Noteworthy headlines from the education wire
  • ‘The Safest School in America’ Deploys a Range of Sophisticated Security Technology. Is It a National Model?

    By Mark Keierleber | 2 days ago

    Inside what’s been dubbed “the safest school in America,” teachers wear panic buttons that can set off an alarm and notify police. Law enforcement officers monitor security cameras in real time. Should a shooter arrive on campus, police can deploy smoke cannons hidden inside the school’s ceiling.

    On Thursday, the Indiana school’s high-tech security features were highlighted in Washington during a meeting of the Federal Commission on School Safety.

    But are the security measures at the Shelbyville, Indiana, school a model for the nation? Max Schachter thinks so. Schachter is CEO of Safe Schools for Alex, a foundation he created after his son was killed in February’s mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. On Thursday, he outlined to Trump administration officials the promises of next-generation school security technology.

    Max Schachter speaks during a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission meeting in Sunrise, Florida, on June 7, 2018. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    “If the door to Alex’s classroom had ballistic-hardened glass, he would still be alive today,” Schachter said during the meeting. After the shooting, he said, he traveled the country to see what other schools were doing to protect students, and the Indiana campus stood out. “In the 19 years since the Columbine tragedy, we have focused most of our efforts on mental health and prevention. School hardening has been at the bottom of the list. Visiting that school in Indiana convinced me that it is time to bring hardening up to the top.”

    President Donald Trump created the commission after the February school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Thursday’s meeting, led by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, was titled “Creating a Citadel of Learning: New Tools to Secure Our Schools, Inside and Out.” Commission meetings have focused on a range of issues related to school violence, and Thursday’s event homed in on school security measures, the role of school-based police, active-shooter training, and threat assessments.

    Following the mass shooting in Parkland, school districts across the country have moved to place additional security features in their buildings, and security companies have ramped up efforts to promote emerging products, such as surveillance cameras with facial recognition technology.

    In the aftermath of mass school shootings like the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado and the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the presence of school-based police and technology like surveillance cameras has surged. For example, just 19 percent of schools were equipped with security cameras during the 1999-2000 school year, according to the most recent National Center for Education Statistics data; by the 2015-16 school year, 81 percent of schools had video surveillance.


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

    Also, 48 percent of public schools reported having a sworn law enforcement officer on campus in 2015-16, compared with 36 percent in 2005-06.

    In 2017, school security was a $2.7 billion business, according to an analysis by IHS Markit, a market-research firm. Still, the $400,000 security system installed at Southwestern High School in Shelbyville, Indiana, remains one of a kind. In fact, the Shelbyville district hasn’t outfitted its other schools with similar features.

    School leaders from across the country frequently cite cost as a leading concern when weighing potential security features. But in Shelbyville, the high-tech security system was funded in part by Net Talon, a security company behind the design.

    Despite the proliferation of school security technology, little academic research exists to show whether the products prevent school violence. And despite the heightened fear Parkland and other school shootings generate, school shootings are statistically rare and campuses have actually become safer in recent years.

    A contentious debate over school security has played out in Broward County, Florida, since the district was shaken by the Parkland tragedy. Among new measures, the campus has additional armed security staff, upgraded surveillance cameras, and classroom doors that lock automatically. But the district ultimately decided against adding metal detectors, a decision that’s garnered pushback from some parents.

    For school districts, Schachter acknowledged that security like bulletproof doors is expensive. “It would take a million dollars just to put these doors in Marjory Stoneman Douglas,” he said. “That’s just one high school in America. If you have a limited budget, you have to make those hard decisions.”

    Beyond cost, some education leaders have raised concerns about the effects surveillance could have on campus climate. JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, took issue with the title of Thursday’s event, noting that “citadels” don’t make great learning environments. “We can’t harden schools to the point of compromising the reason schools exist to begin with,” she tweeted.

    In a statement, Bartoletti said schools should prioritize creating a single point of entry onto campuses before focusing on entertaining “controversial discussions like arming teachers or million-dollar classroom retrofits with bulletproof doors.”

    Asked by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar how schools can balance security with maintaining an inviting campus climate, Schachter refuted the notion that the Indiana school looks like a fortress.

    “We interviewed children, we interviewed teachers, administrators, and everyone said they felt safer being in this environment,” he said.


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  • EduClips: LAUSD Chief Outlines Possible Deal With Teachers Union; NYC Schools Plan Mandatory Implicit-Bias Training — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | 3 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

    FUNDING — While military and health care costs have received plenty of airtime in recent years, the federal education budget hasn’t gotten a thorough vetting on the Senate floor since 2007. That will change if the Senate takes up later this week a massive $856.9 billion spending bill for the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and a smattering of smaller agencies.

    In the 11-year stretch since the full Senate last debated education appropriations, the Great Recession came and went, exploding the number of students finding themselves either out of work or in need of retraining.

    As tuition and other higher education expenses ballooned in tandem, Congress also loosened the federal purse strings, including making it easier to qualify for Pell Grants, which help nearly 7.5 million predominantly lower-income students afford college. (Read at Roll Call)

    National News

    #EDLECTION2018 — #EDlection2018: In Connecticut Primaries, Acclaimed Teacher Jahana Hayes Handily Wins Democratic Nomination for Congress (Read at

    KINDERGARTEN — Practicing Kindergarten: How a Summer Program Eases Kids Into Learning (Read at Education Week)

    SPECIAL EDUCATION — When Higher Functioning Follows Form: Special-Needs Students Flourish in Sensory-Designed Schools (Read at

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — Supt. Austin Beutner meets with head of L.A. teachers union, outlines possible deal (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    NEW YORK —New York City Education Department Plans Mandatory Implicit Bias Training (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    PUERTO RICO — Clash of Visions as New School Year Opens in Storm-Bruised Puerto Rico (Read at Education Week)

    ILLINOIS — IEA Says Illinois Bills Won’t Solve Teacher Shortage (Read at WSIU)

    FLORIDA — Florida Board of Education supports funding flexibility as it discusses budgets (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    TEXAS — Texas school districts receive first official A-F grades. Look up how your district did here. (Read at the Texas Tribune)

    CALIFORNIA — Unexpected Student-Discipline Trends in California: Suspensions Peak in Middle School, Black Kids More Likely to Be Disciplined in Segregated Schools & More (Read at

    ILLINOIS — New data pulls back curtain on Chicago’s high school admissions derby (Read at Chalkbeat)

    NEVADA — EDITORIAL: A disruptive learning environment (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    NEW YORK — City completes probe of yeshiva teaching standards, but still mum on conclusions (Read at the New York Daily News)

    NEVADA — Why students need stronger career and technical education (Read at the Las Vegas Sun)

    Think Pieces

    VOUCHERS — Don’t divert taxpayer money to vouchers. It does much more good at public schools. (Read at USA Today)

    KINDERGARTEN — Full-day kindergarten is great for kids, so why isn’t it required? (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “For me, it’s a no-brainer. This is going to be one of those cornerstone pieces in terms of how are we going to continue to transform this immense system to really, truly serve all students.” —New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, on the need for mandatory implicit-bias training for all district employees. (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

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  • #EDlection2018: In Connecticut Primaries, Acclaimed Teacher Jahana Hayes Handily Wins Democratic Nomination for Congress

    By Kevin Mahnken | 3 days ago

    EDlection 2018: From coast to coast, The 74 is profiling a new education-oriented campaign each week. See all our recent profiles, previews, and reactions at (and watch for our Election Night live blog Nov. 6)

    Of the hundreds of educators running for office this year, the best-known is Jahana Hayes. A former National Teacher of the Year, the first-time candidate has gained national attention for waging an impressive campaign to become Connecticut’s first black congresswoman.

    On Tuesday night, she got closer to her goal, dispatching her Democratic primary opponent to win the party’s nomination in the 5th Congressional District. Former Meriden, Connecticut, mayor Manny Santos, who won the Republican primary, will take on Hayes this fall in a contest in which she is favored.

    Connecticut was one of four states to hold elections this week, a preliminary to the hotly anticipated 2018 midterms. In Wisconsin, State Superintendent Tony Evers easily won the Democratic primary to face Republican Gov. Scott Walker this fall. The two candidates have already spent months sniping at each other over the issue of education.


    Scott Walker Crushed Wisconsin’s Teachers Union. Can He Win a Third Term Against Its Superintendent of Schools?

    In Connecticut, Hayes won a surprisingly large victory against opponent Mary Glassman, a local city official and well-known politico who had been seen as an early favorite in the race. Hayes rode to victory partially on the strength of her background as a former teen mother who escaped poverty to become an acclaimed educator.


    Troubled Student, Teen Mom, Teacher of the Year: Is Connecticut Congressional Candidate Jahana Hayes the New Face of the Democratic Party?

    Both women ran as progressives, advocating for increased education spending and opposing the policies of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The main point of contrast between the two lay in depth of experience. Glassman maintained that years spent in politics made her the more seasoned choice, while Hayes countered that her life struggles qualified her to represent voters from tough cities like her hometown of Waterbury. In a year when novice candidates have made startling gains in Democratic primaries, Hayes won handily, 62 percent to 38 percent.

    Santos prevailed in a three-way GOP contest against businessman Rich DuPont and psychologist Ruby Corby O’Neill. Though the 5th District, which contains most of western Connecticut, is seen as the most competitive district in the state, all three Republicans faltered in their fundraising totals, and Santos is seen as a long-shot candidate against Hayes.

