November 2018
  • Segregated Classrooms in Segregated Neighborhoods: New Report Argues That Efforts to Integrate Schools Must Also Address Our Divided Cities

    By Mark Keierleber | November 30, 2018

    Springfield, Illinois, is like a lot of places in America: Its neighborhoods are highly segregated by race, with minority residents predominantly clustered downtown and most whites residing along the city’s outskirts.

    Something interesting is happening, however, in Springfield’s schools.

    While schools in most cities are slightly more segregated than their neighborhoods on average, the opposite is true in Springfield. The difference comes down to the way the city drew its school attendance boundaries, according to a new report by the Urban Institute, a left-leaning think tank. Rather than follow the city’s segregated housing patterns, Springfield purposely set out to create more diverse schools.

    In some cities, like Springfield, policies chip away at racial segregation inside schools — while those in other cities exacerbate it. Since most children attend campuses close to home, the prevalence of segregation in schools correlates highly with the racial composition of nearby neighborhoods. In fact, Urban estimates that 76 percent of the variation in school segregation between schools can be attributed to housing.

    And although district policies that encourage integration are helpful, something more radical must be done to eliminate school segregation outright, argues Tomas Monarrez, an Urban research associate and author of the report.

    “If you really want to destroy segregation — get rid of it and completely fix this problem — the only way to do that is to completely fix the problem of residential segregation,” he told The 74.

    America has a long and fraught history when it comes to both residential and school segregation. More than 60 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which found intentional school segregation unconstitutional, America’s schools remain sharply divided along racial lines. Another recent report, in the Peabody Journal of Education, found that America’s largest cities have become more integrated in recent years even as schools have become more segregated.

    Meanwhile, a growing body of research has pointed to integration as an effective strategy to improve the educational outcomes among children of color.

    In the Urban report, Monarrez compares federal school enrollment data from 2015-16 against the demographics of America’s 316 metropolitan statistical areas as defined by the Census Bureau. (Click here for the interactive chart)

    This chart shows the relationship between residential and school segregation across American cities. (Click here to see an interactive version and to find your own hometown)

    Cities’ school segregation tracks closely to the racial composition of their neighborhoods. Beyond housing, other factors contributing to school segregation include school assignment policies and the choices parents make about their kids.

    In the 1970s, Springfield faced a federal school segregation lawsuit that resulted in a mandated desegregation order. Under that plan, Springfield began redrawing school boundaries every several years as neighborhood demographics changed.

    In another report published earlier this year, Monarrez found that while districts can draw school assignment zones to create more racially integrated school systems, few choose to do so.

    The link between neighborhood and school segregation “is always going to be there” since people don’t want to endure long commutes to school, he said. “However, these local governments have a little bit of leeway in how they tip the scale” toward integration.

    Most students are assigned to schools based on where they live. However, that strategy has been disrupted by the emergence of school choice. School choice has alleviated segregation in some cities, according to the Urban report, and exacerbated it in others. Monarrez is currently working on a study that focuses specifically on charter schools, one form of school choice, and their effects on segregation.

    One example is Newark, New Jersey. While the city’s neighborhoods are among the nation’s most segregated, its schools are even worse. But the introduction of charter schools and universal school choice may be mitigating segregation, according to the report. In San Francisco, however, it appears school choice made segregation worse. Since the district got rid of a school assignment process that considered students’ socioeconomics and academic achievement in favor of a system that prioritizes parental choice and school attendance boundaries, school segregation has increased.

    Adjusting school assignment zones and other education reforms could be promising strategies to increase integration, but Monarrez said the best approach — albeit a controversial one — could be found in America’s neighborhoods.

    “If we really want to end school segregation — which we probably do want to do — we’re going to have to address the problem of neighborhood segregation, and that’s going to get us into these hairier topics about gentrification and housing costs and the willingness of people to interact with each other when there are fundamental differences between them,” Monarrez said.

    Disclosure: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation provide financial support to the Urban Institute and The 74.


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  • Raw Video: Alaskan Students Take to Social Media to Share Real-Time Footage of Friday’s Terrifying 7.0 Earthquake

    By Laura Fay | November 30, 2018

    As a 7.0 earthquake rolled across Alaska on Friday, students cowered under desks and took to social media to share their experiences in real time.

    Alyson Petrie of Colony High School posted a video to Twitter while she and her classmates took cover under tables in an art classroom. At least eight aftershocks followed the initial quake, one as strong as 5.7, CNN reported. The quake hit around 8:30 a.m. local time near Anchorage.

    Some students surfaced fears about whether a tsunami could be coming. A tsunami warning was briefly in effect but was later canceled.

    Petrie’s school posted a message on its website alerting parents that they could pick up students “whenever possible” but that students were “otherwise warm and safe.”

    Here’s what it looked like inside some schools during the quake.

    Another student who appeared to be standing outside his school during the earthquake posted an image of the damage, saying the quake “straight cracked my school in half.”

    Teachers and parents also shared updates as the morning unfolded.

    The Anchorage school district instructed parents to pick up their children when they felt it was safe to do so. Some students were evacuated to other schools to wait for their parents.

    Dramatic images also showed roads torn apart as well as homes and workplaces thrown into chaos.

    No injuries or deaths have been reported, but the earthquake did damage many buildings and other infrastructure, according to local media reports. Alaska governor Bill Walker has declared a state of emergency.

    Almost exactly 24 hours earlier, another earthquake struck the Pacific rim of the U.S., this time at the furthest point south. Thursday’s 3.9-magnitude quake near San Diego was felt as far as Mexicali, Mexico, but no injuries or damage were reported.


    Ghost Trees & ‘The Big One’: How to Teach Students About Major 9.0 Earthquake Due Right in Their Own Backyard

  • Goldberg: Schools Need to Embrace a Civic Education That Values Patriotism Over Victimhood

    By Kevin Mahnken | November 28, 2018

    Schools need to be giving kids a stiffer dose of civic education, informed by a sense of patriotism and gratitude for the American way of life — that’s the message conservative author Jonah Goldberg delivered to an education-focused audience at Washington, D.C.’s Hoover Institution on Wednesday. The talk touched on politics and national identity in Trump’s America.

    A senior editor at the National Review and holder of the Asness Chair of Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute, Goldberg spoke at the invitation of the right-leaning Fordham Institute as part of its Education 20/20 lecture series. Fordham President Michael Petrilli introduced him and later moderated a question-and-answer session.

    The talk echoed some of the themes of Goldberg’s recent best seller, The Suicide of the West. In the book, he argues that Americans’ love of their national values and institutions has been undermined by a focus in media and academia on historical crimes like slavery. Stripped of its potency, the American myth has given way to a racial populism that led to the rise of President Trump, he writes.

    In the Hoover Institution speech, he reiterated the assertion.

    “A civilization is really nothing more than the story we tell ourselves about ourselves,” he said. “It’s a narrative. And when you don’t tell the story the right way, or you don’t tell the story at all, or you rewrite the story, you get consequences from that.”

    While Goldberg was quick to acknowledge the importance of teaching America’s past mistakes — what he referred to as “Zinnian history,” referring to leftist historian Howard Zinn — he added that they ought to be delivered in a context that foregrounds American values like freedom and equality.

    As an example, Goldberg cited the foundational promises of the Declaration of Independence, which he called a “time bomb in the story of America.” Though Thomas Jefferson’s invocation of universal equality was incomplete at the time of the nation’s founding, he said, it later formed the basis of the emancipation of slaves and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address — though he drew some laughs by stumbling on an exact recitation of the speech’s famous opening passage.

    “‘Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers came forth on this nation to give birth to a new idea that we are all endowed,’” he misremembered, before running out of steam. “I can’t quote the Gettysburg Address off the top of my head.”

    While he said he was sympathetic to the principle of school choice, Goldberg lamented that greater options were no panacea for the lack of patriotic education. In fact, he said, pricey private schools in the Washington, D.C., suburbs where he lives are among the worst offenders when it comes to emphasizing victimization in America’s past.

    “I have school choice,” he said. “And any elite school in the Washington, D.C., area would largely subscribe to these kinds of [unflattering] ideas about America. Some are better than others, but none have remotely a truly patriotic understanding of American history.”

    Disclosure: Kevin Mahnken was an editorial associate at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute from 2014 to 2016.


