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December 2017
  • Exclusive: The Winds May Be Shifting at NYC Schools, as Mayor Isn’t Considering Carmen Fariña’s List of Internal Candidates to Replace Her as Chancellor

    By The 74 | December 20, 2017

    The news Wednesday afternoon that New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña is preparing to announce her retirement from perhaps the country’s highest-profile educational leadership post was quickly, inevitably, followed by speculation about her replacement.

    Related

    NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña to Step Down in 2018, Leaving Behind Robust Pre-K Program but Struggling Renewal Schools

    Fariña is expected to call a 9:30 a.m. meeting Thursday with members of her Department of Education staff to address her pending departure.

    But although that move was described in multiple published reports as the 75-year-old educator’s decision to retire for a second time, a source with knowledge of the DOE and City Hall said late Wednesday that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is not looking at Fariña’s suggested list of internal candidates to fill her roughly $227,700-a-year job.

    Politico New York, which broke the news, said a national search is underway — not surprising, given the scope and stature of the position. But the extent to which Fariña will or will not play a role in that selection may reflect a distancing between herself and the mayor nearly five years after he persuaded her to emerge from retirement to take on the challenge of overseeing New York City’s 1.1 million public school students.

    Previous NYC Schools Coverage at The 74:

    NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña to Step Down in 2018, Leaving Behind Robust Pre-K Program but Struggling Renewal Schools

    New York City to Close 14 Failing Schools, Including 9 in Renewal Program

    Analysis: Bloomberg Was Right. Time for De Blasio to Start Closing New York City’s Worst Schools and Opening Better Ones



  • NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña to Step Down in 2018, Leaving Behind Robust Pre-K Program but Struggling Renewal Schools

    By Bev Weintraub | December 20, 2017

    Updated Dec. 21

    New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña confirmed her retirement today at a noon press event at City Hall where Mayor Bill de Blasio said she “will go down in history, not only as one of the longest-serving chancellors in New York City, but as one of the most effective we’ve ever had.”

    Fariña, who came out of retirement in 2013 at de Blasio’s urging to take over the nation’s largest school system, said, “I never joined this job to be loved or win a popularity contest. I came to be respected.” Citing familiar themes to her leadership philosophy, she said she was “most proud of bringing dignity to teaching, joy to learning, and trust to the system.”

    De Blasio, who was joined by his wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray, in wishing the outgoing chancellor well, called Fariña’s departure “bittersweet”; he is expected to launch a national search for her replacement as he begins his second term.

    Michael Mulgrew, president of the powerful United Federation of Teachers, released a brief statement Thursday saying, “Carmen has a lot to be proud of during her tenure. Her decades of experience in the system gave her a deep understanding of how our schools work. She managed the historic introduction of universal pre-K and oversaw significant gains in student achievement from test scores to high school graduation rates. We wish her well.”

    New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña is stepping down after four years of running the nation’s largest public school system, according to multiple news reports. The story first broke on Politico.

    She is set to announce Thursday morning that she will retire early next year. The New York Times printed excerpts from a letter Fariña is planning to release in announcing her retirement: “Four years ago, Mayor de Blasio asked me to unretire at age 70 to join his leadership team and become schools chancellor,” the Times reported. It continued, noting that she “took the job with a firm belief in excellence for every student, in the dignity and joyfulness of the teaching profession, and in the importance of trusting relationships where collaboration is the driving force,” and that she plans to “retire (again) in the coming months.”

    Fariña had no comment about the reports following a Wednesday night meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, Chalkbeat reportedMayor Bill de Blasio also declined to comment.

    The 74 reported exclusively Wednesday night that the mayor is not considering Fariña’s list of internal candidates to serve as her successor.

    Fariña, a former teacher, principal, superintendent, and deputy chancellor, was persuaded by the incoming mayor to take the chancellor’s seat in 2013. During her tenure, she oversaw two of de Blasio’s signature education initiatives: a broad expansion of universal 4-year-old pre-K that is now extending yet further, to serve 3-year-olds; and the Renewal Schools program, a troubled-turnaround program that has become the target of widespread criticism. (Just two days ago, she announced that nearly a dozen additional schools in the program were slated for closure.)

    Related

    New York City to Close 14 Failing Schools, Including 9 in Renewal Program

    The Renewal program, which has cost taxpayers $582 million, provides failing schools with extra supports and social services to try to turn them around. Its creation marked a dramatic shift away from the policies of de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, who shuttered failing schools and replaced them with new, better options rather than try to keep them afloat.

    As of press time, only an initial few reactions to Fariña’s resignation from prominent education advocates and advocacy groups had rolled in.

    “Chancellor Carmen Fariña has dedicated her career to public service, and no one can question that she has fought tirelessly for what she believes in,” said StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Jenny Sedlis. “However, after four years of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s control of public schools, far too many low-income students remain trapped in struggling schools. We hope that the next chancellor will push the mayor to embrace evidence-based policies and parental choice.”

    Evan Stone, co-CEO and co-founder of Educators for Excellence, said, “Chancellor Fariña has always placed students at the center of our city’s education policy through her leadership at the classroom, school, and district levels. … As Mayor de Blasio begins his search for a new chancellor, it is critical that he engage students, teachers, and school communities in order to ensure that we find a dynamic leader who will continue to fight for equity by supporting and rewarding great teachers, improving school climate and culture, and ensuring all students have access to great schools.”

    During her tenure, Fariña saw test scores and graduation rates rise, re-engineered support networks for principals, and was credited with helping to improve conditions for teachers. But she was also criticized for moving too slowly to address segregation within the school system and for reviving the forced hiring of teachers from the city’s Absent Teacher Reserve pool.

    As The New York Times observed Wednesday, Fariña’s approach was a notable departure from that of her predecessor. “Where the Bloomberg administration was known for its love of data, Ms. Fariña, a career educator who was a teacher, principal, superintendent, and deputy chancellor during her 50-year career, preferred to depend on her intuition, or that of her deputies. Early in her tenure, she walked into a meeting where officials were poring over spreadsheets looking for model schools and said, ‘I know a good-quality school when I’m in the building.’ ”

    Now, speculation turns to who will replace Fariña as head of the 1.1 million–student school system. A nationwide search is already underway, according to Politico.

    —Mark Keierleber contributed reporting for this story.

    Disclosure: The 74 is partially funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Howard Wolfson, head of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ education programs, serves on The 74’s Board of Directors. Co-founder & CEO Romy Drucker previously worked at the New York City Department of Education.



  • EduClips: ESSA Plans ‘Not Encouraging’ on Equity, Ed Trust Says; School Closures in NYC — and More Must-Reads From America’s 10 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | December 19, 2017

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter. Note: EduClips will go on a brief holiday break starting tomorrow and will resume Jan. 2.

