Rhee The Radical? Former Washington, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee continues the book tour for her memoir, "Radical," stopping last night at the Daily Show. She talked to host Jon Stewart about standardized testing, school accountability, and poverty. Stewart's mother was a teacher, so it's always interesting to see him interview education figures. For now, watch the interview here. More on that soon. And stay tuned -- Rhee is slated to appear on HuffPost Live at 1:30 p.m., so set your, er, Google calendars to remind you!
Texas School Funding Unconstitutional? Yet another school funding court case in Texas has come to the conclusion that the Lone Star State's schools aren't adequately financed. A district court judge ruled Monday that Texas's school funding formula is unconstitutional for two reasons: it doesn't spend enough money on schools, and that money isn't allocated fairly between school districts. "It was a great relief," said Wayne Pierce, executive director of the Equity Center, an umbrella group for 675 school districts that sued over the "hopelessly broken" funding system, according to NPR. Over the last two years, Texas has cut school funding by $5.4 billion, and uses a so-called "Robin Hood law" to make school funding more equitable -- but plaintiffs said the law doesn't work that way in practice. NPR called an appeal "all but certain," with the case expected to wind its way into the Texas Supreme Court.
Exploring NYC's T-Val Failure? In this week's Gotham column, the New York Times's Michael Powell gets behind the political theater that was the failure of the school district and union to reach a deal on teacher evaluations by January 17. He calls Mayor Michael Bloomberg's part in it "a courageous act in self-destruction."
School Grades Hit Virginia? On Monday, Virginia's House of Representatives passed a law -- originated by Gov. Bob McDonnell -- that would give schools A-F letter grades, according to the Associated Press. A similar measure passed in the Senate last Tuesday. "It's time for Virginia to adapt this common sense A-F school grading system that has been successfully implemented in other states and will help us continue to make real improvements in the quality of our children's education," McDonnell said in a written statement after the House vote, according to the AP. But opponents contend that the law could ding schools that take on more challenging student populations, such as low-income students. (And such rankings don't always make statistical sense.)
Montana School Fight? According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Montana parents spoke to the state's House education committee, advocating for the introduction of charter schools into their state. One mother, Lisa Russell, went up to the lectern and played a voicemail saying that since her child's school did not make annual goals under No Child Left Behind, students qualified for free tutoring. But, the voicemail continued, "Only students that earn free and reduced lunch are eligible to apply for those services." As a parent whose child is not eligible for free lunch, Russell said she feels she lacks viable options -- so she's pushing for charter schools, which are publicly funded and can be privately run. The state is also considering a voucher-like program, which would provide families with a $550 tax credit to be used toward private school tuition (which averages at a few thousand.) A charter bill gained some momentum in Montana last term, but stopped short of passing in the House.
Also on Monday in Montana's Capitol, Superintendent Denise Juneau (whom you might remember from a speech at last year's Democratic National Convention) pressed for increased school funding but did not mention the charter school or voucher measures once.
For insiders, community group UNO's charter schools pay."