April 2018
  • A Cyberattack, a Cut Cable & a Software Glitch: Why Tennessee Is Discounting Student Test Scores — and Wants the Feds to Do the Same

    By Kate Stringer | April 30, 2018

    Schools in Tennessee won’t face state repercussions from standardized test results this year, after cyberattacks and technical glitches over the past two weeks prevented some students from taking state tests and caused chaos for teachers and state leaders alike.

    Tennessee, along with Mississippi, Missouri, New York, and South Dakota, were among the states whose testing services were disrupted after their vendor, Questar, experienced a denial-of-service cyberattack that shut down the system by overwhelming it with requests. Questar said student data was not stolen, EdScoop reported.

    But that was just one of several testing problems that led Tennessee state legislators to pass a law last month preventing this year’s test results from negatively impacting students’ grades, teacher compensation, or employment status for educators.

    “I think what happened was the House felt like we needed to do something to protect teachers and our students and our institutions from further erosion of the trust as it relates to these tests. I think what you saw today is an effort to do that,” said House Republican Caucus Chair Ryan Williams, the Tennessean reported.

    The state might have to submit a federal waiver under the Every Student Succeeds Act to be excused from testing, according to Education Week, but state Education Department officials are still reviewing the law. It is unclear whether Tennessee would be granted a waiver, as the federal government has shown flexibility in the past but is trying to shift away from waivers.

    State Republican lawmakers called for a review of the testing platform, which has experienced a number of issues since exams began April 16. On the first day, students couldn’t log in. The next day, the cyberattack overwhelmed the system. Then, the testing vendor updated its software, resetting school rosters. Finally, on Thursday, a fiber-optic cable running between Tennessee and Georgia was severed, shutting down internet access for schools statewide.

    The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and state Office of Homeland Security are investigating the cyberattack.

    Some legislators called for state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen to step down. Others called for a return to pencil-and-paper tests, Chalkbeat Tennessee reported.

    “We always want a throat to choke and hold one person accountable, but at the end of the day, there are a lot of pieces to this,” McQueen told state lawmakers. “At the end of the day, this is about a mass transition onto an online environment.”

    Others, like state Rep. Mark White, pointed out that the legislature is partly to blame for the testing crisis. In 2014, Tennessee quickly pulled out of the PARCC test in response to backlash against the Common Core State Standards. As a result, new standardized tests were implemented without much time to vet them, Chalkbeat Tennessee reported. A new testing vendor, Measurement Inc., was hired in 2014, and with little time to develop the test, the online platform crashed in 2016. Questar, the current vendor, was hired the same year.

    Switching back to paper tests is impractical, said Eric Brown, assistant director of cybersecurity education, research, and outreach center at Tennessee Tech University. He called the cybersecurity and technological glitches part of the growing process for schools as they transition not just to online testing but to an online world.

    “Centralized testing is not an easy task,” Brown said. “There’s always doomsday people saying the world’s going to end. … You’ve got to put it into perspective. Every time a major innovation in society was introduced, there were growing pains that went with it. That’s what we’re experiencing now.”

    Still, he said, more attention should be paid to cybersecurity in schools, both from a personnel side and from a practical side. Brown recommended “commonsense” adjustments for schools: maintaining infrastructure, keeping operating systems up to date, making sure systems are not allowed to degrade, and controlling who is allowed access to certain systems.

    “It’s a process that is growing like every other part of our lives, and we need to own the process, fix the process, and not abandon it because it had early problems,” Brown said.

    Despite the technology struggles, the state Department of Education announced that students had completed 250,000 successful testing sessions last week.


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  • Disadvantaged Kids Don’t Have Equal Access to Great Teachers. Research Suggests That Hurts Their Learning

    By Kevin Mahnken | April 30, 2018

    This is the latest article in The 74’s ongoing ‘Big Picture’ series, bringing American education into sharper focus through new research and data. Go Deeper: See our full series.

    Differences in the quality of elementary and middle school teachers can explain much of why disadvantaged students perform worse in math than their whiter, more affluent schoolmates, according to a working paper circulated by the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER). The authors caution, however, that our understanding of teachers’ effects on students depends on how we measure teacher quality.

    The study, conducted by CALDER director and University of Washington professor Dan Goldhaber, synthesizes two separate research topics: the influence of teacher quality on student achievement, and the inequities in access to excellent teachers that persist along racial and class lines.

    Roughly one-sixth of white students’ edge over their minority classmates in eighth-grade math tests is due to simply having better teachers, the authors conclude, and over one-fifth of the gap between poor and non-poor students is also traceable to teacher quality.

    Voluminous research published over several decades has shown that low-income and minority students have less access to high-quality teachers, regardless of whether “quality” is defined by traditional qualifications — years of experience, possession of an advanced degree, performance on teacher certification exams — or by the somewhat controversial measure of “value added,” which tracks the impact of instructors on student test scores.


    Yes, Poor Students Get Worse Teachers, but That Doesn’t Explain Most of the Achievement Gap

    Goldhaber has published multiple studies and briefs trying to get at the importance of teachers’ performance in the classroom and how that performance ought to be calculated. He says that the development of teacher quality gaps isn’t particularly surprising, since states and school boards tend to view teacher job assignments as fungible — even if it’s actually much harder to teach in a high-poverty district or school than a more affluent one.

    “You’d expect that there would be teacher quality gaps because there’s very little differentiation between teacher salaries within a school system,” he told The 74 in an interview. “Teachers don’t have quality measures stamped on their forehead, but you could imagine that the better teachers would have some advantages in that kind of labor market, and would get the choice teacher assignments.”

    So experienced, well-credentialed teachers — and those who boast high value-added scores — cluster in more desirable job placements; perversely, those are often in schools with greater numbers of white, middle-class, and high-performing students, who are already succeeding by most academic standards. The question is: How does this inequitable distribution of teacher skill affect how students learn?

    To find an answer, Goldhaber and his co-authors examined student-level data from the state of Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction between the 2006–07 and 2015–16 school years. They linked students to their classroom instructors between the fourth and eighth grades, and then examined their performance on eighth-grade math exams. To introduce a new area of inquiry, they also looked at which students later took advanced math classes (precalculus and above) in high school.

    Ultimately, they find the importance of teacher quality to be significant. If black, Hispanic, and Native American students and white students had equivalent teachers in grades four through eight, gaps in eighth-grade math performance would shrink by 16 percent; gaps between students based on eligibility for free and reduced-price lunch (a common measure of student poverty) would be 21 percent smaller.

    Even more striking, a full 33 percent of the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students in advanced high school math courses can be attributed to teacher assignment.

    But a lot depends on how teacher value added is determined, and specifically whether measures of value added focus on individual student performance or account for classroom characteristics. Some existing research has found — and the CALDER study reaffirms — that controlling for “peer effects” (e.g., whether a student’s classmates are top performers or falling behind, well-behaved or disruptive) reduces observed gaps in teacher quality. Even very skilled instructors may look worse, the thinking goes, when placed into classrooms where many students are struggling to learn.

    Echoing other studies, the authors find that nothing is more predictive of later academic performance than earlier academic performance. Somewhere between 63 percent and 75 percent of the gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students on eighth-grade math is associated with their gaps on third-grade math.

    “Policy makers wishing to alleviate later achievement gaps either need to intervene earlier in a student’s academic career or be far more aggressive after the third grade to address academic deficiencies,” they write.

    To fully explore the insights provided by different measures of teacher quality, Goldhaber told The 74 that he and his co-authors plan to eventually split the existing working paper into at least two: one that will examine the link between teacher value added and student performance, and one looking at different models of value added.

    Regardless, he says, unequal access to educational resources will continue to be a reality for poor and minority students as long as the toughest teaching jobs are treated the same as cushier assignments.

    “You can’t overstate how tough a problem this is. If you’re talking about a single salary schedule, which I think treats a teaching job as pretty generic, I think you can expect this problem to arise.”

    This is the latest article in The 74’s ongoing ‘Big Picture’ series, bringing American education into sharper focus through new research and data. Go Deeper: See our full series.


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  • EduClips: Beutner Closes In on LAUSD Chief Job; AZ Teacher Strike to Continue Monday — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | April 30, 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

    PRE-K — Should preschool teachers be required to have a bachelor’s degree? A national collaborative of early childhood educators says no, and it is issuing recommendations in an effort to reach consensus in a decades-old debate on qualifications for teachers of America’s youngest students.

    The current draft of the recommendations, written as part of a two-year initiative called Power to the Profession, supports multiple education levels for preschool teachers, including associate’s and bachelor’s degrees — flexibility that opponents say could hurt a profession fighting to gain recognition and better pay. Fifteen education organizations, among them the National Education Association, the National Head Start Association, and the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators, created the document with input from dozens of stakeholders.

