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

    By Carolyn Phenicie | 2 days ago

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Mark Keierleber | 2 days ago

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    The emotional toll

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    A multifaceted effort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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  • 2018 Teacher of the Year Wants Her Refugee Students to Know They Are Wanted and Loved, to Give All Students and Teachers the Chance to Connect

    By Carolyn Phenicie | 2 days ago

    Mandy Manning, a teacher of refugee and immigrant students in Washington state, plans to spend her term as 2018 Teacher of the Year encouraging schools to give students and their teachers a way to explore new experiences and build a stronger community.

    Both students and teachers should have “opportunities to seek out things that are outside of their understanding and their perceptions,” she told The 74 Friday morning, shortly after her win was announced on CBS This Morning.

    Students should have opportunities to “build connections,” something that tends to fall by the wayside after the early grades, she added.

    Mandy Manning (Credit: Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction)

    “We do that very well in the lower grades … We tend to then become super, super academic-focused, and while that is important … it’s even more essential that we also have connected community members who are able to reach across differences and collaborate with one another and communicate with one another,” she said.

    Manning teaches English and math to high school students in the Newcomer Center at Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane, Washington. Since Donald Trump’s 2016 election and dramatic policy changes that have created a more hostile environment for immigrants and refugees, it’s become more important than ever for Manning to make sure her students know they’re welcome, she said.


    Thousands of Miami Students Could Be Ousted From U.S. as Trump Ends Protections for Haitians

    “It’s really made me even more intentional in the creation of a classroom environment that communicates to my students that they are wanted, that they are loved, that they are capable, and that I believe they are going to be wonderful members of our community,” she said.

    Government leaders like Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos should know that the students she teaches are “focused and dedicated,” Manning said.

    “They are here because this is where they landed. They will do everything they can to become successful members of our community, and they will contribute to making our society stronger and more beautiful,” she said.


    74 Interview: ‘Newcomers’ Author Helen Thorpe on a Year in the Life of America’s Refugee Students — and Why Public-Private Partnerships Are Essential

    The other Teacher of the Year finalists were Amy T. Anderson, an American Sign Language teacher from southern New Jersey; Kara Ball, an elementary school teacher at the Department of Defense Education Activity at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; and Jonathan Juravich, an elementary school art teacher in Powell, Ohio.

    The Council of Chief State School Officers administers the annual program, with the winner chosen by a committee of education advocates. The Teacher of the Year award dates back to 1952.


    Teacher of the Year Finalists Represent 3 States, Defense Dept. Schools, Subjects From Art to ASL

    Manning didn’t set out to be a teacher, she said.

    She studied filmmaking in college but realized her personality wasn’t suited to it. She worked briefly as a paraeducator in a special education classroom before joining the Peace Corps and teaching English as a Second Language in Armenia.

    When she returned, an aunt encouraged her to try her hand at teaching in Texas, and she was hooked.

    “From that first day in the classroom, I was sold,” she said.

    She also taught in New York and Japan before coming to Spokane 10 years ago.

    Last year’s winner, Sydney Chaffee, a high school humanities teacher from Massachusetts, was the first-ever honoree from a charter school. She focused on equity and justice issues.


    Teacher of the Year: The First-Ever Charter Honoree Talks Social Justice, Trauma, and Accountability


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  • EduClips: Carranza Urges NYC Students to Avoid Friday Walkout; State Bullying Laws Weigh Safety, Privacy Concerns — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By | 4 days ago

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

    Top Story

    SCHOOL SHOOTINGS — A majority of U.S. teens are fearful of a shooting taking place in their school, and their parents are similarly concerned, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

    In the wake of the mass shooting that killed 17 students and educators at a Parkland, Fla., high school in February, 57 percent of teens ages 13–17 report being “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about a shooting in their own schools, according to Pew. Just 13 percent of the teenagers who responded to the survey said they were not at all worried.

    Pew conducted the survey in March and April, in the weeks following the massacre in Parkland — the deadliest school shooting in an American high school — and amid the massive student walkouts and marches that have taken place across the country in support of ending gun violence in schools and communities. Another wave of student walkouts is set for April 20, which marks the 19th anniversary of the mass shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado. (Read at Education Week)

    National News

    BULLYING — ‘Jacobe’s Law’ Would Make New York the Latest State to Require Schools to Notify Parents When Children Are Bullied. But Critics Cite Safety, Privacy Concerns for Outed Youth (Read at

    TEACHER PROTESTS — Arizona teachers begin voting on whether to strike (Read at The Hill)

    BARBARA BUSH — Remembering Former First Lady Barbara Bush, an Advocate for Literacy (Read at Education Week)

    CIVIL RIGHTS — A Civil Rights Activist Filed Thousands of Disability Complaints. Now the Education Department Is Trying to Shut Her Down (Read at

    SCHOOL SAFETY — School Safety Forum Held by Florida Senators Highlights Prevention, Security (Read at Politics K-12)

    SANDY HOOK — Parents of children who died in Sandy Hook shooting sue Alex Jones for defamation (Read at The Hill)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — 8-year-old arrested after allegedly bringing gun to elementary school (Read at The Washington Post)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — Carranza discourages student participation in Friday’s gun violence walkout — which could come with consequences (Read at Chalkbeat)

    PUERTO RICO — In Puerto Rico, the public pushes for more say in school reform (Read at The Christian Science Monitor)

    CALIFORNIA — The power game behind the search for a new L.A. schools leader (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    ILLINOIS — Medical Marijuana for School Students Approved by Illinois House (Read at CBS Chicago)

    NEVADA — Clark County teachers protest district’s pay freezes (Read at Education Week)

    CALIFORNIA — Big money from charter backers has potential to reshape governor’s race (Read at the Los Angeles Daily News)

    HAWAII — Are Hawaii Schools Doing Enough to Address Bullying? (Read at the Honolulu Civil Beat)

    NEW YORK — It’s now easier for siblings to attend the same NYC school. Here’s how that could affect transfers, gifted programs and diversity. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    TEXAS — Why do cities, counties and school districts have wacky boundaries? Curious Texas brings the history (Read at Dallas News)

    Think Pieces

    ESSA — ESSA Analysis: Betsy DeVos Set the Rules for States’ New Education Plans, So Why Is She Blaming Local Leaders for Following Them? (Read at

    TEACHER STRIKES — The Teacher Strikes Show That Workers Are Really, Finally, Fed Up (Read at Fast Company)

    SEGREGATION — OPINION: Six decades later, Brown v. Board of Education ruling is still only an aspiration (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “I believe in civil rights. I believe they are the fabric of America, and I have said since Trump was elected that the one thing his administration couldn’t take away from me and others was the right to file a civil rights complaint.”Marcie Lipsitt, a Michigan advocate for students with disabilities, on the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to close pending civil rights investigations brought by “mass filers” that it said place an “unreasonable burden” on resources. (Read at

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  • ‘Jacobe’s Law’ Would Make New York the Latest State to Require Schools to Notify Parents When Children Are Bullied. But Critics Cite Safety, Privacy Concerns for Outed Youth

    By Laura Fay | 4 days ago

    In 2015, Jacobe Taras committed suicide at age 13 after being bullied at school and on the school bus in Saratoga County, New York. In a note to his parents, he wrote, “I just can’t deal with all the bullies, being called gay … being told to go kill myself.”

    Richard and Christine Taras say they did not know the extent of the bullying Jacobe was facing at school and argue that the district did not do enough to protect him.

    Since his death in 2015, Jacobe’s parents have been fighting for New York to pass a law that requires schools to notify parents when their children are being bullied, a procedure they say might have prevented their son’s death.

    If the bill known as Jacobe’s Law passes, New York would become one of at least nine states to mandate parental notification following incidents of bullying. The legislation has garnered support from some anti-bullying organizations but also prompted criticism from LGBTQ and civil rights advocacy groups, which are raising concerns about students’ privacy and safety at home.


