Newsfeed

October 2018
  • New Film ‘Unlikely’ Shows How Higher Ed Sets Up Low-Income Students for Failure — and How Some Educators Are Helping Them Succeed

    By Kate Stringer | October 30, 2018

    As an admissions officer at her alma mater, Columbia University, Jaye Fenderson used to spend every day deciding whether high school applicants were likely to be admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school, with its 7 percent acceptance rate. More often than not, Fenderson would mark applications with a large “U” — “Unlikely.”

    This frustrated Fenderson, as she noticed that the majority of likely applicants came from affluent backgrounds. After a few years, she quit her job and started creating films about college access with her husband, Adam.

    Her latest movie, Unlikely, is in part the story of what she found when she started exploring college access: the structures in higher education that prevent low-income students from succeeding and the colleges that are trying to help those students succeed — often at the cost of their national rankings. Told through the eyes of five students who had once dropped out of college but are again trying to earn a diploma, the film shows how the fight for equitable access to higher education can come from unlikely places.

    Graduation rates for bachelor’s degree holders hover around 60 percent nationwide. But for low-income students, that number is drastically lower: Only 14 percent will graduate in eight years. The students in the film all had dreams of college, but many grew up in low-income and minority households and were the first in their families to attend. They didn’t have the support networks of family members with college experience and hefty financial resources. So when problems arose — from a father passing away to a need for expensive school supplies — they were more likely to drop out, saddled with debt and with no degree to show for it.

    “I feel like in America, we have a one-size-fits-all system,” said Jalen, a student in Boston who is profiled in the film. “I fell through those cracks.”

    As Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University, put it: There’s little wrong with the students, and a lot wrong with the institutions.

    Related

    Mentoring Program Posts 81% College Persistence Rate With Focus on In-Person Coaching, Affordability, New Study Finds

    But many schools don’t believe it’s in their interest to help diverse students graduate, because traditionally, the more narrow-focused a university is, the higher its national rankings. In fact, the film accuses U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of colleges of having exacerbated inequality by awarding more points for selectivity in admissions, alumni giving, and high scores on student entrance exams. Colleges sometimes make admissions or financial decisions based on how they can move up in these rankings, according to a Politico investigation.

    Schools that try to admit and graduate more low-income students can be punished in the rankings. Nancy Cantor pushed for more diversity on campus as chancellor of Syracuse University, but the school’s ranking dropped because of her work, and some faculty members accused her of letting academic standards decline. Cantor eventually left for Rutgers University.

    Three Frame Media

    Similarly, when Georgia State University started admitting and graduating low-income students, its ranking dropped 20 points in 2014, because the formula penalized schools for admitting students with lower SAT scores.

    “It was frustrating to see people doing really good work and their institutions being punished for it,” Fenderson said, in a panel discussion after the film Monday night at Macaulay Honors College in New York.

    This year, U.S. News & World Report changed its rankings to eliminate selectivity and to reward schools that promote social mobility. Because of this, Georgia State rose in the rankings from 223rd to 187th.

    Related

    New Tools to Fight ‘Summer Melt’: How One University’s Texting Campaign Is Keeping Incoming Freshmen on Track

    While there’s a lot wrong when it comes to creating equitable college experiences for diverse students in the United States, the film also showcased what’s working.

    For example, the University Innovation Alliance was founded in 2014 to encourage large public research universities to support and graduate a more diverse student body while sharing best practices on how to do that. Alliance members have come up with some innovative programs: Arizona State University formed a partnership with Starbucks to help its employees earn degrees online with tuition reimbursement, and Georgia State implemented a data tracking system to alert the school when students are falling behind or have signed up for the wrong classes.

    “The heart of the innovation alliance … get ready, it’s this radical idea that your product should be designed around your customer,” Executive Director Bridget Burns said at the panel discussion. “Empathy is the No. 1 rule, so all of our innovations are not that radical. They’re like, ‘Hey, your data should actually tell you when you’ve lost 50 students in that course.’”

    Other programs featured in the film include YearUp, which matches young adults with internships and college-level coursework; competency-based degrees from Southern New Hampshire University that let students work at their own pace, and basketball star LeBron James’s college scholarships for students in his I Promise program.

    Unlikely will premiere at the Napa Valley Film Festival in November, with a public release next fall.

    Disclosure: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides financial support to the Unlikely film and to The 74.

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • Monthly QuotED: 9 Notable Quotes That Made Education Headlines in October, From College Testing to School Safety — and an Apology From the Houston School Board

    By Andrew Brownstein | October 29, 2018

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

    “I don’t think we’ll get $200 million unless we hit the Powerball.” —Broward County school board chairwoman Nora Rupert, on the funding a report recommended for mental health professionals to treat students and families after the Feb. 14 shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Read at the Sun-Sentinel)

    Joshua Lott/Getty Images

    “The negative trend in math readiness is a red flag for our country, given the growing importance of math and science skills in the increasingly tech-driven U.S. and global job market. It is vital that we turn this trend around.” —Marten Roorda, chief executive of the nonprofit ACT, on sharply declining math scores on this year’s ACT and SAT exams. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “The answer that you can go to McDonald’s because they have Wi-Fi isn’t OK. I think that’s a ridiculous statement that we make to kids in poverty.” —Robert Dillon, innovation director for the University City School District in Missouri. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “When you have these communities … where everything seems to be leaving, typically the school’s one of the last big things that remains. It’s like once your school closes, that seems like the end of your community, in some ways.” —Greg Deskins, a high school science teacher and president of the Tazewell (Virginia) Education Association, a teachers union, on the struggles of schools in rural communities. (Read at The Washington Post)

    New York City Schools Chief Richard Carranza. (Ed Reed/NYC Mayoral Photography Office)

    “Are they really measuring giftedness and talentedness, or are they really measuring, when you’re measuring kids at 4 years old, the privilege of the parent?” —New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, on programs for gifted and talented students. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “Particularly after 2016, it’s clear that our country is much more vulnerable to a demagogue who vilifies minorities when schools are racially segregated. When white students know few Mexican-American classmates or Muslim classmates, it’s much easier for someone to suggest that those groups are causing all your problems.” —Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, on the importance of integrating schools. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “These findings are just awful for anyone who wants a future. It’s worse than a criminal conviction, or just as bad.” —Jesse Binnall, attorney for a student and his father suing the Fairfax County, Virginia, school district, saying the boy was unfairly punished for sexual misconduct because of his gender. The boy and his father say media reports that “suggest the pervasive nature of sexual assault committed by male students” influenced the district. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “We don’t need police officers patrolling the hallways of schools — that’s for school administrators to do. Police have a much bigger role in the community, and it’s not arresting 14-year-olds for disorderly conduct in a hallway.” —James Harris, superintendent of Pennsylvania’s Woodland Hills School District. Five youths who described a culture of abuse at the suburban Pittsburgh school system reached a half-million-dollar settlement with the district, officials, and police they say perpetrated violence against them. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “Our actions have not modeled the behavior that we hope to instill in our children that we serve.” —Trustee Diana Dávila, who issued a formal apology on behalf of Houston’s nine-member school board for its contentious and dysfunctional behavior over the past 10 months. (Read at The Houston Chronicle)

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

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • 1 Student Killed in North Carolina High School Shooting; At Least 46 Killed and 87 Injured by Guns at Schools So Far This Year

    By Mark Keierleber | October 29, 2018

    The 74 will be tracking gun-related injuries and deaths at schools throughout 2018. Bookmark this page for the latest reports, or sign up to receive updates straight to your inbox via The 74 Newsletter.

    One student has died after being shot Monday morning at a high school in North Carolina. The shooting reportedly unfolded at about 7 a.m. after a fight broke out at Butler High School in Matthews, a suburb of Charlotte.

    The victim, who authorities identified as male but have not identified, died after being transported to the hospital, according to The Charlotte Observer. Police arrested another student who is suspected to be the shooter. Authorities have not identified the suspect. The shooting is being described as an “isolated event” that followed a disagreement between two students in a school hallway before classes began for the day.

    In 2018, at least 46 people have been killed and 87 have been injured due to shootings on school property. 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 info@the74million.org, 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.

