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Noteworthy headlines from the education wire
  • 1 Killed, 1 Injured in Shooting in Nashville High School Parking Lot; At Least 45 Killed and 87 Injured by Guns at Schools So Far This Year

    By Mark Keierleber | 1 day ago

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

    One man was killed and another was injured late Sunday after being shot in a Nashville high school parking lot.

    The shooting outside McGavock High School reportedly unfolded at about 9 p.m. One victim was transported to a local hospital where he died, and the second refused medical attention. The injured victim told authorities they were parked in the lot when another car pulled up and began shooting at them. A suspect has not been identified.

    In 2018, at least 45 people have been killed and 87 have been injured due to shootings on school property. Learn more about each incident with our interactive map:


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

    Behind the numbers:

    Nationally, nearly 1,300 children (17 years old and younger) die from gunshot wounds each year and 5,790 are treated for injuries, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. While unintentional 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 info@the74million.org, 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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  • EduClips: School News You Missed This Week From America’s 15 Biggest Districts, Including Rethinking Punishment for Bullying & Sexual Harassment

    By Andrew Brownstein | 4 days ago

    EduClips is a roundup of the week’s top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the week’s school and policy highlights delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    BROWARD COUNTY — POST-PARKLAND, REPORT URGES FORT LAUDERDALE SCHOOLS TO SPEND $200 MILLION ON MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS: Broward County officials said they were unsure if they could afford the $202 million recommended by a report to provide for mental health professionals for students and families. Mental health has been a major focus of the district since February’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “I don’t think we’ll get $200 million unless we hit the Powerball,” board chairwoman Nora Rupert said. “But we’ll make a dent in it.” (Read at the Sun-Sentinel)

    FAIRFAX COUNTY — STUDENT ACCUSED OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT SUES DISTRICT FOR DISCRIMINATION: A high school student and his father are suing the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools in federal court, alleging the school system punished the boy unfairly for sexual misconduct because of his gender. According to the suit, three girls “colluded” to accuse the 16-year-old at Lake Braddock Secondary School of inappropriately touching them and making sexually explicit comments and gestures. In court papers, the boy and his father said the district “treats male students accused of sexual misconduct by female students more aggressively than it otherwise would” in order to “be perceived as aggressively addressing the perceptions that sexual assault against female students is rampant on campuses.” A spokesman for the district declined to comment on the case. (Read at The Washington Post)

    PUERTO RICO — LONG AFTER HURRICANE, ISLAND’S STUDENTS GRAPPLE WITH TRAUMA: Puerto Rico’s students are still wrestling with psychological trauma from Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. Joy Lynn Suárez-Kindy, a clinical psychologist who’s consulting with the island’s education department on mental health issues, examined responses from 64,000 students. Among the findings: Seven percent of students indicated they had “clinically significant symptoms” of post-traumatic stress disorder; eight percent said they had “clinically significant symptoms” of depression; and nine percent indicated they were at “high risk” of developing mental health disorders. (Read at Politics K-12)

    MIAMI-DADE — ‘THE OPIOID CRISIS IS REAL’ AND NEAR MIAMI’S SCHOOLS: Miami parents are up in arms due to sex and drug use at homeless encampments near five area schools. Officials are conducting a public health investigation into the spread of HIV and hepatitis at one site, where parents reported seeing several discarded drug needles. “I don’t recall in this area ever dealing with a situation like this,” said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “It’s not surprising. All of the sudden the opioid crisis is real and it is not a crisis that’s touching just rural or urban America. It’s pretty universal and ubiquitous. And I think it’s encroaching upon areas where kids services are provided, like schools.” (Read at the Miami Herald)

    PHILADELPHIA — AS STATE CONTRIBUTIONS FOR SPECIAL ED COSTS FAIL TO KEEP PACE, SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE PICKING UP THE TAB: Special education costs are far outpacing the state’s contribution to those expenses, according to a report by the Education Law Center and PA Schools Work. The result is that school districts are picking up bigger shares of the tabs. State aid for special education increased by $72 million between 2008 and 2016, but district special education costs grew by $1.54 billion, the report said. The report comes amid an ongoing lawsuit, partly brought by the center, that alleges the state’s funding formula is inadequate and discriminates against children in poorer communities. (Read at the Philadelphia Inquirer)

    HAWAII — STATE PROPOSES HARSHER PENALTIES FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT, BULLYING: The Hawaii Department of Education is hoping to create a new offense of sexual harassment and to increase the offense classification for bullying as part of a series of changes to its misconduct and discipline policy. Under the proposed changes, bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment would be upgraded to the most serious offense classification for intermediate and high school students. For the first time, the rule changes also would acknowledge sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in protections against bullying and harassment. The state Board of Education voted unanimously to send the proposed revisions to public hearings. (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    NEW YORK CITY — CHANCELLOR CARRANZA, MAYOR DE BLASIO DIFFER ON CHANGES TO CITY’S ELITE SCHOOLS: New York City schools chancellor Richard Carranza said that the education department could “probably” change the admissions requirements at five of the city’s eight specialized high schools immediately, putting him at odds with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who holds that such a move could put the district in legal jeopardy. Carranza told the audience at a Hispanic Education Summit that the city could likely change the admissions requirements at those five schools, which weren’t named in the 1971 state law creating the enrollment process at the elite schools. But he suggested he would not push for those changes after the schools’ principals advised him against it. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CHICAGO — SEX ABUSE SCANDAL AT CITY’S SCHOOLS COSTS DISTRICT $4 MILLION FEDERAL GRANT: The fallout from Chicago Public Schools’ sexual abuse scandal continues. Now, the U.S. Department of Education has denied the district a $4 million federal grant because it failed to demonstrate that it is sufficiently addressing complaints of sexual violence. The department informed district officials last month that it had suspended this year’s installment of the Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant. Earlier this year, the department’s office for civil rights said the district had committed “serious and pervasive” violations of Title IX, the federal law designed to protect students from abuse, harassment, and gender-based discrimination. (Read at Education Week)

    Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

    TEACHER DIVERSITY – Brown: Want to Close the Opportunity Gap? Start by Fixing the Diversity Gap Between Students of Color and Their Majority-White Teachers (Read at The74Million.org)

    TEENAGERS – The Teen Brain: How Schools Can Help Students Manage Emotions and Make Better Decisions (Read at Education Week)

    #METOO – Even in #MeToo era, educators still aren’t sharing their stories (Read at Education Dive)

    COMPETENCY-BASED EDUCATION – Is Competency-Based Education Just a Recycled Failed Policy? (Read at Forbes)

    Quotes of the Week

    “I don’t think we’ll get $200 million unless we hit the Powerball.” —Broward County school board chairwoman Nora Rupert, on the funding a report recommended for mental health professionals to treat students and families after the Feb. 14 shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Read at the Sun-Sentinel)

    “At a divisive time in the history of the country, we have to make sure we’re giving kids a chance to think for themselves.” —Chris Gubbrud, who teaches sixth-grade social studies in South Dakota’s Mitchell School District, on using class time to discuss the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “These findings are just awful for anyone who wants a future. It’s worse than a criminal conviction, or just as bad.” —Jesse Binnall, attorney for a student and his father suing the Fairfax County, Virginia, school district, saying the boy was unfairly punished for sexual misconduct because of his gender. The boy and his father say media reports that “suggest the pervasive nature of sexual assault committed by male students” influenced the district. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “Particularly after 2016, it’s clear that our country is much more vulnerable to a demagogue who vilifies minorities when schools are racially segregated. When white students know few Mexican-American classmates or Muslim classmates, it’s much easier for someone to suggest that those groups are causing all your problems.” —Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, on the importance of integrating schools. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “I was shocked. I didn’t realize this was going to be a race about money.” —Emily Gasoi, a candidate for the Ward 1 State Board of Education seat in Washington, D.C., whose opponent raised nearly $60,000 as of August. More than $150,000 and counting has poured this year into races for the board seats, relatively obscure positions that wield little power in the District. (Read at The Washington Post)

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  • Injuries Reported Following Shootings in Alaska, Tennessee School Parking Lots; At Least 44 Killed and 86 Injured by Guns at Schools So Far This Year

    By Mark Keierleber | 6 days ago

    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.