    New Teen Survey Reveals Cyberbullying Moving Beyond Social Media to Email, Messaging Apps, YouTube

    Advocates argue that a potential repercussion of mandatory parental notification after bullying incidents is outing students who might not have told their parents that they are gay or transgender. That could make students’ home life unsafe at a time when students still depend on their families to survive, said Nathan Smith, director of public policy at GLSEN, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ students.

    “We certainly support parents knowing what is going on in the lives of their students, but we also recognize that the LGBTQ aspect of bullying and harassment is sometimes a little different than other aspects,” Smith told The 74.

    GLSEN has criticized parental notification legislation in other states, such as New Jersey, where the anti-bullying law requires school officials to notify parents of both victims and bullies and to provide the reason for the bullying. This policy could have the “unintended consequence of accidentally outing a student,” Smith said. School officials should always talk to students about the situation before contacting their parents, especially if the bullying was related to a student’s sexual orientation, he said.

    In February, the New York state Senate passed “Jacobe’s Law” unanimously. Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, a Democrat representing parts of Albany and three surrounding towns who is sponsoring the Assembly’s version of the bill, is expected to introduce the legislation sometime this spring.

    Fahy said balancing student privacy and communication with parents can be like trying to “thread a needle,” but she believes lawmakers need to “hyperfocus” on school bullying. She said she is confident she and her colleagues will be able to pass a bill that ensures student privacy while also taking bullying incidents seriously.

    “They’re tricky issues, but I am hopeful,” she said.

    Other states are trying to strike a balance as well. Last year Virginia adopted a bill that required parents to be notified of bullying incidents within one week. New Jersey, meanwhile, has considered softening its policy to allow case-by-case decisions about alerting parents because of concerns raised by LGBTQ advocates, according to K-12 Insight, a website for school leaders.


    Florida Legislation Would Offer Private School Vouchers to Bullying Victims

    Jacobe’s parents have also filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the South Glens Falls School District in Saratoga County, New York, which is pending, the Associated Press reported.

    Educators “hide behind this line of, ‘Oh, another student was involved so we couldn’t tell you anything in order to protect their privacy,’” Richard Taras, Jacobe’s father, told the Albany Times-Union last year. “Well, you don’t have to give us names. But we should know when our children are being violated.”


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  • ‘We’re Losing a Battle’: More Teens Are Vaping, Despite Surgeon General’s Warning That E-Cigarettes Are a ‘Major Public Health Concern’

    By Laura Fay | 4 days ago

    As e-cigarettes gain popularity among teens, teachers and public health advocates are trying to keep up and attempting to slow the vaping trend.

    Some schools are responding by suspending and drug-testing students who vape on campus.

    “We’re losing a battle and to me, it’s predatory,” one principal told The New York Times. “There’s no way you’re going to suspend your way out of this.”

    E-cigarettes are touted as a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes, but the liquid used in them generally contains nicotine. Critics say the flavors, which range from fruit medley and mango to crème brûlée, appeal to kids. Despite the innocent-sounding names, the flavorings themselves may cause cancer, and some e-cigarettes have been found to contain lead and other metals. Additionally, research indicates that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to turn to traditional cigarettes later.

    The attention comes as several public health advocacy groups, including the Truth Initiative and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration last month challenging the agency’s decision to delay full regulation of e-cigarettes and similar products until 2022. Leaving the products unregulated make kids vulnerable and deprives the public of information, the advocates say.

    A 2016 Report of the Surgeon General revealed that teen and young adult use of electronic cigarettes was increasing at “an alarming rate,” making them the most common form of tobacco use among youth in the U.S. Use of e-cigarettes increased 900 percent among high school students from 2011 to 2015. In the report, the surgeon general called e-cigarette use a “major public health concern.” A 2017 University of Michigan study found that 19 percent of 12th graders had vaped in the past year.

    The latest fad in vaping is Juul, an e-cigarette that looks more like a new tech toy than a cigarette.

    The Juul device, which resembles a USB flash drive and can be charged in a laptop, became a problem in schools when students were using them during class and charging them on school computers. Because Juul doesn’t create a large cloud of smoke like other tobacco products, students use it in class, and some say their teachers don’t even realize what the Juul is.

    Juul e-cigarettes and accessories (Credit: Truth Initiative)

    Some schools are banning flash drives and Juuls to avoid confusion, along with educating parents and staff about the devices.

    Many e-cigarette companies, including Juul, say their products are designed to provide a safer alternative to smoking for older adults who want to quit. A spokesperson for Juul Labs told The 74 that the company is “investing significantly to combat teenage use.”

    But a study released Wednesday by the Truth Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending tobacco use, found that about 8 percent of respondents ages 15–24 had used a Juul device in the past 30 days. The report also reveals that almost two-thirds of young people using Juul devices did not know that the liquid contains nicotine. In fact, one Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, according to the Juul Labs’ company website.

    That’s alarming because nicotine is highly addictive, making young people more vulnerable to later cigarette use and other addictions, Truth Initiative CEO Robin Koval told The 74.

    In addition to the sleek design and candy-like flavors, Juul has become a fashion accessory of sorts, inspiring Instagram fan accounts, accessories, and even a nod in Vogue. Koval also said Juul isn’t hard for students to get from websites like Ebay and even from the Juul website. The official site has an age verification tool, but kids can work around it, she said.

    “This is a 100 percent 21st century marketing campaign, and it’s happening in the networks young people use,” Koval said.


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  • EduClips: NYC Finance Watchdog Seeks Answers on ‘Renewal’ Program; LAUSD Interviews Finalists for Schools Chief — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | 5 days ago

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

    Top Story

    PRE-K — About one-third of American 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded preschool programs in 2017, a sharp increase from the 14 percent enrolled in 2002, though spending on those programs and their quality hasn’t necessarily kept pace, a new report finds.

    Enrollment is growing, but not fast enough, and it shouldn’t come at the expense of quality, said Steven Barnett, senior co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, which released its annual “State of Preschool” report Wednesday. Eleven states meet fewer than half of the institute’s 10 quality benchmarks, including factors like maximum class sizes and mandatory degrees and professional development for teachers. Those states include Texas, Florida, and California, which enroll some of the largest numbers of preschoolers. (Read at

    National News

    TEACHER STRIKE — Possibility of Arizona teacher strike creates some confusion (Read at WRIC)

    TEACHERS — Here’s How the Public Views Teachers, Their Salaries, and Their Impact (Read at Politics K-12)

    INDIANA ELECTION — K-12 Education Policy Heavyweights Squaring Off in ‘Nasty’ Indiana GOP Senate Primary (Read at

    KENTUCKY — Kentucky education commissioner resigns; advocate for charter schools appointed (Read at the Lexington Herald-Leader)

    ESSA — State, Local Officials Tussle Over Who’s in Charge Under ESSA (Read at Education Week)

    CHARTERS — Internal memo offers candid postmortem of charter fight in Massachusetts (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ESSA — ESSA Innovation: How 2 States and Puerto Rico Aim to Transform the Way They Assess Student Learning (Read at

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — New York City’s finance watchdog demands answers on $600 million school turnaround program (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — L.A. school board meets privately with finalists and debates choice for school district leader (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    ILLINOIS — Supporters rally for gay teacher amid discrimination claim after he told first-graders about same-sex marriage (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    FLORIDA — Florida wants to delay new test-score rules; educators still worry about graduation impact (Read at the Orlando Sentinel)

    NEVADA — Teachers protest Clark County district’s decision to fight pay raises (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    CALIFORNIA — African-American students would get extra aid under California’s K-12 funding formula in proposal before Legislature (Read at EdSource)

    NEVADA — Letter to School Board alleging discrimination triggers inquiry (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    TEXAS — Andrew White to propose declaring an education emergency (Read at Chron)

    NEW YORK — Pols, activists call for City Hall to fund homeless-student aid (Read at the New York Daily News)

    ILLINOIS — Opinion: Here’s how area schools are working to hire more teachers of color, and why that matters (Read at the Belleville News-Democrat)

    TEXAS — Tensions Escalate During Eaton High School Walkout (Read at NBC DFW)    

