Israel's Haredi Schools Get Standardized Testing; John Deasy Seeks Waiver: Ed Today

Israel's Haredi Schools Get Standardized Testing? As YNet reports, Israel's ultra-Orthodox religious schools, which receive public money, will have to take standardized tests -- as ordered by the Supreme Court. A judge said that such schools "should start taking things seriously, or face the consequences." Why, you ask, do I bring you news from across the planet? It's an interesting parallel to an ongoing debate on our own soil. In the U.S., there has been much talk over whether private schools that receive public-school vouchers or tax credits should be held to the same standards as their public school peers. Obviously the structure is different, and in Israel there's no public-private distinction between the schools. But it's still fascinating to watch.

Waive Me, Maybe? So far, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has only given waivers from No Child Left Behind to states. But John Deasy, the superintendent of Los Angeles public schools, wants one for his city, reports the Daily News. "LAUSD and nine other districts have launched an effort to create their own data-based accountability systems -- and have more freedom in how to spend tens of millions in federal dollars," the Daily News reports.

Tennessee Special District Drama? The Achievement School District, a special district that will eventually encompass the state's lowest-performing schools, wants to move one of its schools out of an elementary school building and into a high school, the Memphis Daily News reports. There's a whole series of building-to-building dominos this move would set off, and a few Memphis folks are claiming such a takeover could be illegal.

Kansas Edu Freakout? As you might have heard, Kansas's state legislature has been pretty busy this year with measures that severely curtail teachers' collective bargaining rights and change other education in every which way. Now, public school superintendents throughout the state are throwing up their hands in frustration, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. According to the CJ:

Mike Folks, superintendent of Unified School District 379 school in Clay County, said the political climate in Kansas resulted in portrayal of educators, in some circles, as "public enemy No. 1."
"Our schools are doing a great job but continue to run into roadblocks with a reduction of resources, unfunded mandates and loss of legislative support," he said.

Public School For Tots? Barack Obama's State of the Union address last week included a big push for publicly funded pre-school for four-year-olds in low-income families. One feature of the plan, a White House official told HuffPost, is that unlike most daycare or pre-school centers, these programs would likely be contiguous with K-12 public schools. This model is already in play in Washington, D.C., reports the Washington Post. "Nearly 13,000 of the city's roughly 15,000 3- and 4-year-olds are attending public preschool," the paper reports. All of these tiny kids are guaranteed free full-day slots. "The city offers an example of how that that can play out on the ground."

**Extra Credit**
Revamped GED Faces First Big Challenge by the Wall Street Journal's Lisa Fleisher