    Santos has advocated for the repeal of the Common Core State Standards and says that the federal government should play “no role” in overseeing local schools.

    The Hayes-Santos face-off wasn’t the only race highlighted on Tuesday. Though Connecticut is one of the most reliably Democratic states in the country, the governor’s race has been rated as a toss-up by election forecasters on account of Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy’s striking unpopularity around the state. Malloy is not running again.

    Ned Lamont, a wealthy telecommunications entrepreneur, was previously the Democratic nominee for senator in 2006, when he was defeated by incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman. His education agenda prioritizes fixing the state’s school funding formula, diversifying the teacher workforce, and promoting STEM in schools. In his victory speech Tuesday night, he proposed consolidating social services in cities and towns across the state so property taxes can be cut.

    In prior campaigns, Lamont has touted his experience as a volunteer teacher in Bridgeport’s Warren Harding High School — though Joe Ganim, the city’s mayor and Lamont’s primary opponent, accused him of exaggerating his service there.

    Bob Stefanowski, who managed an upset win in the GOP primary, has vowed to eliminate Connecticut’s income tax, which is a source of funding for public schools. Both men say they will work to bring down the state’s soaring public pension costs, though that will require working with state teachers unions that have been known to bargain hard over benefits.


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

    By Kevin Mahnken | 3 days ago

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

    There’s no question that tomorrow’s classrooms will be more racially diverse than today’s. Between declining birth rates among whites and immigration from Asia and Latin America, experts project that racial minority groups will constitute a majority of the U.S. population within the next 30 years. The transformation is already well underway in schools; the number of minority K-12 students is believed to have exceeded that of whites several years ago.


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

    What does that mean for how we teach kids? Can an education profession overwhelmingly comprising whites and women effectively instruct surging numbers of pupils who do not resemble them? And if not, what can be done to introduce more diversity into the teaching ranks?

    Those questions are increasingly on the minds of education researchers, many of whom spend their careers studying how to close troubling academic gaps between different student populations. Though the issue of racial and gender representation in the classroom is not a new one, the past decade has seen a wealth of new evidence on how students react to being taught by people who look like them.

    1 Black Students Benefit

    Although the magnitude of the effects can differ, numerous research studies into the question of racial matching (the pairing of a given student with a teacher of the same racial or ethnic background) point to the same conclusion: All things being equal, black students do better when they’ve been taught by black teachers.

    Tom Dee, an education professor at Stanford, conducted an experiment that many regard as the groundbreaking study in this field in 2004. Examining participants in Project STAR — a massive research project in Tennessee looking at the benefits of reducing class sizes — he found that black students who were assigned to a black teacher for at least one year between kindergarten and third grade saw their math scores improve by 3 to 5 percentile points; their reading scores jumped by 3 to 6 percentile points. White students also enjoyed advantages from studying under same-race teachers, though boys were more affected than girls.

    A 2015 report by researchers Anna Egalite, Brian Kisida, and Marcus Winters produced similar findings. Tracking Florida students between grades 3 and 10, the team found that white and black students made slight gains in both reading and math after being assigned to a same-race teacher (Asian/Pacific Island students assigned to same-race teachers realized gains in math alone).

    2 It’s About More Than Test Scores

    Test score improvements like those are impressive, but they hardly settle the issue. For the long-term impact of racial matching, there is no research more striking than a study of North Carolina students circulated last year by Seth Gershenson, Cassandra Hart, Constance Lindsay, and Nicholas Papageorge. In a finding that gained headlines around the country — though it hasn’t yet been validated by peer review — the group reported that exposure to just one black teacher between grades 3 and 5 significantly reduced the high school dropout rate among black male students. Additionally, black students of both sexes were more likely to take a college entrance exam or to say that they intended to go to college.


    The Power of One: New Research Shows Black Students See Big Benefits From a Single Black Teacher

    The consensus, then, points to a clear positive on academic achievement and attainment for students who are taught by teachers of the same race — and particularly black male students, who are often described as among the most vulnerable student populations.

    3 Why Does Matching Work? The Need for Role Models is One Answer

    So why are we seeing these effects? Why is a black student likely to perform better in his studies and aspire to college if he encounters a black teacher somewhere early in his education?

    Researchers offer a few answers, but one involves the “role model effect”: Simply seeing a person who looks like you in a professional setting could make you more likely to attain a higher level of education yourself.

    “I think the research at this point has been pretty definitively clear that there’s something going on here,” Brian Kisida, a professor of education at the University of Missouri, told The 74. “And from a theoretical perspective, it makes intuitive sense that children need role models or people in positions of authority that represent them in some way.”

    Kisida analogized the impact of being assigned black teachers to that of Barack Obama becoming president — the very fact of his election seemed to open the doors of possibility. Reams of economic research, including the pioneering work of Harvard economist Raj Chetty, point to the importance of black male role models on young black men. Without some proof that academic and professional opportunities are open to them, the theory goes, many will never take even small steps toward social mobility.

    4 Another Reason? Expectations Matter

    The other hypothesis revolves around the power of expectations, and how they differ among racial groups. Multiple studies have suggested that white teachers simply have lower expectations of black students than of white students. That may explain why black students are significantly less likely to be referred to gifted programs in the absence of a black teacher — even when their academic work would merit referral.

    “Research shows that [teachers of color] hold higher expectations for students of color,” Kisida said. “We know that expectations matter, and I think holding higher expectations is an active component in the classroom, suggesting, ‘You can do better, and I can challenge you.’”

    Divergent perceptions of students from separate racial groups can result in divergent assessments of their work and behavior. Controlling for a variety of student characteristics, researchers found in a 2013 study that white teachers view black students more negatively on the whole than white or Latino students, who are themselves viewed more negatively than Asian students.

    And those types of perceptions cut both ways. Another study from Kisida and Egalite found that black students were much more likely to describe themselves as happy in school, feel cared for by their teachers, and highly rate the communication between themselves and their teacher if that teacher was black.

    5 Matching Also Offers a Unique Window on School Discipline

    The flip side of the expectations game can be seen in the issue of school discipline. The rate of exclusionary discipline — when students are sent away from their classroom or school building for a behavioral infraction — has been found to be significantly higher for black students, and especially black boys, when they are assigned to white teachers.

    A 2015 study conducted by Stanford social psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt found that white teachers were more apt to recommend stricter punishments for students with stereotypically “black-sounding” names like Darnell or Deshawn, even when the hypothetical transgressions were no different from white students’.

    The Next Big Question: How Are Latino Students Affected?

    If the literature is fairly clear on one point — that black students benefit from black teachers — it is much quieter on another: What about other forms of matching?

    Specifically, not enough inquiry has been conducted into the question of how well Latino students fare when assigned to Latino teachers. While Latinos account for one-quarter of all American students, they make up less than 10 percent of all teachers. Immigration from South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean will be the main driver of demographic change in the United States for the foreseeable future, and our education system isn’t keeping up with the times. Partially, this is because Latinos are still much less likely to graduate from high school and college than whites, blacks, and Asians, and therefore are less likely to become teachers.


    Where Are the Hispanic Teachers? While Hiring’s Exploded in Past 25 Years, There Are Still 3 Times as Many Hispanic Students as Instructors

    But even with a huge and growing mismatch between Latino teachers and students, we have little evidence on its effect. Most existing studies have been conducted in states like North Carolina or Tennessee, which are home to comparatively smaller Latino populations.

    “It’s a glaring omission for a variety of reasons, especially because that’s the segment of the student population that’s growing the fastest,” Dan Goldhaber, the director of the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER), told The 74.

    Goldhaber, who has published a brief review of the literature around racial matching, says that part of the problem is geographical: Many Latino students are concentrated in California, where strict data privacy laws prevent researchers from launching large-scale experimental studies.

    Kisida agreed that data limitations have hindered researchers, but he added a further concern: Unlike black students, America’s Latinos form a kind of diaspora population originating from a bevy of separate nations. A Cuban or Puerto Rican student, for example, might not share much history or culture with an instructor of Mexican or Ecuadoran ancestry; without that common background, there is little basis for a special relationship, Kisida said.


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  • EduClips: Post-Parkland, Broward County Had No Armed Guards at Summer School; New LAUSD Chief Lays Out Vision For School Leaders — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | 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

    SCOTUS — Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, in a speech last year, gave a strong hint at his views on taxpayer support for religious schools when he praised his “first judicial hero,” Justice William Rehnquist, for determining that the strict wall between church and state “was wrong as a matter of law and history.”

    Mr. Rehnquist’s legacy on religious issues was most profound in “ensuring that religious schools and religious institutions could participate as equals in society and in state benefits programs,” Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to succeed Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court, declared at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research organization.