    Top Story

    EQUITY — The Education Trust, a Washington-based organization that advocates for minority and poor students, said state plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act are “not encouraging” when it comes to educational equity. “For all the talk about equity surrounding ESSA, too many state leaders have taken a pass on clearly naming and acting on schools’ underperformance for low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, and English learners,” concludes an Ed Trust report. (Read at Politics K-12)

    National News

    TAX BILL — How Education Fared in Congress’s Tax Deal Compromise: Teacher Tax Deductions, Charter Financing & 3 More Noteworthy Fixes (Read at The74million.org)

    ESSA — Betsy DeVos’s Team Asks Seven States for More ESSA Specifics (Read at Politics K-12)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK —New York City to Close 14 Failing Schools, Including 9 in Renewal Program (Read at The74million.org)

    CALIFORNIA California school district targets underlying issues to combat chronic absenteeism (Read at EdSource)

    TEXAS Report: Low Graduation Rates at Texas Charter Schools (Read at Texas Public Radio)

    FLORIDA — Florida Department of Education posts proposed Schools of Hope rules (Read at Tampa Bay Times)

    NEW YORK With new ‘Rise’ schools, de Blasio tiptoes through a school-closure minefield (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ILLINOIS Education funding, Amazon touted in Rauner’s top 10 accomplishments (Read at Chicago Sun Times)

    CALIFORNIA SF school leaders, advocates wary of Silicon Valley group aiming to tackle achievement gap (Read at San Francisco Examiner)

    Think Pieces

    HISTORY — What American-History Classes Aren’t Teaching (Read at The Atlantic)

    UNIONS — New Study Shows America’s Largest Teachers Union Spent Big to Win Republican Allies as Democrats Lost Ground (Read at The74million.org)

    STEM — What STEM Students Need to Know (Read at WSJ)

    Quote of the Day

    “If you teach someone the truth of what happened, then they cannot help but to change their perception of what reality is.” —Kristin Kirkland, a history teacher at Neshoba Central High School in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on teaching about the civil rights movement. (Read at The Atlantic)

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  • 5 Things to Know About the (Still Intact) Teacher Tax Deduction

    By Laura Fay | December 18, 2017

    The tax overhaul Republicans are expected to pass this week has caused a stir in education circles for months. One provision that received outsize attention from countless teachers and school administrators was the possible elimination of the deduction teachers can take for out-of-pocket classroom expenses.

    However, the bill, which was finalized last Friday, retains the deduction for teachers. Republicans say they have the votes to pass it.

    The current policy — which remains unchanged in the new bill — allows teachers to deduct up to $250 a year from their taxable income for the personal money they spend on classroom materials, such as snacks, clothing for students, decorations, and books.

    Related

    How Education Fared in Congress’s Tax Deal Compromise: Teacher Tax Deductions, Charter Financing & 3 More Noteworthy Fixes

    Here’s what you need to know:

    1 It’s a compromise.

    The Senate wanted to double the break to $500 a year, and the House wanted to eliminate it altogether; the final bill holds it steady at $250. When deducted from the average teacher’s salary, the break for most teachers is worth about $40.

    2 On average, teachers spend far more than $250 a year for classroom supplies.

    A 2016 study by the publishing company Scholastic found that teachers spend an average of $530 a year on their students and classrooms — mostly on decorations, school supplies, and snacks for students.

    Teachers’ total amount of out-of-pocket expenses was estimated by the National School Supply and Equipment Association to be around $1.6 billion in the 2012–13 school year, which means a maximum of $825 million could have been deducted from teachers’ incomes that year.

    3 Teachers at high-poverty schools spend almost $150 more annually.

    At high-poverty schools, teachers spend an average of $672 on supplies, the Scholastic study found.

    4 Principals spend their own money, too.

    In high-poverty schools, principals spend on average $1,014 a year on supplies for their schools, according to the study. They can also use the tax break, as can counselors and classroom aides.

    5 Some teachers saw the proposed elimination of the deduction as a reflection of the value House Republicans place on their profession.

    “Unfortunately, the GOP’s tax plan just sent teachers a different and disheartening message: Your work doesn’t matter. We don’t value your money. We don’t value your time. We don’t value your dedication to children,” one former teacher wrote on The 74.

    Early in the debate, Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida said the deduction is an example of the “complicated, small, sometimes invisible benefits” that the House version of the bill tried to end.

    “Do we want a tax code that has special and small benefits for many small groups of Americans, or do we want a tax code that broadly benefits all Americans and that treats all Americans fairly?” he said.

    Nationwide, the Federal Reserve estimates that about $210 million was lost in tax revenue because of the teacher deduction in 2016.

    More than 93,000 people signed an online petition urging leaders to keep the deduction.

    Some teachers took to social media to ask why teachers were losing their deduction, which isn’t worth much money, while others were getting tax breaks for more frivolous items — like private jets.

    Related

    Teacher Commentary: The House Tax Cut Will Force Educators Out of the Classroom



  • EduClips: Final Tax Bill Backs Away From Toughest School Proposals; Education Fallout From the End of ‘Net Neutrality’ — and More Must-Reads From America’s 10 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | December 18, 2017

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    TAX BILL — Teachers who pay for school supplies, college student borrowers, and graduate students all heaved a sigh of relief as the GOP backed away from some of the more controversial proposals in their finalized tax bill Friday. But some public school advocates still attacked the plan, which maintained provisions that could hurt public school funding while offering tax breaks to parents who send children to private schools. (Read at Washington Post)

    National News

    NET NEUTRALITY —  Schools Could See Higher Bills, Less New Educational Software After Net Neutrality Vote — But Most Teachers Don’t Know It Yet (Read at The74Million.org)

    PRIVATE SCHOOLS  —  No more A’s, B’s, or C’s? That’s what some private schools are talking about. (Read at Washington Post)

    District and State News

    TEXAS  — When an Austin School Fails, Now It’s Not Only the State That Can Take It Over (Read at KUT)

    NEW YORK — In new study of school-district effectiveness, New York City falls just below national average (Read at Chalkbeat)

    FLORIDA — Puerto Rican teachers find homes in Central Florida classrooms (Read at Orlando Sentinel)

    CALIFORNIA — California School Dashboard has plenty of critics (Read at Monterey Herald)

    ILLINOIS — Report: State’s Teacher Shortage Worse in Central Illinois (Read at WGLT)

    NEW YORK — Cuomo announces $15M program to fight MS-13 gang (Read at NY Post)

    CALIFORNIA — Westside families sue over construction next to school (Read at LA Times)

    FLORIDA — Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking (Read at Tampa Bay Times)

    NEVADA — Clark County school bus crashes on pace to threaten record (Read at Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    TEXAS — Commissioner Morath ends IEP Analysis Project (Read at North Texas e-News)

    Think Pieces

    SCHOOL CHOICE — Analysis: Like ‘Death Tax,’ ‘Voucher School’ Is a Phrase That Aims for the Gut. It May Also Be ‘Fake News’ (Read at The74million.org)

    POVERTY — Lots of Poor School Districts Do Pretty Well, but We Don’t Know Why (Read at Mother Jones)

    CIVILITY — The Age of Outrage: What the current political climate is doing to our country and our universities (Read at City Journal)

    MASSACHUSETTS — Commitment and common sense: Seven lessons for reformers from the Massachusetts miracle (Read at Flypaper)

    SEGREGATION — New Evidence on School Choice and Racially Segregated Schools (Read at Education Next)

    Quote of the Day

    “On balance, the final bill is far better news — especially for students and families — than it could have been.”—Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, on the final tax bill passed by Congress (Read at Washington Post)

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  • Analysis: Like ‘Death Tax,’ ‘Voucher School’ Is a Phrase That Aims for the Gut. It May Also Be ‘Fake News’

    By Beth Hawkins | December 17, 2017

    Updated Dec. 20

    Paging Frank Luntz.

