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October 2019
  • Adorable: At Schools Across America, a New Halloween Tradition — Students Choosing Teachers’ Costumes

    By Meghan Gallagher | October 30, 2019

    A holiday trend we didn’t see coming: Halloween-themed curriculum that enlists the creativity of students in helping their teachers stand out in a world full of derivative costumes. Across social media, educators are sharing their favorite submissions, often brought to life with colorful instructions and rationale. For the record, we’ve never seen a more convincing case made for a narwhal costume.

    Some of our favorite postings:

    Taco or Flower? Ms. Middleton’s students decide:

    You are what you eat, according to elementary school teacher Victoria Carter’s students in Arkansas:

    Ms. Cioffi’s second-grade class from Hiawatha Elementary School participated in finding the perfect costume. One option: Lady Gaga. Why? “You can go like ‘La la la.’”

    We vote Narwhal. “Narwhal is awesome!”

    Miss Puckett’s second-grade class from Middletown, Ohio, didn’t disappoint:

    This creation went beyond the box of crayons:

    This one wins for wordplay:

    https://iwanttobeasuperteacher.com/blog

    Ms. DeWitt from Lynchburg, Virginia, was pleased with this year’s suggestions:

    Something sweet:

    And lastly – something spooky:

    CVES 5th Grade

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  • A ‘Disturbing’ Assessment: Sagging Reading Scores, Particularly for Eighth-Graders, Headline 2019’s Disappointing NAEP Results

    By Kevin Mahnken | October 30, 2019

    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.

    Scores released today from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) held bad news for American schools, with trends that are essentially flat in mathematics and down in reading. Most states saw little or no improvement in either subject, with their lowest-performing students showing the most significant declines in scores. Whether the cause lies in hangover effects from the Great Recession, missteps in federal education policy, or some combination of these and other factors, there has been little progress to be assessed for over a decade.

    Overall results for eighth-grade reading — the lone, if modest, highlight in 2017’s scores, with a gain of a single point that year — provided the greatest cause for discouragement this time around, sinking by three percentage points. The percentage of fourth-graders testing “proficient” in the subject (a higher bar, by NAEP’s definition, than simply reading on grade level) dropped from 37 percent in 2017 to 35 percent today; the percentage of proficient eighth-graders sagged from 36 percent to 34 percent over the same period.

    National Center for Education Statistics

    “It’s really sad,” said Joanne Weiss, an education consultant who ran the Race to the Top Program under Obama-era Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “It’s heartbreaking, especially the reading results and the results for the lowest-performing kids.”

    NAEP was first administered in 1969 as a measure of fourth- and eighth-graders’ achievement in the core areas of reading and math. The biannual release of test results by the National Center for Education Statistics, in a package of national- and state-level data commonly referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, has offered a regular checkup on how students of different racial, ethnic and geographic backgrounds are learning.

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    A ‘Lost Decade’ for Academic Progress? NAEP Scores Remain Flat Amid Signs of a Widening Gap Between Highest and Lowest Performers

    Since late in the presidency of George W. Bush, the trend has been one of stasis. Scores have barely moved for any subject-grade combination in over 10 years, as NCES Associate Commissioner Peggy Carr told reporters on a media call ahead of the release. For some students, she added, the inertia extends back over a quarter-century.

    “Since … 1992, there has been no growth for the lowest-performing students in either fourth-grade or eighth-grade reading,” she said. “That is, our students who are struggling the most at reading are where they were nearly 30 years ago.”

    Weiss blamed the lack of upward movement in the subject on an ignorance of prevailing literacy research. Experts have complained for decades that many young children are inadequately exposed to phonics-based instruction, leading them to miss important reading milestones early in their school careers.

    “We have an education system that’s largely ignoring, or doesn’t understand, the research on teaching skills to read — the foundational skills, the decoding skills,” she said. “We just don’t really pay attention to the research about how to get every child reading by third grade, even though it’s pretty well documented how to do that.”

    While students at all performance levels scored worse in both fourth-grade and eighth-grade reading, those downticks were larger for struggling students (those who scored at the 10th and 25th percentiles, respectively). This grim development somewhat echoes a trend noted in 2017, when a widening gap became evident between the highest- and lowest-scoring students. This year, the top performers saw either stagnation or meager decreases, while the lowest-scoring test takers slid substantially, particularly in reading.

    National Center for Education Statistics

    Few exceptions to stagnation

    With each NAEP release, education observers home in on which states and cities defied trends by performing better than their peers.

    This year, there are few shining stars. Forty states maintained roughly the same performance in fourth-grade math, and 43 did the same in eighth-grade math. For reading, disappointment was widespread: Students in an incredible 31 states performed worse in eighth-grade reading than they did in 2017.

    Only two jurisdictions saw statistically significant improvements over their 2017 performance in three out of four subject-grade combinations: Mississippi and Washington, D.C. On the media call, Carr observed that both jurisdictions achieved the highest score gains in the history of their participation on NAEP.

    Washington — a mecca for education reform that has implemented an exacting school-quality framework and encouraged a wide proliferation of charter schools — was also something of a success story in 2017, when both the charter and traditional public school sectors showed notable improvement over the previous decade.

    Related

    Analysis: NAEP Scores Show D.C. Is a Leader in Educational Improvement — With Powerful Lessons for Other Cities

    Thomas Dee, a professor of education at Stanford University who has won awards for his research on Washington’s teacher performance system, said that the District’s continual upward trend could be attributable to its long-term emphasis on accountability.

    While cautioning that NAEP scores “are not the most convincing evidence of [policy successes], or even close,” Dee said the city stood out for its teacher evaluation system, even as high-profile experiments in other areas have faced massive implementation challenges. Notably, local authorities are now weighing whether to overhaul the system by opening it up to collective bargaining, a step that some have warned could put recent achievement gains at risk.

    “One of the ‘tells’ for success is whether cities were able to have variation in teacher ratings” — in other words, whether they consistently distinguished between effective and ineffective teachers — “and to use them consequentially for personnel decisions,” he noted. “D.C. is one of the few places that actually seemed to get that right. They have a high-fidelity implementation of teacher evaluation that actually generated meaningful variations in measures of teacher effectiveness.”

    Mississippi has also made steady gains in both subjects over the past few years, winning specific praise from some reformers for the strides it made during the last round of NAEP testing. Since the state initiated a decade-long campaign to improve instructional rigor — including the adoption of more stringent academic standards and aligning its own state test with NAEP’s format and content — student performance has shot up in all subjects, including a 13-point boost in fourth-grade math and a nine-point increase in eighth-grade math since 2009.

    Weiss said she thought other states could benefit from the example of those that have climbed rapidly.

    “There’s lessons we can take from those places that have had serious and intentional strategies for academic improvement,” she said. “In Mississippi … they have had a significant focus at the state level on high-quality instructional materials, with professional learning wrapped around it. It’s important to study those places and pay attention to what they’re doing.”

    Apart from the limited good news at the state level, Dee called the lack of national progress “disturbing.” While NAEP scores offer limited insight into the success of American schools and students, we ignore the continued poor performance at our own peril, he said.

    “Test scores are picking up measures of cognitive skills that matter not only for our children’s economic future, but that redound to multiple other dimensions of human welfare: their health outcomes, their likelihood of going to prison, the character of their civic engagement, which are all related to what they learn in school. This is why so many of us care about education. And we’re seeing our system challenged here in terms of realizing our children’s potential.”

