Weekly NewsBrief 10/7-10/13

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Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Announces New Initiative to Support Opening and Expanding Charter Schools in Opportunity Zones – From the Department of Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a new initiative to promote the creation and expansion of high-quality public charter schools in Opportunity Zones across the United States.

Currently, more than 70% of Opportunity Zones do not have a public charter school option available to students. One-fifth of Opportunity Zone residents lack a high school diploma. By creating and expanding high-quality public charter schools in Opportunity Zones, more families living in economically distressed communities will have access to additional education options that might better meet their child's needs.

"Access to high-quality, innovative education options is fundamental to the long-term success of not only students but also entire communities," said Secretary DeVos. "The focus on opening charter schools in designated Opportunity Zones will have a long-lasting impact, and I'm looking forward to seeing how charter school leaders, nonprofit organizations, and others utilize the Qualified Opportunity Fund to invest in students and improve outcomes."

The Department awarded a new contract to Leed Management Consulting, Inc., of Silver Spring, Maryland, to conduct outreach to current and prospective high-quality charter operators, develop resources to assist with opening high-quality charter schools and serving students living in economically-distressed communities, and provide technical assistance to entities looking to create and expand high-quality charter schools in Opportunity Zones through the use of Qualified Opportunity Funds.


NorCal wildfire blackout will keep more than 130,000 kids home from school – By Ricardo Cano, Cal Matters

Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s unprecedented power shutdown will keep more than 130,000 students — at a minimum — out of school this week as red flag conditions and high winds bear down on Northern California, and the state’s largest utility attempts to keep from sparking another catastrophic wildfire.

More than 320 schools in 19 counties, including Sonoma, Napa, Contra Costa and Alameda, shut their doors Wednesday or announced they would be shutting down Thursday, a population roughly the size of the city of Santa Clara, according to a CalMatters tally. The closures represent one front among many being impacted in this era of climate-fueled natural disaster. 

They were announced as PG&E notified an unprecedented 800,000 Northern California customers that it would be cutting power to large swaths of its service area under a new program aimed at preempting a repeat of last year’s devastating Camp Fire, which was linked to malfunctioning PG&E equipment. The safety measure — fairly routine in much of Southern California but new to the half of the state that relies on PG&E to keep the lights on — left cities from Bakersfield to the Bay Area scrambling to cope with the possibility of days without electricity. 


Indiana Schools Partner with National Education Group, Awarded $47M Federal Grant – By Jeanie Lindsay, WFYI Indianapolis

Millions of dollars will make its way to teachers across Indiana through a federal grant award announced Tuesday, as part of efforts to help schools expand teacher professional development opportunities and supports.

Confetti cannons and applause exploded as National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) CEO Candice McQueen announced the grant award totaling $47 million. 

It will support teachers and school leaders to grow a program called TAP. TAP focuses on teacher training and mentorship, and stresses the importance of additional pay for teachers with more responsibilities. State law says schools can apply for state funding to help implement the TAP program as well. 

McQueen says the grant will allow the three grant-receiving districts to use the program with more teachers.

“Some of them have TAP in a specific number of schools but they wanted to take this district-wide,” she says. 

The grant will be divided between three school corporations: Goshen Community, Perry Township, and Brown County schools. McQueen says most of the funding will go directly to the three districts and their teachers. 


Montana Tech hosting mine disaster robotics competition with high schools – By Brooke McCarthy, ABC Fox Montana

Montana Tech is teaming up with four high schools to pilot a robotics project and competition that could help save miners after an accident.

Butte, Anaconda, Red Lodge and C.M. Russell high school students are participating in the innovative project. The Butte and Red Lodge groups picked up all their supplies on Thursday for the project.

Organizers say the students come from a variety of backgrounds including shop classes and robotics clubs.

The goal of the competition is to build a robot that could go into a mine after an accident and look for survivors. On Thursday the students and their school mentors received demonstrations on how to integrate sensors and controllers on their robots.

The contest will take place in April at Montana Tech. Curtis Link, Montana Tech's Dean of Outreach says the students will have mentors from Tech if they need assistance with their projects.

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