News in Brief

NAACP AND CHARTER SCHOOLS

The NAACP ratified a resolution this fall calling for a moratorium on the expansion of privately managed charter schools and an increase in charter school transparency and accountability. “We are moving forward to require that charter schools receive the same level of oversight [and] civil rights protections, and provide the same level of transparency,” as traditional public schools, NAACP Chair Roslyn M. Brock said in a statement following the action. The group’s position, she said, was “driven by a long-held principle and policy of the NAACP that high-quality, free public education should be afforded to all children.”

TROUBLING RULES ON TEACHER PREP

“Ludicrous” is how AFT President Randi Weingarten describes the U.S. Department of Education’s plan to evaluate teacher preparation programs based on the performance of the students taught by a program’s graduates. The department’s new regulations for teacher preparation programs, released in October, “will create enormous difficulty for teacher prep programs and place an unnecessary burden on institutions and states, which are also in the process of implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act,” Weingarten warns. The final rules “will punish teacher prep programs whose graduates go on to teach in our highest-needs schools.”

“WALK-INS” A SUCCESS

Roughly 100,000 people in more than 200 cities took part in the most recent day of school walk-ins to promote educational opportunity so that every child can attend a high-quality public school or college. At most events, supporters gathered outside their schools in the morning and engaged the community in dialogue, and then, in a show of strength and common purpose, parents, students, and educators walked into the schools together. The October event was sponsored by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, a broad coalition of more than 100 community and labor organizations that includes the AFT.

TRANSGENDER CASE

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of a transgender student who identifies as a boy and wants to be allowed to use the boys’ bathroom at his Virginia high school. It “instantly became the highest-profile case of the court’s term so far,” columnist Amy Howe observes at SCOTUSblog.com, although those looking for a landmark decision may be disappointed. The justices agreed only to weigh in on “lower-profile questions” of the case, sidestepping “the controversy over the school board’s policy requiring students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match the gender that they were assigned at birth.”

GRADUATE WORKERS UNIONIZE

Graduate employees at Princeton University have joined their peers at the University of Chicago and Cornell University by affiliating with the AFT, as the national movement for graduate unionization gains momentum. Members of Princeton Graduate Students United voted overwhelmingly to join with the AFT and its state affiliate, AFT New Jersey, in the wake of the National Labor Relations Board’s recent decision to formally classify private colleges’ graduate teaching and research assistants as workers. The AFT, the largest U.S. higher education union, represents more than 25,000 graduate employees across 23 institutions and nine states.

“NEOVOUCHERS” IN THE STATES

A report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) reveals that, by allowing wealthy taxpayers to turn a profit on “charitable” contributions to private schools, 10 states are circumventing laws or public opposition to taxpayer-funded private school vouchers. “State Tax Subsidies for Private K–12 Education” examines tax policies in states that have used these neovouchers either to encourage donations to private school scholarships or to offset the cost of private school tuition. ITEP found that these states make a mockery of charitable contributions by allowing tax filers to reap more from combined state and federal credits and deductions than they give.

American Educator, Winter 2016-2017
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