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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

In the News: Calif. teachers fund sells gun stocks

The California State Teachers Retirement System, known as Calstrs, voted unanimously to begin a formal process of divesting in companies like the one that made the semiautomatic rifle used in Newtown, Conn., according to The New York Times.

CASH FOR CHARTERS: The Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Wal-Mart’s founder, gave more money to Chicago to start new charter schools last year than it did to any other city —­ $3.8 million, according to the Sun-Times. That brings the total donated to Chicago schools to $22.8 million since 1997 by the largest private funder of charter school startups.

WALGREENS WELLNESS: Weeks before Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson agreed to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s request to offer $25 gift cards to encourage parents at 70 Chicago Public Schools to pick up their students’ report cards and participate in parent-teacher conferences, Emanuel’s administration awarded a six-month, $700,000 no-bid contract to Walgreens Health Initiatives to screen government employees who joined a wellness program to avoid a $50 increase in monthly health insurance premiums. City Comptroller Amer Ahmad insisted Wednesday that Walgreens’ decision to provide gift cards at schools with historically-low parental involvement was unrelated to the no-bid contract. (Sun-Times)


WALTONS' WALLET: "For a relative pittance, the Walton family has rented sufficient Arkansas legislators to control committees that generally determine the fate of school legislation in Arkansas," writes Max Brantley on the Arkansas Blog. "It has funded multiple private organizations to carry this message around the state, such as Arkansans for Education Reform." (Arkansas Times)

EXPANDING EFFECTIVENESS: Missouri’s Board of Education is moving forward with increased standards on teacher preparation. The state recently adopted evaluations that will assess some teachers, in part, on how well students fare on state exams. Now the state is going further. Under a plan approved last month, the state will zero in on the effectiveness of teacher colleges. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

OVERHAULING SCHOOL FUNDING: California Gov. Jerry Brown plans to pursue a sweeping overhaul of the way California schools are funded, changing the way money has been allocated for four decades. Brown wants to simplify funding streams, giving more local control to school boards and more money to districts with low-income students and those who don't speak English fluently. (San Jose Mercury News)

DISCIPLINE SHIFT: After millions of "get tough" suspensions and expulsions, educators nationwide look for ways to ensure safety and keep students in school. (Education Week)

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