Mid-Week Update

Lots going on in California this week: There’s still plenty of blowback on a variety of efficiency proposals from the Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California Performance Review, including replacing county school districts, eliminating the community college board of governors, and changing kindergarten eligibilty rules to prevent children who have not yet turned 5 from enrolling in kindergarten. As a Sacramento Bee editorial points out, there’s a case to be made for the latter proposal, but only if the state implements high-quality preschool access for children who aren’t ready to enter kindergarten — an area in which California falls woefully short and which is costly to address.

California also appears to have reached a settlement in the long-running Williams vs. California school finance suit brought by the ACLU, MALDEF and other groups there. The proposed settlement would devote $1 billion over several years to construction and repairs for some 2,400 schools and institute a process for parents and students to bring complaints about school conditions, as well as monitoring issues including textbooks and teacher quality. You can read more here, here, and here.

The Mercury News also weighs in on the California Charter Academy story. Their take: growing and strengthening California’s charter schools requires more self-policing and accountability on the part of the charter school community to shut down or improve low-performing charter schools. Again, does this sound familiar?

Speaking of charter accountability, if Californians are looking for a good model, they ought to check out Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson’s charter authorizing operation. Peterson is the only mayor in the country with authority to authorize charters, and his system has been recognized for both is strong safeguards to ensure quality in charter applicants, and candid reporting and accountability on how existing schools are doing. Now, in an unprecedented move, a school district neighboring Indianapolis has asked the Mayor to take over authorizing a charter school in that district. This seems like a wise move on the district’s part to realize it didn’t have the resources to effectively oversee charter schools, and turning to a proven authorizer is a creative solution that other states and localities might look into to address similar concerns.

A new study sheds doubts on the impact of Maine’s popular laptop program. Number 2 Pencil also weighs in on this.

Despite worries that there wouldn’t be enough transfer slots, DC reports few students are signing up to switch to better performing schools under NCLB, in part because there aren’t really any better performing high schools or middle schools for older students to transfer to. Interdistrict choice for DC anyone?

Well, at least it looks like DC might finally get a new superintendent. But fixing DC’s schools will take more than just a new leader.

The New Republic’s Adam Kushner comes out in support of legacy admissions.

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