April 2019
  • This Week in Education Politics: 2020 Federal Funding Comes Into Focus, the State of Integration 65 Years After Brown, Entrepreneurship at HBCUs & More

    By Carolyn Phenicie | April 27, 2019

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

    INBOX: APPROPRIATIONS — The 2020 budget-writing season kicks off this week, as a House subcommittee takes the first crack at writing a spending bill covering the Education Department.

    The subcommittee, now under Democratic control, notably clashed with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over the Trump administration’s proposal to end federal funding to the Special Olympics, a spat that drew national press attention and eventually led to Trump walking back the proposal.

    But members also challenged DeVos on other proposed cuts, including an end to Title II teacher training grants, ESSA Title IV grants that support areas like technology and mental health, and afterschool programs.


    DeVos Takes Tough Stance as Congressional Democrats Hammer Her on Budget Cuts, School Choice

    Outside of those programs — which Congress is sure to fund, as it has the past two years over administration asks to cut them — look for the Democratic-controlled subcommittee to increase funding for long-standing K-12 programs like Title I grants for low-income students and IDEA special education grants.

    The federal charter school program could be a flash point, too. It has long had bipartisan support and received big increases in recent years, but some Democratic members of the subcommittee were skeptical of DeVos’s support for the program amid what they said were subpar results.

    The committee meets at 4 p.m. Tuesday, and the bill text is expected about 24 hours ahead of time. This is just the start of what will be a months-long process to write a spending bill for the department, and the rest of the federal government, ahead of the new fiscal year Oct. 1.

    TUESDAY: BROWN V. BOARD, 65 YEARS LATER — The House Education and Labor Committee holds a hearing on the 65th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision and “a promise unfulfilled.”

    TUESDAY: FUNDING INDIAN EDUCATION — A House Appropriations subcommittee holds a hearing on the budget request for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, which educates about 41,000 students in 183 schools on reservations in 23 states.

    TUESDAY: EDUCATION ACCOUNTS FOR MILITARY PARENTS — The Heritage Foundation hosts an event on providing education savings accounts to military families as a way of increasing recruitment and retention in the armed services. Rep. Jim Banks, Republican of Indiana, who sponsored a bill to create such a program, speaks.

    TUESDAY: ENTREPRENEURSHIP AT HBCUS — A House Small Business subcommittee holds a hearing on whether historically black colleges and universities “are receiving enough support from the Small Business Administration to to help develop successful entrepreneurs.”

    WEDNESDAY: SCHOOL DISCIPLINE — Communities in Schools holds a morning-long event focused on school discipline. Former education secretary Arne Duncan and Thomas B. Fordham Institute President Mike Petrilli are among the speakers. The group will also release new polling data on “public attitudes about effective solutions to better address disciplinary challenges in schools.”

    WEDNESDAY: SCHOOL REFORM & STUDENTS — The Thomas B. Fordham Institute holds the penultimate event in its Education 20/20 series. Former education secretary Rod Paige will argue that real school reform will require schools to hold students accountable and foster a culture that “emphasizes innate abilities and that celebrates academics over ball games and socializing.” Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, will discuss the importance of character education.

    THURSDAY: SCHOOL DESEGREGATION — The Urban Institute holds a panel discussion on the state of school integration, 65 years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. The discussion will focus on research and policy solutions.

    THURSDAY: SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Politico holds an event on “teaching coping skills in the classroom” and how policymakers can best measure and support effective SEL practices. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio who is running for president, is among the advertised speakers.


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  • EduClips: From a Parental Dress Code in Houston to Questions Over a New Parcel Tax in Los Angeles, School News You Missed This Week From America’s 15 Biggest Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | April 25, 2019

    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.

    Miami-Dade County — As Legislature Mulls Raising Scholarship Standards, Critics Say Minority Students Would Suffer: Bills moving through the Florida legislature would raise the required test scores for a popular scholarship, prompting questions about the disproportionate effects such measures have on students of color. The bills propose raising the scores needed to qualify for merit-based Bright Futures scholarships. For students who would receive the “Academic” scholarship, which covers full tuition and fees at state universities and colleges, the required SAT score would rise from 1290 to around 1330. For the second-tier “Medallion” award, which covers 75 percent of tuition and fees, the benchmark would climb from 1170 to about 1200. State Senate bill sponsor Sen. Kelli Stargel has noted that the College Board took away the quarter-point penalty for wrong answers in 2016, which led scores to rise nationwide. The change, Stargel said, is in keeping with the “integrity” of the scholarship’s purpose, which is to reward only students whose scores fall within a certain percentile compared with the national average. But in Miami-Dade County alone, 45 percent of the high school seniors, or about 770 kids, who are currently eligible for the “Academic” Bright Futures scholarship would no longer qualify for the full-tuition award if the change were applied to current students, according to the district. Sixty-three percent of black students and 46 percent of Hispanic students who currently qualify for that scholarship would lose eligibility, versus 40 percent of white students. (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    Houston — High School Adopts Controversial Dress Code — for Parents: “A Houston Independent School District high school has a new dress code. But it’s not for students, who already have a school uniform; it’s for their parents,” reports the Houston Chronicle. According to a memo from Carlotta Outley Brown, principal of James Madison High School, the school will send away parents if they arrive wearing pajamas, leggings, hair rollers or bonnets. While some said the guidelines are necessary to maintain a dignified atmosphere, the Chronicle reports that others have taken issue, saying the rules codify deeper issues tied to class, gender and race. The new policy was issued the day after KPRC-TV (Channel 2) reported that a parent attempting to enroll her daughter had been turned away because of her attire. (Read at The Houston Chronicle)

    Los Angeles — Business Community: Let’s See Reform Before Enacting $500 Million Parcel Tax: Representatives of Los Angeles’s business community say they object to a measure that would introduce a first-ever $500 million annual parcel tax before they have seen evidence of reform. The heads of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles County Business Federation, Valley Industry & Commerce Association and Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said they take serious issue with L.A. Unified floating Measure EE without “collaborating with their organizations, proving its accountability or mandating that revenue from the tax be spent solely in the classrooms.” The executives say that L.A. Unified has continually failed to make internal reforms that curb its deficit spending and improve student outcomes, choosing instead to use new money to keep itself from falling off the proverbial fiscal cliff. To prove its commitment to accountability, the district’s school board voted unanimously to create an “independent taxpayer oversight committee” to publicize how the district allocates revenue from the tax and report progress in student achievement. (Read at