    Huffington Post’s Rebecca Klein recently published a compelling examination of the questionable lessons taught in private schools run by evangelical churches. The story made a strong case that tax dollars in states that provide tuition vouchers to families who choose the schools are supporting curricula that’s more than fairly described as extremist.

    To wit: Course catalogues examined by HuffPo include topics such as “Satan Created Psychology” and slavery as just one likely cause of the “War Between the States.” Another possibility? “God may have also been punishing people with the war, as it was preceded by a time of ‘religious apostasy and cultism.’ ”

    But the publication may have put its thumb on the scale by using a loaded phrase to describe the schools. “Voucher Schools Championed by Betsy DeVos Can Teach Whatever They Want,” the headline reads. “Turns Out They Teach Lies.”

    The use of the word “lies” is, of course, at the heart of a simmering debate about journalistic standards and linguistic precision that was brought to a roiling boil by Donald Trump’s election.

    But what exactly is a voucher school? A class of schools with a widely agreed-upon definition or a political term of art? Chartered schools (which is what charter schools were originally called) are legally constituted by a charter, a document that spells out their governance structure. Boarding schools are schools where students get room and board in addition to the three Rs.

    But a voucher school could be a private school, whatever its identity, or a private school that accepts students who receive tuition vouchers. The term implies that a school was established for the purpose of taking advantage of the existence of public funds for private school tuition.

    The story describes the schools either as participating in a state’s voucher program or as accepting families that have been given tuition vouchers to use at private schools. That is more accurate but less sexy than the headline’s incorporation of voucher schools alongside U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, voucher proponent and red-hot internet clickbait icon, and the word lies.

    One danger is that the news-consuming public is already understandably confused about the differences between the types of schools that fall under the large and sometimes ill-fitting tent of “school choice” and whether those distinctions matter. Most notably, DeVos’s championship of the term has muddied the waters regarding other schools of choice — meaning schools families opt in to, which include public charter schools, district-run magnet schools, and even traditional public schools that accept students from other districts.

    The abuses highlighted in the piece and the curriculum used to justify them are horrible and the reporting that documents them commendable. But the use of a term like voucher schools threatens to paint everything, including secular private schools that do rigorous work, with a broad brush.

    Back to Luntz. A conservative Fox News commentator and political messaging guru, and pollster to Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich, and Ross Perot, he’s credited with popularizing the use of the term death tax in place of estate tax, as well as other turns of phrase designed to hit the public at a gut level rather than an intellectual one. The subtitle of his seminal work on messaging is “It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear.”

    The most prominent use of voucher schools we could find was in a series of 2012 position papers put out by the Democracy and Education Research Group, an effort by the ACLU of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee branch of the American Federation of Teachers to halt Milwaukee’s controversial private school voucher program.

    We asked Klein about HuffPo’s decision to use the phrase but didn’t receive an explanation. It’s entirely possible that responsibility for the term’s inclusion in the headline rests on a copy editor or another member of the editorial team, though it was used by Klein in the body of the article.

    We asked three different education policy advocates known to hold different views what they understood about the phrase.

    Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, bit first. “It’s generally viewed among school choice supporters as pejorative,” he said. “Because ‘vouchers’ doesn’t poll well, while terms like ‘scholarships’ do. I’ve used it myself, though, at times of laziness. It means private schools that accept vouchers.”

    Co-founder of Bellwether Education Partners and 74 board member Andy Rotherham doesn’t share Petrilli’s enthusiasm for vouchers, but agreed with his view of the phrase, as did Lars Esdal, executive director of Education Evolving, which follows teacher-led schools.

    Of course, if “voucher school” makes it into the popular vocabulary, alongside “corporate reform” and “school privatization,” the term won’t be the first where what’s said isn’t necessarily what’s heard.



  • New Study Shows America’s Largest Teachers Union Spent Big to Win Republican Allies as Democrats Lost Ground

    By Kevin Mahnken | December 17, 2017

    New research suggests that the National Education Association, the largest labor union in the country and a forceful advocate for public school teachers in national politics, has successfully cultivated new Republican allies in Congress over the last decade. The study found that even as the group’s traditional Democratic allies have suffered reversals at the ballot box, their influence over education policy remained unmatched throughout the Obama era.

    University of Southern California scholar Bradley Marianno studied voting patterns from the United States Senate and House of Representatives between the 2009-10 and 2015-16 sessions, as well as campaign contributions from both the NEA and its ideological opponents in the business and school choice sectors. During the period he studied, the union took public positions on 148 combined roll call votes and issued letter grades to legislators based on their education stances and accessibility to NEA members.

    Lawmakers who received A or B grades — often Democrats, though not always — were categorized as NEA allies, while those receiving D or F grades were seen as adversaries. The Obama era, during which Democrats gradually lost control over both houses of Congress but NEA allies typically constituted a majority in each, provide an illustration of the diminishing overlap between the two groups.

    Photo credit: Bradley Marianno, USC

    While the number of Senate Democrats declined from a peak of 60 in 2009 to just 46 in 2016, senators who received A or B grades actually never fell below 50 votes during that time. While NEA allies briefly slipped below the 50 percent margin in the House following the 2010 wave that transferred control from Democrats to Republicans (notice that members receiving D or F grades skyrocketed around the same time), the union gradually reassembled a bipartisan majority over the next four years.

    “Much of the defeat of Democrat allies not only occurred after the 2010 midterm elections (–57 seats) but also took place after the 2014 midterms (–12 seats),” writes Marianno. “However, the NEA added 12 Republican allies after the 2010 midterms and 18 Republican [allies] after the 2014 midterms which helped stem the tide of ally loss that occurred in 2010. This partly explains why the NEA succeeded in regaining majority-ally control of the House after the 2014 midterms despite the Republicans still maintaining majority control.”

    The 2010 and 2014 midterm elections did install Republicans in influential positions in Congress. And while the GOP is generally perceived as hostile to many of the priorities most deeply held by teachers unions, disagreements over school choice and funding have generally not stood in the way of a budding, albeit unwieldy, alliance between the two strange bedfellows.

    Critically, both congressional Republicans and many union members both opposed much of the Obama administration’s education agenda, especially its emphasis on a strong federal role in education governance. The NEA particularly objected to Obama’s Race to the Top initiative, which incentivized states to implement more rigorous academic standards and teacher evaluation systems. While the president remained enormously popular with the NEA rank and file, the group nevertheless called on Education Secretary Arne Duncan — a close Obama ally — to resign.

