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5 States in Crisis: Budget Battles, Court Challenges, Political Bickering Leave Schools Millions Short

The 74 Million – Carolyn Phenicie

“Chicago Schools are laying off 1,000 staff members. In Kansas, schools closed their doors early. And the situation in Oklahoma schools is truly grim. In Oklahoma City Schools, leaders first cut 208 teaching positions, then 92 members of the administrative staff. Fine arts budgets will be cut in half for the upcoming school year, and there will be no money for new library materials. Oklahoma’s Newcastle Public Schools will start charging $100 per student for extracurricular activities — and that’s after district officials have already eliminated most field trips, increased class sizes, delayed a major textbook purchase and moved to a four-day school week. Celebrity talk show host Ellen DeGeneres helped one elementary school librarian in the state’s Union Public School District pay for a summer reading program. Leaders in Tulsa are filling budget holes with a community fundraiser, forebodingly called “SOS” — Save our Schools.”(more)

STEAM versus STEM Education

The Sunflower – Victoria Hendricks

“ is a website that has sparked a new movement in the education and work fields spanning this country. According to the website, “STEAM is a movement championed by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and widely adopted by institutions, corporations and individuals.” Furthermore, “[T]he objectives of the STEAM movement are to: transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM, encourage integration of Art + Design in K–20 education, and influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation,” the website states. The website features case studies ranging from experiments taking place in Andover Schools to Sesame Street. One illustration of the importance of the merging of the arts and sciences comes from the same page where they discuss famed photographer from the 19-century named Charles Nègre, who was a pioneer for blending the subjects together to show us how they work together. “Where science ends, art begins,” Nègre said. After all, blueprints cannot come to life without the creative aspects of a designer. No more so can a musician play sweet music without being able to count notes on sheet music. The Sciences and Arts cannot exist by themselves. They, by their very natures, work together..”(more)

Schools can — and should — teach more than discipline

The Seattle Times – Jerry Large

“Dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline doesn’t require more information or analysis. It requires a will to change strong enough to produce sustained, effective action. Someone said that the other night at a meeting about the pipeline. And a lot of people said what a lot of people have been saying for a very long time, the gist being don’t criminalize kids, educate them. Well, maybe it takes repetition to sink in deep enough to matter. Here’s a definition of the pipeline: “ … the policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.” That’s from the American Civil Liberties Union, one of numerous organizations working nationally to fix what’s wrong. Schools went along with the tough-on-crime, no-tolerance attitude that swept politics and the criminal-justice system in the 1980s. The result has been a huge increase in the number of children suspended or expelled, often for classroom behavior that could be dealt with productively if it were treated as a teaching opportunity.”(more)

Education Department extends No Child Left Behind waivers for 7 states, District of Columbia

The U.S. News and World Report – JENNIFER C. KERR

“The Obama administration is giving seven more states and the District of Columbia continued flexibility from the requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law. Besides the nation’s capital, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday announced the renewal of waivers for Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New York, and West Virginia. Current law requires schools to use standardized tests in reading and math to measure student progress. Schools in states with waivers wouldn’t be excused from the testing requirements but instead could develop and implement their own plans to measure progress that go beyond the required testing. The idea is to free the states from some of the more rigid parts of No Child Left Behind while Congress works on an update to the law.”(more)

USD 501 bilingual students head to middle school

The Topeka Capital-Journal – Celia Llopis-Jepsen

“Whitson Elementary student Trip Carter already is thinking about the typical things that go along with finishing fifth grade and graduating to middle school. He is looking forward to having a locker, and he’s told his parents he might like to take band. But a more unusual aspect of this 11-year-old’s upcoming middle school career is perhaps the one that seems most natural to him: His coursework will be in two languages, Spanish and English. That is nothing new to Trip, a native English speaker who has been attending school in both languages since kindergarten…School board members touted the idea as a potential economic advantage for Topeka that would cultivate language skills in high demand. They described it as a rigorous approach to education tested and proven in other cities, with cognitive benefits for children and the capacity to boost achievement among English-language learners…research into bilingualism has found benefits that may seem surprising, such as heightened problem-solving skills — an advantage that stems from the way bilingual children sort and regulate information in their working memory systems.”(more)