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Forty-two states and the District of Columbia allow charter schools to operate, but most of these states need to overhaul their laws governing these schools, according to a report from the Center for Education Reform (CER). In October, CER released “The Essential Guide to Charter School Lawmaking: Model Legislation for States” to provide a format for creating strong charter laws that can withstand political changes with regard to funding, operations, and accountability.

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).

Though states are making progress in supporting effective school data use, they must do more to ensure that stakeholders like teachers and parents can easily access information, according to the annual state analysis report, “Data for Action 2012,” released by the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit that advocates school data access for all stakeholders.

Parents from Desert Trails School

Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, Calif. has been on the federal watch list for failing schools for six years, with only one-third of sixth-graders at grade level in reading and math. But come next August, it will be transformed into a charter school, thanks to a small group of parents who for the first time enacted major reform under the state’s controversial parent trigger law.

STEM AMBASSADOR

Former L.A. Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will serve as California’s After School STEM ambassador, and host after-school STEM events through 2013 to speak about education. He has promoted STEM ed and careers through his Skyhook Foundation since 2009.

 

Gone are the days of crumpled bills at Carroll County Public Schools in Baltimore, Md. A cafeteria sales system implemented this school year uses a high-tech infrared hand scanner to access student accounts with pre-deposited money, to speed up time spent in the lunch line. However, some parents are concerned with their child’s security, especially since they were not informed of the change until the scanners were already in place.

Students nationwide are protesting the new nutritional guidelines for school lunches that went into effect this year thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. From parody videos to cafeteria strikes, students are speaking out against the smaller, healthier portions, which include almost twice as many fruits and vegetables as last year, and less saturated fat and sodium. They are hungry, they say, and the healthy options aren’t tasty, leading some to discard their fruits and veggies.

Michelle RenéeSchool turnaround policies that include firing and replacing teachers and administrators in hopes of raising test scores are actually detrimental to schools, according to a report from the National Education Policy Center.

Though the Chicago Teachers Union approved a new contract in September, the aftermath of their eight-day strike has led to debate over the role of teacher unions in education reform; specifically, whether unions should be allowed expansive collective bargaining and striking rights under state law, or if these rights impede reform.

For the first time, administrators nationwide can access and compare state education and technology policies in one place. The State Education Policy Center (SEPC) is a unique database that provides up-to-date information on state education and technology policies and practices to inform school reform and improvement efforts. The database launched in October, and was curated by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), a national member association of educational technology leaders.

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