Miami: School shakeup
Supt. Rudy Crew plans an overhaul of 39 failing schools, according to the Aug. 17 Miami Herald. The plan includes 10 more days in the academic calendar, an extra hour in the school day, smaller classes and more training for teachers. Crew will have to negotiate with labor unions to implement the plan, but if the unions resist, Crew could take advantage of state Board of Education rules that allow districts to suspend union contracts in order to improve poorly performing schools. The director of United Teachers of Dade County says teachers who want to leave the 39 schools should be allowed to do so.
California: Funding lawsuit
The state has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit charging that poor children were denied adequate textbooks, trained teachers and a safe school environment, according to the Aug. 11 Los Angeles Times. The proposed settlement, which is subject to approval by a judge, would require the state to spend $1 billion to improve 2,400 low-performing, deteriorating schools. The state will also pay nearly $139 million for new textbooks this fall.
Kentucky: GED program
A GED program for struggling students could result in schools dumping low-achieving students who might drag down test scores, according to the Aug. 12 Lexington Herald-Leader. Aimed at students who are still in school, the program requires that students take state tests and have their scores included in their school’s scores. But critics argue that requirement can be sidestepped because a student could complete the GED program, then be pushed to drop out before the end-of-year state tests are given.