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StudentsFirstNY Weekly Education News Roundup: July 29, 2013 - August 2, 2013

In this week's education news: a parent run school is set to open in California, record number of donations show New Yorkers hope Mayor Bloomberg’s policies stay in place, a Buffalo teacher says that in-service teachers need to be more vocal on policy, and NYC wins $75 million in federal grants.

California Public School Seized by Parents Set to Open
Politico // July 29, 2013

On Monday, the Desert Trails Preparatory Academy in Southern California opened, making it the first school in the nation where parents were able to fire the principal and teachers to remake the school. According to Politico, California passed a law in 2010 known as the "parent trigger," which allowed parents to organize and take over underperforming schools and bring in private management.

Six other states - Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas - have followed California in passing a "parent trigger" law. Observers expect more states to pass "parent trigger" legislation, as well:

"Parent Revolution, a nonprofit dedicated to organizing trigger campaigns, anticipates a surge of interest in other state legislatures as Desert Trails and three other California schools transformed by parent activism reopen over the next month. Parent empowerment has strong bipartisan support in many states — a sign of the diminished clout of teachers unions, which oppose trigger laws but have not been able to stop their traditional allies in the Democratic Party from endorsing the concept."

Record Donations Show Concern about Preserving Bloomberg’s Policies
Wall Street Journal // July 29, 2013

Fund for Public Schools, which raises money for the NYC public-school system, had a record of $47 million pledges in the past year. According to the Wall Street Journal, the record number of pledges has been attributed to donors wanting to ensure that Mayor Bloomberg’s policies stay in place.

Rick Smith, The President of the Pinkerton Foundation that helped fund an academic summer camp, commented on the concern about preserving Bloomberg’s policies:

"There is great concern that a lot of the progress that has been made in education innovation will get lost in the switch to a new administration. There's no way of knowing that until you get a sense of whether the next mayor is committed to using these privately generated dollars to test and try new things."

Op-Ed: Teachers Must Play a Large Role in Fixing Education
The Buffalo News // July 29, 2013

In an opinion piece for the Buffalo News, teacher Geoff Schutte argues that teachers must have a more outspoken and independent voice on education issues.

Schutte says that education is key to the future of cities like Buffalo, and that in-service teachers should speak up on how to improve schools for their students:

“Teachers must begin to speak more directly about the issues they face, the professional development they need and the support that is necessary to help all students achieve. When this is the conversation we are having, then we will begin to see results.”

NYC Wins New Federal Grants to Improve Schools
GothamSchools // July 29, 2013

According to GothamSchools, the state has announced that the City has won nearly $75 million in federal grants to help schools improve as part of the School Improvement Grants program.

Students Chancellor Dennis Walcott praised the new grants:

“The additional dollars will support students at schools that are phasing out, provide resources to bolster interventions in schools that are struggling, and help new schools deliver great outcomes.”

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