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Morning Announcements: September 26, 2011

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September 26, 2011 03:04 pm

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The New York Times reports that “parent trigger laws” are facing challenges. Such legislation — which is being considered by several states — would allow, if enough parents signed a petition, their children’s struggling school to be shut down and replaced with a charter school. Similar legislation has passed in Texas, Ohio and Connecticut and is being considered in nearly a dozen more states — but California, the earliest adopter, is furthest along.

With his declaration on Friday that he would waive the most contentious provisions of a federal education law, President Obama effectively rerouted the nation’s education history  after a turbulent decade of overwhelming federal influence, reports Education Week. Obama decried the state of American education, calling the law an admirable but flawed effort that has hurt students instead of helping them.

More on Obama’s thoughts on education, in the president’s weekly address, he said kids and the economy will benefit from the changes he’s making in education policy and his plan to spend billions to upgrade schools and keep teachers on the job, according to the Huffington Post. Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to push his $447 billion jobs bill through the prism of education. He recapped steps he has authorized to let states opt out of unpopular proficiency standards because Congress has been slow to update the existing law.

According to the New York Times, New York City has decided to give twice as many elementary and middle schools D’s and F’s on their annual progress reports this year as last year, officials announced on Friday, stepping up efforts to isolate struggling schools and select them for closing or other types of intervention. By expanding the number of schools receiving the lowest grades, and by removing a safety net that kept schools from dropping more than two letter grades in a year, Shael Polakow-Suransky, the city’s chief academic officer, said the city was offering “a more precise and accurate representation of how the schools are actually performing.”

The Associated Press reports that states seeking to waive basic requirements of the No Child Left Behind law are pushing their plans to maintain student and teacher accountability. Georgia and Kentucky school officials said during a call Friday with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan that they want schools to be graded on multiple criteria, not just standardized test scores.

Vice President Joe Biden visited a fourth grade class being taught in an old portable unit on Friday to highlight the president’s American Jobs Act, which would modernize one-third of all schools nationwide, according to the Associated Press. The class at G.K.E. Sabal Palm in North Miami Beach is one of nine being taught in portable units more than a decade old. The ceiling tiles in teacher Sandra Raine’s class have mold, and students often complain about coughs and feeling dizzy. The air conditioning unit — in hot South Florida — is frequently broken, and the technology, she said, consists of “dinosaur computers.”

Education Week reports that — in what appear to be the latest moves in a shift of emphasis from financing to facilitating education technology — the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission this month both have helped launch initiatives that were billed as major breakthroughs but involved the two organizations as agents of collaboration, not primary funders.

The Post Register in Idaho reports on a new program in the state that help first-year teachers adjust to their new jobs by using retired teachers as their mentors.

The Associated Press reports that the recession has upended many aspiring teachers’ dreams. Many choose the profession because they love to work with kids, they can be home in the summer, and for a long time, having an education degree has pretty much secured you a job while the nation underwent a shortage of teachers. However, with the dwindling economy and layoffs, many aspiring teachers are having no luck finding a job.

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