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  • Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Pledges $1 Million to Train Teachers About Neuroscience

    By Kevin Mahnken | November 28, 2018

    The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), one of the biggest players in education philanthropy, has announced a major new financial commitment to the study of how students learn.

    The organization, led by billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, will spend $1 million to aid the expansion of Neuroteach Global, a professional development tool for teachers. The online platform dispenses 3-to-5-minute lessons on classroom strategies backed by the latest research on neuroscience and psychology. The grant will fund the adoption of Neuroteach by teachers in Iowa, Colorado, and Maryland.

    Neuroteach was developed by the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning, a research group based at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland. The exclusive academy, where high school tuition runs nearly $42,000 per year, is unique in more than just its cost. It is the only school in America hosting an on-site scientific body to study how its pupils learn and reason. Its most famous charge is none other than First Kid Barron Trump.


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

    In an interview with The 74’s Carolyn Phenicie earlier this year, Center director Glenn Whitman said that studying the human brain’s acquisition of knowledge would benefit teachers and students everywhere.

    “If we were just serving private schools, it wouldn’t be worth our time,” he said. “Yes, our students are excellently served and our faculty is really enriched and challenged, but we feel strongly … that we have to have a strong public purpose to serve teachers in all sectors.”

    In just a few years of existence, CZI says it has donated more than $300 million to schools and education programs around the country. That includes $7 million each given to the Learning Policy Institute and Turnaround for Children, which are both active in spreading awareness about brain science and its implications for education policy and practice.

    Many experts believe that schools base their instruction on the latest scientific research into brain functions such as memory and metacognition. While psychologists are fluent in such concepts, teachers seldom receive any formal training relating to neuroscience. To the contrary, research shows that many laymen tend to put stock in spurious or outmoded ideas of how children learn, which can give rise to questionable classroom practices.


    The 74 Interview: Ulrich Boser on Understanding the Science of Learning

    Noted University of Virginia academic Dan Willingham recently called for wholesale reforms to teacher training programs to integrate more lessons from child psychology, while Center for American Progress education fellow Ulrich Boser has lamented the disconnect between the fields.

    “I think at a very high level, education does a great job of siloing,” Boser said in an interview with The 74 last year. “So we see this in schools, where the finance department tends not to speak to the academic departments, and I think we see this a lot in education schools.”


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  • Monthly QuotED: 9 Notable Quotes That Made Education Headlines in November, From Bullying to School Choice — and a Small Victory for History in Texas

    By Andrew Brownstein | November 28, 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.

    “How can you fight hate?” —prompt that social studies teacher Amy Rose put on the “graffiti board” in her classroom at Paint Branch High School in Maryland, days after a gunman killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. (Read at The Washington Post)

    Justin Merriman/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

    “You’re also reaching a point in policing where you can’t ignore these things anymore, or in education where you can’t ignore these things anymore.” —Nadine Connell, director of the Center for Crime and Justice Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, on new Federal Bureau of Investigation data showing that reported hate crimes at K-12 schools and colleges surged by 25 percent last year. (Read at

    “No matter how hostile some of the cities get to charters, the charters have endured.” —Jeanne Allen, chief executive of the Center for Education Reform, on New York state elections that could signal a retreat on a commitment to charter schools. (Read at The New York Times)

    “Our ultimate goal is that when teachers and administrators are making a decision that impacts students, they should be asking students. Students are the experts. They have been in school most of their lives, they have a lot to say, and we need to listen.” —Cristina Salgado, the student voice specialist for Chicago Public Schools’ Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement, on Chicago’s student voice committees. (Read at

    Students from last year’s Student Voice Committee at Mather High School pose for a photo, including (standing from left) Anna Morys, Minaz Khatoon, Rohit Khanal, and their adviser, Ryan Solan. (Chicago Public Schools)

    “No matter what the state does and what people do, you’re always going to have a bottom 5 percent that will be lowest-performing.” —Anthony McConnell, school superintendent in Deerfield, Illinois, on the state’s new rating system for schools. (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    “Now what we have is a whole bunch of folks who made promises [to support schools]. Some of them were real promises, and some were big fat liars. What we’re going to do is keep score.” —Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. (Read at The New York Times)

    “We take a great risk by putting the kind of emphasis we do on college as the goal. I know people will say we want ‘career and college readiness’ and not just ‘college,’ but I don’t think it translates that way to a student in high school.” —Harry Brighouse, a philosopher of education at the University of Wisconsin. (Read at

    “This sends a vital message home to school districts. It’s clear under state law now: This is not OK.” —Lizzy Wingfield, a lawyer with the Philadelphia-based Education Law Center, on a ruling from Philadelphia Common Pleas Court that ordered the Philadelphia School District to pay $500,000 in damages to a student who said she was persistently bullied for over a decade. This marks the first time a court has held a Pennsylvania school district liable for student-on-student harassment under the state’s Human Relations Act. (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    President Lincoln meets with soldiers and military officers of the Union Army on the battlefield of Antietam, Maryland, in October 1862. (Corbis via Getty Images)

    “The lies they’re telling are a little smaller than the lies they used to tell.” —Ron Francis, a Dallas middle school teacher, on the Texas Board of Education’s decision to highlight the “expansion of slavery” as having played “the central role” in sparking the Civil War. Previously, state education standards listed the factor among others, including sectionalism and “states’ rights.” (Read at Huffington Post)

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


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  • ‘Gritty’ Kids Vote More: What the Research Shows About How Schools Build Citizens

    By Kevin Mahnken | November 25, 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.

    “Gritty” students have the makings of great citizens, according to new research published in the British Journal of Political Science. In a survey of North Carolina middle and high schoolers, kids who showed signs of tenacity and self-belief also described themselves as being more involved in their schools and communities, and they were more likely to say they intended to vote.

    Following a midterm election cycle in which less than half of all eligible voters cast a ballot — a paltry number that nevertheless represents a 50-year high — the results suggest that schools have the power to shift more students toward energetic democratic participation.

    Published in October, the study was originally conducted in 2015 and 2016 by Christina Gibson-Davis and D. Sunshine Hillygus, professors of public policy at Duke, and Brigham Young University political scientist John Holbein. The researchers partnered with the Wake County Public School System, the largest school district in North Carolina, to administer a wide-ranging survey to tens of thousands students in grades five, eight, and nine.

    The survey asked students to rate themselves on measures of “grit” — the vaunted non-cognitive trait that helps people work toward long-term goals in the face of obstacles. Popularized by social scientist Angela Duckworth in a best-selling book of the same name, grit is often described as a mix of skills and attitudes that often predict individual success. These include self-efficacy (the belief that you have the ability to meet your goals), systematic thinking (the ability to plan around setbacks), and effortfulness (the willingness to work hard over long periods).


    At ASU-GSV, Angela Duckworth Talks Grit and the Challenges of Building a Movement: ‘Education Is So Hard That It Tests Even My Own Grit’

    The concept has proved influential, and Duckworth, who was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2013, now leads her own organization to research and promote the importance of character building inside and outside the classroom. But other academics have attacked the grit craze, claiming its emphasis on diligence and toil unfairly assumes that underperforming students (often poor and minority children facing a host of learning challenges) simply aren’t trying hard enough.

    To assess their respective levels of grit, the Wake County students were asked to agree or disagree with a set of statements relating to their attention and work ethic (“I am a hard worker”; “I finish whatever I begin”; “Setbacks don’t discourage me”).

    Next, they were asked whether they participated in volunteer work and whether they intended to vote when they were old enough. The survey also quizzed respondents on attitudes about school and their involvement in school activities — whether they enjoyed talking with teachers and fellow students, whether they worked to meet their teachers’ expectations, and whether they believed that classroom learning was important to their future goals.

    In virtually all measures of school and civic engagement, kids who thought of themselves as gritty rated higher. According to administrative data, they were less likely to accrue unexcused absences and tardinesses. They were also more likely to say that they volunteered in their community, more likely to express belief in their political efficacy, and more likely to say that they intended to vote when they grow older. In short, gritty students generally saw themselves as more determined and effective future citizens.

    Survey responses like these are a far cry from the kind of experimental data that social scientists typically use to infer connections between psychological makeup and behavioral tendencies. But in an interview with The 74, co-author John Holbein said that the beliefs expressed in this survey offer a promising window into student behavior and self-conceptions.

