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.


Duncan Bows Out, King Steps In

Education Secretary Arne Duncan will step down by the end of the year. Deputy, John King, will replace him as acting secretary until the close of President Obama’s term. Many of his policies mirror Duncan’s.

John King, 40, a Brooklyn native, was New York’s education commission from May 2011 through December 2014. He was appointed by the state Board of Regents as the first African American official to serve as the state’s education chief. King battled the New York’s teachers’ union, which called for his removal in April 2014.

King will likely focus on implementation of the administration's NCLB rewrite which has yet to make it through Congress