    Later fights over Title I funding helped solidify ties between unions and the conservatives, with Republicans claiming that Obama’s plan to direct more money to poor schools represented intolerable federal overreach and the NEA arguing that it posed a threat to their contracts. As the No Child Left Behind era gave way to the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, unions and Republicans alike trumpeted the cause of local control over education. In 2014, new NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia began publicly reconsidering the group’s single-minded allegiance to Democrats.

    That ambivalence is borne out in political activity, particularly at the local level. Most famously, political observers were shocked earlier this year when the NEA’s affiliate in New Jersey spent millions in an unlikely attempt to defeat Democratic State Senate President Steve Sweeney, who had angered the union by opening the door to reductions in retirement benefits for state employees.

    Related

    Turning Red: New Jersey’s Well-Heeled Teachers Union Backs Trump Supporter Over State’s Top Democrat

    While Marianno notes that the NEA never donates to defeat a Democratic ally in Congress, it has stepped up its rewards to Republicans who vote favorably.

    Given the importance of A- or B-graded Republicans to the maintenance of the NEA’s majority in Congress, Marianno notes, “it is important to note that NEA contributions to Republican A/B candidates per candidate nearly doubled over time to House A/B Republican lawmakers,” Marianno writes. “The NEA contributed 2,125 dollars to Republican A/B candidates in 2010 compared with 5,000 dollars per candidate in 2014.”

    The impact of this active campaign work can be seen in congressional votes on matters important to the union. Its “success rate” in roll call votes actually increased, from 41 percent in 2014 to 63 percent in 2016, even as the ideological complexion of the House was not altered.



  • Baltimore Students Wear Blankets, Coats to Class in High School With No Heat for 2 Weeks

    By Kei-Sygh Thomas | December 14, 2017

    Cold weather has hit the East Coast — and Baltimore’s Western High School, where students came prepared to learn with their backpacks, pens, homework … and blankets.

    A tweet surfaced Wednesday morning showing a classroom filled with students wearing coats, hats, and scarves to keep warm from the below-freezing weather outside and inside their school. Western High did not have heat for more than two weeks.

    Students took to Twitter to complain about classrooms that “feel just like outside.” One student’s teacher said it was “too cold to do anything.” The class watched a documentary instead.

    ABC2 News reported Wednesday that Baltimore City Schools issued a statement saying the “heating issues” were caused by cold temperatures, high winds, and an old physical plant — boilers kept shutting off. “Facilities staff will be working this evening to install a new oil regulator to adjust the flow of oil through the pipes. With this repair, we are hopeful that building temperatures will return to more comfortable levels on Thursday,” the statement said.

    On Thursday, Baltimore City Schools gave The 74 a statement indicating that the boiler repairs were successful and heat had been restored.

    Full statement from Edie House Foster of Baltimore City Schools:

    “The facilities staff has informed me that Western High School has heat. The repair work on the boilers was successful and the boilers have continued to run without any problems. Staff has walked each floor of the building. Temperatures in classrooms on the three floors have consistently been recorded in the 70s. Work is ongoing in the building. We will closely monitor temperatures in the building to ensure satisfactory heating.”

    A Twitter update Thursday afternoon from the original poster announced that the school did have heat, though students were advised to wear layers. The tweet showed photos of students bundled in blankets and said the heat was blowing at room temperature at best.

    The high on Thursday was 38 degrees.



  • EduClips: Five Years Later, Sandy Hook’s Legacy on School Safety; Closing ‘Renewal’ Schools in NYC — and More Must-Reads From America’s 10 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | December 14, 2017

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    SANDY HOOK — There have been 144 incidents in which a gun was discharged in a K-12 school since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. The five-year anniversary offers an opportunity to examine ways in which schools have changed since that tragic event, including an expanded focus on mental health screening, the debate over arming teachers and and efforts to prepare students through safety drills. (Read at Education Week)

    National News

    HIGHER-ED ACT — House Republicans Finalize Overhaul of Higher Education Act (Read at U.S. News & World Report)

    SAFETY — ‘Exponential’ increase in school shooting drills since Sandy Hook (Read at ABC News)

    ELECTIONS — Education Advocates Already Filing to Run in 2018 State Elections (Read at State EdWatch)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — As New York City prepares to close more struggling ‘Renewal’ schools, here’s what we know about ones they’ve shuttered before (Read at Chalkbeat)

    FLORIDA — Appeals Court Tosses School Quality Lawsuit (Read at Sunshine State News)

    CALIFORNIA — Investigation of embattled L.A. school board member now includes conflict-of-interest allegations (Read at LA Times)

    VIRGINIA — Virginia’s McAuliffe takes emergency steps to curtail teacher shortage. (Read at The Washington Post)

    NEVADA — Handling Gender Diversity in School Continues to Polarize the Community (Read at Las Vegas Weekly)

    CALIFORNIA — Green Dot’s Suspension Rates are Higher than Reported, but they are Mostly In-School Suspensions (Read at School Data Nerd)

    FLORIDA — FL school districts not taking feds’ advice on school bus seat belt safety (Read at Fox 4)

    NEVADA — Education chief wants new Clark County elementary school reorg consultant (Read at Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    ILLINOIS — Governor candidate Ives: ‘Every school district should be a unit district’ (Read at Chicago Daily Herald)

    Think Pieces

    PRESCHOOL — Opinion: What Pre-K Means for Your Pre-Teenager (Read at The New York Times)

    TEACHERS  —  America’s teachers don’t move out of state much. That could be bad for students. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    RESEARCH — 10 Charts That Changed the Way We Think About America’s Schools in 2017 (Read at The74Million.org)

    DEVOS — Opinion: Betsy DeVos and the Soft Bigotry of Low Essa Expectations (Read at RealClearEducation)

    PARENTS — Can parents prod schools to get better? (Read at Flypaper)

    Quote of the Day

    “While, yes, statistically speaking, the chances [of a shooting] are very slim. I don’t want, heaven forbid, something to happen to my students or my daughter and to say, ‘There was a small chance it would happen, and it happened. And no one ever planned for it.’”— Matt Holland, teacher and father, on the 5th anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. (Read at Education Week)

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  • EduClips: Congress Moves to Overhaul Higher-Ed Act; Hitting ‘Pause’ in Texas Schools Post-Harvey — and More Must-Reads From America’s 10 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | December 13, 2017

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    HIGHER EDUCATION — On Tuesday, Congressional Republicans embarked on an extensive rewrite of the nation’s higher education laws. While many elements pursue bipartisan goals, such as simplifying the federal financial aid process, some elements could dismantle Obama-era regulations designed to protect students from predatory for-profit colleges. (Read at The New York Times)

    National News

    POLITICS  Most Educators at Least Slightly Wary of Wading Into Politics, Survey Says (Read at Politics K-12)