    Think Pieces

    ACHIEVEMENT GAP — Opinion: A Generation of High-Performing, Low-Income Students Is Getting Lost in the Crowd. Some Reasons Why — and What Can Be Done (Read at

    COMMON CORE — Education report card shows Common Core still fails U.S. students (Read at The Hill)

    SCHOOL FUNDING – I’m an Oklahoma educator who had become complacent about funding cuts. Our students will be different. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ED TECH — What Principals Really Think About Tech (Read at Education Week)

    DUAL-LANGUAGE PROGRAMS – Dual language charter schools attract the longest waiting lists in D.C. (Read at The Washington Post)

    Quote of the Day

    “The problem with devolution and decentralization is that, by definition, you’re going to get a lot of variation … in terms of effort, political will, and the effectiveness of those efforts.” —Patrick McGuinn, political scientist at Drew University, on changes in federal education policy under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). (Read at Education Week)

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  • ESSA Innovation: How 2 States and Puerto Rico Aim to Transform the Way They Assess Student Learning

    By Mark Keierleber | 5 days ago

    When students sit down to take a standardized test in reading, they’re often given a passage that has nothing to do with what they’re learning in the classroom. Such “content agnostic” tests, the theory goes, allow educators to drill down on students’ reading and writing skills — rather than their knowledge of a particular topic.

    But John White, Louisiana state superintendent of education, sees things differently. To drive home his point that such tests are not as content-neutral as they seem, White pointed to the Mona Lisa as a potential topic on the traditional standardized reading test.

    Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White (Credit: The 74)

    “It may be true that in English class nobody studied the Mona Lisa, but it may also be true that a couple of kids have been to Paris to see the Mona Lisa and a couple of kids have parents who know what the Mona Lisa is and have talked to them about Leonardo [da Vinci],” he told The 74. “You have to imagine that there is a benefit to those students — and that’s well documented — who have background knowledge.”

    To mitigate the unfairness to students, particularly children from low-income households, Louisiana has applied for a new program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. When lawmakers in Washington signed off on the federal Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, they included an innovative assessment pilot program that allows states to experiment with new models in a subset of schools to gauge student learning outcomes using a method outside the statewide standardized test.

    So far, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and Puerto Rico have submitted applications to the U.S. Department of Education to participate in the pilot — and they offer radically different approaches to measuring student outcomes.

    In Louisiana’s application, officials outlined a plan to streamline the English and social studies assessments, allowing students to build upon the knowledge they gain in class. Meanwhile, New Hampshire aims to build on its work to scale up a “competency-based” assessment that requires students to demonstrate proficiency on a given topic before moving on to the next task. Puerto Rico, which is in the process of reforming its education system following Hurricane Maria, plans to adopt a “computer adaptive test,” in which question difficulty adjusts as students respond to questions.

    Although the pilot received a lot of attention when lawmakers approved ESSA, a handful of states, including New York, have withdrawn their interest, Education Week reports. The initiative requires a lot from states, including a requirement that the exams be accessible for students with disabilities and English language learners, but it doesn’t come with any additional federal money.

    Under the federal pilot program, approved applicants are given five years to develop their model, pilot the assessment in classrooms, and scale the reforms statewide.

    Under the Louisiana plan, students would be assessed on the content they’ve covered in the classroom, rather than “content agnostic” passages selected at random. And instead of completing one big assessment, students would be tested several times throughout the course of the school year so educators can gauge progress in real time. The pilot would launch with high schools during the 2019–20 school year, and elementary school students would be brought into the fold in subsequent years.

    Rebecca Kockler, Louisiana’s assistant superintendent of academic content, said a handful of districts rely on a shared curriculum that was developed at the state level, allowing for a set of knowledge and books that can be targeted for assessment.

    “We’re just uniquely positioned right now to check this out and to see if this really is fair, to see if it really is a better way,” she said. “This is a pilot and we have a lot to learn, but we’re just committed to this because we feel like it’s the next step in innovation and building a system that we think is the most meaningful and the most coherent for our students.”

    Robert Pondiscio, a senior fellow and vice president for external affairs at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute education think tank, is among the education pundits cheering on the work in Louisiana. He called the Louisiana plan an “assessment holy grail.” Under the current testing system, he said in an interview, a weak understanding of content knowledge is perceived as poor reading skills. “In many places I suspect the problem is just a simple lack of background knowledge, not a reading issue at all,” he said.

    It comes with little surprise New Hampshire has opted to participate in the pilot. In fact, education officials there take credit for inspiring the federal innovative assessment initiative in the first place. For the past several years, New Hampshire officials have been working to scale up a “competency-based” approach they call the Performance Assessment of Competency Education.

    In 2015, federal officials awarded New Hampshire a waiver from the previous federal education law, No Child Left Behind, in order to pilot a competency-based model. Under that framework, students are required to demonstrate proficiency on a given topic before moving forward on the next task. The system, state officials explain in their application, allows educators to judge student growth based on outcomes rather than inputs like time spent in a class.

    Frank Edelblut (Credit: NH Deptartment of Education)

    “We know that student performance on a single end-of-year achievement test may not be indicative of actual learning and mastery of academic competencies,” Frank Edelblut, New Hampshire’s education commissioner, said in a media release. In contrast, the competency-based system offers students multiple opportunities to demonstrate what they’ve learned. Moreover, the application argues, once-per-year assessments fail to support a diverse student population.

    In Puerto Rico, officials are implementing a new, sweeping education reform law as the island recovers from Hurricane Maria and a crippling financial crisis. Amid plans to close nearly 300 of the island’s 1,100 schools, educators are phasing in a new accountability system with a focus on improving low-performing schools. But the work predates the storm, said Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico’s education secretary. For more than a year, education leaders have been developing new strategies to collect student performance data and make the data more relevant for teachers.


    Charter Schools and Vouchers With ‘A Uniquely Puerto Rican’ Flavor Headed to Hurricane-Ravaged Island, But Union Vows to Fight Changes

    Keleher said the assessment pilot provides an opportunity to test out alternative assessments that would “allow us to more quickly and more effectively adjust our instruction to the child’s needs.”

    Julia Keleher (Credit:

    The Puerto Rico plan would implement a computer adaptive test in 120 campuses that have historically performed at the bottom 15 percent of schools on standardized tests. Often, Puerto Rican officials argue in their application, students and educators in low-performing schools see standardized tests as a punishment, rather than as an instrument to measure growth and implement improvement strategies. A testing mechanism that adjusts to match student competencies would allow students greater opportunities to apply their obtained knowledge. Puerto Rico plans to implement its tech-driven testing system in the 2018–19 school year.

    Computer adaptive testing, Keleher said, allows educators to better understand the topics students have mastered, rather than just their deficits. Using data to better understand individual students’ strengths, she said, will allow schools to identify and group students who need specialized instruction or children who may be ready for more advanced material.


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  • Beutner Emerges as a Top Pick for LAUSD Superintendent; Teacher Protests Continue Across the Nation — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | 6 days ago

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

    Top Story

    TEACHER PROTESTS — As teachers in Oklahoma returned to class, hundreds of educators in Colorado rallied at their capitol today to demand higher pay and more education spending. Arizona teachers will vote this week on whether to stage a walkout, and Kentucky schools are back in session after a tense weekend.

    In Colorado, the latest front in teacher unrest, at least one district was closed Monday because of the number of teachers who called out of work to attend a rally at the capitol. Colorado Education Association President Kerrie Dallman told CBS 7 in Denver that educators are concerned about teacher shortages, underfunding of schools, and teacher pensions and pay, which is among the lowest in the country.

