 

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos and her husband are major political power brokers in their home state of Michigan.

The two are major Republican donors — they’ve contributed a total of $50,000 dollars to the campaigns of senators whose votes she’ll need to be approved as a nominee — and in Michigan, they’ve spent millions of dollars over the years to lobby for big changes to Michigan schools, among other issues.

In 2010, they even opened up their own charter school on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford Airport in Grand Rapids, which kids flock to from 40 school districts.

But her legacy here is not all flattering, especially in Detroit, where educators on both sides of the aisle say her push for school choice and a free market for charter schools has not worked for Michigan kids.

“When I hear her name and I think about education, I think about choice without quality,” said Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation, and a member of a coalition to help fix Detroit schools.

To read more visit CNN

12/05/2016 | Richmond, VA | NBC 29

Students with Disabilities Develop Guide for Schools to Promote Awareness

Students with the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities’ Youth Leadership Forum and the Virginia Department of Education’s I’m Determined Project have published “A Guide to Planning an Inclusion Project” to help school communities raise awareness about disabilities and the importance of building inclusive school communities.

The guidebook includes sample activities and resources for use by elementary, middle and high schools to promote disability awareness and inclusiveness.

For example:

In a suggested elementary activity, students use tablets, an app and resources from the American Dyslexia Association to experience what learning mathematics is like for students with dyscalculia.

In a suggested middle school activity, a team of students creates an obstacle course to raise awareness about the daily challenges faced by students who depend on wheelchairs, walkers and other devices for mobility.

To read more visit NBC 29

Greenwich special ed parents blast proposed cuts

Emilie Munson | Greenwich Time | Twitter

A dispute is brewing over proposed cuts that some parents say pit a desire to control spending against the school system’s most vulnerable — yet expensive — students.

In November, Superintendent Sal Corda proposed several cuts to the special education department as part of the school district’s 2017-18 operating budget.

They include a reduction in funds to place special education students at private schools that can accommodate their needs, and in funds to cover tuition settlements with parents.

Corda insisted the cuts will not affect the level of services offered to special education students — and mandated to them by law.

To read more visit Greenwich Time

12/05/2016 | New York, NY | New York Daily News

Charter school group launches ad war against Mayor de Blasio

Jennifer Fermino | New York Daily News | Twitter

A leading charter school group plans to make it a very unhappy holiday season for Mayor de Blasio.

Families for Excellent Schools began a TV ad blitz Monday blasting the mayor for keeping 40,000 kids on charter school waiting lists, which they say is completely unnecessary since the city has empty space.

“Even though the mayor has over 200 half-empty school buildings, he is shutting them out,” the ad says. “Mayor de Blasio, stop playing politics. Give charter schools space now.”

Devora Kaye, a Department of Education spokeswoman, called the ad false, saying, “This is simply inaccurate. We continue to work closely with charter schools to ensure space in school buildings is being used efficiently to best serve all students and families.”

To read more visit New York Daily News

The Notable Silence of New York’s Charter-School Leaders

Monica Disare | The Atlantic | Twitter

When news broke that President-elect Donald Trump tapped the school-choice advocate Betsy DeVos as U.S. education secretary, New York City’s charter-school sector was relatively quiet. With the exception of the Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, who tweeted she was “thrilled,” local charter-school leaders and advocates have mostly kept to themselves.

That might seem surprising in a city where more than 100,000 students are educated in charter schools. But DeVos’s brand of school choice, which so far has focused on fighting for private-school vouchers and less charter oversight, is very different from the type that exists in New York City—and some local charter leaders appear wary of it.

“I think a great many charter supporters, and indeed charter founders, are deeply troubled by the idea of vouchers,” said Steve Wilson, the CEO of the New York-based Ascend charter school network. “I would venture most charter-school founders are liberal Democrats who are committed to social justice and would be very troubled by free-market mechanisms.”

To read more visit The Atlantic

InformED Report is brought to you in cooperation with American ED TV and MindRocket Media Group

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