    ENGAGEMENT — Only Half of Students Think What They’re Learning in School Is Relevant to the Real World, Survey Says (Read at The74Million.org)

    District and State News

    TEXAS Abbott suggests hitting pause button in grading schools hit hardest by Harvey (Read at Chron)

    ILLINOIS Top Chicago Public Schools attorney resigns following ethics probe that led to CEO’s exit (Read at Chicago Tribune)

    CALIFORNIA L.A. school board sticks with early start for school (Read at Los Angeles Times)

    NEVADA  Charter school authorization process puts Clark County in a bind (Read at Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    FLORIDA How safe is your child’s school zone? This map will show you. (Read at Miami Herald)

    NEW YORK As budget talks begin, top New York lawmaker eyes cuts from Washington (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA Big changes in requirements to become a special education teacher in California (Read at EdSource)

    NEVADA Clark County School employees sue Teachers Health Trust (Read at Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Think Pieces

    RESEARCH — 10 Charts That Changed the Way We Think About America’s Schools in 2017 (Read at The74Million.org)

    SEGREGATION  Opinion: Do Black Students Need White Peers? (Read at Wall Street Journal)

    CIVICS Teaching the ‘unwritten Constitution’ (Read at Brookings)

    UNIONS When union protections disappear, poor schools lose teachers, new research finds (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Quote of the Day

    “States should require every potential high school graduate to pass a test on the reasoning behind core democratic values, and civics teachers should be evaluated on what proportion of their students pass. Getting the passing rates up might take some time, since teachers would have to understand the principles and be willing to wade into issues and field challenges from offended parents.” —Paul Hill, founder of the Center on Reinventing Public Education. (Read at Brookings)

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  • Forty Years After Court Order, a Louisiana County Is Finally Hiring More Black Teachers. Student Performance Remains Unchanged

    By Kevin Mahnken | December 12, 2017

    According to a new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a court-ordered program to desegregate the teacher workforce in a Louisiana county succeeded in increasing the share of black teachers hired and lowering the student-teacher “representation gap,” i.e., the relative lack of black teachers compared to black students.

    Notably, however, as teaching staffs gradually became more diverse, student achievement was unaffected.

    The study, conducted by Northwestern University academics Diane Schanzenbach and Cynthia DuBois, introduces compelling new findings around hiring practices at a time when more observers are touting the benefits of black students learning under same-race teachers. A report released this spring found that black students exposed to even one black teacher were less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to aspire to attend college.

    Related

    The Power of One: New Research Shows Black Students See Big Benefits From a Single Black Teacher

    Although existing research indicates that black educators may have higher expectations of their black students, and that the students themselves draw inspiration from seeing their own race reflected in school staff, this newest study provides no evidence of a corresponding boost in standardized test scores.

    The authors examined the efforts to change the racial complexion of the teaching workforce in Tangipahoa Parish, a county of roughly 130,000 residents that sits across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. Following a 1969 discrimination lawsuit brought against the local school district by a group of black teachers and coaches, a U.S. district court ordered the enforcement of a comprehensive affirmative action plan mandating a 40:60 ratio of black employees to white ones. Within a few years, however, the school board was held in contempt for refusing to comply, and the order went largely ignored for over three decades.

    The suit’s original plaintiffs and attorneys from the NAACP succeeded in having the court reopen the case in 2006, ultimately leading to a new desegregation plan being implemented. Anytime a teaching vacancy occurs at a school in Tangipahoa Parish, the principal is now forwarded a list of qualified black candidates from the district and instructed to select from the group. If no black candidate is hired, the principal must submit an explanation.

    Photo credit: National Bureau of Economic Research

    As expected, the new policy led to increased hiring of minority candidates. Using data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Schanzenbach and DuBois found that Tangipahoa Parish’s percentage of black teachers — which had previously been five percentage points lower than the statewide average — had increased substantially, and the percentage of black employees among its new hires was much greater than that of the state as a whole (32.2 percent versus 21.7 percent).

    “The overall black teacher employment share was slightly decreasing before the reopening of [the desegregation suit], even as the new teacher hiring share was increasing,” they write. “The share of black teachers rose from 15.9 percent after the Moore case was reopened, to 19.5 percent after the introduction of the court-ordered hiring criteria, and continuing to climb to 22.4 percent by the end of the sample period.” In spite of the fact that the percentage of black students in the district increased slightly over the period of study, so many black teachers were hired that the representation gap still declined by between three and four percentage points.

    They also note that the existence of these relatively strict affirmative action measures, which have tended to draw criticism from existing employees in many settings, did not diminish the perception of teacher quality in new hires across the county. After the reforms were implemented, over half of teachers said they believed the overall quality of teachers in their department was increasing, while around one-quarter said that it was decreasing.

    If the quality of instruction at the schools either improved or declined, it was not indicated in student achievement data. Results from end-of-course exams in English, math, social studies, and science showed that student performance was neither helped nor hurt by the introduction of diversity hiring practices.



  • EduClips: The Lingering Academic Effects of Homelessness, Florida Textbook Evaluations— and More Must-Reads From America’s 10 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | December 12, 2017

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    HOMELESSNESS The negative academic effects of homelessness continue long after students move into new homes, according to a study from the Education Trust-New York. Proficiency rates for formerly homeless students on state exams are nearly the same as achievement levels for currently homeless students, the study found. (Read at The New York Times)

    National News

    ESSA PLANS – Many State ESSA Plans Are ‘Uncreative, Unambitious,’ Analysis Finds (Read at Politics K-12)

    BULLYING – Middle School Student Keaton Jones Exposes Bullies, And Wins Fans For His Courage (Read at NPR)

    U.S. Dept. of Education  – Trump Taps Ex-Florida Chief, Lt. Governor for Top K-12 Post Under DeVos (Read at Politics K-12)

    District and State News

    FLORIDA — Florida Textbook Law Lets Residents Challenge School Curriculum (Read at WLRN)

    ILLINOIS —  Apple CEO Tim Cook wants to teach every Chicago public school student to code (Read at USA Today)

    NEW YORK New York eases graduation requirements for students with disabilities (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — How one California district narrowed its Latino achievement gap (Read at EdSource)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Feds: Fake tutor defrauded Philly schools of nearly $100K (Read at Philadelphia Inquirer)

    NEW YORK — New York policymakers call for $1.6B hike in school funding, as fiscal uncertainties loom (Read at Chalkbeat)

    NEVADA —  A Push For Black History Month In All Clark County Public Schools (Read at OPB)

    Think Pieces

    INVESTMENT — Case Study: An ‘Education Return on Investment’ in Funding Parent Empowerment (or When Spending $1 Drives $44 in Proficiency) (Read at The74Million.org)

    ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE The Solution to Our Education Crisis Might be AI (Read at Futurism)

    CHARTERS Richard Whitmire: Why I Put Myself On A Success Academy Writing Diet (Read at EduWonk)

    TAX BILL Opinion: Tax plan’s proposed expansion of education savings is a game changer (Read at The Hill)