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • EduClips: School News You Missed This Week From America’s 15 Biggest Districts, Including a Review of a Controversial School Reform Initiative

    By Andrew Brownstein | October 25, 2018

    EduClips is a roundup of the week’s top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the week’s school and policy highlights delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Philadelphia — Study Finds Mixed Results for Mayor’s Community Schools Program: Community schools, a key initiative of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney to transform some of the city’s long-struggling schools, are not yet transformed two years into the initiative, and the effort’s results have been mixed. That’s the main finding of a study of the $3.25 million-a-year program by Research for Action, a nonpartisan Philadelphia nonprofit. Kenney pitched the schools as a centerpiece of his administration and a key reason the city needed to enact a controversial tax on soda. The goal of the program is to revitalize public schools with supports, resources, and a city-paid coordinator, enabling school staff to focus more on academic improvement. (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    Hawaii — State Supreme Court Knocks Down Education-Fueled Tax Initiative: Just weeks before this year’s election, Hawaii’s Supreme Court knocked from the state ballot a measure that would have initiated the state’s first statewide property tax to shore up its ailing education finances. The measure had heavy backing from the state’s teachers union, which held protests to raise awareness of conditions in Hawaii’s statewide school district. The system has dilapidated schools, lagging academic performance, and an ongoing teacher shortage. “This is the beginning,” Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said at a press conference after the court ruled. “We still have 1,000 classrooms without qualified teachers.” (Read at Education Week)

    Clark County — What’s in a Grade? In Las Vegas, It Depends on Where You Go to School: At Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas, a grade of F is worth 50 to 59 points on a 100-point scale. At Green Valley High in Henderson, meanwhile, failure results in a score anywhere from 0 to 59. The discrepancies stem from a Clark County School District policy that gives considerable leeway in setting grading policies. Many schools have taken advantage of that freedom to explore alternative grading schemes. (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Chicago — District Isn’t Disciplining Workers for Failing to Report Sex Abuse: Chicago Public Schools has held fewer employees accountable for failing to alert child-welfare workers about possible abuse in recent years, even though reports of student sexual abuse in Chicago schools did not decline, according to an analysis by the Chicago Tribune. The newspaper also found that, over the past decade, the district did not alert law enforcement or the Illinois State Board of Education after one of its employees failed to act on behalf of an abused child. The new disclosures follow a series earlier this year in which the Tribune documented hundreds of sex crimes against Chicago students. (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    Gwinnett County — Teenage Boy Arrested in Stabbing of Middle School Teacher: A 13-year-old boy at a Gwinnett County middle school was arrested after reportedly stabbing a teacher this week. The eighth-grader at Trickum Middle School called a language arts teacher over during a class change, then pulled out an 8-inch knife and stabbed her in the chest, according to a letter sent to parents by the school’s principal. The teen then allegedly grabbed a female student but was quickly subdued and disarmed by school resource officers. He was transported to Gwinnett County’s Youth Detention Center, but it was unclear what charges he will ultimately face. The stabbed teacher was conscious and talking to first responders while being transported to the hospital, according to news reports. (Read at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    New York City — Petition Urges Reinstatement of Arts School Principal Who Protested Program Cuts: More than 600 people signed an online petition urging New York City’s Department of Education to reinstate the principal of the Lower Manhattan Arts Academy, removed last week amid rumors that he was punished for pushing back against potential program cuts. John Wenk, the school’s founding principal, criticized potential cuts to programs, which included dance, acting, visual arts, drawing, music, and art history. A department spokesman said Wenk “was not terminated” but rather had agreed to resign by Dec. 31 before an arbitrator’s hearing, “based on performance and misconduct as principal.” (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

    HISTORY — How History Class Divides Us (Read at Education Week)

    INTEGRATION — Domanico: Racial Integration Isn’t the Answer to a Better Education for NYC’s Black & Latino Students (Read at The74Million.org)

    TEACHERS — New research shows just how much losing a teacher midyear hurts students (Read at Chalkbeat)

    VIRTUAL TEACHING — In More High School Classes, the Teacher Is on a Screen (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    DEVOS — What Betsy DeVos Can Learn From Bush-Obama School Reform (Read at Education Week)

    HIGH SCHOOL — How High Schools Shaped American Cities (Read at The Atlantic)

    GOOGLE — Google Is Teaching Children How to Act Online. Is It the Best Role Model? (Read at The New York Times)

    Quotes of the Week

    “When you have these communities … where everything seems to be leaving, typically the school’s one of the last big things that remains. It’s like once your school closes, that seems like the end of your community, in some ways.” —Greg Deskins, a high school science teacher and president of the Tazewell (Va.) Education Association, a teachers union, on the struggles of schools in rural communities. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “Human flourishing is one of the basic purposes of education. In the end, though, if you don’t prepare people for a job, they’re not going to flourish.” —Anthony Carnevale, who directs the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “The negative trend in math readiness is a red flag for our country, given the growing importance of math and science skills in the increasingly tech-driven U.S. and global job market. It is vital that we turn this trend around.” —Marten Roorda, chief executive of the nonprofit ACT, on sharply declining math scores on this year’s ACT and SAT exams. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “We have never had a situation like this at our school, and I know we are all concerned about this. The fact that one of our Trickum Middle family was hurt at the hands of a student is very upsetting.” —Principal Ryan Queen of the Trickum Middle School in Gwinnett County, Georgia, where a teacher was stabbed by a 13-year-old student. (Read at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    “The answer that you can go to McDonald’s because they have Wi-Fi isn’t OK. I think that’s a ridiculous statement that we make to kids in poverty.” —Robert Dillon, innovation director for the University City School District in Missouri. (Read at The74Million.org)

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

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • This Time, Washington State Supreme Court Upholds Charter School Law

    By Kate Stringer | October 25, 2018

    Washington State’s charter schools can remain open.

    The Washington state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state’s charter school act is, for the most part, constitutional, striking down only one aspect of the law pertaining to collective bargaining.

    The decision settles a three-year battle over the existence of charter schools in the state, which the court declared unconstitutional in 2015 over the way they were funded and governed.

    “We are aware of the deep-seated conflicting opinions regarding charter schools,” wrote Justice Mary Yu, adding that it was the court’s job to rule only on the constitutionality of the case. “We conclude that its only unconstitutional provision is severable, and thus we affirm the trial court in part and hold that the remainder of the Charter School Act is constitutional on its face.” Yu was joined in the lead opinion by three other justices.

    Two members of the court signed an opinion that was both concurring and dissenting. They agreed that charter schools were constitutional but disagreed that the provision related to collective bargaining was unconstitutional. The Washington State Charter Schools Association said it is still unclear how this will play out with the state’s schools.

    In a dissenting opinion, Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that the charter school act “creates a parallel public school system that provides a general education, serves all students, and uses public funds, but lacks local voter control or oversight.”

    The state’s 12 existing charter schools, serving 3,400 students, will remain open. State law caps the number of charter schools allowed at 40.

    “It’s a historic victory,” said association CEO Patrick D’Amelio. “We view this as an absolutely definitive final step, so we are super pleased with that.”

    The ruling is a loss for the plaintiffs, who had initially claimed a victory in the 2015 ruling. In 2016, the state legislature rewrote the state’s charter school law to fund schools through lottery revenues rather than the general fund. But this new law was immediately met by another legal challenge from the same plaintiffs — the League of Women Voters, the Washington Education Association, and El Centro de la Raza — who argued that the schools were still unconstitutional because they were not held accountable by a locally elected school board.

    “Washington Education Association members are disappointed in the state Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Washington’s charter school law,” the state’s teachers union said in a statement. “We still believe it is wrong to divert public funds to privately run organizations that are not accountable to local voters.”

    Related

    Saved: How WA Parents, Students, Advocates and Educators Rescued Their Charter Schools

    D’Amelio said the ongoing lawsuit has never hindered charter school student work but has helped inform many civic lessons over the years. This legal battle launched students and parents alike into advocacy roles during field trips to the legislature in Olympia and court proceedings in Seattle. Parent Shirline Wilson, whose son Miles is now an eighth-grader at Rainier Prep in Seattle, has become executive director of the state’s chapter of Democrats for Education Reform.

    “I’m really excited and relieved and happy that the law was upheld and that the challenge was put down,” said Wilson, who was meeting with other charter school parents for coffee Thursday morning, discussing the news. “So it’s a great day for my family and my son.”

    She said she sees this victory as one step in the struggle for school choice in the state. “I think charters are still a tough thing for progressive voters in Washington state,” she said.

    Disclosure: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides financial support to the Washington State Charter Schools Association and The 74.

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • Offline and Underserved: New Study Shows ‘Homework Gap’ Most Affects Students Already Likely to Fall Behind

    By Laura Fay | October 24, 2018

    The homework gap — a phrase describing the accumulation of missed assignments by students who lack access to technology or the internet outside of school — disproportionately affects students who are already more likely to fall behind academically, a new study shows.

    While 14 percent of students said they have access to just one device to access the internet outside of the classroom, a majority of those students — more than 8 out of 10 — are considered “underserved.” In other words, they are minorities, will be the first in their families to go to college, or hail from low-income families, according to the new study by the ACT Center for Equity in Learning. By contrast, just 6 percent of students from “served” backgrounds reported being limited to one device.

    The center surveyed a random selection of about 7,000 high school students who took the ACT in April 2017 about their access to the internet and technological devices at home. Researcher Raeal Moore said she was surprised by the results; she expected the percentage to be in the single digits. Students with a single device were also less likely to spend time outside of class doing school-related activities than their peers.

    “We basically made this connection between the number of devices that you have access to and how often you actually use those devices for educational activities,” she said, which means some students are less prepared to use technology for school and work.

    “If you’re not using that technology, then you’re not familiar with that technology for use in schools,” Moore added. “You are not learning how to problem-solve and use critical thinking skills with … technology, and you need that information, you need that skill” for college and the workplace.