    After a contentious end to walkouts in Oklahoma, with some teachers continuing to protest at the capitol Friday after the union called on them to return to class, school resumes this week. The educators and their union have turned their attention to Election Day. Several teachers have filed to run for office, and countless others have vowed to make education a key issue in the run-up to November’s elections. Several Oklahoma districts will lengthen the school day to make up for lost time during the two-week walkout. (Read at

    National News

    SCHOOL DRESS CODES — Is Your Body Appropriate to Wear to School? (Read at New York Times)

    TEACHER PROTESTS — Teachers Are at a Breaking Point. And It’s Not Just About Pay. (Read at Education Week)

    GEORGE W. BUSH — President George W. Bush Reflects on the Lasting Impact of No Child Left Behind at ASU+GSV: ‘For the First Time, in Return for Money, People Had to Show Results’ (Read at

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — Beutner emerges as a top pick for L.A. schools superintendent amid last-minute jockeying (Read at Los Angeles Times)

    FLORIDA — Voters will decide if charter schools can bypass local school board to get approval (Read at Miami Herald)

    TEXAS — Texas school administrators warn they need money for likely spike in special education (Read at Texas Tribune)

    NEW YORK — Carranza promises parents he will be a ‘provocateur,’ ask tough questions of mayor (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois easing out-of-state licensing requirements for teachers (Read at WGEM)

    NEW YORK — Teachers union boss overheard allegedly plotting shutdown of Puerto Rican schools (Read at New York Post)

    CALIFORNIA — Two-Thirds of California Voters Say Education Is a ‘Very Important’ Issue in Governor’s Race, Survey Finds (Read at The 74)

    TEXAS — ‘Break the system,’ parents say of overhauling Texas’ special education (Read at Dallas News)

    NEVADA — 14 candidates added for Clark County schools superintendent post (Read at Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    GEORGIA Gwinnett wrestling coach resigns amid sexual misconduct allegations (Read at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    VIRGINIA — South Lakes student tapped as Fairfax School Board rep for 2018-19 (Read at Inside Nova)

    Think Pieces

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

    EDUCATION BUDGET — Crowding Out K-12 Education (Read at Wall Street Journal)

    VOCATIONAL SCHOOLS — A vocational school curriculum that includes genocide studies and British literature (Read at Hechinger Report)

    DUAL ENROLLMENT — Do high school dual enrollment courses mean college credit? Read the fine print. (Read at Washington Post)

    Quote of the Day

    “It’s not clear whether the rise we’re seeing in advocacy around the issue of dress code is because schools are imposing them in more discriminatory ways now than they were before, or whether more students are feeling empowered to speak up and complain about discriminatory dress codes. But we do definitely see that more students are speaking up.”Galen Sherwin, a senior staff attorney at the Women’s Rights Project of the A.C.L.U. (Read at New York Times)

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  • Walkout Update: Kentucky and Oklahoma Return to Class as Arizona and Colorado Become Latest Fronts for Teacher Unrest

    By Laura Fay | 6 days ago

    As teachers in Oklahoma returned to class, hundreds of educators in Colorado rallied at their capitol today to demand higher pay and more education spending. Arizona teachers will vote this week on whether to stage a walkout, and Kentucky schools are back in session after a tense weekend.

    In Colorado, the latest front in teacher unrest, at least one district was closed Monday because of the number of teachers who called out of work to attend a rally at the capitol. Colorado Education Association President Kerrie Dallman told CBS 7 in Denver that educators are concerned about teacher shortages, underfunding of schools, and teacher pensions and pay, which is among the lowest in the country. In recent years, Colorado has created several programs that help teachers pay for housing, and about half of its districts are running on four-day school weeks because of tight budgets.

    Dallman said the union will take cues from its 35,000 members in deciding whether to organize future protests.

    After a contentious end to walkouts in Oklahoma, with some teachers continuing to protest at the capitol Friday after the union called on them to return to class, school resumes this week. The educators and their union have turned their attention to Election Day. Several teachers have filed to run for office, and countless others have vowed to make education a key issue in the run-up to November’s elections.

    Several Oklahoma districts will lengthen the school day to make up for lost time during the two-week walkout.

    In Arizona, teachers in a grassroots group called Arizona Educators United will vote this week about whether to stage a walkout, AZCentral reports. They will have a second statewide “walk-in” Wednesday as a show of solidarity that doesn’t disrupt classes — and that will hopefully serve as a gauge of community support for a potential walkout in the future. Their demands include a 20 percent raise for teachers, competitive pay for support staff, increased education spending, and a freeze on tax cuts until per-student spending reaches the national average. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, has said he will find a way to increase teacher pay by 20 percent over two years and increase education spending, but he has not explained where the money will come from, according to Vox.

    Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin shook up the conversation in his state on Friday when he blamed teachers for children being exposed to sexual abuse, drugs, and poison while home from school unattended during Friday’s walkout.

    Bevin later apologized, but not before a majority of state representatives — both Republicans and Democrats — formally condemned the comments. More than 30 districts closed schools Friday because of the number of teachers requesting time off to protest at the capitol.

    The Republican-controlled legislature in Kentucky also overrode Bevin’s veto of the budget and a tax reform bill, which includes an increase in education spending through a $480 million tax increase. Teachers and students returned to school Monday.

    (The passed legislation does not include language to create a funding stream for charter schools, which will likely delay the opening of such schools in Kentucky, though at least one district board has said it will still accept applications from potential charter operators.)


    Kentucky Governor Says He’ll Veto Budget Bill That Ignores Charter Funding While Teachers Are Again Poised to Ramp Up Protests

    In Indiana, where there has been chatter about a potential strike, teachers will likely wait to decide on taking action until the assembly is in session, the Indy Star reports. Educators are concerned about stagnant teacher pay and per-pupil funding, so they will be watching lawmakers as they prepare for next year’s budget session, the state union president told the Star.

    Teacher walkouts in West Virginia inspired much of the action after educators there won a 5 percent raise following a nine-day walkout earlier this year. However, journalists and other observers argue that the view of the strikes as a “red-state revolt” is incomplete, noting that the action started as a nonpartisan movement and not all teachers are Democrats. In Kentucky, for example, most are registered Republicans.


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  • EduClips: The Secret of Chicago Schools’ Success; Post-Parkland, an Increase in Threats to Schools — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | 7 days ago

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

    Top Story

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Two months ago today, a shooter killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

    After the tragedy, threats to schools across the country roseIn the month following, there were about 70 threats to schools per day. In the 59 days since the shooting, there have been almost 1,500 threats to schools across the country. And those numbers are likely under-reported, according to the group that tracks them, the Educator’s School Safety Network.

    The total includes gun threats, bomb threats, or even vague, “unspecified” threats to public and private schools, including colleges and universities. (Read at NPR)

    National News

    AMERICA’S SCHOOLS — 25-Year-Old Textbooks and Holes in the Ceiling: Inside America’s Public Schools (Read at The New York Times)

    TEACHER PROTESTS — After walkouts, U.S. teachers eye elections for school funding gains (Read at Reuters)

    DEVOS — Betsy DeVos Has Been Scarce on Capitol Hill; Why Is That? (Read at Politics K-12)

    NAEP — Florida Reforms Paying Off, DeVos Says, Citing Otherwise Dismal NAEP Results at ‘Nation at Risk’ Summit (Read at

    KY TEACHER PROTEST Kentucky governor apologizes for comments suggesting kids were sexually assaulted while teachers protested (Read at The Washington Post)

    District and State News

    ILLINOIS — The Secret to Chicago’s School Success (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    TEXAS — Texas State Board of Education approves Mexican-American studies course under controversial title (Read at KVUE)

    FLORIDA — Kids are suing Gov. Rick Scott to force Florida to take action on climate change (Read at the Miami Herald)

    NEW YORK — Computer testing snafu prompts outrage from N.Y. school officials (Read at the New York Daily News)

    CALIFORNIA — LAUSD School Workers Vote to Authorize Strike (Read at NBC Los Angeles)

    NEVADA — Ex–Clark County teacher sues school district over firing (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    TEXAS — Commentary: Texas Has Ambitious Plans to Transform Urban Schools (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    NEW YORK — Concerns about long days add to a bumpy week for New York state tests (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — After Surviving Classroom Shooting, L.A. Teacher Reconsiders What School Safety Means (Read at Education Week)

    ILLINOIS — LGBT courses will be added to Illinois public schools’ curriculum if lawmakers approve pending bill (Read at The Blaze)

    FLORIDA — New Florida scholarship aims to boost third-grade readers (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    Think Pieces

    EXECUTIVE FUNCTION DEFICITS — Study: Kids Who Struggle With Executive Function Vastly More Likely to Experience Academic Difficulties (Read at

    PERSONALIZED LEARNING — Don’t just talk about tech: How ‘personalized learning’ advocates are honing their messaging (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ‘A NATION AT RISK’  — A Nation at Greater Risk: 7 Education Secretaries Reflect on 35 Years of Students and Stumbles, With Regret and Hope (Read at

    AFRICAN-AMERICAN TEACHERS —  Teacher Voice: ‘As a young black male, I wish I’d had more teachers who looked like me’ (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

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

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  • Study: Kids Who Struggle With Executive Function Vastly More Likely to Experience Academic Difficulties

    By Kevin Mahnken | 7 days ago

    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.  