    It’s a critical moment for preschool teachers, who are poorly paid despite research that underlines the importance of early education for student success — especially for children in poverty. Leaders in the Power to the Profession effort say the profession is fragmented, fragile, and misunderstood by the public. (Read at

    National News

    TEACHERS’ STRIKE — Arizona teachers’ strike to continue Monday; Colorado ralliers pin hopes on ballot initiative (Read at USA Today)

    DEVOS — Betsy DeVos was asked, again, about visiting struggling schools. A staffer interjected. (Read at The Washington Post)

    TEACHERS’ STRIKE — When Teachers Strike, Parents Face Dilemma: Loyalties are divided as families scramble for child care (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    ESSA — How Can Districts and States Use ESSA to Bolster STEM and Computer Science? (Read at Politics K-12)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — Beutner closes in on L.A.’s top schools job as another candidate drops off (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    NEW YORK — City sex harassment stats spark cover-up questions after over 100 school complaints disappear (Read at the New York Daily News)

    FLORIDA — School transfer law: Parents can seek new campuses, but not many have room (Read at the Orlando Sentinel)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois Pilot Program Connects Students With Therapists (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    TEXAS — How are Texas school reforms crucial to everyone? A look at the numbers (Read at Dallas News)

    FLORIDA — The Legislature raised funding by 47 cents per student. Here’s how Florida schools are coping. (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois House approves required $40,000 salary for teachers (Read at Illinois News Network)

    NEW YORK — Chancellor Richard Carranza stands by his tweet of viral video in Upper West Side integration fight (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — Race for California state schools chief begins to attract major contributions (Read at EdSource)

    NEVADA — CCSD trustees question candidates for superintendent job (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    TEXAS — Texas schools hit by Hurricane Harvey eligible for $89M in federal aid (Read at Chron)

    Think Pieces

    TEACHER PAY — We can expect more from teachers when we pay them like pros: Bloomberg and Weingarten (Read at USA Today)

    TEENAGERS — Worried About Risky Teenage Behavior? Make School Tougher (Read at The New York Times)

    “A NATION AT RISK” — What ‘A Nation At Risk’ Got Wrong, And Right, About U.S. Schools (Read at NPR)

    COLLEGE READINESS — Are High Schools Adequately Preparing Teens for College? No One Really Knows. That’s Why Today’s GreatSchools Analysis Is One of the Most Important Education Reports in Years (Read at

    TUTORS — Cheaper human tutors can be highly effective, studies show (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    LEARNING — Mythbusters: Misconceptions About How Students Learn (Read at New Classrooms)

    BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS — Opinion: Why won’t schools partner with businesses? (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “It’s holding the parents hostage because they are having to scramble to find people to watch their kids. It’s placing an undue hardship on families just trying to stay afloat. I don’t like the kids being used as pawns.” —Arizona parent Jennifer Goehring, on the hardship the teachers’ strike in the state is placing on parents. (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

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  • Monthly QuotED: NAEP, Teacher Strikes, and ‘A Nation at Risk’ — 8 Notable Quotes That Made News in April

    By Andrew Brownstein | April 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.

    “This has been education’s lost decade.” —Michael Petrilli, president of the reform-oriented Thomas B. Fordham Institute, on the trend of flat progress on the nation’s NAEP scores. (Read at

    “Teachers for a long time have had a martyr mentality. This is new.” —Noah Karvelis, an elementary school music teacher in Tolleson, Arizona, outside Phoenix, and leader of the movement calling itself #RedforEd, after the red T-shirts that protesting teachers are wearing across the country. (Read at The New York Times)

    “I don’t know why the leaders would say that they’re going to strike when we are delivering for the teachers on what we believe they deserve.” —Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, on April’s statewide teacher walkout. (Read at USA Today)

    Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teacher Ivy Schamis poses with Luigi, her service dog. Two students in her Holocaust history class were killed during the February 14 mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. (Photo credit: Ivy Schamis)

    “The lessons of the Holocaust came into our classroom. There we were talking about how we’re going to combat hate, and a complete hater busted into our class and killed two of our classmates.” —Ivy Schamis, who was teaching a course on the Holocaust at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when a gunman killed 17 people, including 2 students in her class. (Read at

    “These jobs are difficult. They take a real toll on people. They are extremely demanding, and whoever takes them has precious little in the way of personal and family time.” —Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of the country’s largest urban public school systems, on the difficulty of being a big city school superintendent. (Read at U.S. News & World Report)

    Ann Compton, former ABC News White House correspondent, moderates a panel on the “Purpose of Education” with former U.S. education secretaries Rod Paige, Margaret Spellings, Arne Duncan, and John B. King. (Photo credit: Emmeline Zhao/The 74)

    “We lack of a sense of urgency. We all served at a time when we had presidents that were really using that national bully pulpit to drive closing the achievement gap. People are exhausted with education reform or feel like it’s not possible to close the achievement gap. The boulder is drifting back down the hill.” —Margaret Spellings, president of the University of North Carolina and former U.S. secretary of education, on the nation’s attitude toward education 35 years after the publication of “A Nation at Risk.” (Read at

    “Schools are places where there’s tremendous amounts of discretion with regard to when to call law enforcement. As a result, we end up with folks who fear black kids, fear for their physical safety, fear that they can’t control their class. … Anytime you have high levels of fear and high levels of discretion, you’re going to end up with high levels of disparity.” —Phillip Goff, the president of the Center for Policing Equity at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, on racial disparities in school discipline. (Read at Education Week)

    “Not to unduly shame the American education system, but chances are Bob Dorough has had more of an impact on grammar fluency than any other individual in the 20th century.” —A 2016 People magazine article on Dorough, the Schoolhouse Rock composer who died on April 23. (Read at

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


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  • Education Department to Award Billions in Grants to School Districts Accepting Students Displaced by Hurricanes, Wildfires

    By Mark Keierleber | April 27, 2018

    School districts across the country educating students displaced by natural disasters last fall can now apply for federal funds to help defray the cost of the unexpected enrollment surge. That includes funding for districts that accepted students displaced by wildfires in California, as well as hurricanes in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Texas.

    Last week the U.S. Department of Education announced the application process for federal grants to assist affected schools. The money is part of a $90 billion federal disaster relief package, approved in the federal budget in February, which includes $2.7 billion for schools affected by the natural disasters. The bulk of that money will go to schools directly affected by the disasters and to districts that accepted displaced youth.

    Under the program, affected schools will receive $8,500 for every displaced student they’ve enrolled during the 2017–18 school year. Additional funding will be given to support students with greater needs: $9,000 for each English language learner and $10,000 per student with disabilities.

    The emergency impact aid for displaced students is earmarked for districts that enrolled displaced students from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the U.S. territories last September, as well as those that enrolled Texas students after Hurricane Harvey struck the state in late August. The money is also available to districts that enrolled California students after a rash of wildfires last October.

    The federal government will award the grants to state education departments based on displaced student enrollment data provided to the states by local school districts. State education agencies will then distribute the dollars to individual districts. The federal money can be used to pay for a variety of services, including new classroom supplies, counseling services, or the hiring of additional teachers. State education departments must apply for the funding by May 25.

    Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Florida Democrat who helped secure the education dollars, said in a press release the federal funds will be of particular benefit to school districts in her home state, which has welcomed more than 12,000 students, primarily from Puerto Rico, this school year. In Orlando alone, Orange County Public Schools has embraced an influx of more than 3,000 displaced kids.


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  • ‘If You’re Not at the Table, You’re on the Menu’: Importance of African-American Voices in Ed Reform Focus of UNCF Event

    By Carolyn Phenicie | April 26, 2018

    Washington, D.C.

    It’s essential for African-American students, parents, and community leaders to have a voice in education reform to overcome long-standing distrust and empower children to succeed, advocates said.

    “The word ‘reform’ automatically translates to ‘rich white lady at the top who has no connection with the community they’re trying to help’ … It feels like we just don’t know who we’re dealing with, and there’s a lot of skepticism [among African-American families regarding white advocates],” said Erika Harrell, a parent advocate and organizing and outreach manager for Democrats for Education Reform.

    Advocacy by legacy civil rights organizations in top-level policy discussions is also essential, said Wil Del Pilar, vice president of higher education policy and practice at the Education Trust. He said he is often the only person of color in meetings on policy changes that could have a huge impact on black and Hispanic students.

    In short, “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” he said.

    Harrell and Del Pilar spoke at panel discussions held by the United Negro College Fund to discuss a new report on African-American youths’ perception of K-12 education and how to better engage black voices in education reform efforts.

    The report found:

    ● 70 percent said success in school was a top priority, and 89 percent said it’s important to get a postsecondary education.

    ● 65 percent felt their high schools prepared them for college.

    ● 43 percent felt safe at school.

    ● One-third felt their race may limit their opportunities in life.

    Data came from a sub-sample of 797 African-American students from Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, and Richmond, California; Philadelphia; Chicago; and Atlanta, who participated in the 2013 “Inner City Truth” survey.

    Earlier UNCF research focused on the perceptions of black parents and community leaders.

    The United States is overdue for a conversation about race, one that’s likely to get uncomfortable, panelists said.

    “If we want to get comfortable on the subject of race, we first have to get very uncomfortable on the subject of race,” Michael Lomax, president of UNCF, said at a second panel.


    74 Interview: Michael Lomax, CEO of the United Negro College Fund, on Guiding Low-Income Students Through College

    Panelists also discussed how to help improve K-12 education, enroll in college, and persist through to graduation.