    Authorities say two people were injured Friday evening in a shooting that unfolded in a Tennessee high school stadium parking lot after a football game, one of two shooting incidents at schools reported last week.

    The Tennessee shooting occurred after a fight broke out outside the stadium at Haywood High School in Brownsville.

    A 16-year-old teen was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment. One victim was reportedly shot in the back, and a second was shot in the foot. Both have since been released from the hospital.

    Meanwhile, police in Alaska arrested a 26-year-old man last week following a shooting that reportedly unfolded in an elementary school parking lot in Anchorage and left one man injured. The shooting outside Denali Montessori Elementary School at about 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 3 reportedly unfolded after the suspect dropped a student off at the school.

    Police called the incident a “domestic dispute” and said the school was not a target. The suspect was charged with assault and misconduct involving a weapon.

    In 2018, at least 44 people have been killed and 86 have been injured due to shootings on school property. Learn more about each incident with our interactive map:


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

    Behind the numbers:

    Nationally, nearly 1,300 children (17 years old and younger) die from gunshot wounds each year and 5,790 are treated for injuries, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. While unintentional 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 info@the74million.org, 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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  • Study: One-Fifth of States Fail to Either Collect or Publicize Racial Data on Teachers, Despite Yawning Diversity Gap

    By Taylor Swaak | 7 days ago

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

    As the country grapples with a teacher workforce that looks less and less like its students, a new report has found roughly 1 in 5 states are failing to either collect teacher diversity data or make it publicly available.

    A September report from the Albert Shanker Institute revealed that six states — Alabama, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia — do not collect any district- or school-level data on K-12 public schoolteachers’ race and ethnicity. The remaining 44 states and D.C. are a spread: 21 post their school- or district-level data online; others require requests before providing the data, charge fees to disclose the information, or keep it private.

    The report is “shining a light on where [data collection] is happening and giving credit where credit is due,” said Matthew Di Carlo, a senior research fellow at the institute who co-authored the report with former fellow Klarissa Cervantes. “But it’s [also] to certainly shine a light on states where it’s not happening, and to try and push them along to doing the right thing.”

    The current racial diversity gap between U.S. students and educators is yawning. About 80 percent of teachers are white, and the vast majority are women. Meanwhile, as of the 2014-15 school year, the majority of students were minorities, according to National Center for Education Statistics predictions. While every state except Mississippi and Washington, D.C., saw their white student populations decline between 2003-04 and 2013-14, the black student population remained relatively stable. The Hispanic population jumped nearly 6 percent.

    The gap, often caused by factors such as hiring bias and lower retention rates, looms as most research shows that minority students — notably black students — perform better academically when paired with a same-race teacher. (There are currently not enough data to discern the effects of same-race teachers on Hispanic students.)

    Related

    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

    One study, for example, found that having just one black teacher in third, fourth or fifth grade lowered black students’ dropout rate by nearly a third. Research also indicates black teachers are less likely to suspend or expel black students, and have higher expectations of them than white educators.

    An integral part of narrowing this teacher diversity gap is tracking granular, school-level data, Di Carlo said. This is because the scope of the problem “can vary a great deal” from school to school.

    Especially with larger districts, “if you’re hiring teachers and you need to diversify your teacher workforce, you want to be putting those teachers — if you can — where they could improve the diversity” of certain schools, he said.

    Related

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

    Publicizing the data can also help parents make informed decisions about where to send their kids, he added. Seventeen states offer school-level teacher diversity data via their state education agency websites, while 18 of them (including D.C.) make the data available by request. Three states — Kansas, Mississippi, and South Dakota — charge a fee.

    Parents might “think it’s important to have a diverse teaching force, and might choose schools or districts [for their kids] based on that,” Di Carlo said.

    On top of urging all states to provide public, school- and district-level data, the report called on the federal Office for Civil Rights to incorporate teacher diversity reporting into its Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The CRDC already mandates that states submit school- and district-level data on teachers’ certifications and years of experience.

    “The purpose of the Civil Rights Data Collection is to provide data relevant to providing equal educational opportunity to students,” the report read. “… Central, nationwide collection and promulgation of [teacher diversity] data is the best way to ensure comprehensive availability to the public.”

    An OCR spokesman reached by The 74 did not provide comment.

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  • A Teacher Asked Twitter How to Explain the Kavanaugh Saga to Students. Thousands — Including Fellow Educators — Responded

    By Taylor Swaak | 7 days ago

    A teacher seeking advice on how to broach Brett Kavanaugh’s contentious U.S. Supreme Court confirmation with his students sparked thousands of responses from fellow educators and observers on Twitter this past week.

    Teacher Nick Ponticello had been searching for the best way to facilitate classroom discussion on what he considers a “big moment” in American history: the nomination and appointment of President Trump’s newest associate justice — accused in mid-September of sexually assaulting a woman in high school — and the seething partisan battle that emerged, epitomizing the nation’s gaping political divide. The Senate narrowly confirmed Kavanaugh 50-48 on Saturday as throngs of protesters rallied outside the Capitol.

    “I really feel that civics is the No. 1 most important thing we can teach our students,” Ponticello, who teaches high school math in the Los Angeles area, told The 74. “You can’t just bury your head in the sand just because you’re a math teacher. It’s your job because you’re the adult in the room.”

    But moderating talks on such a heated and complex topic is “tricky,” he said — especially when educators are expected to keep their biases at bay in the classroom. So he posted two tweets asking the Twitterverse for guidance: one on Sept. 29, two days after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh’s hearings, and another on Saturday, after the deciding vote.

    In the posts, he makes no secret of his own stance, asking if he should tell students “that this country doesn’t take sexual assault seriously? Do I tell them that truth and integrity don’t matter?” Ponticello identifies himself as an “educator” on Twitter.

    Together, the two tweets racked up more than 8,500 comments, 13,000 retweets, and 45,000 likes as of Tuesday afternoon. Feedback largely focused on teaching children about civic duty and encouraging them to vote. Other suggestions included holding a mock election, letting students lead discussions, and publicizing available resources for those who are struggling.

    Ponticello had already carved out class time in late September to moderate student discussion on Kavanaugh’s looming confirmation, and he had put the curriculum on hold Sept. 28 to stream the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting that spurred the reopening of the FBI’s background investigation. But the responses to his tweet generated some new ideas, too.

    “A piece of advice that struck me was to tell them they can still volunteer” if they’re too young to vote, Ponticello said. “I had never really thought about that. … So it occurred to me that I could encourage students who are very concerned to volunteer for the causes that they care about.”

    The responses often mirrored the split in public sentiment during the Kavanaugh saga.

    Sylvia Chan-Malik, associate professor of American and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, commiserated with Ponticello when she read his Oct. 6 tweet. She remembered being “scared” to face her students the morning after Trump won the 2016 presidential election.

    Many of them were puffy-eyed from crying and “looked like they hadn’t slept,” she recalled. She’d immediately sat them in a circle to talk. “After that experience, I said, ‘I have to figure out what to say.’ You can’t teach a whole room in despair.”

    What Chan-Malik found helpful then and now is to remind students of other times Americans have persevered through moments of crisis.

    “One mentor told me, ‘I lived through the ’60s, and within the span of four or five years we saw every single leader who we had our hopes and dreamed pinned on assassinated,'” she said, mentioning Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy. “‘But we lived through that. And we’re going to get through now.'”

    Chan-Malik sees this resilient spirit in her students. The overwhelming mood on Monday, the first day back at school after Kavanaugh’s confirmation, was “frustrated” and “annoyed,” she said. But her students “want to be activists. They are ready to go.”

    Related

    ‘There Is an Open Question’: Four Religious School Choice Cases That Could Face SCOTUS and Kavanaugh

    The conversation has been a little different for Chris Gubbrud, who teaches sixth grade social studies in South Dakota’s Mitchell School District. The students are a bit young, he said, to delve into topics such as sexual assault allegations — though he noted he and his class have talked about “how much past mistakes could potentially impact your life, and to be careful about the choices you make.” But he is using this moment to teach related topics, such as the importance of staying informed on current events and reading multiple news sources.