    “We know that not everyone who says that they intend to vote will turn out to vote,” he acknowledged. “But there is a strong correlation between individual intention to vote and whether they vote later on. That’s the best we can do right now, and it’s pointing us in the direction of there being long-term effects.”

    Holbein said that studies of political socialization (i.e., how people develop political ideas and attitudes) have ignored childhood and adolescence in favor of a focus on older civic actors. Political scientists have mostly concentrated on adulthood, when people begin voting, buying homes, and having kids of their own, he said. By contrast, psychologists and education researchers have searched for the roots of most adult behaviors, from pregnancies to workforce participation, in the early developmental phases.

    Holbein argues that democratic tendencies are seeded during the K-12 years, when students begin to learn about their relationships to fellow citizens and democratic institutions through the proxies of teachers and classmates. Research has shown that involvement in sports teams, student clubs, and volunteer efforts — even those with no ideological alignment — is predictive of political involvement in the years after high school.

    “This is sort of like a practice run for kids. They’re not joining unions or political parties at this stage of their lives, but they’re getting the dry-run version of that. Maybe they’re joining the Beta Club, or student government, or some other social association that … is helping socialize them to habits and norms and skills they’ll need to engage later on in life. These are like baby forms of civic engagement that mirror later forms.”

    And to the degree that civic engagement is wrapped up in grit, which experts believe can be taught to students from a young age, these studies introduce the tantalizing possibility that schools can begin preparing kids for the responsibilities of citizenship from kindergarten onward.

    American Political Science Review

    In a study Holbein published last year, he traced the voting records of disadvantaged students who were exposed to a program known as Fast Track, which specifically cultivated non-cognitive skills like grit, problem-solving, and emotional regulation. By their 20s, those students were between 7 and 9 percentage points more likely to vote. Fast Track didn’t yield particularly impressive achievement gains, but in a way, that made the civic results more noteworthy: Children became more active citizens even without seeing major academic benefits.

    Holbein and his co-authors intend to track the Wake County survey data to determine whether the grittiest kids develop into the most involved citizens. In the meantime, he says, researchers should look to childhood to chart the origins of democratic thought and action.

    “What my research is suggesting is that a lot of the general skills and attributes that one develops earlier in life might not [immediately] manifest themselves — teenagers don’t generally have the opportunity to vote — but these things do become active when people come of age and have a chance to have their voices heard in politics.”


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  • Victory for Disability Rights Activists as Ed Department Reverses Course on Civil Rights Investigation Rules

    By Mark Keierleber | November 20, 2018

    The Education Department announced Tuesday it has reversed course on controversial changes to its handling of civil rights complaints, including a rule from earlier this year that allowed the agency to dismiss cases it deemed an “unreasonable burden” on resources.

    The changes were made to the agency’s case processing manual, which governs how the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights investigates complaints. The changes announced Tuesday remove March revisions that allowed the division to dismiss allegations it deemed a “continuation of a pattern of complaints” that placed an “unreasonable burden” on resources. The March revisions also eliminated the opportunity to appeal rulings in which investigators found insufficient evidence to determine whether a violation occurred.

    Those changes prompted an outcry from disability rights advocates, including Michigan-based advocate Marcie Lipsitt, who, over the past several years, has filed more than 2,000 civil rights complaints in a crusade to make school and university websites accessible for people with disabilities. About 1,000 of those resulted in resolution agreements, in which institutions committed to make their websites more accessible. Citing the March revisions, the Education Department closed more than 550 pending investigations that stemmed from Lipsitt’s complaints and another 100 complaints that hadn’t yet been accepted.

    The changes also prompted a federal lawsuit by the NAACP and other civil rights organizations, which argued the changes were “arbitrary and capricious” and lacked a legal basis to exclude repeat filers without considering the validity of their complaints.


    A Civil Rights Activist Filed Thousands of Disability Complaints. Now the Education Department Is Trying to Shut Her Down

    “Our top priority in the Office for Civil Rights is ensuring all students have equal access to education free from discrimination,” Kenneth Marcus, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a media release. Marcus said the department will continue to “improve the timeliness” of civil rights case processing and that it “determined that additional revisions will help improve our work and allow us to be more responsive to students, stakeholders and our staff.”

    Although the revisions announced Tuesday restore the appeals process and eliminate the rule against repeat filers, the Education Department retained rules that say officials should investigate schools for systemic issues, such as racial disparities in school discipline, “only where it is appropriate to do so in light of the allegations.”

    Among the organizations that sued the Education Department over the March changes is the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, a disability rights group. In a statement, the group said Tuesday’s announcement from the Education Department indicates that “recent legal action taken against them is working.”


    In Seeking to Decrease ‘Burden’ of Complaints, Education Department is Closing ‘Meritorious’ Civil Rights Cases, Federal Lawsuit Says

    In a court filing Monday, the Education Department noted that it dismissed 682 civil rights complaints filed by five people — including Lipsitt — as a result of the March revisions. Now that those changes have been reversed, the department argued, the lawsuit is moot.

    Eve Hill, a disability rights attorney who represents the plaintiffs, disagreed, even though the department said cases closed under the previous rules will be reopened.

    “You can’t moot something out just by promising,” Hill said. “You actually have to do it or agree to it in a consent decree or a settlement agreement or have the court order you to do it.”

    Lipsitt said she’s “cautiously optimistic” about the new changes but noted that they don’t go far enough. In particular, she said the Education Department revised hundreds of agreements after it changed the rules last spring. Those modified agreements, she said, offer schools “too much wiggle room” on school accessibility. In response to Lipsitt’s complaints, the Education Department held several webinars explaining website accessibility requirements. While those webinars were helpful, Lipsitt said, they don’t hold schools accountable when they fail to make their websites accessible.

    Ahead of Tuesday’s reversal, Lipsitt said she heard the changes were coming and resubmitted four complaints that had been previously dismissed, as well as four new complaints. Two of the dismissed complaints have since been reopened, she said, and none of the complaints have been dismissed. Lipsitt said she believes the administration will reopen investigations that were closed under the previous rules.

    In other words, Lipsitt is back in business.

    “I will continue to file until America recognizes the need to create accessible websites for individuals” with disabilities, she said. “I will continue to do this until children and adults with disabilities are no longer treated like third-class citizens.”


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  • It’s Not Just the Flames, It’s the Air Quality: As a Million Students Are Forced out of Class Due to California Wildfires and Smoke, State Schools Chief OKs Emergency Relief

    By Laura Fay | November 19, 2018

    Hazardous air quality caused by the wildfires still burning in Northern and Southern California have forced schools and universities to close throughout the state, and education officials are stepping in to provide a range of supports as nearly two dozen counties have been affected.

    Dozens of schools across San Francisco and the surrounding areas closed Friday because of unhealthy air caused by the Camp Fire, California’s deadliest fire ever. Others canceled outdoor activities. Many of the schools already planned to close this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, reported, but at least one school district, Albany Unified, reopened Monday.

    The fires have canceled class for as many as 1.1 million K-12 students, according to an analysis by CALmatters, a nonprofit California news website. The state reports that schools have had to close in 22 counties. Colleges and universities have also canceled classes because of air quality concerns.

    At least three school districts in Southern California canceled class last week because of the Woolsey Fire, which is still burning in Ventura County but is expected to be fully contained by Thursday. The half-million students of Los Angeles Unified are on break all Thanksgiving week. Malibu schools will remain closed through Thanksgiving, as the area is still under evacuation orders.

    The Bay Area had some of the world’s most polluted air last week, according to an international ranking of air quality. San Francisco was second on the list Friday morning, behind Dhaka, Bangladesh, with a score of 259, which is considered “very unhealthy.”

    A doctor in the Bay Area told ABC7 News he’s seen twice as many children having trouble breathing, likely caused by smoke blowing into the region from the Camp Fire.

    “When they are running, or laughing, if that’s triggering a cough, I’m immediately worried about their lungs,” pediatrician Kellen Glinder told the station.

    Children are especially vulnerable to harm from wildfire smoke because their airways are still developing and they breathe more air relative to their body weight than adults do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    To guard against the harmful air, the CDC recommend N95 or P100 masks, keeping doors and windows closed, rinsing out the nose and mouth with water, and staying inside buildings with purified air. (KQED has more recommendations for staying safe.)

