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This week’s teaching & learning tidbits

Education tax plan backers feel confident

Supporters of a proposed ballot measure to temporarily raise state taxes to fund schools and colleges are confident they’ll make the November ballot, announcing Thursday that they’ve gathered about half their target number of signatures. Read more in EdNews Colorado.

Experts worry Georgia cheating scandal could happen here

DENVER – Nearly 200 teachers in Atlanta cheated or helped their students cheat on standardized tests. Now there are concerns the same thing could happen in Colorado. Watch this 9NEWS report. Last year, Senate Bill 191 put an even greater emphasis on student test scores.

Flurry of filings in Dougco voucher lawsuits

Plaintiffs in two lawsuits challenging the Douglas County voucher pilot are asking for an immediate halt to the plan, arguing it must be stopped before any public dollars flow to private schools.

“Once the money is illegally diverted away from public schools, the bell can’t be unrung,” said Gregory M. Lipper, attorney for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, one of the plaintiffs. Get the latest from EdNews Colorado.

Teaching kids how to read: Phonics may not be the best method

Hooked on phonics?

You might want to consider rehab. Researchers say phonics may not be helpful to you. Researchers at Victoria and Otago Universities in New Zealand found that phonics — the business of “sounding out” words — doesn’t help kids develop reading skill after the first few weeks of school. Read more at the ParentDish.

As budgets are trimmed, time in class is shortened

After several years of state and local budget cuts, thousands of school districts across the nation are gutting summer-school programs, cramming classes into four-day weeks or lopping days off the school year, even though virtually everyone involved in education agrees that American students need more instruction time. Read more in the New York Times.

A shift from NEA on teacher evaluations

A new policy from the country’s largest teachers’ union affirming for the first time that student achievement must be a factor in evaluating teachers validates the controversial evaluation criteria approved in Massachusetts last week, local education officials say. Read more in the Boston Globe.

Some states leave low-income kids behind

Florida is a state of stark contrasts. Travel a few miles from the opulent mansions of Miami Beach and you reach desperately poor neighborhoods. There’s the grinding poverty of sugar cane country and the growing middle class of Jacksonville. All told, half the public-school students in Florida qualify for subsidized lunches. Many are the first in their families to speak English or contemplate attending college.

In many states, those economic differences are reflected in the classroom, with students in wealthy schools taking many more advanced courses. Read more from ProPublica via EdNews Colorado.

Middle-schoolers tackle energy

LAFAYETTE — Students start by plunging into the deep end, overwhelmed with information about the energy.

They grab onto life preservers — the information shared by presenters and gleaned through research — plug in and sail through the uncharted waters to the beginning of a solution that their generation must create. Read more in the Daily Camera.

Parents weighing option for students at Sandrock Elementary

CRAIG – The parents of Sandrock Elementary School students have a month to make a choice.

They have the option to continue their children with the elementary school, or transfer them to another school in the district. Read more in the Craig Daily Press.

Boulder summer program highlights culture, identity

Tatianna Medina was surprised to learn that she has French, Arabian and Italian in her background.

The soon-to-be seventh-grader at Lafayette’s Angevine Middle School is working on a genealogy project this summer at Boulder’s Family Learning Center. She started by interviewing her parents about her background and now is writing an autobiography. Read more in the Daily Camera.

Programs try to save students from ‘summer slide’ in academics

Children — particularly those from lower-income families — lose months of reading and math skills during vacation, studies show. Schools are offering summer camp-style programs to make learning fun. Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.