    ACT Center for Equity in Learning

    Moreover, 47 percent of students who rely on a single device said that outside of school, they only have access to mobile networks, not home Wi-Fi, according to the report.

    The study comes as educators around the country are looking for ways to close the homework gap by providing personal devices and wireless hotspots to students.

    Although many schools are investing heavily in portable devices, the students who have them won’t fully realize their benefits if they don’t have internet access at home, said Andrew Wallace, director of technology at the South Portland School Department in Maine. Only about 7 or 8 percent of students in his district lack web access at home — enough, Wallace said, to deter teachers from assigning online homework.

    South Portland is launching a program in which students can check out mobile hotspots from their school libraries for use at home. (All of the students in third grade and above already have devices through a statewide 1:1 program that provides each student with a computer or tablet.) In addition to granting teachers and students the ability to take full advantage of online resources, portable internet access helps parents get connected as well.

    “We’re getting to a point where internet access is nearly a right,” Wallace said, noting that information about housing and food assistance, health care, and other resources has moved online. Internet access “is imperative if we want people to get out of poverty,” he said. “ … By not giving people internet access, we’re perpetuating this disadvantaged situation.”

    The researchers offer a pair of policy recommendations in the report. First, they advocate for more public and private programs to provide devices and internet service to underserved students. Second, they urge that school assignments, materials, and forms be compatible with smartphones, as many students rely on them for out-of-school internet access.

    Related

    Sprint Expands Program Giving Low-Income Kids Phones, Tablets to Close Homework Gap

    In University City School District in Missouri, every student receives a wireless hotspot, thanks to partnerships with Sprint and T-Mobile. Innovation Director Robert Dillon said this is a social justice issue for his students, 80 percent of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

    “The answer that you can go to McDonald’s because they have Wi-Fi isn’t OK,” he said. “I think that’s a ridiculous statement that we make to kids in poverty. That’s not fair, and I think our kids respect the fact that we help them have deeper access.”

    Related

    74 Interview: Rory Kennedy’s New Documentary Delves Into Digital Divide Hurting America’s Poorest Students

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter

     



  • For 36 Million Workers, a College Degree Was the Path to a Good Job. But That’s Not the Only Way to Get One

    By Kate Stringer | October 24, 2018

    If you want a good job, getting a bachelor’s degree is still your best bet.

    More than half of good jobs — 56 percent — are held by those who have at least a four-year college degree, a number that’s grown by 101 percent in the past 25 years.

    But that’s not the only way to get a good job. One-quarter of good jobs are held by those who have a middle-skills education, such as a certification or associate’s degree. And 20 percent of workers with good jobs have just a high school diploma, though that number has declined over the past quarter-century.

    That’s according to a new report from Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce and JP Morgan Chase & Co., which analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics from 1992 to 2017.

    The researchers defined a “good job” as one that pays at least $35,000 for workers 25 to 44 and at least $45,000 for workers 45 to 64. As of 2016, median earnings for all workers with a good job were $65,000.

    From about 1991 to 2016, the number of good jobs for people with at least a bachelor’s degree doubled in size, jumping from 18 million to 36 million. Middle-skills-level jobs grew by 3 million, while high school jobs decreased by 2 million.

    Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce

    However, this doesn’t mean that schools should solely focus on preparing students for bachelor’s degrees, said Jeff Strohl, the center’s director of research and a report co-author.

    “I think that getting people as far along in their educational attainment as they feel is good for them is the right move,” he said.

    The number of good jobs held by those with associate’s degrees has also increased over the past 25 years by more than 3 million, or 83 percent. Associate’s degrees are part of this middle-skills educational pathway, which in 2000 surpassed the high school diploma in producing good jobs. However, the number of good middle-skills jobs — which range from firefighters to health care technologists and technicians — has remained well below those for bachelor’s degree holders.

    Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce

    Globalization and automation have caused a decline in manufacturing jobs over the past few decades, which affected the number of good jobs available to workers with a high school diploma. Meanwhile, more good jobs today require workers to have a deeper skill set as machines take over repetitive tasks. But the report authors said there are still 13 million good jobs for this education level, including truck drivers, carpenters, and construction equipment operators. Most of these jobs are held by men.

    A high school diploma was enough to launch many workers into the middle class in the 1980s, what the authors called “the pinnacle of the high school economy.” In 1991, about half of workers ages 25 to 34 had a high school diploma or less, while 25 percent had at least a bachelor’s degree. In 2016, the number of workers with only a high school diploma dropped to 30 percent, while those with at least a four-year degree rose to 40 percent.

    Related

    Great CTE-xpectations: Inside Oregon’s New $170 Million Bet for Boosting One of the Worst Graduation Rates in the Nation

    For JP Morgan Chase & Co., this report emphasizes that “it’s not bachelor’s degree or bust,” said Jennie Sparandara, the company’s head of workforce initiatives. Sparandara said she hopes the report can show education leaders and policymakers that there are still multiple pathways to prepare students for a good job.

    JP Morgan has invested $75 million in preparing students for these middle-skills jobs through its New Skills for Youth initiative. This is a competition that provides money to states to create or expand ways for high school students to prepare for careers through certification programs or apprenticeships. Ten states have received $2 million each to develop these plans: Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

    “Many school systems are still lagging behind in terms of really thinking about how you prepare young people for college and career,” Sparandara said. “We are supporting efforts whereby states are looking more closely at how they are coaching young people on what opportunities look like post-graduation, in addition to enrollment in a four-year degree.”

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • Summit Is Spinning Off Its Popular Personalized Learning Platform, Creating New Nonprofit to Take the Helm

    By Kate Stringer | October 24, 2018

    Summit Public Schools’ personalized learning platform will soon be run by a new nonprofit organization in hopes of meeting the demand of schools across the country that have requested access to this free software.

    This means the 11 charter schools known as Summit Public Schools will now be a separate organization from the still-unnamed nonprofit that will operate the Summit Learning platform used by these charters and 380 other public, private, and charter schools across the country.

    “We’re at a moment in time where we’ve incubated [Summit Learning], it is relatively big, it is successful, it is substantive and can stand on its own,” said Summit CEO Diane Tavenner. “It just really makes sense at this point for the Summit Learning program to be on its own and be only focused on that work, and for Summit [Public Schools] to be able to continue to do what we do best.”

    However, the two organizations will still continue to have a strong relationship, Tavenner said, with Summit Public Schools using the technology and curriculum developed by the Summit Learning platform, and likely being used to pilot new programs.

    Summit Public Schools has grown from the Redwood City, California, school started by Tavenner in 2003 to 11 schools in California and Washington serving students from sixth to 12th grades. The network recently started a teacher residency program to train educators in personalized learning.

    Summit started developing its personalized learning platform in 2012, partnering with Facebook in 2014 to share the technology with schools nationwide for free. The program is funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

    The personalized learning software is used by 72,000 students nationwide and has consistent demand, Tavenner said. She said the organization doesn’t plan to expand the program, but rather, the new nonprofit will focus on meeting current demand.

    While the platform’s popularity has grown, some school districts have resisted, notably, one in Cheshire, Connecticut, that suspended the program in 2017 after parent outcry, which included student privacy concerns around data collection.

    Although Summit collects student data, it does not sell it, the organization states on its website. Summit complies with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and has signed the Student Privacy Pledge, both commitments to protecting children’s privacy online. Facebook does not have access to students’ data through this platform, Summit said.

    Related

    In Annual Parent Letter, Summit Public Schools Announces Renewed Focus on the Other School Safety Issue — Data Privacy

    The new nonprofit will begin running the learning platform in the 2019-20 school year. The board has yet to pick a leader to run the organization, but 90 current Summit team members, along with Chief Program Officer Andy Goldin, will take the lead. Tavenner will serve on the new nonprofit’s board, along with Chan Zuckerberg Initiative chief Priscilla Chan and Chief Financial Officer and Head of Operations Peggy Alford.

    This move furthers what Tavenner calls one of the tenets of her original Summit school: to innovate and share those innovations with other schools.

    “There is a responsibility that goes with that, to give back to the broader system and to all students,” she said.

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • A Chat With the ‘World’s Best Teacher’: Andria Zafirakou Advocates for Arts in Schools, Creates Nonprofit to Connect Students With Artists

    By Laura Fay | October 24, 2018

    On a recent visit to New York City, Andria Zafirakou spoke at an event in her honor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, participated in sessions at the World Economic Forum, met students at a Brooklyn high school, and even threw out the first pitch at a New York Mets game.

    The whirlwind visit was fit for a celebrity or a foreign ambassador, and, in many ways, Zafirakou is both. She was named the “world’s greatest teacher” earlier this year.

    Zafirakou is the fourth annual winner of the Global Teacher Prize, an honor bestowed by the Varkey Foundation that comes with a $1 million check.

    An arts and textiles teacher from Brent, in northwestern London, Zafirakou is using the money to create a program to connect London schools with professional artists, who will visit the schools and talk to students about their work and career paths. She spoke to The 74 during her stay in Manhattan.

