Newsfeed

February 2018
  • NYC Set to Name Alberto Carvalho Chancellor of Nation’s Largest School District; ‘World-Class Educator’ & Leading Critic of Trump’s Immigration Policies

    By Mark Keierleber | February 28, 2018

    After a decade as the Miami schools superintendent, prominent education leader Alberto Carvalho has been offered the job as New York City schools chancellor, overseeing America’s largest and highest-profile school district, with more than 1 million students.

    The news comes two months after Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced she would retire early this year after four years as chancellor. Fariña was persuaded in 2013 to come out of retirement to lead Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Education Department, where she executed a widely praised expansion of universal pre-K and implemented the city’s Renewal Schools program to turn around its lowest-performing schools. Nearing the end of its third year, the troubled $582 million undertaking has brought widespread criticism.

    John Schuster, a spokesman at Miami-Dade County Public Schools, confirmed to The 74 Wednesday that de Blasio’s office had offered Carvalho the job, though Schuster said his boss had not yet accepted the offer. Carvalho, 53, is scheduled to address the school board in Miami at 10 a.m. tomorrow. Schuster said Carvalho will not provide public comments about the offer until after that meeting concludes.

    In a statement Wednesday, de Blasio called Carvalho “a world-class educator with an unmatched track record of success.”

    “I am very confident that our extensive, national search has found New York City the best person to lead the nation’s largest school system into the future,” he said. “I look forward to welcoming our new chancellor to New York City in the days ahead, and to working with him in the years ahead as we deepen achievement in our classrooms and build on the outstanding record of accomplishment that Chancellor Fariña has delivered for students and their families across the five boroughs.”

    Related

    Miami Turnaround: How One Ambitious Schools Chief Rescued America’s Fourth-Largest District

    Carvalho was named national superintendent of the year in 2014 by his peers and has been credited with improving graduation rates and school performance in the country’s fourth-largest school district while expanding school choice. He founded iPreparatory Academy, a magnet school with a special focus on technology, in the high school and international studies in the lower grades and served as the school’s principal at the same time he was superintendent.

    “What I am proving is, No. 1: One size fits none,” Carvalho told The 74 in 2015. “A need creates schools that provide for independent, personalized, individualized learning journeys for all students.”

    Related

    KIPP Also Rises: Charter Network Opens Sunrise Academy as Welcome Partner of Miami-Dade Public Schools

    Carvalho, a Portuguese immigrant who grew up in poverty, came to the U.S. — New York City, in fact — as an undocumented teen in the 1980s speaking no English.

    “I remember landing in New York City, JFK International Airport, and the rest is history,” Carvalho told The 74 last year. “I remember some of my first jobs in this country. I spent a lot of time scrubbing pots and pans in sweaty kitchens in the city, I was a construction day laborer carrying cement and sand and brick, and I did anything from asphalting in South Florida to roofing. I painted places, homes, bused tables, waited on tables, which tells us once again that the American dream that we discuss so much is a real dream that is achievable.”

    He has led Miami’s public school system since 2008, and in 2012 the district won the Broad Prize for Urban Education. The $1 million prize, given out by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, recognizes public school districts that have demonstrated the greatest improvement while narrowing the achievement gap for low-income students and students of color.

    Carvalho has sparred with President Donald Trump over immigration issues, making news last year when he said, “Over my dead body will any federal entity enter our schools to take immigration actions against our kids.” Last year, rumors circulated that he was considering a bid for Congress.

    Jenny Sedlis, executive director of pro-charter advocacy group StudentsFirstNY, said she hopes Carvalho will be “the independent leader that public school children desperately need.”

    “We extend our best wishes for his success and we look forward to working together to expand school choice and improve teacher effectiveness,” she said. “After four years and half a billion dollars on a failed school turnaround program, NYC students need a leader who will work with urgency to give them the quality of schools they deserve.”

    Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement he looks forward to working with Carvalho, “who has had a collaborative relationship with his district’s teaching staff.”

    Related

    Q&A: Why Miami’s Superintendent, Once an Undocumented Immigrant, Is Banning ICE From His Schools

    Disclosure: The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation provides financial support to The 74.



  • New Research Shows Aggressive Immigration Enforcement Deeply Affecting Students — Immigrant and Citizen, Alike — and Their Teachers

    By Carolyn Phenicie | February 28, 2018

    Washington, D.C.

    An uptick in immigration raids and deportations has had wide-ranging impacts on America’s schools, its teachers, and its students — immigrant and otherwise, new research has found.

    Two-thirds of the 5,400 teachers, principals, and counselors who responded to a survey conducted from late October to mid-January said immigration enforcement had affected their schools, with those in the South hardest hit, and schools with greater percentages of poor and immigrant students feeling it the most, new research from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA found.

    Other findings from the survey included:

    • 90 percent of administrators said they saw behavioral or emotional problems among immigrant students (defined by the study as children who weren’t born in the U.S. or who have at least one immigrant parent), with 25 percent saying it was a major problem.
    • 84 percent of teachers said students expressed concerns about immigration enforcement at school.
    • 68 percent of administrators said absenteeism among immigrant students is a problem.
    • 70 percent of principals and counselors reported academic decline among immigrant students.

    The ripple effects go beyond immigrant students to their peers: two-thirds of teachers nationally said learning for non-immigrant students has been impacted by ICE raids as children expressed concern for classmates whose families had been targeted.

    Most respondents worked at Title I schools, those that receive federal aid because they educate large percentages of low-income students. That means “the ones that struggle the most to close achievement gaps are hit the hardest by this enforcement regime,” said Patricia Gándara, one of the study’s authors.

    Related

    How Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Is Traumatizing Students Across the U.S. — Including Many Born Here

    The discussion came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to expedite a case dealing with the DACA program, maintaining Dreamers’ status and effectively removing a looming deadline, though thousands have lost their protected status since the Trump administration announced in September it would end the program on March 5.

    Related

    Does the March 5 DACA Deadline Still Matter? 5 Things to Know About the Countdown to a Meaningless Monday — and Why Dreamers Should Still Be Worried

    Although DACA has been in the news, schools are affected by more wide-ranging immigration concerns, panelists said.

    “I want to remind you that even if we were to get a clean DACA bill, as long as these parents are still terrorized by this immigration enforcement regime, the schools will continue to suffer in the same way that we’ve seen them suffering,” Gándara said. “We have got to have something that includes, but goes beyond, DACA.”

    A second survey, also from the Civil Rights Project, looked at how teachers are impacted and found that educators are reporting symptoms consistent with secondary traumatic stress — “the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another,” researchers said.

    It also found that 85 percent of teachers reported increased anxiety and stress due to students’ immigration concerns.

    National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García told stories of several teachers who reported issues like increased bullying of immigrant students or staff being asked to step in as foster parents if undocumented parents are deported.

    “The calls coming into NEA on immigration issues have never been higher and never been more frightening,” she said.

    Many teachers in the survey also reported heavier workloads as they take on other duties, outside their usual roles, like legal advocacy. They spoke of deteriorating trust within school environments as they weren’t sure which colleagues might report students to immigration enforcement or otherwise undermine their safety.

    Other researchers discussed the legal underpinnings for so-called sanctuary campuses, or the idea that school leaders place limitations on immigration enforcement on campus, and the status of children who return to Mexico who are American citizens.

    Related

    As Immigrant Students Worry About a New School Year, Districts & Educators Unveil Plans to Protect Their Safety (and Privacy)

    Though the common perception is that sanctuary campuses flout federal immigration law, there are actually strong legal underpinnings for the movement, including a 1982 Supreme Court case guaranteeing public K-12 education to all children regardless of immigration status, and constitutional protections against illegal searches, said Julie Sugarman, senior policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute.

    There are about 600,000 students in Mexico who are U.S. citizens, according to Bryant Jensen, a professor at Brigham Young University. These students have faced bureaucratic hurdles in re-enrolling in Mexican schools, and when they do, they’re more likely to be in rural schools, which are generally of lower quality, he said. Bryant’s research recommends reviving an education partnership between the U.S. and Mexico, and encouraging similar partnerships at the state and school district levels.



