In contemporary education policy debates in the United States, school voucher programs and school privatization—the entry of many private for-profit corporations and nonprofit and other organizations into the education arena—are under the spotlight. Following in the footsteps of several prior administrations, the current federal administration is actively supporting vouchers and privatization as ways to expand school choice for American parents and students. Some state governments have followed suit. view article arw

The AP (6/5, Danilova) reports that in an appearance before a Senate subcommittee, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said a federal school safety commission that was created after the Parkland, Florida school shootings will not examine the role of guns in school violence. DeVos is quoted as saying, “That is not part of the commission’s charge per se.” The Post says there has been “criticism by Democrats and some educators that the panel...was focused more on distracting public attention rather than truly addressing gun violence.” The Washington Times (6/5, Munoz) reports that, “asked if the commission was comparing the rate of school shootings in other nations with the same amount of video game usage, Mrs. DeVos...responded, ‘not per se.’” Sen. Pat Leahy replied, “So, we’ll look at gun violence in schools but not look at guns. It’s an interesting concept.” view article arw

BERLIN (AP) - High school students in Germany have gathered tens of thousands of signatures in an online petition to complain about an "unfair" final English exam, saying the test was much harder than in previous years. By Sunday, the students from the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg had gathered almost 36,000 signatures - even though only 33,500 people took last month's statewide exam. view article arw

Four Florida high school seniors slain in a mass shooting were honored by their classmates celebrating their senior prom. The Sun Sentinel reports that the main ballroom at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort was transformed Saturday into an enchanted forest for 850 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students. A giant ice sculpture stood in the hallway, proclaiming, "(hashtag)MSDSTRONG." Butterflies were released from the rooftop, and a room was set aside for anyone needing quiet reflection. view article arw

Drawing almost no attention, the nation crossed an ominous milestone last year that threatens more economic polarization and social division: For the first time, public colleges and universities in most states received most of their revenue from tuition rather than government appropriations. view article arw

Every school day, Abdirizack Hussein Bashir rises at dawn for an eight-kilometer (five-mile) trek through a dangerous forest where he sometimes faces harassment by Kenyan army patrols hunting down extremists. Now the 12-year-old's dream to become a doctor is threatened. Attacks by the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab against non-Muslims have forced the transfer of hundreds of teachers from the border area with Somalia, where the extremist group is based. Schools have closed and thousands of children are affected. view article arw

Beside a highway in Bryan, Texas, tucked between a motorcycle bar and the county jail, stands a low-slung, sprawling complex with tinted windows, sandstone walls, and barbed wire lining parts of its roof. A roadside sign identifies it as the Brazos County Juvenile Justice Center. view article arw

Beside a highway in Bryan, Texas, tucked between a motorcycle bar and the county jail, stands a low-slung, sprawling complex with tinted windows, sandstone walls and barbed wire lining parts of its roof. A roadside sign identifies it as the Brazos County Juvenile Justice Center.  One Friday afternoon last October, after an incident at nearby Arthur L. Davila Middle School, a police officer arrested 13-year-old Trah’Vaeziah Jackson and brought her to the juvenile detention facility. She cried as employees patted her down, cut off her hair extensions, and took her photo and fingerprints. She was served dinner — chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and an apple in a styrofoam box with a carton of milk — but had no appetite. view article arw

Arizona teachers have voted to walk off the job to demand increased school funding, marking a key step toward a first-ever statewide strike that builds on a movement for higher pay in other Republican-dominant states. A grassroots group and the state's largest teacher membership group said Thursday that teachers will walkout April 26. The vote was held following weeks of growing protests and an offer from Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to give teachers 20 percent raise by 2020. Many teachers kept up the pressure at schools and on social media, saying the plan failed to address much-needed funding for classrooms and support staff. view article arw

Three parents whose children were killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting have filed defamation lawsuits against Alex Jones, the controversial conspiracy theorist and Infowars host who has falsely claimed the 2012 massacre was faked. The two lawsuits were filed on Monday afternoon by Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, the parents of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, and by Neil Heslin, the father of 6-year-old Jesse Heslin. "The statements were a continuation and elaboration of a years-long campaign to falsely attack the honesty of the Sandy Hook parents, casting them as participants in a ghastly conspiracy and cover-up," the plaintiffs said in their suits. view article arw