    However, Sacramento fire departments have stopped handing out the masks, with officials saying they can cause trouble breathing and are only necessary for those who need to work outside for a sustained amount of time. They urged everyone else to stay indoors as much as possible.

    California education officials moved to help schools connect with the resources they need and to protect them from the funding they lose for every day a student is not in school.

    “The state Department of Education has been activated at the State Operations Center of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and is working closely with school leaders in the impacted counties to provide a range of supports,” state Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a statement Thursday.

    “I want to thank school districts for acting to protect educators and students, and to let them know that the California Department of Education will assist them in any way that we can. Safety must come first for students, teachers, and staff,” Torlakson said in a follow-up statement released Friday.

    Schools closed because of the fires can also apply for waivers so that they do not lose state funding based on the lost instructional time or decreased attendance. Torlakson encouraged districts where the air is toxic to continue keeping students indoors when they can.

    The smoke’s origin, the Camp Fire, destroyed more than 10,360 homes in and around Paradise in Butte County. The blaze also ravaged the school district there, leaving just one of Paradise Unified’s nine schools unharmed, EdSource reported.

    Yet while Paradise High School still stands, its future is uncertain, as many of its students and staff are now homeless, scattered wherever they could find housing. Students from the class of 2019 aren’t sure if they’ll be able to graduate. More than 4,200 of the district’s students are now homeless, as are many of their teachers and school board members, according to EdSource.

    Butte County Superintendent Tim Taylor, who oversees Paradise schools, has set up a relief fund that will provide some students in the district with laptops they can use to connect with their teachers and complete assignments. A law known as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires public schools to accept students who are homeless even if they don’t have their school or immunization records or proof of residency.

    Other Butte County districts are expected to reopen Dec. 3.


    In an Era When Hurricanes and Wildfires Are Common, Homelessness Is an ‘Ongoing Disaster’ for Students Across the U.S.

    So far the Camp Fire has killed 77 people, and 933 people are missing, NPR reported Monday. Rain is in the Bay Area forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday, which is expected to clear the air and could help suppress the fire.

    Officials are working to get students in Butte County, where the fire is still burning, back to class. Taylor, the county superintendent, said portable classrooms are a possible solution to replace the damaged schools.

    “We’re not asking for Taj Mahal,” Taylor told the Chico Enterprise-Record. “We’re just asking for a place for kids to have a school.”


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  • After Avalanche of Mail-In and Provisional Ballots Swings Close Race, State Assemblyman Tony Thurmond to Become California’s Next State Superintendent

    By Laura Greanias | November 19, 2018

    Eleven days after the election, Tony Thurmond accepted a concession call from Marshall Tuck and will become California’s state superintendent of public instruction.

    A spokesman for Tuck’s campaign confirmed Sunday that the race was over and that Tuck had conceded Saturday morning in a phone call to Thurmond.

    Thurmond tweeted out his thanks to voters on Saturday and said in a statement, “I intend to be a champion of public schools and a Superintendent for all California students. I ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction to deliver to all Californians the promise that public education delivered to me — that all students, no matter their background and no matter their challenges, can succeed with a great public education.”

    Thurmond, 50, is a state assemblyman and a former social worker and school board member in the San Francisco Bay area. He had the backing of the powerful teachers union and other organized labor groups throughout the state. Every state superintendent in the past 24 years has won with teacher union support.

    Tuck, 45, had an 86,000-vote lead after Election Day, but as provisional and mail-in ballots were counted, that margin evaporated, and Thurmond’s lead is now nearly three times what Tuck’s was. Results will not be official until all votes are counted — about 2 million remain — and are certified in December.

    The 325,000-member California Teachers Association “phone-banked, texted, canvassed and volunteered for candidates like Tony who want quality public schools,” CTA president Eric C. Heins wrote in a news release. “It’s clear that educators played a pivotal role in this election.”

    The state superintendent job lacks partisan affiliation, carries little statutory power, and has not historically set its occupants on a path to higher office. But the record $60 million spent on the race proved it was a sought-after bully pulpit. A win for Tuck would have given education reformers a public counterweight against Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, the new state board of education that he will appoint, and the Democratic majority in the state legislature — all of which were elected with union backing.


    California’s Campaign for State Superintendent Costs More Than Most Senate Races. Here’s Why

    The race centered on California’s debate over school choice, pitting Thurmond against Tuck, who was supported by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates and wealthy reformers. Both are Democrats, oppose for-profit charters, and called for more transparency measures. But Thurmond suggested that a “pause” on new charter schools might be necessary until new revenues are found to offset the dollars that districts lose when their students move to charters. Tuck argued that school districts should not be allowed to reject new charter petitions because of the financial hardship that might result.

    Both candidates also agreed on adding more recognized subgroups of students who are underachieving — such as African Americans — to the state’s Local Control Funding Formula, which provides additional funding for English-learning, low-income, homeless, and foster students. They also agreed on free preschool for all children across the state and additional mental health support for students.

    But Tuck had vowed to fight for changes in how school districts are allowed to spend the extra funding. The current superintendent has said the money can be used for across-the-board raises for teachers. Tuck vowed to end that. Thurmond declined to say if he would continue it, CALmatters reported.

    Bill Lucia, president and CEO of EdVoice, said by email Monday, “We wish Mr. Thurmond nothing but success in delivering on campaign promises made to parents with children being failed by the current system. The first test will be whether he follows through or reneges on the explicit promise to reverse Superintendent Torlakson’s ill-advised decision to redirect funds for across-the-board pay raises from extra help intended for English learners and kids in poverty. Fixing broken California public schools will require tough and unpopular decisions that will likely upset the special interests that funded his campaign. Hopefully, he can find the courage to stand tall and do it.”

    EdVoice is a California education advocacy organization that supported Tuck’s campaign.

    The heated contest featured disputes over negative advertising and became the most expensive race in the nation for a state superintendent — for the second time. Tuck narrowly lost in 2014 to Tom Torlakson, who served two four-year terms and is now termed out. That race cost $30 million. This time, the candidates raked in twice that — more than any House race this cycle and all but a handful of the most expensive Senate races. Tuck took in the lion’s share, outspending Thurmond roughly 2-1.

    Tuck was president of Green Dot Public Schools, a nonprofit charter management organization started in 1999 in Los Angeles, as well as the founding CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a network created a decade ago by former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa after his failed attempt to take over the Los Angeles Unified School District.

    Tuck wrote to his supporters Saturday, “I just spoke with Assemblymember Thurmond and congratulated him on his victory. I offered to help him be successful and wished him the best in his new role. Given it has become clear that we are not going to win this campaign, I felt it was in the best interest of California’s children for me to concede now so that Assemblymember Thurmond has as much time as possible to plan to take over as State Superintendent (all votes will still be counted but conceding allows candidates to move forward).”

    He added, “I recognize that change is very hard and politics, particularly when you lose, can be disheartening. I remind myself that winning the election isn’t the end goal. The end goal is that all children in this state and country, regardless of background, get access to quality public schools. Reaching that goal is going to take a lot of work and absolutely requires us to get over this loss quickly. We must continue to be extremely determined to do our part to help our children.”


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  • EduClips: From Fiscal Anxiety in L.A. to Mysterious Gym Grades in Chicago, Stories You Missed This Month at America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | November 19, 2018

    Before you sit down for turkey and stuffing, take a look at our roundup of the top education news from November. 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.

