Israel's Haredi Schools Get Standardized Testing? As YNet reports, Israel's ultra-Orthodox religious schools, which receive public money, will have to take standardized tests -- as ordered by the Supreme Court. A judge said that such schools "should start taking things seriously, or face the consequences." Why, you ask, do I bring you news from across the planet? It's an interesting parallel to an ongoing debate on our own soil. In the U.S., there has been much talk over whether private schools that receive public-school vouchers or tax credits should be held to the same standards as their public school peers. Obviously the structure is different, and in Israel there's no public-private distinction between the schools. But it's still fascinating to watch.
The nation's second-largest school district is at the center of a broader battle over the future over education reform. Since 2010, Superintendent John Deasy has run the district, implementing policies consistent with the national "education reform" movement, which pushes things such as test-based teacher evaluations and charter schools. But if the composition of the school board changes significantly, Deasy could be fired.
Netflix Reauthorizes No Child Left Behind? Or so quips this EdWeek headline. Real-life Congress hasn't yet reauthorized NCLB (since 2007!), but characters on the Netflix series "House of Cards" do. "[Writer Beau] Willimon noted on Twitter that he hinged the plot on education because it affects us all directly and indirectly, and because of the contention that often revolves around education reform," EdWeek writes. Read the full story for a taste of which education fights the show covers. My take: Obviously TV isn't reality, but there are a few major inaccuracies. The most glaring one in my eyes is that teachers unions can't legally hold a national strike over some federal legislation they dislike!
Gates's Gigantic Growth? Michigan State University Professor Sarah Reckhow takes a look at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's funding patterns over on Alexander Russo's blog. "The decade from 2000 to 2010 was a time of enormous growth and evolution for the Gates Foundation," Reckhow writes. "Warren Buffett's pledge of more than $30 billion substantially increased the Gates Foundation's resources, and grant-making more than doubled from 2005 to 2009. Even more marked are the Foundation's dramatically shifted priorities." Over the years, Gates has shifted its money from directly funding schools to instead subsidizing research, advocacy and activism.
Last night, former Washington, D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee stopped by The Daily Show to promote her memoir, "Radical." Host Jon Stewart's mother is a teacher, so he pressed Rhee on many of these policies, especially his (and teachers') dissatisfaction with the heavy emphasis on standardized tests.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, visited the White House Wednesday to contribute to the administration's discussions on gun control policy and school safety in light of the horrific Newtown elementary school shooting in December. The AFT has shared Weingarten's recommendations with HuffPost. They include things like gun safety legislation and mental health services for students, and letting schools make their own decisions when it comes to the question of cops in their buildings.