    “There’s a big disconnect between what is being done in our K-12 system and what we know needs to happen to prepare them for college and career,” Lomax said.

    There should be better alignment between pre-K-12 and higher education systems, and data should be used to improve outcomes — for example, showing high schools where their graduates needed remediation — and not to punish, Del Pilar said.

    Other panelists suggested mentoring, a greater emphasis on college-going in early grades, and improved math education as other important steps.

    Jamar McKneely, CEO and co-founder of the InspireNOLA charter network, described the myriad services his schools provide to students and families, from mental health counseling to meals for families to well-paying job opportunities.


    Reinventing America’s Schools: Jamar McKneely, CEO, InspireNOLA Charter School

    “We have so many social ills in our city that organizations have to reach back farther than just working with the students day to day,” he said.


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    Disclosure: The Walton Family Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and The Donald & Doris Fisher Fund provide financial support to UNCF and The 74.

  • Wave of Teacher Walkouts Hits Arizona, Colorado

    By Laura Fay | April 26, 2018

    Educators and supporters wearing red flooded Phoenix and Denver Thursday in the latest wave of teacher protests.

    More than 100 school districts in Arizona and at least 20 in Colorado, including the largest districts in both states, canceled classes Thursday because of teacher walkouts, affecting more than a million students. Teachers in both states marched to their capitol buildings to pressure lawmakers to increase funding for education.

    The Arizona teachers, organized by the teachers union and a grassroots group called Arizona Educators United, are demanding a raise for teachers plus a $1 billion increase in school spending and higher pay for school support staff. Last week, the groups conducted a vote, and 78 percent of about 57,000 teachers who cast ballots supported the walkout. Organizers have not said how long it will last.

    Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has proposed a plan that gives teachers a 20 percent salary raise by 2020, but some teachers say that is based on overly optimistic revenue projections and does not address their other concerns.

    Although a 20 percent raise sounds like a lot, that would still leave Arizona teachers beneath the national average in teacher pay, Joe Thomas, the president of the Arizona Education Association, told Education Week.

    “We’re just trying to get competitive salaries,” Thomas said. Average teacher pay in Arizona ranked 43rd nationally at $47,218, according to 2016 data compiled by the National Education Association.

    Ducey said Wednesday he would not change his mind and expected the strike would end when teachers realized he was giving them a good deal, the Arizona Capitol Times reported. Thomas told the Capitol Times the governor has refused to meet with him and other advocates for teachers.

    The governor appeared on several local news programs Thursday morning to promote his plan and ask Arizona residents to urge their lawmakers to approve it.

    Several state lawmakers have expressed strong opposition to the teacher walkouts. House Majority Whip Kelly Townsend, a Republican, posted on social media that she is considering a class action lawsuit against the teachers for those impacted by a possible extension of the school year. She also asked teachers from schools that closed due to the walkouts to email her if they oppose the strike. She said she would respond to them so they have documentation in case participating teachers are disciplined, reported.

    Republican State Rep. Maria Syms wrote in a contentious op-ed that the teachers organizing the walkout claim to be bipartisan but are really socialist “political operatives.” Parents have expressed a range of opinions about the walkouts, but for many the primary concern is finding reliable childcare when teacher strikes keep students out of school.

    Arizona was the latest in a series of red states to see teacher demonstrations, but in Colorado, where Democrats control the statehouse and the governor’s office, the state’s two largest districts announced closures for both Thursday and Friday in anticipation of the walkouts. Teachers are demanding higher spending on education and want the legislature to freeze tax cuts until per-student spending reaches the national average, the Denver Post reported. Organizers stressed that teachers were using sick days or personal time to participate in the rally. Public opinion is crucial in Colorado because state lawmakers cannot raise taxes without voter approval.

    Earlier this year, teacher walkouts in West Virginia earned teachers a 5 percent raise. Walkouts in Oklahoma and Kentucky also raised awareness and pressured lawmakers to increase teacher pay.

    Scenes from Arizona:

    Scenes from Colorado:


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  • EduClips: De Blasio Calls NYC Ed Dept. Harassment Complaints Frivolous; Teachers to Strike in AZ, CO — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | April 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

    COLLEGE READINESS — Just two states publish full information on whether students from specific high schools go on to graduate from postsecondary education, and just 12 states gather and report data on how well those students do after they get to college.

    “A clear reason is that [states are] not federally mandated to publish this data,” said Samantha Brown Olivieri, chief strategy officer for GreatSchools, a nonprofit that uses research and data to inform parents about school quality and educational opportunity. “But more and more states are seeing their role as the data steward — not just one of compliance, but one of transparency, and they’re using data to inform improvement rather than as just a form of reporting for accountability.”

    In a new report that studies how well America’s high schools are preparing students for success in college, GreatSchools’ “College Success Awards” recognizes the institutions that yield the strongest results in ensuring student enrollment in college, academic readiness, and performance once matriculated. A new provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to report how many graduates from individual high schools enroll in postsecondary education, but it doesn’t mandate states to follow those students through college and see how they perform once they’re there, and whether they ultimately earn a degree. (Read at

    National News

    TEACHER STRIKES — First, it was West Virginia. Then, Kentucky and Oklahoma. Now, Arizona and Colorado teachers prepare to walk out (Read at Washington Post)

    UNION DUES — Las Vegas teachers overwhelmingly vote against high dues, ditching their state union and National Education Association (Read at LA School Report)

    TEACHER STRIKES — NPR/Ipsos Poll: Most Americans Support Teachers’ Right to Strike (Read at NPR)

    CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION — Senators Make Bipartisan Push to Boost Career and Technical Education Teachers (Read at Politics K-12)

    SCHOOL SUPPORT STAFF — ‘They are so underpaid’: School support staff scrape by on meager earnings (Read at The Washington Post)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — Mayor de Blasio says education department has culture of frivolous harassment complaints (Read at Chalkbeat)

    TEXAS — Houston District Backs Off Plan for Takeover of 10 Schools (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    FLORIDA — Judge upholds education law challenged by Collier, Lee and other school boards (Read at Naples Daily News)

    CALIFORNIA — Despite progress, California’s teaching force far from reflecting diversity of students (Read at EdSource)

    PENNSYLVANIA — In first public duties, new Philly school board gets an earful from community (Read at the Philadelphia Inquirer)

    ILLINOIS — CPS Hopes to Repair Community Trust After Special Education Issues (Read at WTTW)

    NEVADA — Nevada law could send hundreds of teachers packing (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    NEW YORK — Bronx transfer school is shuttered after late-night vote, a first for Chancellor Carranza (Read at Chalkbeat)

    VIRGINIA — Opinion: Stop playing politics with education in Fairfax (Read at The Washington Post)

    CALIFORNIA — East Bay school district loses bid for nearly $450,000 in attorney’s fees over public records suit (Read at the Mercury News)

    NEVADA — Clark County may add sheriff’s deputies at local schools (Read at WDTN)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois Education Association pushes for tax reform for school funding formula (Read at WIFR)

    Think Pieces

    SCHOOL CHOICE — Unjust ‘Deserts’: New Report Maps High-Poverty Areas Across America Where Parents Have No School Options (Read at

    FAILURE — The Value of Failing: A new research center at Columbia University is committed to figuring out how to turn failure into success (Read at The Atlantic)

    SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK — Bob Dorough, ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ Composer Who Taught Generations of Kids Grammar and Civics, Dies at 94 (Read at

    SCHOOL INVESTMENT — Invest education dollars wisely (Read at USA Today)

    CAREER EDUCATION — Opinion: States hold the keys to career education (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “Not to unduly shame the American education system, but chances are Bob Dorough has had more of an impact on grammar fluency than any other individual in the 20th century.” —A 2016 People magazine article on Dorough, the “Schoolhouse Rock” composer who died Monday. (Read at

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  • Fear Remains for Immigrant Youth as Federal Court Hands Trump Another Blow on DACA Repeal

    By Mark Keierleber | April 25, 2018

    The Trump administration had just announced its plan to phase out a program that protects some young undocumented immigrants from deportation when Melissa, a high school senior in New York, faced a tough decision.

    Born in the Dominican Republic and brought to New York as a toddler, Melissa became a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient in the eighth grade. Dreamers, as DACA recipients are often called, must renew their status with the government every two years. Melissa, a senior at KIPP NYC College Prep in New York, began that process in November. With uncertainty surrounding DACA’s fate, however, Melissa wondered whether it was worth the effort to renew — or if her application could put her family at risk.

    “I didn’t want to not renew it because I feel like I still need it to do everything and to have a future here, but in the back of my mind I always worried whether it was actually going to go through or if me renewing it was going to be used against me,” said Melissa, who plans to attend Hunter College in New York City this fall.

    The uncertainty for Melissa and Dreamers like her continues, even after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., handed a stiff blow Tuesday to the Trump administration, ordering the government to keep the Obama-era program in place. In the ruling, Judge John Bates of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia gave the Trump administration 90 days to better explain its motive in terminating DACA before it would have to accept new applications. Bates, who was nominated by then-President George W. Bush, said in the decision the Trump administration’s rationale to terminate DACA was “virtually unexplained.” The Trump administration aimed to end the program by March, a deadline Bates said was “arbitrary and capricious.”