    “A lot of middle school kids are on social media, and they see all kinds of content,” he said. “And a role of the teacher, regardless of what you teach, is to show kids, ‘How can we determine where this came from? And how can we determine whether that’s a reliable source or not?’”

    Gubbrud emphasized in his tweet to Ponticello that regardless of the lesson, it’s never teachers’ job to inject their own opinion or draw conclusions for students.

    “At a divisive time in the history of the country, we have to make sure we’re giving kids a chance to think for themselves,” he said.

    See more replies to Ponticello’s tweets here:

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  • Small Charter Schools Among Big Winners in Nearly $400 Million in New Ed Dept Grants

    By Carolyn Phenicie | October 4, 2018

    The Education Department has awarded nearly $400 million in grants to help start, expand, and finance new charter schools.

    “These grants are essential to help new public charter schools open and to replicate high-performing schools that are serving kids well,” Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said in a release.

    Though last year’s winners included a who’s who of big-name charter school organizations like Success Academies and IDEA Public Schools, the 32 school grantees this year are smaller, like the York Academy Regional Charter School Program in York, Pennsylvania, which is expanding to a full K-12 school with an International Baccalaureate program. The grantees won a total of $29.5 million to be given over up to five years.

    State winners included the departments of education in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Michigan, New York, and North Carolina, and Bluum, Inc., which leads a statewide consortium to foster expansion of charter schools in Idaho. They’ll share $313.4 million over five years.

    Four winners, in New York City; Durham, North Carolina; and Columbia, Maryland, won $39.9 million in total grants to help charter schools address the costs of facilities construction and renovation by enhancing the availability of loans and bonds.

    Eight organizations, including the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, won $16.2 million in funding to share best practices.

    The federal charter school grant program has seen some of the biggest funding increases of any federal Education Department grant in recent years. Congress allotted $440 million, a 10 percent increase, for fiscal 2019. President Trump signed the bill, the first full-year funding the Education Department has seen in a decade, last week.

    Related

    5 Things to Know About the Education Funding Compromise Moving Through Congress

    Disclosure: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, and William E. Simon Foundation provide financial support to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and The 74.



  • EduClips: Florida Becomes Final State to Get ESSA Plan Approved; L.A. Parents Demand ‘Equitable Action’ in Schools as Possible Teacher Strike Looms — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | September 27, 2018

    EduClips is off next week, returning Oct. 12 | EduClips is a roundup of the week’s top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here. Get the week’s school and policy highlights delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the TopSheet Education Newsletter.

    Top Story

    SEXUAL ASSAULT — If students speak up about sexual assault, are their schools ready to help them?

    Some researchers and advocates say there are too many barriers for students to seek assistance in such a vulnerable situation, and those concerns are being stoked anew amid a tumultuous Supreme Court confirmation process that has been complicated by allegations of sexual assault from three women.

    Since the start of the #MeToo movement in 2017, educators and parents have watched to see how students would respond to resulting conversations about consent and power.

    And now the allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have brought those questions into even sharper focus. Because the three allegations, which Kavanaugh has categorically denied, center on events that the women said occurred when the parties were in high school and college, the surrounding discussions are likely to resonate with students. (Read at Education Week)

    National News

    ESSA — Betsy DeVos Greenlights Florida’s ESSA Plan. Now All 50 States Have Been Approved. (Read at Politics K-12)

    EQUITY — ‘This Zip Code Is Their World’: San Antonio’s Ambitious Plan to Expand School Options — and Horizons (Read at The74Million.org)

    SPENDING BILL — Spending Bill Boosting Education Funding Clears Congress, Heads to Trump (Read at Politics K-12)

    ADMISSIONS — Yale University Under Federal Investigation for Use of Race in Admissions Practices (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    SEXISM — Girls ‘ruin everything,’ school’s athletic director says, prompting backlash (Read at Fox News)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA LA parents demand ‘equitable education’ as prospect of first LAUSD teachers strike in decades looms (Read at the Los Angeles Daily News)

    NEW YORK — Find out how well your New York City school scored on state tests (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ILLINOIS — How Chicago’s Public Schools Are Teaching the History of Police Torture (Read at The New Yorker)

    HAWAII — Hawaii ‘worst state’ for teachers, and not just because of low pay (Read at Hawaii News Now)

    CALIFORNIA — California’s schools superintendent isn’t very powerful. So why are groups throwing big money into the race? (Read at the Sacramento Bee)

    NEVADA — The ‘Bucket List’: Education funding formula needs change, says group (Read at the Nevada Appeal)

    TEXAS — Here’s why we on the Texas education board ditched Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller (Read at Dallas News)

    NEW YORK — More schools are nixing homework because parents say it’s annoying (Read at the New York Post)

    FLORIDA — Our Opinion: Florida fails the teacher test (Read at the Daily Commercial)

    Think Pieces

    IMMIGRATION — New Study: More Than 300,000 Children Have ‘Vanished’ From Schools After Local Police Formed Partnerships With ICE (Read at The74Million.org)

    LOW-INCOME FAMILIES — Want to boost test scores and increase grad rates? One strategy: look outside schools and help low-income families (Read at Chalkbeat)

    SCHOOL REFORM — Why Teachers Aren’t Buying What Education Reformers Are Selling (Read at Forbes)

    MILITARY STUDENTS — Mesecar & Soifer — Appreciating the ‘Military Student Identifier’: How America’s New Education Law Will Help Schools Serve the Students Whose Parents Serve the Country (Read at The74Million.org)

    DEAF STUDENTS – A bilingual app with sign language brings more stories to deaf children (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “Administrators too often attempt to shield students from ideas they subjectively decide are ‘hateful’ or ‘offensive’ or ‘injurious,’ or ones they just don’t like. This patronizing practice assumes students are incapable of grappling with, learning from, or responding to ideas with which they disagree.” —U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. (Read at Education Week)

    Want the day’s top school and policy news delivered straight to your inbox — for free? Sign up for the TopSheet Daybreak Education Newsletter.



  • Monthly QuotED: 9 Notable Quotes That Made Education Headlines in September, From Curriculum to Kavanaugh — and the DeVos Confirmation Hearings as Theater

    By Andrew Brownstein | September 26, 2018

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

    “Last week was a perfect demonstration of why it’s a really bad idea for politicians to write curriculum standards that guide what public schools teach. Because then you end up with history that’s decided by a majority vote instead of by facts and historical accuracy. But that’s what we’ve got in Texas, unfortunately.” —Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, a left-leaning advocacy group, on the decision to excise Hillary Clinton, Helen Keller, and Barry Goldwater from Texas’s history curriculum. (Read at The Guardian)

    (From left) Hillary Clinton, Barry Goldwater, and Helen Keller. (Getty Images)

    “You get really egregious behavior because the steps to be taken for dismissal are just so lengthy, so expensive, and so rarely successful that most principals are reluctant to even initiate the process. The challenge and problem is that before they had tenure and due process, teachers were treated badly in terms of hiring, firing, sexism, racism — you name it.” —Patrick McGuinn, a professor of political science and education at Drew University, on the difficulty of firing teachers in the New York City schools. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “Administrators too often attempt to shield students from ideas they subjectively decide are ‘hateful’ or ‘offensive’ or ‘injurious,’ or ones they just don’t like. This patronizing practice assumes students are incapable of grappling with, learning from, or responding to ideas with which they disagree.” —U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. (Read at Education Week)

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    “We often hear of politics referred to as theater. Why not use the platform of theater … to get to know the issues on the table and how government works?” —Broadway producer Fran Kirmser, on plans to turn the DeVos confirmation hearings into a theatrical performance. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “I do believe one of these cases will ultimately have to be decided by the Supreme Court. There is the open question left after Trinity Lutheran … as to whether or not states may rely on their Blaine Amendments to exclude religious options from school choice programs.” —Tim Keller, senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which brought several of the cases. (Read at The74Million.org)

    Deshaun Watson. (Twitter)

    “In this day and age, it’s just amazing that this B.S. exits — but it does.” —Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien. A Texas school district superintendent resigned recently for criticizing Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on the basis of his being “a black quarterback.” (Read at The Washington Post)

    “I believe, mark my words, that every [candidate] will get the question, ‘Are you going to fulfill the next three years of universal, full-day pre-K?’ And I guarantee you that all of them are going to say ‘Yes.’ Because that’s what the public wants. … It’s what our kids need.” —Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, on the chances of his sprawling pre-K initiative surviving his departure. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “Our goal is to show our staff, this is what it means to prepare our children for the next level. How do we show parents like mine, who had a second-grade education, what is possible?” —San Antonio Superintendent Pedro Martinez, who launched a radical socioeconomic integration plan in the district. (Read at The74Million.org)

    Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 5. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

    “This was definitely a robust discussion. We didn’t talk about anything else for the first half-hour of class.” —Brandon Cabezas, AP Government teacher at Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles, on discussing the nomination of prospective Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh in the #MeToo era. (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

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

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  • New Study: More Than 300,000 Children Have ‘Vanished’ From Schools After Local Police Formed Partnerships With ICE

    By Mark Keierleber | September 26, 2018

    As the Trump administration continues its crackdown on undocumented immigrants, school officials across the country report that the heightened enforcement has caused widespread turbulence. Students express fear that schools are cooperating with immigration authorities, and educators have noted an increase in emotional and behavioral problems.