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  • Monthly QuotED: 7 Notable Quotes That Made Education Headlines in October, From School Security to Teacher Strikes — and the Value of a Detroit High School Diploma

    By Andrew Brownstein | October 29, 2019

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

    “I hope the strike ends sooner, and they do what they need to do. It’s not benefiting the kids or parents. School is their safe place, and it’s where they get a meal, too.” —Fantasia Martin, a mother of two young girls, as the Chicago teachers’ strike entered its second week. (Read at The Washington Post)

    Getty Images

    “When the average age of a building is 44 years, things start to fail.” —Mary Filardo, executive director of the 21st Century School Fund, on the need to invest in school infrastructure. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “When it was us, the district didn’t feel like they needed to have any immediacy. We don’t have the resources that SLA has, and their parents jumped on it right away. Where there’s money and influence, there’s more privilege.” —Keith Pretlow, a culinary-arts teacher at Ben Franklin High School in Philadelphia. When Science Leadership Academy, a magnet school, relocated to share the site with Ben Franklin, a long-delayed asbestos cleanup moved into high gear. (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    “Is this really school? Is this really education? Is this how it is supposed to be? How am I going to go to college and write a five-page essay … when I’ve been watching movies or going down to the gym?” —Jamarria Hall, 19, who graduated at the top of his class at Detroit’s Osborn High School, a time he now considers four lost years. (Read at the Detroit News)

    “I don’t think you can ethically sell an endorsement.” —S. Daniel Carter, president of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, on school security companies that pay $18,000 a year for the right to call themselves “School Solutions” partners with AASA, The School Superintendents Association. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “The bias is present. It’s written. It’s stated. It’s plain.” —Kristen Harper, director for policy development at Child Trends, on threat assessments such as those used by schools in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that disproportionately target minority students and those with disabilities. (Read at Searchlight New Mexico)

    “What if our farts are supposed to help us fly?!” —a student of Christina Torres, an eighth-grade English teacher in Honolulu, collected as part of Education Week’s “Tiny Teaching Stories.” (Read at Education Week)

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  • New Data Illustrate the Depth of America’s College Completion Crisis

    By Kevin Mahnken | October 29, 2019

    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.

    American higher education is experiencing what some experts have called a “completion crisis.”

    The proportion of high school graduates who immediately matriculate to college has risen substantially in recent decades, even as the high school graduation rate has itself climbed. But a dark trend has emerged alongside these cheery developments: Just 40 percent of the freshmen enrolled in four-year colleges each year graduate with a degree on time. Roughly one-third of all college students in both two- or four-year programs never earn a degree at all.

    That adds up to almost 4 million college dropouts stuck with billions of dollars of debt for their troubles. And each year, the cycle perpetuates itself: from triumphant high school commencement speeches to tragic choices, sometimes just months apart, to financial burdens that haunt former students for years to come.

    In searching for solutions, much of the scrutiny has fallen on colleges and universities. And indeed, institutions of higher education vary widely in the support they offer to low-income and minority students, who are the likeliest to encounter obstacles on the path to graduation. For every Bethel University or SUNY Alfred, where disadvantaged undergraduates attain degrees in numbers that defy the odds, there is a University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where students seem to struggle inexplicably.

    Related

    Alarming Statistics Tell the Story Behind America’s College Completion Crisis: Nearly a Third of All College Students Still Don’t Have a Degree Six Years Later

    But the numbers are no less stunning on the K-12 side. Simply put, the differences in college outcomes between relatively advantaged and disadvantaged high schools can be shocking. While colleges may not succeed at placing all of their students on the pathway to upward mobility, that’s partially because they are being asked to remedy social divisions that have been on the scene much longer than they have.

    That’s the inescapable takeaway from a recent release of data by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The group’s seventh annual report on national college benchmarks — essentially tracking how many K-12 students enroll in, persist through and graduate from college — offers a bracing perspective on the inequalities that cleave American education.

    Circulated in early October, the report compiles data from about 6 million students who have graduated from public or private high schools since 2012. Roughly 40 percent of all U.S. high school graduates are represented in each year tracked, the authors write, providing “the most relevant benchmarks that secondary education practitioners can use to evaluate and monitor progress in assisting students to make the transition from high school to college.”

    The data yield a swath of noteworthy findings, but two major conclusions stand out.

    Most students aren’t graduating on time

    It won’t surprise many to learn that graduates from relatively advantaged high schools are more likely to enroll in college than those from relatively disadvantaged ones. NSC’s report demonstrates those disparities clearly: More than three-quarters of all graduates from low-poverty schools (defined as those where 25 percent of students or less are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch) immediately enroll, whereas just over half of those from high-poverty high schools (where 75 percent of students or more are eligible) do the same.

    Student Clearinghouse Research Center

    A similar distinction exists between schools on racial lines. Fully 69 percent of graduates from “low-minority” high schools (defined by the authors as those where 40 percent of students or fewer are black or Hispanic) enroll immediately in college, compared with just 58 percent from “high-minority” schools (those where over 40 percent of students are black or Hispanic). (Importantly, these figures increase across all school types when researchers include students who enroll during the spring or summer semesters.)

    Those gaps are troubling enough. But they actually grow when the standard changes from immediate enrollment to eventual completion. Over half of all college students who matriculated from low-poverty schools graduate within six years of their enrollment, compared with just 21 percent of those who graduated from high-poverty schools. Forty-nine percent of graduates from low-minority schools complete a degree within six years, compared with 30 percent of graduates from high-minority schools.

    Student Clearinghouse Research Center

    The figures seem to offer a granular picture of how later-life educational inequities divide American adults. If students at predominantly non-white, nonaffluent schools are less likely to enroll in college — and less likely still to eventually graduate — it’s no wonder that just 11 percent of Hispanic adults possess bachelor’s degrees while 24 percent of whites do. Statistically, students from those demographics are also much more likely to default on college loans, often in spite of the fact that they qualify for federal aid like Pell Grants.

    But as disturbing as the disparities are, so is the overall picture: Millions of American high school graduates, even those from relatively more advantaged backgrounds, are simply unable to graduate from college; even those who graduate often struggle to do so within a reasonable span of time. Delays of this kind lead to more debt and more dropouts.

    Income may matter more than race

    The second conclusion is even more striking. Among graduates from low-income high schools, the authors find, the proportion of students who enroll immediately in college is the same: 55 percent, whether those schools enroll relatively higher or lower percentages of minority students.

    Student Clearinghouse Research Center

    Among higher-income schools, graduates from those with smaller minority student populations are more likely to enroll in college right away, but not by a huge amount: 71 percent, compared with 64 percent from those schools designated “higher-income, high-minority.”

    That would suggest that a student’s approximate chance of enrolling in college after high school is tied more closely to the socioeconomic composition of their high school than the racial makeup.

    “The outcome differences between higher and low-income levels, within each minority level, were substantially larger than the outcome differences between high and low minority levels, within income,” the authors write.

    Student Clearinghouse Research Center

    As one would expect, college completion rates are dramatically lower for all categories of schools than their enrollment rates. No population drops further in this respect than graduates from those high-income, high-minority schools: While nearly two-thirds of them enroll immediately in college after graduation, just over one-third finish college within six years. Less than 30 percent of graduates from low-income high schools — regardless of whether they enroll higher or lower percentages of minority students — finish college in six years.

    Just one set of graduates has a better-than-even shot of attaining a college degree within six years of finishing high school: those from higher-income, low-minority high schools.

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  • Colombia Pre-K Study Finds That Funding the Wrong Priorities Can Be Worse Than Doing Nothing at All

    By Kevin Mahnken | October 22, 2019

    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.

    The cause of early childhood care and education has found some energetic champions in the past few years.

    Federal programs subsidizing child care for low-income families and early nurse visits to vulnerable homes received a huge infusion of money last year. Most Democratic presidential candidates support the idea of providing preschool at no or low cost to any household that wants it, even proposing significant new sources of revenue to offset the expense. At the state level as well, a slate of freshly elected governors have endorsed significant expansions of publicly funded preschool.

    Experts have cheered the new emphasis on early childhood, citing heaps of research on the benefits to educational and developmental supports for young learners. Multiple studies have indicated that high-quality preschool programs can yield as much as $7.30 in returns for every dollar invested, mostly by reducing future government spending on public assistance, health care and the criminal justice system.