    Although Tuesday’s ruling was a major victory for young undocumented immigrants who receive deportation relief and work authorization through the program, it remains unclear whether it will motivate DACA recipients to renew their applications, or whether other eligible undocumented immigrants will feel encouraged to sign up.

    Seven months after the Trump administration announced in September that the government would phase out the program, uncertainty persists for young undocumented immigrants like Melissa, who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her from potential retaliation. Mistrust of the government remains, she said, even as federal judges rule in her favor.

    Federal courts have handed three blows to the Trump administration since it moved to kill off DACA. Two previous federal injunctions ordered the Trump administration to continue accepting renewal applications. Unlike Tuesday’s ruling, they did not cover DACA-eligible immigrants who have not yet enrolled.


    Teacher v. Trump: How an Educator’s Lawsuit (Temporarily) Halted the President’s DACA Repeal

    Following Tuesday’s order, the Justice Department said in a statement it will “continue to vigorously defend” Trump’s authority to terminate the program. When announcing DACA would be eliminated, Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued that the program was created through an unlawful executive order.

    The latest ruling was prompted by lawsuits filed against the government by the NAACP, Princeton University, and Microsoft. Although the decision doesn’t resolve uncertainty for DACA beneficiaries, Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber said in a statement, it “unequivocally rejects the rationale the government has offered for ending the program.”

    Since a federal court in California issued its injunction in January, only a small portion of DACA recipients with expiring protections have applied to renew their status, according to new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data. In fact, 70 percent of people whose DACA protections expired between October and March have lost their status.

    Melissa ultimately decided to move forward with her renewal, and although she said the process was more onerous than in the past, her application was accepted. But even as Melissa had a final meeting on her renewal Wednesday, it remains unclear what effect recent federal court rulings will have.

    Between January and March, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved more than 55,000 DACA applications. Meanwhile, more than 9,000 people with expired protections are waiting for their applications to be approved, meaning they currently do not have work authorization or protection from deportation.

    Tuesday’s federal ruling could affect thousands of high school students across the country. Currently, about 700,000 people have DACA protections, though about 1.3 million people were eligible as of 2017, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. That tally includes roughly 120,000 teens who will become eligible on their 15th birthday, provided they remain enrolled in school.

    When President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2012 to create the program, eligible immigrants were cautious about whether to hand over their personal information to the government, said Dave Levin, co-founder of KIPP, a charter school chain with more than 200 campuses serving nearly 90,000 students. Those fears among young immigrants have escalated, Levin said, since the Trump administration moved to terminate the program. He was optimistic about the latest court ruling but said more needs to be done. After months of heated debates in Washington, efforts to find a legislative fix have fallen flat.

    Levin is among education leaders, from union presidents to former education secretaries, urging Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers. KIPP doesn’t ask students about their immigration status, Levin said, so he could not say how many students are DACA-eligible.

    “Based on what I’ve heard over the last year, there is so little faith right now in our government,” Levin said. “There’s so little faith that our government will be able to honor the commitments that are made, so I don’t totally know that this [court ruling] will put people’s minds at ease.”


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  • Rahm Emanuel, Facing Re-election Fight, Credits Tough Policy Changes for Chicago Schools Success

    By Carolyn Phenicie | April 25, 2018

    Washington, D.C.

    It took real policy changes, from full-day kindergarten to an extended school day, to fuel recent improvements in Chicago schools, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday.

    “The system was stacked against our kids. The kids didn’t just all of a sudden start eating their Wheaties and get brighter,” Emanuel said at a conference of Communities in Schools, a national nonprofit that works in schools to help at-risk students.

    A much-touted study by Stanford University researchers found that Chicago students learn and grow at a rate faster than 96 percent of students nationwide, including those in wealthy districts.


    Analysis: Is Chicago Really America’s Fastest-Improving Urban School District? Why Claims Made by the NYT & Others Are Misleading

    Though expanded early learning and new high school options, like International Baccalaureate and P-TECH STEM schools, were important factors in the success, it’s mostly due to a push to extend the school day and year in Chicago, Emanuel said.

    Chicago had the shortest school day and year of anywhere in the country when he came into office, forcing educators to decide between “reading and recess” and “math and music,” he said several times.

    Emanuel appeared with former U.S. education secretary and Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan, who also played a key role in the Chicago school renaissance. Emanuel chalked up part of his success to his ability to appoint the city’s school board, plus the leaders of early childhood education and community college systems.

    “The mayor should be accountable for making sure there are metrics that are met, results that are met, investments that are made … Whether you have that authority, mayors are held accountable anyway,” he said.

    And he will be held accountable soon: Challengers are already lining up against him in his 2019 re-election campaign, likely to be his toughest, Politico reported. He has long been at odds with the city’s powerful teachers union, including over his first-term closure of 50 schools in low-income neighborhoods.

    The battle for the additional hour and 15 minutes of class time and two weeks of the school year fueled a week-long teachers strike in 2012. Though his long political career had touched plenty of contentious issues, including efforts to pass gun control and health care reform, Emanuel said the fight over longer class time was among the most important of his career.

    “I never felt more right about what we’re doing,” he said.


    Cunningham: What’s Driving Chicago’s School Turnaround Success? Lessons From 30 Years of Ed Reform

    Emanuel has made big changes in the upper grades, too, most notably the new requirement, beginning in 2019, that students get accepted to college, trade school, or the military, or receive a job offer, before they can receive their diplomas.

    They will receive counseling and assistance early in high school to help along that path: “It’s not like we’re doing a pop quiz January of your senior year,” he said.

    Emanuel also touted the city’s STAR scholarship, which provides free community college tuition to graduates with a B average or higher. Universities in Chicago have also started offering reduced tuition to students who maintain that B average through community college.


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  • Bob Dorough, ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ Composer Who Taught Generations of Kids Grammar and Civics, Dies at 94

    By Laura Fay | April 25, 2018

    The man who penned “Conjunction Junction” and “Three Is a Magic Number,” providing a relentlessly hummable soundtrack for generations of students who grew up with it in between Saturday morning cartoons and on YouTube videos, has died.

    Bob Dorough, a musician and composer best known for creating the Schoolhouse Rock series, died Monday at age 94 at his home in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania.

    Dorough started his career as a musician, composer, and arranger in the Special Services Army Band in 1943 and earned a bachelor of music degree from the University of North Texas. He then moved to New York, where he played jazz. He released his first record, Devil May Care, in 1956 and collaborated with jazz great Miles Davis on a few songs.

    But it was at a meeting at an advertising firm that Dorough got the assignment that would really make him famous — setting the multiplication tables to music.

    “My jazz work was a little slow, and I was dabbling in advertising music, just to make ends meet. By then I was married and had a daughter, and so I needed that bread,” Dorough told NPR in 2013. It was 1971, and the original plan was to create a phonograph record and a workbook to help kids learn their times tables.

    Dorough’s boss, David McCall, wondered aloud why his kids could remember Jimi Hendrix and Rolling Stones lyrics but not math facts. Dorough knew just what to do.

    The resulting song, “Three Is a Magic Number,” inspired the Multiplication Rock project, which Dorough wrote and for which he was later nominated for a Grammy.

    After the success of Multiplication Rock, more writers joined the team, but Dorough continued to compose catchy hits about grammar and American history, from the stories behind famous inventions to a whimsical look at how women won the right to vote. The short videos began appearing on Saturday mornings on ABC in 1973 and continued into the 1980s and 1990s.

    The grammar songs were hardest to write, Dorough told NPR, but still, his favorite Schoolhouse Rock song was “Lolly Lolly Lolly” — and he’s the voice behind all three delightfully persuasive adverb salesmen.

    A 2016 People magazine article took stock of Dorough’s outsize impact: “Not to unduly shame the American education system, but chances are Bob Dorough has had more of an impact on grammar fluency than any other individual in the 20th century.”

    Comedian and film director Judd Apatow and others tweeted about Dorough’s influence.

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also tweeted a memorial message.

    Dorough continued to play and sing throughout his life, performing both his jazz hits and Schoolhouse Rock tunes, which audiences often requested.


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  • EduClips: TX to Spend $212 Million to Fix Special Ed; New Federal Civil Rights Data Show Racial Disparities in Student Discipline — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | April 25, 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

    CIVIL RIGHTS — At a time when the Trump administration is contemplating rolling back discipline guidance with protections for vulnerable groups, new federal data find continuing disparities in how students of color and those with disabilities are disciplined and in the opportunities they get in schools.

    The U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday released two reports highlighting statistics from the 2015–16 school year’s civil rights data collection on school safety and discipline and on students’ access to science and math courses. The department released the full data, which provide an array of civil rights information for 50.6 million students attending more than 96,300 schools nationwide.