  • EduClips: WV Ends Four-Day Teachers’ Strike; NYC Lawmakers Grill Officials on ‘Renewal’ Program — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | February 28, 2018

    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

    STRIKE — A teachers’ strike that ground public schools to a halt across West Virginia is set to end on Thursday, a week after it began, Gov. James C. Justice and teachers’ union representatives said Tuesday. They announced a deal that signaled a win for unions, even though some lawmakers and even the teachers themselves expressed doubts it would ultimately work.

    Mr. Justice, a Republican, said that he had promised the state’s teachers and other school employees a 5 percent raise and that he would create a task force to address the problem of rising insurance costs for public employees, a key issue in the strike. He added that he was “hopeful” that state lawmakers would go along with his proposals, which would also give all state employees a 3 percent raise. But some Republican lawmakers appeared deeply skeptical of his plan to find the money. The strike left more than 250,000 children out of school in the state’s 55 counties. (Read at New York Times)

    National News

    SCHOOL SHOOTING — ‘We Were In That School’: Parkland Students Prepare To Return After Shooting (Read at NPR)

    SCHOOL SPENDING — States Confront New Mandate on School-Spending Transparency (Read at Education Week)

    RIGHT TO KNOW — Portland Media Reported on Teachers Accused of Abuse and Assault Being Placed on Paid Leave. Now, District May Give Union Right to Block Such Disclosures (Read at The74Million.org)

    DEVOS — Betsy DeVos Wants to Direct Federal Funds to School Choice, STEM, Workforce Readiness (Read at Politics K-12)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — New York City lawmakers grill officials on controversial ‘Renewal’ program (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — ‘Black Panther’ success leads to $1 million donation to STEM centers in Oakland, other cities (Read at The Mercury News)

    NEVADA — Clark County schools need to revise teacher reassignment process (Read at Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    ILLINOIS —Education Funding Report Shows Dismal Past for Illinois, Hope for Future (Read at WTTW)

    FLORIDA —The Latest: School safety bill moves ahead in Florida Senate (Read at Miami Herald)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois school district considers arming teachers (Read at ABC 7)

    CALIFORNIA — Police deem Dublin school safe after investigating social media threat (Read at Mercury News)

    FLORIDA — ‘We have to do something.’ How schools in South Florida say they’ll keep kids safe. (Read at Miami Herald)

    NEW YORK — Advocates: Four traits we want in NYC’s next schools chief — and four candidates we don’t want (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Think Pieces

    ARMING TEACHERS — Straight Talk From a Green Beret: Arming Teachers Is a Lousy Idea (Read at The74Million.org)

    SCHOOL REFORM — The Fierce Mistakes of Urgency: Here Are Three Common Problems When Ed Reform Pushes Too Far, Too Fast (Read at U.S. News &World Report)

    SCHOOL DATA — School data is messy, but it doesn’t have to be (Read at Hechinger Report)

    EQUITY — Schools That Serve Poor, Minority Students Are Systematically Shortchanged, but Disparities Are Closing, Report Finds (Read at The74Million.org)

    SCHOOL SHOOTING — OPINION: Why Thomas Jefferson would be proud of Florida’s students (Read at Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “Maybe I was looking at it as, what was the prudent thing to do, and not necessarily looking at education as an investment.” — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, at a news conference ending the state four-day teachers’ strike. (Read at New York Times)

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  • QuotED: 7 Quotes From Education News That Made Headlines in February

    By Andrew Brownstein | February 27, 2018

    QuotED is a roundup of the most notable quotes behind America’s top education headlines — taken from our daily EduClips, which spotlights morning headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts. Read previous EduClips installments here.

    “A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week…she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.” — A tweet from House Speaker Paul Ryan, later taken down, on the benefits of the new tax plan. (Read at Politics K-12)

    Photo credit: Twitter.com, Getty Images

    “To be honest, it’s kind of embarrassing that it’s been so controversial.” — Idaho State Senator Janie Ward-Engelking of Boise, a Democrat, on the legislature’s move to include human-caused climate change in its teaching standards. (Read at The New York Times)

    “We’re not looking to go crazy. This is super important: I’m not privatizing education. It’s not New Orleans all over again.… But what I do think is fair for kids is to give them more options.” — Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico’s education secretary, on a plan to revitalize the island’s school system in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. (Read at The74million.org)

    “I think it’s probably better than the status quo, which is in essence incoherent curricula in most places. But then again, I completely recognize that what I’m describing is probably exactly what was said about teacher evaluation in 2007 … and also Common Core.” — Morgan Polikoff, professor at the University of Southern California, on a plan by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to change K-12 curricula. (Read at Chalkbeat)*

    Students are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, after a shooting at the school that killed and injured multiple people on Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    “I visualized what it would look like, and it made me sick. Could I empty out the cabinet and throw out the shelves and put kids in the cabinets? Is my better chance just barricading the doors? Can I move furniture that fast? Do I ask my kids to help me?” — Catherine Collett, a sixth-grade teacher in Northern Virginia, on mentally preparing for a school shooting. (Read at The New York Times)

    Stephanie Andrewlevich (Photo credit: ABC News video screenshot)

    “I wanted to challenge them to be what their families see in them, what we know they are. They have a choice — to become the violence they see in their day-to-day lives, or to be peaceful models for our school and our community.” — Stephanie Andrewlevich, principal of Philadelphia’s Mitchell Elementary School, who is offering students $100 if they can make it to graduation without fighting. (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    *Disclosure: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports The 74.

    For a roundup of the day’s top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, go to EduClips.



  • Portland Media Reported on Teachers Accused of Abuse and Assault Being Placed on Paid Leave. Now, District May Give Union Right to Block Such Disclosures

    By Beth Hawkins | February 27, 2018

    Updated March 2

    First Amendment watchdogs in Oregon have raised a new alarm about their ongoing struggle to secure public records from the Portland Public Schools. The latest wrinkle: The school board recently approved a contract with its teachers union that would allow the Portland Association of Teachers to challenge the district on decisions regarding the public’s right to know when teachers are placed on paid leave.

    Members of Oregon’s Society of Professional Journalists say they were recently prevented from addressing the school board about the possibility and complain that PPS leaders have made differing statements about the policy.

    “They don’t have a very decent track record as a district in terms of responding to public records requests, so the fact that they’re willing to entertain this is very troubling,” Samantha Swindler, an Oregon SPJ past president and columnist at The Oregonian, told The 74. “The public has a right to know whether teachers are being paid not to teach.”

    It’s not clear what district officials will negotiate with the union or whether the policy being drafted adheres to state public information law.

    For three years, reporters and community activists have repeatedly pursued district records that ultimately reveal a pattern in which administrators place employees — some accused of sex abuse, assault, and other serious offenses — on paid leave for months or years without resolution. Oregon courts have consistently ruled that the information is public under state law.

    Until the troublesome reports began appearing, the district interpreted state law the way the courts have: The fact that an employee is on leave is public information, even if the reason is often a private personnel matter.

    Then last year, Portland Public Schools took the unusual step of suing Portland Tribune reporter Beth Slovic and a vocal and persistent parent, Kim Sordyl, for requesting records identifying employees on paid leave. District leaders contend that their aim is not to silence the women but to appeal a decision they don’t agree with and to have a higher court clarify what they see as a murky law.

    District officials did not respond to questions from The 74 regarding this story. According to news reports, the newly reconfigured school board has said it is working on a new public records policy that presumes most information is public, “with a goal of maximum transparency,” according to The Oregonian. It’s not clear whether the language in the new teachers’ contract gives the union the ability to challenge parts of the policy or to reject it altogether.

    It’s also not clear that the district could address the union’s concerns without contradicting state law.

    “You can’t have a contract that overrides what’s required by a law,” said Adam Marshall of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “I find all of that kind of disturbing.”

    But Dave Northfield, director of media relations for the Portland Public Schools, insists the public records policy being drafted will comply with state law.

