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Articles: Reform

With his position as Bridgeport (Conn.) Public School superintendent in jeopardy, Paul Vallas’ fate will be decided by the state Supreme Court in September, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers ruled.

In early July, Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ordered that Vallas leave office immediately, after ruling that the national education reform figure is not properly certified for the position in the state. Later that month, the Supreme Court approved Vallas to stay on the job during the appeal process. 

The role of high school is shifting, in part given President Obama’s recent push to redesign the education system to ensure that American students are enrolling in college and keeping up with the skills that a global economy demands.

MOOCs require new skills from teachers and students

Andover (Mass.) Public Schools student can take MOOCs on biology, social justice, and Greek mythology.

K12 educators and administrators are beginning to experiment with the “massive open online courses”—better known as MOOCs—that have taken the higher education world by storm. In the name of academic experimentation and democratization, hundreds of colleges and universities are offering these courses free to anyone with an internet connection. Many of the courses attract thousands of participants.

A judge has ordered Bridgeport (Conn.) schools superintendent Paul Vallas removed from office, ruling that the national education reform figure is not properly certified for the position.

 St. Louis Superintendent Kelvin Adams reads to Gateway Elementary School students.

St. Louis Public Schools, the largest district in Missouri, was struggling to stay afloat in 2007, with $40 million dollars of debt and low test scores. In March of that year, the state school board revoked the district’s accreditation for not meeting state standards and took control.

Some schools districts are using enrollment losses and building closures as an opportunity to improve student achievement by shifting kids to better schools.

Record lows in student enrollment and staggering budget cuts have forced some of the nation’s largest districts to close schools, a disruption that has often interfered with classroom instruction.

“Many big urban districts have declining enrollment, as there is exodus to the suburbs and charter schools,” says Ron Zimmer, associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University, an expert on these trends.

Connecticut, home to some of the wealthiest and most destitute towns in the country, has the nation’s largest student achievement gap, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

This gap is most severe in Bridgeport, Conn., one of the poorest cities in the United States based on the percentage of children living at or below the federal poverty line. In Bridgeport Public Schools, fewer than half of the 21,000 students are proficient in math and reading, according to the Connecticut Department of Education, and the high school graduation rate is 55 percent.

A Nation at Risk: 30 Years Later

The National Commission on Excellence in Education published “A Nation at Risk” in 1983 during the Reagan administration. The report attacked the U.S. education system and called for immediate and extensive reform. Hugely influential, the report inspired much discussion regarding the effectiveness of public schools. Thirty years later, educators from District Administration held an interactive web seminar to debate the influence of the report, as well as what the state of education is today and what the future could hold.

Iowa and Indiana are two Midwestern states that are taking radically different approaches to education, with one increasing funding for public education and the other taking it away.

President Barack Obama announced plans to provide universal preschool for American children. Public education has made few changes in the 30 years since the “A Nation at Risk” report was released, laying out the dire conditions of U.S.

This April marks the 30th anniversary of the controversial Reagan-era report “A Nation at Risk”—and little has changed since.

Comments from education leaders, supporting and critiquing the president’s plans.

New York schools may soon undergo a transformation, with extended learning time, higher-paid “master teachers,” and full-day pre-kindergarten programs in high-need communities, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor’s plan, based largely on a report from the New York Education Reform Commission, also calls for integrating social and health services through community schools, and recruitingGov. Andrew Cuomo addresses gun control in Albany, N.Y. in January.

District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington, D.C. are retaining far more higher-performing teachers than lower-performing ones due to recent reforms, making it the first urban district in the nation to demonstrate this effect, according to research by The New Teacher Project (TNTP).