01/31/2013 07:57 am ET Updated Apr 02, 2013

Walmart Founders' Philanthropy Sponsoring Chicago Closure Hearings, Portland Special Ed Lawsuit: Ed Today

Walmart-Backed Engagement? Catalyst Chicago has reported that Chicago's community hearings on school closures are being underwritten by the Walton Foundation. Catalyst notes that Chicago Public Schools officials have said they "don't want to link the volatile issue of school closings with the equally volatile issue of charter school openings," but Walton is a major backer of charter schools. Media isn't allowed to attend these community sessions. "This grant is allowing us to initiate what is probably the most inclusive and rigorous outreach to parents CPS has done to include their voice at the front end of this process," a CPS spokesperson told Catalyst.

Portland Special Ed Trouble? A former Portland public schools employee has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the school district, reports OregonLive. The suit charges that the former occupational therapist was pushed out of her job after pointing out problems with the way her school was treating students with disabilities.

School Report Cards For Virginia? On Wednesday, a legislative committee in Virginia advanced a law that would give schools report cards, according to CBS. "The Education Committee voted 14-6 to send to the House floor a bill directing the state Board of Education to develop a system of grading public schools on an A to F scale, a bill backed by Gov. Bob McDonnell," CBS reports. "The bill is one of the major components of the Republican governor's education reform package that has been making its way through the General Assembly."

Sacramento Rhee-marks? Michelle Rhee spoke in Sacramento earlier this week at an event that seems to be part of her book tour. (Rhee recently released a memoir titled "Radical: Fighting to Put Students First.") At the speech, Rhee urged a nonpartisan approach to education reform, and called for teaching to become a more prestigious profession.

More Reform For Washington? A Washington State legislative committee is hearing some Republican reform-y ideas, reports the Associated Press. One would make third graders that rank low on standardized exams repeat the grade. Another would give letter grades to schools.