    Related

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

    According to new research, however, not all approaches to early childhood education are created equal. A study of Colombian preschool programs found that a huge expansion in spending on preschools directed toward low-income families did not produce the learning gains that its architects had hoped for, and may have even backfired. When the new money was accompanied by intensive pedagogical training for teachers, however, young students saw marked cognitive improvements. When it comes to funding preschool, it seems, spending money the wrong way may be worse than not spending at all.

    The study, released as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, followed the rollout of a large-scale preschool funding boost in Colombia, where national preschool enrollment rates have risen precipitously, from 13 percent in 1990 to 84 percent in 2015. The programs in question are known as Hogares Infantiles (“children’s homes”), which are partially government-subsidized and serve children from low-income homes where the primary caretakers work. Just over 1,000 such programs across Colombia enrolled an average of 125,000 children ages 5 and younger over the past decade, with each teacher responsible for about 30 children.

    Nationwide, the programs were given roughly $300 extra per child, funds that were earmarked for hiring new personnel (teaching assistants as well as specialists in nutrition and child development) and spending on toys, books and other learning materials. The new funding represented a significant expansion — a boost of 30 percent per child — and, on average, a little more than two-thirds of the money went to new hires.

    That spending represents an investment in what experts call “structural quality” — the ambient, environmental factors like physical infrastructure and staff resources that contribute to a school setting. It’s distinct from what is known as “process quality,” or the character of teaching practices and student-teacher interactions that more directly influence how kids learn.

    To test the policy’s effect, the research team followed a sample of 120 programs evenly divided into three categories: one that received the standard amount of new funding; a control group that received no funding increase; and a third group in which the new resources were accompanied by a round of lengthy professional training.

    Teachers in the third group spent about one year receiving tutorials on nutrition, early literacy, the use of art and music as pedagogical tools, mathematical concepts and child development (including brain development). The training included videoconferencing, remote tutoring and on-site coaching. Of 117 teachers selected for the program, 99 (87 percent) completed it.

    Psychologists then studied the cognitive and social-emotional development of children enrolled in the programs, all 18 to 36 months old at the beginning of the observation period. Using a range of assessments, they analyzed the participants’ cognition, expressive language, readiness for school and executive function. The researchers also administered surveys to the children’s mothers to discover how they had progressed in a variety of social-emotional areas, such as self-regulation, autonomy and interaction with other people.

    The results were somewhat surprising: Children in programs that were provided only with additional funds saw no improvements to their cognitive and social-emotional development. In fact, those children were somewhat worse off than those in programs that received no new support, with pre-literacy skills (expressive language, rhyming and memory for words) seeing the largest decline. In Hogares Infantiles where teachers also received training on implementation, however, students realized statistically significant gains in cognition and pre-literacy. Notably, those gains were strongest for children from the poorest families, who had the most ground to make up.

    Seeking to explain why schools that were given greater resources made no (or even negative) improvements, the co-authors posit that some important parts of the school day were increasingly being led by newly hired teaching assistants, while teachers themselves became less involved. Self-reporting from teachers in those schools shows that they were implementing fewer activities geared toward both learning and development (such as storytime, singing and teaching skills) and personal care (naps, snacks, washing hands and changing diapers).

    Alison Andrew, a senior research economist at London’s Institute for Fiscal Studies and one of the paper’s co-authors, said in an interview that without the benefit of specialized pedagogical training, preschool teachers might be inclined to delegate important classroom functions to teaching assistants.

    “It’s almost like [relying on] these new teaching assistants — without additional training on just how important high-quality interactions are — is what produces negative effects. But if they’re given in conjunction with training, those effects don’t happen,” she said. “What’s interesting is that, when teachers have additional training that really stresses how important teacher-student interactions are, it completely overcomes the negative effect that you get from the government program alone,” she said.

    Though Colombia’s economic and political outlook are distinct from those of Andrew’s native Britain, she said that the results of the study may hold lessons for American and European educators on how to prioritize early childhood investments. Better toys and more support staff may not improve preschool students’ development — and, in fact, might retard it — in the absence of comprehensive guidance for practitioners, she said.

    “This is quite tentative, but it is the case in both the U.K. and the U.S. that these structural quality measures that comprise the way the government regulates and pays for preschool are actually not very correlated with child outcomes. It doesn’t seem obvious that by focusing on things like student-teacher ratios and physical environment alone, that the government is targeting the right thing.”

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  • This Week’s ESSA News: States Struggling With How to Report School Spending Data, Education Department Puts Focus on Equitable Services for Private Schools & More

    By Erika Ross | October 21, 2019

    This update on the Every Student Succeeds Act and the education plans now being implemented by states and school districts is produced in partnership with ESSA Essentials, an ongoing series from the Collaborative for Student Success. It’s an offshoot of their ESSA Advance newsletter, which you can sign up for here! (See our recent ESSA updates from previous weeks right here.)

    School spending by states is the latest issue to engender criticism from the U.S. Department of Education, as Andrew Ujifusa reports for Education Week. School spending data is mandated by ESSA and, so far, 17 states have reported it, with a lot more data to come. 

    Jim Blew, the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development, stated at a recent event that only one or two states have done a good job of reporting school spending information, and that most states are trying to “hide” their information “so nobody ever finds it, because if they look at it, they’re just going to be confused.”

    It was not clear which states the DOE believes have done a good job, but the official did indicate that the department is planning to “put out information about how states are handling this,” including the possibility of “shaming some of the really bad examples.”

    The Council of Chief State School Officers’ Carissa Moffat Miller responded in a statement that “in addition to numerous states already reporting this data, states remain committed to ‘continue efforts to improve the reporting so all stakeholders can make informed decisions … State education leaders are committed to transparency of school-level spending data and have dedicated a tremendous amount of effort to publish this first set of reports.’”

    CCSSO also “highlighted states such as Delaware and Georgia that have produced good work on this front.” 

    Here are the week’s top headlines for how states are implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act:

    Education Department releases updates on equitable services for private schools 

    “U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released updates … to clarify existing statutory obligations of local education agencies (LEAs) to provide equitable educational services to eligible private school students, their teachers, and their families” under changes made to Title I by ESSA. 

    These updates are meant to “emphasize collaboration and consultation between public and private school officials” in an effort to ensure eligible students have access to needed services.

    The updates also permit religious organizations to serve as third-party contractors to provide needed equitable services.

    What could ESSA’s new data-reporting mandate mean for you?

    This piece from Education Week provides a user-friendly guide to “what ESSA’s new data-reporting mandate means for different players in the education community.”

    As opposed to focusing on “per-pupil spending,” ESSA “requires states for the first time to break out how much districts spend on each school,” which advocates hope will change public perception and understanding of K-12 funding and “drive academic- and fiscal-policy shifts at the state, federal, and local levels.” However, there are (of course) a number of factors to consider, and researchers and school finance experts recommend being cautious when drawing conclusions from bottom-line, school-by-school spending figures alone.

    How can schools, cities, states maximize their school funds? 

    As part of the same series of panels, education experts talked about how America’s education system could improve results by getting “more bang for the buck through the use of technology, or in special education, or in districts with declining enrollment.” 

    The final panel included the aforementioned Jim Blew, who “discussed how choice should also be a discussion point in getting more value for the educational dollar.”

    Another presentation of interest was one from Marguerite Roza, a Georgetown University professor who used the “Would you rather?” test to “pair two equally costly education program options” and ask participants to choose their favorite. These questions will be especially important as ESSA-mandated school data spending is released in the months ahead.

    Want to stay up to date? Click here to sign up for the ESSA Advance newsletter to receive all the information in your inbox every Tuesday.  

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  • EduClips: From Florida’s Governor Pushing to ‘Eliminate Common Core’ to New EPA Rules Mandating School Water Testing, the Education News You Missed This Week at America’s Top Districts

    By Laura Fay | October 17, 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 10 states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here.

