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Common coreYet another prominent voice has weighed in against the move advanced by some conservatives in the General Assembly to abandon North Carolina’s adoption of the Common Core education standards for math and English (an issue we explored in some depth yesterday). This is from this morning’s Fayetteville Observer:

“Those with fringe views invariably claim they represent many similar-minded folks, but such support can be measured more in volume than numbers.

Unfortunately, some of those with an extreme education agenda have won seats in our General Assembly and are pushing to erode the Common Core curriculum standards that educators worked so hard to put in place…. Read More

Common coreThis morning’s edition of the Weekly Briefing attempts to explain why the debate over the education standards known as Common Core are distracting us from larger and more important issues in public schools. Though the standards and the process surrounding their development are certainly flawed, repealing them isn’t the answer. That said, it’s important not to oversell the new standards either:

“For all of its imperfections, simply repealing Common Core is probably not the answer. For some percentage of children, broad-based higher standards will probably help.

By the same token, however, it’s also important not to kid ourselves. For the vast majority of children not currently achieving at desired levels, it will take lots more than just tougher standards [i.e. significantly larger public investments] to lift them up. Let’s hope the current debate isn’t just the latest in a long series of illusory solutions that have repeatedly served to distract Americans from this hard reality.”

It’s also important not to get carried away with criticism as continues to occur on the far right. This morning’s article on Talking Points Memo (“The Vast Network of Common Core Conspiracies”) explains just how loony that talk has gotten — with talk of pornography, Agenda 21 and Muslim conspiracies.

The bottom line: Common Core isn’t as bad or as good as the opponents or proponents allege. Let’s get on with implementing the standards carefully and skeptically and move on to bigger and more important matters.

Teacher education programs, take note: today U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will announce a program designed to leverage federal financial aid to reward teacher training programs that produce teachers who consistently raise student test scores and have a high number of graduates who land teaching jobs and stay in the profession.

From Stephanie Simon over at Politico:

The Obama administration plans to use tens of millions in federal financial aid as leverage to reward teacher training programs that produce teachers who routinely raise student test scores — and to drive the rest out of business.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan will announce the revival of a push to regulate hundreds of teacher preparation programs Friday at a town hall meeting with White House policy director Cecilia Muñoz. He plans to release a draft regulation by summer and aims to enact it within a year.

The goal: To ensure that every state evaluates its teacher education programs by several key metrics, such as how many graduates land teaching jobs, how long they stay in the profession and whether they boost their students’ scores on standardized tests. The administration will then steer financial aid, including nearly $100 million a year in federal grants to aspiring teachers, to those programs that score the highest. The rest, Duncan said, will need to improve or “go out of business.

Simon reports that the proposal is sure to draw heavy amounts of criticism.

Many traditional education schools are especially uneasy about the drive to hold them accountable for how well their graduates’ students perform on standardized exams. “It’s not that [such measures] shouldn’t be used at all, it’s the relative weight of it, compared with other metrics that might be really informative,” said Mary Harrill, senior policy director for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

The formulas for measuring how much “value” a teacher adds to a student’s test scores are complex and often carry a sizable margin of error.

Read the full story by clicking here.

Members of the State Board of Education called a brief session today to consider a proposal that would allow 2015 charter school applicants who didn’t make it to the interview stage of the application process a second chance at opening a charter school in the fall of 2015.

Becky Taylor, State Board of Ed member and Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB) member, explained to fellow State Board members that out of 63 applicants wishing to open charter schools in Fall 2015, 42 were not invited to the interview stage of the application process.

Despite the low number of charter school applications moving forward, Taylor insisted repeatedly that the process the Charter School Advisory Board used to evaluate applications was exhaustive and thorough.

Nonetheless, Taylor said CSAB heard complaints from some applicants who said that when they sat through a subcommittee’s review of their applications, issues arose that could have been clarified had they been allowed to interject. The review process currently does not allow charter school applicants to interact with CSAB members until they reach the interview stage, although they are allowed to witness the review in person.

Office of Charter Schools staff member Zane Stillwell worked up a proposal to allow any of the 42 charter school applicants who were denied interviews a chance to petition the CSAB for a second chance.

By May 2, applicants must submit a petition to the CSAB outlining their reasons for reconsideration, which should only pertain to issues that came up during the initial review. No new information can be considered, according to Taylor.

State Board members approved the proposal. Decisions regarding who gets an interview will be made by May 20, and the additional interviews will be conducted no later than July 1.

The Charlotte Observer hits the nail on the head with this editorial on the latest controversy surrounding North Carolina’s supposedly public charter schools:

“It’s disappointing that officials of some N.C. charter schools are trying to evade full disclosure of who gets paid what at the schools. Charters are ‘public’ schools and should be subject to the same transparency requirements as all other public schools. Read More