    While Zafirakou is based in London, her global message clearly resonates in the United States. Scores on the art and music sections of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the test known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” are underwhelming — in part because many students lack access to arts and music classes, often the first to go when budgets get tight.

    The message is especially important for Zafirakou, who dreamed of a career in the arts as a child in London but had a hard time persuading her Greek-Cypriot parents it would be a viable career path.

    “I had those difficult conversations with my parents, but luckily, at the end of the day, I was able to convince them” that she could be successful in the arts, she said. Zafirakou now helps her students have those conversations with their parents. She hopes that getting artists into schools through her nonprofit will provide role models for students interested in the arts and “inspire students to take up the creative subjects” despite that skepticism.

    Zafirakou’s organization aims to bring dancers, musicians, painters, writers, actors, and a range of other artists into schools to connect with kids and discuss their careers. The program will start with schools in London and eventually expand throughout the U.K.

    Since winning in March, Zafirakou has become an ambassador for arts education worldwide. When explaining what fuels her advocacy, Zafirakou talks about the joy the arts ignite in her students — with a smile that suggests she knows something about joy. She’s quick to point out the bottom-line value of the arts as well, noting that it contributes billions to the economy in the United Kingdom and worldwide and touting the practical skills they provide students.

    “If you were an employer, who would you employ? You’d like the person who can think outside the box, who can act if they needed to act spontaneously, who can create the unique product,” she said, underscoring that economic benefit.

    Passion for the arts isn’t the only thing Zafirakou and her students have in common. She remembers how it felt to be “thrown” into a U.K. school after growing up in a home where the primary language was Greek. Similarly, many of the children she teaches are recent immigrants, and dozens of languages are spoken in the community.

    Related

    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

    Zafirakou has learned how to greet her students and their parents in their home languages, which she says fosters relationships that make her lessons more effective and meaningful.

    “That’s a very lovely, warm gesture, which automatically gets you buy-in, which automatically enables the family to feel welcome and a part of the community. And once you’ve got the parents on board, and once you’ve got the students on board, we as teachers can do our jobs really well.”

    In addition to building relationships with her students, Zafirakou is a leader among the adults in her school. As the director of teaching and learning, she works with teachers to improve their craft and facilitates professional development for them.

    “That’s my favorite thing — is helping somebody else, to just kind of support them in their practice and … make them into the teacher they want to be,” she said.

    The Global Teacher Prize is awarded and funded by the Varkey Foundation, an organization that aims to improve education around the world. The Foundation is also working with a number of countries to create national teacher prizes as part of its mission to elevate the teaching profession. One American teacher, Glenn Lee of Hawaii, was among the global 10 finalists for the award this year.

    Although she has become a celebrity since being named the world’s greatest teacher — she met Prime Minister Theresa May and has made a number of media appearances — Zafirakou maintains a hands-on role in running the nonprofit she started with the prize money and is still teaching full-time.

    “The days are too short in my life,” Zafirakou said, “but I really am passionate about it.”

    British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (left) and British 2018 Global Teacher Prize winner Andria Zafirakou visit the opening of an exhibition on girls’ education involving a large temporary arts structure and a damaged classroom in the grounds of the Palais des Nations on June 18, 2018, in Geneva. (Alain Grosclaude/AFP/Getty Images)

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • New ‘Redshirting’ Study Reveals That Boys Are Held Back More Than Girls — and It’s Actually Helping to Close an Achievement Gap Between the Genders

    By Kevin Mahnken | October 23, 2018

    Academic “redshirting” — the practice of holding children back a year before they enter kindergarten — is most widely used by parents of white male students, according to a paper circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Granting certain students that extra year of development before starting school can meaningfully affect achievement gaps, the authors found.

    Some parents have always opted to keep their kids at home longer rather than enroll them as the youngest members of a class. But the redshirting phenomenon has only recently waded into the mainstream discussion, most notably after Malcolm Gladwell dedicated a book chapter to the benefits of being the oldest and most physically mature student in a cohort.

    It has been estimated by Stanford professor Sean Reardon that between 4 percent and 5.5 percent of students begin school a year late. Research has largely shown that the effects of redshirting on academics are positive, with older students likely to score higher on standardized tests than their younger classmates. One recent study by Northwestern University’s David Figlio indicated that later school entry was associated with higher rates of college attendance and graduation, as well as a lower likelihood of incarceration.

    Related

    Study Shows That Kids Who Were Oldest in Kindergarten Enjoyed Benefits Well Into Their Teenage Years — and Beyond

    This paper, written by Duke professor Philip Cook, largely replicates those findings. Using data from the North Carolina Education Research Data Center, Cook traced the birth dates, kindergarten entry years, and academic performance of thousands of North Carolina students born between November 2003 and August 2004. Overall, about 6.7 percent of children in the state began school late.

    The mean effect of an extra year of age is positive, and striking: Older students were 1.6 percent less likely to be diagnosed as learning disabled, 1 percent less likely to be speech impaired, and 2.3 percent more likely to be classified as intellectually gifted.

    Scores for redshirted pupils on academic assessments given at the end of third grade were 0.36 standard deviations higher in reading and 0.3 standard deviations higher in math; Cook notes that both compare favorably to the advantages provided by attending a “no excuses” charter school or learning from an unusually effective teacher.

    National Bureau of Economic Research

    Cook also identified which students were most likely to be held back before kindergarten entry. White male students were redshirted at the highest rate (9.9 percent), nearly 2.5 times that of black females (4 percent). For white, black, and Hispanic students alike, boys are all held back more often.

    That gender disparity produces the important effect of dampening achievement gaps favoring girls over boys. Cook finds that if the third-grade tests controlled for differences in age, the existing difference in scores between white boys and girls would be 11 percent greater. For Hispanic and black students, those gaps would grow by 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

    The most interesting takeaway, Cook notes, is that “the likelihood of redshirting is strongly inversely related to academic ability.”

    “The apparent effect is that redshirting patterns tend to benefit weaker students relative to stronger students,” he writes. “The social value of these effects can be disputed, but without a doubt the concern about boys lagging girls in school is frequently voiced, and an assist for weaker students seems desirable on the face of it.”

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • Nearly 30 Percent of Teachers Are Chronically Absent. How Rhode Island Is Using ESSA to Move the Needle

    By Taylor Swaak | October 22, 2018

    About 28 percent of America’s public school teachers, or roughly 900,000 educators, are missing more than 10 days of school a year, making them “chronically absent” by federal government standards.

    At least one state — Rhode Island — is tackling teacher chronic absenteeism by incorporating it into its ESSA plan as a measure of school accountability. This means the state will consider teacher absenteeism rates when gauging schools’ success and identifying low-performing schools. All ESSA plans have been approved as of last month.

    The need for reform is clear in the Ocean State. It reported the third-highest rate of chronic teacher absenteeism nationwide — 41 percent — in 2015-16, according to federal data. Only Hawaii and Nevada recorded higher rates, at 48 and 50 percent, respectively. (There are, however, some critics of the data’s accuracy.)

    Tracking chronic teacher absenteeism “is not a ‘gotcha’ about teachers,” Ken Wagner, Rhode Island’s education commissioner, told The 74. “Absenteeism is a proxy for something broader. … It’s really, really important to pay attention [to it].”

    Related

    New Study Finds 1 in 4 Teachers Chronically Absent From Classrooms; Problem Is Three Times Worse in Traditional Schools

    Research shows that when teachers are absent, student achievement suffers. A 10-day increase in teacher absence correlates with a student losing about six to 10 days of learning in English language arts and about 15 to 25 days in math, research found. The financial burden is also substantive: An estimated $4 billion a year in taxpayer dollars funds substitutes and other costs related to teacher absences.

    Yet the scope and implications of chronic teacher absenteeism haven’t garnered the same media attention or ESSA real estate as student absences. Washington, D.C., and 36 states, for example, baked some form of chronic student absenteeism into their ESSA plans. Other states such as New Mexico are taking approaches outside of ESSA, such as factoring attendance records into teachers’ evaluations.

    Related

    With Nearly 8 Million Students Chronically Absent From School Each Year, 36 States Set Out to Tackle the Problem in New Federal Education Plans. Will It Make a Difference?

    When it comes to the question of why educators are missing school, teachers cite a breadth of reasons: illness, a negative and unsupportive school climate, burnout and stress, to name a few. Education experts added that some districts’ generous paid leave policies can also exacerbate teacher absences. These reasons, while relevant to Rhode Island, are not unique to the state, experts noted.

    Courtney Monterecy, principal of Mary E. Fogarty Elementary School in Providence, had noticed declining morale and higher rates of teacher absences during the “dark time of winter” that falls between the 80th and 100th days of school. So to get teachers (and students) more enthused about coming to class, Monterecy helped spearhead annual ’80s and ’90s spirit weeks last year.