    In August, The Oregonian published an investigative report that followed five months of efforts by reporter Bethany Barnes to obtain records that showed that years of sex abuse complaints against teacher Mitch Whitehurst were never properly investigated. It took a court order to secure the documents.

    At the same time, the Tribune’s Slovic reported that a teacher was being paid almost $76,000 a year while on administrative leave, even as he was in and out of jail on charges that included assault and drunk driving. In March 2016, she found, the district renewed his contract through June 2018. In December the teacher, who had been deemed a danger to students, agreed to resign and was given more than $19,000 in back pay.

    In October, after a different former PPS teacher was convicted of sexually touching six girls in one day in the Oregon City school district, The Oregonian requested records related to the teacher’s time in Portland schools. District Public Records Officer Ryan Vandehey said he would delay releasing to the press and public the district’s settlement agreement with the former teacher.

    “The district had to consult with the union before the record could be made public because of the union’s desire to bargain over the new public records policy,” The Oregonian reported at the time.

    It’s not clear whether the consultation happened or what was discussed or decided.

    The settlement, which turned out to be part of the file in the criminal case that led to the teacher’s conviction, revealed that the district made a deal with the teacher to keep his history of misconduct with students quiet. Presumably, this decision is why repeated complaints against the teacher didn’t stop him from going on to work as a substitute in Oregon City.

    Over the summer, a newly elected school board majority pledged greater transparency and set an October deadline for the creation of a new, more open policy. But when a proposed teacher contract was released in early February several days before the board was scheduled to vote on it, it contained two new provisions that would make investigations such as the aforementioned much harder.

    One new clause requires the district to put the letters formally placing an employee on leave in an investigative file, which is harder for reporters and others seeking public records to obtain than a personnel file.

    Changing the place where a record is kept generally doesn’t change its status under the law, said Marshall: “You can call the record a ham sandwich, but that doesn’t make it a ham sandwich.”

    The other provision in the proposed contract would have barred district administrators from saying an employee had been placed on leave. Oregon SPJ members and reporters told The 74 they were given conflicting answers by the district about whether this would silence PPS leaders and board members, or just principals and human resources officials.

    The second clause does not appear in the final contract. In its place is a clause committing the district to allow the union to “bargain” about the public information policy still being drafted. The clause does not specify whether the union must agree to the new policy.

    Northfield, the district’s director of media relations, explained that the district was responding to concerns raised by the union. “The district agreed with their concerns in some instances,” he said. “Therefore, the district agreed to language that said the administrator would only tell the local school community what they needed to know: that the teacher was not in the building so that the community knew that the issue had been addressed and student safety had been assured.”

    He added that the district made it clear that the language does not prohibit district leaders from communicating to the media or the public about these issues.

    “This is a good balance, one that was reached through collective bargaining,” he said.

    SPJ board member Nick Budnick said the journalists’ group has been told PPS principals and other “administrators” will not be allowed to say an employee is on paid leave but school board members and district leaders will disclose that information. The SPJ members were not allowed to testify about their concerns, which they raised individually with board members and the district’s attorney, he said in an email.

    “I’ve not seen anything from the Portland Association of Teachers confirming that they agree on that interpretation,” he added. “And it’s not clear to us what would happen if the language’s interpretation goes to an arbitrator.”



  • After Four Days, West Virginia Teachers Settle Strike for a 5% Raise and a Promise to Evaluate Benefits Plan

    By Laura Fay | February 27, 2018

    Update: At a press conference Tuesday night, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced an end to the four-day teachers’ strike that had closed schools across the state. Teachers and school personnel will receive a 5 percent raise next year, he said, and all other state employees will get a 3 percent increase.

    Schools will be back in session Thursday; Wednesday will be a “cooling-off day,” because some schools had already canceled class. Justice also said he will create a task force to evaluate the teachers’ insurance program, which, in addition to low pay, was a cause of the walkout. Union leaders said they reserve the right to pull teachers out of class again if the state legislature does not sign on to the plan. 

    U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has chimed in on the West Virginia teachers’ strike on its fourth day, saying that good teachers “deserve better pay” but students should not miss school due to adult disagreements.

    In a series of tweets, she also called on “both sides” to negotiate a compromise soon.

    Across the state, teachers had refused to work since Thursday, affecting about 270,000 students.

    Teachers called for higher pay and better benefits, NPR reported. The teachers also oppose laws they say would make it harder for the state to hire good teachers. Teachers have rallied at the capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, and at their schools.

    Union leaders demanded to meet with the governor and legislative leaders to discuss the teachers’ concerns. The state’s two teachers unions had rejected a proposed 2 percent pay raise with further 1 percent increases for the next two years, calling it insufficient when health care costs for teachers are on the rise.

    “Our issues are clear — our commitment to finding a solution has been consistent; we stand together for our students, our community, and our state,” Christine Campbell, president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said at the rally. “We challenge the House leader, the Senate leader, and the governor, to bring us to the table today.”

    The strike, which some called a “work stoppage,” could be against the law. State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey tweeted last week that the work stoppage is “unlawful and should come to an end.” (Politifact verified this statement based on legal precedent in the state.)

    Average teacher pay in West Virginia ranks near the bottom nationally, at $44,701, according to the West Virginia Education Association.

    Related

    Union Report: In West Virginia, 15,000 Teachers Are Planning a Walkout. The Strike Is Illegal — but It Shouldn’t Be



  • EduClips: Parkland Teachers Return to School Tuesday; Districts Around the Country Debate Mental Health, Security After Shooting — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | February 27, 2018

    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

    UNIONS — Justice Neil Gorsuch, the only member of the Supreme Court who hasn’t weighed in on mandatory public employee union dues, didn’t tip his hand during oral arguments in a key case Monday.

    The case, Janus v. AFSCME, pits Mark Janus, an Illinois state child support specialist, who argues that forcing him to pay union dues for collective bargaining violates his First Amendment rights, against the union that represents him. Unions say that state law forces them to represent all employees, so those who don’t pay could end up as free riders who reap benefits of union contracts but don’t have to financially support the organizations that fight for them. The case has high stakes for the continued influence of state and national teachers unions — which count about a third of teachers as members — in education policy fights and Democratic politics. The overall rate of union membership nationally has declined in recent decades, though public-sector workers are still five times as likely to be union members as their private-sector counterparts. (Read at The74Million.org)

    National News

    SCHOOL CHOICE — How Betsy DeVos Softened Her Message on School Choice (Read at Politico)

    DACA — Supreme Court Deals Setback to Trump Immigration Policy on ‘Dreamers’ (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — These Are School Safety Bills Congress Can Already Vote on After Parkland (Read at Politics K-12)

    FLU SEASON — Debunking Flu Myths: With Close to 100 Children Dead From the Virus, Leading to School Closures in at Least 23 States, Expert Calls ‘Deep-Cleaning’ Schools a ‘Waste of Money, Time, and Effort’ (Read at The74Million.org)

    PEARSON — Pearson Is Selling Its U.S. K-12 Business—Despite Posting a Profit and Digital Growth (Read at EdSurge)

    SCHOOL COUNSELORS — With Hundreds of Students, School Counselors Just Try to ‘Stay Afloat’ (Read at NPR)

    ADVANCED PLACEMENT — Mississippi students increase participation rates, improve scores on AP exams (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    District and State News

    FLORIDA — After Parkland, Florida looks to mental health programs and campus officers as fixes. But it’s underfunded both. (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    TEXAS — Trump Praises Texas School Marshal Program at National Governors Conference (Read at Houston Public Media)

    FLORIDA —Teachers return to Stoneman Douglas to prepare for students’ arrival on Wednesday (Read at the Sun Sentinel)

    ILLINOIS — Education Officials React to Proposal to Arm Teachers (Read at Northern Public Radio)

    CALIFORNIA — 14 reports of school threats ended with 12 students, 2 adults arrested in Southern California last week (Read at the Mercury News)

    TEXAS — After Florida shooting, U.S. Rep. Kay Granger of Texas proposes funding metal detectors in schools (Read at the Texas Tribune)

    CALIFORNIA — Non-teaching L.A. school employees will vote on authorizing strike (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    NEW YORK — Proposed bill requires schools to warn kids about opioids (Read at the New York Daily News)