    The new data — the most recent since information on the 2013–14 school year — come as the department considers significant changes in how its Office for Civil Rights guides districts and handles complaints around equity in education, such as rolling back Obama-administration guidance for states on analyzing disproportionate use of suspensions and expulsions. Among the most striking findings: The report notes a significant increase in disparities in arrests and referrals to police for black students, and students with disabilities remain vastly over-represented among students involved in police interactions. (Read at Education Week)

    National News

    SCHOOL CHOICE — Hard Battle Lines Drawn as Congress Considers Using $1.4B in Federal ‘Impact Aid’ to Expand School Choice for Military Families (Read at

    ARIZONA WALKOUT — #RedForEd walkout school closures will impact 820,000 Arizona students (Read at The Arizona Republic)

    STUDENT PRIVACY — Schools Wrestle With Protecting Students’ Privacy on Facebook (Read at PBS NewsHour)

    TEACHER UNIONS — A Look at the Education Labor Movements Emerging Across the Country (Read at Pacific Standard)

    ESSA — See Changes California and Florida Have Made to Their ESSA Plans to Win Betsy DeVos’s Approval (Read at Politics K-12)

    POT TAX — Pot taxes across U.S. shore up school budgets, drug-prevention efforts (Read at USA Today)

    District and State News

    TEXAS — In plan to fix special education, Texas Education Agency will spend $212 million (Read at the Houston Chronicle)

    FLORIDA — Constitution Revision Commission attacks public schools, ignores public good | Editorial (Read at the Sun-Sentinel)

    NEVADA — The Independent Poll: Public Support for School Choice Initiatives Remains Mixed (Read at the Nevada Independent)

    CALIFORNIA — San Francisco Considers Public Schools as a Solution for Homelessness (Read at Study Breaks)

    NEW YORK — Rise & Shine: What will the state Senate elections mean for schools? (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — Will the California Teachers Association endorse Feinstein over former employee De León? (Read at LA School Report)

    Think Pieces

    PRE-K — How the Push for Preschool Teachers to Earn Costly College Degrees Could Strain a System in Which Wages Are Only Half of K-12 Teachers’ (Read at

    MATH ANXIETY — 3 Ways Parents Can Support Their Children’s Math Development — and Soothe Their Own Math Anxiety (Read at

    Quote of the Day

    “Schools are places where there’s tremendous amounts of discretion with regard to when to call law enforcement. As a result, we end up with folks who fear black kids, fear for their physical safety, fear that they can’t control their class. … Anytime you have high levels of fear and high levels of discretion, you’re going to end up with high levels of disparity.” —Phillip Goff, the president of the Center for Policing Equity at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. (Read at Education Week)

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  • Federal Civil Rights Data Highlight Racial Disparities in Discipline as DeVos Mulls Guidance Rollback

    By Mark Keierleber | April 24, 2018

    Black students are more likely to be arrested at school than their peers — a racial disparity that appears to be widening, according to highly anticipated federal civil rights data released Tuesday. Meanwhile, racial disparities in school discipline persist, even as districts across the country reduce their reliance on suspensions and expulsions.

    Those are the top findings from this year’s Civil Rights Data Collection, released by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. The new data, released biennially, cover the 2015–16 school year and compile information from more than 17,000 school districts across the country serving 50.6 million students.

    The new information comes as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos considers scrapping an Obama-era guidance document, released in 2014, that urged districts to reduce their reliance on exclusionary discipline. The document notified school leaders that disparate discipline rates, based on race or disability, could be the result of bias and therefore violate federal civil rights laws.


    DeVos Holds ‘Listening Sessions’ on Student Discipline as GAO Report Confirms Widespread Racial Disparities

    During the 2015–16 school year, black students represented 15 percent of K-12 school enrollment but 31 percent of law enforcement referrals and arrests, a 16 percent disparity. When the federal government last collected the data, during the 2013–14 school year, black students faced an 11-percentage-point disparity in arrests and law enforcement referrals. Meanwhile, Latino, Asian, and white students did not face disproportionate run-ins with police at school, a finding that remained consistent with the last Civil Rights Data Collection.

    As schools across the country embrace reforms that turn away from punitive discipline like suspensions and expulsions, the reduction plays out in the new data. During the 2015–16 school year, roughly 2.7 million K-12 students were subjected to one or more out-of-school suspensions, about 100,000 fewer than in 2013–14.

    However, racial disparities remain. Black boys and black girls each made up just 8 percent of enrolled students, but black boys made up 25 percent of students suspended at least once, and black girls accounted for another 14 percent. Black boys accounted for 23 percent of students expelled, as did 20 percent of black girls.

    When the civil rights data were released under the Obama administration, the findings became central to the president’s education agenda. This time around, it appears the Trump administration has placed less emphasis on the new numbers. DeVos didn’t hold a call with reporters about the new data on Tuesday, opting instead to announce the findings through a brief press release.

    “Protecting all students’ civil rights is at the core of the Department’s mission,” DeVos said in the release. “We are pleased to produce the CRDC in a way that it can be reviewed, analyzed, and utilized by local, state, and federal education leaders.”

    In the past few months, a heated debate around disparate discipline has escalated in Washington. DeVos held a series of “listening sessions” with educators, school leaders, and advocates earlier this month to hear a range of perspectives on the Obama-era guidance. Proponents of the guidance argue that suspensions and expulsions unfairly drive students of color into the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Some of the guidance document’s fiercest critics, however, maintain that efforts to reduce student punishments have thrown schools into chaos.

    As the listening sessions were underway, the Government Accountability Office, the government watchdog agency, analyzed federal education data and found that black students, boys, and disabled students are disproportionately disciplined compared with their white, nondisabled classmates.

    The report also highlighted a myriad of challenges students with disabilities confront in their schools. Nationally, children with disabilities represent about 12 percent of the overall student population. However, they represent 28 percent of students who were referred to law enforcement or arrested, 26 percent of students who received at least one out-of-school suspension, and 24 percent of students who were expelled.

    The latest data also highlight some schools’ reliance on restraint and seclusion to control school behavior, which overwhelmingly affected students with disabilities. In fact, 71 percent of restrained students and 66 percent of secluded students had a disability.

    In recent months, the #MeToo movement has highlighted the prevalence of sexual misconduct in the workforce, and the latest Education Department data indicate that sex-based harassment and bullying permeate America’s K-12 schools. During the 2015–16 school year, schools recorded about 135,600 harassment or bullying allegations. Of those allegations, 41 percent centered on sexual harassment. Girls were more likely than boys to report harassment or bullying based on sex, and boys were more likely than girls to report bias based on race or disability.


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  • How the Push for Preschool Teachers to Earn Costly College Degrees Could Strain a System in Which Wages Are Only Half of K-12 Teachers’

    By Kevin Mahnken | April 24, 2018

    This is the latest article in The 74’s ongoing ‘Big Picture’ series, bringing American education into sharper focus through new research and data. Go Deeper: See our full series.

    Over the past few years, early childhood education has become the holy grail for those seeking to improve America’s schools and, with them, the life prospects of disadvantaged kids. Endless reams of research studies show that the famous “achievement gaps” between low-income and middle-class students emerge before they reach first grade. And the work of Nobel Prize–winning economist James Heckman suggests that investments in high-quality pre-K produce as much as $6.30 in return for every dollar spent.


    Intensive Preschool Programs Can Yield Massive Returns, Especially for Boys, Nobel Laureate’s Study Shows

    At the same time that expert consensus is solidifying around the importance of excellent preschool instruction, many are insisting that the time has come to fully professionalize a field that has traditionally welcomed job seekers lacking a higher education. Last year, the District of Columbia issued a requirement for all childcare workers to achieve at least an associate’s degree by 2020. In 2014, a committee of experts convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine went even further, recommending that all lead teachers working with young children graduate from a bachelor’s program.

    With a growing number of states embracing the idea of universal, publicly funded pre-K, and multiple signs indicating a move toward more stringent professional requirements, New America and Bellwether Education Partners have released a report projecting what the transition could look like. The main takeaway: The urge to lift standards for those working with small children is on a collision course with the paltry compensation those teachers currently receive for their labors.

    The paper collects observations and advice from a conference of experts on early childhood teacher preparation held last year. The group considered the growing costs of higher education — which would be borne by employees currently working at or just above the poverty line — as well as the inconsistent quality of many early childhood bachelor’s programs. Encouraging more professional credentialing without emphasizing quality or affordability could force financially stressed workers to pay thousands of dollars for a degree of dubious worth, they warn.

    According to a 2016 report issued jointly by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education, non-college employees working at community-based childcare centers earn a median hourly wage of between $9.00 and $9.30. That’s less than the minimum wage in a growing number of states.

    Source: CollegeBoard

    Meanwhile, according to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees at public four-year colleges has risen to nearly $10,000 annually. In eight states (Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Virginia, and West Virginia), costs rose by 20 percent or more between the 2012–13 and 2017–18 school years.

    “The price of higher education is only one cost,” according to the New America/Bellwether report. “A student must also factor in the time it takes to complete a degree, familial responsibilities, level of English proficiency, and experience exploring workforce options and navigating higher education systems. Historically, programs tend to do a particularly poor job of supporting non-traditional students.”

    Preschool teachers differ in a number of ways from their colleagues in elementary, middle, and secondary schools. While K-12 teachers are largely female (68 percent), preschool teachers are overwhelmingly so (98 percent), and the proportion of non-white preschool teachers is more than twice as large as those in K-12 schools (37 percent versus 18 percent). Most important of all, kindergarten and elementary teachers, almost all of whom are college-educated, earn about double what preschool teachers do.