    Kindergartners who experience deficits in executive function — a set of cognitive skills that allow people to plan, solve problems, and control impulses — are much more likely to face academic difficulties in elementary school, according to a new working paper that was presented to the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting Friday. In math alone, their odds of struggling by third grade are increased fivefold, authors find.

    The study, conducted by Pennsylvania State University professors Paul Morgan and Marianne Hillemeier and University of California Professor, Irvine, professor George Farkas, is the latest in a growing body of research exploring the connection between executive function and student achievement. Prior experiments have suggested a link between the two but largely demurred on whether particular skills could be honed to improve academic performance.

    Morgan, Hillemeier, and Farkas focus particularly on the EF skills of working memory, the ability to retain information over time; cognitive flexibility, the ability to shift between different facets of a problem and integrate new information to solve it; and inhibitory control, the ability to look past distraction and stay on task.

    Children often stumble in developing all three if they have developmental or learning disorders or have suffered brain injuries or other trauma. In the classroom, the absence of these abilities sometimes manifests in disruptive behavior or an unwillingness to learn. Kids experiencing EF deficits can be overwhelmed by relatively straightforward tasks and have a hard time dealing with frustration.

    The authors studied a nationally representative sample of over 8,000 children participating in the Department of Education’s Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey–Kindergarten Cohort of 2011. The survey assessed students’ proficiency in math, reading, and science, as well as their development of the three EF skills, in both spring and fall of the years between kindergarten and third grade.

    Children were asked to remember and repeat a sequence of number combinations to test their working memory. To demonstrate cognitive function, they sorted picture cards by color, shape, and border. And to gauge inhibitory control, teachers instructed children to complete a task and then evaluated whether they could be distracted from completing it.

    Participants who showed signs of deficits in EF skills were much more likely to experience repeated academic difficulties in first, second, or third grade. After controlling for the students’ race, gender, socioeconomic status, and English language status, the authors found that problems with any of the three EF skills were predictive of low math achievement.

    Working memory was revealed to be a particularly notable risk factor. Children with deficits in their working memory were at five times greater risk for low achievement in math, 2.8 times greater risk in reading, and 2.3 times greater risk in science. The odds of experiencing repeated reading difficulties were roughly two times greater for children with a lack of inhibitory control than for those without.

    The research team notes that its findings are not causal and that experimental studies are necessary to substantiate the connection between executive function and school performance. Other researchers, like University of Michigan professor Robin Jacob and the American Institutes for Research’s Julia Parkinson, have expressed skepticism about interventions that target executive function deficits to solve math or reading deficits. As the development of “brain-training” games and software has grown into a billion-dollar industry, a lively debate has been waged over whether it is truly possible to enhance brain function for children or adults.

    The authors suggest that the potential exists to design treatments combining cognitive and academic development — particularly if they focus on building working memory.

    “Our analyses suggest that experimentally evaluated interventions designed to remediate working memory deficits as well as academic skills deficits during kindergarten might be expected to be more effective in reducing children’s risk for repeated academic difficulties than efforts designed only to remediate academic skills deficits, including across multiple academic domains,” they write.

    Go Deeper: See all our coverage of eye-opening education research and analysis in our ‘Big Picture’ Series — and get the latest posts delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter

  • The Week Ahead in Education Politics: Inside the House Speaker Race, Events on Student Safety, Teacher Diversity, Parental Choice & More

    By Carolyn Phenicie | April 14, 2018

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

    INBOX: LEADERSHIP CHANGES — Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced last week that he won’t seek re-election, setting up a race to succeed him atop the Republican conference.

    Ryan’s main K-12 accomplishments during his speakership were the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act and the 2017 tax reform law, which expanded tax-advantaged savings accounts to cover private K-12 tuition.

    Two main candidates have emerged to replace him: Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Neither has a huge education record, though Scalise formerly served as a board member for Teach for America of New Orleans. Other more conservative members may also throw their hat into the ring.

    Further muddying the picture is the real chance Republicans could lose their majority in the House, meaning whoever takes over for Ryan could end up as minority leader instead of speaker.

    The education world will be sure to keep an eye on who’s in the lead and how it could affect policy in future years, even as the race pulls focus from the little substantive policy work being done through the rest of this year and education items, like reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, fall by the wayside.

    TUESDAY: LATINOS IN COLLEGE — Members of Congress and university leaders will gather for an event organized by The Hill to discuss what actions are needed to boost Hispanic college completion rates and close achievement gaps. Sen. Michael Bennet and Reps. Joaquin Castro and Will Hurd will join university leaders from Florida, Texas and Massachusetts.

    TUESDAY: SCHOOL SAFETYThe National Association of Secondary School Principals convenes school leaders whose districts have experienced mass shootings to discuss policy recommendations to prevent further violence. School leaders from New Mexico, Baltimore, and San Bernardino, California, will join gun safety advocates.

    WEDNESDAY: FARM BILL — The House Agriculture Committee begins consideration of the latest reauthorization of the farm bill which, beyond commodity supports and food policy, also includes the SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps. The Republican proposal would require most adult recipients to work or be in job training at least 20 hours a week, unless they are pregnant, are disabled, or have a young child at home.

    Republicans say it’s a commonsense reform that offers SNAP recipients a pathway out of poverty; Democrats say it’s a ploy to take away benefits from needy families and could have wide-ranging impacts. Eligibility for SNAP benefits is tied to other federal programs, including school lunches.

    “Stripping children of their access to a healthy meal at school is both cruel and counterproductive to improving their long-term health and well-being,” Rep. Bobby Scott, ranking Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee, said in a release.


    The Political Parallels and Contradictions of the School Choice, Food Choice — Er, Food Stamps — Debate

    THURSDAY: SCHOOL CHOICE — The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, holds a panel discussion on what school choice should look like, from the schools involved (charter or private) to how they should be financed (vouchers, tax credits, education savings accounts) to whether the federal government should be involved.

    THURSDAY: TEACHER DIVERSITY The Learning Policy Institute, along with Education Trust, UnidosUS, and the National Black Child Development Institute, will discuss a new report on recruiting and retaining teachers of color. Research has shown that students with same-race teachers get better academic outcomes and face less punitive discipline.

    THURSDAY: STUDENT DEBT — Centrist Democratic think tank Third Way holds a panel discussion on the details of the current student debt crisis, including which students are most affected and what Congress can do to help.