    Words like that from a Supreme Court nominee are breathing new life into the debate over public funding for sectarian education. Educators see him as crucial to answering a question left by Justice Kennedy after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for the state of Missouri to exclude a church-based preschool from competing for public funding to upgrade its playground: Can a church-school playground pave the way for taxpayer funding to flow to private and parochial schools for almost any purpose? (Read at The New York Times)

    National News

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

    OMAROSA — Omarosa Book: Trump Derided Betsy DeVos, Said He’d ‘Get Rid of Her’ (Read at Education Week)

    WISCONSIN — Wisconsin Democrats Will Run on Education Against Gov. Scott Walker (Read at HuffPost)

    CHARTERS — Most New Charter Schools Were Actually Approved by School Districts. That’s Changing. (Read at Education Week)

    District and State News

    FLORIDA — Despite urgent focus on security, Broward had no armed guards at summer school sites (Read at the Miami Herald)

    CALIFORNIA — Fewer Emails, More Power: L.A.’s New Schools Chief Lays Out Back-to-School Vision for District Leaders (Read at

    NEW YORK — New data show how few black and Hispanic students benefit from New York City’s specialized high school diversity program (Read at Chalkbeat)

    TEXAS — U.S. education chief Betsy DeVos pledges $174M to Texas schools disrupted by Harvey (Read at Chron)

    CALIFORNIA — Focusing can be hard for kids when going back to school in the summer means hot classrooms (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    ILLINOIS — District 113 scrambles to remediate mold at Highland Park High School before school starts (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    FLORIDA — First Amendment arguments rejected in Florida charter school case (Read at Orlando Weekly)

    GEORGIA — Are teachers on board as Gwinnett rolls out merit pay? (Read at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    NEW YORK — Cuomo’s re-election bid gets boost from charter schools’ big (Read at the New York Post)

    TEXAS — Letter Grades for Texas School Districts Released Wednesday (Read at Texas Public Radio)

    NEVADA — New plan for education: Repeat the old plan (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Think Pieces

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Do metal detectors and X-ray machines belong in schools? (Read at The Washington Post)

    CHARTERS — Richmond: Why School Districts Are Walking Away From Authorizing New Charter Schools — and Why That’s Both a Bad and a Good Thing (Read at

    CELL PHONES — Parental debate: Should your kid have a cellphone in school? (Read at USA Today)

    Quote of the Day

    “If we’re serious about educational equity, it seems to me that we need to get past religion in schools as a nonstarter.” —Dale Chu, a fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, on his hopes that Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, will help clear the way for greater taxpayer support of religious schools. (Read at The New York Times)

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  • Reading, Writing, and … Renting? Airbnb Says 1 in 10 Hosts Is a Teacher, Estimates Typical Educator Adds $6,500 a Year to Annual Income

    By Beth Hawkins | 4 days ago

    If you want to book a stay in Bainbridge Scott’s Airbnb in Los Angeles’s Montecito Heights neighborhood, you’d better plan well in advance. Listed as a “Rustic Studio with Private Garden Patio,” the hillside property boasts a terrace with views of the city, a classic clawfoot tub, and an extensive garden from which guests can pluck pomegranates, grapes, and avocados.

    It looks like nothing so much as a slice of Tuscany — but is just north of downtown L.A. and available for the unreal price of $92 per night. With the exception of single nights here and there, it’s booked through Halloween.

    According to a report released Wednesday by Airbnb, Scott is one of 45,000 teachers who list short-term rental properties on the site, earning an estimated collective $160 million in 2017. Using internal booking data to estimate the number of nights each likely rents out a property, the company estimates the typical “teacher-host” brings in $6,500 a year.

    “It’s made a huge difference for income,” says Scott, an elementary music teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. “I’ve been paying bills off.”

    The average LAUSD teacher earned $75,350 in 2017 — among the highest salaries in the country, but hardly a fortune in pricey California.

    Using internal data, Airbnb released its report to try to counter concerns in cities throughout the country that the rise of short-term rentals is negatively affecting everything from affordable rents to gentrification. A proposal in L.A., for example, would cap short-term rentals at 120 nights per year, unless a host can demonstrate a good track record. Renters complain of having their housing when their landlord converted a dwelling to short-term rentals; homeowners say they would not be able to pay their mortgage without the income generated by an online listing.

    Public relations value aside, the report provides a rare glimpse into Airbnb’s workings.

    In Wisconsin and Utah, for example, 26 percent and 25 percent, respectively, of Airbnb hosts list their occupation as teaching or education. Some 75,000 property owners have a teacher in the household, Airbnb reports.

    Overall, 1 in 10 Airbnb listers is a teacher, according to the report.

    The company did not disclose totals for Los Angeles, but in San Diego, 15 percent of listings are owned by teachers, who earned an estimated $2.7 million in 2017. San Francisco teachers earned an estimated $4.1 million during the same time period, with average bookings of 79 nights a year.

    In New York City, where the debate over short-term rentals is particularly fierce, 11 percent of Airbnb listings belong to teachers, who typically rent them out 56 nights a year for an estimated $11.7 million.

    Other cities the company identified as having higher-than-average numbers of listings belonging to teachers include Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Asheville, North Carolina; Orlando; Tucson; San Antonio; Seattle; and Austin, Texas.


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  • EduClips: 3 out of 4 IL Kids Aren’t Ready for Kindergarten, State Data Show; TX Must Come Up With $3.2 Billion for Special Ed — 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

    LITERACY — When Jamarria Hall strode into Osborn High in Detroit his freshman year, the signs of decay were everywhere: buckets in the hallways to catch leaking water, rotting ceiling tiles, vermin that crisscrossed classrooms.

    In the neglected school, students never got textbooks to take home, and Hall and his classmates went long stretches — sometimes months — with substitute teachers who did little more than supervise students.

    Hall was part of a class of Detroit Public Schools students who sued state officials in federal court, arguing that the state had violated their constitutional right to learn to read by providing inadequate resources. (Read at The Washington Post)

    National News

    SCHOOL SAFETY — To Address School Shootings, U.S. Wants Students to Learn Bleeding-Control Techniques (Read at The New York Times)

    #EDlection2018 — Troubled Student, Teen Mom, Teacher of the Year: Is Connecticut Congressional Candidate Jahana Hayes the New Face of the Democratic Party? (Read at

    EDUCATION ‘DESERTS’ — America’s Education ‘Deserts’ Show Limits of Relaxing Regulations on Colleges (Read at The New York Times)

    District and State News

    ILLINOIS — Three out of four Illinois kids aren’t ready for kindergarten. Why that’s a problem. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    TEXAS — After Audit Finds TEA Shortchanged Kids, Texas Must Come Up With $3.2 Billion for Special Education (Read at the Texas Standard)

    PUERTO RICO — Kids are back in school in Puerto Rico. But Hurricane Maria’s effects still linger (Read at the Miami Herald)

    NEW YORK — Fair and objective or useless and biased? A Chalkbeat guide to the case for and against New York City’s specialized high school test (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — New school year, new leaders; familiar and serious challenges for L.A. Unified (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    TEXAS — Texas Schools to Receive Letter Grades on Performance (Read at CBS Dallas)

    CALIFORNIA — Gary Hart, author of California’s charter school law, reflects on its impact (Read at EdSource)

    NEVADA — EDITORIAL: Clark County School District begins calendar year with new leader (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Think Pieces

    NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND — Pressuring schools to raise test scores got diminishing returns, new study of No Child Left Behind finds (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CHARTERS — Charter schools want to share how they are helping more low-income students finish college (Read at USA Today)

    STUDENT JOURNALISM — Student Journalism in the Age of Media Distrust (Read in The Atlantic)

    CIVICS — How to Make a Civics Education Stick (Read at NPR)

    DUNCAN — ‘How Schools Work’ Review: The Worm in the Apple (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    Quote of the Day

    “The conditions and outcomes of Plaintiffs’ schools, as alleged, are nothing short of devastating. When a child who could be taught to read goes untaught, the child suffers a lasting injury — and so does society. But the Court is faced with a discrete question: does the Due Process Clause demand that a State affirmatively provide each child with a defined, minimum level of education by which the child can attain literacy? The answer to the question is no.” —U.S. District Judge Stephen J. Murphy III, ruling in a case brought by Detroit students who argued that the state violated their constitutional right to read by providing inadequate resources. (Read at The Washington Post)

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  • Arne Duncan: ‘I’m Not Convinced This President Wants to Have the Best-Educated Citizenry in the World’

    By Taylor Swaak | 5 days ago

    Arne Duncan, former education secretary for Barack Obama, again blasted President Trump on Monday for his “authoritarian tendencies” and suggested that developing “the best-educated citizenry in the world” might not be in the president’s interest.

    Duncan, a frequent critic of the president, spoke on C-SPAN’s morning call-in program, where he appeared to promote his new memoir.

    “I’m not convinced this president wants to have the best-educated citizenry in the world,” said Duncan, who served under Obama from 2009 to 2015. “And when you have the kind of authoritarian tendencies that President Trump has — when you call the press the enemy of the people, when you want to become the source of truth and everything else is fake or not real … I’m not sure it’s in this president’s best interests to have citizens who are well educated, who can think critically.”

    In his first year alone, CNN tracked more than 400 times that Trump publicly discredited the media as “fake.”

    You can watch the full interview here:

    Although an unusual broadside for a former cabinet secretary to lodge against a sitting president, the comments echo similar statements Duncan made during an Aug. 7 appearance on CNN.

    “I’m not sure President Trump wants to have the best-educated workforce,” The Washington Post quoted Duncan as saying last week.

    Under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s administration, the department has scaled back its ambitions and oversight but has taken ample aim at Obama administration policies, including reversing those on affirmative action and student loan borrower protections.

    The education department did not return The 74’s request for comment.