    A recent survey of K-12 educators conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, highlighted the phenomenon with harrowing examples. In California, a high school teacher observed a girl who refused to eat or talk. The teacher later learned the girl was at a school prom when her mother was deported. A Texas art teacher reported students were drawing images “about people stalking/hunting their family.” And in Maryland, a teacher told of a student who attempted to slit her wrists after her mother was deported.

    Now, a new study by one of the nation’s preeminent education researchers is putting hard numbers on the school effects of one controversial immigration enforcement tactic: partnerships between federal immigration agents and local police. In counties that adopted enforcement partnerships, Hispanic student enrollment dropped by an average of nearly 10 percent within two years of the partnerships being adopted, according to the report. While the study, released this month, did not examine President Donald Trump’s tenure — it analyzed data from 2000 through 2011 — it homes in on a policy that has been embraced and amplified by his administration.

    Most of the affected students are U.S. citizens.

    “Our evidence suggests we’re driving students away, compelling them to undertake reactive moves under duress, and that kind of stress and dislocation can be developmentally harmful,” said Thomas Dee, a Stanford University professor who wrote the report with doctoral student Mark Murphy. Meanwhile, he said, the agreements could scare families away from moving to a community, “and that could also be potentially harmful.”

    The report estimates that the voluntary partnerships with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) across 55 counties displaced more than 300,000 children during the 12-year period. In those counties, the decline in Hispanic students wasn’t observed until after the agreements were implemented, with the most affected being elementary school students. The non-Hispanic student population didn’t change over that time period, researchers found, and enrollment wasn’t impacted in similar counties where local officials applied for ICE agreements but were not accepted.

    Dee said the data didn’t touch on the extent to which displaced students were affected by deportations.

    Related

    Immigration Agents Inside Schools? Why Some Activists Are Warning Undocumented Students About Trump’s Policy Shifts

    “Someone might look at the results and say, ‘Well OK, it drove undocumented people away. Maybe it kept them from coming to the community. Wasn’t that at some level the intent of the policy?’” Dee said.

    But that’s not what they found.

    Researchers found that the partnerships didn’t produce any tangible benefits, like a reduction in crime or more favorable student-teacher ratios. The number of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch — a common barometer of poverty — wasn’t affected. Beyond adverse effects on displaced students, evidence suggests the enforcement agreements corrode trust in local police and are economically harmful.

    Federal immigration officials have been partnering with local law enforcement agencies for decades. Created under the Clinton administration in 1996 and named 287(g) for the section of the law that authorizes them, the partnerships provide training to local police officers and empower them with immigration enforcement authority. Some agreements allowed officials to check for immigration violations in jails, while others emboldened police on the streets — raising concerns of racial profiling. Both agreements had similar effects on Hispanic student displacement, researchers found.

    Immigration enforcement has also had a profound effect on student academic performance, according to a 2017 report published in the Southern Economic Journal. That report focused on the effects of immigration enforcement on the school performance of Hispanic children with likely undocumented parents. Using data from 2000 through 2013, researchers found that children ages 6 to 13 were 14 percent more likely to repeat a grade, and youth 14 to 17 years old were 18 percent more likely to drop out of school.

    Under President Barack Obama, enforcement partnerships were scaled back, and agreements that delegated authority to patrol officers were discontinued. Under Trump, the program has rebounded, with more partnerships than ever before. Currently, ICE has agreements with 78 local law enforcement agencies in 20 states, including Arizona, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Texas.

    Even as the number of agreements grow, a new report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General found that the program lacks adequate oversight. The office found that ICE may not be efficiently training local law enforcement officers and is not ensuring they complete training requirements.

    “It’s hard for us to see any clear benefits of adopting these policies, so the move of the Trump administration to expand them just doesn’t appear to have any sound basis in policy research,” Dee said. “My best guess is it has more of a political than a policy motivation.” Although the Trump administration received swift pushback on a “zero tolerance” policy that separated children from their parents at the border, Dee said the enforcement agreements are also harmful to children and have “been happening on an incredibly large scale for over a decade.”

    Related

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

    While the Stanford report offers new data on one immigration enforcement mechanism, school officials across the country — including in counties without federal agreements — say heightened enforcement under the Trump administration has taken a toll on their schools, evidenced by, among other things, an increase in student absenteeism.

    In the recent survey of more than 5,400 educators by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, 84 percent said they observed students who were concerned about immigration enforcement. Additionally, 90 percent of administrators reported a spike in emotional and behavioral problems, and 68 percent reported issues with absenteeism likely related to concerns about immigration enforcement. Respondents included officials from 24 school districts across 12 states.

    Patricia Gándara, a research professor and co-director of the Civil Rights Project, said their findings are particularly concerning since the majority of children with undocumented parents are U.S. citizens.

    “Those kids have every right to be here, but they’re going to be undereducated,” she said. “That has an effect on the economy, that has an effect on everything. Anything we do that reduces the quality or quantity of education our students are getting comes back to bite the rest of society.”

    And while Dee acknowledged that heightened immigration enforcement may be affecting students across the country, he said that “there’s reason to suspect that these ICE partnerships that are ramping up layer threats on top of that.”

    “I would advise local policymakers to think twice before engaging in these partnerships,” Dee said, noting that the agreements are voluntary and are often costly for local taxpayers. “Given the evidence we’ve seen about a lack of benefits in terms of crime reduction and the harms to schools, communities, and economies, it’s hard to see why they would want to do that.”

    Related

    Armored Vehicles & Grenade Launchers: Trump Revives Program That Gave Heavy Weaponry to School Cops

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  • EduClips: LAUSD Offers 6% Raise to Teachers; Texas AG Steps Into School Pledge of Allegiance Case — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | September 26, 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

    DEVOS — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a Constitution Day appearance in Philadelphia that the nation’s schools are giving short shrift to civics and history, in part because of the pressure to focus on reading and science, technology, engineering, and math—the STEM subjects.

    And she criticized colleges and universities for putting what she described as severe limitations on students’ freedom of speech and expression, citing conservative students who say their views were sidelined by more-liberal college administrations.

