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Afternoon Announcements: November 15, 2011

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November 15, 2011 06:39 pm

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Alliance Policy Intern Bill DeBaun helps out today by supplying us with some education news. Thanks, Bill!

Good afternoon and happy Tuesday! Here are your afternoon announcements.

The Huffington Post details a proposed California Student Bill of Rights that education advocates are trying to get onto the ballot for next November. The bill would expand online education and offer students in rural and urban communities more educational opportunities. California was ranked last in states open to online learning by Digital Learning Now!, a project of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the Alliance for Excellent Education.

The Associated Press describes a new plan in the Lafayette County School District that allows students to take one of three different paths to get a diploma. The traditional pathway, which is designed to help students transition to a four-year college or university, remains as an option. It is joined by two other paths set up for those wanting to attend community college after graduation or to go directly into the workforce or military. Lafayette High School Principal Patrick Robinson notes, “We want to make sure we are offering options for students.”

Chicago Public Schools remain unable to close the performance gap between black students and their peers, reports the Chicago Tribune. Two decades of reform efforts and programs specifically designed to close the gap have resulted in a gap that was wider than before the reforms. In Chicago, where nearly half the students are black, the majority from low-income households, only 1 in 2 black students graduates from high school.

The Washington Post reports that Microsoft will be getting into the business of teacher recruitment. The technology giant’s Partners in Learning division will be taking over the TEACH campaign from the Education Department. The website provides free information for teachers and prospective students.

Via the Boston Globe comes this handy reference of how the various GOP presidential candidates would like to reduce the federal government’s role in education.

The Omaha World-Herald relates this story about a Nebraska superintendent who used a federal School Improvement Grant to improve his district’s test scores. The article discusses the steps the district took, including district personnel taking ownership of factors that got the district on a list of persistently lowest-achieving schools in the first place, and hiring a consultant to assist with analyzing data and implementing professional development.

Lastly, an update on the healthy school lunch story that we’ve mentioned here a few times. The Associated Press has good news for advocates of tomato paste as a vegetable. A Congressional spending bill released yesterday would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to drop some aspects of its healthier lunch standards, including a provision that would have prohibited counting tomato paste (e.g., on pizzas) as a vegetable. The spending bill would also drop weekly limits of potatoes and push back proposed limits on sodium and increases on whole grains.

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