    NEVADA — Parental pushback delays new CCSD transgender policy (Read at the Las Vegas Review Journal)

    NEW YORK — As the U.S. Supreme Court tackles case that could weaken unions, the UFT conveys confidence (Read at Chalkbeat)

    HAWAII — High school teacher on Maui suspended after showing sex video in class (Read at Hawaii News Now)

    Think Pieces

    DACA — The Dreamers Deferred: The courts delay an immigration deadline, which isn’t an excuse for Congress not to act (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    #METOOK12 — It was only a matter of time before the #MeToo movement rocked schools (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    HIGHER EDUCATION — The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone (Read at The Atlantic)

    PUERTO RICO — Why Puerto Rico Is Pushing to Privatize Its Schools (Read at Citylab)

    VOUCHERS — Still Waiting for Convincing Evidence on School Vouchers (Read at Education Next)

    DISTRICT LEADERS — Need a Little Inspiration? Read About Outstanding District Leaders (Read at Politics K-12)

    PRE-K — What We Really Need to Know to Make Sure Pre-K Teachers Get the Skills They Need (Read at Education Post)

    Quote of the Day

    “The fees are the trade-off. Union security is the trade-off for no strikes… You can raise an untold specter of labor unrest throughout the country.” —AFSCME attorney David Frederick, arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME, on the possible effect of ending mandatory union dues. (Read at The74Million.org)

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  • Schools That Serve Poor, Minority Students Are Systematically Shortchanged, but Disparities Are Closing, Report Finds

    By Mark Keierleber | February 27, 2018

    School districts serving America’s most impoverished children receive about $1,000 less per student than those in America’s most affluent communities, according to a new report that analyzed the extent of education funding inequities across the country. The disparities are far bleaker, however, between districts serving the most students of color and those serving the fewest, where the gap was roughly $1,800 per student.

    For equity advocates, however, there was something approaching a silver lining to the grim statistics: These fiscal disparities continue to shrink.

    The report was released Tuesday by The Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy group which promotes policies that direct more resources to school districts that serve larger populations of high-need students. America’s school funding system relies largely on local property taxes. Although researchers found that a handful of states continue to shortchange students of color and those from low-income households, the report offered hope for equity advocates.

    Compared to an earlier report The Education Trust released in 2015, the funding gap between the poorest and wealthiest districts decreased by 3 percentage points, from 10 percent to 7 percent. Meanwhile, national funding disparities between districts with the largest and smallest percentages of students of color dropped by 2 percent, from 15 percent to 13 percent.

    This change is “a story of not-fast-enough progress,” said Ary Amerikaner, the group’s director of P12 resource equity. Amerikaner said state policies that intentionally direct more resources to high-need school districts have mitigated some of the fluctuations in property taxes. But several factors, including a possible change in student enrollment, might have contributed to the change between the two reports.

    Analyzing the numbers state-by-state, researchers found four states — Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Alabama — that have “regressive” funding formulas that direct more than 5 percent less to their poorest school districts than their wealthiest. While 20 states spend at least 5 percent more in their highest-poverty districts, 22 states spend about the same between wealthy and low-income districts.

    The bleakest income-based disparities were observed in Illinois, where the highest-poverty districts received 22 percent less in state and local dollars than the wealthiest districts. Although the analysis relies on the most recent education finance data — from 2013, 2014, and 2015 — it doesn’t capture a policy shift that could have huge implications for education funding equity in Illinois, long considered the most inequitable state. Illinois lawmakers approved in 2017 a new school funding formula that aims to distribute resources more equitably between the highest- and lowest-poverty districts. Future reports will analyze the effects of that shift, Amerikaner said.

    Source: The Education Trust

    While education funding equity is most often framed through student income, The Education Trust’s analysis goes one step further and highlights disparities based on racial demographics.

    Race and poverty often overlap, Amerikaner said, but they don’t serve as good proxies for one another.

    In 14 states, school districts that serve the most students of color received more than 5 percent less in funding than the whitest districts. Districts with a large concentration of students of color received more money in 14 states, and funding was nearly equal in 15 states.

    Source: The Education Trust

    Although the charts above analyze funding equality, The Education Trust and other advocacy groups have long pushed for equity — the idea that high-need students, such as those from low-income households, need more money to help offset challenges. When accounting for these needs, researchers found that just seven states provide equitable funding to the highest-poverty districts.

    Source: The Education Trust



  • Traditional Schools Enroll Higher Proportions of Disabled Students Than Charters, Though the Gap Is Shrinking, Study Finds

    By Kevin Mahnken | February 27, 2018

    Charter schools across the country enroll smaller percentages of disabled children than traditional public schools, according to a new report based on federal data. But although charters have traditionally lagged in special needs enrollment, they are catching up to their traditional counterparts, the authors write.

    The report, written by Lauren Morando Rhim and Shaini Kothari of the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, compares figures on both district and charter schools from the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection. Conducted regularly for the past 50 years, the CRDC collects information on student enrollment and educational programs from more than 96,000 American K-12 schools, including more than 6,000 charter schools. This study is based on data from the 2013–14 school year.

    Nationwide, the average enrollment of public school students eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was 12.52 percent in 2013–14, an increase of .05 percentage points since 2011–12.

    A disabled-enrollment gap persists between the traditional and charter sectors, however. Disabled children — whose challenges may range from blindness to ADHD to Down syndrome — make up 12.46 percent of all students at traditional public schools, but just 10.62 percent of students at charter schools. That gap has been observed in the data since at least 2008.

    Source: National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools

    Notably, though, the disparity has slowly been closing with the passage of time. It stood at 3.6 percentage points in the 2008–09 school year but had decreased by half, to just 1.84 percentage points, five years later. The diminishing gap comes as both charters and traditional schools have enrolled higher proportions of disabled students in recent years.

    “Any difference would be considered statistically significant and support concerns that students with disabilities are not accessing charter schools as readily as traditional public schools,” the authors write. “However, the decrease in the difference over time appears to indicate that as the charter sector grows and matures, the difference will continue to decrease as charter schools build capacity and more parents of students with disabilities seek to exercise choice.”

    National trends are also reflected in individual states, they add. Although state policy guides disabled identification generally, such that Maine enrolls the highest proportions of disabled students in both district (16.7 percent) and charter schools (25.3 percent) and Texas enrolls the lowests in both sectors (8.7 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively), traditional public schools in almost every state tend to enroll slightly higher numbers of disabled students than charters. The only states where this is not the case are those with small charter sectors, like Maine, New Hampshire, and Iowa.

    Also of note:

     While they still enroll proportionately fewer disabled students overall, charter schools have proven better at including them in typical classroom settings. Fully 84.3 percent of disabled students in charter schools spend more than four-fifths of the day in general education classrooms, compared with 68 percent of those enrolled in traditional schools. And while just 5 percent of disabled charter students spent less than 39 percent of their day in general education, more than double that percentage — 11.8 percent — of disabled learners in traditional public schools did.

     That difference in inclusion could be due to the differences in disabled students enrolled in the two sectors. Charter schools tend to enroll higher percentages of students with autism and emotional disturbances, while traditional public schools enroll higher percentages of kids with more serious cognitive disabilities. Just 17 percent of students in the latter group spend more than 80 percent of their school day in general education classrooms, according to the Department of Education.

     Charter schools suspend their disabled students at a slightly higher rate than traditional public schools (12.3 percent versus 11.6 percent). Both sectors suspended those students at lower rates in 2013–14 than they did in 2011–12. For both charters and traditional schools, disabled students were hardly ever expelled.



  • Since Parkland Shooting, at Least a Dozen Students Went to School With Guns

    By Mark Keierleber | February 26, 2018

    Following one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history — in which 17 people were killed at a high school in southern Florida — the heated debate over gun violence in schools, and how to prevent attacks, is back in full swing.

    Since the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, law enforcement officials have nabbed at least a dozen students — from Maryland to Arizona — who went to school with guns.