    During her speech last week, DeVos said that schools need to teach students to engage with others with whom they might disagree. And she said that needs to begin at the K-12 level, where she noted that civics education hasn’t been a priority. (Read at Education Week)

    National News

    CHARTERS — Appeals Court: Charter School Must Recognize Union (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    PUERTO RICO — Average Puerto Rican Student Missed 78 Days of School After Maria, Study Finds (Read at Politics K-12)

    ARMING TEACHERS — Democrats Pan ‘Dangerous and Dumb’ Idea to Arm Teachers as Gun Concerns Hijack ESSA Hearing (Read at The74Million.org)

    LITERACY — What Literacy Skills Do Students Really Need for Work? (Read at Education Week)

    EQUITY — The Architect: How One Texas Innovation Officer Is Rethinking School Integration (Read at The74Million.org)

    DIVERSITY — Boundary struggles: A Maryland school system looks for more diversity (Read at The Washington Post)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — L.A. Unified makes 6% offer to teachers (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    TEXAS — Paxton takes a stand for Cy-Fair ISD in case of student who sat for Pledge of Allegiance (Read at Chron)

    FLORIDA — ‘Joke’ school threats on the rise after Parkland massacre (Read at the Sun-Sentinel)

    ILLINOIS — CPS nixes photo ID requirement to attend board meetings after outcry (Read at the Chicago Sun Times)

    NEW YORK — Three things to watch as the release of New York’s test scores draws near (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — Lead problems in water linger at Los Angeles schools, despite years of testing and repairs (Read at EdSource)

    ILLINOIS — Education a key issue for candidates in Illinois’s 59th Senate race (Read at The Southern)

    NEW YORK — Law would make city reveal PTA fundraising information (Read at the New York Daily News)

    TEXAS — Texas Education Agency considers cutting high school cosmetology programs (Read at the Longview News-Journal)

    NEVADA — Raiders donate $35K to Henderson school to help students (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Think Pieces

    ACHIEVEMENT GAP — America’s Achievement Gap — Made, Not Born? What a Study of 30,000 Students Reveals About Lowered Expectations and Poorer-Quality Instruction for Kids of Color (Read at The74Million.org)

    TEACHING — A new report argues that students are suffering through bad teaching and simplistic classwork. Is that true? (Read at Chalkbeat)

    SPECIAL ED — Special ed needs to change. Vermont shows how. (Read at The Washington Post)

    CAREER EDUCATION — Starting Career Education In Middle School (Read at Forbes)

    Quote of the Day

    “Administrators too often attempt to shield students from ideas they subjectively decide are ‘hateful’ or ‘offensive’ or ‘injurious,’ or ones they just don’t like. This patronizing practice assumes students are incapable of grappling with, learning from, or responding to ideas with which they disagree.” —U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. (Read at Education Week)

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  • Democrats Pan ‘Dangerous and Dumb’ Idea to Arm Teachers as Gun Concerns Hijack ESSA Hearing

    By Carolyn Phenicie | September 25, 2018

    Washington, D.C.

    It started with the presence of dozens of Moms Demand Action gun control advocates, their bright red T-shirts a striking contrast against the pale marble of the Dirksen Office Building hallway and the windowless, staid hearing room of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

    State education leaders from Nebraska, Delaware, and South Carolina, along with an education advocate, had been called to testify before the committee Tuesday on “states leading the way” in implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act. Instead, about half of the hearing focused on using federal grants to arm teachers, which had sparked the protesters’ ire.

    Outside the gun discussion, the hearing was in many ways a rerun of previous HELP Committee meetings on ESSA implementation: Few Republicans asked questions, while committee Democrats raised concerns about state plans failing to account for the performance of all students.

    On guns, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, summed up her party’s position: “Allowing schools to use scarce federal dollars to put guns in classrooms is an idea that is dangerous and dumb, and it clearly wasn’t our intent when we wrote ESSA.”

    The New York Times reported last month that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was considering allowing states to use what are commonly known as Title IV grants, which fund a variety of education purposes from technology to mental health, to arm teachers. DeVos has subsequently told Democrats on the House Education committee that she won’t issue a ruling on the matter without further guidance from Congress.

    Related

    Democrats Move to Block Reported DeVos Proposal to Spend Federal Dollars on Guns for Schools, Education Department Calls It a ‘Hypothetical Scenario’

    Asked by committee Democrats, none of the witnesses said they were in favor of using federal grant funding to arm teachers, or that they were aware of any research that doing so makes schools safer.

    Sen. Patty Murray, the committee’s top Democrat, called on congressional Republicans to make it clear to the Education Department that lawmakers didn’t intend to allow the grants.

    “We should be doing everything we can to address gun violence and make our schools safer,” she said. “We need fewer firearms in schools, not more.”

    Committee chairman Lamar Alexander, meanwhile, said that while he’s “not a fan” of arming teachers, the law “specifically gives states the decision about spending their money to create safe conditions, including drug and violence prevention.”

    Another law, which authorizes grants for school safety through the Department of Justice and specifically excludes using the funding to arm educators, doesn’t preclude other laws from doing so, Alexander added.

    On ESSA, familiar concerns on subgroups, testing

    When the two-hour hearing did focus on its scheduled purpose, many of the themes were familiar.

    Murray again raised the issue of whether the Education Department has inappropriately approved ESSA implementation plans that don’t account for the performance of all subgroups of students.

    Related

    Senate HELP Democrats Continue to Sound Alarm on Weak ESSA Implementation

    Without ratings accounting for the performance of historically underserved groups of students, the achievement of English language learners, poor children, students with disabilities, and children of color can be masked by accountability systems that show their schools as a whole are doing well, she argued.

    Democrats and civil rights groups have noted that ESSA requires subgroup performance to be incorporated in a system for schools that places them into different categories of additional support, including “comprehensive” for those that are broadly underperforming and “targeted” for those not serving particular groups well.

    Many states have used a summative rating system, like an A-F grade or star ratings, to identify schools for “comprehensive” support. According to civil rights groups, not all of those states include subgroup performance in those ratings, which they say violates the law.

    The department has argued that ESSA doesn’t require summative ratings, and therefore has balked at dictating how they’re set up. They say that states are required to use subgroup performance only when designating schools for “targeted support” due to underperforming subgroups.

    ESSA was crafted on a “series of building blocks,” Murray said. If states don’t use that first building block to identify schools that need help, they can’t use the next one to intervene.

    Other Democrats also raised concerns about subgroup accountability.

    “I know we wouldn’t have written four different subgroups into the accountability title in the law if we didn’t expect schools to actually measure and report,” said Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

    Plans for 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have been approved; only Florida’s remains outstanding.

    DeVos should require states to amend inadequate plans, said Shavar Jeffries, president of Education Reform Now.

    “The bargain that this Congress made with the states was in exchange for these dollars. You must implement the subgroup accountability mandate,” he said.

    Alexander defended DeVos and the Education Department, saying he had consulted with career department lawyers who have served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, and the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, and noting that “I believe that she is exactly following the law.”

    In addition to defending the department, Alexander questioned witnesses about how they’re rating schools beyond tests, a requirement that at one point during debate on the law he considered scrapping amid concerns on overtesting.

    Murphy also raised concerns about states’ use of evidence-based interventions to turn around failing schools, at least the third time that he has done so in the past two years. Language reminding states of their duties ended up in a report released in conjunction with the last Education Department spending bill.

    “That was a really important phrase in that law, to make sure you’re not just repainting the walls of the school and claiming it’s an intervention,” he said.

    Related

    Congress Uses New Funding Bill to Reassert Itself in ESSA Implementation, Nudging Use of Evidence for Struggling School Interventions

    Murray also raised concerns that 23 states had been granted waivers to raise an existing 1 percent cap on giving alternative assessments to students with disabilities, possibly hiding schools that aren’t educating those children well.

    “I really do worry about too many children with disabilities suffering from low expectations,” she said.

    Alexander pointed out that the waivers were allowed under the law and that most were granted for only one year.

    Two of the three state chiefs present said they had asked for and received waivers, largely to help in the transition of both their regular and alternative assessment systems.

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  • Philly Appoints 2 Students to Its School Board as Students Nationwide Fight to Be Heard

    By Mark Keierleber | September 25, 2018

    For the entire lives of most Philadelphia students, the city’s school district was governed entirely by adults. But that changed last week when, for the first time in nearly two decades, two high school seniors were sworn in as student representatives on the city board of education.

    The move is part of a larger shift for public education in Philadelphia, as the district returns to local control. School leaders see the new role as a way to bring to the table those most affected by key decisions: students.

    The young people selected for the new role, high school seniors Julia Frank and Alfredo Praticò, agree. And while Frank and Praticò have their own ideas on how to improve one of America’s largest school districts, their first task is to hear from the approximately 200,000 students they’re tasked to represent.

    “There can be a big difference between the policies that are made and then how they end up impacting student life,” said Frank, a senior at Northeast High School, a large neighborhood high school. “There are some things that the people at the top, the officials who are making the policies, just don’t see. I think that’s the value of having a student perspective.”