    NATIONAL — Environmental Protection Agency Proposes New Rules to Require More Testing of School Water for Lead: The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new rules that would require that “all water utilities conduct lead-level tests at 20 percent of K-12 schools and child care facilities within their service areas annually” and provide the results to the schools and local or state health departments. While this change would help protect children from lead, a known toxin that is particularly dangerous for children, the proposal “would also weaken rules for replacing service lines after they have been identified as lead-contaminated,” the Las Vegas Sun reported. That means water utilities could take up to 33 years to replace contaminated pipes, compared with 13 years now. The new rules are in a public comment period; it’s uncertain how soon they could be enacted. (Read at the Las Vegas Sun)

    FLORIDA — Florida Is Set to Change Its School Standards for the Fifth Time in 24 Years: Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order “to eliminate Common Core from Florida’s schools, and to revise the academic standards.” Some educators have expressed concern that the proposed replacement standards are weaker and vaguer than the Common Core. (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    CALIFORNIA — California Plans to End ‘Lunch Shaming’ With a New Bill That Guarantees Meals for All Students: Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a requirement that all public school students get a school meal regardless of unpaid fees in an effort to end lunch shaming in his state. (Read at USA Today)

    NEW YORK — Few Selective New York City Schools Post Precise Admissions Criteria: A new analysis found that just 20 of New York City’s 157 selective high schools publicly share the rubrics they use to screen and admit students. The news comes as the city’s specialized schools are under fire from critics who say they exacerbate segregation and widen achievement gaps in the nation’s largest school district. (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    TEXAS — Money Keeps Flowing Into Houston Independent School District Trustee Elections Despite Takeover Threat: Under the shadow of a looming state takeover that would push the trustees out, the 13 candidates for four open seats on the board of trustees have taken in $210,000 altogether. If a takeover happens, some of the winners could return to their seats before their four-year terms end, giving donors reason to contribute. (Read at the Houston Chronicle)

    NEVADA — Clark County OKs $12M Plan to Fight Chronic Absenteeism and Truancy: Clark County officials approved a plan to spend $12 million on a range of student supports in an effort to improve attendance. An already approved sales tax will pay for the program. (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Related

    Millions of Students Are Chronically Absent Each Year. Improve School Conditions and More Kids Will Show Up, Report Argues

    Noteworthy Opinion & Analysis

    DISCIPLINE — Nashville Schools Spent 5 Years Trying to Close the Racial gap in Suspensions. It Only Got Worse (Read at The Tennessean)

    CHICAGO STRIKE — Chicago Teachers May Test Unions’ ‘Social Justice’ Strategy (Read at Associated Press via ABC News)

     Go deeper — Union Report: The Looming Chicago Teacher Strike May Be As Much About Membership As It Is About Money (Read at The74Million.org)

    BIG DATA — Student Tracking, Secret Scores: How College Admissions Offices Rank Prospects Before They Apply (Read at The Washington Post)

    TECH — Why Boredom Often Beats Screen Time (Read at Edutopia)

    SAFETY — Former Sex Workers See Value in Trafficking Education (Read at the Herald Tribune)

    What Else We’re Reading

    CULTURE — Here’s How Boy Band BTS Inspired a School in South L.A. to Teach Korean Culture (Read at The Orange County Register)

    INSPIRING — Dedicated Teacher Keeps Classes Going in Bahamas After Dorian (Read at The Tribune)

    TEACHING — Tiny Teaching Stories: ‘For Good Instead of Mischief’ (Read at Education Week)

    Quotes of the Week 

    “To read they had a plan after Sandy Hook and didn’t do a thing with it was just mind-boggling to me.” —Stephen Feuerman, a parent of students who survived the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, on the school district’s 2013 decision not to levy $55 million in tax dollars for school safety. (Read at The Sun-Sentinel)

    “Obviously we appreciate the state legislators taking action … This is just a side effect that not everybody probably realized might take place.” —Ernie Okley, a junior high math and science teacher and co-vice president of the union at Bond County Community No. 2, a district in Greenville, Illinois. The state’s decision to raise minimum teacher salaries has led to some unforeseen consequences, including the likelihood that pay will rise more slowly in his district. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “When it was us, the district didn’t feel like they needed to have any immediacy. We don’t have the resources that SLA has, and their parents jumped on it right away. Where there’s money and influence, there’s more privilege.” —Keith Pretlow, a culinary-arts teacher at Ben Franklin High School in Philadelphia. When Science Leadership Academy, a magnet school, relocated to share the site with Ben Franklin, a long-delayed asbestos cleanup moved into high gear. (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    “My concern was, ‘Oh my gosh, how am I going to do this?’” —Kenneth Wagner, chief of the Clay County Schools Police Department, who was tasked with creating district police department in five months in response to a post-Parkland Florida mandate. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “What if our farts are supposed to help us fly?!” —a student of Christina Torres, an eighth-grade English teacher in Honolulu, collected as part of Education Week’s “Tiny Teaching Stories.” (Read at Education Week)

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  • With a Wealthy, Mostly White Suburb’s Vote to Withdraw, East Baton Rouge Schools a Step Closer to Fourth School Secession

    By Beth Hawkins | October 14, 2019

    A wealthy, largely white suburb of East Baton Rouge has taken a step closer to seceding from the city’s school district after residents voted to incorporate as a new municipality, St. George. If leaders of the new city succeed in pressing the Louisiana Legislature to create a new school system — the impetus for the years-long breakaway campaign — it will leave East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools with a hyperconcentration of impoverished, mostly black students.

    It would be the fourth time in 16 years that a Baton Rouge suburb has carved out its own district, taking over schools previously belonging to the parish, Louisiana’s equivalent of a county. Since the first three secessions, the district has shrunk to 42,000 students, 90 percent of them children of color and 84 percent impoverished.

    The new city would be more than 70 percent white and less than 15 percent black. Up to 6,000 children could be forced to change schools.

    “You can just look at the boundaries of what the community looks like, and it’s clear it’s rooted in racism,” said Tramelle Howard, vice president of the parish system school board. “It’s divisive.”

    A slim majority — 54 percent — of the area’s 86,000 residents voted Oct. 12 voted to form St. George. Only those living within the city’s proposed boundaries were allowed to vote. The move, which would create the fifth-largest city in Louisiana, could still face a legal challenge. Assuming the new municipality is formed, it must petition lawmakers to create a new school district.

    Estimates vary wildly, but a new St. George school district could take an estimated $85 million in state and local tax revenue and 12 percent of the current district’s student body. One civic group put the cost to the old district at $765 for every pupil left behind.

    Related

    Left Behind: Can East Baton Rouge Schools Survive the Breakaway of a Wealthy — Majority White — Community?

    Add to that the potential financial impact of decisions that would need to be negotiated by parish and St. George officials, including which entity assumes responsibility for teacher pensions, retiree medical benefits and new or updated school buildings in a community where many facilities are crumbling.

    “There are taxpayer investments that are already made,” said Howard.

    According to the think tank EdBuild, 30 states allow school district secessions, which typically fuel financial and educational inequities. Since 2000, at least 128 U.S. communities have sought to leave their school districts, and 73 have succeeded.

    “Our overreliance on property taxes to fund schools creates an incentive for the wealthiest communities to secede and keep their tax dollars for their children,” said Sara Hodges, EdBuild’s director of data and visualizations. “But the state of Louisiana has a safeguard to ensure that the needs of all communities are considered — it requires two-thirds of the legislature to vote yes for a new school district. The final decision will be in the hands of the legislature.”

    The newspaper The Advocate reports that Gov. John Bel Edwards must now appoint an interim St. George mayor and city council so the new municipality can begin negotiations with East Baton Rouge, which has a merged city-parish government. The mayor-president of that entity, Sharon Weston Broome, had yet to say whether East Baton Rouge would challenge the breakaway in court.

    The U.S. Department of Justice took Baton Rouge to court in 1956, two years after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, and the city’s first court-ordered school integration began in 1963. This was followed by white flight and increased private school enrollment. In 2003, the desegregation case was closed. Within three years, three communities had seceded from East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools to create their own districts.

    In 2013, residents of the fastest-growing unincorporated section of the parish launched a campaign to get the legislature to put a constitutional amendment creating a new St. George school district on the ballot. After the measure failed, lawmakers told residents they would have a better chance at garnering a legislative majority if they first incorporated as a municipality.