    On the 80th day, students and teachers were encouraged to don ’80s attire. Music from that decade rang out during lunch. For 10 days straight, there was ’80s trivia on the intercom every morning that tied in fun facts about staffers. This repeated with the ’90s on the 90th day.

    “That was a great, fun thing that drew a lot of interest last winter, and we noticed people were more excited to come to work,” said Monterecy, who’s been the principal for five years and oversees roughly 40 full-time teachers.

    Experts noted that many Rhode Island teachers’ contracts, crafted at the school district level, also enable a higher number of absences. In Providence Public Schools, the state’s largest school district, teachers with more than three years of experience are given at least 20 days of paid leave a year — compared with a nationwide average of nearly 13 days. The district’s educators can carry over paid sick leave days from year to year as well, up to 150 days. (The teacher contract for Providence expired in 2017, but the district is continuing to use it as negotiations on a new one continue.)

    All else being equal, “basic economic theory is going to tell you, ‘Yeah, you’re going to have more absences if you have more leave available,’” Raegen Miller, research director at FutureEd, told The 74. The federal definition of missing more than 10 days does not include professional development days, field trips, federal holidays or other off-campus activities.

    David Griffith, a senior research and policy associate with the Fordham Institute, agreed, adding that other elements of teachers’ contracts — notably, a lack of paid maternity leave — could also compound absences.

    “Teaching is a predominantly female profession, so many, many teachers are mothers themselves,” he said. “Yet there is by and large no maternity leave for teachers. … I think that is striking.”

    Related

    There’s Lots of Social-Emotional Support for Students, but Not for Teachers. Here Are Some Programs Looking to Change That

    Regardless of the reason, cultivating support systems and a sense of accountability for teachers is Monterecy’s go-to approach. At her elementary school, the names of teachers who are absent — and which colleagues are covering for them — are posted publicly in the office each day. A weekly bulletin notes the number of teacher absences for that given week.

    “It’s noticeable when someone’s not in for more than one day,” she said. “Knowing that your colleagues are picking up your duties on days you’re not here and holding each other accountable — I think that’s a really good thing. We’re all in this together.” Monterecy added that she’ll sometimes pull teachers aside for one-on-one conversations that try to pinpoint the problem.

    Although the state department of education can’t dictate teachers’ contracts or single-handedly transform each school’s climate, Wagner, the state’s education commissioner, said it can raise awareness of teacher absenteeism, encourage school accountability and make the data public through ESSA.

    Rhode Island’s ESSA plan says the state “will examine the percentage of student courses in grades [pre-K to 12] taught by teachers who are chronically absent” and “continue analyzing teacher chronic absenteeism data to ensure” proper identification of at-risk schools. Rhode Island chose to define teacher chronic absenteeism as missing 10 percent or more school days a year, excluding professional development and long-term excused absences.

    The state’s first annual Report Card under ESSA to include teacher absenteeism data is slated to be available to the public next month.

    The department has met with stakeholders such as superintendents, principals and local organizations “to talk about our system of accountability and why we think these measures [like teacher chronic absenteeism] are important to include,” spokeswoman Megan Geoghegan wrote in a follow-up email to The 74. “We really want to underscore that this isn’t about individuals — it’s about systems.”

    The need for continued conversations on both teacher and student absenteeism became particularly clear after this year’s SurveyWorks questionnaire of nearly 70 percent of the state’s teachers, Wagner said.

    One of the survey questions asked educators about student absenteeism, which is linked to poor academic performance and higher dropout rates: “How much do you think missing at least 2 days of school a month impacts a student’s chance of graduating high school?”

    Nearly 40 percent said “not at all,” “a little bit,” or “somewhat.” And that, to Wagner, spoke volumes.

    One part of the solution is saying, “‘Hey, students and families, you need to wise up and make sure you understand that it’s important to go to school’ — and it’s the same thing for teachers,” Wagner said. “The other side is, the school has the burden to make sure that it’s important that kids and teachers have to come to school.”

    The Fordham Institute’s Griffith doesn’t agree wholeheartedly with all aspects of Rhode Island’s plan. He’s wary, for one thing, that the 10 percent definition insinuates that teachers can miss 18 or 19 days of school without issue. But he tipped his hat to Rhode Island for making a statewide effort to move the needle.

    “I applaud Rhode Island for taking the first step,” he said. “But honestly, I think every state should be doing this.”

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • EduClips: School News You Missed This Week From America’s 15 Biggest Districts, Including Teacher Pay, Testing & an Unexpected Apology

    By Andrew Brownstein | October 18, 2018

    EduClips is a roundup of the week’s top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the week’s school and policy highlights delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Houston — School Board Apologizes for 10 Months of Dysfunction: The Houston school board has apologized for a dysfunctional past 10 months, particularly a contentious and racially charged meeting last week that saw an abrupt vote to replace the district’s interim superintendent. In addition to the apology, issued on behalf of all nine members, the board walked back its selection and said it would reinstate Grenita Lathan as interim superintendent. Last week’s vote blindsided four trustees, including all three of the board’s black members, as the meeting erupted in accusations of disrespect and racism, and audience members shouted and cursed at trustees who supported the surprise move. The district has been without a permanent chief since Richard Carranza abruptly left the district in March to become chancellor of New York City Public Schools. (Read at The Houston Chronicle)

    New York City — Homeless Students Reach Record Numbers: In 2017, about 1 out of every 10 students in New York City was homeless, according to state data released by Advocates for Children of New York, a group that provides legal and advocacy services for needy students. That’s more children than at any other time since the city began keeping records. The number of city students in temporary housing topped 100,000 for the third consecutive year in 2017, according to the state data. (Read at The New York Times)

    Chicago — Pro-Charter Group Invests Millions in Local Races: A pro-charter Illinois political action committee is planning to infuse millions of dollars into contested Chicago races where education is an issue. “The stakes couldn’t be higher for urban public education,” Andrew Broy, president of INCS Action, a PAC that advocates for charter schools in Illinois, told Chalkbeat. “We expect to spend a seven-figure sum in each of these races.” Chicago Public Schools has 121 charter schools, down 7 percent from two years ago, when the teachers union negotiated a cap on charter enrollment. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Los Angeles — At Center of Potential Teacher Strike, Two Leaders Who ‘Inhabit Different Worlds’: With mediation ended, and Los Angeles teetering ever closer to a teacher strike, the spotlight is on two men at the heart of the matter: Superintendent Austin Beutner and Alex Caputo-Pearl, who leads the teachers union. As the Los Angeles Times writes, the two “sound almost as if they inhabit different worlds. They don’t even agree on a set of basic facts, which makes negotiation difficult.” To some degree because of the gulf between their competing realities, a strike seems increasingly likely, observers say. (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    Philadelphia — Lawmakers Walk Back Reliance on Controversial, Expensive Graduation Exam: A controversial graduation exam taken by Pennsylvania students, including those in Philadelphia, is about to get much less important, after state lawmakers this week passed legislation to push back the Keystone Exams requirements until 2022. Seniors will be allowed to demonstrate mastery in other ways, such as gaining acceptance to a four-year college, securing full-time employment post-graduation, completing an internship, or earning a to-be-determined score on the SAT. The state put a high priority on the exam after it was first proposed in 2009, spending $70 million on the test’s development. “I thought it was outrageous that we would stamp ‘failure’ on the back of … students and teachers, when it was we in the legislature who created the problem in the first place by not properly funding schools in Philadelphia and other poorer districts in the commonwealth,” said State Sen. Andy Dinniman, a sponsor of the bill and a vocal opponent of the exam. (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    Miami-Dade — Board Agrees to Spend Most of Property Tax Funds on Miami Teacher Salaries: After spending nearly four hours in a closed-door session, the Miami-Dade School Board agreed that the bulk of the $232 million it hopes to raise from a Nov. 6 property tax referendum will go toward teacher salaries. Board members agreed that 88 percent will fund teacher salaries and 12 percent will be set aside for hiring more police officers so that every school is covered. The decision allows the district and the teachers union to enter into bargaining about how the teachers’ portion will be spent. (Read at the Miami Herald)

    Clark County — Las Vegas Schools Faced With Open Records Suit in Teacher Whistleblower Case: A new public-records lawsuit has been lodged against the Clark County School District over its refusal to release emails related to a teacher’s allegation that she was improperly fired for reporting possible testing irregularities. The lawsuit was filed by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a libertarian think tank, and is part of an investigation by the institute into allegations involving abuse of special education students and retaliation against whistleblowers. The institute is trying to determine if district officials were pressured to fire a teacher for reporting testing discrepancies for a special education student. (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Broward County — Board Blasts Fort Lauderdale School Administrators for Raises: Broward County School Board members criticized the district for giving raises and bonuses to administrators without the board’s approval or knowledge, and they directed Superintendent Robert Runcie to find out how many employees have gotten such increases in the past two years. A board member raised the issue in response to a public-records request made by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Earlier this month, the newspaper found 11 administrators who received raises of between 7 and 21 percent, well above the 2.2 percent increases for most of the district’s 27,000 employees. (Read at the Sun Sentinel)

    Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

    SCHOOL REFORM — Be Wary of Those Reformers Peddling ‘Model’ School Districts (Read at Education Week)

    TRANSPARENCY — Keeling: 4 Ways That Students and Families Are Getting Lost in an Avalanche of Confusing Information From Their Schools (Read at The74Million.org)

    SCHOLARSHIPS — Bad SAT scores? Low GPA? The College Board has just the scholarship for you (Read at USA Today)

    EQUITY What our local education reporters learned when we collaborated with ProPublica to look at equity data (Read at Chalkbeat)

    TEACHERS America’s teachers: One day, not enough respect (Read at USA Today)

    PRE-K — Early childhood education yields big benefits — just not the ones you think (Read at Vox)

    Quotes of the Week

    “Our actions have not modeled the behavior that we hope to instill in our children that we serve.” —Trustee Diana Dávila, who issued a formal apology on behalf of Houston’s nine-member school board for its contentious and dysfunctional behavior over the past 10 months. (Read at The Houston Chronicle)

    “Are they really measuring giftedness and talentedness, or are they really measuring, when you’re measuring kids at 4 years old, the privilege of the parent?” —New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, on programs for gifted and talented students. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “We don’t need police officers patrolling the hallways of schools — that’s for school administrators to do. Police have a much bigger role in the community, and it’s not arresting 14-year-olds for disorderly conduct in a hallway.” —James Harris, superintendent of Pennsylvania’s Woodland Hills School District. Five youth who described a culture of abuse at the suburban Pittsburgh school system reached a half-million-dollar settlement with the district, officials, and police they say perpetrated violence against them. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “You think you’ve seen everything and then something happens where you’re like, ‘Well, I never saw that coming,’ then it’s back to the drawing board to figure out what we can do.” —Meghan Dunn, principal of P.S. 446 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, where more than a quarter of the students are homeless. (Read at The New York Times)

    “Everybody knows where the end of this litigation road is, which is the Supreme Court. Janus is sadly not the end of the road. This road just got a lot harder.” —Sharon Block, executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, on future anti-union lawsuits. (Read at Education Week)

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



  • Amid Post-Parkland Calls for School-Based Police, $500,000 Settlement Gives Critics Reason for Caution

    By Mark Keierleber | October 16, 2018

    Five youth who described a culture of abuse at a suburban Pittsburgh school system have reached a half-million-dollar settlement with the district and several administrators, security officers, and school-based police they say perpetrated the violence against them.

    The alleged assaults at Woodland Hills High School — circulated in online videos that showed students being choked, punched, and tased — put a national spotlight on the employment of school police and their role in student discipline. Efforts to increase the presence of such police, often called school resource officers, increased this year in the aftermath of mass school shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas. But civil rights leaders say the outcome at Woodland Hills should prompt educators to reconsider.

    For years, the Woodland Hills School District had frequently called on school police to handle basic discipline, including minor infractions like cursing. Now, that’s changing, said new superintendent James Harris, hired this year to lead the district amid community concern over school policing.

    “We don’t need police officers patrolling the hallways of schools — that’s for school administrators to do,” Harris told The 74. “Police have a much bigger role in the community, and it’s not arresting 14-year-olds for disorderly conduct in a hallway.”

    Last year, five current and former students filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the district, three school administrators, two police officers who were stationed at the school, and a security company that contracted with the district. The accusations included assault, intimidation, and filing false criminal charges to justify excessive use of force. The students also alleged that administrators failed to prevent the misconduct. Each of the plaintiffs is black, and several are disabled.

    An attorney representing the students said they settled for $530,000, with no admission of guilt from the district. Churchill Borough Solicitor Gavin Robb couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

    Officials assaulted children in areas they believed were hidden from surveillance cameras, said Todd Hollis, a Pittsburgh-based personal injury and civil rights attorney representing the students. Before the students could complain, he said, police charged them with crimes. “The charge itself would insulate the administration from wrongdoing,” he said, “or at least they believed the charge would insulate the administration from wrongdoing.”

    The lawsuit laid out each of the alleged incidents in grim detail. In 2015, a school resource officer allegedly placed a 15-year-old student in a chokehold, dragged him down a hallway by his neck, and slammed his face into the floor. As a principal held the student to the floor, the officer shocked him with a Taser at least three times, the suit said. In 2016, the principal purportedly threatened to punch a 14-year-old student in the face and told the student, “If we went to court, it’s your word versus mine, and mine wins every time.”

    In one 2015 altercation, school resource officers allegedly handcuffed a 16-year-old girl and physically assaulted her. Then, in 2016, private security staff restrained a 13-year-old girl, threw her to the floor, and punched her in the head, according to court papers. In April 2017, an officer allegedly threw a 14-year-old into a wall, threw him onto the ground, and punched him in the face.

    School surveillance cameras captured several of the alleged incidents, as well as other interactions with students who were not plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Hollis publicly released the video footage and an audio clip a student took purportedly showing the principal threatening to punch him. Hollis said the clip empowered students to come forward with their own stories.

    The school leaders and the Churchill Borough Police Department officers involved in the incidents no longer work in the school, Harris said, adding that the situation prompted reforms in the district, which educates roughly 4,000 students.

    He said the district is now implementing a restorative justice approach to discipline, a strategy that relies on mediation and avoids punishments like suspensions or arrests. The police have a more limited role, he said. For the first time, school resource officers received training alongside teachers at the start of the school year. So far this school year, he said, there hasn’t been an incident requiring resource officer intervention.

    Related

    Does **Restorative Justice** Work Better Than Traditional School Discipline?

    “In years past, the police officers patrolled the hallways and dealt out discipline. Well, now it’s back to the principal and his staff to do that,” he said. “If a student says something that’s inappropriate, they get sent to the principal’s office. They’re not reporting to a judge [and] paying a fine, which was occurring in the past.”

    Post-Parkland Push for Police

    The court settlement comes amid a push for more school resource officers following school shootings this year in Parkland and Santa Fe. The role a former school resource officer in Parkland played in failing to confront the gunman has not curbed enthusiasm for hiring more school-based police and other efforts to “harden” campuses.

    Related

    Inside the $3 Billion School Security Industry: Companies Market Sophisticated Technology to ‘Harden’ Campuses, but Will It Make Us Safe?

    The Federal Commission on School Safety, which President Donald Trump created after the Parkland shooting, has discussed the role of school resource officers in stopping active shooters. Earlier this month, Trump praised a school police officer who confronted an armed man at an Illinois high school and likely helped avert tragedy. In Florida, a post-Parkland law requires that a school resource officer or armed guard be stationed at every school statewide — a mandate schools struggled to meet as classes kicked off this fall.

    Harris, the Woodland Hills superintendent, said he does support “a small police presence” to secure the campus should it come under attack. But he said school police should build relationships with educators and students rather than roaming the halls in search of misbehavior. Hollis, the attorney representing the five plaintiffs, offered a similar sentiment, noting that school officials should refrain from calling police in situations that do not present imminent danger.

    “There are outside threats to the school, and to the extent that those outside threats become present in your school, I certainly would want a police officer there,” Hollis said. “I do have a problem with untrained police officers who are given a free rein to use their powers in ways that were never intended.”

    As The 74 explored in 2015, most states — including Pennsylvania — do not have laws requiring school resource officers to receive training on how to work with children.

    Related

    Armed But Untrained: Why So Many School Cops Are Unprepared for the Classroom

    Some civil rights groups, however, decry the use of sworn police in schools, fearful of situations like the one that unfolded at Woodland Hills. The groups include the Advancement Project, which argues in a recent report that police should be removed from schools and called to campus only if necessary. School shootings have long driven decisions to increase police presence in schools, but the Advancement Project argues that these efforts have not improved school safety for students of color.

    Harold Jordan, a senior policy advocate at the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, takes a similar stance. Although he said he isn’t an “absolutist” and recognizes the necessity of police in some circumstances, he said the push to increase full-time school resource officers has gone too far. Jordan recently met with school leaders in Woodland Hills and provided advice on how the district can reform its school resource officer program.

    Jordan challenged the belief that increasing school-based police will deter school shootings, saying that proliferation will instead contribute to student arrests for infractions that school officials could have handled themselves, disproportionately affecting students of color.

    But the settlement in suburban Pennsylvania offers a new message to school administrators, Jordan said: “It says to school districts they really do have to take responsibility for the behavior of security staff and their own staff in schools and the way they interact with young people.”

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • 1 Killed, 1 Injured in Shooting in Nashville High School Parking Lot; At Least 45 Killed and 87 Injured by Guns at Schools So Far This Year

    By Mark Keierleber | October 15, 2018

    The 74 will be tracking gun-related injuries and deaths at schools throughout 2018. Bookmark this page for the latest reports, or sign up to receive updates straight to your inbox via The 74 Newsletter.

    One man was killed and another was injured late Sunday after being shot in a Nashville high school parking lot.

