So There Was An Inauguration... As you might have heard, this weekend, President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term. And at the inauguration, he gave a speech. The Washington Post's Valerie Strauss teased out O's references to education. (Hint: There weren't many. For the most part, Obama lumped in education with other domestic policy issues in need of reform). More here from Politics K-12.
Test Prep Fail? Much ink has been spilled about the dominance of testing -- specifically standardized testing -- in modern-day education policy, but the boom isn't big enough to continue greasing the entire test-prep industry, apparently. At least, not enough to make up for its legal costs? Education Holdings, the company formerly known as Princeton Review, has filed for bankruptcy, reports Bloomberg. "The U.S. Justice Department on Dec. 20 announced the settlement of a suit filed against the company in May in Manhattan federal court," Bloomberg writes. "The U.S. claimed that Princeton Review received tens of millions of dollars in federal funds for tutoring services to New York City school children that it didn't provide. The U.S. said the settlement amount is as much as $10 million."
Teach For Virginia? Virginia's House education committee passed a few pieces of Gov. Robert McDonnell's education reform proposal, reports the Washington Post. And part of that package is bringing the alternative-prep megalith Teach for America to the below-the-beltway state. Apparently, McDonnell is calling 2013 the "year of the teacher." The package also includes several run-of-the-mill education reforms that have swept the nation in previous years: lengthening a new teacher's probationary period from three to five years, and "streamlin[ing] the process for administrators to get rid of teachers who aren't doing well."
Voucher Problems? Georgia's private school scholarship program gives money to over 100 schools that discriminate against LGBT students, according to a new report by the Southern Education Foundation. According to the New York Times, "Public information about the scholarship program is limited by law, so the number [of schools with 'severe antigay policies'] is probably much higher, according to the foundation, which was founded in 1867 to improve education for poor children in the South."
Good News Grad Rates? The U.S. Education Department's research arm put out a new report today showing that high school graduation rates have hit a record high. (That's using a formula that accounts for the percentage of students who started school four years ago and graduated in 2009-2010 with a diploma or advanced certification). As we reported, this is probably good news for Obama's 2020 college goal -- a necessary but not sufficient condition for achieving it.
The Strike Goes On? Bus drives in New York City are continuing to strike, and as the Daily News reports, labor and management have no negotiations scheduled.
Higher Ed Spending Hits Inflection Point? After years of declining expenditures on higher education, states are rebounding their commitments to their colleges, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. "After falling nearly 11 percent since the 2008 fiscal year, state appropriations for higher education are on the rise in most states," the Chronicle reports. "But the long-term effects of budget cuts stemming from the economic downturn still could take years to erase, according to an annual survey." This year's higher education spending decline was .4 percent, compared to 7.5 percent the previous year.