    In the intervening years, St. George’s backers broadened their arguments in favor of creating a new city to include the possibility of a leaner and more responsive local government. Detractors have presented counterarguments — not least that East Baton Rouge went to a unified system of government because it presented opportunities to reduce costs.

    Earlier this year, Howard and other East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools officials told The 74 that whether the breakaway ultimately takes place or not, the district is at a crossroads. A new superintendent will be hired in the coming months, and several board members said his or her top agenda items should be eliminating an inequitable divide between selective-enrollment magnet schools and poorly performing traditional campuses.

    That needs to happen no matter what, Howard said in a new interview. But the formation of a new St. George district would make it harder.

    “It’s unfortunate that a sector of the community believes that the only way to see progression is through division,” he said. “We just have to do the best for kids in our district.”

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  • EduClips: From Virginia Lawsuits Over Secluding Kids to New SCOTUS Briefs Advocating for DACA Students and Teachers, News You Might Have Missed This Week From America’s Top Districts

    By Laura Fay | October 10, 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 10 states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here.

    NATIONAL — NEA, National PTA File Brief Supporting DACA Students and Teachers in Supreme Court Case: The nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, and the National Parent-Teacher Association have filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, the Obama-era program that allows undocumented people who were brought to the United States as children to get work permits and stay in the country without fear of deportation. According to data from 2016, “228,000 children age 15 and younger were unauthorized immigrants potentially eligible for the DACA program provided they stayed in school,” Education Dive reports. Moreover, about 9,000 DACA recipients are teachers, making education one of the most common professions for those who benefit from the program. The brief includes testimony from some teachers. Ending DACA “will be disastrous for students and public education,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case Nov. 12. (Read at Education Dive)

    NEVADA — Parents of Special Needs Kids Raise Concerns About Treatment From CCSD Staff: Five parents from Clark County School District said in a press conference Monday that special education students have been “routinely abused” in the district’s care. Parents said their children had been bullied and hit by educators and that the district has prohibited monitoring devices that would record what happens to their children during the school day. “You have denied information, erased videos, blamed families and [done] anything else you possibly can to cover up because you do not want to take responsibility for what went wrong under your care,” one parent said, addressing the district. (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    CALIFORNIA — New State Law Creates Pot of Emergency Funds for California Community Colleges: California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law last week that allows the state’s community colleges to use money from an existing funding stream to cover “emergency financial aid” for students in good standing. The change is meant to allow schools to help students cover “unforeseen financial challenges” including housing and food costs, textbook purchases and transportation. (Read at Inside Higher Ed)

    VIRGINIA — Parents Sue Fairfax Schools, Allege Improper Seclusion and Restraint of Students With Disabilities: Three parents filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that the Fairfax School District used excessive and improper seclusion to “silence, detain, segregate, and punish students with disabilities.” One child was secluded “on at least 745 occasions and excluded from class several hundred more times over seven years, according to court papers.” (Read at The Washington Post)

    FLORIDA — DeSantis Wants to Boost Minimum Pay for Florida’s Teachers: Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to raise the minimum salary of teachers in Florida to $47,500, a proposal that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and is expected to become a key issue for the state legislature next year. DeSantis said his proposal will raise pay for 60 percent of teachers in Florida, which at $37,636 ranks 27th in the country for starting teacher pay. (Read at the Daily Commercial)

    ILLINOIS — Could Chicago Actually Shorten Its School Day? The Latest Twist in the City’s Labor Battle, Explained: The Chicago Teachers Union, which is threatening to strike Oct. 17 if it does not reach a contract by then, is demanding a shorter school day as part of the negotiation. The union wants elementary teachers to have an additional 30 minutes of morning prep time. The current school day for elementary students is seven hours, and it’s unclear where those 30 minutes would come from. (Read at Chalkbeat Chicago)

    ● Related: Class size has also emerged as a key issue in the negotiation (Read at Chalkbeat Chicago)

    Noteworthy Opinion and Analysis 

    NATIONAL — How the Ed. Department Threw a Wrench in Student-Privacy Laws (Read at Education Week)

    STRIKES — Chicago Is the Latest Front for ‘Common Good’ Bargaining (Read at Chalkbeat)

    PARENTING — Is Your Child Struggling in School? Talk to Your Pediatrician (Read at The New York Times)

    TEACHING — Four Ways Educators Can Help Young Black Students Thrive (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    GIFTED ED — The Contradiction at the Heart of Public Education (Read at The Atlantic)

    What Else We’re Reading

    TEACHER VOICE — Arkansas Teacher of the Year Criticizes Little Rock Proposal to Break Up District (Read at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

    INSPIRING — A Bandless Football Team and a Teamless Band Team Up (Read or listen at NPR)

    SOLUTIONS — Florida Students Lobby for Bill to Help English Learners (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

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  • As Chicago Teachers Threaten to Walk Out, New Report Suggests a ‘Hidden Driver’ Behind Rash of Strikes: Skyrocketing Pension and Health Costs

    By Kevin Mahnken | October 8, 2019

    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.

    If Chicago teachers make good on their plans to strike later this month, it will be the latest in a series of headline-making walkouts launched by educators since 2018.

    In the spring of that year, teachers swarmed state capitals in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona and North Carolina in protest of their salaries and working conditions. Indeed, teacher pay in several of those states languished in the bottom of national rankings, and per-pupil funding had stagnated or declined in the wake of the Great Recession.

    After seeing #RedForEd mobilization win a round of highly publicized battles with Republican legislators, teachers in deep-blue enclaves struck next, demanding higher pay as well as concessions on class sizes and charter schools in cities like Los Angeles, Oakland and Denver.

    Related

    A #RedForEd Spread: On Heels of Los Angeles Strike, Denver, Virginia, Oakland and Sacramento Are Poised for Next Wave of Teacher Activism

    Chicago is, in some respects, the antecedent to the current activist wave. Though teacher strikes have been uncommon in recent decades, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) led both a lengthy work stoppage in 2012 and a one-day walkout four years later. The actions were taken in defiance of then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose brusque approach to school reform made him an easy foil for labor leaders. Newly elected Mayor Lori Lightfoot campaigned loudly against her predecessor’s legacy but still finds herself at odds with the CTU, which has announced that it will strike on Oct. 17 if its demands for a new contract are not met. The two sides disagree on how quickly to phase in a salary increase, and other disputes loom around class sizes and staffing.

    According to a new report from academic Dan DiSalvo, labor leaders and lawmakers are both missing the most critical factor putting pressure on school district finances: retirement benefits. DiSalvo, a professor of political science at the City College of New York, argues that the mounting burden of pensions and benefits for current and future retirees crowds out other spending. Instead of paying for library books or teacher bonuses, he writes, cities and states devote more resources to pay the health care costs of teachers who have long since retired.

    In the report, released this morning by the conservative Manhattan Institute, DiSalvo points to defined benefit retirement plans as “hidden drivers” of both education and teacher strikes. For decades, office holders in states and cities underfunded the plans, confident that the money would be found somewhere down the line. That leaves politicians today to hold the bag as a generation of instructors approach the end of their careers.

    It’s a recipe that other experts have pointed to as well. The 74 contributor Chad Aldeman, who studies pension and finance issues for the education consultancy Bellwether Education Partners, has estimated that every active teacher in the United States would see a 7 percent bump in their paychecks if school districts had held their payments to pension plans at 2001 rates. Instead, those payments have gone up, and teacher salaries in many states have stalled as a result.

    Related

    Aldeman: How Have Pension Costs Hurt Teacher Pay? If Contributions Were Still at 2001 Levels, Every Teacher Would Get a 7% Raise Today

    In an interview with The 74, DiSalvo said that one feature of the problem is the diverging interests of teachers at the beginning and end of their careers. Younger educators — most of whom, Aldeman has written, will not collect their full pensions, thanks to extremely long vesting periods and byzantine eligibility rules — would benefit now from higher salaries, while those closer to retirement are counting on the generous benefits packages they bargained for.