    The shooting outside McGavock High School reportedly unfolded at about 9 p.m. One victim was transported to a local hospital where he died, and the second refused medical attention. The injured victim told authorities they were parked in the lot when another car pulled up and began shooting at them. A suspect has not been identified.

    In 2018, at least 45 people have been killed and 87 have been injured due to shootings on school property. 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 info@the74million.org, 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.

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • EduClips: School News You Missed This Week From America’s 15 Biggest Districts, Including Rethinking Punishment for Bullying & Sexual Harassment

    By Andrew Brownstein | October 12, 2018

    EduClips is a roundup of the week’s top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the week’s school and policy highlights delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    BROWARD COUNTY — POST-PARKLAND, REPORT URGES FORT LAUDERDALE SCHOOLS TO SPEND $200 MILLION ON MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS: Broward County officials said they were unsure if they could afford the $202 million recommended by a report to provide for mental health professionals for students and families. Mental health has been a major focus of the district since February’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “I don’t think we’ll get $200 million unless we hit the Powerball,” board chairwoman Nora Rupert said. “But we’ll make a dent in it.” (Read at the Sun-Sentinel)

    FAIRFAX COUNTY — STUDENT ACCUSED OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT SUES DISTRICT FOR DISCRIMINATION: A high school student and his father are suing the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools in federal court, alleging the school system punished the boy unfairly for sexual misconduct because of his gender. According to the suit, three girls “colluded” to accuse the 16-year-old at Lake Braddock Secondary School of inappropriately touching them and making sexually explicit comments and gestures. In court papers, the boy and his father said the district “treats male students accused of sexual misconduct by female students more aggressively than it otherwise would” in order to “be perceived as aggressively addressing the perceptions that sexual assault against female students is rampant on campuses.” A spokesman for the district declined to comment on the case. (Read at The Washington Post)

    PUERTO RICO — LONG AFTER HURRICANE, ISLAND’S STUDENTS GRAPPLE WITH TRAUMA: Puerto Rico’s students are still wrestling with psychological trauma from Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. Joy Lynn Suárez-Kindy, a clinical psychologist who’s consulting with the island’s education department on mental health issues, examined responses from 64,000 students. Among the findings: Seven percent of students indicated they had “clinically significant symptoms” of post-traumatic stress disorder; eight percent said they had “clinically significant symptoms” of depression; and nine percent indicated they were at “high risk” of developing mental health disorders. (Read at Politics K-12)

    MIAMI-DADE — ‘THE OPIOID CRISIS IS REAL’ AND NEAR MIAMI’S SCHOOLS: Miami parents are up in arms due to sex and drug use at homeless encampments near five area schools. Officials are conducting a public health investigation into the spread of HIV and hepatitis at one site, where parents reported seeing several discarded drug needles. “I don’t recall in this area ever dealing with a situation like this,” said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “It’s not surprising. All of the sudden the opioid crisis is real and it is not a crisis that’s touching just rural or urban America. It’s pretty universal and ubiquitous. And I think it’s encroaching upon areas where kids services are provided, like schools.” (Read at the Miami Herald)

    PHILADELPHIA — AS STATE CONTRIBUTIONS FOR SPECIAL ED COSTS FAIL TO KEEP PACE, SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE PICKING UP THE TAB: Special education costs are far outpacing the state’s contribution to those expenses, according to a report by the Education Law Center and PA Schools Work. The result is that school districts are picking up bigger shares of the tabs. State aid for special education increased by $72 million between 2008 and 2016, but district special education costs grew by $1.54 billion, the report said. The report comes amid an ongoing lawsuit, partly brought by the center, that alleges the state’s funding formula is inadequate and discriminates against children in poorer communities. (Read at the Philadelphia Inquirer)

    HAWAII — STATE PROPOSES HARSHER PENALTIES FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT, BULLYING: The Hawaii Department of Education is hoping to create a new offense of sexual harassment and to increase the offense classification for bullying as part of a series of changes to its misconduct and discipline policy. Under the proposed changes, bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment would be upgraded to the most serious offense classification for intermediate and high school students. For the first time, the rule changes also would acknowledge sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in protections against bullying and harassment. The state Board of Education voted unanimously to send the proposed revisions to public hearings. (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    NEW YORK CITY — CHANCELLOR CARRANZA, MAYOR DE BLASIO DIFFER ON CHANGES TO CITY’S ELITE SCHOOLS: New York City schools chancellor Richard Carranza said that the education department could “probably” change the admissions requirements at five of the city’s eight specialized high schools immediately, putting him at odds with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who holds that such a move could put the district in legal jeopardy. Carranza told the audience at a Hispanic Education Summit that the city could likely change the admissions requirements at those five schools, which weren’t named in the 1971 state law creating the enrollment process at the elite schools. But he suggested he would not push for those changes after the schools’ principals advised him against it. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CHICAGO — SEX ABUSE SCANDAL AT CITY’S SCHOOLS COSTS DISTRICT $4 MILLION FEDERAL GRANT: The fallout from Chicago Public Schools’ sexual abuse scandal continues. Now, the U.S. Department of Education has denied the district a $4 million federal grant because it failed to demonstrate that it is sufficiently addressing complaints of sexual violence. The department informed district officials last month that it had suspended this year’s installment of the Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant. Earlier this year, the department’s office for civil rights said the district had committed “serious and pervasive” violations of Title IX, the federal law designed to protect students from abuse, harassment, and gender-based discrimination. (Read at Education Week)

    Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

    TEACHER DIVERSITY – Brown: Want to Close the Opportunity Gap? Start by Fixing the Diversity Gap Between Students of Color and Their Majority-White Teachers (Read at The74Million.org)

    TEENAGERS – The Teen Brain: How Schools Can Help Students Manage Emotions and Make Better Decisions (Read at Education Week)

    #METOO – Even in #MeToo era, educators still aren’t sharing their stories (Read at Education Dive)

    COMPETENCY-BASED EDUCATION – Is Competency-Based Education Just a Recycled Failed Policy? (Read at Forbes)

    Quotes of the Week

    “I don’t think we’ll get $200 million unless we hit the Powerball.” —Broward County school board chairwoman Nora Rupert, on the funding a report recommended for mental health professionals to treat students and families after the Feb. 14 shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Read at the Sun-Sentinel)

    “At a divisive time in the history of the country, we have to make sure we’re giving kids a chance to think for themselves.” —Chris Gubbrud, who teaches sixth-grade social studies in South Dakota’s Mitchell School District, on using class time to discuss the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “These findings are just awful for anyone who wants a future. It’s worse than a criminal conviction, or just as bad.” —Jesse Binnall, attorney for a student and his father suing the Fairfax County, Virginia, school district, saying the boy was unfairly punished for sexual misconduct because of his gender. The boy and his father say media reports that “suggest the pervasive nature of sexual assault committed by male students” influenced the district. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “Particularly after 2016, it’s clear that our country is much more vulnerable to a demagogue who vilifies minorities when schools are racially segregated. When white students know few Mexican-American classmates or Muslim classmates, it’s much easier for someone to suggest that those groups are causing all your problems.” —Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, on the importance of integrating schools. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “I was shocked. I didn’t realize this was going to be a race about money.” —Emily Gasoi, a candidate for the Ward 1 State Board of Education seat in Washington, D.C., whose opponent raised nearly $60,000 as of August. More than $150,000 and counting has poured this year into races for the board seats, relatively obscure positions that wield little power in the District. (Read at The Washington Post)

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

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • Injuries Reported Following Shootings in Alaska, Tennessee School Parking Lots; At Least 44 Killed and 86 Injured by Guns at Schools So Far This Year

    By Mark Keierleber | October 10, 2018

    The 74 will be tracking gun-related injuries and deaths at schools throughout 2018. Bookmark this page for the latest reports, or sign up to receive updates straight to your inbox via The 74 Newsletter.

    Authorities say two people were injured Friday evening in a shooting that unfolded in a Tennessee high school stadium parking lot after a football game, one of two shooting incidents at schools reported last week.

    The Tennessee shooting occurred after a fight broke out outside the stadium at Haywood High School in Brownsville.

    A 16-year-old teen was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment. One victim was reportedly shot in the back, and a second was shot in the foot. Both have since been released from the hospital.

    Meanwhile, police in Alaska arrested a 26-year-old man last week following a shooting that reportedly unfolded in an elementary school parking lot in Anchorage and left one man injured. The shooting outside Denali Montessori Elementary School at about 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 3 reportedly unfolded after the suspect dropped a student off at the school.

    Police called the incident a “domestic dispute” and said the school was not a target. The suspect was charged with assault and misconduct involving a weapon.

    In 2018, at least 44 people have been killed and 86 have been injured due to shootings on school property. 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 info@the74million.org, 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.

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • Study: One-Fifth of States Fail to Either Collect or Publicize Racial Data on Teachers, Despite Yawning Diversity Gap

    By Taylor Swaak | October 9, 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.

    As the country grapples with a teacher workforce that looks less and less like its students, a new report has found roughly 1 in 5 states are failing to either collect teacher diversity data or make it publicly available.