    TAX BILL — Opinion: The Republican Tax Plan Is an Early Christmas Gift for Betsy DeVos (Read at Mother Jones)

    Quote of the Day

    “This is really challenging work. No state has seemed to figure out how to do it well, across the board, for every student, in a comprehensive manner and in a sustained way over time.”— Erika McConduit, president and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana, who help peer review second-round ESSA accountability plans. (Read at The74Million.org)

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  • Morning EduClips: School Discipline Showdown, NYC Sends the Worst Teachers to the Neediest Students — and 7 More Must-Reads from America’s 12 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | December 11, 2017

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s 12 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    DISCIPLINE The role of two major Obama-era civil rights regulations that the Trump administration is seeking to eliminate took center stage Friday at a hearing by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on federal laws designed to protect students of color with disabilities from discriminatory disciplinary actions. The panelists sparred on the state of discipline, what research says on the matter, and the federal role in shaping policy. (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

     

    National News

    UNIONS Federal Government Switches Sides, Joins Argument for Striking Down Mandatory Dues in Janus Case (Read at The74Million.org)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — Even as fires close schools, campus kitchens stay open (Read at Los Angeles Times)

    NEW YORK De Blasio and Farina are sending the worst teachers to the neediest kids (Read at New York Post)

    TEXAS — Ted Cruz does what Texas legislature could not: expand ‘school choice’ (Read at Austin American-Statesman)

    NEW YORK — Rich PTA, poor PTA: New York City lawmaker wants to track school fundraising (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — A few LA charter schools severely skew charter suspension data (Read at School Data Nerd)

     NEVADA — Nevada’s increased education spending tries to hit a moving target (Read at Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    ILLINOIS — Hello World’: Chicago children learn coding (Read at Columbia Chronicle)

     

    Think Pieces

    DEVOS — A Commentary by Betsy DeVos: ‘Tolerating Low Expectations for Children With Disabilities Must End’ (Read at EdWeek)

    READINGA Few PIRLS of Wisdom on New Reading Results (Read at Cato)

    INCOME INEQUALITY — Teaching about economic inequality is political, but not the way you think  (Read at Brookings)

    EDUCATION POLICY — Third indication U.S. educational system is deteriorating (Read at Hechinger Report)

    HIGH SCHOOLS — The only way to fix bad high schools is to start over (Read at Washington Post)

    DISCIPLINE — How to think about discipline disparities (Read at Fordham Institute)

     

    Quote of the Day

    “If we are willing to revise our assumptions based on better evidence, we should be utterly alarmed that our efforts to fix the school-to-prison pipelines has actually amplified it. We are on a very dangerous road.” —Max Eden, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, on school discipline policies. (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

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  • EduClips: Questioning Graduation Rates in Chicago, Reading the Tea Leaves on DeVos — and More Must-Reads From America’s 10 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | December 7, 2017

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    DEVOS — On social media this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos offered some clues about her policy priorities. She seized on America’s stagnant scores on a 4th grade international reading test to make her case that education in the U.S. needs an overhaul. But her reaction to what looked like good news about rising U.S. high school graduation rates was far more subdued. (Education Week)

    National News

    LATIN — 50 Years After Latin Disappeared from High School Classrooms, These Educators Are Bringing It Back (Read at The74Million.org)

    TEACHERS — Is Teacher Recertification Broken? (Read at Education Week)

    District and State News

    ILLINOIS — Analysis: Chicago Public School students fail annual tests, still graduate (Read at Chicago City Wire)

    TEXAS — Disability rights advocates call for Texas to halt education data mining contract (Read at Texas Tribune)

    NEW YORK — To help students with disabilities transition to adulthood, New York City is opening new resource hubs in every borough (Read at Chalkbeat)

    TEXAS — How experienced is your kid’s principal? New data gives you a peek (Read at Dallas News)

    CALIFORNIA — California School Dashboard provides opportunity for schools “to turn data into action” (Read at EdSource)

    PENNSYLVANIA­ — Philly launches effort to expand K-12 computer science classes (Read at WHYY)

    ILLINOIS — Google’s charitable arm donates $1.5M to CPS, Chance the Rapper’s foundation (Read at Chicago Tribune)

    Think Pieces

    CHARTERS — Eva Moscowitz, The Charter-School Crusader (Read at The Atlantic)

    STUDENT LOANS — Student Loan Debt Is Now As Big as the U.S. Junk Market (Read at Bloomberg)

    TECHNOLOGY — The Futile Resistance Against Classroom Tech (Read at The Atlantic)

    Quote of the Day

    “The problem isn’t one article, however off-base it may be. The problem is the mindset of revanchists who peddle stories like these — professional anti-reformers who go nuts when approaches other than those they sanction and control deliver results for the students whom they insist cannot learn at high levels.” Amy Wilkins, senior vice president of advocacy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, on the Associated Press article on charter schools and racial isolation. (Read at The74Million.org)

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  • How Will America’s New Education Law Change Your School? 5 Experts Point to the Best New Ideas From ESSA Plans

    By Blair Mann | December 6, 2017

    This article is part of The 74’s ongoing coverage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and the new law’s implementation across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. You can follow our complete coverage here — and see state-by-state updates via our interactive ESSA map at ESSA.The74Million.org.

    Earlier this year, the Collaborative for Student Success and Bellwether Education Partners brought together more than 30 education experts — with state and national experience, Republicans and Democrats — to independently review the first 17 state ESSA plans submitted to the U.S. Department of Education.

    While the results of that review can be found at CheckStatePlans.org, peer reviewers also shared their thoughts on different aspects of state ESSA plans — topics like what they were looking for, what they wished they had seen, and what they’re hoping to see in the second round. In this new series, we’ll be sharing those thoughts as we lead up to next week’s review of ESSA plans submitted by the 34 second-round states.

    Reviewers had many different perspectives — and priorities — coming into the review. So, we asked them: what’s the best new idea you’ve seen in state plans so far?

    Here’s what they had to say.

    1 Diane Stark Rentner, Center on Education Policy: Measuring growth in high schools

    “Those of us who reviewed Indiana’s plan were impressed by many of its features. For me, their academic indicator for high schools was innovative because the state went beyond the measuring student proficiency and included a growth measure. In addition, high schools will be awarded points for students who pass the graduation qualifying exam after initially failing to pass it in the ninth grade. These approaches to measuring achievement give high schools incentives to improve student performance on a variety of measures.”

    2 Aaron Churchill, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute – Ohio: Clearly communicating school quality

    “What struck me was the diversity of these plans. Each state is taking a different approach to setting goals for achievement, holding schools accountable, and helping all schools and students succeed. Though a less conventional method, Washington’s idea for grading schools seemed very promising. Under its plan, schools receive points based on their statewide percentile rankings in growth and proficiency. Users can then easily see which schools are, say, in the top 10 percent in growth — the highest performers within the state. I think it’s great to see Washington’s leaders working to communicate school quality in a way that they feel makes sense to families and educators in their state.”

