New York loves Lunar New Year

China Daily USA – HEZI JIANG

“The Lunar New Year is becoming a more fantastic celebration in New York. Nothing exemplifies that more than Fantastic Art China, a free exhibition from Feb 6-10 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. The China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing, in conjunction with the US-China Cultural Institute and Committee of 100, is bringing the art of China to New York…It’s the Year of the Monkey, and Chinese artist Duan Haikang’s Golden Monkey Celebrating Spring, a 3,000-pound steel monkey mounting the clouds and riding the mist, will welcome visitors at the entrance, who will be encouraged to write, draw and put stickers on the installation…Feb 8 also will be the first time that New York City’s 1.1 million public school pupils will have the day off for Chinese New Year.”(more)

Spending in nation’s schools falls again, with wide variation across states

The Washington Post – Emma Brown

“The nation’s per-pupil spending on K-12 public schools dropped in 2013 for the third year in a row, reversing more than a decade of funding increases, according to federal data released Wednesday. Spending continued to vary widely across the country, from a low of $6,432 per student in Utah to a high of $20,530 per student in the District of Columbia. The biggest spenders were largely clustered in the Northeast, while the lowest were in the West and Southeast…The new federal data were released on the heels of a report by the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing that state governments in at least 31 states are contributing less to public education than they did in 2008, before the recession. “Our country’s future depends crucially on the quality of its schools, yet rather than raising K-12 funding to support proven reforms such as hiring and retaining excellent teachers, reducing class sizes, and expanding access to high-quality early education, many states have headed in the opposite direction,” the nonprofit’s report said. “These cuts weaken schools’ capacity to develop the intelligence and creativity of the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs.””(more)

School Choice Rally in Florida Draws Over 10,000

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“Thousands of parents and children came together in Florida’s capital in an effort to persuade the largest teacher’s union in the state to drop a lawsuit against an education voucher program that benefits low-income families. Martin Luther King III led the rally, along with religious and community leaders, arguing that the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship offers opportunities to families who may not otherwise be able to have them, and urging the Florida Education Association to cease the lawsuit they have brought against the program, reports Jim Rosica for Florida Politics. The FEA, along with other critics of the program, believe the scholarships are taking money away from the public school system in Florida.”(more)

Public School Teachers More Likely to Use Private Schools for their Own Kids

Education Next – Paul E. Peterson and Samuel Barrows

“The Supreme Court, in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), is now considering whether all teachers should be required to pay union determined “agency fees” for collective bargaining services, whether or not the teacher wants them. When making their case, unions would have the public believe that public school teachers stand solidly behind them. When it come to school choice, for example, CTA insists that “Teachers do not support school voucher programs, because they hurt students and schools by draining scarce resources away from public education.” But facts on the ground tell a different story. A fifth of all public school teachers with school-age children has placed a child in a private school, and nearly three out of ten have used one or more of the main alternatives to the traditional public school— private school, charter school, and homeschooling. What is more, the teachers who exercise choice are more likely to support school choice for others, avoid union membership, and oppose agency fees.”(more)

Walton Foundation Puts Up $1 Billion To Boost Charters

Associated Press – KELLY P. KISSEL

“A foundation run by the heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton said Thursday it will spend $1 billion over the next five years to improve public education by backing new charter schools and helping programs already up and running. The foundation has spent more than $1 billion on K-12 education over the past 20 years, including $385 million to help start charter schools in poor communities. The new money will be spent in places where the foundation already has ties “(more)

New Jersey Bill Would Require 20-minute Recess for K-5 Students

Education News – Grace Smith

“In a victory for play, the New Jersey Assembly has passed a bill requiring state public schools to offer children a 20-minute recess. Supporters explained that recess is a necessary part of students’ day because it allowed young people time to practice social skills and to be active, which will ward off health problems later in life. The bill is aimed at students from kindergarten through fifth grade and calls for having recess outside whenever possible. At this time, New Jersey does not require an activity break…The recess period is mandated to be at least 20 minutes each day in an effort to promote communication, creativity, physical activity, and cooperation among children. If signed by the governor, the change will take place during the next school year.”(more)