Weekly News Brief 1/6-1/12 Teaching faculty to think like innovators | Report: More than 100 Arizona charter schools are in danger of closing

News Clip

Teaching faculty to think like innovators – By Stephen Spahn, eSchool News

The rapid pace of technological change has forever transformed the face of the global workplace. In fact, its future is unimagined; 85 percent of jobs that will exist in 2030 have yet to be created. As all brave explorers on any frontier know, survival in an uncertain world requires adaptability, resilience, and resourcefulness. Today’s educators must nurture these traits in students to prepare them to meet whatever challenges await and to succeed in a new order.

Schools are thus charged with going beyond academics and instruction in the latest technology to teach students “survival” skills, such as how to brainstorm, think creatively, design, and prototype … how to communicate, collaborate, and lead … and how to innovate. These are the skills employers are seeking as the nature of work becomes increasingly mutable.

At Dwight, we’ve been teaching these entrepreneurial skills through Spark Tank, an after-school incubator for K-12 students. They bring their ideas for new products, social enterprises, political initiatives, and non-profits to Spark Tank, where they develop them through five stages, from concept to market launch. During this process, students learn a range of practical problem-solving, design, presentation, marketing, and business skills, gaining invaluable entrepreneurial and innovation experience.

We have also taken a cue from the business world to enhance all-important faculty professional development (PD), thanks to the support of The Dwight School Foundation. With our imperative to educate flexible, creative problem-solvers and innovators, we want to ensure that all our faculty can tap into those skills and model that behavior for our students. Through our Frontier Teacher training program, we’re bringing the same entrepreneurial mindset and processes favored by startups and innovators to the art and practice of teaching.


Report: More than 100 Arizona charter schools are in danger of closing – By Steve Irvin, abc15.com

More than 100 charter schools in Arizona are in danger of closing, due to financial mismanagement, declining enrollment, and mounting debt.

That's the finding of a new report from the centrist think-tank, The Grand Canyon Institute.

GCI examined charter school finances between 2014 and 2017, and found 105 charter schools were losing more than $400 per student, per year. That's the metric the state uses for takeover in a public school district.

The study's authors say dozens of charter school operators were allowed to borrow money against projected future enrollments to finance construction of new facilities, but students didn't show up as anticipated.

The study says more than a third of charter schools in the state saw declining student populations during the four-year period.

State funding is determined by enrollment, leaving some charter operators with fewer dollars to pay off big loans or bonds, resulting in deficits.

Of those 105 charters in jeopardy, GCI says 40 are almost certain to close, possibly before the end of the school year, potentially leaving hundreds of students and parents scrambling.


Bill Daley proposes merging CPS and City Colleges – By Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun Times

Bill Daley wants to turn America’s third-largest school system into what he calls the “nation’s first pre-K-through-14” system — by merging the Chicago Public Schools with the City Colleges of Chicago.

By turning two giant bureaucracies into one, Daley hopes to generate as much as $50 million worth of administrative savings — enough to provide free community college to all CPS graduates, not just those who maintain a B average.

But the ground-breaking merger is not about saving money. It’s about positioning CPS to produce more students prepared and trained for jobs without the back-breaking burden of student loans.

“In the private sector and not-for-profit entities, if you don’t move fast and big, you usually die. Governments are the only entities in existence primarily structured as they were 70, 80, 90 years ago. But it’s not working as well as maybe it did” long ago, Daley said.

“We’ve got to look at things differently . . . When you look at public education and the preparation for careers and jobs in the future, our system as it’s structured hasn’t served the kids well.”

Daley acknowledged the merger would require both a complex intergovernmental agreement as well as a change in state law.


School breakfast, lunch to be funded 'well into March,’ USDA says – By Marjorie Cortez, KSL.com

The partial federal shutdown may be ongoing, but federal support of school breakfast and lunch is available "well into March," according to a new advisory from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The advisory by Cynthia Long, deputy administrator of Child Nutrition Programs, acknowledges the "uncertainty that these circumstances present" for Food and Nutrition Service customers and partners nationwide.

"To address such concerns and ensure that programs can continue to operate without threat of disruption, (Food and Nutrition Service) has provided state agencies with additional available appropriated funding. These funds, along with those previously provided, can support program operations at normal levels well into the month of March," the letter states.

In the 2017-18 school year, more than 54 million lunches and more than 14 million breakfasts were served in Utah schools, according to the latest annual report on the Utah State Board of Education website.

Total federal support for school breakfast, lunch and the after-school snack program was about $120.1 million during the 2017-18 school year. Utah's school lunch program is also supported by $41.7 million in state liquor tax.

Federal Food and Nutrition Service staff "continue to be furloughed pending reinstatement of funding by Congress and will not be available by phone or email. They cannot carry out normal work functions until funding is restored," the letter says.


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