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  • EduClips: ‘A Nation at Risk’ Turns 35, Clark County Extends Superintendent Search, Paul Ryan’s Education Legacy — and More Must-Reads from America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Steve Snyder | April 12, 2018

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

    Top Story

    A NATION AT RISK Today in Washington, D.C., the Reagan Institute is hosting a special star-studded education summit commemorating the 35th anniversary of the release of the “Nation At Risk” report. The 74 has published a special series of articles, as well as an in-depth documentary, recalling the writing of, reaction to and enduring legacy of the document. You can stream the latter right here:

    Bruno Manno served in that administration and has a new essay this morning on what he remembers of the rollout: “Politically, the report caused significant early wrangles between White House aides to President Ronald Reagan, who had opposed creating a presidential commission, and Secretary Bell, who when faced with that resistance opted to employ the Department’s statutory authority to create the commission at the cabinet level … Eventually, however, as they saw the report striking a major chord with voters, White House aides embraced it. Reagan would himself attend three of 12 regional meetings convened by Bell to discuss the report. Surprisingly, he would also accept an invitation from Albert Shanker, then president of the American Federation of Teachers, to address the union’s 1983 annual convention and discuss the report’s findings.” (Read more at

    National News

    STRIKES — With peaceful walk-ins, Arizona teachers gauge support for walkouts, closing schools (Read at USA Today)

    PAUL RYAN — Speaker Ryan Will Leave ESSA Passage, New Tax Break for Choice as K-12 Legacy (Read at Politics K-12)

    INTEGRATION — Trump Judicial Nominee Refuses to Say If She Agrees With Desegregated Schools (Read at Huffington Post)

    VOCATIONAL TRAINING — These rare schools see benefits of combining AP classes with vocational training (Read at PBS Newshour)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK – Homeless Children Are 3 Times as Likely to Be Suspended at Some Schools (Read at The New York Times)

    NEVADA – Clark County School Board extends search for superintendent (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    TEXAS – Texas education officials promise focus on math, reading after “lagging” report card (Read at the Texas Tribune)

    CALIFORNIA – California voters say education is a top priority as the governor’s race unfolds (Read at the Sacramento Bee)

    FLORIDA – Many high school seniors rushing to finish credit recovery to make up for failing freshman classes (Read at Tampa Bay Online)

    ILLINOIS – Illinois Senate plan would include LGBT history in schools (Read at WAND TV)

    NEW YORK – Carranza stands by NYC’s ‘Renewal’ program for struggling schools, but asks, ‘What’s our theory of action?’ (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Think Pieces

    BRAIN SCIENCE — The Myth of ‘Learning Styles’ (Read at The Atlantic)

  • 4 Things to Know About New York’s $1 Billion Bump in Education Spending

    By Mareesa Nicosia | April 11, 2018

    New York state lawmakers passed a $168.3 billion spending plan for next year that boosts education aid by nearly $1 billion after some typically tense, last-minute budget negotiations in Albany over the Easter and Passover weekend.

    The budget increases school spending by $912 million, up 3.4 percent from this year, bringing total school spending to $26.7 billion statewide. That includes $618 million in foundation aid and $244 million in expense-based aid, according to the State Education Department. It also includes $50 million in competitive grants and $81 million for charter schools, Politico reported.

    Reactions to the deal signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo were measured, with education advocates noting the fierce competition for funding as the state sought to close a $4.4 billion deficit for 2018–19.

    Bob Lowry, of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, called the final spending plan “a mixed bag.”

    “On the one hand, it’s a larger increase than many other things in the state budget, but we and other groups had estimated schools would need an increase of $1.5 billion to maintain current services,” said Lowry, who is the council’s deputy director for advocacy, research, and communications.

    Cuomo initially proposed a 3 percent aid increase, up $769 million, while the state teachers union, school board leaders, and others pressed lawmakers for a $2 billion increase.

    Timothy Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, said many school board members were “disappointed” but will tap into reserves and look at other cost-cutting measures as they prepare local budget proposals to present to voters in May.

    “I’m not going to say the sky is falling, but I’m sure that my members are not feeling as if they’ve had a huge windfall this year,” Kremer said.

    Here, we outline four other key takeaways in the New York state 2018 education budget.

    1 Charter schools will enjoy a boost, too.

    Charter schools will see an increase in per-pupil tuition funding, which is passed through districts to charters in their boundaries; the amount varies from district to district.

    In New York City, 2018–19 funding for charter students is estimated to be $15,308 per pupil next year, a nearly 6 percent increase, said Jim Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center.

    “It was a difficult fiscal environment and yet the governor made clear that funding education remains a priority and not just for charter schools by any means, but by providing a sizable boost in education funding for all schools in all districts,” Merriman said.

    Statewide, charter schools will also get $62.6 million in supplemental funding, which includes $22.6 million for New York City charter schools and $40 million for schools outside the city, Merriman said. The center estimates that works out to an increase of $450 per pupil in city charters, Merriman said, bringing the total funding to $15,758 per pupil.

    “That’s less than what traditional district schools will expend, on average per pupil, but it’s a good raise — again, in a difficult budget environment,” he said.

    2 The budget supports pre-K, English language learners, and homeless students.

    Lawmakers distributed $50 million to community schools, which serve academically struggling students, along with large populations of English language learners and homeless students; $15 million to expand pre-K programs; $1.5 million for adult-literacy education; and $500,000 for a teacher-diversity pipeline pilot.

    3 It also includes a major investment in computer training for teachers.

    The state will dedicate $6 million in 2018–19 to training teachers in computer science instruction as part of a five-year, $30 million program to boost computer science education in public schools. The money will be awarded to districts through a competitive grant process that will initially prioritize elementary and middle schools and districts with the greatest need, according to a statement released by Cuomo’s office this week.

    The governor touted the funding as “the nation’s largest commitment to computer science education.” In addition to the funds, a working group of educators and industry experts will collaborate to draft new computer science academic standards for grades K-12, New York Business Journal reported.


    How Arkansas Is Teaming Up With Teachers, Facebook & Other Tech Titans to Rethink Computer Science Education

    4 Cuomo’s push for a school spending “transparency” clause passed amid debate in Albany.

    Cuomo pushed for — and successfully passed — a requirement that school districts start reporting details to the State Education Department and Division of Budget on how they allocate funding to individual schools.

    The requirement, what the governor called an effort to increase transparency, will be phased in over three years, starting with 76 districts in 2018–19. It will eventually affect all districts.

    Credit: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

    The new mandate could shape up to be a major issue in Cuomo’s Democratic primary campaign against Cynthia Nixon, an actor and education activist, Politico reported. Nixon, who also supported a $1.5 billion budget increase, rejected the transparency requirement as a “distraction,” Politico reported.

    Some education advocacy groups complained that the reporting rule hands the state too much authority over local districts and creates a headache for administrators who are already stretched thin.

    Kremer, the head of the state school boards association, flatly called it “a waste of time and resources” and said it’s “duplicative” of a new federal requirement in the Every Student Succeeds Act that also takes effect next year.


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

    The federal mandate requires districts to report their actual expenditures, after the fact, on a school-level and per-pupil basis, while the state wants a report on how funds are allocated before they are spent, according to Lowry.

    At best, Lowry said, the state requirement is “premature,” adding that New York officials should let the federal rules kick in first, as they could reveal potential funding disparities that would initiate discussion at the district level.


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  • Why Tests & Standards Aren’t Just About Your Kid: What We Learned This Week About the Widening Gap in America’s Schools

    By Steve Snyder | April 11, 2018

    As editor of The 74, I spend most days thinking about how to translate edu-speak for mainstream readers, about how to entice busy parents to join us for a jog into the weeds of policy, finances, curriculum, standards, equity, and innovation. Few issues have the urgency, stakes, or drama of education, but sometimes the statistics, lexicon, and underpinnings of pedagogy can become all put impenetrable for your average mom and dad.

    So imagine my surprise when, Tuesday night, a couple of friends without kids were the ones to raise education over dinner.

    The cause: the latest update to what’s known as the Nation’s Report Card that had been making headlines all afternoon. Fresh results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress had been released that morning, showing mostly flat reading and math scores across the country, and our newsroom had spent the rest of the day crunching surprising trends (see Kevin Mahnken’s breakdown of this year’s most notable bright spots for student gains and David Cantor’s survey of how the first-ever digital version of the test may have hurt low-income test-takers).

    As I explained those flat trendlines over dinner, the conversation started to veer toward the issue of testing, and how assessments tie to standards and equity — and why some parents opt their children out of tests.

    One of my friends said he understood tests within a specific class and subject area, to measure whether a student had fully mastered the material. But why the same tests across all students at a school? Across all schools in a district? Across all districts in the country?

