Weekly NewsBrief 2/27/20-3/1/20

News Clip


Lawsuit settlement results in $50 million for reading programs in California schools – By Carolyn Jones, EdSource

Seventy-five California elementary schools where students have the lowest average reading scores will share $50 million in state grants to improve reading and writing instruction, according to a legal settlement announced Thursday.

The settlement in Los Angeles Superior Court ends a much-watched lawsuit filed on behalf of students who struggled with reading at three elementary schools — La Salle Avenue Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Van Buren Elementary School in the Stockton Unified School District, and Children of Promise Preparatory Academy, a charter school in the Inglewood Unified School District. The lawsuit, Ella T. vs. the State of California, alleged that the state violated the students’ civil rights by denying them a quality education.

“Achieving literacy for all children is one of the single most urgent issues in California,” said Mark Rosenbaum, a director at Public Counsel, a public interest law firm that filed the lawsuit with the law firm Morrison & Foerster. “This settlement is a milestone in that struggle.”

The literacy block grants, given over three years, will pay for literacy coaches, teacher’s aides, training for teachers and reading material that reflects the cultural makeup of the student population.


More rural North Dakota schools opting for 4-day week - By Jack Dura and Bilal Suleiman, Rapid City Journal

After 10 years in education, Wing Public School District Superintendent David Goetz began to notice a trend.

Students and teachers would begin the school year in August feeling refreshed and motivated to learn. But by the end of the school year, everyone felt burned out, and it was a slog to get through the remaining curriculum. He noticed this pattern recur as a teacher and as an administrator, in Kidder County, Gwinner and now in Wing.

“The first semester, the kids are learning. They really seem to be receptive of things. Then you take your second semester and it's just an extensive, long, drawn-out block,” Goetz said. “This time of year is always such a dread.”

He thinks North Dakota’s long winters, combined with a lack of holiday breaks during the spring semester, contributes to low morale and results in student-teacher burnout. And while the weather is out of his control, he could do something about the schedule.

Wing Public School District is the latest district in the state to convert to a four-day school week, a concept common in Montana and South Dakota but something that is just starting to catch on in North Dakota. In South Dakota, 34 school districts, or 23%, utilize a four-day week, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Montana, 62 school districts, or 13%, are on a four-day week.