    3 Kathy Cox, former Georgia superintendent of public schools: Measures of proficiency and growth, and transparency info for parents

    “The best new idea I saw was West Virginia’s proposal to use Lexiles and Quantiles as measures of proficiency and growth for their school accountability system. While many people still will need to become more familiar with these measures of literacy and numeracy, I think that once they do, they will find them quite easy to understand and will appreciate that with one single ‘score,’ they can see whether a student is performing at the college- and career-ready level and if that student has grown in their literacy and numeracy proficiency over the course of a school year.

    “I also like that West Virginia’s plan is very transparent how individual students’ scores add up to the score for a school. I think this idea is also innovative because it can be a consistent measure for parents regardless of what test the state decides to use in the future.”

    4 David Dunn, consultant and former education department official under President George W. Bush: School improvement with comprehensive supports

    “Indiana’s plan is a model for other states in terms of supporting schools in improvement. They have a clear system of robust indicators. But, the plan to help schools in improvement really stood out because it includes a comprehensive set of supports. Most interesting: they will use their school improvement set aside to provide planning grants to identified schools and, as schools go forward in the process, Indiana will provide robust support activities. Ultimately, Indiana’s exit criteria are clear and rigorous, including a required plan as to how the improvement will be sustained over time.”

    5 Paige Kowalski, Data Quality Campaign: School- and district-determined measures

    “Looking at Kentucky’s accountability indicators, it’s clear the state is committed to equity in their schools and to getting people meaningful information they can use to help kids learn. I also appreciate that the plan includes school- and district-determined measures. Communities need to see themselves represented in the plan, and this type of local input will help the state collaborate with districts to achieve their ambitious goals for all students.

    “While the locally determined measures are innovative, it is unclear if they meet the comparability requirement in ESSA. If not, I’d like to see the state implement this in partnership with their districts alongside their state accountability system to ensure communities have the information they need to ensure student success.”



  • Education Reform Groups Decry Associated Press Analysis of Charter School Segregation

    By Laura Fay | December 6, 2017

    An Associated Press article about segregation in charter schools has sparked a stinging backlash from education advocates across the country.

    The article, which went out wide on the AP wire under the headline “US charter schools put growing numbers in racial isolation,” makes the assertion that charter schools are more likely than district schools to have a 99 percent or higher minority population, which the reporters say correlates to “low achievement levels” for students.

    The article was published in several major metropolitan newspapers, and was featured in Education Week, Esquire, and ABC News.

    Several education reform leaders and organizations promptly criticized the AP for conflating school quality and diversity, and emphasized that families often choose to send their children to charter schools due to a lack of academically suitable choices in their neighborhoods. Several notable education leaders also observed that the article seemed to be criticizing charter schools for the long-standing segregation of the surrounding community.

    Shavar Jeffries, president of Democrats for Education Reform, said in a statement that the Associated Press report was a “missed opportunity” to explore the issue of segregation and racial achievement gaps.

    Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which represents students attending historically black colleges and universities, tweeted that the article “frustrated” him:

    The article also received pushback from people and organizations that participated in the piece.

    Howard Fuller, an advocate of school choice who is on the board of a charter school and was previously the district superintendent in Milwaukee, tweeted a response.

    “It’s a waste of time to talk about integration,” said Fuller, who is quoted in the story, which focuses on two Milwaukee charter schools. “How do these kids get the best education possible?”

    Concept Schools, the charter management organization overseeing one of the schools featured, Milwaukee Math and Science Academy, said in a statement that the story “failed to recognize charter schools are often limited to operate in socioeconomically segregated communities with failing traditional district schools, and poverty is widely understood to correlate with low student proficiency.”

    Others took to Twitter to praise the AP’s reporting, seeing it as an indictment of the charter movement.

    Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, said the article offered “damning” evidence against charter schools.

    A spokesperson for the Associated Press told The 74 that the news organization “stands by its reporting.”

    This is not the first time the issue of segregation in charter schools has come up. A 2016 Brookings Institution report indicated that although charter schools are more segregated by race than traditional district schools, school quality matters more for educational outcomes than a school’s racial makeup.

    Related

    Lake: In a Deeply Flawed ‘Analysis,’ the Associated Press Blames Public Charter Schools for America’s Segregated Cities



  • EduClips: NYC’s Widening Achievement Gaps, National Flatlining in Fourth-Grade Reading — and More Must-Reads From America’s 10 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | December 6, 2017

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    READING — Reading comprehension among U.S. fourth-graders has remained unchanged since 2001, and other countries America used to outperform have caught up or moved ahead, according to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, or PIRLS. The U.S. scored 16th out of 58 countries that participated in the test in 2016. In 2011, the last time the test was given, four countries scored higher than the U.S. In 2016, 12 scored higher. (Read at U.S. News & World Report)

    National News

    PRIVACY — U.S. Agencies Grapple With Student-Data-Privacy Guidance for Schools (Read at EdWeek)

    CONFIRMATION HEARINGS — Senators Focus on Campus Sex Assault, Disabled Student Rights in Confirmation Hearing for Two Ed Dept. Nominees (Read at The74Million.org)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — New York City’s racial achievement gaps widen as students get older, report finds (Read at Chalkbeat)

    FLORIDA —Thousands of Miami Students Could Be Ousted From U.S. as Trump Ends Protections for Haitians (Read at The74Million.org)

    CALIFORNIA —California isn’t doing enough to teach kids how to read, lawsuit says (Read at LA Times)

    NEW YORK —New York City expands integration program, adding the prestigious Bard high school in Queens (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ILLINOIS —New Lawsuit Against Illinois School District That Did Not Allow Transgender Student to Use Locker Room (Read at Chicago Evening Post)

    CALIFORNIA — More than 1 in 10 California students are ‘chronically absent’ (Read at EdSource)

    TEXAS — Texas school district bans critically acclaimed young-adult novel The Hate U Give (Read at AOL)

    NEVADA —Two Clark County schools receive national Title 1 recognition (Read at Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Think Pieces

    SUPERINTENDENTS — New Report: What American School Districts Can Learn From How Israel Successfully Rotates Its Superintendents (Read at The74Million.org)

    ROBOTS — What? A robot will be featured speaker for DePauw University’s renowned Ubben Lecture Series (Read at Indianapolis Star)

    Quote of the Day

    We seem to be declining as other systems improve. This is a trend we’ve seen on other assessments that the United States participates in. There is a lot to be concerned about.” Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, on U.S. performance on the PIRLS test (Read at Education Week)

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  • After Lengthy Court Battle, Colorado School Board Votes to End Contested Voucher Program

    By Laura Fay | December 5, 2017

    The Douglas County, Colorado, school board voted last night to end the district’s controversial voucher program in a highly anticipated yet closely watched move.

    In a race that received national attention for its potential implications for voucher programs around the country, voters in November elected four anti-voucher school board candidates, who joined three like-minded members on the board.

    In the run-up to the election, the American Federation of Teachers spent $300,000 to support anti-voucher candidates, and Republican donors contributed heavily to their opponents, The Denver Post reported.

