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Your daily serving of high school news and policy.

Afternoon Announcements: January 5, 2012

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January 05, 2012 08:26 pm

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Time is up, turn over your paper, drop your pencil. Stop all work, take a break and enjoy the latest in education news.

The changing ethnic makeup up of the United States presents many opportunities for cultural engagement and diversity within the classroom. However, as National Public Radio reports, the shifting in demographic also presents challenges for communities unequipped to keep up with rapidly developing populations. In Mississippi, Vardaman Elementary is set to become the state’s first predominantly Hispanic school. This milestone has also made it difficult to find teachers able to assist Spanish-speaking students in adjusting to American classrooms.

A corruption scandal is brewing in San Diego. According to the Boston Globe, former and current school officials have been charged with accepting kick backs of lavish gifts in exchange for business contracts. The school officials allegedly accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars through items such as event tickets, expensive meals, and hotel stays.

Philadelphia is taking a more proactive step in tackling schools that are chronically low performing. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Mayor Michael Nutter and members of the School Reform Board will travel to Denver to take lessons on decentralization of school districts and increased cooperation with charter schools. The Mayor also intends to eliminate nearly 50,000 seats at low performing schools in conjunction with a school-closure and charter-school-immersion initiative.

A new analysis from the Washington Post shows that African-American and Hispanic students are two-five times more likely to be suspended or expelled from school. The data shows African-American students in the Washington D.C. area a four times more likely to be suspended than their White peers, Hispanics are two times more likely. The numbers highlight problems that extend to school districts across the country. The disparity is one of many concerns about school discipline that sparked a joint effort by the U.S. Justice and Education departments in July to look into reforms.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday a new campaign to improve state pubic schools. In his effort to drum up support for the improvement of New York schools, Governor Cuomo joked that he is taking on a new role as a lobbyist for students, based on a New York Times report. Included in his list of initiatives is the development of an education commission to oversee to recommend reforms and ultimately develop a new teacher and principal evaluation system.

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