Arizona teachers on Tuesday began weighing whether to walk out of their classrooms to demand more school funding after weeks of growing protests - a vote that's raising questions about how an unprecedented strike could play out across the state's education system. The walkout vote comes after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey offered teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020. Teachers in a grass-roots group that's mobilized tens of thousands of teachers say the plan doesn't address other needs, including raises for support staff and a return to pre-Great Recession school funding levels. view article arw

Arizona teachers who have pushed for big raises and an increase in school funding say Gov. Doug Ducey's teacher raise proposal falls short and they're moving to take a strike vote. The leaders of the grassroots group Arizona Educators United posted a video on Facebook Sunday night saying three days of voting begins Tuesday. The Republican governor last week proposed a 9 percent teacher pay raise this year and 10 percent more by 2020, on top of 1 percent they are getting this year. But he did not address teachers' other demands — including raises for support staff, a return to pre-Great Recession school funding levels and no more tax cuts until school spending reached the national average. view article arw

The most dramatic moment of George W. Bush’s presidency unfolded while he was sitting in an elementary school classroom. As a girl read aloud from the book The Pet Goat, then-White House chief of staff Andy Card delivered the news that two passenger jets had crashed into the World Trade Center. While the president didn’t know it yet, two other Boeing-757s were destined to crash into the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Within the span of a few minutes, Bush had become a wartime president. view article arw

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has given in to demands for pay raises for teachers, who have been conducting a month of protests at the state Capitol and at schools. He has proposed to boost teacher salaries 20 percent by 2020. The Associated Press notes that the educators "were also seeking increased pay for support professionals, a permanent raise structure, and a freeze on corporate tax cuts until per-pupil spending reaches the national average." Ducey's proposal didn't include more spending on those items. view article arw

When the New Mexico Public Education Department was handed plans meant to improve the four worst schools in the state, the department returned them all in March with the same response: not good enough. All the schools are chronically failing. Some have math and reading proficiency rates in the single digits. Two have been marked as failing for six years, and the other two for five years — or, as New Mexico Secretary of Education–designate Christopher Ruszkowski told The 74, “have underserved an entire generation of students.” Now the districts have until April 11 to come up with better plans, and the department has met with them both — Albuquerque Public Schools and Dulce Public Schools — to give feedback. view article arw

Phil Downs, superintendent of the Southwest Allen County schools in Indiana, explains here how the cumulative effect of vouchers reduces spending in every public school in the state. There are about 1,040,000 students in Indiana. There are 35,500 voucher students in the state, most attending religious schools. Most have never attended a public school in the past, and only 274 were issued to students leaving F-rated public schools. Each voucher is worth about $4,258. Basically, the state is using public dollars to subsidize tuition at religion schools (which the state constitution explicitly prohibits but which the state courts approved). view article arw

Federal officials gave final approval to a Texas plan for school improvement, which includes portions of the new system for grading schools on a scale from A to F. Texas education officials say it's not too late for the public to weigh in on the A-F system. Texas got final approval Monday from the U.S. Department of Education for its school improvement and accountability plan, including a portion of its new system for grading schools. view article arw

Two of the United States’ fastest-growing counties are located in the San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area, according to the latest population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau Thursday. view article arw

The U.S. House today finally passed a long-overdue spending bill for fiscal year 2018 that thoroughly rejects the pro-voucher, budget-cutting agenda espoused by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote the spending package through as well. view article arw

The Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday said it won't block a voter referendum on Arizona's massive new school voucher program, handing a major victory to the grassroots group of parents and teachers that collected signatures to block the 2017 law. The high court's decision was also a major loss for Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and school choice supporters in Arizona and nationally who backed the proposal, the largest expansion of school vouchers in the U.S. The law would allow all parents to use public money to send their children to private or religious school, with a cap on enrollment at 30,000 students. view article arw

There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It's the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility. Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, says in an article in the Washington Post, "Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture; a disjunction between Americans' rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism."  view article arw

A Mississippi school district has been ordered to desegregate its schools after what the Justice Department called a five-decade-long legal battle. The Cleveland School District, about two hours northwest of Jackson, was told that it must consolidate its schools in order to provide real desegregation for students in the city of about 12,000. view article arw