Education News Round-Up

School starts as early as this week for some students across the country! Read on to learn how this school year will look after some important changes!

California Judge Upholds Enforcement of “Parent Trigger” Law
The parents in Adelanto, California, were the first in the nation to act upon the state’s “parent trigger law,” which allows public schools to be turned into charter schools through a petition signed by 50 percent of the school’s parents. The law calls into question the power parents should have in education, and even though there are similar laws in Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas, Adelanto is the first district to experience such a parental movement.

According to the LA Times, the parents of Desert Trails Elementary School, one of the lowest-performing schools in California, petitioned to transform the school into a charter. The school responded by invalidating a hundred signatures, thus rejecting the petition. Now San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Steve Malone has ruled that the school acted unlawfully in rejecting the petition and upheld the parent trigger law. The school will now face drastic changes in accordance with the wishes of Adelanto parents.

NYC Teachers Barred from Becoming Masters of Education
President Obama recently pledged $1 billion to create an elite group of STEM Teachers to address the high demand for excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) instruction. The STEM disciplines represent a vital and rapidly growing industry, and employers are in need of ambitious professionals who are well versed in the subjects. Great STEM teachers can inspire more students to pursue STEM careers, and the president is offering additional pay of up to $20,000 a year to highly qualified teachers.

But New York City public school teachers will not be allowed to participate in the initiative. The United Federation of Teachers, the union that represents NYC, forbids teachers from receiving compensation for student achievement. NYC is in need of great STEM teachers, but the union actively opposes merit-based pay; the Education Department is not even allowed to attract great teachers by offering a higher salary. Without the incentives or the professional development offered by the Corps, New York City must find alternative ways of improving STEM education.

Aurora Prepares for New School Year in the Wake of Tragedy
The entire community of Aurora, Colorado, was devastated by the tragic shooting on July 20 during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises that killed 12 people and injured 58 others. Among those affected were hundreds of students and faculty of Aurora public schools, many of whom knew the victims. According to 7 News, 150 people who were inside the theater were direct members of the school district, 50 of whom were students from Gateway High School. Recent Gateway graduate Alexander “AJ” Boik was among the 12 who were killed.

As the school year draws near, Aurora public schools prepare to help their community cope. A $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education will help the district provide extra mental health professionals to the schools for the first three months of the school year. “We’ll have a whole range of reactions based on students ability to cope with tragedy, so we’re prepared to offer assistance to all our students and our staff as well,” Bill Hedges, Gateway High School Principal said to CBS4. The district has already created a websitethat offers crisis counselling services for parents, teachers and students. School begins for Aurora Public Schools on August 7.

Target Pledges $1 Billion to Education

The popular mega store Target is launching a new initiative that will run until September 8 as part of the franchise’s goal to help raise $1 billion for education by 2015. The initiative is called “Give with Target” and aims to help students become active in raising money for their schools. Via Facebook, students can vote once per week for the school of their choice. For every 25 votes, schools will receive a $25 Target gift card, up to a maximum of $10,000 per school. In addition, target will donate up to $5 million to schools across America, $2.5 million of which is already set aside for schools in need — 100 of which will receive $25,000 grants.

Department of Education Declares “Connected Educator Month”

August is now Connected Educator Month, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. The month will be dedicated to raising national awareness about the importance of technology and online professional networking to education. Over 100 educational organizations will join to discuss the ways online communities and learning networks can help teachers develop professionally, communicate with their peers and expand their teaching beyond the parameters of the classroom. The month will feature a variety of courses, online seminars, workshops and live chats to teach educators about online communities.

“Improvement requires connection,” said Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology. “As we ramp up for the 2012-2013 school year, teachers and leaders along with education organizations and online communities have the opportunity to work toward a more connected and collaborative profession.” You can follow Connected Educator Month on Twitter using the #ce12 hashtag.