Ed. Secretary Jeered

Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, in written responses to questions from senators, appears to have used several sentences and phrases from other sources without attribution — including from a top Obama Administration civil rights official.

DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor and proponent of "school choice," regularly faces protests across the country. She was recently blocked from entering a school in Washington, D.C.


Detroit Principals Busted

Thirteen former and current principals within the Detroit Public School (DPS) district have been charged by federal officials with engaging in a long-running kickback and bribery scheme. Beginning in 2002 and continuing until January 2015, the scheme involved business with DPS worth about $2.7 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Ronald Alexander
The principals, all of whom were charged separately, are alleged to have submitted fraudulent school supply invoices to the district in return for payments.

Among the defendants is Spain Elementary-Middle School principal, Ronald Alexander. His school was showcased on The Ellen Show last month when Ellen surprised him with a $500,000 donation.

The bribery and tax evasion charges come amidst word that Detroit’s schools are drowning under $3.5 billion of debt.

"The actions of these individuals are reprehensible and represent a breach of the public trust," said Steven Rhodes, a judge recently appointed to run Detroit Public Schools.


Grading Parents

A bill is now being pushed through the Mississippi legislature that proposes teachers grade parents. The Parent Involvement and Accountability Act would require teachers to grade parents’ involvement with their children’s education. Parents would be graded on three metrics: parental response to requests for conferences or communication; the student’s completion of homework and preparation for tests; the frequency of the student’s absence and tardiness.


Parents Confront Admin Over 'Diversity Day'

Some parents of Pittsburgh's Gateway High School students were troubled after hearing how the school conducted its "Diversity Day" event.


Those who attended the emergency meeting demanded to know who composed and sent out emails and a Facebook post this week after an out-of-school fight broke out Tuesday at a local park. The post, which has since been deleted, called for a "Diversity Day." Students were told to wear Gateway High shirts and "Black Lives Matter" shirts for the pre-planned event. Parents said Friday that the post on an official district account added racial tension to what was originally a nonpolitical, juvenile dispute.


Time Tested

The Department of Education announced that it was taking steps to decrease the amount of time public school students spend preparing for and taking standardized tests -- and called for Congress to follow its lead as it rewrites the nation’s federal education laws.

The DEA laid out new guidelines for standardized tests, eased federal rules on testing, and promised new commitments to states and local governments to help them reevaluate their testing programs. The new recommendation to school districts is that testing should take up no more than 2% of classroom time.


Chicago Schools Chief Indicted


Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former Chicago Public Schools CEO and superintendent, was indicted on federal fraud charges that accuse her of taking bribes and kickbacks for steering more than $23 million in no-bid contracts to a former employer.

Byrd-Bennett resigned in June amid a federal probe charging her with 15 counts of mail fraud and five counts of wire fraud. She was cooperating with prosecutors and has agreed to plead guilty, U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said during a press briefing.

Fardon said Byrd-Bennett abused her position "to line her own pockets and those of her co-defendants." The 43-page indictment alleges Byrd-Bennet her co-defendants -- Gary Solomon and Tom Vranas -- began scheming almost immediately after she was hired for Chicago's top schools spot in 2012. 

If convicted, Byrd-Bennett faces up to 20 years in prison, mandatory restitution, and a maximum fine of $250,000 for each count of mail and wire fraud.