University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

OWL News Links May 29th – June 2nd

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on June 3, 2011 at 7:44 am

News from Around the Natural State

State: Schools Won’t be Harmed

The Little Rock School District will not be harmed if a federal appeals court refuses to temporarily stop a judge’s order to end the state’s obligation to pay it millions of dollars in desegregation funding and to expedite an appeal of that ruling, the Arkansas attorney general’s office said in a court filing. “There is absolutely no need, nor any likelihood, that any Little Rock school will be forced to close, that mass layoffs will occur, or that the plans of students and their parents for next year will be disrupted,” the filing said. “Those things will only happen if [the district] itself chooses such a course of action rather than a more prudent approach.”

Whether or not the school receives any desegregation money, the Little Rock Superintendent assured parents, staff and teachers that the district would work “to land squarely on our feet for the 2011-2012 school year” while a group called the Knight Intervenors,  representing the three Pulaski County school districts that were receiving desegregation payments, urged the judge to stay the ruling that freed the state from its obligation to pay nearly $70 million in desegregation payments.

Arkansas Business & Education Alliance Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The Arkansas Business & Education Alliance, a non-profit organization was established in 1991, with the vision of improving education in Arkansas, will celebrate “Heroes in Education,” with a luncheon on Thursday, June 09, 2011, at the Holiday Inn Presidential, Little Rock, from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm.   As a special 20th Anniversary tribute, ABEA founders, Hillary Clinton, Bill Fisher, Don Munro and Archie Schaffer, III,  will be named “Heroes in Education.” For additional information regarding the organization and the event, please check out the website at http://www.arkbea.com.

High School Tries Out New Cell-Phone Policy

There’s a new cell-phone plan at Bentonville High School – unlimited texting, calling and data for students, but only between classes or at lunch. An experimental policy that started May 23 allowed for the change, Principal Kim Garrett said. Students had to turn off their cell phones and keep them out of sight after the first bell rang under an old plan. Students seen using cell phones would receive detention, and the phones would be confiscated until a parent picked them up. “I think we live in a new time,” Garrett said. “Can we take a step forward? Can students also take a step forward so it is better for all of us?” Garrett estimates nearly 3,400 of the 3,600 students at the high school have cell phones.

News from Around the Nation

Common-Standards States Building Online Resource Site for Teachers

Five states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards are beginning work on an initiative to create an open-source “platform” that would help teachers access, download, and create resources tied to the common standards, officials from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) said. CCSSO and the states of New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Colorado will take the lead in helping design and pilot the platform, with financing promised by the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Four other states—Delaware, Kentucky, Georgia, and Louisiana—are planning to take part in the near future, with the goal of implementing it in all nine states by 2013.

Some States Wary of New Race to Top Cash

For U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, handing out hundreds of millions in federal money isn’t as easy as it once was. The announcement that he’ll divvy up $700 million in new Race to the Top funding between the nine states that narrowly missed out last year and a $500 million early-childhood education competition has drawn a mixed—and, in at least one case, almost hostile—response. Part of the reluctance to go after this money also likely stems from the much smaller carrot that’s now being offered in exchange for federal dollars. The grants are a sliver of what they were in the first two rounds, when awards started at $75 million for the smallest winners, such as Hawaii, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia, and ranged up to $700 million for the largest, Florida and New York. For this third round, California, the largest state, stands to gain only up to $50 million. Smaller states such as Colorado could get closer to $10 million.

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