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The role of the chief state school officer is becoming increasingly political, with the rise of tough accountability standards and mounting tension over the funding of charter schools.

These pressures were on display in August, when Florida Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett resigned amid accusations that, while serving as Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction last year, he changed the grading formula to benefit charter schools, including one backed by a prominent Republican donor.

A Nebraska superintendent has added his own program to the increasing number of academies designed to teach his peers critical management skills that they may not have learned during their formal education.

Keith Lutz, superintendent of Millard Public Schools in Omaha, Neb., worked with two professors from the University of Nebraska to develop the Midlands Superintendent Academy for new administrators. Classes, which began this fall at the university, focus on topics such as strategic planning, structuring district administrations, and marketing.

Michael Flanagan, superintendent of the Michigan Department of Education and chair of the state board of education

Michael Flanagan, superintendent of the Michigan Department of Education and chair of the state board of education, received the Distinguished Service Award from NASBE. Since taking the job in 2005, he has spearheaded a push for more rigorous high school graduation requirements.

States and school districts could win some authority back from the federal government under a controversial update to the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (ESEA) passed in July by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Student Success Act would eliminate the adequate yearly progress measures of No Child Left Behind and allow states to create their own benchmarks. And federal programs like President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top initiative would end, leaving states and districts to develop their own plans for turning around underperforming schools.

The Common Core State Standards are no longer coming—they are already here.

School districts working to close budget gaps are increasingly requiring parents to pay fees for their children’s textbooks, lab materials, computers, and after-school activities.

It’s a regrettable but widespread trend, says Bruce Hunter, associate executive director of advocacy, policy and communications at the School Superintendents Association. “The recession lasted longer and cut deeper than anyone thought it would,” Hunter says. “Districts try to charge as little as possible, because it’s not popular. It’s a last resort.”

Jack Martin took the helm of Detroit Public Schools in July as the district’s new emergency manager, with goals of getting the academically and financially troubled district back on track. Three days after his appointment, Detroit filed for bankruptcy.

It is the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, with roots in the decline of the auto industry and racial tensions that drove residents out to the suburbs.

A basic economic principle of supply and demand is taking hold in the Douglas County (Colo.) School District. The district is restructuring the pay scale for teachers and educators so the positions that are most in demand get paid more than those in lower demand.

“The Heart of Matter," by Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, says competing nations are focusing on humanities.

Reduced emphasis on the humanities in school could threaten the nation’s ability to innovate and compete internationally, and leave students less prepared to participate in the democratic political process, according to a new report by the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Otha Thornton was elected president of the National Parent Teacher Association, making history as the first African-American male leader of the organization. He previously served on the Georgia PTA board of directors, and the PTA’s national board of directors.