    Duncan has been touring in support of his new memoir, How Schools Work: An Inside Account of Failure and Success from One of the Nation’s Longest-Serving Secretaries of Education. Some of our prior coverage of the book at The 74:

    ● Review: In Arne Duncan’s new memoir, reflections on putting kids first, the state of our union, and the lies we tell about our schools

    ● Highlights: 7 key takeaways from the memoir of President Obama’s secretary of education

    ● Related: Exit Interview — Arne Duncan grades himself and sees failures on pre-K, safety, desegregation


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  • EduClips: Hurricane Harvey Trauma Lingers in TX Schools; Carvalho Texts Offer No Clue He’d Back Out of NYC Schools Chief Job — 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

    PUERTO RICO — Puerto Rico’s government was handed a major victory Friday when the island’s Supreme Court threw out a teachers-union-backed lawsuit challenging a new school-choice law — a high priority for the education secretary after Hurricane Maria devastated schools there nearly a year ago.

    The news comes just days before the start of the new school year; students return to class on Monday.

    The Supreme Court’s move clears the way for the government to move forward on its plan to open “escuelas alianzas,” the island’s version of charter schools, and to launch a private school voucher program. The lawsuit was filed by the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, an American Federation of Teachers affiliate. (Read at

    National News

    VOCATIONAL TRAINING — Vocational Training Is Back as Firms Pair With High Schools to Groom Workers (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Back-to-School Shopping for Districts: Armed Guards, Cameras and Metal Detectors (Read at The New York Times)

    ESSA — What’s the Toughest Part of ESSA for District Leaders? (Read at Politics K-12)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Back-to-school shopping: Bulletproof backpacks, other protection on the to-buy list (Read at USA Today)

    ELECTIONS — In These Few States, Teachers Are Not Allowed to Serve in the State Legislature (Read at Education Week)

    District and State News

    TEXAS — “Harvey’s not over”: School’s about to start — but the trauma from Hurricane Harvey lingers (Read at the Texas Tribune)

    NEW YORK — Texts Offer No Hint Schools Chief Would Back Out of New York Job (Read at The New York Times)

    CALIFORNIA — Charter schools scramble to become legal as new school year nears (Read at the San Diego Union-Tribune)

    ILLINOIS — Rauner signs bills to improve Illinois’ education (Read at Fox Illinois)

    NEW YORK — All city high schools will give warnings for marijuana possession, disorderly conduct (Read at the New York Daily News)

    FLORIDA — Florida school districts defying hazy rules on the use of medical marijuana for students (Read at USA Today)

    CALIFORNIA — L.A. Unified to consider March election to fill Ref Rodriguez’s school board vacancy (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    FLORIDA — Public schools in Doral will soon have armed police officers (Read at the Miami Herald)

    NEVADA — As Clark County schools reopen, drivers warned to exercise caution (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    ILLINOIS — New law lets Illinois students take unlimited dual-credit classes (Read at WGN-TV)

    NEVADA — Q+A: New CCSD superintendent prioritizes curriculum, funding for his first year (Read at the Las Vegas Sun)

    Think Pieces

    TEACHERS UNIONS — Rotherham: What Will Teachers Unions Look Like After the Supreme Court’s Janus Decision? Expect Them to Be Smaller but More Political & Hard-Core (Read at

    DUNCAN — OPINION: Arne Duncan, the fallible narrator (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    SPECIAL EDUCATION — Parkland Suspect Sought Special Ed Help but Was Derailed by Tug-of-War With School. To Parents of Special Needs Kids, It’s a Familiar Story (Read at

    Quote of the Day

    “For a long time, there was a little bit of a stigma around vocational training, but no matter what neighborhood you’re from, you deserve a chance to get a job.” —Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island’s Democratic governor. (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

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  • Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court Throws Out School Choice Lawsuit, Paving Way for Charter Schools to Open in the Coming Weeks

    By Mark Keierleber | August 10, 2018

    Puerto Rico’s government was handed a major victory Friday when the island’s Supreme Court threw out a teachers-union-backed lawsuit challenging a new school-choice law — a high priority for the education secretary after Hurricane Maria devastated schools there nearly a year ago.

    The news comes just days before the start of the new school year; students return to class on Monday.

    The Supreme Court’s move clears the way for the government to move forward on its plan to open “escuelas alianzas,” the island’s version of charter schools, and to launch a private school voucher program. The lawsuit was filed by the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, an American Federation of Teachers affiliate.

    In an interview, Education Secretary Julia Keleher said she’s thrilled with the ruling, which will allow the agency to move swiftly to open its first charter schools. She said the agency received 43 applications from municipalities and nonprofit organizations to open schools. In the coming weeks, she said, Puerto Rico could open its first charter schools since “there are some applicants who are pretty much ready to go.”

    “I think that it’s a real victory for the parents and the school communities who are looking to have an alternative to the traditional public education system where maybe their child’s needs weren’t being fully met,” Keleher told The 74. “It’s an opportunity for innovative approaches that will stand to benefit our communities.”

    Officials with the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Friday.

    This is the second legal victory for Puerto Rico’s education department in recent months. This summer, a court ruling allowed the island to close nearly a quarter of its public schools — more than 260 in total. That move, government leaders said, was crucial due to the island’s declining student population and a crippling financial crisis. Both issues have been building for years but were exacerbated by the hurricane.

    Meanwhile, wide-ranging reforms have been deeply controversial among the island’s teachers. Another local union, La Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, has called for a strike on Wednesday — three days into the new school year — targeting school closures, teacher reassignments, charter schools, and other concerns.

    The new school year is “one of the most disorganized beginnings in history,” Mercedes Martínez Padilla, that union’s president, said in a statement translated from Spanish.

    Eleven months since Maria’s landfall in Puerto Rico, storm recovery efforts are still underway. The Puerto Rican government acknowledged this week that the storm’s death toll exceeded 1,400 — 20 times as high as initially reported. Electricity has been restored for a majority of customers, but outages remain frequent. And at more than 850 schools — all of the campuses that remain open after this summer’s school closures — construction is still underway. As the island faces a shortage of building supplies, Keleher said some bigger construction projects, like replacing damaged roofs, could last through the first semester.

    Although the initial batch of charter schools will be launched by local organizations, Keleher said, the secretary has been in conversations with charter school organizations from the contiguous U.S., including KIPP. Those organizations, she said, are waiting to see “how we come out of the gate and what our environment looks like.”


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  • EduClips: Support Builds for CA Data System to Track Student Progress; TX State Ed Chief Urges More Pay for Higher-Performing Teachers — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | August 9, 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

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Inside an underground meeting room attached to the U.S. Capitol, past guards and metal detectors, lawmakers and officials from leading security companies discussed a burgeoning threat of mass school shootings and the dire need to “harden” campuses before someone else gets killed.

    Security officials in the room hawked a range of products that could have been ripped from a James Bond movie: surveillance cameras with facial recognition capability, automated door locks, gunshot detection sensors, and software that scans social media platforms in search of the next shooter. If schools across the country put a larger emphasis on securing their buildings, they said, educators could prevent shootings or, at the very least, mitigate the bloodshed.

    The recent tragedies are pumping new energy — not to mention funds — into strategies to keep children safe, including millions of dollars in federal money from the STOP School Violence Act. As each tragedy stokes fresh outrage from parents, education leaders say they’re inundated with sales pitches from security companies, each with the same basic message: You could be next. (Read at

    National News

    TOXIC SUPPLIES — Asbestos in a Crayon, Benzene in a Marker: A School Supply Study’s Toxic Results (Read at The New York Times)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — 6.7% of Students Skip School out of Fear. Worry Over School Shootings Is Up. Yet School Violence Is Down. What Does This Mean? (Read at

    TEACHERS — More teachers are turning to crowdfunding sites to pay for books, supplies, and field trips (Read at Vox)

    ESSA — Just One District Seeks ESSA’s Weighted Student Funding Pilot for 2019-20 (Read at Politics K-12)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — Support builds to create longitudinal data system to track student progress in California (Read at EdSource)

    TEXAS — Texas education chief suggests paying higher-performing teachers more (Read at the Austin American-Statesman)

    FLORIDA — Florida Wants to Help Bullied Kids — Unless They’re Gay (Read at Huffington Post)

    NEW YORK — School counselor was sexually harassed and banished to filthy closet: suit (Read at the New York Daily News)

    CALIFORNIA — Advocates urge lawmakers to pass bill to support migrant and refugee students (Read at the Modesto Bee)

    NEVADA — CCSD Faces Tough Financial Decisions After Court Decision (Read at Nevada Public Radio)

    TEXAS — Texas will soon release A-F grades for schools. Educators are organizing in opposition. (Read at the Waco Tribune)

    ILLINOIS — Diana Rauner is on a campaign to better educate our youngest residents: “You just keep pushing” (Read at Chalkbeat)

    NEVADA — New teachers aim to help turn around Clark County schools (Read at News 3)

    NEW YORK — Don’t just help students graduate. Prepare them for what’s next, says high school teacher (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Think Pieces

    LITERACY — New Finding: Most States Don’t Test New Teachers on ‘Science of Reading’ (Read at

    EARLY EDUCATION — Accountability for early education — a different approach and some positive signs (Read at the Brookings Institution)

    LEBRON JAMES — Petition calls for Education Secretary LeBron James (Read at The Hill)

    MISTER ROGERS — How Learning Science Is Catching Up to Mr. Rogers (Read at NPR)

    AMERICAN HISTORY — ‘Lies My Teacher Told Me,’ and How American History Can Be Used as a Weapon (Read at NPR)

    PERSONALIZED LEARNING — A year of personalized learning: Mistakes, moving furniture and making it work (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    DUNCAN — 5 Inadvertent Lessons From Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s Memoir (Read at Forbes)

    Quote of the Day

    “It’s not that they’re villains and they don’t care and they don’t want safe schools — I’m not trying to send that message. But they’re certainly opportunistic. At the end of the day, they’re looking for new revenue streams.” —Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, which consults districts on school safety planning, on the $3 billion school security industry. (Read at

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  • New Finding: Most States Don’t Test New Teachers on ‘Science of Reading’

    By Kevin Mahnken | August 9, 2018

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

    Most states don’t do nearly enough to ensure that new teachers actually understand literacy, according to new data from the National Council on Teacher Quality. Although teacher preparation programs often require instruction on what is called “the science of reading,” states do not require that teaching candidates demonstrate that knowledge, NCTQ finds.