    Orange County — At Orlando’s Florida Virtual School, Questions Surround New President’s Dubious Knighthood: Florida Virtual School’s new top executive uses a British title and claims knighthood from an ancient order, but the Orlando Sentinel reports that there are questions about her title’s legitimacy. “Lady Dhyana Ziegler, as she likes to be called, says she was knighted as a “dame of justice” in a ceremony at England’s Cambridge University in 2008 by an order of the ‘knights of justice,’” the Sentinel reports. She served on the board of trustees for the Orlando-based school for 19 years before being named interim president in March. At her request, school officials use the title “lady” when addressing her, according to former employees. The title also appears in school documents. But Ziegler bases her title on an organization that is one of many “fake” orders that often charge money “for a completely worthless piece of paper,” said Guy Stair Sainty, who has published books on orders of knighthood and chivalry and works to debunk orders that pretend to be legitimate. (Read at the Orlando Sentinel)

    New York City —As He Flirts With 2020 Presidential Bid, de Blasio Touts School Record: Despite a recent poll finding that 76 percent of New Yorkers don’t think he should pursue the Democratic nomination, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has traveled the country in recent months as he flirts with a possible 2020 presidential run. The city’s public school system has been among his most reliable talking points. As Chalkbeat recently reported, de Blasio finds himself on the ascendant side of many education policy debates today. He eschewed closing schools, and instead poured nearly a billion dollars into trying to improve them. He has pushed to reduce suspensions and introduce restorative justice practices — a favored cause of civil rights and community groups. And he rolled out an ambitious and costly pre-K program and ceased open hostilities with the city’s main teachers union. But de Blasio also has real liabilities when it comes to his education record. He’s been reluctant to tackle segregation issues head on, and Chalkbeat notes that “Renewal, his program for boosting struggling schools, has shown such mixed results that the mayor is ending it at the end of this school year. The charter sector, although capped for now, serves predominantly low-income families of color who have voted with their feet to attend the privately run schools.” (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Hawaii — Hawaii Charter School Leads State in Vaccination Exemptions: Fred Birkett, principal of the Alakai O Kauai Charter School, which has 130 students, knows there is a new list on which his school is ranked No. 1 in the state. But, as Honolulu Civil Beat reports, “he wishes it wasn’t.” It is a statewide ranking of all 36 Hawaii charter schools, ranked by percentage of students exempted from common vaccinations. Alakai O Kauai had the highest exemption rate, at 40%, with many parents opting their kids out for religious reasons. Janet Berreman, the state’s district health officer on Kauai, which in general has disturbingly high rates of non-vaccination, is now working to persuade families and school administrators to vaccinate. (Read at Honolulu Civil Beat)

    Clark County — Critics Raise Questions About Employment of Retired Personnel in Las Vegas: A Facebook post from a former Las Vegas school police officer, detailing an anonymous letter blaming “substitute administrators” in the human resources department for sucking dollars out of the school system, has raised questions about the employment of retired personnel. This school year alone, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, the district has paid $84,129 as of April 11 to 10 different substitute administrators in human resources who’ve already retired from the district — meaning they’re already collecting a pension. All but two work solely on “special projects.” (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

    CHARTER SCHOOLS — Opinion: New Analysis Shows How a $13 Billion Funding Gap Between Charter Schools & Traditional Public Schools Hurts Underserved Students (Read at

    RACE — The Disciplines Where No Black People Earn Ph.D.s (Read at The Atlantic)

    EARLY EDUCATION — Opinion: Early ed should adopt these 3 ideas from Montessori schools (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    STUDENT LOANS — An Idea for Student Loans: Get Rid of Them (Read at National Review)

    CHARTER SCHOOLS — Democrats, Support Charter Schools (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    Quotes of the Week

    “Parents, we do value you as a partner in your child’s education. However, please know we have to have standards.” —Madison High School Principal Carlotta Outley Brown, announcing that the school will turn away parents if they show up at the school wearing bonnets, pajamas, hair rollers or leggings, among other clothing items. (Read at The Houston Chronicle)

    “The motivation was choice. We couldn’t get choice for choice’s sake. We couldn’t get choice for poor kids. But if the school is violent or dangerous … I could get a majority vote for that.” —Former representative Bob Schaffer, a Republican from Colorado, on how the “unsafe school choice” provision made it into federal education law. (Read at

    “I don’t want to be No. 1 on that list.” —Fred Birkett, principal of the Alakai O Kauai Charter School, ranked No. 1 in the state for charter schools whose parents have obtained exemptions from vaccinations against common childhood diseases for their children. (Read at Honolulu Civil Beat)

    “We could give them $500 million a year or $5 billion a year, and they still have no plan on how to fix themselves.” —Valley Industry & Commerce Association President Stuart Waldman, on plans to institute a $500 million parcel tax to support Los Angeles schools. (Read at

    “You walk into a school and you are almost in a military zone. Is that conducive to education?” —Jagdish Khubchandani, a professor of health science at Ball State University. (Read at The New York Times)


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  • Monthly QuotED: 6 Notable Quotes That Made Education Headlines in April, From Columbine to the Return of Cursive — and a School Dress Code for Parents

    By Andrew Brownstein | April 25, 2019

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

    “Well, you know, I’m going to die in here and I’m a virgin and I will have never met Bruce Springsteen.” —Heather Martin, recalling what she told a friend nearly 20 years ago as two gunmen terrorized Columbine High School. Today, she teaches high school English in nearby Aurora, Colorado. (Read at

    Mark Keierleber

    “Parents, we do value you as a partner in your child’s education. However, please know we have to have standards.” —Madison High School Principal Carlotta Outley Brown, announcing that the school will turn away parents if they show up at the school wearing bonnets, pajamas, hair rollers or leggings, among other clothing items. (Read at The Houston Chronicle)

    “It defies common sense. It defies logic.” —Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Public Safety Commission, which is investigating the massacre that killed 17 people, on the under-reporting and sometimes over-reporting of crimes at Florida schools. (Read at the Sun-Sentinel)

