Happy 2017! Here’s hoping everyone had a chance to unplug and relax with family and friends over the holiday break.

Here’s a quick roundup of news and interesting stories that happened over the break.

Camden Student Marches into Ivy League (Wall Street Journal)

An all-too-rare feature story in a major US daily on an inspiring city scholar. Joshua Sims, a senior in Camden, NJ, is headed to Cornell in the fall. He’ll be the district’s first Ivy League student in more than a decade.

“Most people live their lives scared,” (Sims) said one morning after staying up until 4 a.m. to finish an art history essay. “That’s what makes average people average. Successful people aren’t afraid to go out on a limb.”

Interview with Standout NYC Principal, Nadia Lopez (PBS News Hour)

A wonderful, in-depth interview with a Brooklyn principal who is trying to raise the bar for her kids and quite literally opening their eyes and expanding their horizons.

I literally take all of my sixth-graders. Every single year, we walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. I want them to understand that there is a connection between their past, their present and their future. So, their past is fifth grade, their present is while they’re here with us in middle school, but their future is, as we walk across this bridge, seeing what is lying ahead.”

NJ prepares for battle over Christie’s charter school overhaul (Star-Ledger)

When NJ Governor Chris Christie unveiled a plan that would help charter schools get better access to facilities and get faster renewals, critics became increasingly concerned that an expansion of charter schools would lead to money being drawn away from traditional public schools and more segregation in school districts.

TX Schools Receive Prelim Grades Under New State Accountability System (Statesman)

An overview of the new A-F letter grade rating system in Texas, based heavily on state standardized test performance. While the final grading system goes into effect in August 2018, lawmakers required that school districts and campuses receive preliminary ratings based on the 2015-16 school year to give a glimpse of what ratings will reveal.

OpEd: Trouble with “Desegregating” NYC Schools (NY Post)

When the student body of New York City is overwhelmingly “minority,” how meaningful is it really to talk about “racially segregated” schools?  

“By bringing ‘school segregation’ under New York’s expansive Human Rights Law, the very existence of racial imbalance in schools would demonstrate discrimination, opening the door to lawsuits.”

OpEd: Diluting Teacher Evaluations (NY Daily News)

A brand new teacher evaluation system was supposed to re-invent the system and help identify New York City teachers who aren’t serving their students well. But much like the traditional cursory teacher “evaluations,” the new system rates only s 1 out of every 100 teachers as ineffective.

OpEd: Can Charters and Traditional Public Schools BOTH Succeed? (Washington Post)

The authors make the case that charter schools and public schools have a lot to learn from each other and can potentially both succeed, but one can’t undermine the other. Ultimately, the goal is to provide excellent education for all students, not just some.

“Many of the practices employed by highly regarded charter schools, which include extended school days and years, rigorous teacher training and support, high-dosage tutoring for students, and specific instructional practices, can effectively be adopted at traditional public schools (provided they receive adequate funding), as research by economist Roland Fryer suggests.”

Senate Confirmation Hearing Rescheduled for DeVos (Washington Post)

The Senate education committee has rescheduled a confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the education department. DeVos’s hearing, originally scheduled to take place on Wednesday morning, has been rescheduled for January 17.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?