    The report, written by NCTQ staffer Elizabeth Ross and released today, examines policies in all 50 states to assess the literacy knowledge of prospective elementary and special education teachers. In order to gain a teaching license, elementary teaching candidates in most states must pass a test on literacy knowledge. By contrast, 25 states and the District of Columbia do not require the passage of a reading test to become a special education instructor.

    Ross told The 74 that all teachers in both disciplines should be schooled in, and tested on, what is called the “science of reading” — the broad body of research on brain organization and development that offers insights into how kids build reading skills. The report notes that even those states that directly link reading tests to licensure often don’t provide stand-alone assessments in the science of reading.

    “It’s so important that both … elementary and special education teachers demonstrate this knowledge, and a strong research base exists around the importance of teachers knowing the science of reading when they’re teaching children how to read,” she said. “Elementary teachers, of course, are primarily responsible for teaching children to read, but research also demonstrates that more than 80 percent of students identified for special education services are identified based on reading difficulties.”

    Much of the relevant literature on the science of reading was summarized in the highly influential 2000 report of the National Reading Panel. The body was convened in the late 1990s, in part to settle the contentious “reading wars” that raged over the importance of phonics instruction. The report addressed scientific research in five areas that are considered critical elements of scientifically based reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

    To ensure that teachers have some degree of expertise in these subjects, NCTQ recommends that every state require that new teachers pass a test of literacy knowledge to attain a teaching license. Presently, only 11 states mandate such tests for both elementary and special education teachers: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

    NCTQ estimates that just 37 percent of all teacher preparation programs around the country provide instruction in scientifically based teaching methods. Experts on literacy, such as University of Wisconsin cognitive scientist Mark Seidenberg, claim that the science of reading too seldom filters down through teaching programs and into classrooms. As he explained in an interview with NPR earlier this year, “This basic science does not go into the preparation of teachers. More often they’re told it’s not really relevant, that the science is sterile and has no connection with what teachers do in the classroom.”

    Ross maintains that the case is stronger than ever that teacher licensure be predicated on the demonstration of literacy knowledge. While it’s good that some teacher preparation programs offer coursework in the science of reading, instruction must be accompanied by state assessments, she said.

    “We’ve found that standards alone are insufficient to ensure that teachers have demonstrated knowledge of the science of reading — and for folks who work in education, this shouldn’t be surprising to us,” she said. “When we think about student requirements at the state level, we have both standards — which set out what students should know and be able to do — but then also assessments to check that students have met those standards.”

    But not all experts agree. In an email to The 74, Tim Shanahan, a professor emeritus of curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago who also served on the National Reading Panel, said that although he sympathized with the goal of improving reading instruction through better credentialing, he knew of no evidence linking performance on literacy tests to higher-quality teaching down the line.

    Shanahan wrote that he believed such tests were reliable, but he added, “What’s unclear to me is whether the differences in knowledge measured in this way make any measurable difference in factors like: quality of leadership in a school, effectiveness in instruction, ability to evaluate students’ learning needs or to explain children’s learning needs to parents in a clear way, etc.”

    Even if more proof existed that high teacher scores on reading tests predicted later gains in student achievement, he said, it would be difficult for states to apply a sufficiently rigorous standard that wouldn’t deny licenses to large numbers of teachers.

    “Screening out less-knowledgeable candidates could have a positive and powerful effect on teaching,” he said, “or it could just make it harder for schools to hire certified candidates in many communities, so they would likely just hire less-qualified personnel on an ‘emergency’ basis.”


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  • EduClips: Metal Detectors Ineffective at LAUSD Schools, Report Says; WY Educators Debate Merits of Arming Teachers — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | August 8, 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

    SUSPENSIONS — Between 2011 and 2017, out-of-school suspensions in California fell 46 percent, as the state’s suspension rate dropped by more than a third.

    That students are suspended less frequently is welcome news for civil rights advocates who’ve long been concerned about the fact that certain groups — black students, foster youth, and students with disabilities, in particular — are far more likely to face suspension than their peers. This disparity is often referred to as the discipline gap. Tempering the optimism, however, is the fact that while suspension rates fell, the discipline gap didn’t close in any significant way, data show. (Read at

    National News

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Arming Teachers: A ‘Threat to Safety’ or the ‘Only Way to Protect Innocent Lives’? (Read at Politics K-12)

    DUNCAN — Arne Duncan: ‘Everyone Says They Value Education, but Their Actions Don’t Follow’ (Read at The Atlantic)

    DIVERSITY — Trump’s Move to Pull Obama-Era Diversity Guidance for Schools Angers Democrats (Read at Politics K-12)

    IMMIGRATION — ‘I Feel Happy to Enter Classes Again’: One Migrant Teen’s Perilous Journey From El Salvador to High School in the U.S. (Read at

    PRINCIPALS — Principals Are Running for Elected Office. Here’s Why (Read at Education Week)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — Safety Report: Metal Detectors Ineffective at LAUSD Schools (Read at CBS Los Angeles)

    TEXAS — School ratings under new Texas system to be released next week (Read at the Austin American-Statesman)

    ILLINOIS — New high school plan still has some South Side residents feeling neglected (Read at Chalkbeat)

    NEVADA — CCSD Recruiting Teachers From Other Countries to Fill Teacher Shortage (Read at Nevada Public Radio)

    HAWAII — Hawaii expanding few preschool options at public schools (Read at Hawaii News Now)

    CALIFORNIA — California’s schools and colleges show varying degrees of support for data system linking student information (Read at EdSource)

    GEORGIA — New Gwinnett high school built with eye to future (Read at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    NEW YORK — Vocab Tech for New York Toddlers Encourages ‘Anytime, Anywhere Learning’ (Read at WSKG)

    Think Pieces

    SPRING BREAK — Spring break at school? New research says it helps middle schoolers catch up (Read at Chalkbeat)

    COMMON CORE — Commentary: Report on Common Core Gives This English Teacher Hope for Student Success in Reading and Writing (Read at

    RURAL SCHOOLS — Playgroups offer rural families a head start on school (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    ENTREPRENEURSHIP — Schools Need Advanced Placement Entrepreneurship Programs (Read at Gallup)

    LEBRON JAMES — LeBron is dishing out assists to a local school district in Ohio (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “There’s not a shred of evidence that supports the idea that suspensions actually help students, but the spare-the-rod, spoil-the-child idea that you have to kick out the bad kids has been deeply entrenched ever since.” —Dan Losen, director of UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies. (Read at

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  • ‘I Feel Happy to Enter Classes Again’: One Migrant Teen’s Perilous Journey From El Salvador to High School in the U.S.

    By Brendan Lowe | August 7, 2018

    McAllen, Texas

    There are many things that Jerson, 16, doesn’t know. He doesn’t know where he and his dad are going to live, and he doesn’t know where or when he’s going to go to school. He doesn’t know when he’ll see his mom, his two sisters, or his two brothers again.

    But, seated at a bus station here on a recent Saturday afternoon after driving more than 1,400 miles from El Salvador with his dad and other migrants, he knows his favorite subject is science. He knows that he wants to be a professional singer, and that he prefers soccer great Lionel Messi over longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo. He also knows the gist of President Trump’s immigration policy and that it translates into a hard road ahead.

    “Yes, he says he does not want more people,” Jerson said of Trump. “But every person fights for what he wants.”

    Later this month, Jerson plans to start high school in Arkansas. Because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1982 decision in Plyler v. Doe, public schools cannot deny any student, regardless of immigration status, access to a public education. If he does enroll, it’ll be the first time in at least eight months that Jerson attends school, and it’ll be a stark departure from how he spent his summer.


    Civil Rights Groups Are Pressing Betsy DeVos to Affirm a Supreme Court Decision That Protects Undocumented Students’ Education. Here’s the Backstory on Plyler v. Doe

    In early July, Jerson’s father paid a guide $1,000 for their transport through Guatemala and Mexico to the United States. They had to leave their belongings in Mexico, so when they arrived in the United States, where they were both detained by Border Patrol and briefly separated within the same facility, they were empty-handed.

    Since a federal judge ended the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” experiment and the government reinstituted its “catch and release” policy, Jerson and his dad were deposited at the bus station. They are among more than 100 Central American migrants who come through the station each day. Nearly 100,000 migrants have come through the station since 2014, according to The New York Times, which recently dubbed it “America’s New Ellis Island.”

    After being released by the U.S. government as their immigration cases play out, migrants wait at a bus station before boarding buses to stay with relatives or friends. Some of the migrants wear monitoring devices around their ankles (see woman on far right). (Brendan Lowe)

    When buses pull up from government detention centers, the migrants — mostly young women and children — get off and meet a volunteer from the local Catholic Charities office. They enter the bus station through a side entrance and form a huddle in the center around the volunteer, who plays the role of quarterback.