    A day after the Parkland shooting, security footage showed a teen allegedly trying to carry a pistol into a Philadelphia elementary school. In Kansas, a 10-year-old elementary school student brought a gun and a knife to school, reportedly because of a threat she saw on Facebook. In West Palm Beach, Florida, an anonymous tip led to the arrest of a student who allegedly brought two firearms to school.

    In Maryland, an 18-year-old student brought a pistol and a “list of grievances” against classmates to his high school. That incident led authorities to the student’s home, where police reportedly found a land mine detonator, a bulletproof vest, and other firearms. In Virginia, authorities arrested a middle school student who brought a loaded handgun to class, reportedly as part of a dare.

    It may have just been a normal week in America in 2018. Although it’s unclear whether students have brought weapons to school at increased rates since the Parkland shooting, or whether authorities have been more vigilant in sniffing out threats, federal data shed some light on the frequency with which K-12 students bring weapons to campus.

    In 2015, about 4 percent of high school students reported bringing a weapon — such as a gun, knife, or club — to school over a 30-day period, according to the most recent federal data. That’s a significant decrease from two decades ago. In 1993, 12 percent of high school students reported bringing a weapon to school over a 30-day period. In 2015, boys were three times as likely as girls to bring a weapon to school. The data do not distinguish between firearms and other weapons.

    Often, bullying plays a role in school weapons possession. Nearly a quarter of students say they were bullied in the past year, and victims of harassment are twice as likely to bring a weapon to school, according to a 2017 report published in the journal Pediatrics.

    Focusing on guns specifically, the federal data show that about 1,500 firearm possession incidents were reported on campus during the 2014–15 school year — a rate of about three firearm possession incidents per 100,000 students.



  • Gorsuch Doesn’t Tip Hand in Janus Union Dues Case as Justices, Attorneys Stick to Familiar Ground

    By Carolyn Phenicie | February 26, 2018

    Washington, D.C.

    Justice Neil Gorsuch, the only member of the Supreme Court who hasn’t weighed in on mandatory public employee union dues, didn’t tip his hand during oral arguments in a key case Monday.

    The case, Janus v. AFSCME, pits Mark Janus, an Illinois state child support specialist, who argues that forcing him to pay union dues for collective bargaining violates his First Amendment rights, against the union that represents him. Unions say that state law forces them to represent all employees, so those who don’t pay could end up as free riders who reap benefits of union contracts but don’t have to financially support the organizations that fight for them.

    Related

    Janus v. AFSCME: 5 Things to Know About the Latest Union Dues Case Headed to the High Court

    The other justices considered this key issue in a similar case in 2016. They didn’t issue a ruling before Justice Antonin Scalia passed away, resulting in a 4–4 tie that upheld a lower court ruling backing the mandated dues.

    The case has high stakes for the continued influence of state and national teachers unions — which count about a third of teachers as members — in education policy fights and Democratic politics. The overall rate of union membership nationally has declined in recent decades, though public-sector workers are still five times as likely to be union members as their private-sector counterparts.

    On Monday, the other justices largely stuck to familiar themes, with some blunt assessments of the other side’s arguments.

    “You’re basically arguing, ‘Do away with unions,’ ” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said to the attorney representing Janus near the conclusion of the hour-long argument.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy, in combating Illinois’s argument that it needs an “independent” partner in contract negotiations, said it would “blink reality” to deny that unions work with governments to push a for bigger workforce and higher taxes. He also got the attorney to admit that unions would have less political influence if they could no longer collect mandatory dues from dissenting employees.

    Employees like Janus who don’t want to be full union members are reimbursed for unions’ lobbying and political expenses but still must pay “fair-share” or “agency” fees that fund contract negotiations and the like. Janus says even those basic activities are political when they involve public policy and taxpayer dollars.

    Outside the court on an overcast Monday morning, supporters of Janus and union backers held dueling rallies. Supporters held signs that said “Stand with Mark” and “Stand with workers.” Union backers held signs that said “Unrig the system” and referenced support from conservative and libertarian donors to the law firms representing Janus and others who have brought similar cases. One sign showed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

    Observers generally believe that Gorsuch’s conservative jurisprudence indicates he’ll vote to end the mandatory dues, though attorneys for both sides told reporters afterward that it was tough to get a read on Gorsuch’s silence.

    The other justices stuck to familiar arguments Monday, with conservatives homing in on the First Amendment question and liberals on the potential impact of the decision on union members and the free-rider issue.

    Liberal justices focused on the potential impact of overturning the mandatory dues.

    Justice Elena Kagan said there are 23 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, that have laws that could be undone by changing the court’s precedent. Thousands of government contracts covering millions of workers would have to be rewritten at once, affecting “the livelihood of millions of individuals,” she said.

    William Messenger, the attorney for Janus, and Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who represented the Trump administration and backed Janus, both downplayed the potential impact on existing contracts. Clauses mandating that dissenting employees pay the “fair-share fees” can be removed without disrupting the rest of the contract, they said. Most contracts are renegotiated every few years, which means they were negotiated in the shadow of other recent cases that chipped away at those mandatory dues, and will be rewritten shortly anyway, they said.

    At the end of his allotted time, AFSCME attorney David Frederick was unsparing in his assessment of how ending the mandatory dues could impact daily government operations. In many contracts, agency fees are a trade-off for a limitation on strikes, he said.

    “The fees are the trade-off. Union security is the trade-off for no strikes… You can raise an untold specter of labor unrest throughout the country,” he said.

    In addition to a drop in union members and resources, it is known “intangibly” that when unions lose agency fees they become “more militant, more confrontational” and look for short-term wins to make themselves more attractive to members, said David Franklin, the solicitor general of Illinois, which sided with AFSCME.

    Liberal justices and attorneys Franklin and Frederick also focused on the court’s doctrine of stare decisis — that is, sticking with precedent. They also argued that the government should be treated in this instance as an employer, a role that would give it more rights to limit employees’ speech.

    Conservatives, meanwhile, focused on the relative harm of compelling speech, which is what Janus’s attorneys and backers say forcing him to pay union dues does, and barring him from speaking, as other laws limiting employees’ First Amendment rights do, like laws barring campaigning by federal workers.

    “When you compel somebody to speak, don’t you infringe [on] that person’s dignity and conscience in a way that you do not when you restrict what the person says?” Justice Samuel Alito asked.

    A decision is expected close to the end of the court’s term in late June.



  • Supreme Court Transcript: Read Monday’s Complete Janus v. AFSCME Arguments at the High Court

    By The 74 | February 26, 2018

    Oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME began today at the Supreme Court of the United States.

    The landmark case asks the justices whether requiring public employees to pay at least some part of union dues, as they must in about half the states, violates their First Amendment rights.

    Read the full transcript here:



  • Debunking Flu Myths: With Close to 100 Children Dead From the Virus, Leading to School Closures in at Least 23 States, Expert Calls ‘Deep-Cleaning’ Schools a ‘Waste of Money, Time, and Effort’

    By Laura Fay | February 26, 2018

    At least 97 children have died, and schools in at least 23 states have closed for a day or longer, due to flu-related symptoms since October 1, according to federal officials.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acting director Anne Schuchat said the season could break modern records for hospitalizations. The center has described the outbreak as “moderately severe,” on par with 2013–14, which was particularly nasty. The flu is currently widespread in most of the country and could last until May.

    About half of the children who have died were otherwise healthy, and most weren’t fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

    To help separate fact from fiction, The 74 recently spoke with William Schaffner, a doctor and infectious-diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, to learn more about how the virus affects children, teachers, and classrooms.

    Related

    Schools in Texas, Massachusetts, Oklahoma & Tennessee Mourn Educators Who Have Died Due to the Flu

    William Schaffner (Photo courtesy Vanderbilt University Medical Center)

    Influenza spreads chiefly through close personal contact, especially when people are in enclosed spaces for an extended period of time, which makes the classroom an ideal environment for spreading the flu, Schaffner said. Less often, people can get the virus on their fingers and then spread it by touching their nose or mouth.