    In Philadelphia, student representation is actually mandated by city ordinance. But when the school district was placed under state control in 2001, the practice was discontinued. The district returned to local supervision in July, with Frank and Praticò being sworn onto the revived Philadelphia Board of Education last Thursday. Although the student representatives are able to participate in board meetings and can weigh in on most topics, they won’t get a vote.

    One advocate said Philadelphia’s move fits into a growing awareness nationally of the need for student voices in state and local governance, including on school boards. Adam Fletcher, director of the nonprofit SoundOut, works with school districts to improve student input in decision-making and encourages youth representation on school boards.

    “These democratic institutions need to be held accountable to the people who benefit from them the most but also have the most to lose by their failure,” Fletcher said, adding that the share of school boards embracing student representation remains small. Still, he said a movement to embrace student voices is gaining steam. “We also have a trend around students joining city councils; we have a trend around more people under the age of 18 trying to run for office than ever before.”

    The degree to which students are able to participate, however, varies by state. Fletcher found that 19 states include students on their state boards of education and 25 allow student participation on district school boards. Meanwhile, he found, 14 states have laws that exclude students from serving on school boards. Among those leading the charge in student representation on school boards is the Montgomery County, Maryland, school district. In that district, the student board member is elected by peers and can vote on board decisions.

    This spring, student voices drove the national news conversation as young people from across the country walked out of school to protest gun violence, a movement that erupted after the February mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Six teenagers ran for governor in Kansas. Arguing that the school board in Buffalo, New York, could use “some adult behavior,” a high school student mounted a challenge against a board incumbent. The incumbent won the election but was later ousted from his seat. In Greenbelt, Maryland, the city council recently approved a measure that allows 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections.

    Related

    Civics Lesson IRL: How High School Students in One D.C. Suburb Lobbied Their City Council to Lower the Voting Age to 16

    In Philadelphia, Frank and Praticò were selected over the summer from a field of 54 applicants. Frank, who plans to study biochemistry in college, owns City Slickers Lip Balm Co. and works part-time at a pizzeria. Praticò, who plans to study political science in college, has served on the district’s citywide student government, the superintendent’s student advisory council, and the Philadelphia Youth Commission. Both students are 17. Praticò attends Masterman Secondary School, a magnet school.

    Since Philadelphia hasn’t had any student board members for nearly two decades, they’ll have to chart their own path. Praticò said that “it’s fairly intimidating not having any real precedent, but it’s also liberating.”

    Initially, the board planned to appoint just one student representative, but ultimately both of the finalists were selected, said Claire Landau, the board of education’s chief of staff, because of the size of the workload. Landau said it’s “much more authentic” to have student representatives collect student input on board decisions than to rely on outreach from adults.

    That student outreach is a first step before settling on top priorities, Praticò said. Still, the duo have their own ideas on how to improve schools in Philadelphia, including a greater emphasis on equitable education funding so students have ample opportunities regardless of which school they attend.

    “Everyone from their experience has a voice that they can share, and it’s really about having that heard but also being able to convince adults,” Praticò said. He added that, through their inclusion on the board, “we can really emphasize to adults around the city why students are important in the process and why they need to be truly integrated into it and not an afterthought or not a side addition.”

    Both Praticò and Frank took a glass-half-full position on their inability to vote during board meetings. Praticò said that reality allows them to focus more heavily on board deliberations that are more in line with students’ interests.

    “It will also help us to work harder because all we have is our voice,” Frank said. “All we can do is present it and talk about it and talk about ways to fix it.”

    Related

    School Bullying, Civic Engagement and the First Amendment in Donald Trump’s America

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  • EduClips: Texas Turns to Virtual Teachers in Response to Staff Shortage; FL Teacher Bonus Lawsuit Heads to Mediation — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | September 25, 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

    EQUITY — J.T. Brackenridge Elementary sits on the eastern edge of zip code 78207, which is the way people refer to the Mexican-American community that surrounds the school. Located just west of downtown San Antonio, the neighborhood is as rich with art and history and culture as the rest of the city. Yet it’s a world apart.

    To travel to or from the school is to take a compressed trip through time. Head east, and every few hundred feet Guadalupe Street presents a different line of demarcation — each a visual reminder of who lived here and what life was like during those respective eras of human habitation.

    In a daily school commute up and down Guadalupe Street, parents and students are presented with a vivid illustration of their stark reality: By virtually any statistical measure, San Antonio is the most economically segregated city in the United States. Its poorest neighborhood, the 78207, is located a scant few miles from the epicenter of the third-fastest-growing economy in the country. But as the city as a whole thrives, the residents on the West Side are all but locked out of the boom.

    Into this divided landscape three years ago came a new schools chief, Pedro Martinez, with a mandate to break down the centuries-old economic isolation that has its heart in the 78207. (Read at The74Million.org)

    National News

    ED TECH — How tech took rural school district from among Idaho’s worst to one of the nation’s most innovative (Read at CBS This Morning)

    E-CIGARETTES — Coming to High School Bathrooms Near You: Posters on the Dangers of E-Cigarettes, Part of an ‘Aggressive’ FDA Campaign to Curb Student Use (Read at The74Million.org)

    COLLEGE — Need Help Paying for College? There’s an App for That (Read at NPR)

    District and State News

    TEXAS — Texas high schools turn to virtual teachers in the wake of staffing shortages (Read at Education Dive)

    FLORIDA — Florida ‘Best and Brightest’ bonus lawsuit heads to mediation (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    CALIFORNIA — Two schools that share a campus fight over a dwindling number of students (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    NEW YORK — New study shows grade school girls read better than boys (Read at the New York Post)

    CALIFORNIA — First-grade textbook hails politician as ‘champion’ of gay rights. Some say it goes too far. (Read at the Sacramento Bee)

    HAWAII — Report: Transgender youth in Hawaii public schools at greater risk of bullying, suicide (Read at Hawaii News Now)

    NEVADA — CCSD discusses how it evaluates and releases info on school threats (Read at Las Vegas Now)

    NEW YORK — Local school board group wants limits on de Blasio’s control of public schools (Read at the New York Daily News

    Think Pieces

    AFFIRMATIVE ACTION — OPINION: Educators must prepare for the dismantling of affirmative action (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT — Arnett: To Truly Improve a School, Teachers Must Be On Board. 3 Common Misconceptions About Managing Change — and Strategies to Avoid Them (Read at The74Million.org)

    Quote of the Day

    “Our goal is to show our staff, this is what it means to prepare our children for the next level. How do we show parents like mine, who had a second-grade education, what is possible?” —San Antonio Superintendent Pedro Martinez, who launched a radical socioeconomic integration plan in the district. (Read at The74Million.org)

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  • Coming to High School Bathrooms Near You: Posters on the Dangers of E-Cigarettes, Part of an ‘Aggressive’ FDA Campaign to Curb Student Use

    By Laura Fay | September 24, 2018

    The Food and Drug Administration launched a wide-reaching campaign last week aimed at educating teens about the dangers of e-cigarettes. Part of a broad effort by the agency to decrease teen nicotine use, the campaign uses the tagline “Know the Real Cost of Vaping” and will include posters about the dangers of vaping in 10,000 high school bathrooms. The FDA will also share the messages on a website and social media platforms including YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, Facebook, and Instagram to further target kids ages 12-17.

    The warnings to students are part of an “aggressive” plan by the FDA alleging that youth use of Juul and similar products “is reaching epidemic proportions.” Earlier this month, the agency gave e-cigarette makers 60 days to show they are taking steps to prevent minors from using their products, and it threatened to pull some of their flavored merchandise off the market or bring criminal or civil charges against manufacturers that fail to comply. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has expressed concern that some flavored e-cigarette products appeal specifically to young people because they taste like candy and other treats.

    “We’re in possession of data that shows a disturbingly sharp rise in the number of teens using e-cigarettes in just the last year,” Gottlieb said in a statement. “In short, there’s no good news.”

    The campaign’s key messages will be about the science of nicotine addiction and the fact that e-cigarettes often contain other toxic chemicals such as lead and formaldehyde. The $60 million effort uses funds collected from the tobacco industry, and materials are being created in collaboration with Scholastic and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

    The move is in line with what one national education official who encountered Juuling last year says is the most effective way to curb the problem.