    Income and employment data consistently show that workers who have completed higher education make more money and are more likely to be employed, so requiring preschool teachers to hold college degrees would undoubtedly help them make up some of that earnings gap. But it would also impose significant burdens, measured in both time and money, on the largely lower-wage, female, and minority staff who currently make up the early education workforce.

    In order to lift credentialing standards without leaving existing workers behind, the report advocates support for initiatives like North Carolina’s Teacher Education And Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) scholarship, which covers most of the cost of attaining an associate’s, bachelor’s, or alternative teacher credential and has been adopted in 23 states. The authors also recommend more experimentation in online degree programs that offer greater flexibility to full-time workers, as well as competency-based models that reward teachers with credit for skills they’ve already acquired in the classroom.

    But even if more preschool teachers can successfully (and affordably) be placed into university or certification programs, the education of young children won’t improve unless those programs actually confer some benefit to participants. The authors warn that too many colleges are happy to accept tuition money from future pre-K teachers in exchange for uneven coursework and inexperienced instructors.

    “A requirement to obtain a bachelor’s degree must come in conjunction with institutional and statewide efforts to evaluate and improve program offerings and consider changes to policies that create barriers to better preparation for early childhood providers,” they write. “Without ensuring higher education programs incorporate competencies into coursework and field experiences (such as student teaching), degree attainment will do little to improve the quality of pre-K programs.”

    Kathy Glazer, president of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and one of the experts consulted for the report, said she believes that a straightforward bachelor’s requirement is an imprecise proxy for the competencies demanded of an early educator.

    “Unless and until a bachelor’s degree actually demonstrates and reflects that the candidate has acquired these skills and will be paid accordingly, I believe it is disingenuous to push the early childhood workforce, historically a low-wage workforce, toward bachelor’s degrees,” she told The 74.


    New Research: As Enrollment in Public Pre-K Surges, Quality Fails to Keep Pace

    Among the hundreds of thousands of teachers and aides who work in publicly funded pre-K programs around the country — most famously the federal Head Start initiative — many are already graduates of four-year college programs, the authors write. Head Start itself requires that half its lead teachers working with 3- and 4-year-olds possess bachelor’s degrees (in fact, about 75 percent do), and of the 59 pre-K programs funded by various states, 35 are subject to similar mandates.

    Source: New America

    Seventeen state-funded programs, more than one-quarter of the total, further stipulate that teachers must hold a bachelor’s with a specialization in early childhood education, preschool special education, or child development.

    That’s an important distinction, since the available research is decidedly unclear on whether the quality of pre-K instruction is meaningfully affected by teacher educational attainment. Even if a college degree improves teacher quality at the margins, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint what types of teacher preparation programs are the most beneficial, or which preschools allow college graduates to best apply the knowledge they’ve gained.

    “A lot of programs that are publicly funded for 3- and 4-year-olds are already in places that look quite a bit like schools,” Sara Mead, an education policy analyst at Bellwether Education Partners and a co-author of the report, told The 74. “Often in those settings, the people who are employed already have training a lot like an elementary school teacher does. But if we’re talking about the entire early childhood workforce, you’re talking about a much broader swath of settings and more people not having specialized credentials.”


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    This is the latest article in The 74’s ongoing ‘Big Picture‘ series, bringing American education into sharper focus through new research and data. Go Deeper: See our full series.

  • EduClips: Private Schools Set to Move Into Closed Chicago School Buildings; NYC’s Carranza: ‘As the Chancellor, I Ultimately Own Everything’ — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | April 24, 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

    TEACHER PAY — Americans overwhelmingly believe teachers don’t make enough money, and half say they’d support paying higher taxes to give educators a raise.

    The findings of the new poll from The Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research come amid recent teacher strikes and other protests over low pay, tough classroom conditions, and the amount of money allocated to public schools in several Republican-led states.

    Tens of thousands of Arizona teachers voted last week to strike after rejecting an offer of a 20 percent raise, because it didn’t include a vow from state lawmakers not to further cut taxes before providing more money for the state’s schools. (Read at The Associated Press)

    National News

    EDUCATION STATISTICS — How States Stack Up on Federal Funding for Teachers, Low-Income Students (Read at Politics K-12)

    TEEN MENTAL HEALTH — These teens saw how poor mental health hurt their peers. So they got a law passed. (Read at The Washington Post)

    AZ TEACHER PROTEST — Arizona’s governor puzzled on why teachers want to walk out: ‘We are delivering … what we believe they deserve’ (Read at USA Today)

    District and State News

    ILLINOIS — Private schools, poised to grow in Illinois, move into closed Chicago public schools (Read at the Chicago Reporter)

    NEW YORK — Richard Carranza: ‘As the Chancellor, I Ultimately Own Everything’ (Read at The New York Times)

    CALIFORNIA — Charter schools are booming in California. Here’s where they are growing fastest (Read at the Sacramento Bee)

    TEXAS — Texas’s low teacher pay is ‘shameful,’ largest educators lobby says (Read at Dallas News)

    CALIFORNIA — Advocates accuse Bay Area district of failing to release data on student performance (Read at EdSource)

    VIRGINIA — A toy gun. A social media post. And fear in a Fairfax school (Read at The Washington Post)

    PENNSYLVANIA —  Should the rich rule the schools in Philadelphia and beyond? | Opinion (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    FLORIDA — Florida submits revised Every Student Succeeds Act plan (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    NEW YORK — Wadleigh middle school is safe — for now — after Harlem community rallied to stop its closure (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Think Pieces

    STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES — Falling Into the Belief Gap: What It Feels Like to Realize Your Child’s Teachers Have Sized Him Up and Dumbed Down Their Estimations (Read at

    TEACHER HOUSING — A Blueprint Experiment (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — The Post-Parkland Unity Is Officially Over (Read at The Atlantic)

    SEGREGATION — Segregation incarnated in brick and mortar (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENTS — Why Is Oklahoma City Blocking This School for Native American Kids? (Read at Education Post)

    HEAD START — Head Start centers have ‘outsized role’ in rural Mississippi, report finds (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “I don’t know why the leaders would say that they’re going to strike when we are delivering for the teachers on what we believe they deserve.” —Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, on a statewide teacher walkout set for Thursday. (Read at USA Today)

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  • As Students Protest Gun Violence, Florida Student Injured in Campus Attack; At Least 31 Killed, 53 Hurt in School Shootings in 2018

    By Mark Keierleber | April 23, 2018

    A high school student sustained non-life-threatening injuries after being shot Friday at a high school in Ocala, Florida. The early-morning shooting occurred just hours before students across the country walked out of class to protest gun violence in schools.

    The victim, a 17-year-old student at Forest High School, was treated at the hospital for a gunshot wound to his ankle. The suspected shooter is 19-year-old Sky Bouche, who, authorities say, brought a sawed-off shotgun into the school by concealing it inside a guitar case. He reportedly fired one round through a classroom door, injuring the student. Bouche was taken into custody by a school resource officer and faces several charges, including terrorism, aggravated assault, carrying a concealed firearm, and armed trespassing on school property.

    Authorities say Bouche had planned an earlier shooting but decided to target the school to attract more media attention.


    Delaying College, Getting Out the Vote: As They Stage Another National Walkout Over Gun Violence, Students Look to Movement’s Sustainability

    So far this year, at least 31 people have been killed and 53 have been injured in shootings at K-12 schools and universities. Learn more about each incident with our interactive map:

    This map includes school shootings that took place on campus where a person was injured or killed. Incidents resulting in injury are labeled blue, while incidents resulting in death are labeled red. The most recent incident is indicated with a larger icon. Click on the icons to see details about each incident.

    Behind the numbers:

    Nationally, nearly 1,300 children (17 years old and younger) die from gunshot wounds each year, and 5,790 are treated for injuries, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. While unintentional firearm deaths and homicides of children have decreased in recent years, suicides have spiked.

    Among child gun deaths between 2012 and 2014, 53 percent were homicides, 38 percent were suicides, and 6 percent were unintentional.

    Less than 3 percent of youth homicides and less than 1 percent of youth suicides occur at school, according to a recent report by the National Center for Education Statistics.

    If we’ve missed a school incident you think should be included in our coverage, please send an email to, and bookmark this page for the latest reports of incidents involving the discharging of a firearm on school property that results in a wound or fatality.


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  • EduClips: How DeVos’s Civil Rights Policy Affected Shutdown of Texas Schools’ Probe; AZ Teacher Walkout Scheduled for Thursday — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | April 23, 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

    ARIZONA STRIKE — Arizona teachers voted last week to go on strike this Thursday, making the state the fourth this year to host teacher protests in support of increased pay. The state’s union, and organizers of a Facebook group where rank-and-file teachers have been posting, announced the results of a vote at a joint press conference in Phoenix. Seventy-eight percent of teachers who cast ballots supported the protest, they said.