    Research indicates that the droplets from a sneeze can travel more than 20 feet and may remain suspended in the air for as long as 10 minutes, so the flu virus can easily infect the air inside a classroom long enough to make kids and adults sick from just a few coughs or sneezes.

    There’s a lot to learn about how influenza spreads, but here’s some of what we know about its effect on schools.

    1 “Deep cleaning” makes people more comfortable, but it doesn’t really prevent the spread of influenza.

    Many schools have closed amid outbreaks in part to give staff time to “deep clean” the buildings, some even using “fogger” machines that spray disinfectant on surfaces throughout a room.

    The foggers, which can cost hundreds of dollars, are a “waste of money, time, and effort,” Schaffner told The 74.

    “It’s great politics, it’s great TV, [but] it has almost no impact on the transmission of influenza,” he said about news reports showing staff cleaning schools on days off. “It makes all the parents feel warm and cozy; it makes the school feel that they’re doing something; but it really has a trivial impact. Influenza virus is not transmitted by environmental surfaces to any degree.”

    2 Kids really do spread more germs than adults.

    Most adults start to be contagious with the flu about one day before their symptoms start and remain contagious for 5 to 7 days after, according to the CDC. Children may be contagious for even longer. The flu virus can survive on hard surfaces for about 24 hours.

    And children really are more contagious than adults when they get sick.

    “Children — younger children especially — when they acquire influenza, they produce more virus and are able to transmit it for a longer period of time than adults,” he said.

    3 The vaccine is fundamental to minimizing flu outbreaks.

    Getting the flu vaccine every year and encouraging others to do the same is the “single most important thing” anyone can do to minimize the impact of influenza, Schaffner said.

    The CDC recommends that everyone over six months old get an annual flu shot, which can prevent the flu or make symptoms less severe. The flu shot wasn’t particularly effective this year because one of the strains making people sick is difficult to prevent using the vaccine, but experts say it’s better than nothing.

    Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    “We know the influenza vaccine is far from perfect, [but] it happens to be the best we have available now, and any degree of prevention and protection that we can get from using our pretty good vaccine … helps mitigate the impact of influenza on our population, including in our schools,” he added.

    School leaders should make it easier for teachers and staff to get vaccinated, by providing vaccines at school, or by offering incentives for them to get the flu shot, Schaffner said.

    See more from Dr. Schaffner:



  • EduClips: Observers and Allies React to Firing of KIPP Co-founder Mike Feinberg Over Abuse Allegations; Education Officials Debate Arming Teachers, Handling Student Protests After Florida Shooting — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | February 26, 2018

    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

    CLIMATE CHANGE — Idaho has ended a years-long battle over whether the state would require its science teachers to teach about global warming when the State Senate education committee voted to adopt standards that included sections on human-caused climate change.

    Idaho’s legislature had scrubbed all mentions of human-caused climate change from its teaching standards last year. The State Department of Education then put forth revised standards, but this month the House education committee voted to gut the supporting content, which was designed to help teachers assign coursework and included multiple mentions of climate change. On Thursday, the Senate committee approved the revised standards in full, including the supporting content, on a 6-to-3 vote that drew support from both parties. Because both chambers did not agree to reject the standards, they will go into effect. (Read at The New York Times)

    National News

    EQUITY — The Next Educational Equity Battleground: Little-Noticed ESSA Provision to Allow Parents to See Whether Districts Fund Schools Fairly (Read at The74Million.org)

    FLORIDA SHOOTING Police say more deputies waited outside school during Stoneman Douglas shooting (Read at the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel)

    FLINT CRISIS — Is Flint’s Water Crisis Leading to Lower Test Scores? (Read at Governing)

    ARMING TEACHERS — For the Record: Not All Educators Oppose Arming Teachers, Staff (Read at Education Week)

    STRIKE — West Virginia Teachers Go on Statewide Strike (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    ADVANCED PLACEMENT — ‘Official’ Pre-AP Aimed at Improving College Readiness for All Students (Read at Education Week)

    District and State News

    TEXAS — How KIPP’s observers and allies are reacting to co-founder Mike Feinberg’s firing (Read at Chalkbeat)

    FLORIDA — Florida Gov. Rick Scott Seeks More School Resource Officers in Wake of Shooting (Read at Education Week)

    TEXAS — How Texas is a model for Trump’s gun-toting teachers (Read at Politico)

    CALIFORNIA — Push to arm teachers in California would face major hurdles (Read at EdSource)

    NEW YORK — NYC mayor encourages school walkouts in wake of Florida shooting: ‘If I was a high school student today, I’d be walking out’ (Read at Chalkbeat)

    VIRGINIA — More armed security, gun control to be weighed by Fairfax Co. School Board (Read at WTOP News)

    FLORIDA — Students Return to Florida School Where 17 Were Killed (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois Spends More on Education, but Outcomes Lag (Read at Illinois Policy)

    NEVADA — OPINION: The facts behind Nevada’s education spending (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    CALIFORNIA — State bill would let SAT replace standardized tests (Read at the San Francisco Chronicle)

    NEW YORK — Ahead of school closure vote, New York City families protest and anxiously await new options (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ILLINOIS — Charter school debate grows in South Loop (Read at the Columbia Chronicle)

    Think Pieces

    LEARNING OUTCOMES — The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’ (Read at The New York Times)

    COLLEGE DEBT — Race and Debt: Black Grads Default More Frequently Than White Dropouts (Read at The74Million.org)

    HIGHER EDUCATION — New research offers hope to first-generation college grads (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    VOUCHERS — Do vouchers help students get to college? Two new studies come to different answers (Read at Chalkbeat)

    PHILADELPHIA SCHOOLS — 4 Ways Philadelphia Can Keep Its Schools Moving in the Right Direction as District Prepares to Retake Local Control (Read at The74Million.org)

    PERSONALIZED LEARNING — ‘My students are not expected to disappear into the cultural melting pot the way I was’ (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “To be honest, it’s kind of embarrassing that it’s been so controversial.”Idaho State Senator Janie Ward-Engelking of Boise, a Democrat, on the legislature’s move to include human-caused climate change in its teaching standards. (Read at The New York Times)

    Want the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox — for free? Sign up for the TopSheet Daybreak Education Newsletter.



  • This Week in Education Politics: Congress Returns to School Safety Debate, SCOTUS Hears Arguments In Janus Union Dues Case

    By Carolyn Phenicie | February 25, 2018

    THIS WEEK IN EDUCATION POLITICS publishes most Sundays. (See previous editions here.) You can get the preview delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter; for rolling updates on federal education policy, follow Carolyn Phenicie on Twitter @cphenicie.

    INBOX: GUNS — Expect lawmakers, largely out of the D.C. media spotlight last week, to face questions about President Trump’s controversial proposals to combat school shootings — in particular, his idea to allow educators to carry concealed weapons on campus and end gun-free school zones.

    An armed teacher “would have shot the hell out of” the Douglas High gunman if concealed carry were permitted on campus, Trump told the CPAC conference Friday. It was the third day in a row he raised the idea, after discussing it in listening sessions with victims of gun violence Wednesday and state and local government officials Thursday.

    The proposal to arm teachers was one of several raised in the wake of the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead. Douglas High students have pushed the issue of gun control, advocating at the Florida state capitol and inspiring school walkouts across the country.

    Educators have panned the idea of carrying guns in the schoolhouse, and it was the least popular among several floated in a CBS News poll released Friday. Though nearly two-thirds of Americans support increased gun control generally, up eight points since December, only 44 percent backed arming teachers.

    IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: GOVERNORS TALK EDUCATION — The 74, in conjunction with news site Axios and the Walton Family Foundation, held a town hall in D.C. on education with Govs. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Roy Cooper (D-NC), and Jeff Colyer (R-KS). All three discussed gun control and the president’s proposal to arm teachers.

    MONDAY: UNION DUES — The Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case of Janus v. AFSCME. Petitioner Mark Janus, an Illinois child support specialist, argues that forcing him to pay union dues that support positions he doesn’t agree with violates his First Amendment rights. Union officials say the dues prevent “free riders” from benefiting from union-negotiated contracts and make it easier for governments to negotiate with one employee representative. A decision is expected in late June.