    “The big focus was primarily on education, because we realized that our students did not really understand … the dangers of these substances that they were using and putting in their bodies,” said Christine Handy, president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, who last year was principal at Gaithersburg High School in Maryland. Many students who try Juul don’t realize the product contains nicotine, Handy said.

    In reality, a few puffs on a Juul gives users a “very quick and powerful burst of nicotine,” more similar to that of a conventional cigarette than many other e-cigarettes offer, according to The New York Times. That also makes the product more addictive for young people, researchers said. Nicotine has been shown to cause permanent damage to young brains.

    While students sometimes faced detentions or other consequences for Juuling on campus, Handy mostly focused on arming students and parents with facts, which is in line with her district’s restorative approach to discipline.

    High schoolers tend to tune out adults telling them what to do, Handy said. They “don’t always believe everything that we say,” she continued. “They think we just don’t want them to do it, so we began to use that student voice to help educate other students” about vaping, such as by having them create posters to hang around the school or taking high schoolers to teach middle school kids what they learned.

    That approach is different — and more effective, Handy says — than the simplistic “Just Say No” anti-drug campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s.

    The bathroom posters that will be part of the FDA campaign include messages like “Vaping can put dangerous chemicals, like diacetyl, into your lungs,” and “Vaping can deliver nicotine to your brain, reprogramming you to crave more and more.”

    Educating parents is also a crucial part of principals’ strategies. Handy said principals she knows sent letters to parents at the start of the school year explaining what Juul is and how to recognize it.

    Many of them were unfamiliar with the device when she called last year to inform them that their children had been using Juul on campus.

    Handy said one difficulty she faced was knowing when students were using “other substances” in their e-cigarettes. While Juul does not sell any products containing marijuana, some e-cigarette manufacturers do. Almost 9 percent of middle and high school students say they have vaped marijuana, according to recently released findings from the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

    Related

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

    Since gaining popularity — and scrutiny — Juul has made an effort to be more transparent. Now, the company’s Instagram posts contain warnings in large font about the nicotine content of its products, and, according to the company’s website, it is committed to featuring only real former smokers who have switched to Juul in its social media posts.

    However, unofficial Juul fan accounts and individual users continue to show young people using the product — without safety warnings — and a number of companies have begun selling copycat products. Juul Labs says that the company employs a team to identify inappropriate social media content related to Juul.

    “We cannot be more emphatic on this point: No minor or non-nicotine user should ever try JUUL,” Victoria Davis, a Juul Labs spokesperson, told The 74 in an emailed statement. Davis also said in the email that the product’s success hasn’t come from marketing efforts but rather word of mouth among adult smokers who use the product. According to its website, Juul has procedures to prevent youths from buying its products illegally and supports legislation to enforce those efforts.

    However, a study by the Truth Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending all tobacco use in the U.S., found in April that nearly a fifth of middle and high school students had seen Juul used in school.

    The product grew rapidly in popularity over the past year and now makes up more than half of the market share of the e-cigarette market. That suggests Juuling is not a passing fad, said Truth Initiative COO Dave Dobbins.

    “There’s nothing in the sales data or the prevalence data and what we’re seeing in trends that indicates that it’s something that’s coming and going,” Dobbins told The 74.

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  • EduClips: Houston-Area Superintendent Resigns Over Racist Remarks About Texans Quarterback; Puerto Rico’s Special-Ed Students Left Behind After Hurricane Maria — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | September 24, 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

    #EDLECTION2018 — One was on the roof of a Habitat for Humanity house in California when it occurred to her. Another was in a state senator’s office in Oklahoma City. Still another was at an education conference in Minneapolis when she began to consider it.

    It’s a decision hundreds of educators across the country have made this year: To change the conditions in their classrooms, they would have to run for office themselves. Some 550 educators will be on election ballots this fall, according to the National Education Association, running for everything from local school board to governor.

    Their numbers are particularly pronounced in states where teachers took to the streets and statehouses in the spring, places like Oklahoma, Kentucky, and West Virginia. At least 20 educators filed to run for Congress this cycle, and the hundreds of educators running for statehouse positions came from both political parties from Maine to Alaska. Though the exact issues varied – compensation, the upward creep in class sizes, the trickling pipeline of qualified educators – they pointed to a common theme of neglect in state K-12 education budgets. (Read at U.S. News & World Report)

    National News

    BULLYING — ‘It Was a Shocker’: National Student Survey Shows Bullying on the Rise Over Past Three Years, Particularly Among Students of Color in Majority-White Schools (Read at The74Million.org)

    GEORGIA — Georgia’s Separate and Unequal Special-Education System (Read at The New Yorker)

    ESSA — How Do State ESSA Plans Handle Mental Health? (Read at Politics K-12)

    #EDLECTION2018 — With Both Parties Vying for Complete Control of Connecticut’s Statehouse and Governor’s Mansion, the Midterms Could Shape State’s Education Priorities for Years (Read at The74Million.org)

    District and State News

    TEXAS — Houston-area superintendent resigns after racist remarks about Texans’ Deshaun Watson (Read at The Washington Post)

    PUERTO RICO — Hundreds of Puerto Rican schools closed after Maria. Special-needs kids got left behind (Read at the Miami Herald)

    NEVADA — Clark County schools strive to balance school safety, punitive reforms (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    CALIFORNIA — City sets timeline for election to fill L.A. school board seat (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    HAWAII — This Ballot Measure Is Sparking Intense Debate Over Hawaii’s Schools (Read at Honolulu Civil Beat)

    NEW YORK — Charter schools, funding, and the SHSAT: What we’re watching if Democrats flip New York’s Senate (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — Newsom’s ‘cradle-to-career’ education pledge will require sweeping changes in California (Read at EdSource)

    NEW YORK — Diversity plan mayhem: Arts school can’t audition applicants anymore (Read at the New York Post)

    FLORIDA — Time for Florida’s new student scholarships draws near (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    TEXAS — Texas board of education exposes how poorly we teach history [Opinion] (Read at the Houston Chronicle)

    ILLINOIS — Why Chicago-area high school students are leaving Illinois for college (Read at the Chicago Sun-Times)

    NEVADA — EDITORIAL: Laxalt, Sisolak offer dueling education plans (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Think Pieces

    DYSLEXIA — The Couple Who Helped Decode Dyslexia (Read at The New York Times)

    OPIODS — Addiction counselors embed in schools dealing with the opioid crisis (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    TEACHER MENTORING — When New Teachers Get Mentoring, Student Math Scores Can Go Up, Study Shows (Read at Education Week)

    Quote of the Day

    “In this day and age, it’s just amazing that this B.S. exits — but it does.” —Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien. A Texas school district superintendent resigned recently for criticizing Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on the basis of his being “a black quarterback.” (Read at The Washington Post)

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  • This Week in Education Politics: Kavanaugh Controversy Continues, House Takes Up 2019 Education Funding, the ‘Opportunity Myth’ & More

    By Carolyn Phenicie | September 22, 2018

    Updated Sept. 24

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

    INBOX: KAVANAUGH PART 2 — Controversy continues to swirl around Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after two women have accused him of sexual misconduct.

    Christine Blasey Ford earlier this month accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school, and Deborah Ramirez on Sunday evening told the New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when they were students at Yale. Kavanaugh has denied both allegations, and on Monday morning President Trump said he would support Kavanaugh “all the way.”

    Lawyers for Blasey Ford over the weekend agreed to a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, though committee Democrats called for all further proceedings on Kavanaugh’s nomination to be postponed, and an FBI investigation to be conducted into both allegations.

    An NBC poll released Thursday evening found that more people now oppose than support his nomination — 38 percent versus 34 percent — marking the first time that ratio has been against Kavanaugh since his nomination was announced in July. It’s also the first time since the poll began in 2005 that a nominee has faced more opposition than support for his or her confirmation.

    After several years of considering big education issues, there aren’t any K-12 cases immediately on the high court’s docket, though several could be in the pipeline.

    The Supreme Court last year said bans in state constitutions on public funding for religious entities couldn’t be used to bar a religiously affiliated preschool from participating in a sectarian grant program (in that case, playground resurfacing). There are a handful of other cases currently working their way through state and federal courts that could further challenge those so-called Blaine Amendments and bans on public support for religious schools.