    The teachers are asking for 20 percent pay raises and increases in state education funding, which hasn’t returned to pre-recession levels. (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    National News

    NATIONAL WALKOUT — Delaying College, Getting Out the Vote: As They Stage Another National Walkout Over Gun Violence, Students Look to Movement’s Sustainability (Read at

    TEACHER DEBT — Teachers Share Anger, Frustration Over Grants Turned Into Loans (Read at NPR)

    MILITARY FAMILIES — How Congress Could Give School Choice to Military Kids Without an Impact Aid Uproar (Read at Politics K-12)

    TEACHER OF THE YEAR — 2018 Teacher of the Year Wants Her Refugee Students to Know They Are Wanted and Loved, to Give All Students and Teachers the Chance to Connect (Read at

    ALABAMA — Alabama Board Taps Superintendents’ Group Leader as Next State Chief (Read at Education Week)

    District and State News

    TEXAS Shutdown of Texas Schools Probe Shows Trump Administration Pullback on Civil Rights (Read at ProPublica)

    NEW YORK Students attacked, threatened thousands of school employees last year (Read at the New York Post)

    TEXAS Texas school apologizes for asking students to list ‘positive aspects’ of slavery (Read at USA Today)

    FLORDIA — After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    NEW YORK City Council wants $100M to put security cameras in all schools (Read at the New York Post)

    NEVADA North Las Vegas school asks special education students to stay home (Read at WTKR)

    CALIFORNIA Why deep-pocketed charter school advocates are pouring money into the governor’s race (Read at the Santa Cruz Sentinel)

    NEVADA Opinion: State must look within to solve its education problem (Read at the Las Vegas Sun)

    CALIFORNIA LA School Report to Partner With California Children’s Organizations for May 15 Gubernatorial Forum on Education, Equity, Juvenile Justice (Read at

    Think Pieces

    CHARTER SCHOOLS — Do charter schools suspend students more? It depends on how you look at the data. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    OKLAHOMA TEACHER STRIKE — Oklahoma’s Teacher Walkout: How Did Something That Started So Right End So Wrong? (Read at

    4-DAY SCHOOL WEEK — The 4-Day School Week Gets Introduced to Cities and Suburbs (Read at Governing)

    TEACHER RETIREMENT — Why More Than a Million Teachers Can’t Use Social Security (Read at NPR)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — STUDENT VOICE: ‘The youth movement extends beyond gun violence’ (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “For the kids who are being ticketed, arrested, suspended or expelled — who are predominantly black — it tells them that they don’t belong in our public schools, which is a travesty. For the students that remain in the classroom and see their peers treated this way, they internalize unhealthy and harmful messages about what that means. That’s the way that implicit bias is formed and gets reinforced.” —Deborah Fowler, executive director of Texas Appleseed, a social justice advocacy group. (Read at ProPublica)

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

  • LA School Report to Partner With California Children’s Organizations for May 15 Gubernatorial Forum on Education, Equity, Juvenile Justice

    By The 74 | April 23, 2018

    #EDlection2018: See The 74’s preview coverage of key education races to follow through 2018 — visit

    On May 15, California gubernatorial candidates including Antonio Villaraigosa, John Chiang, and Delaine Eastin will discuss the most critical issues facing the state’s 9.1 million children at a forum hosted by three Los Angeles–based nonprofit organizations in partnership with LA School Report, which is powered by The 74.

    The Chronicle of Social Change, the Children’s Defense Fund–California, and The Children’s Partnership are co-hosting the nonpartisan community forum in partnership with LA School Report and The Los Angeles Daily News.

    Titled Building Our Future: A Forum on Children With California’s Gubernatorial Candidates,” the May 15 forum will be held at Los Angeles Trade Technical College from 6 to 8 p.m. and is open to the public.

    The evening’s discussion will focus on educational equity, child welfare, juvenile justice, health care, poverty, and access to technology for California children and youth. It comes three weeks before voters go to the polls for the June 5 primary, which will determine the top two candidates vying for the governor’s seat in November.

    In addition to Villaraigosa, Chiang, and Eastin, who have already confirmed their participation, both State Assemblyman Travis Allen and businessman John Cox have indicated they are likely to appear. Additional candidates will be confirmed closer to the 15th.

    (Related — California Preview: How Education Could Shape the Governor’s Race in California … Funding, Accountability, Charter Schools)

    The eventual winner will replace Jerry Brown, who cannot run again due to term limits. During one of the most successful political careers in state history, Brown guided California out of a recession and promoted several reforms affecting children, youth, and families.

    For the first time in years, candidates will have an opportunity to offer big-picture education solutions that aren’t tied to a funding crisis. Brown has presided over a series of spending improvements, including boosts to improve student equity and a localized funding formula.

    More is needed: California continues to score poorly in an annual evaluation of school financing systems, ranking 39th among the states. Student academic performance in reading and math is also below most of the nation, according to the 2017 results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, though California did make some gains in reading.

    Early indications suggest education will be an important issue in the race. In a statewide survey released this month by the the Public Policy Institute of California, “Californians & Education,” nearly two-thirds — 64 percent — of likely-voter respondents said education was “very important” in the race for governor, an increase from 58 percent four years ago when the same question was asked. A full 90 percent said candidates’ positions on education are important to them.

    Six million children under the age of 18 attend California public schools — including 600,000 in charter schools — while nearly 3 million students are enrolled in the state’s higher education system.

    If you would like to attend the forum, please register HERE. There will also be a livestream available on the day of the event.


    #EDlection2018: See The 74’s preview coverage of key education races to follow through 2018 — visit

  • The Week Ahead in Education Politics: More Key Ed. Dept Nominees Await Senate Action, How ESSA Could Change School Grades, the ‘Workforce Pipeline’ & More

    By Carolyn Phenicie | April 21, 2018

    THIS WEEK IN EDUCATION POLITICS publishes most Saturdays. (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: WHERE ARE THE NOMINEES? — Six months ago, the Education Department had the highest vacancy rate of any Cabinet-level department, with no one even nominated for a whopping 80 percent of slots. Now, many names have been put forward to fill those jobs — they just haven’t been confirmed, leaving the Education Department again at the bottom of the pack among Cabinet agencies.


    Empty Cabinet: Education Department Has Highest Top Staff Vacancy Rate, at 80%

    Last Wednesday, the Senate voted 55–48 to confirm Carlos Muñiz as general counsel, making him the sixth of the Education Department’s 15 Senate-confirmed positions to be approved. Translation: Only 40 percent of the department’s top positions are currently filled.

    Muñiz was nominated June 6, and his nomination was reported out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for full Senate consideration October 18.

    “It’s completely unreasonable for it to be taking this long to get our highly qualified nominees out of the Senate and to work on behalf of students. The Secretary is hopeful that now that Carlos has been confirmed, the others will be soon to follow,” Press Secretary Liz Hill said in an email.

    The Education Department is once again at the bottom of the pack in terms of percentage of top staff confirmed by the Senate.

    As of April 20, Education was ahead of just four other agencies: the Justice Department (31 percent confirmed), the CIA (one of three are on the job, after previous director Mike Pompeo was nominated to be secretary of the State Department), the office of the Director of National Intelligence (33 percent confirmed), and the Agriculture Department (38 percent are on the job).

    Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the HELP Committee, has in the past blamed both the Trump administration for its slow pace in nominating officials and Senate Democrats for dragging out the confirmation process.

    “It is unfortunate that Senate Democrats would not allow a nominee with these qualifications to receive a vote sooner when there are so many pressing issues facing the department,” Alexander said in a release after Muñiz’s confirmation.

    Four remaining officials, including the deputy secretary and undersecretary for civil rights, were nominated between September and December last year but remain unconfirmed. Nominees in those same jobs in the Obama administration were confirmed in less than three months, Alexander’s staff noted.

    Democrats changed chamber rules in 2013 to require only a simple majority, rather than 60 votes, to advance a nominee. Their only option to delay confirmations of nominees they find unqualified is to force Republican leaders to burn through some or all the allotted floor debate time for each nominee, which is up to 30 hours.

    In floor debate, Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the HELP Committee, said Muñiz would not “stand up to [DeVos] when laws are being bent or broken.”

    Given the “quality” of some nominees sent from the White House, it’s extra-important for Democrats to take the time to vet nominees before they’re confirmed, and floor debate gives members who aren’t on the HELP Committee a chance to speak on the nominations, a Senate Democratic aide said.

    It’s up to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule floor votes for nominees, the aide said, adding that the Senate only debated Muñiz’s nomination for 10 hours.

    There are limited days left on Congress’s legislative calendar for the year. Anyone not confirmed by the end of this year must be re-nominated in the new year when Congress begins a new session, one that could potentially see the Senate controlled by Democrats.

    A Senate committee will vote this week on a proposal to reduce debate time to eight hours for most executive branch nominees, except Cabinet secretaries, who would continue under current time rules, and district court judges, who would get two hours.

    TUESDAY: OPIOIDS — The HELP Committee will vote on the Opioid Crisis Response Act, which, among other efforts to combat the crisis, includes funds for drug prevention for young people and better mental health care in schools.

    They’ll also vote on the nomination of Jon Parrish Peede to be chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a grant-making body that, among other duties, helps K-12 schools on literacy initiatives.

