12-4-17 Education in the News

NJ Spotlight--Can a ‘No-Zero’ Approach to Schoolwork Make the Grade in New Jersey?

No zeros should be a no-brainer: but some teachers, parents, and even students would rather stick to traditional grading policies

Innovative grading policies making it harder to fail are a growing trend in New Jersey school districts. They include things like optional homework assignments, second-chance retake options for tests, and something called the “no zero” policy, in which the lowest grade a student can achieve for showing up and executing a “reasonable attempt” on an assignment — excluding standardized tests — is 50 percent (or 30 or 20 or another number depending on the school).


Carly Sitrin | December 4, 2017


Associated Press (via Philadelphia Inquirer)--US charter schools put growing numbers in racial isolation

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Charter schools are among the nation's most segregated, an Associated Press analysis finds - an outcome at odds, critics say, with their goal of offering a better alternative to failing traditional public schools.

US charter schools put growing numbers in racial isolation

National enrollment data shows that charters are vastly over-represented among schools where minorities study in the most extreme racial isolation. As of school year 2014-2015, more than 1,000 of the nation's 6,747 charter schools had minority enrollment of at least 99 percent, and the number has been rising steadily.

The problem: Those levels of segregation correspond with low achievement levels at schools of all kinds.


IVAN MORENO, LARRY FENN & MICHAEL MELIA, The Associated Press| Updated: December 3, 2017 — 6:25 PM EST


Education Week-- Senate OKs Tax Bill Changing Teacher Deduction, Expanding School Choice

The U.S. Senate has passed its version of a tax overhaul package that contains potential changes for how teachers do their taxes and for state and local education funding, as well as a provision aimed at boosting school choice.

Senators passed the GOP-backed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the early hours of Saturday morning after extensive negotiations. It contains numerous changes to the current tax code with notable implications for K-12. The legislation approved by a 51-49 vote must now be reconciled with a House tax bill, which passed last month. And the legislation that results from those negotiations must get final approval from both House and Senate before being sent to President Donald Trump for his signature. 

We went over key details of the Senate and House bills earlier this week. But the bills have grown more similar over the course of the week. 


Andrew Ujifusa on December 2, 2017 1:51 AM


The Atlantic--Do Employers Overestimate the Value of a College Degree?

Worker-training programs could bring companies good workers at low costs.

It’s dinnertime, and a teenager is seated with her immediate family. She looks around—everyone has at least a college degree and a stable job. What to look for in a college and what to major in and how to become a doctor are the topics of tonight’s dinner conversation. Elsewhere, another high-schooler is seated with her younger brother chomping down on the meal she struggled to put together for the two of them. Her parents are away, working their second or third jobs. The girl is mulling over how to make money quickly and contribute to her family’s household.

People in that second example typically lack a reliable means for entering the workforce outside of traditional college—and college can’t address everyone’s needs, especially those who have immediate fiscal obligations. Apprenticeships could be one solution. Apprenticeship programs enjoy bipartisan support, with the Democratic Obama administration investing millions of dollars in them and the Republican Trump administration prioritizing their expansion; Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has expressed support for skills-training programs, too, including apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are programs that combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction about the job at hand. Participants also make money while they learn new skills, which means that, unlike college graduates, apprentices can learn and gain new skills without going into debt. Additionally, 87 percent of apprentices end up with a job after their program. Yet just 5 percent of Americans participated in apprenticeships in 2014, compared, for example, to 60 percent of Germans.

Lolade Fadulu|  Dec 2, 2017