    “If you’re a teacher that’s got 20 years in, you’re vested — you’re starting to think about retirement,” he said. “Greater salary might be nice at that point, but you’re probably thinking, ‘I’m dedicated to staying in this state, and I’m going to get my pension and my retiree health plan. That’s my retirement plan.’ It’s very hard to see how you’d get them to change.”

    In the meantime, he writes, state spending on teacher pensions and health benefits leaped upwards between 2001 and 2016: From 16 to 23 percent of total instruction compensation in North Carolina; from 15 to 21 percent in Oklahoma; and from 17 to 26 percent in Kentucky. All three states saw teacher strikes in 2018, as school employees grew outraged at their stagnant wages.

    Manhattan Institute

    At the same time, other outlays have come to encroach on district budgets. One frequently cited expense, not mentioned in DiSalvo’s paper, is special education costs, which have ballooned as states and cities have allocated greater and greater sums to accommodate students with expensive learning needs. In Wisconsin, school districts now spend roughly $1 billion annually to cover special education costs that are not reimbursed by the state. In California, that total was over $10 billion in the 2015-16 school year.

    That means that districts like Chicago — which has struggled to get a grip on escalating costs, even as its enrollment has dipped in recent years — have even less money to divide between teacher raises and pension contributions. The negotiations now, he warned, seem to suggest that neither side understands the scope of the problem.

    “What’s striking to me is that, just two years ago, there was regular discussion of how CPS needed to declare bankruptcy,” he said. “But now they’re saying, ‘No, we can actually offer a big package of 16 percent raises over five years.’ It just seems wildly optimistic.”

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  • EduClips: From NYC’s Plan to Develop New Schools With XQ to a Possible Teacher Strike in Chicago, the Education News You Missed This Week From America’s 15 Top Districts

    By Laura Fay | October 4, 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 10 states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here.

    ILLINOIS — District Teachers and Support Staff Set October Strike Date: The Chicago Teachers Union, school support staff and park employees will go on strike Oct. 17 if they do not reach contract deals with the city by then, the Chicago Tribune reports. During previous teacher strikes, some parents have sent their children to the parks, which is why the three organizations are working together, a union official said. The joint strike date “is about taking away that avenue and forcing [employers] to negotiate in good faith. … They want to pit workers against each other,” said Jeffrey Howard, a vice president for the union that represents school custodians, special education aides and other support staff in addition to many park employees. Ninety-four percent of teachers in the union voted in favor of the strike authorization last week. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and schools chief Janice Jackson said schools will remain open for the city’s 360,000 students if the strike happens, staffed by principals and nonunion employees. “It’s clear the two sides remain far apart, with both accusing the other of stalled responses to demands and offers,” according to the paper. A strike would mean about 35,000 public employees walking off the job. Both sides have said they will continue negotiating. (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio to Partner with XQ America, Robin Hood to Open New Schools and Restructure Others: New York City will use money from XQ America, an education organization founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, and Robin Hood Foundation, an anti-poverty philanthropy organization based in New York City, to open or restructure 40 schools, The New York Times reports. Teams of students and educators will propose ideas for their schools and for new schools, and winners will receive grant funding to bring their ideas to life. Though de Blasio has previously criticized the presence of private money in education, the mayor “is now borrowing from the playbook of his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, whose overhaul of the education system relied in part on donations from major private institutions and prominent benefactors,” according to the Times. XQ will contribute $10 million to the project, with Robin Hood adding $5 million to open new schools in low-income neighborhoods and $1 million for teacher training. The city will match those gifts with an additional $16 million to open or restructure 10 other schools. (Read at The New York Times)

    NATIONAL — ‘Shooting People Is De-escalation’: Three Days With Teachers Training to Use Guns in Schools: Meet Angie, a fifth-grade teacher in Ohio who had never used a gun before this summer, as she visits a shooting range and trains to carry on campus. She learns how to shoot the gun and does target practice, but she’s also gathering tips unique to her profession, such as how to hug students without them noticing the weapon. “Cause we’re huggers,” she said. “You have to get them from this side … You have to retrain a lot of things that you do.” The number of districts allowing staff to carry guns has nearly doubled since the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting in 2018, according to data from Vice News. The training required varies by state and even by district, with some places requiring no training at all. Angie receives training from FASTER Saves Lives, “a course developed by an Ohio-based firearms association after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” WHYY reports. (Read at WHYY)

    NEVADA — No Bad Principals in Clark County, Evaluators Say: None of the more than 300 principals in Clark County School District, which includes Las Vegas, has been rated “ineffective” in the past four years. Only one has been rated in the second-lowest category, “developing,” in that time. “Meanwhile, the district has consistently had more than 100 one- and two-star schools, the lowest tiers in the state’s academic performance standards,” reports the Las Vegas Review Journal. At the same time, “an unknown number” of principals have quietly taken leave, been demoted or retired while under scrutiny, leaving parents and communities with little information. The district is taking steps to improve professional development and evaluation, officials said. Additionally, the teachers union has created a new internal system that “seeks to bring attention to principals who have persistent issues with school staff and climate.” (Read at the Las Vegas Review Journal)

    HAWAII — Teachers Say Low Pay Makes It Tough to Stay in the Classroom: Hawaii is so desperate for educators that one Maui high school recently said it will accept applications from high school graduates for substitute teaching positions — no other qualifications needed. One of the reasons for the dearth of educators is the low pay for teachers in the nation’s most expensive state. “While Hawaii’s average teacher pay of $60,000 is higher than the national average, it is considered the lowest in the country when adjusted for cost of living,” the Honolulu Civil Beat reported. The state department of education recently conducted a listening tour to learn how pay contributes to teacher attrition in the state. “There’s a disconnect here with the political system, a complete, utter discontent,” said one Maui teacher. “I just don’t see this ever being solved, with the history, with the lack of empathy from legislators, from governors, with just the pure utter disconnect in our communities.” The Civil Beat also recently reported that a Hawaii program offering free tuition to prospective teachers is struggling to fill its openings this year. (Read at the Honolulu Civil Beat)

    FLORIDA — Enrollment Keeps Falling at Many Florida Public Schools: Enrollment is flat or declining at three of Florida’s biggest school districts, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. (Those districts are respectively the fifth-, seventh- and 11th-largest districts in the U.S.) The South Florida Sun-Sentinel offers two reasons for the decreasing number of students: an increase in the number of families turning to charter schools and an influx of empty nesters in South Florida. Parents with children in charter schools said they worried that nearby public schools were overcrowded or overwhelming. “I felt my son would get lost. At the charter school, everybody knows everybody. The principal knew him by name in the first week,” said one parent in Broward County. (Read at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

    CALIFORNIA — Can Charter and Public Schools Share Space Without Fights? LAUSD’s $5.5 Million Solution: District and charter schools that share space in Los Angeles will soon receive new money to help repair and improve their campuses, thanks to a new plan unanimously passed by the Los Angeles Board of Education. Fifty-five district schools that share space with one or more charters will get $100,000 each to deal with facilities challenges such as installing a new sound system for a common auditorium or repairing a gate, the Los Angeles Times reports. The funding will come from “voter-approved school construction bonds set aside for charters,” a district official told the Times. Two influential board members, charter supporter Nick Melvoin and charter critic Jackie Goldberg, collaborated on the plan, which they say will ease cooperation between charter and district schools. “We can help the day-to-day operations run a little smoother, and maybe even promote a new spirit of collaboration,” Melvoin said. (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    Noteworthy Opinion & Analysis

    PARENT VOICE — My Son Didn’t Get Into Any of the Schools He Wanted. My Disappointment Made Me Realize I’d Been Hoarding Opportunity (Read at Chalkbeat)

    TECH — Is the Era of the $100+ Graphing Calculator Coming to an End? (Read at The Hustle)

    STUDENT VOICE — Kid Chess Champions Share Their Secrets (Watch at The Atlantic)

