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Education Department Drops Fight Over School Money

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Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Education Secretary John B. King Jr. had been in a battle over Title I enforcement for some time.

LA Johnson/NPR

The U.S. Department of Education has withdrawn a proposal that could have fundamentally changed the flow of federal dollars to schools that serve low-income students.

“The law is clear that it is unacceptable to systematically underfund low-income schools and fill the hole with federal resources,” explained Dorie Turner Nolt, a spokeswoman for the education department. “While we worked tirelessly to put forward a regulation that implements that simple requirement and to incorporate the extensive feedback we received, we ultimately did not have time to publish a strong final regulation that lives up to the promise of the law.”

This brings to an end a long and bitter fight between the Education Department, led by Secretary John B. King, Jr., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, himself a former education secretary and current chairman of the Senate committee that handles education.

“This is an intolerable situation,” Alexander said of the Department’s so-called “supplement-not-supplant” proposal back in May, in a heated speech on the Senate floor. “If the regulations are not consistent with the law, I don’t believe [states] should follow them,” he said. “If the department persists, then the state should go to court to sue the department.”

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Trump’s Pick For Education: A Free Market Approach To School Choice

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Betsy DeVos, nominee for education secretary.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

The unofficial motto of a public charter school co-founded by Betsy DeVos — President-elect Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Education — could be “No Pilot Left Behind.”

Nearby a small maintenance hangar that’s part of the West Michigan Aviation Academy, one of the school’s two Cessna 172 airplanes chugs down the tarmac of Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The school is based on the airport’s grounds, just outside Grand Rapids.

Besty DeVos and her husband, Dick DeVos, led the effort to create this charter high school and got it off the ground — literally — in 2010. They donated the first Cessna. Delta Airlines’ foundation donated the second.

But few other Michigan charters have billionaire founder patrons and A-list connections. The school’s annual fundraising gala has included Apollo 13 astronauts as well as former president George W Bush and other luminaries.

The school’s principal, Patrick Cywayna, says there’s a long waiting list to attend this tuition-free, nonprofit high school. “I think the word choice says it all,” he says. “The philosophy of our school from Dick and Betsy, obviously, is to provide opportunities for all kids. So the word opportunity and choice to me go hand in hand.”

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No Teachers Strike; Classes As Usual For Chicago Public Schools Students

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A tentative contract was reached between the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Public Schools. But just in case things didn’t work out, stacks of picket signs were ready for pick-up outside the union’s strike headquarters on Monday.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Teachers in the Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district, had been working without a contract since June 2015, and they were prepared to strike.

The Chicago Teachers Union had told its some 28,000 members to report to the lines Tuesday morning — unless plans changed.

But negotiators reached a tentative contract agreement minutes before a midnight deadline. Talks had been taking place throughout the holiday weekend.

The last time Chicago teachers walked off the job was in 2012, and that strike lasted for seven school days.

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Reimagining the Modern Classroom

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We asked prominent voices in education—from policy makers and teachers to activists and parents—to look beyond laws, politics, and funding and imagine a utopian system of learning. They went back to the drawing board—and the chalkboard—to build an educational Garden of Eden. We’re publishing their answers to one question each day this week. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Today’s assignment: The Space. Describe the perfect classroom.