    It was those questions that led me to dig into the day’s other shocking discovery in the NAEP results. As Kevin Mahnken noted:

    The National Center for Education Statistics noted a troubling trend in scores since two years ago: Even as the status quo held stable for most test takers, scores for the highest-performing eighth-graders (those scoring at the 75th and 90th percentiles) nosed higher, while those for the lowest-performing students (those at the 10th and 25th percentiles) declined in fourth-grade math, eighth-grade math, and fourth-grade reading. (Read More)
    As I explained to my alarmed friends: The gap between the top and bottom is getting wider. Struggling students are falling even further behind. And the only way we can possibly know that is some form of standardized test, tracking where we are versus where we’ve been.

    I was suddenly reminded of Kevin Huffman’s provocative 74 column from a couple of years ago, which addressed testing, the opt-out movement, vaccines, and herd immunity. You can read it right here: “Why We Need to Start Ignoring Opt-Outers Like We Do Anti-Vaxxers.”

    You don’t go to get a vaccine because you’re sick, I said, but because you’re signing up to be part of a collective effort to build herd immunity. If we all join hands and do it together, we say, we’ll have some baseline protection against any incoming flu epidemic.

    We can draw some loose comparisons between that and how we approach standardized tests. It’s not just about measuring one specific child, but about knowing how the collective is doing.

    “Look around us,” I told my friends. “We’re at dinner in a pretty affluent neighborhood in Manhattan. We know many of the schools in this ZIP code are among the best in the city and the country. And so you’ll hear parents here say, ‘My kid tested into this school, we know she’s doing well, why are you wasting their time with more tests?’

    “But that’s not what standardized tests are about. It’s not about where your kid stands, but to see if any gap exists between these affluent students and children in other neighborhoods, or other boroughs, or other cities. Because we’ve decided as a society that everyone is entitled to a meaningful education, and that schools should be lifting up every kid, not just those in the most expensive ZIP codes.”

    Tests aren’t about your kid; they’re about ensuring a baseline for all kids. About having the information to better understand which kids are not getting the help we have all promised to give them. (Maybe this is why New York City’s new school chancellor publicly came out against the opt-out movement during his first week on the job.)


    The more information we all have about the effectiveness of our public education system, the more proactive measures we can take to ensure it’s benefiting all families, equipping all students to reach higher than their parents, and succeeding in reaching the standards that will close the broader achievement gaps.

    Tuesday provided yet another powerful example of how tests help us to understand where today’s kids are at. We now know our struggling students aren’t getting the support they need, and my friends now know that all those headlines about flat scores are lacking some important nuance.

    Now the challenge is to convert knowledge into meaningful action.

    A good first step, I told my friends, is to talk about it tonight around the dinner table. Then the next time you’re out with friends. Then with your elected leaders — and their challengers in the next election.

    Raise awareness. Be the squeaky wheel. Make it an approachable subject — and then an urgent issue — for your neighbors, and then never stop reminding them to vote. Too many elected officials assume parents are confused and detached from this topic, and then decide to focus on other issues instead. If we all tied the ballot box to the test-score trends, America’s education crisis would make the front page of the newspaper a lot more often.

    T74 Documentary: 35 years after ‘A Nation at Risk,’ the inside story of the 36 pages that changed American education


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  • Teachers, Can’t Afford Sky-High Urban Rent? Miami May Have a Solution: Live at School

    By Laura Fay | April 11, 2018

    Teaching is not a profession known for high salaries or glamorous lifestyles, but in some cities, the pay is so low that teachers are having a hard time just finding an affordable place to live.

    Officials in Miami have proposed a novel way to help teachers who can’t afford to rent an apartment in the district: letting them live at school. The Miami-Dade school district and the county housing development department have proposed constructing apartments for teachers on school grounds in an attempt to bridge the gap between low teacher salaries and high real estate costs in the community.

    The proposal is still in the early stages, but if approved, it would make Miami one of several communities taking concrete steps to make housing affordable for teachers. Miami could be the first to put apartments and classrooms in the same building, however.

    Subsidized teacher villages in downtown Newark, New Jersey, and Santa Clara, California, have provided models for affordable housing that allow educators to live in the communities where they teach. Cities including San Francisco and Indianapolis have taken steps to enact similar plans to recruit new teachers and slow teacher turnover. In Colorado, both urban and rural districts are attempting to use housing incentives to recruit and retain teachers across the state.

    A 2017 analysis of apartment prices found that Miami was one of the least affordable cities for teachers, behind only San Francisco, New York, and Seattle.

    Teachers with bachelor’s degrees in Miami-Dade make $40,800 in their first year of work, according to contract data from the National Council on Teacher Quality. Median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the district is $1,617 monthly, which adds up to almost half of a first-year teacher’s pay. To compare, a registered nurse in Miami with less than a year of experience can expect an average salary of $54,384, according to

    The Miami housing department and school district have proposed constructing a new middle school in the city’s Brickell neighborhood that includes a floor of residential units, which would be designed so that residents and students do not cross paths during the school day, the Miami Herald reported. The next phase of the plan would be a housing complex on the same property as Phyllis Wheatley Elementary School — land the district already owns. The project has already garnered financial support, including a $215,000 grant from JP Morgan Chase awarded to the nonprofit Miami Homes for All, and city officials have started talks with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development about the idea.

    County teachers would get priority for the units, and if vacancies remain they will be available to other district employees and then to the general public.

    The idea of providing subsidized housing for educators has gained traction in recent years as teacher salaries have lagged behind housing costs in many communities, especially those in the Northeast and West. A study published last year found that more than a quarter of new teachers could not afford to rent one-bedroom apartments in the cities where they work. Even teachers who were more advanced in their careers struggled with the costs associated with buying homes, according to data collected from 2011 to 2015.


    When Teachers Can’t Afford to Live in Their District: New Analysis Shows Skyrocketing Housing Costs Clashing With Stagnant Salaries

    Jaime Torrens, the Miami district’s chief facilities officer, said he expects teachers will be eager to take advantage of the affordable housing opportunity.

    “There definitely will be more teachers who qualify for this program than there will be units available,” Torrens told the Herald.

    Local public radio station WLRN asked teachers what they thought of the plan, and reactions ranged from enthusiasm to outright rejection of the idea. One teacher called the idea “brilliant” and compared it to a successful village for veterans in Oregon. Another complained that housing prices were out of reach, even for teachers with extensive experience and advanced degrees.

    Others warned that having teachers live at school could blur the line between their professional and personal lives:

    “As an educator who has been in the education system for over 10 years in multiple facets, NO! I feel that we as teachers need a buffer zone away from our place of work,” one educator said. “Additionally, I think that housing for teachers on campus will make them burn out faster.”


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  • EduClips: Is the South Pushing to Resegregate Its Schools?; NV’s Clark County Fights Teacher Pay Raise Ruling — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | April 11, 2018

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

    Top Story

    ESSA— U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is approving plans that fly in the face of the Every Student Succeeds Act’s protections for vulnerable children, according to more than a dozen civil rights groups, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

    The groups sent a letter Tuesday to Democratic and Republican leaders on the House and Senate education committees asking them to tell DeVos to stop approving “unlawful” plans.