    New York City — November Elections Could Signal Retreat on Charter Commitment: After a decade when the charter school movement gained a significant foothold in New York, the midterm elections could spell a retreat. Democrats at the forefront of the party’s successful effort to take over the state Senate have repeatedly expressed hostility to the movement. John Liu, a newly elected state senator from Queens, has said New York City should “get rid of” large charter school networks. Robert Jackson, who will represent a Manhattan district, promised during his campaign to support charter schools only if they have unionized teachers. While New York City, the nation’s largest school system, has many excellent charter schools, it seems highly likely that a state legislature entirely under Democratic control will restrict the number of new charter schools that can open and tighten regulations on existing ones. (Read at The New York Times)

    Hillsborough County — More Tampa-Area Students Are Ready for Kindergarten, Test Scores Show: Half of students in the Tampa area were deemed prepared for kindergarten, up from 46 percent last year, after being given the I-Ready kindergarten assessment. “That’s a good jump, because we’ve been flatlining or even dropping a little bit over the last three years,” said Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins. The increase does not factor in the effects of moves taken by the school system this year to expand early childhood education. About 350 additional preschoolers are in schools that have extra space. Kindergarten readiness is considered an important step in the district’s efforts to improve reading proficiency, an area where it has lagged. (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    Los Angeles — County Tells District to Fix “Fiscal Distress” or Face Takeover: The Los Angeles County Office of Education gave the L.A. Unified School District until Dec. 17 to outline how it will reverse its march toward insolvency by cutting costs or finding new revenues. In approving the district’s budget, the county indicated that if it is not satisfied with the plan, it could send in a financial expert to work with the district or install a fiscal adviser — someone who would essentially take over all financial decisions. “LAUSD continues to show signs of fiscal distress,” states a letter from the county to the district. Reserves in the district, the country’s second-largest, are being depleted so quickly that they are projected to drop 90 percent in two years — from $778 million this year to $76.5 million in 2020-21, according to the county. (Read at

    Gwinnett County — In Historic First, Georgia’s Gwinnett County Elects Black School Board Member: Everton “E.J.” Blair Jr., a 26-year-old graduate of Shiloh High School, made history during the November elections, becoming the youngest and the first black member of the school board in Gwinnett County, Georgia. “I’m excited people received my candidacy in a positive way,” he said, as chants of “E.J., E.J.” echoed around him the night of the election. Before his January swearing-in ceremony, Blair said, he will meet with students and teachers throughout the county. “I’m 10 years removed from high school, five years out of college and a few years from teaching,” he said. “As the most current and contemporary member of the school board, I want to share input from my constituents and basically do a lot of listening.” (Read at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    Chicago — New Study Highlights Mysterious Failure Rate of Students in Gym: In Chicago, nearly everyone passes gym in eighth grade. But surprising new research shows that 1 out of 10 Chicago high school freshmen fail physical education. Why does P.E. suddenly become so challenging in ninth grade? For one thing, according to the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research’s Hidden Risk report, the course changes significantly. Many middle schoolers have gym class only one day a week and aren’t required to change clothes; in high school, by contrast, freshmen have gym every day, must bring and change into exercise clothing, and are required to take a health and reproduction class. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Orange County — State’s High Court Hears Suit Brought by Orlando Parents That Takes Aim at Reforms: The Florida Supreme Court has heard arguments in a nine-year-old case that takes aim at many of the education reforms ushered in by former governor Jeb Bush, including two popular school voucher programs. The suit maintains the state is failing to provide a “high-quality” public education to all students, as demanded in Florida’s constitution. The case, Citizens for Strong Schools v. Florida State Board of Education, includes several Orlando-area parents as plaintiffs. During oral arguments, Jodi Siegel, who represents the parents and advocacy groups that sued, told the justices that the lower courts erred in their rulings and that the state has shirked its constitutional duties when “there are substantial amounts of children in our state who are failing.” An attorney for the Institute of Justice, which has litigated school choice cases nationwide, told the justices that there is nothing unconstitutional about the state’s voucher programs. (Read at the Orlando Sentinel)

    Houston — Police Decry Visits of Rapper OMB Bloodbath to Area Schools: Houston police have criticized the visit of a rapper known as OMB Bloodbath, whose lyrics mix graphic descriptions of sex and violence with tales of growing up in Houston’s inner city, to two Houston ISD campuses. Two video clips posted to the Instagram account @ombbloodbath show dozens of children cheering along at Attucks Middle School and Worthing High School as the rapper performs. Houston Police Union President Joe Gamaldi criticized district officials for allowing OMB Bloodbath on school premises, citing the content of her lyrics. “This runs contrary to everything we try to teach young people about staying away from gangs and staying away from gang violence,” he said. “This is terrible.” District officials said the rapper performed at pep rallies and that they did not authorize her appearances. (Read at the Houston Chronicle)

    Hawaii — Teachers Come to Hawaii, but Many Do Not Stay: In 2013, Hawaii schools hired 907 teachers. Five years later, just 467 of them remained in the state’s public school classrooms. That 51 percent retention rate — down from 54 percent the previous year — underscores the challenges the state Education Department is facing in not just attracting teachers but keeping them. The state teachers union has noted that when the high cost of living is taken into account, Hawaii’s teacher salaries are the lowest in the nation. (Read at Hawaii News Now)

    Fairfax County — In EEOC Complaint, Former Teacher Alleges Pregnancy Discrimination by District: A former Fairfax County teacher claims that administrators at the esteemed Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology discriminated against her after she became pregnant, according to a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The teacher, Amanda Hurowitz, said she was on maternity leave in April when she learned from the school’s principal and an assistant principal that her contract as a part-time teacher would not be renewed for the 2018-19 academic year. Hurowitz, who began teaching at Thomas Jefferson in 2006 and moved to part-time status after having a child in 2016, said she later learned that two other expectant or young mothers who taught humanities were also not rehired. “That began to look like pregnancy discrimination,” she said. (Read at The Washington Post)

    Philadelphia — With Outward Bound, Philly Organizes Outdoor Adventures for Freshmen: Buoyed by a partnership with Outward Bound, the Philadelphia School District is spending up to $340,000 annually so students can climb tall trees, take nature walks, and complete physical challenges in one- and multi-day expeditions. In the name of social and emotional learning, district leaders believe the activities will have ripple effects, ultimately boosting academics, especially among high school freshmen, whom it has targeted for Outward Bound exposure since last school year. This school year, 1,400 district ninth-graders will participate in Philadelphia Outward Bound School programs, with hundreds more in other grades also accessing programs. (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

    EDLECTION2018 — “We’re Bringing Education Back”: Takeaways From the Election (Read at NPR)

    TESTING — Standardized Tests Really Do Reflect What a Student Knows (Read at

    SEGREGATION — Segregated schools are still the norm. Howard Fuller is fine with that (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    EDUCATION LEADERS — 30 Under 30 Education 2019: The Masterminds Shaping the Future of Learning, Access and Opportunity (Read at Forbes)

    TESTING — In a shift, more education reformers say they’re worried about schools’ focus on testing (Read at Chalkbeat)

    SEXUAL VIOLENCE — How Schools Can Reduce Sexual Violence (Read at NPR)

    PARENTS — Watch out: Schools don’t like the prying eyes of parents in the classroom (Read at The Washington Post)

    SCHOOL DISCIPLINE — Fits and starts: Inside KIPP’s school-by-school discipline transformation (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Quotes of the Week

    “Our ultimate goal is that when teachers and administrators are making a decision that impacts students, they should be asking students. Students are the experts. They have been in school most of their lives, they have a lot to say, and we need to listen.” —Cristina Salgado, the student voice specialist for Chicago Public Schools’ Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement, on Chicago’s student voice committees. (Read at

    “No matter how hostile some of the cities get to charters, the charters have endured.” —Jeanne Allen, chief executive of the Center for Education Reform, on New York state elections that could signal a retreat on a commitment to charter schools. (Read at The New York Times)

    “It’s not that security measures are never helpful, but there’s often no data to substantiate them. How do you know when you’ve deterred a school shooting? It didn’t happen.” —Jeremy Finn, a professor of education at the University of Buffalo. (Read at Education Week)

    “You’re also reaching a point in policing where you can’t ignore these things anymore, or in education where you can’t ignore these things anymore.” —Nadine Connell, director of the Center for Crime and Justice Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, on new Federal Bureau of Investigation data showing that reported hate crimes at K-12 schools and colleges surged by 25 percent last year. (Read at

    “Now what we have is a whole bunch of folks who made promises [to support schools]. Some of them were real promises, and some were big fat liars. What we’re going to do is keep score.” —Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. (Read at The New York Times)

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  • Ed Dept. Releases Parent Guide to Coming ESSA State, District Report Cards

    By Carolyn Phenicie | November 15, 2018

    Report cards are coming — for states and districts, that is.

    As required by the Every Student Succeeds Act, every state must release new report cards to share key school accountability information, including test scores, graduation rates, and teacher qualifications, with parents and the public by the end of the year.

