March 29, 2019

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Kansas City Education News

‘It was not fair to the kids’: Here’s why two Kansas City charter schools are closing

By Mara Rose Williams, KC Star

 

Nearly 400 children in Kansas City have to find new schools to attend this fall after two public charter schools announced they are closing at the end of this academic year.  The Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, sponsored by the Kansas City Public School District, is closing due to low enrollment. Meanwhile, Pathway Academy, sponsored by the Missouri Charter Public School Commission, is closing due to low student performance and declining enrollment.  In both cases, the decision was made by the charters’ school boards, said Doug Thaman, executive director of the Missouri Charter Public School Association. Both closings were announced this week.  He said the boards concluded they were not able to fully implement their education programs, “it was not fair to the kids and there are better options for them out there.”  The Neighborhood Academy, which the district took on in 2016 as its first charter sponsorship, opened with 97 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Even as it opened its doors, Thaman said the school was under-enrolled by about 85 students.  The Neighborhood Academy was started by the Urban Neighborhood Initiative inside the former Wendell Phillips school building. The charter school, located at 1619 East 24th Terrace, was founded to be an anchor for future revitalization in neighborhoods along the Troost corridor.

Parents left looking for options after charter school closes

By Andres Gutierrez, KSHB

 

Parents are upset about a school’s decision to close.  Kansas City Neighborhood Academy plans to shut its doors this summer, nearly three years after it first opened.  “We begged and pleaded for them to keep the school open and they just refused,” parent Dee Johnson said.  Johnson says she’s one of many parents who feel blindsided by the decision to close at the end of this school year.  “This wasn’t just a regular school for us it was,” she said. “It was like a family for us. There are teachers here that really care about our kids.”  The charter school opened less three years ago and is the only one sponsored by the Kansas City Public School district.  “I was so happy for the confidence that it gave my child for her to learn and how to read,” parent Dominica Kemp said. “It was just everything.”  On Monday, school leaders sent a letter to parents. In it, the board states they’ve struggled to meet their annual enrollment and budget goals.

 

Missouri Education News

Missouri House passes $29B state spending plan

By Education Week

 

The Missouri House has passed a more than $29 billion state spending plan for the fiscal year beginning in July. The Republican-led House on Thursday sent a budget package to the Senate that includes about $61 million more in core K-12 public school funding and roughly flat funding for higher education. The House plan also includes $100 million in un-earmarked general revenue for roads and bridges. Republicans touted the additional funding for education included in the proposal. Democrats argued that schools still need more money and laid blame on Republican-backed tax cuts. Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz on Thursday said he wants to compromise with the House on a way to pay for transportation maintenance. But he says he still prefers borrowing money through bonding to fund bridge repairs.

 

National Education News

Schools Collect Tons of Student Information. Deleting It All Is a Major Challenge

By Benjamin Herold, Education Week

America’s schools are awash in data, raising all manner of concerns about the privacy and security of students’ sensitive information.  But there’s one issue that has been mostly overlooked, according to the Center for Democracy & Technology, a Washington nonprofit focused on privacy and free speech:

Properly getting rid of student data when it’s no longer needed.  “Deleting data is much more complicated than one might think, with a number of important policy, legal, and technical considerations,” reads the group’s new report, titled “Balancing the Scale of Student Data Deletion and Retention and Education.”  Historically, schools have erred on the side of retaining most of the data they collect, CDT contends. That creates considerable risks, including increased potential for breaches or threat, as well as the possibility that data about a child collected for one purpose today may be used out of context, for a very different purpose, down the line.  Still, many schools, districts, and states have struggled to develop effective polices and implement strong technical practices around data retention and deletion, said Elizabeth Laird, the senior fellow for student privacy at the Center for Democracy & Technology. Many aren’t even able to fully account for the data they’re storing.  “Our expectation is that the capacity around this issue varies,” said Laird, who previously worked as the deputy assistant superintendent of data, assessment, and research for Washington, D.C.’s state education agency.

 

Senate Democrats to DeVos: Your Budget ‘Fails to Invest’ in Public Schools

By Alyson Klein, Education Week

Democrats slammed U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Wednesday for proposing massive cuts to the U.S. Department of Education’s budget, even as lawmakers—and the secretary herself—both acknowledged at a Senate hearing that they won’t become a reality.  President Donald Trump’s budget plan seeks an overall cut of about $7.1 billion from the department’s roughly $71 billion budget. It seeks to scrap $2 billion in state grants to improve teacher quality (better known as Title II), $1.1 billion in funding for the Student Success and Academic Enrichment grants (better known as Title IV), and just over $1 billion for after-school programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. There’s also been intense, recent controversy over a proposal to eliminate nearly $18 million in funding for the Special Olympics. (Trump ultimately backed off the plan Thursday).  This is the third year in a row that the Trump administration has proposed all those cuts. And, for two years, lawmakers rejected them, even when both houses of Congress were in Republican control.  Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.,the chairman of the Senate panel that oversees education spending said at the haering that’s likely to be the case yet again. “There are programs here that are unlikely to be eliminated in any final budget,” he said. “My guess is the work of this committee will not be much different from the work of this committee last year.”

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