    TUESDAY: JANUS 2.0 — The Center for Individual Rights, a libertarian nonprofit law firm, holds a panel discussion on Yohn v. CTA, a successor case to Janus. Ryan Yohn, a California middle school teacher, and two other plaintiffs will discuss why they, like Janus, oppose mandatory union dues, and why teachers and other public employees should have to opt in to union membership, rather than opt out, as they do now. It’s one of several pending cases that raise that issue; lawyers expect that second question to continue before the courts even if the Supreme Court overrules mandatory dues in the Janus case.

    TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY: CIVIL RIGHTS — In 1968, the Kerner Commission released a landmark report on racial division and disparities in the U.S. This week the Learning Policy Institute, the Eisenhower Foundation, and the Economic Policy Institute hold a day-and-a-half-long event to release a 50-year update of that report, including a half-day focused specifically on education.

    WEDNESDAY: IMMIGRATION & SCHOOLS — Four researchers will present new papers on the impact of immigration enforcement on students and schools, including a survey of how it is affecting teaching and learning, consequences for educators, federal and state policies affecting children of immigrants, and what happens to young U.S. citizens when their family members are deported. National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García will make remarks at the event, which will be held at the Wilson Center and is co-sponsored by the Civil Rights Project and Migration Policy Institute.

    WEDNESDAY: CRIMINAL JUSTICEThe Atlantic holds a half-day event on criminal justice reform, focused in particular on the experience of women and children behind bars. The Obama administration placed particular attention on the school-to-prison pipeline, though it hasn’t been a focus in the Trump era. Sen. Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, and Sen. Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, will participate.

    WEDNESDAY: GRANDPARENTS — The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will consider a bill that would create a task force to better help grandparents raising their grandchildren, including how to best meet the children’s educational needs. Sponsor Sen. Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, discussed the issue at a hearing earlier this month about how to best support children in the midst of the opioid crisis.



  • Race and Debt: Black Grads Default More Frequently Than White Dropouts

    By Kevin Mahnken | February 25, 2018

    The nationwide spread of student debt default is growing worse with time, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution, and black students are especially economically vulnerable. More than 1 in 4 borrowers currently default on their student loans, and the author warns that if current trends persist, the rate could skyrocket over the next few years.

    The report, authored by Columbia Teachers College professor Judith Scott-Clayton, uses federal Education Department data on student debt and repayment released last year. The numbers provide a new vantage point on student finance, she writes, since previous figures only followed borrowers for a few years after entering repayment.

    Instead, she traces outcomes for two groups of students: one that entered post-secondary education (whether a four-year college, community college, or certificate program) in the 1995–96 school year, the other in the 2003–04 school year.

    More than two decades after starting college, the default rate for students from the 1995–96 cohort now stands at 26 percent of all borrowers, and it continues to climb. Meanwhile, the prospects for the 2003–04 group are even more ominous. Those students have already exceeded the earlier class’s default rate, hitting the 27 percent mark just 12 years following college entry. If they miss loan payments between years 12 and 20 at the same frequency their elders did, an astonishing 38 percent may default by 2023.

    Source: Brookings Institution

    The utility of the new Education Department statistics is twofold, Scott-Clayton says. Not only can she follow repayment activity over much longer spans of time, she can also place the experience of borrowers within the context of all students. This is particularly meaningful when observing the financial challenges faced by students at for-profit colleges like the University of Phoenix and the now-shuttered Corinthian Colleges. If we only consider borrowers, students enrolled at for-profit schools and certificate programs default at twice the rate (52 percent vs. 26 percent) of those in public two-year colleges.

    That’s an unflattering picture, but not a complete one, since for-profit students are also much more likely to take out loans in the first place than community college students. Among for-profit students overall, 47 percent later default on a student loan, as opposed to just 13 percent of students at public two-year colleges. The default differential between the sectors has thus leaped from 2-to-1 to nearly 4-to-1.

    Examining data for specific sub-populations is even more revelatory, with black students exposed to unique financial risks. White college graduates who didn’t attend for-profit schools defaulted at among the lowest rates of any group, just 4 percent. Black students who dropped out of a for-profit school, meanwhile, defaulted on loans at a rate of 67 percent. That’s a differential of almost 17-to-1.

    If that doesn’t sound like an apples-to-apples comparison, consider this: The default rate for black holders of bachelor’s degrees — perhaps the safest educational investment available — is over five times as high as that of their white classmates on the commencement stage (21 percent versus 4 percent). Black BA graduates are even more likely to default than white dropouts from BA programs (21 percent versus 18 percent).

    The key conclusion, according to Scott-Clayton, is one borne out in other studies: The total amount owed in college debt is less important than who holds that debt, and what institutions they attended while accruing it. Whites may owe more than blacks, but they have an easier time paying it off, partially due to disparities baked into the economy. Graduating from a for-profit program may be worse in the long run than dropping out of a four-year school, since earnings are vastly lower among for-profit alums.

    “Defaults are highest among those with small debts,” she writes, adding that “37 percent of those who borrow between $1 and $6,125 for undergraduate study default within 12 years, compared with 24 percent of those who borrow more than $24,000.”

    Related

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  • Gov. Hickenlooper on School Safety — and Fear: ‘If You Wanted to Hurt America, What Better Way Than to Make Children Feel They’re Unsafe In School?’

    By Steve Snyder | February 23, 2018

    This morning, The 74 partnered with Axios and the Walton Family Foundation to organize a special #EDlection2018 town hall in Washington, D.C. Here’s our recap of how the event trended on Twitter; we’ll be publishing several videos, audio interviews, and recaps in the days to come.

    Axios executive editor Mike Allen sat down with three governors from across the country to talk about state-level education issues: Govs. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Roy Cooper (D-NC), and Jeff Colyer (R-KS).

    An early headline to emerge from the event was Hickenlooper’s response to the recent school shooting in Florida — and his passionate plea that America’s children not be forced to live in fear.

    “We are allowing ourselves to be terrorized,” he said. “If you were someone in a basement in Leningrad and you wanted to hurt America as badly as you could, what better way than to make our children feel that they’re unsafe in school?

    That they shouldn’t go to school?

    That while they’re at school, they’re [forced to be] anxious?

    They won’t learn as well, you’ll cripple a whole generation. We’re allowing this to be done to ourselves.”

    He continued: “Even with universal background checks, even with all kinds of restraints, security people will make mistakes. Having guns so available to so many people makes the task of keeping schools safe almost impossible.”

    We’ll soon be posting the full interview with Hickenlooper, as well as Allen’s conversations with other governors. Get notified when the interview goes live by signing up for The 74 Newsletter.

    Meanwhile, here’s the transcript of this morning’s exchange on guns and school safety:

    Allen: What would you tell President Trump about proposal to arm teachers?

    Hickenlooper: I think he’s heard enough in the last 24 hours; I probably don’t need to say anything.

    Honestly, when I went to all those schools [in Denver while I was mayor], even back then, people were discussing whether to arm. Ever since Columbine, which was 1999, this has been an issue. I have met a few teachers that thought that was a good idea [to carry guns], would do it. Almost every teacher thought it was a terrible idea. They thought it would make schools less safe.

    You’d have to train teachers about things they don’t want to learn about.

    In terms of gun safety, Trump wants to ban bump stocks. Let’s get to work, right? They could raise the age everywhere for kids to be able to own an assault weapon. That’s a first step toward making sure assault weapons are pulled out.

    What have you learned for modern Democrats about how to navigate gun control?

    Part of the problem is a reflection of the continued divide between rural America and urban, suburban America … I think we’ve got to fix it.

    Anybody who lives in an urban area and thinks that they’re not dependent on where their food comes from is crazy. We don’t oftentimes do a good enough job in urban areas going out and getting involved in the rural parts of the state, representing those self-interests and making sure that if people get a real chance … to be appreciated. I think we’ve put in a lot of time over the last six or seven years of going out and trying to listen harder. If you want to persuade someone how to think about an issue differently, don’t tell them why you think they’re wrong. I think better to just keep asking [questions].