    U.S. President George W. Bush (R) and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings walk out of the U.S. Department of Education. (Jay L. Clendenin-Pool/Getty Images)

    “The motivation was choice. We couldn’t get choice for choice’s sake. We couldn’t get choice for poor kids. But if the school is violent or dangerous…I could get a majority vote for that.” —Former representative Bob Schaffer, a Republican from Colorado, on how the “unsafe school choice” provision made it into federal education law. (Read at

    “I don’t want to be No. 1 on that list.” —Fred Birkett, principal of the Alakai O Kauai Charter School, ranked No. 1 in the state for charter schools whose parents have obtained exemptions to allow their kids to not be vaccinated against common childhood diseases. (Read at Honolulu Civil Beat)

    “When we want to embrace the past, when we get nostalgic for the past, when we think it was better, then we get all warm and fuzzy about handwriting.” —Historian Tamara Plakins Thornton, on the resurgence of cursive writing. (Read at NPR)


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  • As DACA Fate Remains in Limbo, Nearly 100K Undocumented Kids Graduate From High School Each Year, New Data Show

    By Mark Keierleber | April 24, 2019

    As the debate over the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients continues in Washington and in federal courts, a report released Wednesday found that nearly 100,000 undocumented students graduate from high school each year.

    The DACA program, which the Trump administration has aimed to terminate since 2017, grants deportation relief and work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as young children. The new report by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank focused on immigration, argues that many of those high school graduates face uncertain futures as the fate of DACA remains unstable.

    The Institute estimates that about 98,000 undocumented teens graduate from high school each year. That’s a sizable increase from an earlier report, which the Urban Institute released in 2003, estimating that about 65,000 undocumented immigrants graduated from U.S. high schools each year. Public schools typically don’t ask students about their immigration status. However, the Supreme Court found in a landmark 1982 decision that states cannot deny a free public education to children based on their immigration status.

    Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Institute, said it was important to update research on undocumented student graduates to get a more accurate sense of how many people would be affected by proposed immigration policies.

    “Any policy needs to be based on what’s happening in the world,” she said. “For us, it was important to understand how many people are now in this situation where those [DACA] protections are no longer available.”

    For decades, Congress has debated legislation to provide a legal status to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, often referred to as Dreamers. Then-President Barack Obama created the DACA program in 2012 through an executive order. Since then, nearly 800,000 people have received DACA benefits and, as of January, about 680,000 have benefited from the program.

    But in September 2017, the Trump administration announced a plan to phase out DACA. In the announcement, then–Attorney General Jeff Sessions called DACA an “open-ended circumvention of immigration laws” and said the Obama administration overreached its authority to create the program after Congress “specifically refused to authorize” similar protections.


    ‘Erasing Their Lives’: Education Advocates Slam Trump’s Decision to End DACA

    The issue remains unsettled in Congress, and Trump has since attempted to use the DACA protections as a bargaining chip to secure other immigration priorities, including a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. However, federal courts have handed the Trump administration several setbacks. Under pending court injunctions, DACA recipients can renew their benefits, a process that’s required every two years, but eligible immigrants who did not previously apply for the protections are currently unable to do so.

    “For many of the new high school graduates, the program is no longer available, which means they are at risk of deportation. They can’t get a valid work permit [and] it will be harder to apply for and to get in-state [college] tuition and other benefits,” Batalova said.

    In January, the Supreme Court decided not to consider the fate of the program. Batalova predicts the Supreme Court will agree to hear a case on DACA’s fate in October.


    No Supreme Court Action on DACA Leaves in Place Protections for ‘Dreamers,’ Complicates Negotiations to End Shutdown

    In order to estimate the number of high school graduates who are undocumented, researchers at the Institute analyzed census data and determined that roughly 125,000 undocumented students reach graduation age each year. That tally was then compared against the national graduation rate. While researchers were unable to determine how many of those 98,000 high school graduates each year currently receive DACA protections, Batalova predicted it’s a small fraction of the overall population.

    Through the analysis, researchers found that the bulk of undocumented high school graduates reside in just a few states. In fact, more than a quarter reside in California, and another 17 percent live in Texas. Since a majority of these graduates likely lack DACA protections, Batalova said, state policies take on greater importance. For example, 20 states, including California and Texas, allow undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition. But in Arizona and Georgia, state law explicitly blocks undocumented immigrants from receiving in-state tuition.


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  • 5 Things Parents Should Know About ‘Comprehensive Universities’ — the Schools Educating Over 70% of 4-Year Undergrads That Have Become a Vital Pipeline Into the Middle Class

    By Brendan Lowe | April 22, 2019

    Jorge Klor de Alva has taught at an elite private institution (Princeton University) and a public one (the University of California, Berkeley), and he’s served as president of a large for-profit (University of Phoenix). Yet in his latest study as the head of the Nexus Research and Policy Center, Klor de Alva takes his ongoing focus on social mobility and applies it to an entirely different part of the higher education landscape: comprehensive universities, a group of schools that maintain a low profile while enrolling 70 percent of students who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees at public universities.

    While there is no formal definition, comprehensive universities are generally “public institutions that primarily enroll students who live near the school and educate their students chiefly for jobs in the local economy,” he wrote. Comprehensive universities do not include private schools like Villanova University or flagship public institutions like the University of Michigan, the two colleges Klor de Alva put at the top of the Income Mobility Tournament bracket he recently designed during March Madness for The 74. Clemson University, The College of New Jersey and Grambling State University are three of the better-known comprehensive universities.

    Given comprehensive universities’ outsize influence in higher education, Klor de Alva looked to see why low-income students who graduate from certain schools are more likely to move into the middle and upper class than their peers at other comprehensive universities.

    His study, Is the University Next Door the Way to Upward Mobility?, published earlier this month by the American Enterprise Institute, is a burst of good news: More than half of the low-income students enrolled at the 307 comprehensive universities examined reached the two highest income quintiles by their early 30s. But when Klor de Alva dug deeper into data made available through the Equality of Opportunity Project, an initiative by lauded Harvard economist Raj Chetty, he found dramatic variations in upward mobility even among comprehensive universities.