    In time, the group takes hold of plastic bags bearing the logo of the Department of Homeland Security that hold their remaining possessions, if they have any. They head into the 97° heat, shuffling down the street to the nearby Catholic Charities, where dozens of people sit, stand, and squat in a space intended for far fewer.

    On a wall, pieces of paper show the logos of schools that have sent volunteers, who greet migrants at the bus station and help distribute food, toiletries, and clothes: a KIPP school, an IDEA school, a private high school in Indianapolis, and Sidwell Friends in Washington, D.C. Students from Yale are volunteering, as are students from Southern Methodist University.

    The migrants then head back to the station as their bus schedules dictate. Jerson and his dad were there to start a three-city, 18-hour journey to culminate in Little Rock, Arkansas, where family friends live. They plan to live there as they wait for an immigration court to rule on whether they can stay in the country, a process that can take years due to backlogged immigration courts.

    In Little Rock, the largest school district in Arkansas, Jerson would find some students with similar backgrounds to his own: 13 percent of students there speak Spanish at home. If he ends up elsewhere in Arkansas, he could find greater numbers, especially in the northwestern part of the state. In Rogers Public Schools, the fourth-largest district in the state, 48 percent of students identify as Latino, and one-third of students were English language learners with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) in 2017-18. Springdale School District, the second-largest school district in the state, has added more than 100 Latino staff members and more than 1,000 Latino students over the past five years.

    More broadly, among all immigrants, Arkansas had the highest share in the country who were unauthorized in 2012 — 45 percent, according to a Pew Research Center report.


    Child Immigrants in Federal Custody Are Entitled to an Education. Here’s How it Works

    Jerson spoke briefly to a reporter as he waited with his dad for their bus. Wearing jeans and a tan polo shirt with a palm tree pattern, the slim teen said he is cautiously optimistic about his fresh start. He has not attended school since 2017, when he walked an hour each way to attend a tuition-based school in El Salvador that he said was scarce on textbooks.

    “On the one hand [I’m] nervous because I do not know how it will be, and [on] the other one I feel happy to enter classes again,” he said.

    Gangs had driven him out of El Salvador; the country has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Now, Jerson is tantalized by the prospect of an opportunity in the United States.

    “It makes you want to learn English fast and find a very good job,” he said.

    He just doesn’t know how temporary the opportunity may be.


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  • EduClips: LAUSD Teachers Contemplate Strike; Critics Blast NYC Schools for Hiding Study Critical of Desegregation Plan — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | August 7, 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

    ENGLISH LEARNERS —The U.S. Department of Education is forging ahead with plans to scraps the federal office of English-language acquisition — perhaps without seeking congressional approval or public comment on the proposal.

    A coalition of English-language-learner advocates fears the department is headed that way, based on their correspondence with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s top deputy.

    “The threat is real,” said Rebeca Shackleford, an education policy analyst with UnidosUS. (Read at Education Week)

    National News

    MARYLAND — An EDlection Showdown in Maryland: Could a ‘Blue Wave’ Unseat America’s Second-Most Popular Governor — and Reshape the State’s Education Priorities? (Read at

    #EDLECTION2018 — First look: Education reform group bets big on governor’s races (Read at Politico)

    NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENTS — New Help for Native American Students: How to Rethink School Design and Culturally Relevant Classrooms for the Next Generation (Read at

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — Los Angeles Teachers Take First Step Toward Strike (Read at Education Week)

    NEW YORK — Critics blast city for hiding study that debunks de Blasio’s plan to desegregate elite high schools (Read at the New York Daily News)

    NEVADA — CCSD hires from overseas to help fill teacher vacancies (Read at KLAS-TV)

    NEW YORK — Carranza taps Hydra Mendoza, a colleague from San Francisco, as deputy chancellor (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — LA School Safety report stops short of putting guns in teachers’ hands; finds weapons searches ineffective (Read at the Los Angeles Daily News)

    TEXAS — Senators urge arming more Texas teachers, counseling more students — but fall silent on gun control (Read at Dallas News)

    FLORIDA — Families can apply for Florida’s new reading scholarship next week (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    Think Pieces

    SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT — Eligibility for Federal School Improvement Grants Helped Ohio Students, Study Says (Read at Politics K-12)

    TEACHERS UNIONS — Janus will make teachers unions stronger, not weaker (Read at Flypaper)

    SCHOOL DESIGN — Robin Lake: What Does It Mean to Design a System of Learning? At Workspace Education, It’s Creating Radically Individualized Pathways for Kids (Read at

    ARMING TEACHERS — OPINION: Teachers with guns — it might be even worse than you think (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    DEVOS — DeVos Family Money Is All Over The News Right Now (Read at NPR)

    Quote of the Day

    “The threat is real.” —Rebeca Shackleford, an education policy analyst with UnidosUS, on plans by the U.S. Department of Education to scrap the federal office of English-language acquisition. (Read at Education Week)

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  • Democrats for Education Reform Release New Poll Suggesting Most Voters Are ‘Education Progressives.’ Here Are 7 Takeaways

    By Taylor Swaak | August 6, 2018

    Updated Aug. 7

    New poll findings released by Democrats for Education Reform on Monday found that a majority of U.S. voters believe in reform policies such as expanding public school choice and rewarding quality teachers, and hold that funding alone won’t push the needle forward on helping struggling schools.

    For DFER, a left-of-center political action committee, the findings demonstrate that most Americans are what they call “education progressives” — a result that would seem to contradict reports of a splintering within the Democratic party over issues like school choice and merit pay.

    Pollsters from the Benenson Strategy Group and 270 Strategies interviewed more than 2,000 voters between May and July.  

    The poll, on top of informing a new social media campaign, anchored the organization’s latest announcement that it will spend more than $4 million this year — an exponential hike from the reported $83,456 it spent in 2016 — on “priority races.” These include gubernatorial contests in Colorado, New York, and Connecticut and the superintendent’s race in California. Certain beliefs of “education progressives,” such as charter school expansion, may put them at odds with other self-described progressives within the party.

    “Being an education progressive means doing anything and everything we can to improve public schools for all — especially for poor students and students of color,” DFER President Shavar Jeffries said in a statement.

    Here are seven main poll findings:

    1 A large majority of voters believe children deserve a better education

    Seventy-eight percent of all voters — 93 percent of Democratic primary voters — strongly agree that “we need to do everything we can to ensure every child has a fair shot to succeed, no matter where they are from.”

    The finding is underscored by stark achievement gaps. Black students, for example, were more than 1.5 academic years behind their white peers in 2017, according to NAEP data. Reforms such as free, high-quality pre-K have amassed support across the political spectrum as a way of narrowing the gap, while Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has also pushed for expanding charter schools.


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

    2 The majority of Democratic voters say money isn’t the sole answer to fixing schools

    Sixty-nine percent of Democratic voters say fixing schools “will take more than just additional money … we need new ideas and real changes to how schools operate.” Among African-American voters, that percentage spikes to 73 percent, but it drops to 56 percent when put to all voters, regardless of party.

    Opinions (and research) remain split on whether funding is linked to student performance. While some research has found that student test scores can rise following long-term, stable financial investments, critics have pointed to the Obama administration’s $7 billion program to overhaul chronically low-performing schools — which yielded no significant impacts on test scores — as evidence that funding isn’t a panacea.

    3 However, voters believe schools should still get the funding they need

    The vast majority of voters — 89 percent — believe that every public school should still “get the funding that it needs, even in disadvantaged areas.” These voters gave this issue a 6 or 7 on a 7-point importance scale.

    Per-pupil spending nationwide is not equitable, according to many critics. Across the country, districts with the highest rates of poverty receive about $1,000 less per student than those with the lowest rates, the Education Trust reported in February. State-to-state fluctuations reveal the scope of the problem: New York, for example, spends more than $22,000 per student, while states such as Utah and Idaho spend less than a third of that.

    4 Most voters say we should be doing more to reward ‘great’ teachers

    Seventy-six percent of voters, including 90 percent of black voters and 80 percent of Latino voters, strongly agree that “we need to do more to identify and reward great teachers who make a difference.”

    The idea of evaluating and rewarding teachers remains contentious, however. The Obama administration’s calls for merit pay and tying teacher evaluations to student test scores spurred backlash from teachers unions.

    Educators themselves are some of the most fervent critics, with 78 percent opposed to merit pay, according to a 2017 Education Next survey. Research is mixed on whether merit pay correlates with improved student performance.


    The Merit Pay Myth: Why the Conventional Wisdom About Paying Teachers Is Wrong

    5 Ensuring a ‘variety’ of public school options is a top priority

    About 65 percent of voters said access to public charter schools, magnet schools, and career academies “no matter where [people] live or how much money they have” is a very important priority (a 6 or 7 on the 7-point scale). Latino and Democratic primary voters closely aligned with this percentage, compared with an overwhelming 86 percent of black voters.

    All but six states have laws allowing charter schools. But support of traditional public education hasn’t necessarily waned. Most Americans oppose channeling public funds to for-profit school tuition, and nearly three-quarters say all schools “should have to meet the same state education standards as traditional public schools,” according to a Harvard poll.


    When Public Charter Schools Are Private: Labor Rulings Highlight Often Blurred Line

    6 More than 60 percent of voters want schools held accountable

    Nearly two-thirds of voters, or 66 percent, rank “holding schools accountable for making decisions based on what works to educate kids” as a very important priority — a 6 or 7 on the 7-point scale.

    Increasingly localized control of education policy has diminished the role of the federal government in school accountability — a shift evident in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the main U.S. education law that replaced No Child Left Behind in 2015.