    I think this might well be a tipping point. It’s been incremental, incremental, incremental, and now, let’s raise the age for assault weapons. And maybe assault weapons should belong in a shooting range and don’t need to be taken home, shouldn’t be used for everyday life.

    Tell us about the tipping point.

    I’ve had people in my office in the last few days that are so fed up, and a couple of them are Republicans, conservative people, saying: Enough is enough, I’m going to put my dollars toward electing people that will enact reasonable, thoughtful gun safety measures. That process of having it stop being so partisan and just get down to the basic concept.

    We are allowing ourselves to be terrorized. If you were someone in a basement in Leningrad and you wanted to hurt America as badly as you could, what better way than to make our children feel that they’re unsafe in school?

    That they shouldn’t go to school?

    That while they’re at school, they’re [forced to be] anxious?

    They won’t learn as well, you’ll cripple a whole generation. We’re allowing this to be done to ourselves.

    Follow all the updates from the #Axios360 town hall — and see our latest #EDlection2018 coverage: Sign up for The 74 Newsletter.



  • Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer Supports President Trump’s Bid to Arm School Teachers: ‘That’s Where the Students Are, That’s Where the Security Issue Is Immediately’

    By Steve Snyder | February 23, 2018

    This morning, The 74 partnered with Axios and the Walton Family Foundation to organize a special #EDlection2018 conversation in Washington, D.C. Here’s our recap of how the event trended on Twitter; we’ll be publishing several videos, audio interviews, and recaps in the days to come.

    Axios executive editor Mike Allen sat down with three governors from across the country to talk about state-level education issues: Govs. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Roy Cooper (D-NC), and Jeff Colyer (R-KS).

    One of the day’s earliest headlines came from Colyer’s response to the biggest news story of the week: reactions to the February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 14 students and three teachers.

    Asked about President Donald Trump’s idea of arming teachers and incentivizing gun training for instructors by paying them bonuses, Colyer said:

    “This may be a good solution … That’s where the students are, that’s where the security issue is immediately. That, though, is really a very local decision on how we see it — because different schools, they have a different setup, and different community standards. We’re exploring this right now.”

    We’ll soon be posting the full interview with Colyer, a surgeon who was sworn in as governor three weeks ago after his predecessor, the controversial Sam Brownback, resigned to take a D.C. diplomatic post. Get notified when the interview goes live by signing up for The 74 Newsletter.

    Meanwhile, here’s the transcript of this morning’s exchange on guns and school safety:

    Mike Allen: What are you hearing from teachers in Kansas about Trump’s idea to give a bonus to teachers who have guns at school?

    Colyer: Kansas is looking at Kansas solutions. Much of those decisions in our state are really made on the local level, so we’re just starting to hear different communities are looking at different opportunities on how they want to approach that.

    There’s a wide diversity of views, as everyone knows. In Kansas, they want to be very practical or very pragmatic. This may be a good solution.

    What do you see as the potential advantages of the president’s idea of having armed teachers?

    That’s where the students are, that’s where the security issue is immediately. That, though, is really a very local decision on how we see it, because different schools, they have a different setup, and different community standards. We’re exploring this right now, and you’ll start hearing a lot more about it, I think, as this discussion expands across the U.S.

    So you would say potentially promising?

    Yes.

    Why potentially promising?

    I think that’s just one good solution. There are a whole bunch of these issues. It’s not just the gun control issue, it’s not just the mental health issue, it is not just the building itself. This is a multi-point situation. And for me, it’s the tenacity of continuing to deal with this thing over years, and that’s what these problems take. It takes a multi-year approach. If there were a magic arrow for this, we’d all take that.

    Follow all the updates from the #Axios360 town hall — and see our latest #EDlection2018 coverage: Sign up for The 74 Newsletter.



  • Recap: The Governors’ Most Memorable Education Observations at Our Axios #EDlection2018 Town Hall

    By The 74 | February 23, 2018

    This live blog is no longer being updated. Recap below: 

    On February 23, The 74 was proud to partner with Axios and the Walton Family Foundation in organizing a special conversation about schools and state-level education policy with a trio of governors from across the political spectrum. “Raising the Bar: A Conversation on Education in America” brought together Governors John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Roy Cooper (D-NC) and Jeff Colyer (R-KS) to speak with Axios executive editor Mike Allen in Washington, D.C., on Friday morning.

    Questions and reactions were channelled through the day’s two hashtags: #Axios360 and #EDlection2018. Noteworthy highlights below:



  • As Trump Again Calls for Arming Educators, Teachers Ask for Basic Supplies, Mental Health Supports

    By Carolyn Phenicie | February 22, 2018

    President Donald Trump on Thursday again called for arming qualified teachers as a way to prevent school shootings.

    The president first discussed the idea Wednesday afternoon at a meeting with survivors of the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 14 students and three teachers. Advocates of such a plan have argued that qualified educators could more quickly respond to a shooting than waiting for police.

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    Trump Pushes Concealed Weapons for Teachers, End to Gun-Free School Zones as Florida Shooting Survivors Plead for ‘Significant Change’

    “I want certain highly adept people, people that understand weaponry, guns, if they really have that aptitude, because not everybody has an aptitude for a gun, I think a concealed permit for teachers and letting people know there are people in the building with a gun, you won’t have, in my opinion, you won’t have these shootings,” Trump said at a meeting Thursday with state and local officials, according to a press pool report.

    The Council of Chief State School Officers, which represents state education secretaries, will establish a working group to address school safety, the group announced Thursday.

    “This work will not be easy. We understand that school safety sits at the intersection of many complicated issues involving mental health, student privacy, resources and gun laws, but as state chiefs we welcome the difficult conversations that will move us forward in making schools safer for every child,” Carissa Moffat Miller, the group’s interim executive director, said in a statement.

    The president also suggested “a little bit of a bonus” for educators who carry weapons.

    Wednesday he said 20 percent of educators might be qualified to carry weapons at school; Thursday he suggested 10, 20, or 40 percent of teachers might fit the bill. Other than mentioning teachers who might be ex-military, Trump did not specify what those qualifications might be.

    The idea has been generally panned by educators.

    “Teachers should be marking papers, not being trained in marksmanship,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers. “We need to be preparing our lessons, not learning how to reload a gun.”

    National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García in a statement Wednesday said parents and teachers “overwhelmingly” oppose arming educators.

    “Educators need to be focused on teaching our students. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that,” she said.

    Nate Bowling, Washington’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, said on Twitter the list of things he’d rather have at school than guns “is very long and begins with a well-functioning copier.” Other teachers said they’d prefer everything from basics like tissues, tape, and paper to more special education teachers and guidance counselors.

    Related

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    Other teachers on Twitter used the hashtag #ArmMeWith to ask for everything from additional mental health supports for students to more diverse books.

    The idea of arming educators leaves a host of questions unresolved, from who would pay for the firearms, to how and where the weapons would be stored during the school day, to what the consequences would be if armed teachers accidentally shoot students.

    Trump also said he’d be willing to provide federal money for training educators.

    The administration’s proposed fiscal 2019 budget asked for cuts to federal school safety grants, including eliminating $25 million in grants to schools where students experience pervasive violence, and asking for no new money for federal grants that help schools that have experienced large-scale violent events, though that grant program has carry-over funds from previous years, Politico reported.

    Trump also expressed distaste for the idea of mandated active shooter drills, raised in the meeting by Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart — which in some recent cases have been credited with saving children’s lives.

    “Active shooter drills is a very negative thing… I don’t like it. I’d much rather have a hardened school… I think it’s crazy. I think it’s very hard on children,” Trump said.

    The president said he “wouldn’t want to tell my son that you’re going to participate in an active shooter drill.” Trump’s youngest child, 11-year-old Barron, attends a private school in Potomac, Maryland. Maryland requires schools to conduct annual drills for practices associated with active shooters — such as lockdowns, evacuations, and sheltering in place — but those requirements appear to apply only to public schools.

    Related

    At Barron Trump’s New School, an Emphasis on Brain Science and a Push to Share Its Breakthroughs



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