    The Education Department last week released a guide for parents to the report cards, including information on what components must be included and how they might look.

    “[Parents] should not have to parse through a 500-page legal document to understand how a law or policy affects their children’s education … Informed parents become empowered and engaged parents who are able to better advocate on behalf of their children,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a press release.

    The department’s parent guide is useful, said Brennan McMahon Parton, director of policy and advocacy at the Data Quality Campaign, because it simplifies the reams of school data coming but gives parents a jumping-off point for more research.

    The resource is a helpful one for parents as they work to improve their children’s schools, said Jackie Ball, director of government affairs at the National PTA.

    “We’re looking at this in three kind of big buckets. [First], making sure parents know that all this education data is out there, particularly the report cards, so they have access to it. Secondly, that they have the ability to understand and interpret it, and then thirdly, use that data to advocate for improvements,” she said.

    The department’s guide cites per-pupil spending (a new requirement under ESSA), test scores, and graduation rates among the information that may be particularly important to parents as they make educational choices for their children.


    The Next Educational Equity Battleground: Little-Noticed ESSA Provision to Allow Parents to See Whether Districts Fund Schools Fairly

    The Education Department also held a two-day design challenge to help figure out how to display the more than 2,000 data points states and districts must report in a more usable format.

    Both McMahon Parton and Ball cited Virginia, Louisiana, and New Mexico as having exemplary report cards; the Education Department in its guide praised Virginia and Ohio.

    Some states are falling short, McMahon Parton said, citing failures to translate information into languages besides English and to include information on all student subgroups.

    “Every state has more to do,” she said.


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  • New FBI Data: School-Based Hate Crimes Jumped 25 Percent Last Year — for the Second Year in a Row

    By Mark Keierleber | November 14, 2018

    Reported hate crimes at K-12 schools and colleges surged by 25 percent last year, according to new Federal Bureau of Investigation data — the second year in a row in which such incidents spiked by roughly a quarter.

    It’s also the third consecutive year that reported hate crimes increased more broadly, according to the FBI. Across all locations, reported hate crimes rose by 17 percent in 2017. Hate crimes most frequently occurred in or near homes, accounting for 28 percent of incidents. Hate crimes were more frequently reported in schools than in commercial offices, government buildings, and churches.

    While the number of hate crimes increased last year, so did the number of local law enforcement agencies reporting data to the federal government. An additional 1,000 law enforcement agencies contributed information on hate crimes last year compared with 2016, according to the FBI. The FBI’s civil rights program has made hate crimes its highest investigative priority, the agency said, and it’s working with local police to promote better reporting.

    Better reporting is likely a factor in the increase, but advocacy groups say they have also observed an uptick in incidents since the 2016 presidential election campaigns began. In the days after President Donald Trump was elected, the Southern Poverty Law Center conducted a survey of education leaders, who reported an uptick in verbal harassment as well as incidents involving swastikas and Nazi salutes. In the first month of school this fall, the group identified 43 incidents of hate in schools, a majority of which centered on anti-black racism.

    “In recent months, the news media has been filled with reports of hateful incidents in schools, including swastikas etched into bathroom tile, racist videos made by students and teachers donning anti-immigrant Halloween costumes,” Maureen Costello, director of the law center’s Teaching Tolerance project, said in a statement. She said she’s not surprised by the increase in reported hate crimes at schools but noted that hate “doesn’t take a detour at the schoolhouse door.”

    “The children in our schools are simply reflecting the divisions we’re seeing throughout America,” Costello said. “The danger is that children may learn that hate and extremism are normal, and that bullying and violence are acceptable.”

    But Nadine Connell, director of the Center for Crime and Justice Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, took a more glass-half-full perspective. While divisive campaign rhetoric may have emboldened some people to act on hateful impulses, it could have also prompted greater reporting among both victims and police. Because hate crimes are historically underreported, she said the FBI data may not represent the full extent of such incidents in America.

    More reported hate crimes “could be very positive because it means these things are coming to light, they’re becoming part of the conversation, and they give us more opportunity to make change,” she told The 74. “You’re also reaching a point in policing where you can’t ignore these things anymore, or in education where you can’t ignore these things anymore.”

    Of the 7,175 hate crimes law enforcement agencies reported to the FBI last year, 10.5 percent occurred at schools and colleges. The data also include demographic information on hate crime offenders and victims: 17 percent of perpetrators were minors, as were 12 percent of hate crime victims.

    Although the FBI doesn’t clearly disaggregate data between universities and K-12 schools, Connell suspects hate crimes are more prevalent at the college level.

    The report, released weeks after a gunman killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, also outlined a 17 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks. More than half of anti-religious hate crime victims were targeted because they are Jewish, according to the FBI data.

    Meanwhile, anti-Semitic incidents at schools and colleges spiked sharply last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League. On college campuses, anti-Semitic incidents doubled, the group reported. This week, police launched an investigation after a photograph went viral online of Wisconsin high school students posing with what appeared to be Nazi salutes.

    Hate crimes based on race or ethnicity accounted for more than half of incidents reported at K-12 schools and colleges in 2017, according to the new FBI data. Religion-based incidents accounted for another quarter. In Massachusetts, school officials launched an investigation after an elementary school girl, who is Muslim, received notes at school last week that called her a terrorist and threatened to kill her.

    Connell said hate crimes based on race or ethnicity are likely more prevalent because physical differences are easier to identify and are therefore more easily targeted. Religious institutions, like synagogues, are also easy for perpetrators to identify, she said.

    While 2017 saw a spike in reported hate crimes, overall violent crime was down slightly after increasing in 2015 and 2016. Violent crime has also been on the decline in schools in recent years, according to National Center for Education Statistics data.


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  • Following Victory in Appeals Court for DACA Recipients, Will SCOTUS Consider Fate of Dreamers?

    By Mark Keierleber | November 13, 2018

    When a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel last week rebuked the Trump administration’s efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, it highlighted the life of Dulce Garcia, who it said “embodies the American dream.”

    As with a lot of Dreamers, as DACA recipients are often called, Garcia’s American story began when she was just 4 years old. As an undocumented immigrant child in California, Garcia faced abject poverty and homelessness. Still, she thrived in school, and, after putting herself through college, she became an attorney. Now, Garcia represents DACA recipients — including a middle school teacher — in a lawsuit against the Trump administration to keep the program alive.

    “Though the United States of America is the only home she has ever known, Dulce Garcia is an undocumented immigrant,” Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote in the court opinion. The government created DACA, she noted, because it recognized “the cruelty and wastefulness of deporting productive young people to countries with which they have no ties.”

    Last Thursday, the Ninth Circuit cited Garcia’s story in its opinion to uphold a nationwide injunction on the Trump administration’s decision to end the DACA program, which provides deportation relief and work authorization to roughly 700,000 people — including thousands of teachers and K-12 students — who were brought to the U.S. illegally as young children.


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

    The Trump administration announced in fall 2017 it would wind down the DACA program, created by then-President Barack Obama in 2012 through an executive order after Congress failed to pass immigration reform. In announcing the change, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions called DACA an “open-ended circumvention of immigration laws” created by an unconstitutional executive order.

    Even though the latest court opinion was an incremental victory for Dreamers like Garcia, their fate continues to hang in the balance. The ruling is the latest in a string of court opinions siding with Dreamers, but the Justice Department has already turned to the Supreme Court, and its newly fortified conservative majority, for help. Even before the Ninth Circuit released its opinion, the Trump administration had asked the nation’s highest court to weigh in on three pending lawsuits. In February, the Supreme Court rejected another request by the Trump administration to leapfrog lower federal courts.

    The injunction, which allows current DACA recipients to submit renewal applications, was put in place in January by a lower federal court until lawsuits against the Trump administration work their way through the courts. Along with the plaintiffs represented by Garcia, the Trump administration faces lawsuits from the State of California and the University of California system whose president, Janet Napolitano, signed off on DACA as Obama’s Homeland Security secretary. In its opinion on Thursday, the Ninth Circuit panel noted the plaintiffs have some “likelihood of success” in their argument that the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

    Beyond California, U.S. district courts in New York and the District of Columbia have placed similar injunctions on the move to end DACA. And in a surprising move, a federal judge in Texas sided with Dreamers in August after a coalition of seven conservative states sued to end DACA.