    “There seems to be a lack of commitment to any meaningful federal role in terms of accountability,” DFER’s president told Chalkbeat last year. “We’re very worried about what we’re going to see coming out of the ESSA accountability process.”

    7 More than two-thirds of voters want increased financial aid for college

    Sixty-eight percent of voters say “increasing the availability of financial aid for college” is a top priority (a 6 or 7 on the scale).

    A lack of financial aid has resulted in about $1.52 trillion in student loan debt among 44 million borrowers in 2018. The class of 2016 alone had an average loan debt of $37,172, according to Forbes.

    The polling reflects a disconnect between voters and the policies of the Trump administration. Trump earlier this year proposed slashing nearly $4 billion in annual funding for student aid programs in the 2019 fiscal year budget. DeVos in July also made moves to repeal the 2016 Obama borrower defense regulation, which supported waiving federal student loan debts for students who were ripped off by “predatory” colleges.


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  • EduClips: After Decades of Expansion, CA Charter Growth Slowing; Broward Schools Back Off Plans for Metal Detectors at Site of Parkland Shooting — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | August 6, 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

    PARKLAND STUDENTS — They came from all over Virginia, battling gray weather and buckets of rain, to see the faces of a student-driven movement that shows few signs of stopping.

    They came by the hundreds, young people and older ones — at least a third of the attendees were parents, judging by a show of hands — to hear first-person testimonies from the survivors of the mass shooting in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They came to learn how they might be involved in ending gun violence. In a few cases, they came to protest.

    The message they got from the speakers at this traveling town hall, over and over, was this: Vote. As it matures over the course of its months-long Road to Change tour through the United States this summer, the March for Our Lives movement’s broad goal of ending gun violence is increasingly focused on voting, one of the most essential of all civic responsibilities. (Read at Education Week)

    National News

    DUNCAN — Arne Duncan, Obama’s Former Secretary of Education, Just Wrote a Memoir. Here Are 7 Key Highlights (Read at

    SCHOOL SAFETY — U.S. schools implement new safety measures in wake of recent mass shootings (Read at ABC News)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — After quarter century of rapid expansion, charter school growth slowing in California (Read at EdSource)

    FLORIDA — Runcie reverses plan for metal detectors at Stoneman Douglas ahead of new school year (Read at the Miami Herald)

    ILLINOIS — Student who supports gun rights sues school over protest (Read at WLS-AM)

    FLORIDA — It’s framer vs. framer in Florida’s education equity lawsuit (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    NEVADA — AG: Nevada education department didn’t violate open meeting law (Read at the Nevada Appeal)

    NEW YORK —State stiffed city schools $7 million (Read at the New York Daily News)

    ILLINOIS — School sex-ed classes to teach about assault, consent under new state law (Read at the Herald & Review)

    NEVADA — Workers: Morale of Clark County schools’ support staff ‘tanked’ (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    NEW YORK — EXCLUSIVE: Sex probes shrink in city schools under Mayor de Blasio, even as number of staffers grows (Read at the New York Daily News)

    GEORGIA — Gwinnett schools to start girls flag football program (Read at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    CALIFORNIA — Opinion: Forget the lies in the state schools superintendent’s race (Read at the San Jose Mercury News)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Opinion: Cutting through the Wolf/Wagner school-funding war | John Baer (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    Think Pieces

    AP CLASSES — More students are taking AP exams, but researchers don’t know if that helps them (Read at Chalkbeat)

    DUNCAN — Review: In Arne Duncan’s New Memoir, Reflections on Putting Kids First, the State of Our Union, and the Lies We Tell About Our Schools (Read at

    SCHOOL SAFETY — OPINION: Teachers with guns — it might be even worse than you think (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “I know a lot of people thought the movement was going to die a long time ago. But we’re still here. We’re still traveling.” —Ramon Contreras, a New York-based youth advocate, on the “March for Our Lives'” movement to get young people to vote, driven by student survivors of February’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. (Read at Education Week)

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  • Arne Duncan, Obama’s Former Secretary of Education, Just Wrote a Memoir. Here Are 7 Key Highlights

    By Taylor Swaak | August 3, 2018

    Arne Duncan, the long-standing secretary of education under Barack Obama, has taken a page from the former president’s playbook and penned his own memoir.

    How Schools Work weaves through the Chicago native’s early years in the Windy City, where he volunteered at his mother’s afterschool children’s center and later headed the behemoth Chicago Public Schools district, before zeroing in on his tenure as U.S. education secretary from 2009 to 2015. Throughout, Duncan offers a personal account of rolling out a spate of notable — albeit controversial — initiatives, such as a teacher evaluation overhaul and the widespread implementation of Common Core standards via the federal Race to the Top (RTT) grant program.

    The nature of his legacy, though, depends largely on whom you ask. Although he stepped down amid record-high U.S. graduation rates and record-low dropout rates, some of his reforms generated bipartisan pushback. Others, such as the $7 billion revamp of the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, which received next to no mention in the memoir, didn’t yield the desired results. Supporters consider him a champion of the reform movement; critics, which included teachers unions and many conservatives, balked at his posture as a “national school superintendent.”

    Here are some of the highlights from the book:

    1 When Duncan realized the education system was ‘failing’ children

    In July 1986, the summer before his senior year of college at Harvard University, Duncan was volunteering at his mother’s afterschool children’s center in Chicago. In walked Calvin Williams, a familiar face and rising high school senior seeking tutoring for the ACT. Williams was destined for greatness, Duncan remembered: A “good” kid and aspiring professional basketball player who “stayed out of trouble” and regularly made the B honor roll at school.

    But none of that mattered. Duncan realized that “Calvin struggled to read and could barely form a proper sentence,” he wrote. “His ability to craft a cohesive thought using written language was nonexistent. I wasn’t an expert, but if I had to guess… [he] could read and write at a second- or third-grade level.” The most “insidious” part, Duncan continued, was that Williams was genuinely unaware of how far behind he was.

    The experience convinced Duncan that the education system was “failing” its children. His mission thereafter became “all about closing the achievement gap between where I grew up and where Calvin grew up.” It informed his calls as education secretary to reform teacher accountability, expand charter schools, and enact higher, shared state standards.


    Review: In Arne Duncan’s New Memoir, Reflections on Putting Kids First, the State of Our Union, and the Lies We Tell About Our Schools

    Overall, the white-black achievement gap has improved since 2003, according to National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) data. However, eight states — including Washington state, Alaska and Ohio — have slid backward, and the achievement gap for eighth-graders actually increased slightly between 2013 and 2015.

    2 The bumpy rise of Race to the Top and the Common Core

    Race to the Top was Duncan and the Obama administration’s brainchild to raise education standards across the U.S. If states wanted a shot at cashing in on the $4.35 billion grant program, they had to submit plans for ambitious yet comprehensive education reforms. They were pressed to tie teacher performance reviews to standardized testing results, and they had to adopt high-quality, college- and career-ready standards, such as the Common Core.

    The three-phase competition, on the tail of 2008’s crippling recession, saw widespread participation, with 45 states submitting at least one application and 19 taking away $17 million to $700 million each. The Race “changed the education landscape in America,” Duncan wrote, likening it to “a wave breaking across the country.” He touted his department’s use of “carrots” over “sticks” — incentives over threats — and maintained (correctly) that most states have some form of the Common Core still baked into their curricula.


    Driven by Common Core Rigor, States Are Raising Proficiency Bar for Reading and Math, New Report Finds

    Although Duncan believes it will take time to draw definitive conclusions about its success, studies so far have found that the Race’s central goal remains elusive.

    The results of 2017 NAEP scores, for example, “largely highlighted the overall flat trend lines among the nation’s schoolchildren,” according to the National Assessment Governing Board and National Center for Education Statistics. A 2016 study by the American Institutes for Research also maintained there “were no significant differences between RTT and other states in [the] use of RTT-promoted practices over time,” and that “the relationship between RTT and student outcomes was not clear.” Overall, states had slow starts implementing their new policies and “struggled to secure the financial, personnel, and technical resources to support schools with this work,” the Center for American Progress reported.

    3 ‘Bare-knuckle politicking,’ everywhere

    In Duncan’s perfect world, he’d be far removed from politics. In the book, he quoted Obama saying, “Just do what you think is right for kids, and let me worry about the politics.”

    Yet ultimately, there would be many political fights to wage and “bare-knuckle politicking” to handle during his tenure in Washington, Duncan wrote. And some of the first tip-offs came from state legislators during Race to the Top.

    First there was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who Duncan said was “understandably livid” after being three points short of winning $400 million in funding. He’d made a “disparaging” announcement in August 2010 that the education department refused to let Commissioner Bret Schundler submit missing information for the application, when that wasn’t the case. Then there was Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who — despite Duncan and his team’s endeavors to make the competition bipartisan and fair — called him in early 2012 to ask, “Are we still going to get our money?” As a new Republican governor replacing a Democrat, Kasich was skeptical that the education department would fulfill its funding promises.

    “I know all this stuff is about politics,” he’d reportedly told Duncan. “I don’t live under a rock.”

    But one exchange Duncan will “never forget” was with Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander from Tennessee, which had nabbed one of the first Race to the Top grants. Alexander considered tying teacher evaluations to test scores “the holy grail” of education reform. But he told Duncan he couldn’t support implementing higher standards.

    “I was stunned,” Duncan wrote. “Senator Alexander’s stance was one of the least principled things I’d ever heard from a politician, and it showed zero political courage.”