    Here are five takeaways from the study:

    1 The American Dream isn’t dead.

    The top-level finding bears repeating: Many comprehensive universities are helping to fuel upward mobility for thousands of low-income students. These are under-the-radar schools — Klor de Alva compares California State University, Los Angeles, a comprehensive university, to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which is not a comprehensive school — but they are creating meaningful opportunities for many of their students.

    2 Seemingly similar colleges get very different outcomes.

    The Citadel Military College of South Carolina and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff are both comprehensive universities in the southeastern part of the United States. Both have around 3,000 undergraduate students and acceptance rates (75%-85%) that fit into the “competitive” category, according to Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges.

    Yet only 30 percent of Pine Bluff’s students from the bottom two income quintiles reached the top two income quintiles, compared with 73 percent at The Citadel.

    “In some sense,” Klor de Alva said in an interview with The 74, “this whole paper is really about similarly situated, similarly selective, similarly funded institutions, and the difference between the top 10 and the bottom 10 is gigantic.”

    3 Graduation rate rules, geography and race loom large.

    What separates the schools that drive upward mobility for low-income students from the schools where they stagnate? Graduation rates.

    While that finding might not register as breaking news, context matters, Klor de Alva said. Many students only have the resources to attend the college closest to them, not the college that may have the highest graduation rate or be the best fit, so it’s incumbent upon comprehensive universities to do right by their students, he said.

    “At the end of the day, they should all be addressing retention, progression and completion,” Klor de Alva said. “If they’re not focused solidly on that, they’re not really serving the students.”

    Klor de Alva also found significant differences in where comprehensive universities are located: 47 percent of such institutions in the West are in the highest quartile of adjusted mobility rates, as compared with 38 percent of those in the Northeast, 21 percent in the Southwest, 14 percent in the Southeast and 16 percent in the Midwest.

    In a potentially related finding, Klor de Alva found that the schools most effective at promoting upward mobility have the lowest percentages of black students and the highest percentages of Latino students enrolled. Klor de Alva suggested this finding may be partly explained by the fact that many historically black colleges and universities are located in regions (like the Southeast) with low levels of mobility more broadly, so even if the colleges are retaining and progressing students, there are limited economic opportunities for their graduates.

    Echoing earlier Equality of Opportunity Project findings, he wrote, “This may also be influenced by the fact that black families earn and accumulate wealth at far lower rates than whites do and that 25- to 34-year-old African Americans with a bachelor’s degree earn 15 percent less and experience an unemployment rate two-thirds higher than their typical nonblack peers.”

    4 Funding and acceptance rates aren’t the end all, be all.

    When it comes to a school’s cachet, funding and acceptance rates attract a lot of attention. “Many Top Colleges Report Record-Low Acceptance Rates,” read a Wall Street Journal headline last month; the story went on to report that Harvard University, for instance, accepted just 4.5% of its applicants.

    But Klor de Alva found that, at least when it came to promoting mobility among low-income students, these factors are relatively insignificant. As in the Citadel-Pine Bluff example, similarly competitive schools can have dramatically different outcomes. So can similarly funded schools.

    “The top 10 schools, with adjusted mobility rates twice those of the bottom 10, on average spend nearly the same as the bottom 10 on instructional costs ($7,800 versus $9,000) and core costs ($18,000 versus $19,700),” Klor de Alva wrote.

    (It’s worth noting here that Klor de Alva left out the smallest colleges from his sample, saying that some of them “receive so much funding per student that they skew the statistics, but those students tend to be poor in terms of mobility.”)

    5 Management matters.

    Perhaps not surprising for a former higher education administrator, Klor de Alva concludes that institutional leadership makes a big difference.

    “There really are things that good management can do because similarly situated schools perform with such huge variation,” he said.“Clearly, we have an issue here in management.”

    As one way to improve management, Klor de Alva noted that Congress is currently considering an overhaul of the Higher Education Act, which he said provides an opportunity to shift the incentive structure for colleges. If the federal government tied the subsidies it provides to colleges to their graduation rates, for example, college administrators would be more motivated to support their students all the way to graduation.

    “I think that there’s a profound responsibility on behalf of the students and their families, as there is on the schools, to get the kid to the finish line,” Klor de Alva said. “Everyone has to really be focused on doing so.”


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  • 3 Ways NYU Is Training New Teachers to Use Special Ed and ELL Strategies to Better Serve All Kids

    By Beth Hawkins | April 21, 2019

    New York University is expanding its novel teacher training program, which places diverse teachers into high-needs schools for an intensive, yearlong master’s program organized around the belief that all teachers benefit by learning to work with students with disabilities and those learning English.

    The Steinhardt’s Teacher Residency program combines online academic preparation with full-time classroom placements in districts and public charter schools in four states. Now completing its third year, it has grown from serving 10 interns to 75. The program’s goal is to have at least 40 percent of each class of teacher residents be candidates of color, according to an NYU spokesperson. More than half of members of the first three groups have been people of color.

    A recently announced $481,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation will support the program going forward. Here are three of its big strategies.

    1 All teachers will learn special education and English-language-learner strategies.

    The NYU program has taken a signature approach to training new teachers to work in classrooms where students have diverse and intense needs. All teacher candidates in the program learn not just to teach in a content area such as math or English, but also to adjust their instruction to reach all students.

    “All of our interns are going to be in inclusion settings,” said Diana Turk, the program’s director of teacher education, referring to classrooms where students receive special education services alongside general ed students. “They’re going to be more effective teachers for all students, not just for their students with [disabilities].”

    As U.S. classrooms become more diverse, teachers are increasingly required to tailor instruction to students with vastly differing needs. The methods employed by special education teachers in particular can help fill this gap.

    It’s a unique way of addressing a long-standing problem. Traditionally, colleges of education have treated teaching students with disabilities and students learning English as specialized skills needed only by those who will work intensively with those groups, often in a separate classroom. General education teachers-in-training may get brief exposure to strategies for meeting those students’ needs, and in some places an extra degree or credential is required.

    Among other factors, this has compounded shortages of special ed and English-language-learner teachers, even as demand for them has risen.