    Last week’s Ninth Circuit opinion brings the issue closer to the Supreme Court, however, since it’s the first time a federal appeals court has weighed in on the issue. As Dara Lind notes in Vox, the Supreme Court could move to settle the DACA debate by June.


    Broad Coalition of Education Leaders Calls on Teachers to Resist Trump on DACA

  • Online Outrage Over What Appears to Be Prom Photo Featuring Dozens of Wisconsin High Schoolers Giving Nazi Salute

    By Steve Snyder | November 12, 2018

    Two hours northwest of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is the close-knit community of Baraboo, home to roughly 12,000 residents and a school district serving 4,000 kids across five elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school.

    It’s an outlier town perhaps best known for the Circus World Museum, which draws tourists and families from across the country every summer.

    But over the past 12 hours, city officials and school district leaders have been racing to respond to an online controversy now surrounding the Baraboo School District, its current senior class, and what appears to be a photo of more than 60 boys giving a Nazi salute last spring, around the time of the junior prom.

    It was a 1 a.m. tweet from journalist Jules Suzdaltsev, a frequent contributor to Vice, that went viral over the late-night hours, earning tens of thousands of shares on social media and morning headlines across Wisconsin’s top news outlets.

    Suzdaltsev tweeted that he was quickly flooded with reactions, comments, and anecdotes from other alleged Baraboo students and alumni who said they wanted to share their own experiences with district bullying and hate speech and what they encountered when they attempted to report these incidents to school authorities.

    City officials are now weighing in, and the district says that although the photo did not occur on school property or during a school function, administrators are investigating the image and considering what actions to pursue:

    The Auschwitz Memorial tweeted that the photo is why the organization works hard “to explain what is the danger of hateful ideology rising.”

    School officials told the Baraboo News Republic that the high school was “placed in a ‘soft hold’ Monday due to the photo,” which “prevents students from leaving school premises — such as for off-campus lunch — unless they have permission from a parent and approval through the office.”

    Some online commenters have pointed to past controversies at the district as evidence of a toxic school culture. As the News Republic reported back in 2012, many residents were outraged by the use of Confederate battle flags in a student-led memorial for a friend who had died in a car crash.

    Go Deeper: 14 things to know about confronting bullying in schools … get the latest bullying news and research delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter.

  • 1 Killed, 1 Injured in Shooting During SC College Homecoming Event; At Least 47 Killed and 88 Injured by Guns at Schools So Far This Year

    By Mark Keierleber | November 12, 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 person was killed and another was injured in a shooting on a South Carolina college campus Friday evening during a homecoming event.

    The shooting unfolded at Voorhees College, a private, historically black college in Denmark, South Carolina. Both victims were young men, but neither were students, according to an advisory on the college’s website. A suspect hasn’t been identified.

    In 2018, at least 47 people have been killed and 88 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 firearms deaths and homicides of children have decreased in recent years, suicides have spiked.

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

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

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


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  • Massachusetts Study Finds That New Charters Boost Spending at Nearby District Schools — and Change How They Spend It

    By Kevin Mahnken | November 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.

    New charter school openings can change the way traditional schools spend their money, according to a new study circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Massachusetts school districts that saw charter expansions also experienced temporary increases in per-pupil funding among traditional schools and shifted more dollars toward instructional spending and salaries over several years.

    The authors attributed the somewhat counterintuitive result to the state’s policy of reimbursing traditional schools for the costs of students who transferred to charters.

    Those findings are particularly noteworthy given the setting. Massachusetts debated the question of whether to lift its statewide cap on charters in 2016. Following a bitter and expensive campaign, the expansion measure was decisively rejected by voters. One key argument among those who supported retaining the cap was that new charters would divert resources from existing public schools.

    The study was written by Camille Terrier, an economics professor at Switzerland’s University of Lausanne, and Matthew Ridley, a doctoral student at MIT’s School Effectiveness and Inequality Institute. Using data from the Census Bureau and the Massachusetts Student Information Management System, the researchers studied the impact of a 2011 funding reform that allowed low-performing districts in Massachusetts to devote more of their funding to charter schools. In districts that chose to pursue expansion, attendance at charter schools increased from an average of 7 percent of all public school students to 12 percent.

    The results are noteworthy. While many skeptics fear that new charter schools siphon funding from nearby traditional schools, Terrier and Ridley find the opposite: “Higher charter attendance both increases per-pupil expenditures and shifts districts’ expenditures towards instruction and away from support services,” they write.

    National Bureau of Economic Research

    Specifically, in a series of mostly large, low-performing districts (Boston, Chelsea, Gill-Montague, Lawrence, Lynn, Malden, New Bedford, Salem, and Winchendon), per-pupil spending in local districts increased by 4.8 percent, even as many students transferred to new charter schools. Funds spent on instruction and salaries increased by 7.5 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively, while the portion spent on support services (school counselors, teacher training, and administration, among other costs) decreased by 4.4 percent.

    Those general conclusions dovetail neatly with those of other recently published research. A study published last year by Temple University’s Sarah Cordes found that both student achievement and per-pupil expenditures jumped in New York City district schools after charters opened nearby — and the greater the proximity, the larger the effect.


    Good Neighbors: Traditional Public Schools See Higher Test Scores When a Charter School Opens Nearby

    The cause for the shift in resources toward instruction isn’t immediately apparent, Terrier and Ridley note. But charter advocates like Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby have postulated that school districts might respond to charter competition by directing funds away from fixed or administrative costs toward areas more commonly associated with student achievement, such as textbooks or higher teacher salaries, in an effort to compete for students.

    That doesn’t fully explain why per-pupil expenditures increase in districts that are losing students to charter alternatives, however.

    The answer to that question may lie in Massachusetts’s unique approach to charter school funding. Rather than simply reallocating the full education costs of each departing district student to their new charter schools, the state actually continues to pay a portion of that tuition to the district for several years — even though the student is long gone. For the first year after a student departs, the school he left still receives 100 percent of his per-pupil education costs. In each of the five subsequent years, the school receives 25 percent of those first-year costs.

    Encompassing reimbursement for both instructional and facilities costs, the state disbursed roughly $80 million in total state aid for district schools affected by departing students during the 2016-17 school year.

    As the reimbursement dollars peter out in the years following student transfers, the impact on school expenditures tapers off as well, though they never dip beneath the status quo before the charter expansion. “These results indicate that the refund scheme may be effectively insulating districts from the short-run financial shock due to expansion so that they can adjust in the long run,” the authors write.


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  • Despite Post-Parkland Surge in Youth Vote, Student Activists Largely Fail to Oust Pro-Gun Candidates in Midterms

    By Mark Keierleber | November 8, 2018

    In the months that followed February’s mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, student survivors launched a large-scale campaign to encourage youth voter turnout — and to knock pro-gun lawmakers out of power.

    The success of those young people on Election Day, however, is open to debate. Although Parkland activists played a role in encouraging a surge in youth voter turnout on Tuesday, their central issue — gun control — didn’t fare well, including in Florida.

    About 31 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the midterm elections on Tuesday — an impressive 10-percentage-point jump from the previous midterm elections, in 2014, according to a post-election analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University. And while a majority of Americans in this age group still chose to stay home on Election Day, the results are significant compared with turnout in previous years. Youth voter turnout was higher on Tuesday than it has been in any midterm election over the past two decades.

    CIRCLE Director Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg said she was encouraged by the surge in voter turnout — observed across all age groups — but not terribly surprised. Most young people lean left, and Kawashima-Ginsberg said they’ve overwhelmingly resisted President Donald Trump since he was elected in 2016.

    Then the mass school shooting in Parkland unfolded in February. The movement to encourage youth civic engagement followed and, though it centered on gun violence, Kawashima-Ginsberg said it opened the doors for a lot of other stakeholders.

    “It’s not so much about the issue” of gun control, she said, “but it’s about politicizing young people.”


    David Hogg Wants to Knock NRA-Backed Candidates Out of Office. His Biggest Obstacle? The Lackluster Voting Habits of His Young Peers

    The surge in youth turnout proved particularly advantageous for Democratic House of Representatives candidates, according to exit polls. Among youth voters, two-thirds voted for Democratic candidates in the House — a margin the CIRCLE analysis said “almost certainly helped the Democratic Party take control.”