    A September report from the Albert Shanker Institute revealed that six states — Alabama, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia — do not collect any district- or school-level data on K-12 public schoolteachers’ race and ethnicity. The remaining 44 states and D.C. are a spread: 21 post their school- or district-level data online; others require requests before providing the data, charge fees to disclose the information, or keep it private.

    The report is “shining a light on where [data collection] is happening and giving credit where credit is due,” said Matthew Di Carlo, a senior research fellow at the institute who co-authored the report with former fellow Klarissa Cervantes. “But it’s [also] to certainly shine a light on states where it’s not happening, and to try and push them along to doing the right thing.”

    The current racial diversity gap between U.S. students and educators is yawning. About 80 percent of teachers are white, and the vast majority are women. Meanwhile, as of the 2014-15 school year, the majority of students were minorities, according to National Center for Education Statistics predictions. While every state except Mississippi and Washington, D.C., saw their white student populations decline between 2003-04 and 2013-14, the black student population remained relatively stable. The Hispanic population jumped nearly 6 percent.

    The gap, often caused by factors such as hiring bias and lower retention rates, looms as most research shows that minority students — notably black students — perform better academically when paired with a same-race teacher. (There are currently not enough data to discern the effects of same-race teachers on Hispanic students.)

    Related

    The State of America’s Student-Teacher Racial Gap: Our Public School System Has Been Majority-Minority for Years, but 80 Percent of Teachers Are Still White

    One study, for example, found that having just one black teacher in third, fourth or fifth grade lowered black students’ dropout rate by nearly a third. Research also indicates black teachers are less likely to suspend or expel black students, and have higher expectations of them than white educators.

    An integral part of narrowing this teacher diversity gap is tracking granular, school-level data, Di Carlo said. This is because the scope of the problem “can vary a great deal” from school to school.

    Especially with larger districts, “if you’re hiring teachers and you need to diversify your teacher workforce, you want to be putting those teachers — if you can — where they could improve the diversity” of certain schools, he said.

    Related

    Why Diversity Matters: Five Things We Know About How Black Students Benefit From Having Black Teachers

    Publicizing the data can also help parents make informed decisions about where to send their kids, he added. Seventeen states offer school-level teacher diversity data via their state education agency websites, while 18 of them (including D.C.) make the data available by request. Three states — Kansas, Mississippi, and South Dakota — charge a fee.

    Parents might “think it’s important to have a diverse teaching force, and might choose schools or districts [for their kids] based on that,” Di Carlo said.

    On top of urging all states to provide public, school- and district-level data, the report called on the federal Office for Civil Rights to incorporate teacher diversity reporting into its Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The CRDC already mandates that states submit school- and district-level data on teachers’ certifications and years of experience.

    “The purpose of the Civil Rights Data Collection is to provide data relevant to providing equal educational opportunity to students,” the report read. “… Central, nationwide collection and promulgation of [teacher diversity] data is the best way to ensure comprehensive availability to the public.”

    An OCR spokesman reached by The 74 did not provide comment.

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • A Teacher Asked Twitter How to Explain the Kavanaugh Saga to Students. Thousands — Including Fellow Educators — Responded

    By Taylor Swaak | October 9, 2018

    A teacher seeking advice on how to broach Brett Kavanaugh’s contentious U.S. Supreme Court confirmation with his students sparked thousands of responses from fellow educators and observers on Twitter this past week.

    Teacher Nick Ponticello had been searching for the best way to facilitate classroom discussion on what he considers a “big moment” in American history: the nomination and appointment of President Trump’s newest associate justice — accused in mid-September of sexually assaulting a woman in high school — and the seething partisan battle that emerged, epitomizing the nation’s gaping political divide. The Senate narrowly confirmed Kavanaugh 50-48 on Saturday as throngs of protesters rallied outside the Capitol.

    “I really feel that civics is the No. 1 most important thing we can teach our students,” Ponticello, who teaches high school math in the Los Angeles area, told The 74. “You can’t just bury your head in the sand just because you’re a math teacher. It’s your job because you’re the adult in the room.”

    But moderating talks on such a heated and complex topic is “tricky,” he said — especially when educators are expected to keep their biases at bay in the classroom. So he posted two tweets asking the Twitterverse for guidance: one on Sept. 29, two days after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh’s hearings, and another on Saturday, after the deciding vote.

    In the posts, he makes no secret of his own stance, asking if he should tell students “that this country doesn’t take sexual assault seriously? Do I tell them that truth and integrity don’t matter?” Ponticello identifies himself as an “educator” on Twitter.

    Together, the two tweets racked up more than 8,500 comments, 13,000 retweets, and 45,000 likes as of Tuesday afternoon. Feedback largely focused on teaching children about civic duty and encouraging them to vote. Other suggestions included holding a mock election, letting students lead discussions, and publicizing available resources for those who are struggling.

    Ponticello had already carved out class time in late September to moderate student discussion on Kavanaugh’s looming confirmation, and he had put the curriculum on hold Sept. 28 to stream the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting that spurred the reopening of the FBI’s background investigation. But the responses to his tweet generated some new ideas, too.

    “A piece of advice that struck me was to tell them they can still volunteer” if they’re too young to vote, Ponticello said. “I had never really thought about that. … So it occurred to me that I could encourage students who are very concerned to volunteer for the causes that they care about.”

    The responses often mirrored the split in public sentiment during the Kavanaugh saga.

    Sylvia Chan-Malik, associate professor of American and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, commiserated with Ponticello when she read his Oct. 6 tweet. She remembered being “scared” to face her students the morning after Trump won the 2016 presidential election.

    Many of them were puffy-eyed from crying and “looked like they hadn’t slept,” she recalled. She’d immediately sat them in a circle to talk. “After that experience, I said, ‘I have to figure out what to say.’ You can’t teach a whole room in despair.”

    What Chan-Malik found helpful then and now is to remind students of other times Americans have persevered through moments of crisis.

    “One mentor told me, ‘I lived through the ’60s, and within the span of four or five years we saw every single leader who we had our hopes and dreamed pinned on assassinated,'” she said, mentioning Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy. “‘But we lived through that. And we’re going to get through now.'”

    Chan-Malik sees this resilient spirit in her students. The overwhelming mood on Monday, the first day back at school after Kavanaugh’s confirmation, was “frustrated” and “annoyed,” she said. But her students “want to be activists. They are ready to go.”

    Related

    ‘There Is an Open Question’: Four Religious School Choice Cases That Could Face SCOTUS and Kavanaugh

    The conversation has been a little different for Chris Gubbrud, who teaches sixth grade social studies in South Dakota’s Mitchell School District. The students are a bit young, he said, to delve into topics such as sexual assault allegations — though he noted he and his class have talked about “how much past mistakes could potentially impact your life, and to be careful about the choices you make.” But he is using this moment to teach related topics, such as the importance of staying informed on current events and reading multiple news sources.

    “A lot of middle school kids are on social media, and they see all kinds of content,” he said. “And a role of the teacher, regardless of what you teach, is to show kids, ‘How can we determine where this came from? And how can we determine whether that’s a reliable source or not?’”

    Gubbrud emphasized in his tweet to Ponticello that regardless of the lesson, it’s never teachers’ job to inject their own opinion or draw conclusions for students.

    “At a divisive time in the history of the country, we have to make sure we’re giving kids a chance to think for themselves,” he said.

    See more replies to Ponticello’s tweets here:

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter



  • Small Charter Schools Among Big Winners in Nearly $400 Million in New Ed Dept Grants

    By Carolyn Phenicie | October 4, 2018

    The Education Department has awarded nearly $400 million in grants to help start, expand, and finance new charter schools.

    “These grants are essential to help new public charter schools open and to replicate high-performing schools that are serving kids well,” Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said in a release.

    Though last year’s winners included a who’s who of big-name charter school organizations like Success Academies and IDEA Public Schools, the 32 school grantees this year are smaller, like the York Academy Regional Charter School Program in York, Pennsylvania, which is expanding to a full K-12 school with an International Baccalaureate program. The grantees won a total of $29.5 million to be given over up to five years.

    State winners included the departments of education in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Michigan, New York, and North Carolina, and Bluum, Inc., which leads a statewide consortium to foster expansion of charter schools in Idaho. They’ll share $313.4 million over five years.

    Four winners, in New York City; Durham, North Carolina; and Columbia, Maryland, won $39.9 million in total grants to help charter schools address the costs of facilities construction and renovation by enhancing the availability of loans and bonds.

    Eight organizations, including the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, won $16.2 million in funding to share best practices.

    The federal charter school grant program has seen some of the biggest funding increases of any federal Education Department grant in recent years. Congress allotted $440 million, a 10 percent increase, for fiscal 2019. President Trump signed the bill, the first full-year funding the Education Department has seen in a decade, last week.

    Related

    5 Things to Know About the Education Funding Compromise Moving Through Congress

    Disclosure: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, and William E. Simon Foundation provide financial support to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and The 74.



Load More