Murray Still Top Dem on HELP

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) will stay on as the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP).

Murray worked closely with Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who has a solid history of cooperation on the committee to approve education legislation, to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) last year.

Next up on the agenda for Murray and Alexander: reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Court Nixes Next Generation Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE), a group of Kansas parents and students who object on religious grounds to the Next Generation Science Standards. 

The lawsuit charged that Kansas, in adopting the standards, was establishing a “nontheistic worldview” in the schools’ science instruction. A federal district court ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing “because the alleged injuries were abstract.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver upheld that decision, finding the suit “an attempt by COPE to recast a future injury as a present one.”

Robotics in Action

More than two dozen Watkins Memorial High School students in Etna Township, OH, visited the town’s Amazon fulfillment center, where they had the opportunity to see some of the internet giant’s operations up close.

The students were able to witness Amazon’s robotics in action and during their visit, the company donated $10,000 to their high school’s robotics program, which the program’s adviser said would “make a big difference for us.”

In other Ohio education technology news, Cincinnati-area schools are showing increased interest in STEM subjects, generated by 3-D printer clubs, according to education officials in the city. This is part of a growing interest in 3-D printing among secondary schools across the country.

Tougher Teacher Prep Standards

A report by the National Council on Teacher Quality finds that 58 percent of top college students say they would consider majoring in education if admissions standards were higher, according to the report “Within Our Grasp: Achieving Higher Admission Standards in Teacher Prep.” 

“Lowering the bar for education school admission would fill the profession with subpar teachers … and discourage top students from considering a career in teaching,” the report notes. However, the report says, “The idea of raising ed school admission standards faces opposition, [even though] most of the 221 undergraduate elementary education programs it studied ‘likely met’ higher GPA and testing standards than were actually required.” 

The report also criticizes “the decision to lower ed school admissions requirements by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.”