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Morning Announcements: September 9, 2011

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September 09, 2011 03:35 pm

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In his address before Congress yesterday evening, President Barack Obama laid out a jobs plan that included plans for $30 billion in new money to stave off teacher layoffs, along with another $30 billion to revamp decaying school facilities and community colleges. The proposals are a part of the Americans Jobs Act – a $447 billion legislative package expected to be introduced into Congress next week – that Obama told lawmakers to pass “right away.” According to Education Week, K-12 schools could get up to $25 billion for renovations, which administration officials estimate could pay for makeovers of at least 35,000 public schools. That construction money could be used for emergency repairs and renovations, energy efficiency updates, and asbestos removal. Schools also could use the money to build new science and computer labs, and to update technology. These proposals have greatly pleased America’s two largest teachers unions, according to the Huffington Post.

Add one more supporters to extending Chicago’s school day: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The Chicago Tribune reports the education chief supports the city’s public schools officials’ plans to extend the school day by 90 minutes, a move rejected by the teachers union who wants a larger pay raise for teachers than the 2 percent increase the city is offering. Duncan is rolling into town today as a part of his Great Lakes region tour. The Huffington Post reports that another elementary school – making that four – voted to stray from the teachers union and approve the  longer day.

In another stop Duncan’s bus tour — Detroit — he said the city’s schools are on the mend. The Associated Press reports Duncan praised Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts as strong leaders who make tough decisions. In a year, the city’s lowest-performing schools will be lumped together for extra emphasis, with principles and staff empowered to run each. In less hopeful news regarding Detroit, the city’s public schools officials say only roughly 54 percent of students attended the first day of classes on Tuesday. In light of a trend of too few students showing up for the first week of school, Roberts launched a campaign this year that included sending attendance agents to knock on doors and getting dozens of preachers to talk about attendance in church on Sunday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

In other Michigan education news, the Detroit Free Press reports state education officials are proposing a steep rise in testing standards that could trigger an equally sharp decline in the number of schools and districts where students are considered proficient in math, reading, science and social studies. The state Board of Education will consider the tougher standards, called “cut scores,” at a meeting Tuesday. In addition, the state’s Senate Republican proposed legislation that could allow student to transfer schools more easily as well as have a broader choice of charter schools and online learning, according to the Associated Press.

New York state teachers may no longer be allowed to administer or their own students’ standardized tests under a series of changes education officials are proposing. The proposals come after cheating scandals erupted in several other states, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Wyoming public school students will enjoy faster Internet connections thanks to a new contract the state has worked out with the CenturyLink phone company, according to the Associated Press. Gov. Matt Mead announced Thursday that 13 Wyoming towns and cities will have Ethernet capability installed for use in schools.

An annual federal report released Thursday shows that 30 Iowa school districts are “in need of assistance,” a determination under the federal No Child Left Behind Law that will force individual schools to remove administrators, give up some federal funding or, in extreme cases, close, according to the Associated Press.

Despite losing out on the state’s application to Race to the Top last year, Connecticut officials they are again pursuing the education grants, this time up to $50 million for early childhood education from the grant program’s next round, according to the Boston Globe.

The Associated Press reports that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is implementing an education plan with goals to improve student achievement and create a website to convey information to the public. Goals include increasing third-graders’ ability to meet reading standards, raising the high school graduation rate and doubling the number of students receiving bachelor’s degrees.

More Massachusetts 10th-graders this past spring cleared the MCAS graduation hurdle, but scores for third-grade reading – a critical indicator of future school success – dropped again, according to the latest test results released yesterday, according to the Boston Globe.

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