    A Little Finland, a Little Canada, a Lot of Moxie: Why One Indianapolis Teachers College Is Betting It Can Train More Successful Educators After a Radical Reboot

    From 2005 to 2015, the number of special education teachers in the United States fell by 17 percent, while the number of students in need of their services decreased just 1 percent, according to Education Week.

    In 2016, 32 states reported shortages of teachers of English language learners, even as the number of students needing their services climbed by 1 million between 2000 and 2015 to 4.8 million.

    2 Including “emergent bilinguals” and students with disabilities will be the rule, not the exception.

    At the same time, schools increasingly recognize the value of serving both groups of students in mainstream classrooms, where their increased numbers now make them as common as any other student demographic group. Arrangements for meeting their needs in general education classrooms, however, range from “push-in” services, where specialists pop in to offer support, to placing two teachers, one with the requisite skills, in a single classroom.

    NYU’s graduates will have all three sets of skills, said Ayanna Taylor, a professor in the program.

    “We wanted to make it such a central part of our curriculum that that there was no segmenting off,” she said.

    3 New teachers will demonstrate their abilities before getting a classroom of their own.

    After teaching for a year in New York, California, Florida and Pennsylvania in settings as varied as San Francisco Unified School District and a number of small charter schools, some with a focus on including students with disabilities, NYU’s residents will earn a master’s degree. If trained observers rate them as effective or nearly so, they will be recommended for a New York state teaching credential.

    Disclosure: The Walton Family Foundation provides financial support to New York University’s Steinhardt’s Teacher Residency and to The 74.


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  • EduClips: From Private School Security in NYC to Questionable School Crime Reporting in Broward County, School News You Missed This Week From America’s 15 Biggest Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | April 18, 2019

    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.

    New York City — Security Guards at Private Schools Will Cost $22 Million in Public Funds, THE CITY Finds: An effort to use public funds to pay for unarmed security guards at private schools — including some of the city’s most elite institutions — is on pace to cost taxpayers $22.3 million over the past three years, according to an investigation by THE CITY. The effort, created under City Council legislation and approved by Mayor Bill de Blasio in late 2015, has grown from $4 million for 127 schools in its first year to an expected $10.7 million and 163 schools this year. While the vast majority of participating non-public institutions are Catholic and Jewish schools, at least 10 elite private schools have collected funding to pay for guards — including Manhattan’s The Dalton School, Lycée Français of New York and The Buckley School. Tuition at the 10 schools ranges from $37,150 to $51,950, raising questions among some officials who oppose doling out taxpayer money to private schools. (Read at THE CITY)

    Broward County — School Crime Data in Fort Lauderdale and Other Florida Districts Suffers from Under-Reporting: School districts in Florida often under-report and sometimes over-report crimes and other problems on their campuses, giving the public no clue about how safe any school is, members of a commission investigating the 2018 Parkland shootings said recently. For example, Stephen Foster Elementary in Gainesville reported 72 physical attacks of students last school year, while Miami-Dade County reported none for the entire school district. That same year, Pinellas County reported 410 batteries, while Palm Beach County, a district nearly twice as large, reported only 66. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Public Safety Commission, which is investigating the massacre that killed 17 people, concluded that while some administrators purposely under-report data to make their schools look safer, there also has been inconsistent training and differing views on how serious an incident needs to be before it’s reported to the state. (Read at the Sun Sentinel)

    Gwinnett County — Students Complain to School Board About Over-Testing: Gwinnett County’s school board has recently heard a lot about testing from parents, school leaders and teachers. But recently, it heard from arguably the most important constituency of all: high school students. Adam Lux and Jacob Bowerman, seniors at Parkview High School, questioned the necessity of so many tests — especially at the end of the school year. Passing the AP exams earns college credit. The students said they were over-taxed and over-stressed by studying for AP exams while simultaneously studying for county- and state-mandated tests. They asked the school system to consider waivers for state-required End of Course tests for seniors with good grades and attendance. Although he’s sympathetic to the students’ concerns, the assistant superintendent in charge of instruction said the district’s flexibility on tests is limited by state requirements. (Read at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    Houston — Families Bilked by Charter School Founders to Receive $600,000 in Restitution: More than 4,000 parents of students who attended a Houston charter school whose founders have been imprisoned for mail fraud and tax evasion will receive more than $600,000 in restitution, the U.S. Department of Justice recently announced. The Varnett Public School is a charter school with three locations in Houston. In August 2017, founding superintendent Marian Annette Cluff, 70, and her husband Alsie Cluff Jr., 69, who worked as facilities and operations manager, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and conspiracy to commit tax evasion charges for embezzling millions of dollars from the school. The couple received a combined prison sentence of 13 years and was ordered to pay a total of $4.4 million in restitution. The Cluffs embezzled millions of dollars in funds that were intended for the operation and function of the charter school and its programs, according to court records. Prosecutors say the couple took money that mostly low-income parents paid for school field trips, book fairs, student fundraisers and other school activities, and used the funds to support a lavish lifestyle that included trips on private jets, multiple properties, designer clothes and jewelry. (Read at Houston Public Media)

    Miami-Dade County — Bill Would Ensure That Charter Schools Share in Property Tax Windfalls: A new bill filed in the Florida state legislature would require school districts to include charters in their windfalls from local property tax referendums. The bill, proposed by the House Ways and Means Committee led by Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Miami Springs, says that districts must share these funds with charter schools or risk having other monies withheld. The bill would affect Miami-Dade, Broward and at least a dozen other districts whose constituents have voted to raise property taxes for school operations, such as paying teachers. The bill’s origins likely rest in an ongoing dispute in Miami-Dade, which overwhelmingly passed a property tax hike in November. About 88 percent of the funding expected to be collected in its first of four years — more than $200 million — has already been bargained with the teachers union to supplement teacher salaries. (Read at the Miami Herald)

    Fairfax County — District Officials Apologize for Student Artwork Viewed as Anti-Semitic: Officials in Virginia’s largest school system have apologized for artwork from a high school student that depicted Jewish people with anti-Semitic stereotypes and was displayed at a local college. The image, shown as part of an exhibition from Feb. 15 to March 14 at Northern Virginia Community College’s Annandale campus, depicts a man with a hooked nose carrying a bag of money. The caption reads, in capital letters, “No Jew in the world understands the importance of money.” The image was one of eight in a portfolio called “Racial Irony” that won a regional art award. The series was intended to convey a message that the “exaggeration of stereotypes spreads ignorance,” according to Fairfax County Public Schools. But the work from a South County High School student sparked criticism from some members of the Jewish community, who said the art perpetuated anti-Semitic imagery. County Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand apologized on March 28 in a letter to the community and said the student did not intend to offend anyone. (Read at The Washington Post)

