On October 1-3, 2014, the Policy Academy on Using Education Data to Improve Workforce Development brought together stakeholders from key states to facilitate discussion about the potential benefits of engaging with the research community when enacting and implementing state policy. The goal was to engage in nonpartisan conversation to utilize education data in creating effective policy to help students graduate with the skills to be workforce-ready.  

At today's meeting of the Idaho House Education Committee I had the opportunity to dialogue with members about rigorous academic standards and competency-based education.  The representatives are investigating opportunities as a result of the Governor's task force on education.  Recommendations were released in September 2013 after eight months of thoughtful research and deliberation by the task force members.

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The Arizona Senate on Monday approved a bill along party lines that would allow teachers in rural school districts to carry concealed firearms. Arizona’s Senate Bill 1325 would apply to employees in schools with fewer than 600 students, that are located more than 30 minutes and 20 miles away from the closest law-enforcement facility, and do not have their own school resource officers. The bill, which passed the Senate on a 17-11 vote, now moves to the House.

Halfway into the four-year, $4 billion, Race to the Top (RTTT) initiative to encourage states to redesign public schools, the U.S. Department of Education is reporting RTTT winners are making progress toward their goals. Yet the Department's report, released Friday, reveals some target areas that RTTT winners are struggling to meet: namely, implementing evaluation systems for teachers and school leaders and creating sophisticated data systems.

Minnesota’s education leaders have unveiled a plan that they say would reinvent high school and align its mission with that of higher education. The goal is to provide support services for students to ensure they have the skills and career direction for a productive life after high school.

New Jersey, which has the nation’s oldest teacher tenure law on the books, first enacted in 1909, has become the latest in a long line of states overhauling how tenure is awarded. Gov. Chris Christie signed into law on Monday a compromise measure backed by both Republicans and Democrats as well as the state’s teacher union.  It extends the amount of time before teachers are eligible to be granted tenure from three years under the previous statute to four years.

Supporters of a two-year-old ‘parent trigger’ law in California have won a legal victory after a judge in a Los Angeles suburb ordered school district officials to accept the parental petition outlining proposals for overhauling a failing local school. Although the law has been in effect since 2010, this reportedly is the first time the courts have weighed in on the side of the petitioners.

Teachers will have to meet additional standards before being granted tenure under a bill signed into law by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. That is one provision of a sweeping education reform package that opens the door to charter schools in areas with consistently ineffective schools.  Jindal signed a trio of education reform measures on April 18: House Bills 974 and 976 and Senate Bill 581.

Opponents of abstinence-only sex education scored a victory in Utah last week when Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed a controversial bill banning public schools from teaching contraception as a way of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. House Bill 363 had easily passed both chambers of the legislature. The bill, which also sought to bar instruction on homosexuality or other aspects of human sexuality other than the teaching of abstinence, would have been the first of its kind in the nation if it had become law, according to one published report.

 

After passing a bill allowing homeschooled students to play varsity sports in public high schools, a Virginia legislator promptly celebrated in Tim Tebow fashion, dropping to one knee on the floor of the Virginia House of delegates and performing the now-famous Tebowing ritual.  

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