    Beyond their influence on the House, young people cast decisive ballots in several state races, the CIRCLE analysis found. That includes Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election, where Democrat Tony Evers ousted Republican incumbent Scott Walker by a margin of just 1.2 percentage points. Young voters favored Evers by a 23-percentage-point margin, according to CIRCLE. In Montana, young people made up an above-average share of the electorate — a fact that likely changed the election outcome, CIRCLE found. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester won his re-election in a close contest, with young voters supporting him over Republican challenger Matt Rosendale by a 40-percentage-point margin.

    While Democrats’ success in taking back the House will likely be a boon for those who support stricter firearms laws, gun rights advocates also found success Tuesday. Students activists had hoped to force out lawmakers backed by the National Rifle Association, but that didn’t materialize.

    One day after Americans voted in midterm elections where gun control became a divisive issue, a gunman opened fire on a bar in California and killed 12 people.


    School Safety Tops Young People’s List of Election Concerns. But Will It Lead Them to Vote?

    The Trace, a nonprofit news website that focuses on guns in America, created a Twitter bot that tracks campaign spending by the National Rifle Association. As of Thursday, the bot found that an overwhelming majority of NRA-backed congressional candidates won: 106 were victorious, while 38 were not.

    Still, groups that back gun control also had victories. For example, 88 of 129 candidates backed by the gun control group Giffords won their races.

    In their home state, Parkland activists faced resounding defeat, with pro-gun candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate coming out victorious. In true Florida fashion, however, each race faces a recount.

    “Once again, NRA members and Second Amendment supporters made a difference by showing up to the polls and voting,” Chris Cox, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund chairman, said in a media release. “Florida voters rejected the extreme gun control agenda” backed by former New York City mayor and potential presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg “and sent a clear message in support of our Second Amendment right to self-defense.”

    Still, Kawashima-Ginsberg said youth voters shouldn’t be discouraged by the outcome, because “it’s impossible to imagine that you can suddenly change the entire electorate by motivating the youngest of the voters.” She said she hopes young people play the “long game” and continue to be civically engaged.

    For some outspoken Parkland activists, that appears to be the plan.

    “Things didn’t necessarily go our way, but we know that this is the start, that it’s going to be a long road,” Parkland shooting survivor and activist David Hogg told the New York Times. “The Florida elections were very close, which is encouraging. For us, the loss in Florida is a call to action.”


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  • EDlection2018: House’s Longest-Serving Member Holds Off Challenge From Education Activist

    By Kevin Mahnken | November 8, 2018

    EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

    Alaska Rep. Don Young won a 24th term in the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday, fending off a spirited challenge from education activist and political newcomer Alyse Galvin. Young, the so-called “Dean of the House” (an honorific given to the chamber’s longest-serving member) led by a margin of 54 percent to 45 percent with 98 percent of districts reporting.

    Young, 85, a Republican who has held Alaska’s at-large House seat since 1973, has survived close races before. His outspoken nature and bevy of personal quirks — he once held a 10-inch knife to Republican leader John Boehner’s throat — have generally been a good fit for the state, even as some have clamored for a younger representative to send to Washington.

    They thought they’d found one in Galvin, a political independent who won the Democrats’ August primary. She is principally known as a founder of the activist lobby Great Alaska Schools, which has pushed for higher education funding in the state.

    Schools, along with most other public services in Alaska, have suffered a budget crunch as oil revenues have dipped. Galvin helped organize a letter-writing campaign in Juneau to ward off cuts to school funding, then convened a series of community meetings on school quality.

    In her concession speech, Galvin said she was proud of the campaign, even as she came up short.

    “We had motivated people to vote who had never voted,” Galvin said. “It’s time to bring government back to the people.”

    EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

  • EDlection2018: With Democratic Wins in Statehouse, Colorado Becomes Another Blue Trifecta

    By Kevin Mahnken | November 8, 2018

    EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

    Colorado Democrats kept their winning streak alive on Election Night, electing Rep. Jared Polis as the state’s third consecutive Democratic governor. But the bigger story might have been obscured by Polis’s historic win to become the nation’s first openly gay governor: In the lower-profile legislative races, a blue wave crashed over the state Senate, giving Democrats unified control over government in Denver for the first time since 2014.

    House Democrats picked up two seats to expand their majority to 11. But their colleagues in the Senate pulled off the real coup, defeating two Republican incumbents and flipping the chamber from an 18-17 GOP majority to a 19-16 Democratic advantage. In doing so, they were the key in helping the party gain a coveted “trifecta.”

    In Jefferson County, west of Denver, veteran education activist Tammy Story beat Sen. Tim Neville, one of the most conservative lawmakers in Colorado. Story led the 2015 effort to recall three right-leaning members of the county school board in a much-publicized tussle over teacher pay and the district’s U.S. history curriculum.

    In Adams County, Rep. Faith Winter prevailed over Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik by a 52-41 margin. Winter, who has already gained attention from EMILY’s List and is seen as a rising star in the party, has made paid family leave one of her signature issues in the House.


    Colorado Republicans Hold a One-Seat Majority in the State Senate. These Two Democrats Could Flip the Chamber — and Jump-Start State Education Reform

    The new Senate majority — along with the leadership of Governor-elect Polis, who is expected to govern as an unabashed progressive — will allow Colorado Democrats to act on Winter’s proposal, along with others caught in the GOP bottleneck over the past four years. Another initiative likely to be considered is a bill to launch a voter referendum on full-day, state-funded kindergarten, which was sent to an infamous “kill committee” by Republican leadership. Possible changes to the state education funding formula, as well as legislation to reduce student suspensions, have also been stymied under divided government.

    Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, thought to be a contender to become Senate majority leader, told the Denver Business Journal that the party’s victories Tuesday were a message from voters to govern responsibly.

    “What this says to me is that they trust our ability to lead, but they don’t want us to go crazy,” Zenzinger said. “I think this is our opportunity to prove to Colorado that there’s nothing to be afraid of with Democrats in power.”

    EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

  • EDlection2018: Arizona Superintendent Race Between Charter Advocate and Public School Educator Remains Too Close to Call

    By Taylor Swaak | November 7, 2018

    EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

    The Arizona superintendent’s race between a charter school proponent and public school educator remained too close to call late Wednesday afternoon.

    Republican Frank Riggs has a less than 1 percent lead over Kathy Hoffman, a speech pathologist and former preschool teacher. ABC15 Arizona election results show Riggs fewer than 7,000 votes ahead.

    ABC15 Arizona

    Arizona is still counting nearly 650,000 votes statewide as of Wednesday, the Arizona Republic reported — which “could swing major races” like the superintendent’s race.

    Hoffman tweeted Wednesday to her supporters that, “There are still votes left to count, and I want every voice for public education to be heard.”

    The state superintendent of public instruction oversees all Arizona public and charter schools, and is a member of the Arizona Board of Education. It is largely a bully pulpit for influencing education policy.

    Throughout the campaign, Riggs touted his deep ties to the charter school sector: As a former California congressman, he penned the Charter School Expansion Act in 1998 to allocate federal startup grants to newly formed charter schools. He’s also the founding board president of Arizona Connections Academy — a statewide, online K-12 charter school.

    But that doesn’t mean he plans on shying away from critical oversight of charter schools. “You need to police your sector, and you need to call out your bad actors,” he told the Phoenix New Times. “Because if you don’t, you’re going to get regulation.”

    Apart from charter reform, his education platform includes creating parent advisory boards and expanding civic education.

    Meanwhile, Hoffman — like other educators this election cycle — capitalized on the momentum of this year’s #RedForEd movement, which spurred a weeklong Arizona teacher strike in late April. (Riggs opposed the strike; Hoffman participated.)

    Her platform includes backing bilingual education programs, denouncing the arming of teachers, and advocating for paid maternity and paternity leave for educators.

    At least half of the 12 teacher candidates The 74 interviewed before Election Day have lost their races. Read more on our liveblog.


    Midterm Exam: 12 Teacher Candidates Reflect on the Campaign Trail — and Why They’re Running

    Whoever wins will replace Republican Diane Douglas, whom Riggs beat in the primaries.

    EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

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