    Los Angeles — High-Level Spat Ensues Over Mayor’s Tax Proposal to Raise Funds for School District: A spat has erupted between the head of a Los Angeles County business organization and a high-level adviser to Mayor Eric Garcetti over a tax proposal from the mayor to raise money for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Tracy Hernandez, founding chief executive of the Los Angeles County Business Federation, known as BizFed, said Rick Jacobs, campaign manager for the tax measure known as Measure EE, told her during a phone call last month that BizFed members who campaign against the measure won’t do any business in the city of L.A. for the next four years. Jacobs denied Hernandez’s account of their exchange. “I am insulted that she would accuse me of being so trite as to use the old ‘won’t do business in this town’ line,” Jacobs said. BizFed is the county’s largest federation of business groups, representing more than 180 business associations and 400,000 employers, according to the group. BizFed and other business organizations, including the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, have formed a “No on Measure EE” committee to campaign against the tax. (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

    TEACHERS UNIONS — Are teachers unions helping or hurting schools? Here’s what the newest research tells us (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ADMISSIONS SCANDAL El-Mekki: Stop Being Shocked by the College Admissions Scandal — America Has Never Been a Meritocracy — and Start Fighting for Real Equity (Read at

    NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS They believe more students should attend neighborhood schools. But what happens when it’s their child? (Read at The Washington Post)

    STUDENT LEARNING Does Moving to a Brand New School Building Improve Student Learning? (Read at Education Week)

    EMPATHY — What my students learned — and didn’t learn — from my efforts to teach empathy in language arts class (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Quotes of the Week

    “It defies common sense. It defies logic.” —Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Public Safety Commission, which is investigating the massacre that killed 17 people, on the under-reporting and sometimes over-reporting of crimes at Florida schools. (Read at the Sun Sentinel)

    “Well, you know, I’m going to die in here and I’m a virgin and I will have never met Bruce Springsteen.” —Heather Martin, recalling what she told a friend nearly 20 years ago as two gunmen terrorized Columbine High School. Today, she teaches high school English in nearby Aurora, Colorado. (Read at

    “One of my teachers … put it frankly, ‘I can either teach you what you need to know for the AP [Advanced Placement] exam to earn college credit and give you a review packet for the EOC [end-of-course exam] or I can spend valuable class time teaching you what the county thinks you should know, because that’s a completely different course.’” —Adam Lux, a senior at Parkview High School in Gwinnett County, Georgia, on the large amount of testing seniors face. (Read at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    “That’s something that, frankly, we’ve all just taken for granted: ‘Of course, [the U.S. is] a democracy, it’s always going to be a democracy.’ Well, we’re beginning to kind of rethink that. We’re nowhere near Venezuela, I’m not suggesting that, but there are cracks. And it’s not just because Trump got elected, because actually a lot of this stuff was coming up before Trump arose on the scene. We’ve seen evidence of this now for the last few years, and if anything, 2016 kind of galvanized our attention. Yeah, this is a moment.” —David Campbell, a political scientist at Notre Dame. (Read at

    “When we want to embrace the past, when we get nostalgic for the past, when we think it was better, then we get all warm and fuzzy about handwriting.” —Historian Tamara Plakins Thornton on the resurgence of cursive writing. (Read at NPR)


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  • Security Chief Says Enduring ‘Fascination’ With Columbine Shooting Has Long Been School District’s Top Security Concern, As Infatuated Woman Behind ‘Credible’ Threat Found Dead

    By Mark Keierleber | April 17, 2019


    An 18-year-old woman “infatuated” with the Columbine High School shooting who led Denver-area schools to close after she made a “credible” but unspecific threat was found dead Wednesday morning.

    Federal and local law enforcement officials found the woman dead Wednesday morning from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Dean Phillips, special agent in charge at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Denver office, said in a press conference.

    The situation comes just days before the 20th anniversary of a mass school shooting at Columbine. On April 20, 1999, two student gunmen opened fire at the school, killing 13 people before taking their own lives. The gunmen who conducted the massacre, perhaps the most widely known mass school shooting in American history, have developed a cult following online. Scores of mass shooters have cited the Columbine killers as motivation.

    In a recent interview at the Columbine campus, Jefferson County Schools’ head security official said people who visit the campus have long been the district’s biggest security concern.

    “The primary issue for us is really the fascination with the 1999 tragedy,” John McDonald, the district school safety chief, told The 74. “That’s something we deal with in large numbers. People from around the world feel connected to the events, to the tragedy.”

    John McDonald talks with his team over the radio while preparing for a media event for survivors and families of victims of the Columbine High School shooting on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. McDonald is the director of safety, security and emergency planning for the Jefferson County School District, where Columbine is located. (Chet Strange for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

    While the district is used to receiving threats against Columbine, “this one felt different, it was different, and it certainly had our attention,” McDonald said on Wednesday. “To close an entire metro area is not an easy decision, but at the end of the day, it’s the right decision, the best decision, to protect all of our kids.”

    Police say the woman, Sol Pais, was considered “armed and dangerous.” The threat didn’t target any one specific school, Phillips said. Pais, a high school student Florida, flew from Miami to Denver on Monday. That evening, her parents reported her missing to local police, according to the Miami Herald. Phillips said reports of unusual behavior concerned officials at the FBI’s office in Miami, who passed on information to the team in Denver Tuesday morning. Phillips said Pais made troubling comments that indicated an infatuation with the Columbine shooting and that she recognized the 20th anniversary was approaching. She also purchased one-way airline tickets to Denver for three consecutive days, Phillips said. Once she arrived in Colorado, Pais purchased a pump-action shotgun and ammunition, an official with the Federal Bureau of Investigation told reporters.

    Authorities found Pais dead Wednesday morning near the base of Mount Evans.