    The campaigning didn’t stop after the election. Last week, the pro-voucher nonprofit Americans for Prosperity announced it was running a “five-figure accountability push” to promote vouchers in Douglas County.

    Related

    A Blow for Republicans — and a ‘Warning Light’ for Education Reformers — in the 2017 Elections Results

    The board wasted no time voting to end the Douglas County Choice Scholarship program, which a conservative-leaning school board established in 2011 to give up to 500 families tax-funded vouchers to use for private school tuition, some at religious schools. About 80 people attending the Monday night meeting applauded the decision.

    The program has been controversial from the start and tied up in court for years. Unlike most voucher programs, Douglas County’s was open to any student. The county, about 25 miles south of Denver, is one of the nation’s wealthiest suburbs. Opponents of the program said it would take money away from local public schools and give it to schools with less accountability.

    The Douglas County case was closely watched as a national experiment in school choice that would potentially prompt a ruling from the Supreme Court.

    The Colorado Supreme Court ruled the program unconstitutional in 2015, sending it to the U.S. Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court passed the case back to the state courthouse after its decision about public funding for religiously affiliated education programs and facilities in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer this summer. The court ruled in that case that the state of Missouri violated the First Amendment when it banned a church preschool from receiving public funds for playground safety.

    Related

    Supreme Court Sides With Preschool in Church/State Funding Dispute, Limits Decision to Playground



  • EduClips: The Cities With the Most Effective Schools, the States Cutting Funding the Most — and More Must-Reads From America’s 10 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | December 5, 2017

    EduClips is a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    GRADUATION — The nation’s highs school graduation rate hit a record high, with more than 84 percent of students graduating on time in 2016. It is the highest rate recorded since the U.S. Department of Education began requiring schools to report standardized graduation rates in 2011. While all minority groups saw a rise in on-time graduation rates in 2016, gaps persist. (Read at The Washington Post)

    National News

    TOP SCHOOL DISTRICTS — How Effective Is Your School District? A New Measure Shows Where Students Learn the Most (Read at New York Times)

    TAX BILL Tax Bills Could Expand Private School Benefits and Hurt Public Education (Read at New York Times)

    CYBERTHREATS –  Schools Struggle to Keep Pace With Hackings, Other Cyber Threats (Read at EdWeek)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — How Education Could Shape the Governor’s Race in California: Funding, Accountability, Charter Schools (Read at The74Milion.org)

    PUERTO RICO —About 90 Percent of Puerto Rico’s Schools Are Open, But Enrollment Is Down (Read at Politics K-12)

    NEW YORK —Only one school campus has asked to have metal detectors added or removed since New York City created guidelines for requesting changes (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ILLINOIS — Opinion: Why that new bill requiring cursive in Illinois schools is good news (Read at Chicago Tribune)

    NEVADA – Budget writers to weigh penalty for schools that missed teacher pay target (Read at Argus Leader)

    TEXAS — Texas and Louisiana Among Top 10 States For Cutting K-12 Education Funding (Read at Red River Radio)

    CALIFORNIA — Analysis: Green Dot’s Suspension Rates Continue to be Remarkably High (Read at School Data Nerd)

    Think Pieces

    CHARTERS — Opinion: In a deeply flawed ‘analysis,’ the Associated Press blames charter schools for America’s segregated cities. (Read at The74Million.org)

    DEBT— Opinion: How Not to Erase Student Debt (Read at Bloomberg)

    HIGH SCHOOL — Has the high school diploma lost all meaning? (Read at Fordham Institute)

    Quote of the Day

    “I think this is going to be an important race. My view is, the current regime in Washington has actually not pushed California further to the left, it has pushed it further into the national spotlight.– John Deasy, CEO of The Reset Foundation, on the California governor’s race. (Read at The74Million.org)

     

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  • America’s New Education Law: 3 Experts on the Most Common Mistakes States Are Making With Their ESSA Plans

    By Blair Mann | December 4, 2017

    This article is part of The 74’s ongoing coverage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and the new law’s implementation across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. You can follow our complete coverage here — and see state-by-state updates via our interactive ESSA map at ESSA.The74Million.org.

    Earlier this year, the Collaborative for Student Success and Bellwether Education Partners brought together more than 30 education experts — Republicans and Democrats with state and national experience — to independently review the first 17 state ESSA plans submitted to the U.S. Department of Education.

    While the results of that review can be found at CheckStatePlans.org, peer reviewers also shared their thoughts on different aspects of state ESSA plans — topics like what they were looking for, what they wished they had seen, and what they’re hoping to see in the second round. We’re sharing those thoughts as we lead up to the review of ESSA plans submitted by the 34 second-round states.

    Reviewers had many different perspectives — and priorities — coming into the review. So, we asked them: What common mistakes are states making in their ESSA plans?

    Here’s what they had to say:

    1 Doug Mesecar, The Lexington Institute: Problems with identifying — and how to support — struggling schools

    “States have generally struggled with how they will identify and support struggling schools for Comprehensive and Targeted Support and Improvement. This is a critical issue as states are gathering the data to make initial identifications at the start of the 2018–19 school year. If the process for identification is not clear, there will be a lack of buy-in from districts and schools, as well as confusion among stakeholders as to why schools are on the list. And, the process to support schools — and ultimately help them exit their status — has to be both comprehensive and targeted to the issues that caused low performance. If states don’t provide more clarity and energy around this area of their plans, we are likely to have schools that persist at the lowest tiers of performance, which means students will not be achieving success necessary for college, career, and life.”

    2 Ryan Reyna, Education Strategy Group: Accountability, misaligned aspirations, insufficient aid

    “States made three common flaws in their ESSA plans: misaligning aspirations, goals, and accountability measures; basing their accountability systems on relative measures of performance; and not providing enough support for low-performing schools.

    “It’s an empty statement if you say you value college and career readiness for all and then don’t include any true measures of that readiness in high school accountability ratings. And despite more than 40 states setting clear benchmarks for post-secondary attainment, not even a quarter of the states aligned their K-12 and higher education goals, which is a huge missed opportunity for kids.

    “It’s also positive that ESSA provided considerable flexibility to include relative measures of performance, such as growth. Yet too many states took that flexibility to the extreme and based their entire rating system only on how a school compares to others in the state, without regard for whether schools are meeting high expectations. In this case, states have lost the trees for the forest.

    “And finally, state responses to the types of support available for chronically underperforming schools were universally thin. ESSA largely devolves turnaround responsibilities to districts, but that doesn’t mean states should wash their hands of the responsibility. Simply providing more general ‘support’ is unlikely to meet the challenges these schools face.”

    3 Liz King, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: Accountability systems that fail to show how states will educate all students

    “Our priority is making sure that these plans really are a declaration of a state’s commitment to educate all of its children. Unfortunately, we have seen too many states fail to meet that standard and show that their accountability system will truly identify whether a school is educating all of its children. ESSA is meant to raise achievement for marginalized students, and unless states rise to the occasion, that’s not going to happen.”



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