    This is far from the first time that the civil rights community — and Democratic lawmakers — have questioned DeVos’s approach to plan approval. The Alliance for Excellent Education, one of the 17 groups that signed off on the letter, put together a legal brief questioning whether some of the plans that DeVos has approved meet ESSA’s requirements. And both Murray and Scott have written letters to DeVos saying she is flouting the law. (Read at Politics K-12)

    National News

    SEGREGATION — The South’s Push to Resegregate Its Schools (Read at Bloomberg)

    KY TEACHERS — Kentucky teachers plan another rally for education funding (Read at The Washington Post)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — After Parkland Shooting, U.S. States Shift Education Funds to School Safety (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    THE HOLOCAUST — Remembrance Day: Ivy Schamis Was Teaching About the Holocaust When Shots Rang Out at Parkland, Killing Two of Her Students. Now the Lessons Are Deeply Personal (Read at

    NAEP­ — DeVos Calls School-Choice-Friendly Fla. a ‘Bright Spot’ in ‘Stagnant’ NAEP Scores (Read at Politics K-12)

    VAPING — FDA Now Considers Vaping a Rising Epidemic in High School (Read at Tech Times)

    PAY EQUITY — Federal Appeals Court Rules for Education Administrator in Equal Pay Act Case (Read at Education Week)

    District and State News

    NEVADA — Clark County School District fights teacher pay raise ruling (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    NEW YORK — Five boroughs in five days: Follow along with Chancellor Carranza on his inaugural school tours (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — School board approves a new formula for funding high-need schools (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    TEXAS — Problems reported with Texas’s STAAR exam — again (Read at the Texas Tribune)

    PENNSYLVANIA — With broader initiative on hold, some Philly community schools press forward (Read at WHYY)

    FLORIDA — After shootings, Miami Northwestern students hold walkout to condemn gun violence (Read at the Miami Herald)

    TEXAS — Texas fourth-graders ranked 45th nationally in reading last year. It’s not as bad as it sounds (Read at Chron)

    NEW YORK — New NYC schools chief plans changes to empower neglected students (Read at the New York Daily News)

    CALIFORNIA — Here’s one thing that California charter schools and public school boards agree on (Read at The Sacramento Bee)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois now accepting teachers from across state lines (Read at Fox Illinois)

    Think Pieces

    NAEP — The Shock of the New: NAEP Moved Online, but Did All Students Move With It? (Read at

    PERSONALIZED LEARNING — Choosing personalized learning as a strategy for educational equity (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    A NATION AT RISK — WATCH: 35 Years After ‘A Nation at Risk,’ the Inside Story of the 36 Pages That Changed American Education (Read at

    Quote of the Day

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

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  • The Biggest Gainers and Losers Over ‘Education’s Lost Decade’

    By Kevin Mahnken | April 10, 2018

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

    This week’s release of scores from the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress confirmed the gloomy suspicions of many in the education community: On average, American K-12 learning is stuck where it has been for several rounds of testing.

    NAEP is a biennial exam, sometimes referred as the “Nation’s Report Card,” that measures the math and reading performance of students enrolled in the fourth and eighth grades. Although the test measured strong growth across age and subject areas during the early days of No Child Left Behind, nationwide scores have been essentially flat since 2007. One education expert has called this period of inertia “education’s lost decade.”


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

    But even while the country’s overall performance has been stalled since before the onset of the Great Recession, some jurisdictions have actually seen rising performance during that time. For several high-flying states and cities, in fact, the past 10 years represent a leap forward in academic success.

    In 19 states and the District of Columbia, test scores have made statistically significant jumps in multiple age/subject groupings during the lost decade. Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, and Nevada all saw improvements in three out of four age/subject groupings. Mississippi, one of the bottom-performing states for education in the country, made progress in all four, as did Utah and the District of Columbia.

    Source: National Center for Education Statistics

    D.C. has been NAEP’s happiest story over the “lost decade,” gaining the most ground of any jurisdiction in fourth-grade reading (16 points) and both fourth- and eighth-grade math (18 points). In all three groups, the District’s total increase in points since 2007 was at least double that of any other state. The period when this progress occurred coincided with a decade of aggressive academic reforms, including mass closures of failing schools and the debut of a revamped teacher evaluation system, that were precipitated by then-Mayor Adrian Fenty and then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

    D.C.’s halo as a reform capital has dimmed recently with the exposure of widespread inflation of high school graduation rates (and a bevy of smaller scandals besides, one of which recently forced DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson to resign). But the city can justifiably say that its students have made the biggest strides anywhere in the country over the past 10 years.


    D.C. High Schools Come Under Fire After Report Confirms Widespread Graduation Scandal at Ballou

    Other top-performing cities include Chicago and Atlanta, which have both seen statistically significant gains in all four age/subject groupings of NAEP’s Trial Urban District Assessment (a group of 27 large urban districts whose test results are measured and tracked like states) since 2007. Scores in Los Angeles have jumped in three out of four groupings, and San Diego and Boston have made improvements in two out of four.

    A note on urban results: Though the TUDA program began in 2002, many districts have only recently volunteered to participate. Consequently, some districts of interest don’t have long-running NAEP records. But just since 2013, late entry Miami-Dade County has boosted its scores in fourth-grade reading and math.

    Unfortunately, the news isn’t pleasant for every mayor and governor. Ten states (Alaska, Delaware, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin) saw declines across multiple age/subject pairings. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, and Vermont have all seen major declines in student scores in three out of four groupings since 2007.

    For cities, the biggest losers since 2013 include Philadelphia (down in fourth- and eighth-grade math), Dallas (down in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math), and Baltimore (down in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and fourth-grade math).

    It’s also worth keeping in mind that this year’s test departs fairly radically from previous iterations because it was administered to students on tablets rather than with paper and pencil. The shift has spurred some speculation about whether low-income students, who are less likely to access information technology at home, would see their scores artificially depressed due to unfamiliarity with the testing format.


    The Shock of the New: NAEP Moved Online, but Did All Students Move With It?

    Go Deeper: This is part of The 74’s ongoing ‘Big Picture’ series, bringing American education into sharper focus through the newest research, data, and surveys. See our full series.


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  • EduClips: Carranza Vows to End NYC’s Homeless Students Crisis, NAEP Scores Remain Flat (but With Gains in FL & CA), and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | April 10, 2018

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

    Top Story

    NAEP — Test scores released Tuesday for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) continued a decade-long trend of stasis, with small improvements measured only for performance in eighth-grade reading. Although states with disparate academic approaches have made some strides over the past few years — notably Florida and California — national averages have varied only slightly, despite billions of dollars invested to improve performance at the national, state, and local levels.

    Over the past half-century, NAEP has been administered every other year by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to test fourth- and eighth-graders in reading and mathematics. Fourth-grade scores in 2017 were flat in math and down somewhat in reading, though the decline was not considered statistically significant. Eighth-graders made incremental improvements in both subjects, though only in reading were they characterized as statistically significant. (Read at

    National News

    SCHOOL DISCIPLINE — DeVos: Some Educators Say Schools Are ‘Less Safe’ Because of Obama Discipline Guidance (Read at Politics K-12)

    KY TEACHERS — Kentucky Governor Says He’ll Veto Budget Bill That Ignores Charter Funding While Teachers Are Again Poised to Ramp Up Protests (Read at

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — City’s new schools chancellor vows to help fix student homeless crisis (Read at the New York Daily News)

    FLORIDA — Nation’s report card: ‘Something very good is happening in Florida’ (Read at the Orlando Sentinel)

    TEXAS — Testing Season Starts Without Decision on Waiver for Hurricane Harvey (Read at Houston Public Media)

    CALIFORNIA — Under state control, Inglewood school district’s financial picture worsened (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    ILLINOIS — Opinion: Why would Pritzker want to limit choices for poor kids? (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    NEW YORK — Thousands sign parents’ petition demanding action from de Blasio on racist school incidents (Read at the New York Daily News)

    CALIFORNIA — Charter school group drops two lawsuits against L.A. Unified (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    ILLINOIS — New bill makes it easier for out-of-state teachers to teach in Illinois (Read at KWQC)

    Think Pieces

    A NATION AT RISK — 35 Years Later, Blockbuster Reagan-Era Education Report Has Remarkable Durability and Resilience (Read at

    SCHOOL DISCIPLINE — Who Misbehaves? Claims That School Discipline Is Unfairly Meted Out Ignore Actual Classroom Behavior (Read at City Journal)

    CITIZENSHIP TEST — Could Requiring Students to Take the Citizenship Test Do More Harm Than Good? (Read at Education Week)

    SCHOOL REFORM — Three Mistakes We Need to Fix If We Want Education Reform to Succeed (Read at Forbes)

    CIVICS EDUCATION — Better civics education in schools? Yes, please (Read at the Seattle Times)

    HEAD START — How rural families came to rely on Head Start for basic child care and so much more (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

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

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