    POLITICS — How a Kids’-News Outlet Is Explaining Impeachment (Read at The Atlantic)

    ASSESSMENT — It’s Time to End Timed Tests (Read at Education Week)

    CRIMINAL JUSTICE — More Than 30,000 Children Under Age 10 Have Been Arrested in the U.S. Since 2013, FBI Reports (Read at ABC News)

    Quotes of the Week

    “It feels like a superficial way of getting to the root of the problem.” —Philadelphia public school teacher Kathryn Sundeen, on Democratic proposals to raise teacher pay. (Read at Huffington Post)

    “Where we’re talking about a cost to a school of maybe $2,500 to $5,000 [for services], school districts in Texas will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to basically appeal these cases so that not only are attorneys not willing to take them, it chills other parents who would like for these services to be provided to their child. The goal becomes, how do we run the family out of money, or make the appeal process so long and arduous that parents just give up and leave the system.” —Texas attorney Catherine Michael, on the state’s lax response to a federal mandate on special education services. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “A lot of these kids suffer horrible trauma on the journey to the United States. Some were sexually abused. Others were almost murdered by a gang or left in the desert.” —Perla Banegas, who until recently taught newcomers at Minnesota’s Worthington High School, part of a district that has received more unaccompanied minors per capita than almost anywhere in the country. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “We know the legal question of affirmative action is one that has been roiled up consistently over the past 30 years. It’s worth remembering that every time we make it to the United States Supreme Court, affirmative action survives.” —Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (Read at The74Million.org)

    “We understand there will be consequences and we’re prepared to take responsibility for them. We know that it will take time to heal, and we hope and pray that the boys, their families, the school and the broader community will be able to forgive us in time.” —a statement from the grandparents and guardians of a sixth-grade girl at the Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia, who now says she falsely accused three white male students of forcibly cutting her hair on a school playground. (Read at The Washington Post)

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  • Monthly QuotED: 6 Notable Quotes That Made Education Headlines in September, From Affirmative Action to Teacher Pay — and President Trump on Vaping

    By Andrew Brownstein | October 3, 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.

    “We can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t allow our youth to be so affected.” —President Donald Trump, announcing plans by the Food and Drug Administration to rein in sales of flavored e-cigarette products. (Read at Education Week)

    Getty Images

    “We know the legal question of affirmative action is one that has been roiled up consistently over the past 30 years. It’s worth remembering that every time we make it to the United States Supreme Court, affirmative action survives.” —Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (Read at The74Million.org)

    “A lot of these kids suffer horrible trauma on the journey to the United States. Some were sexually abused. Others were almost murdered by a gang or left in the desert.” —Perla Banegas, who until recently taught newcomers at Minnesota’s Worthington High School, part of a district that has received more unaccompanied minors per capita than almost anywhere in the country. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “Where we’re talking about a cost to a school of maybe $2,500 to $5,000 [for services], school districts in Texas will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to basically appeal these cases so that not only are attorneys not willing to take them, it chills other parents who would like for these services to be provided to their child. The goal becomes, how do we run the family out of money, or make the appeal process so long and arduous that parents just give up and leave the system.” —Texas attorney Catherine Michael, on the state’s lax response to a federal mandate on special education services. (Read at The74Million.org)

    Courtesy Nick Salehi and Heather Beliveaux

    “I was teaching sophomores about my experience as a sophomore, and I would go home after that lesson and just break down. I was having a hard time detaching. [Teachers] want to form a connection, but we also need to stay professional as historians and have that little bit of detachment. It’s definitely not easy to do.” —Teacher Lauren Hetrick, herself a student on Sept. 11, 2001, on educating students about the terrorist attacks. (Read at Time)

    “It feels like a superficial way of getting to the root of the problem.” —Philadelphia public school teacher Kathryn Sundeen, on Democratic proposals to raise teacher pay. (Read at Huffington Post)

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  • What the Harvard Affirmative Action Victory Means for Students Who Face ‘Endemic Inequalities’ in K-12 Schools

    By Mark Keierleber | October 2, 2019

    After a federal judge ruled Tuesday that Harvard University’s admissions policies do not discriminate against Asian-American applicants, Madison Trice was jubilant. The use of race in admissions decisions, she said, is crucial to college access for students like her.

    Any other outcome, she said, could have been detrimental for black students like her with college ambitions.

    “I can’t imagine the impact it would have had on applicants like me — applicants whose experiences were significantly shaped by racism and who need to discuss those experiences and their racial identities to communicate who they are in their applications,” Trice told reporters on Tuesday evening. A Harvard student, she testified at the trial last year in U.S. District Court in Boston.

    Earlier Tuesday, District Judge Allison Burroughs upheld Harvard’s admissions process, which considers students’ race as one of multiple factors. In doing so, Burroughs rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the process discriminated against Asian-American applicants. Students for Fair Admissions, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of anonymous college applicants, alleged that Harvard’s admissions process relied on a racial quota that held Asian-American students to a higher standard than applicants of other races.

    The ruling in the high-profile legal fight comes with national implications as colleges and universities seek to foster racially diverse student bodies. But it also affects high school students gauging their admissions chances at any number of schools, including the elites like Harvard.

    During the trial last year, Trice discussed the essay she wrote in her application to Harvard, which highlighted her experiences being bullied as a high school student in Washington, D.C., and accepting herself for who she is. Being mistreated in school, she testified, was inextricably linked to her race.

    On Tuesday, Trice — a government major who plans to graduate in 2021 — outlined several anecdotes from her childhood. While in elementary school, for example, she wasn’t admitted into gifted and talented classes until her parents put up a fight, she said, “to allow me to be educated at the level that I was performing.”

    Such experiences, she said, highlight the “detrimental effects of discrimination in our education system” before students even reach college. Trice isn’t alone: Students of color are generally less likely to be identified for gifted and talented programs, and in New York City, the disparities became central to a heated debate this summer over admissions to the city’s selective public schools.

    Related

    Race-Blind or Discriminatory? NYC’s Plan to Diversify Elite High Schools Becomes Latest Fodder for Advocates Seeking Supreme Court Rollback on Affirmative Action

    “Those instances would have made it difficult for me to shine the way that I did in my college application without being able to articulate the way that discrimination affected me,” she said.

    In the 130-page ruling, Burroughs recognized the value of race-conscious admissions policies that comply with Supreme Court precedent, noting that such efforts help ensure that colleges “offer a diverse atmosphere that fosters learning, improves scholarship and encourages mutual respect and understanding.” Yet she acknowledged that Harvard’s process is “not perfect,” and she recommended that the university maintain clear guidelines on the use of race and provide implicit bias training to admissions officers.

    “That being said, the Court will not dismantle a very fine admissions program that passes constitutional muster,” Burroughs wrote, “solely because it could do better.”

    In reflecting on the decision, Michaele Turnage Young, senior counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said that race-conscious college admissions are necessary to combat inequities that exist within America’s public K-12 school system. Students of color, she noted, are more likely to attend high-poverty schools where teachers are on average less experienced. Such schools typically have fewer resources and, as such, often offer fewer academic and extracurricular activities.

    “The fact that we have endemic inequalities in K-12 education in this country more than supports the fact that colleges and universities must continue to be able to consider race as one of many factors in admissions,” she said. Though not a direct party in the lawsuit, LDF represented 25 Harvard groups that filed a brief arguing in favor of the current policy. The groups included the Association of Black Harvard Women, the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance and the Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance.

    Adan Acevedo, a 2013 Harvard graduate and co-president of the Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance, said Harvard’s holistic admissions process was critical to his college acceptance. Acevedo is from an immigrant family, he said, “who struggled in this country to get a better shot at what we call the American Dream.”

    “Different parts of my life, whether it was cross-country practice or having to go home in a dangerous neighborhood,” he said, “made me the person I am today. Without considering those things, Harvard does a disservice to any applicant.”

    In a letter, Harvard President Larry Bacow said the ruling was a victory for diversity on campus.