    The critique goes both ways. While Alexander considers Duncan “one of the president’s best appointments,” he and Obama’s former education secretary don’t see eye-to-eye on the federal government’s role in setting education policy. “If we had a national school board, Arne would be a great chairman,” Alexander, a former education secretary himself under the first President Bush, told Politico. “But Americans don’t want a national school board. He doesn’t seem to understand that.”

    Only 36 percent of Americans think the federal government should play the largest role in setting school standards, according to a 2017 Education Next survey. This shift is evident in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal education law that replaced No Child Left Behind in 2015 and gave states considerable autonomy over education initiatives.


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

    4 The case for bolstered teacher accountability

    A good teacher is “a kid’s best bet” in life, Duncan wrote. He knows because he’s seen it.

    Years ago in Chicago, he’d met Kerrie, an African-American boy who’d been abandoned by his mother and raised by a tough-loving, “hard-nosed” grandmother. But at 8 years old, he’d started attending Sue Duncan’s afterschool center. Kerrie would remain involved with the center for nearly 20 years, and he became the second African-American fellow in IBM’s history.

    Arne Duncan (lower right corner) with friends from the Sue Duncan Children’s Center in Chicago in 1977. (Courtesy)

    Stories like this, paired with recent studies linking “high-value” teachers with boosted college attendance rates and salaries, strengthened Duncan’s resolve for more teacher accountability — notably through tying teacher evaluations to student performance on standardized tests. While educators deserve “so much more” respect, support, and compensation than they’re currently getting, he wrote, a teacher, “like any professional, should also be able and willing … to demonstrate that she or is is actually good at teaching.”

    Race to the Top was his primary vehicle for advancing this agenda, and 43 states required teacher evaluations to incorporate some measure of student growth as of 2015. (That number dropped to 39 states in 2017, and legislation enacted in at least 10 other states has altered or reduced the requirement.)

    What’s missing from the book, though, is the full extent of the subsequent backlash. In 2011, educators responded to an open Teacher Appreciation Week letter from Duncan with a letter of their own. They slammed him for “increasing the instability of the profession (and our schools) by promoting policies that tie teachers’ evaluations and continued employment to measures based on flawed tests.” There is mixed research on whether using student achievement to evaluate educators is effective.

    In July 2014, the National Education Association, the largest U.S. teachers union,  also called for Duncan’s resignation. In a statement soon after, the American Federation of Teachers claimed Duncan “has failed to bring parents, students, teachers and community members together to improve the quality of public education for all children, and he has promoted misguided and ineffective policies on …. test obsession.”

    The following year would usher in a wave of standardized-test boycotts.

    Addressing his own failures

    Duncan clearly remembers the day he “infamously jammed my foot in my mouth” and insulted white suburban moms at a state superintendent’s meeting in November 2013. Criticism was mounting against the Common Core; New York had implemented the standards and weathered plummeting test scores that year as a result.

    He’d said, “It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who, all of a sudden, their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary.” Unsurprisingly, he was railed for his comment (which wasn’t entirely wrong, some pointed out).

    The incident, for Duncan, underscored a larger failure of his and the department as a whole: communication — especially when it came to explaining the Common Core and Race to the Top to stakeholders such as teachers, parents, and students.

    Duncan found the teachers unions, which are typically “staunchly Democratic,” to be a particularly disappointing adversary.

    “These folks, many of whom supported Barack Obama, should have been our natural allies,” he wrote. “But because we were miserable at communicating how and why things were happening, and why they were important, it made things worse. … I’m sorry.”

    6 A lesson from Sandy Hook: ‘We don’t value our kids’

    Duncan rattles off years, names, data, and minute details throughout his book. But he can’t “remember much” from Dec. 14, 2012, when a man gunned down 20 first-graders and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

    “It was a gray and cold day, befitting the news that I watched with … a small number of staff,” he recalled. “Many cried. Some left the room. … I remember canceling that day’s schedule, and the next day’s as well, and convening a meeting in my office. We sat there dumbstruck.”

    Gun violence hits close to home for the former head of Chicago Public Schools. When he led the district, he’d attended funerals for district kids lost to gun violence every two to three weeks. In 2007-08, his last year there, he lost 34 students. “The level of fear that our kids live with every single day is extraordinary,” he wrote. And Sandy Hook affirmed that we’ve chosen “to protect our guns, not our kids. We chose metal over flesh.”

    Duncan didn’t delve into the administration’s gun reform efforts, but it’s no secret that Obama faced a divided Congress during his tenure that failed to pass one of more than 100 gun-control measures introduced between January 2011 (when U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot) and January 2017.

    Since stepping down, Duncan hasn’t gone silent on gun reform. Quite the opposite: After the latest mass shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, in May — too recent to be included in the book — he piggybacked off a former education department colleague to suggest a nationwide “school boycott.” Two potential dates are Sept. 25, national voter registration day, or just before the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

    7 From the basketball court to the classroom, Duncan and Obama’s enduring friendship

    Before diving into his journey as education secretary, Duncan took a page or so to describe his friendship with the then-newly-minted president, who also has roots in Chicago.

    “Barack and I had been friends for a number of years,” he wrote. “I’d met him through my close friend Craig Robinson, whose sister, Michelle, was then dating Barack. We played pickup games together at the University of Chicago’s Henry Crown Fieldhouse, where, believe it or not, he would sometimes square off against my mom.” Duncan added that professionally, the two had “worked together on education issues when he was both a state and U.S. senator [for Illinois], occasionally visiting schools together.”

    Arne Duncan (left) and former president Barack Obama playing basketball in May 2010. (Courtesy)

    Duncan was considered Obama’s “closest friend in the Cabinet,” some media outlets reported. The two regularly played basketball at various federal facilities around D.C. during Obama’s presidency (though Obama now plays golf instead).

    Upon Duncan’s resignation, Obama had only glowing words for his colleague: “He’s done more to bring our educational system, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the 21st century than anyone else. America will be better off for what he has done.”


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  • Federal Judge Gives Go-Ahead to Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Success Academy Arising From ‘Got to Go’ List

    By Mark Keierleber | August 3, 2018

    A federal judge in Brooklyn gave the go-ahead this week to a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against Success Academy, a chain of prominent New York City charter schools accused of pushing out students with disabilities.

    In an order Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Frederic Block denied the school network’s motion to dismiss the case, advancing the legal battle. The parents of five students allege Success Academy placed children as young as 4 on a “got to go” list and subjected them to strict discipline intended to force them out of the system.

    Success Academy, which is independently operated but receives public funds, is known for high student achievement and a strict approach to student discipline. The lawsuit, filed in December 2015, follows an investigative report in the New York Times that exposed that the principal of a Success Academy campus in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, had 16 students on a “got to go” list because of disruptive behavior. The children at the center of the lawsuit, who no longer attend Success Academy, appeared on the list.


    ‘Got to Go’ List Shines a Light on Evolving Debate Over How to Discipline Students

    The principal, the plaintiffs allege, “deliberately targeted their children for removal” from the school because of their actual or perceived disabilities. Additionally, the lawsuit argues, school officials removed the children from their classrooms for extended periods, dismissed them from school early, suspended them repeatedly, and failed to provide them with academic instruction while they were out of class. School leaders also encouraged the parents to remove their children from the school, plaintiffs allege.

    The plaintiff parents are represented by the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, and Advocates for Justice. In a media release, Stroock associate Kayley McGrath said Success Academy’s “militaristic disciplinary code sent a clear message to these families: ‘You are not welcome here.’”

    Although all of the child plaintiffs attended the Fort Greene campus, McGrath told The 74 they believe student mistreatment extended beyond the one Success Academy school. The case, she said, is about a “pattern of mistreatment” that was “pervasive and it was unyielding, and it really deeply affected them on a daily basis.”

    In a statement Friday, a Success Academy spokeswoman said the judge’s order is “purely a procedural decision and has nothing to do with the merits of the case.” She declined to comment further.

    The principal behind the list, Candido Brown, said during a November 2015 press conference that he was not advised by top Success Academy officials to create it or to push children out of the school. “I was doing what I thought I needed to do to fix a school where I would not send my own children.”

    Disclosure: Campbell Brown is a co-founder of The 74 and sits on the board of directors of The 74 and Success Academy.


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  • Evening Shooting Outside Ohio Middle School Leaves 1 Dead; At Least 42 Killed and 77 Injured at Schools in 2018

    By Mark Keierleber | August 2, 2018

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

    Two people have been arrested following a mid-July shooting outside an Ohio middle school that left one dead.

    The shooting unfolded on the evening of July 11 in the Milkovich Middle School driveway in Maple Heights. Officials say a 911 call notified dispatchers of a fight outside the school. Officers responded to the school grounds and found 20-year-old Darnez Conion with a gunshot wound. He was transported to the hospital, where he later died.

    In 2018, at least 42 people have been killed and 77 have been injured due to shootings at schools. Learn more about each incident with our interactive map:

    This map includes school shootings that took place on campus where a person was injured or killed. Incidents resulting in injury are labeled blue, while incidents resulting in death are labeled red. The most recent incident is indicated with a larger icon. Click on the icons to see details about each incident.

    Nationally, nearly 1,300 children (17 years old and younger) die from gunshot wounds each year and 5,790 are treated for injuries, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. While unintentional firearm deaths and homicides of children have decreased in recent years, suicides have spiked.

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

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

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


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