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Afternoon Announcements: October 14, 2011

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October 14, 2011 05:53 pm


Happy Friday! Here are today’s top education headlines courtesy of the Alliance’s Policy Intern, Bill DeBaun.

Education Week covers the Alliance’s recent announcement about Digital Learning Day, which will be held on February 1, 2012. It highlights the appearance that Alliance President Bob Wise made with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on Piers Morgan Tonight.

“We’re encouraging teachers and educators across the nation to either showcase what they’re already doing in digital learning, online learning, software application, whatever it is that’s working,” Wise said of the day, “as well as those schools and teachers and educators that aren’t using digital learning, [asking] what can you do that day to promote it.”

The article notes that Bush and Wise have been quite effective in gaining publicity for their message, with last night’s appearance on CNN the latest in a string of television, print, and online media appearances. Watch video of the Digital Learning Day announcement courtesy of CNN. Learn more about Digital Learning Day at

The Associated Press reports that a majority of states will seek waivers for some requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. According to the article, thirty-seven states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia have indicated that they will submit the plans necessary to obtain a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education. Seventeen of these states will submit their plans by November 14, which would expedite the U.S. Department of Education’s review and make waivers for these states possible by early 2012. States that did not file by the October 12 deadline may still do so at a later date.

Out of Chicago comes a story in the Huffington Post about an IBM grant that is allowing Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to launch a six-year joint high school and Associate Degree program. The $400,000 “challenge grant” will allow Chicago to pilot the program in as many as five schools during the 2012-13 school year. CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has emphasized the need for a career-focused high school curriculum since taking over the Chicago school system in April. IBM funds a similar program in New York, which opened last year.

Education Week notes that the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s two largest teacher unions, are still considering U.S. Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) bill to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The article notes that teacher evaluation provisions could be the unions’ main point of contention. The bill would require states to create and implement teacher evaluation systems with four different categories for evaluation.

Another report from Education Week reminds us that, imperfect as the American education system may be, there are a number of lessons and practices in the United States that can be useful for children and schools in other countries. Gaurav Singh, a teacher from Mumbai, is in the midst of a residency in the United States to learn what techniques he can bring back to a slum in Mumbai. Singh is one of three educational entrepreneurs here for six months to a year learning from district, charter, and private schools about American education’s best practices. Given that the slum in Mumbai that he will create a school in is more densely populated than New York City, Singh describes a “major culture shock” during his first visits to American classrooms.

Finally, a little something sweet for your Friday. A report from the Connecticut Mirror describes the debate over whether chocolate milk still has a place in school cafeterias. This is a debate spurred by an exemption given to milk in new rules adopted by the US Department of Agriculture intended to reduce students’ calorie and sodium intake and remove most trans fats from school meals. Children’s nutrition advocates are on both sides of this issue. Some argue that the calories and sugar in chocolate milk should keep it off of cafeteria trays everywhere. Others note the benefits of using chocolate to keep milk, which is full of calcium, in kids’ daily diets. John Magnarelli, the regional director for the USDA, gave chocolate milk’s defenders something to cheer about when he noted, “I hear it all the time that we need to remove flavored milk from the schools. I disagree.”


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