|3-30-17 Education in the News|
NJ Spotlight--Accumulated Sick-Day Payouts: ‘Local’ Problem Hits $2 Billion and Counting
Pay for unused absences was capped at $15,000 in 2010, but public employees hired before that at school districts, towns, and counties across the state can still rack up six-figure payouts
Public workers in a majority of New Jersey’s municipalities, school districts, and all but two of its counties are due almost $1.9 billion in pay for unused absences when they retire, with at least one employee slated to receive as much as $500,000.
To put things in perspective: If this obligation were spread throughout the state, every New Jerseyan would have to chip in $207 to cover the public-employee version of Wall Street’s golden parachute — according to an NJ Spotlight analysis of local budgets.
Colleen O'Dea | March 30, 2017
NJ Spotlight--Healthy Gains Reported for Pension Returns at NJ State Investment Council Meeting
Bump of over 8 percent for fiscal 2017 announced, even as Christie mulls bill giving cops, firefighters more control of their pension investments
Union officials in recent weeks have questioned the state’s management of public-employee pension investments as lawmakers have advanced a bipartisan measure that would give the police and firefighters more control over their retirement system.
But with that bill now sitting on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk, new investment-return figures suggest the state pension system has been doing much better over the past few months amid a period of general economic growth and healthy stock-market gains.
In all, state pension-system investments are up 8.6 percent during the 2017 fiscal year, according to data released yesterday during a public meeting of the New Jersey State Investment Council. The returns are even more impressive over the past 12 months, topping 15 percent.
John Reitmeyer | March 30, 2017
Associated Press (via Philadelphia Inquirer)--DeVos says her predecessor wasted money on school reform
WASHINGTON (AP) - Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday accused her predecessor of wasting billions of dollars trying to fix traditional public schools and said that school choice was the way to reform the system.
Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DeVos said that Arne Duncan's signature $7 billion project targeting failing schools did not produce any significant improvement. That failure, she said, was further proof that it is vital to give American parents the options of charter, private and other schools.
"At what point do we accept the fact that throwing money at the problem isn't the solution?" she asked. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That's not policy making."
A report by the Education Department released in January concluded that the School Improvement Grants project, implemented in 2010-2015, "had no significant impacts on math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment."
Duncan, who served as education secretary in the Obama administration until late 2015, did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.
MARIA DANILOVA, The Associated Press| Updated: March 29, 2017 — 12:57 PM EDT
The Atlantic--Will Personalized Learning Become the New Normal?
Rhode Island is rolling out a statewide initiative to integrate student-specific instruction into classrooms.
Over the last few years, Rhode Island has emerged as a national leader in the drive to put personalized-learning programs into actual classroom practice. Now education leaders in Providence, the state’s capital and most populous city, are looking to scale their early efforts statewide, pushing district leaders to think bigger about pilot programs and technological infrastructure, while also commissioning new research on how an understudied learning model could drive student performance.
The state’s six-month-old, $2 million public-private personalized-learning initiative is capitalizing on the freedom afforded by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—the nation’s federal education law, which returns significant power to the states—to chart and test how personalized instructional techniques can be delivered to its 140,000 K-12 students. Broadly speaking, personalized learning tailors the instruction, content, pace, and testing to the individual student’s strengths and interests, using technology, data, and continuous feedback to make that customization possible.
https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/03/will-personalized-learning-become-the-new-normal/521061/Tim Newcomb| Mar 29, 2017
Education Week--For Educators, Curriculum Choices Multiply, Evolve
Common Standards, digital innovation, and open resources are transforming the field
Educators tasked with finding instructional materials for their districts and classrooms face a dizzying array of options these days.
Classroom resources are available in print, digital textbook formats, and online. They can be paid for, subscribed to, or downloaded for free. They're available as comprehensive, yearlong curricula; individual thematic units; and single activities and games.
Several forces have collided to bring the market to this confusing, yet ultimately academically promising point: The majority of states are now using the Common Core State Standards, meaning there are more opportunities to share materials across state lines. States are increasingly letting districts choose their own instructional materials, rather than forcing them to select from an approved list. There's been a recent push, including from the federal government, to make online instructional materials free and open to the public—known as open educational resources.
Garden State Coalition of Schools