    “The consideration of race, alongside many other factors, helps us achieve our goal of creating a diverse student body that enriches the education of every student,” Bacow wrote. “We reaffirm the importance of diversity — and everything it represents to the world.”

    Groups that represent Asian-American students offered varied responses to the news on Tuesday. The Asian American Coalition for Education, which backed the federal complaint against Harvard, called the decision “retrogressive” and argued that overwhelming evidence documents “egregious anti-Asian discrimination” in Harvard’s admissions process. The group alleged the decision demonstrates that the court holds a “biased alliance with the defendant on [the] basis of political correctness and elitist arrogance.”

    But John Yang, president and executive director of the civil rights group Asian Americans Advancing Justice, applauded the judge’s decision, arguing that Asian Americans benefit from affirmative-action policies that protect them from discrimination.

    “It is through these race-conscious policies that allow all applicants, especially and including Asian-American applicants, to tell their whole story and to tell of the different hardships and the different upbringings that they’ve had,” he said.

    Jeannie Park, a Harvard graduate and president of the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance, offered a similar sentiment.

    “For so many of us, race is an integral part of our identities and our life experiences, and there would be no way to present ourselves fully in the admissions process without it,” she said.

    Despite the latest decision, it’s unlikely that Harvard is in the clear entirely: The case has been widely viewed as the next opportunity for the Supreme Court to weigh the legality of affirmative action. Students for Fair Admissions President Edward Blum, a prominent affirmative-action opponent who filed the suit against Harvard, said in a statement that his group plans to appeal Tuesday’s ruling.

    “Students for Fair Admissions is disappointed that the court has upheld Harvard’s discriminatory admissions policies,” Blum said in the statement. “We believe that the documents, emails, data analysis and depositions [Students for Fair Admissions] presented at trial compellingly revealed Harvard’s systematic discrimination against Asian-American applicants.”

    But Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the facts in the Harvard case “cannot be overcome or easily shaken, even on appeal.”

    The Supreme Court’s most recent ruling on affirmative action in college admissions, in 2016, upheld a University of Texas admissions policy that takes race into consideration when selecting applicants.

    “We know the legal question of affirmative action is one that has been roiled up consistently over the past 30 years,” Ifill told reporters on Tuesday evening. “It’s worth remembering that every time we make it to the United States Supreme Court, affirmative action survives.”

    But this time, affirmative action could face steeper opposition at the Supreme Court. Just months after the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, the court ruled 4-3 in favor of the University of Texas at Austin with Justice Elena Kagan recusing herself. The Supreme Court currently has a conservative majority.

    Related

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  • New Profit Committing More Than $2 Million to Entrepreneurs Working on Education Access and Social Mobility for Underserved Students

    By Laura Fay | October 2, 2019

    Education entrepreneurs could soon get a boost from the venture philanthropy firm New Profit, which today announced it is committing more than $2.1 million to people working on education access and social mobility benefiting young people.

    Starting Wednesday, entrepreneurs in three categories can apply for unrestricted grants of $100,000 each: people creating flexible, workforce-connected postsecondary education opportunities; people building pathways that help students navigate traditional higher education institutions; and organizations that develop innovators in the first two categories.

    The money will help fund 21 projects that support 16-to-30-year-olds from traditionally underserved backgrounds, including students of color and those from rural and low-income backgrounds. In addition to the cash, New Profit will host a series of events for the grantees and provide additional support.

    Bill Jackson, entrepreneur-in-residence at New Profit, is leading the effort. He compared the projects he has in mind to two organizations that connect learners with flexible degree programs and additional support while they continue their education: Duet, a Boston-based group that works with Southern New Hampshire University to help students accelerate their degrees, and Concourse, which focuses on working adults in California’s Bay Area looking to earn a low-cost bachelor’s degree in as little as two years.

    “We want to help young people develop vision … because having a vision of an attractive pathway — a pathway you want to be on — and having a vision that is practical for you, is huge when it comes both to reducing high school dropout rates [and to] … reducing the leakiness of the pipeline” from school to good jobs, Jackson told The 74.

    New Profit

    While a majority of “good jobs” — those paying $35,000 or more for younger workers — require some kind of postsecondary credential, there’s a big disparity among who gets those credentials, according to data from Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. Just 35 percent of young people from low-income backgrounds earn postsecondary credentials, compared with 72 percent of their higher-income peers.

    New Profit is looking to fund efforts to close that credential gap and prepare workers for better jobs. Entrepreneurs linking students to bachelor’s degrees as well as to associate’s degrees and other postsecondary credentials will be considered for the grants.

    New Profit

    Jackson said the grants could go to new entrepreneurs or people innovating within existing systems and organizations. While the program is open to everyone, the team will be on the lookout for “proximate” entrepreneurs — those whose experience is similar to that of the students they are trying to help, Jackson said.

    Related

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

    The new grant program is called the Postsecondary Innovation for Equity Initiative and is part of New Profit’s Learn to Earn Fund, which supports career-readiness efforts for low-income and underrepresented students.

    Based in Boston, New Profit is a venture philanthropy organization that backs social entrepreneurs focused on equity in pre-K-12 education and workforce development. Since its founding in 1998, New Profit has invested more than $250 million in more than 130 organizations.

    The latest application will be open for three weeks, with winners being announced in December. Next year, New Profit will launch phase two of the initiative, which will award $1 million each to a smaller group of entrepreneurs with the same mission whose projects are ready to scale, Jackson said. New Profit expects that some of those entrepreneurs will be pulled from this round of winners.

    Disclosure: The Walton Family Foundation provides financial support to the Postsecondary Innovation for Equity Initiative and The 74.

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  • Sanders Pulls Out of Campaign Doldrums With a Huge Fundraising Quarter — and Lots of Support From Teachers

    By Kevin Mahnken | October 1, 2019

    September wasn’t a great month for Bernie Sanders’s presidential prospects. As students and teachers headed back to school, chatter around the progressive icon’s Democratic primary campaign warned of stagnation: He began to fall behind rival Elizabeth Warren in both national and state polls, leading some Sanders loyalists to begin training their Twitter guns on the Massachusetts senator. Staff shake-ups followed in some early primary states.

    But the arrival of October has brought encouraging news for the Vermont senator: In a release of third-quarter fundraising numbers, Sanders’s campaign revealed that it had raised $25 million since the beginning of July. That figure represents nearly a 40 percent bump over his second-quarter haul — and according to the campaign, the most commonly cited occupation among the more than 1 million donors was “teacher.”

    The windfall makes clear that, whatever the near-term polling situation, Sanders will have the means to prolong his run well into 2020. It also demonstrates his early strength among educators, one of the groups whose support will be indispensable if he secures the Democratic nomination.

    Since coming up short behind Hillary Clinton three years ago, Sanders has made a concerted effort to attract the support of teachers unions for a possible second presidential run. By this stage in the 2016 primary, Clinton had already won the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers. While that nod was a milestone in her White House bid, it was disappointing to some activists, many of whom favored Sanders’s candidacy.

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    Dissent in the Ranks: AFT Rushes to Endorse Hillary Clinton — Then Endures Online Backlash

    The backlash rippled even further after President Donald Trump — who was favored by 20 percent of AFT members — took office. At last year’s union convention, delegates unanimously adopted a proposal demanding that any presidential candidate endorsed by the union support a slate of specific policy recommendations — among them, free child care, subsidized tuition at state colleges and universities, and full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act.

    Sanders checks those boxes. He has also called for starting salaries for all teachers to be fixed at $60,000. (Since teacher pay is set at the state and local levels, it’s unclear how a President Sanders would achieve this.)

    And as organized teachers have grown more militant in the past year, including the Red for Ed strikes, he hasn’t been shy about wading in. Sanders — a longtime advocate for organized labor — recently made an appearance at the headquarters of the Chicago Teachers Union as its members weighed the possibility of a walkout. His campaign also promoted an ad last month extolling the 2018 strikes and calling for better working conditions for teachers.

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