Photo by AFGE on Flickr.

Partisan crowd gives Gray a hard time: At a forum for mayoral candidates sponsored by the Washington Teachers Union (WTU), Mayor Vincent Gray faced hostile questions about school closures, teacher evaluations, and an emphasis on test scores. He got boos, while other candidates drew cheers for opposing some of those policies. (Post)

And the media give teachers a scolding: The Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger complained that some teachers at the event were “behaving in ways that would surely have gotten them thrown out of their own classrooms for refusing to show the most basic respect.” The Northwest Current’s Tom Sherwood agreed. And the Post editorial board gave a collective “boo” to those who booed the mayor, saying his education policies have led to improvements.

One mayoral candidate knows the way to teachers’ hearts: Andy Shallal not only drew applause at the WTU forum, he also told the Northwest Current he opposes policies that “unfairly expect educators to compensate for poverty” and favors less standardized testing.

And Catania is listening: DC Councilmember David Catania held a hearing Saturday to solicit teachers’ views on education, and many spoke about DCPS’s IMPACT teacher evaluation system. WTU President Elizabeth Davis called the system a failure, but others expressed a range of opinions. (Post)

Catania would run against Gray: Catania told the Post’s Robert McCartney that he would run against Mayor Vincent Gray in the general election if Gray wins the April Democratic mayoral primary,

Henderson says she’s staying in DC: In a letter to DCPS employees, Chancellor Kaya Henderson squelched the rumor that she might take a similar post in New York City. She said the interest from Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is a testament to the success of her policies here, but she is “not about to leave when our students have so much riding on the work we do every day.” (WAMU)

DC has third highest charter-sector rate in the nation: With 43% of public school students enrolled in its charters last year, DC ranked below only New Orleans and Detroit. (Post)

And three charters are competing to use a former DCPS building: Three schools—Bridges, Briya, and Dorothy I. Height Community Academy—put forward bids for Sharpe Health School in Ward 4, scheduled to be closed at the end of the school year. But some warn that the school where Sharpe students are to be transferred may not be ready to receive them in the fall. (Northwest Current)

College aid for DC students progresses: Catania’s “Promise DC” bill passed the Council’s education committee. As modified from its original version, it would provide a maximum of $60,000 in tuition assistance for families making up to $215,000. (Post)

Schools get early Christmas presents: Drawing on unspent funds from last year, DCPS has showered schools with thousands of books, musical instruments, and electronic devices. (Post)

Maryland schools seek bigger budgets: Montgomery County’s superintendent asks for $2.28 billion, a 2.5% increase to address a surge in enrollment. And the Prince George’s County schools’ chief executive officer proposed a $1.75 billion budget, representing a 3.9% increase over the current budget. (Post)

One homeless child’s story: In an extraordinary series, the New York Times chronicles a year in the life of Dasani, a bright and feisty 11-year-old whose family lives in a shelter. She looks to her school for support and stability but faces a host of challenges. Dasani lives in New York, but her experience reflects conditions in many urban centers, including DC. A must-read for anyone interested in urban poverty.

No more strawberry milk for Montgomery County students: Officials say it has artificial color and too much sugar, but others contend that banning it means kids will drink less milk. (Post)

A day in the life of Montgomery County’s school superintendent: Education activist Sam Chaltain shadows Joshua Starr, who has been mentioned as a possible schools chancellor for New York City. (PBS Learning Matters)

That day sometimes includes threats: After receiving threatening and obscene tweets from kids while deciding whether to declare a snow day, Starr sent a letter to parents urging them to educate their children in how to use social media responsibly. (Post)

Arlington County seeks help with dropout data: Although its dropout rate of 6% is far lower than DC’s, the school system has launched a worldwide “open data” competition, inviting teams of data scientists to comb through raw information for early signs of trouble. There’s a $10,000 prize at stake. (Post)

Upcoming events:

School lottery applications accepted starting today: Families can submit up to 12 applications to DCPS and participating charter schools through the My School DC system. Deadlines to submit are February 3 for high schools and March 3 for all other schools.

The Ward 5 Education Council hears from Councilmember and mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser, who will discuss her education agenda. Tuesday, December 17th, 6:30 pm to 8:30 p.m., at the Lamond-Riggs Library, 5401 South Dakota Ave NE.