    To his knowledge, McDonald said, Pais never made it onto Columbine property. Jeff Shrader, the Jefferson County sheriff, said it doesn’t appear Pais had any assistance or friends in Colorado, “just a fascination with the Columbine area and the horrendous crime that went on there 20 years ago.” Federal authorities are currently combing through her social media accounts to identify any potential accomplices, Phillips said.

    Jason Glass, superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools, said his district was the “epicenter of this threat,” but high alert extended across the metropolitan area due to a concern that a school in any of the districts could be targeted.

    Glass said he plans to reopen schools Thursday but with heightened security procedures. Community events to memorialize the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting will continue as planned, he said.

    “After events like this, we typically deploy additional mental health support, counseling, and make that available to our staff, our students, our families,” Glass said, noting that this isn’t the first time the district has faced such a scenario. “It’s a sad statement that we’re becoming more used to handling situations like this, but we’re expecting that there will be some grief and processing and mental issues to contend with tomorrow.”

    On Tuesday, schools in the Denver area were placed on a lockout, meaning campus doors were locked but classes continued as normal. In the past few months, officials have placed Columbine under lockdown twice after receiving bomb threats.

    “What we deal with more are people that want to come to the school that are focused on feeling it and touching it and experiencing it, being inspired by it,” McDonald said.


    Two Decades Ago, They Survived the Horrors of Columbine. Two Became Teachers. One Stayed in the Classroom. Today, They Reflect on Grief and America’s Shooting-Scarred Landscape

    McDonald said the district’s relationship with the local sheriff’s office allows school leaders to quickly identify people who plan to visit the Columbine campus.

    We’re very aware of people coming here. We have a really robust security program that identifies and allows us to interact with them very quickly,” he said. “For us, that’s daunting, it’s exhausting, it’s worrisome.”

    The motivation for people who try to visit the Columbine campus, McDonald said, “runs the gamut from ‘I want my child to see what this is about because it was a pivotal moment in my life’” to people who ultimately carry out attacks of their own. Some cultists are obsessed with Columbine, he said, because they feel a personal connection with the shooters, buying into a popular misconception that they acted out of revenge from pervasive bullying.

    “There’s a lot of misconception and lack of understanding about what happened,” he said, “and there’s so much stuff on the dark web surrounding this school that we fight this battle, I call it, of hearts and minds about what really happened here.”

    During the press conference on Wednesday, McDonald offered a simple plea: Leave Columbine alone.

    “We are not a place to come visit if you’re not a student,” he said. “If you don’t have business there, we’re not a tourist attraction and we’re not a place for you to come and gain inspiration.”


    Amid Latest Suicides With School Shooting Ties, Columbine Families Share Lessons on Addressing Lasting Trauma


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  • Education Level ‘Strongly Predicts’ Degree of Bias Against Women in Politics, New Survey Shows

    By Laura Fay | April 16, 2019

    Whether you believe women are “emotionally suited” to hold political office is closely tied to your level of education, a new report suggests.

    Education level “strongly predicts” bias against women in politics, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. Nineteen percent of those surveyed with less than a high school degree said men are “ better suited emotionally for politics” than are most women, compared with just 7 percent of people with postgraduate degrees who said the same. One in 10 respondents with a bachelor’s degree agreed that men are more suitable for political office.

    That bias is “troubling,” said Nicole Smith, CEW chief economist and an author of the report.

    “It’s no real surprise that education is highly correlated with more tolerant views overall,” Smith said. “But what was surprising was the extent to which those differences still held in 2018.”

    Prejudice against women in politics has fallen in the United States since the 1970s, but the authors note that the bias that persists could be enough to swing an election against a female candidate.

    Overall, 13 percent of both women and men said they agreed that men are “better suited emotionally for politics than most women.” That figure was close to 50 percent in 1975.

    Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, May the Best Woman Win?: Education and Bias against Women in American Politics, 2019

    The report uses data from the 2018 General Social Survey, a project of the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. The General Social Survey, conducted every other year since the 1970s, uses in-person interviews to track American public opinion on various issues.

    Family income, race, political party affiliation and age have effects on respondents’ perceptions of women’s emotional suitability as well.

    The analysis comes as a record six women have officially entered the primary race for the Democratic presidential nomination: Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and author Marianne Williamson.


    Free College. Debt-Free College. Higher Ed Affordability. Whatever You Call It, It’s the First Big Education Issue of the 2020 Campaign

    Although the 2018 midterm elections saw a record number of women elected to Congress, men still hold about 75 percent of seats there — at a time when American educational attainment is at an all-time high.

    The authors write that the results support “the common belief that education is an antidote to intolerance,” at least in the case of bias against women in politics. The report also notes that an “imbalance” in media coverage can complicate how voters view candidates.

    The silver lining, Smith noted, is that the share of respondents who don’t believe women are suited to political office has been getting smaller over time.

    “All of the evidence, in my opinion, points to the fact that as we move into the future and become more educated, we should observe lower levels of people uncomfortable with the idea of a woman running for office,” she said.

    Disclosure: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided support for this report and also provides financial support to The 74.


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  • Report: School District Secessions Are Accelerating, Furthering ‘State Sanctioned’ Segregation

    By Mark Keierleber | April 16, 2019

    Updated April 24

    Several years ago, school district secession efforts received national attention when the community of Gardendale, Alabama, waged a fierce battle against the greater county school system. In a years-long campaign, people in the predominantly white and middle-class Birmingham suburb fought to split from the predominantly black Jefferson County school district.

    Ultimately, a court struck down the effort, citing the community’s racial motives. Since then, according to an EdBuild analysis, school district secession efforts across the country have accelerated. EdBuild argues that residents who push to create their own school systems are often motivated by one overarching factor: school funding.

    “We are seeing over and over that it’s about the money,” said Zahava Stadler, director of policy at EdBuild, a think tank focused on education funding equity. She pointed to efforts in Malibu, California, to split from a unified district with Santa Monica. “From the outside, it might seem a little bit silly to think there’s a big financial divide between Santa Monica and Malibu, but really when you’re on the ground in that community, there is a difference and it really came down to sharing — or not sharing — the money raised” by parent-teacher associations. The associations typically raise money for a range of school spending, like additional programs, staff or activities, but have also raised equity concerns in recent years.