    TUESDAY: LATINOS’ COLLEGE EXPERIENCE — UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza) will release a new report on Latinos’ experience in college and hold a panel discussion. The report focuses on challenges Latinos face enrolling in, attending, and paying for college. Researchers from the University of North Carolina and advocates from Young Invincibles, Ed Trust, and the United Negro College Fund will discuss the report.

    WEDNESDAY: SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITYThe Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution and the George W. Bush Institute will host a forum on whether expanding the scope of school accountability measures beyond reading and math scores under the Every Student Succeeds Act will lead to increased school quality and student achievement. Jason Botel, a top adviser in the Education Department, will give “framing remarks” ahead of a panel discussion.

    The Hamilton Project will also release a new paper on ESSA accountability and how schools can reduce chronic absenteeism, and the George W. Bush Institute will highlight its “The A Word” series on accountability.

    WEDNESDAY: WORKFORCE PIPELINE — The House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees education and labor spending holds a hearing on the “pipeline to the workforce.” College leaders and employers testify.

    WEDNESDAY: NAEP REDUX — The Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Hoover Institution hold a panel discussion on the recent NAEP results and the 35th anniversary of “A Nation at Risk.” Hoover Institution fellows Chester Finn, Eric Hanushek and Paul Peterson discuss the test results, the landmark report and the future of education reform.

    THURSDAY: BLACK VOICES IN ED REFORM — Education leaders gather to discuss the United Negro College Fund’s new report on African-American youth’s perspective of the K-12 education system. The discussion will include exploration of the role of African-American voices, specifically historically black colleges and universities, in education reform efforts.

  • Delaying College, Getting Out the Vote: As They Stage Another National Walkout Over Gun Violence, Students Look to Movement’s Sustainability

    By Mark Keierleber | April 20, 2018

    In Washington, D.C., students fled their classrooms to protest outside the White House. In Iowa, hundreds of students gathered outside the state capitol to demand change. And in Ridgefield, Connecticut, where Friday’s national school walkout originated, student activists began the day with a 13-second moment of silence for the victims of a mass school shooting that riled the nation before they were born.

    More than two months after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — and 19 years after a mass school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, left 13 people dead — a student-led movement to combat gun violence continues to dominate the American political conversation. On Friday, students from thousands of schools across the country ditched their classrooms in a daylong walkout to mobilize youth voters around gun control.

    But Delaney Tarr, a senior at Stoneman Douglas, is looking ahead. Since the rampage at her school on February 14, Tarr has become a leading student voice in the school shooting debate. Since the very beginning, she told The 74, critics warned that their moment in the spotlight would be fleeting. Media attention will wane, they said, new national issues will emerge, and of particular concern as summer approaches, some of the most prominent figures will head off to college.

    “People have been telling us from day one that this will fade away, that people will forget about us,” Tarr said. “And they haven’t yet.”


    The View From Inside Saturday’s March For Our Lives: Students Demand a Revolution in Gun Control — and Lead a Deafening Moment of Silence — in Washington, D.C.

    Tarr recognizes what the students are up against. Historically, sustainability has been a top hurdle for the success of social movements, said Peter Levine, who studies youth civic engagement and is the associate dean for research at the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. However, he said he’s impressed by the Parkland survivors and their allies.

    Only time will tell whether the momentum will last, Levine said, but several facets could offer reasons for optimism: a multifaceted approach that includes urging young people to vote and boycotting NRA-sponsored companies, the upcoming midterm elections, their grief.

    “The Parkland movement is the most politically mainstream movement I think we’ve seen for a long time,” Levine said. “And they’re making very immediately actionable requests of their participants, like ‘Vote in 2018.’ ”

    The emotional toll

    Tarr had long dreamed of becoming a broadcast journalist at a major television network. After the rampage, she said, her entire life trajectory changed. Now, she plans to take a gap semester to focus on the movement before studying politics at a university in Washington, D.C. Another vocal Parkland student, David Hogg, also plans to hold off on college to focus on their cause.

    Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Delaney Tarr speaks onstage at March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., on March 24, 2018. (Photo credit: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for March for Our Lives)

    “We’re going to all these different high schools, these different events, to connect with students, to connect with young people,” she said. “Of course, we’re still focused on legislation, but what we really need in this moment is to get people caring about the issues.”

    Friday’s daylong national school walkout, which reportedly attracted thousands of participants from schools in each U.S. state, is the third nationwide event since the Parkland shooting. In Ridgefield, some 500 high school students staked out the football field.

    “This is a new future for America, and regardless if politicians are ready for it, change is happening and they can’t stop time,” Lane Murdock, a Ridgefield sophomore who launched the Friday walkout, told Connecticut Public Radio.

    Although it appears Friday’s march was smaller in scale than previous events, it faced opposition from some school leaders. Last month, for example, New York City education officials said they wouldn’t punish students for participating in the March walkout if they returned to class after the demonstration concluded. This time around, however, the city’s new schools chancellor, Richard Carranza, discouraged students from participating. Even at Columbine, students participated in a day of service rather than a walkout.

    (Incidentally, a few hours before the national walkout kicked off, Florida experienced another school shooting. Friday morning, a student was shot in the ankle at Forest High School in Ocala, Florida. The suspect was taken into custody, and the victim’s injury was not life-threatening.)

    In order to spur reforms they believe could combat similar tragedies, Tarr contends, generating local, grassroots support is key. A major goal is reversing the historically low voter turnout among young people by urging them to vote during the midterm elections later this year. In the last midterm elections, in 2014, just 1 in 5 Americans 18 to 29 years old cast a ballot.

    That students are willing to hold off on major life milestones, like their first day of college, is a testament to their commitment, said Sarah Stitzlein, a professor of education at the University of Cincinnati, where she studies the role of schools in sustaining democracy.

    That spirit, she said, shows that the movement isn’t just “simple rabble-rousing, but that they’re actually wanting to have a significant impact on legislation,” she said. “The election coming up is the perfect time for students to transition between this kind of open cultural outcry into more concerted efforts to reshape formal democracy.”

    For Tarr, sticking with the cause can be taxing. At times, she breaks down in tears. But the memory of her slain classmates, she said, keeps her going.

    “Young people care about these issues, and they’re going to continue to care, because this is something that affects us every day,” Tarr said. “Every single day, we are affected by what happened to us, affected by what happens in every other community, and at this point it’s impossible to ignore. We can’t go back to being silenced. It’s just not possible.”

    Mary Beth Tinker recognizes Tarr’s emotional dilemma: She’s experienced it herself. A 13-year-old student in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1965, Tinker was suspended from school when she wore a black armband to protest the Vietnam War. After years of fighting, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in 1969 that defined students’ free speech protections in public schools. Students, the court found, do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

    “It was hard to keep our spirits up, and even the day we won the case, it was pretty hard to be happy because 1969 was one of the worst years for the war,” said Tinker, a retired trauma nurse who now travels the country to encourage student activism. “I think that’s always a challenge for people who are confronting some injustice.”


    17 Minutes of History: Wednesday’s Walkout Part of Long Tradition of Students Speaking Out, From Tinker v. Des Moines to Black Lives Matter

    A multifaceted effort

    Nationwide walkouts. Televised town halls. Voter drives. Meetings with President Trump and congressional leaders. Tarr said the teens’ multifaceted approach was intentional.

    “There’s only so many times you can do a large nationwide thing before you need to start doing more local things,” she said. “You need to start getting that more personal, intimate relationship with the people you’re trying to represent.”

    Throughout history, Levine said, that strategy has worked to activists’ advantage. A multifaceted approach, he said, allows a movement to experience losses without getting derailed.

    “The civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s, which is the most famous American social movement, is a great example,” Levine said. “You’ve got a whole range of radicalism, from extremely mainstream to very radical … The reason it was successful is because they were doing all of those things. If they had done a subset, they would have been blocked.”

    When young people in the movement experience setbacks, personal resilience comes into play, said Marilyn Price-Mitchell, a developmental psychologist and fellow at the Institute for Social Innovation at Fielding Graduate University. So far, they’ve been in the “honeymoon period” because people have responded positively to their efforts, but they’ll have to recognize that they can’t win every battle.

    Fortunate for the activists’ efforts, Levine said, is overall support among the American electorate. A majority of U.S. teens and their parents fear that a shooting could happen at their school, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of teens ages 13 to 17 and parents with children in the same age group. Overall, 57 percent of teens and 63 percent of parents say they are worried about the possibility of a shooting in their communities.

    As student activists mobilize around strategies to combat violence, 86 percent of surveyed teens said preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns would be effective. A majority of teens also showed support for metal detectors in schools and a ban on assault-style weapons. Meanwhile, 39 percent of teens said allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns in schools would be effective.

    At the end of the day, the student activists’ success rests on the shoulders of the American public, said Stitzlein. “It depends on how we respond to them,” she said. “Do we seriously listen to their ideas? Do we take them up through how we vote or the legislation we endorse?”


    The Revolution Will Be Hashtagged. Social-Media-Savvy, Irreverent, and Maybe a Bit Entitled, Parkland Students Succeed Where Others Have Failed to Launch a National Movement Around Guns


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