    When one district splits into two, the move often creates a wealthy school system that leaves behind one with high poverty and poor funding. Since 2000, at least 128 communities have launched campaigns to secede from their local school districts to create their own, smaller education systems. Of those, 73 have been successful, 10 of them finalized in just the past few years. Another 17 secession efforts are currently underway.


    When Communities Secede From School Districts, Inequity & Segregation Follow. But 30 States Let It Happen Anyway

    Of the new districts created through secession, the majority are whiter and wealthier than the school systems they left behind, according to EdBuild. Those secession districts also tend to have higher property values and household incomes — an important factor since nearly half of all education funding is generated through local sources, primarily property taxes from residents within a school district’s borders.

    With 30 states that currently permit such fracturing, school district secession efforts aren’t confined to a specific geographic region. Since 2017, however, the majority of successful secessions — eight of the past 11 — have occurred in Maine. Since 2013, 41 municipalities in Maine have withdrawn from regional school districts, according to the state education department. While school funding has played a role in the Maine secessions, so too have state efforts to consolidate districts. Residents in some communities were concerned that their local schools would close as a result of the district consolidations.

    The history of school district secession stems back to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which found segregation in public schools unconstitutional. In the South, municipal secessions from county-based school districts were a popular tool some communities used to resist desegregation. There have been 10 successful school district secessions in Alabama alone since 2000, and another attempt is ongoing. Alabama has a permissive district secession law, EdBuild argues, that allows for separations that intensify socioeconomic and racial divisions.

    North Carolina law doesn’t allow for school district secessions, but residents in suburban Charlotte recently got a workaround. Under a state law approved last year, residents in four Charlotte suburbs were permitted to create charter schools that gave enrollment priority to their direct communities. Meanwhile, a provision in the state budget allowed municipalities to direct certain property tax revenues to campuses in their individual neighborhoods.

    “So if you can create a school that’s only for kids in your town and you’re allowed to direct money to a school that’s in your town, that together creates something that is secession in all but name,” Stadler said.

    States must reimagine their school funding systems so communities don’t feel the incentive to secede from their broader communities, according to the EdBuild report, which updates a 2017 report on the same topic. All students, Stadler said, should have an equal shot at a fairly resourced education.

    “The notion of allowing small enclaves to withhold a portion of their taxes to serve only themselves is unique to education,” according to the report. “Imagine allowing citizens to withhold taxes for libraries that they don’t use or sidewalks they don’t walk on.”


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  • Comedian Wyatt Cenac’s Latest Episode of ‘Problem Areas’ Takes On a Topic That’s No Laughing Matter: School Security

    By Mark Keierleber | April 11, 2019

    Wyatt Cenac’s HBO series Problem Areas is technically a comedy. But in his latest episode, which airs Friday night, he gets serious about school safety and the racial implications of security hardware like metal detectors.

    “While metal detectors might help parents feel safer, they may not create the best learning environment for kids,” Cenac says in the latest episode, which airs on HBO at 11 p.m. Friday. Though metal detectors in schools remain deeply controversial, they’re a relatively small part of America’s expansive, $2.7 billion school security industry.

    After several mass school shootings last year, lawmakers and district leaders across the country responded with a heightened focus on school security features like surveillance cameras and metal detectors, despite a dearth of research showing whether the measures are effective. In fact, some recent reports have found that school security efforts, like the growth of school-based police officers, can negatively impact students’ academic performance and their perceptions of safety in schools.


    Lessons From Our Year Tracking School Shootings: Students More Likely to Be Hit by Lightning Than Shot in Class, Yet Fear of Mass Violence Is Driving Policy

    Black students are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their white peers, federal data show, and some advocates worry that a heightened focus on school discipline could funnel minority students into prisons.

    The first season of Problem Areas was devoted to America’s criminal justice system. The current season, which launched last week, tackles key education debates. Last week, Cenac highlighted the latest wave of teacher strikes and school funding. Watch last week’s episode here:

    Cenac’s latest episode on student safety focuses primarily on security in New York City’s public schools, where a debate over metal detectors at campus entrances has brewed for years. In 2015, the public radio station WNYC found that more than 90,000 high school students in New York City face airport-style security screenings each morning. The WNYC investigation found that about half of black high school students are scanned by metal detectors each morning, compared with about 14 percent of public school students who are white.

    The New York City Department of Education, however, has long been reluctant to share which campuses are equipped with metal detectors. During the 2017-18 school year, city officials seized 2,718 weapons in schools, a 28 percent spike over the prior school year, according to the New York Post.


    ‘Like Minority Report but in Real Life’: Post-Parkland, Schools Turn to Controversial Artificial Intelligence Surveillance to Thwart Potential Shootings

    “The moment I step inside my school, I’m not greeted by a teacher, I’m greeted by a security guard,” one student said in the episode, part of which was aired during a screening and panel discussion at Manhattan’s exclusive Soho House Wednesday evening. Each morning the student has to place his personal belongings through a scanner. “I’m already perceived as a threat.”

    There are about as many safety agents in New York City’s public schools, Cenac noted, as there are police officers in Houston.

    “Seeing that, it can start to feel like what’s being sold as school safety is preparing black and brown kids for a different kind of learning environment,” Cenac said before pivoting to discuss an education initiative in New York prisons.

    Such school safety measures offer a “false sense of security,” Jasmine Gripper, legislative director and statewide education advocate of the group Alliance for Quality Education, said during Wednesday’s panel discussion. Gripper promoted state legislation to reduce suspensions and limit student interactions with school-based police. “The way you stop school shootings is by kids feeling seen, by kids feeling safe, by kids feeling love. When we provide that emotional support for students, that’s what safety looks like.”


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

    But Nikole Hannah-Jones, a writer for The New York Times Magazine, said some students have a positive perception of metal detectors in their schools. Students felt that way, she said, when she visited one of the poorest high schools in Detroit. Students felt unsafe both at school and in their neighborhoods.

    “In my head, metal detectors are absolutely wrong. Kids should not have to go through metal detectors to go to school, but kids also shouldn’t have to live in conditions where people feel like they have to have metal detectors in schools.” Hannah-Jones said. “We’re placing the burden on schools to address the fact that we actually don’t care that much about black kids.”


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