    Kavanaugh has, in interviews and through pro bono work, shown support for allowing public dollars to go to private and religious schools.

    Related

    ‘There Is an Open Question’: Four Religious School Choice Cases That Could Face SCOTUS and Kavanaugh

    ICYMI: APPROPRIATIONS — The House is slated to consider a bill funding the Education Department for fiscal year 2019. The bill easily passed the Senate, though conservative Republicans in the House are reportedly pressuring leadership to separate the portion funding the Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services Department from a Defense Department funding bill to get more leverage in negotiations with Democrats. (Read our coverage of the Senate vote: 5 things to know about the education funding compromise now advancing through Congress)

    President Trump, too, threw a wrench in the proceedings late last week, when he questioned via Twitter why the bill, which includes funding for the rest of the government through Dec. 7, does not include funding for the border wall. The tweet “injects further uncertainty into the process,” and it is unclear whether Trump will sign it, The Washington Post reported.

    Besides the bill funding the Education, Labor, HHS, and Defense departments, two other bills combining several agencies’ funding are working their way through the legislative process toward a final compromise. Only bills funding the Justice, Homeland Security, and State departments are still in early stages of the legislative process and have not yet been considered on the floor in either chamber. Current-year funding expires Sept. 30.

    TUESDAY: STATE CHIEFS TESTIFY ON ESSA — The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds a hearing on “states leading the way” in implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act. State chiefs from South Carolina, Nebraska, and Delaware, and Democrats for Education Reform President Shavar Jeffries are scheduled to testify.

    TUESDAY: OPPORTUNITY MYTHThe New Teacher Project releases “The Opportunity Myth,” a report about student experience in school. Panels of students and education leaders will discuss the report’s findings.

    WEDNESDAY: BUSH-OBAMA SCHOOL REFORM — The conservative American Enterprise Institute holds an event on lessons to be drawn from federal education reform efforts undertaken during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

    WEDNESDAY: NATIVE YOUTH — The Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds a hearing to examine a September GAO report on Native American youths’ involvement in the juvenile justice system. Though the number of Native American youths involved in the criminal justice system declined from 2010 to 2016, they were still overrepresented in involvement with federal law enforcement as a portion of the population, the report found.

    WEDNESDAY: FREE SPEECH — The House Education and the Workforce Committee holds a hearing “examining First Amendment rights on campus.” Several other House committees, including Judiciary and Oversight, have held similar hearings on free speech on campus in recent months.

    THURSDAY: DISCIPLINE — Heather MacDonald, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, will discuss “race-based discipline reform, including why it hurts the children it purports to help and how it cuts against one of the core purposes of schooling.” The speech is the first in a series, sponsored by the conservative Hoover Institution and Thomas B. Fordham Institute, throughout the 2018-19 school year to examine “what’s the purpose of school?”

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  • EduClips: One Year Later, Students in Puerto Rico Feel Effects of Hurricane-Related School Closures; Report: CA Underfunded Schools by $22 Billion — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | September 20, 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

    #EDLECTION2018 — It was only a few years ago that Kansas schools were shortening their academic calendars, cutting sports programs, and eliminating teaching positions to cope with the infamous tax plan of then-Gov. Sam Brownback.

    Brownback, who held office from 2011 to 2018, ushered in the largest income tax cuts in state history with the hope of boosting the economy. Instead, economic growth slowed and falling state revenue decimated schools and other state services.

    Schools are now recuperating, thanks to a 2017 rollback of Brownback’s tax program and a state Supreme Court ruling that ordered the legislature to increase spending on education. But the question of whether Kansas can or will continue to better fund its schools looms over the upcoming gubernatorial election between state Sen. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican. (Read at The74Million.org)

    National News

    KAVANAUGH — For some teachers, Kavanaugh’s nomination is a civics lesson for the #MeToo era (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    WASHINGTON STATE — School Aid Skirmishes Still Flare in Washington State (Read at Education Week)

    District and State News

    PUERTO RICO — A Year After Hurricane Maria, School Closures Make Trauma Worse for Puerto Rico’s Children (Read at HuffPost)

    CALIFORNIA — California has underfunded schools by $22 billion, report says (Read at the San Diego Union-Tribune)

    NEW YORK — Investigation: Hefty Fines, Long Suspensions, but Rarely Losing Your State License: Documents Show What Happens to NYC Teachers After They’re Disciplined (Read at The74Million.org)

    TEXAS — There is a national push for Latino studies. Fort Worth schools are leading the way (Read at the Star-Telegram)

    CALIFORNIA — California district latest to modernize ‘sexist’ dress code (Read at ABC News)

    FLORIDA — More money for public schools? (Read at the Miami Times)

    TEXAS — Texas Education Agency on the Money (Read at the Austin Chronicle)

    NEW YORK — EXCLUSIVE: Schools officials overhaul bus worker checks after Daily News exposes loopholes (Read at the New York Daily News)

    NEVADA — Second suit targets Clark County trustee’s husband, a teacher (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    FLORIDA — 2 adults, 3 children experience carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms at Carol City Elementary (Read at Local 10 News)

    NEVADA — Looking for solutions to Las Vegas school gun problems (Read at KTNV)

    Think Pieces

    CHARTER-LIKE SCHOOLS — Osborne & Langhorne: Where Politics Make Charters Difficult, 9 Tips for How Urban Districts Can Create Charter-like Schools — and Improve Their Success (Read at The74Million.org)

    HIGH SCHOOL — What’s next for the Laurene Powell Jobs–funded effort to rethink American high schools (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CENSUS — OPINION: When a low census count hurts children’s well-being (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “This was definitely a robust discussion. We didn’t talk about anything else for the first half-hour of class.” —Brandon Cabezas, AP Government teacher at Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles, on discussing the nomination of prospective Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh in the #MeToo era. (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

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  • 5 Things to Know About the Education Funding Compromise Moving Through Congress

    By Carolyn Phenicie | September 19, 2018

    A compromise Education Department spending bill, the first year-long funding bill for the department to be passed in nearly a decade, is speeding toward final passage ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline.

    By a vote of 93-7, the Senate on Tuesday passed the bill, a compromise between the two chambers that also funds the Labor and Health and Human Services departments and is coupled with a Defense Department funding measure.

    The House is expected to consider the measure when it returns from recess next week, though conservatives may try to split the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education portion from the part funding the Defense Department to get more leverage in negotiations, Politico reported.

    The Education Department for the past decade has been funded through a series of continuing resolutions and omnibus funding measures that appropriate money for several federal departments.

    The bill overall provides $70.9 billion for the department, a slight decrease from last year after lawmakers cut some previously authorized funding for Pell Grants. Excluding Pell Grants, Education Department programs would receive a little shy of $49 billion, a $581 million increase.

    Major K-12 funding programs, like Title I grants for low-income students and grants for students with disabilities, saw small increases, each under 1 percent. States will get $15.9 billion for Title I and $13.2 billion under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

    Among the biggest increases was a 10 percent boost to funding for homeless students, who numbered about 1.2 million in the 2014-15 school year, the most recent for which federal data is available. The programs would get $94 million next year.

    Here are five more things to know about the bill:

    1 Lawmakers offer another increase for school safety.

    After a huge boost in school safety spending in the most recent omnibus spending bill, appropriations committee members again plan to hike spending on school safety.

    The bill would provide $95 million for “school safety national activities,” $5 million more than last year, and $1.2 billion for Title IV grants that can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including counselors and violence prevention.

    The measure didn’t, however, include any guidance on whether Title IV grants can be used to arm teachers, a source of much controversy in Congress after the New York Times reported last month that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was considering allowing it.

    Related

    Democrats Move to Block Reported DeVos Proposal to Spend Federal Dollars on Guns for Schools, Education Department Calls It a ‘Hypothetical Scenario’

    The Trump Administration, in its budget request released before the Parkland, Florida, shooting in February, had proposed $43 million for school safety national activities and ending the Title IV grants program. DeVos later said the proposal to eliminate Title IV grants should be revisited.

    2 Charter schools are again a major winner.

    The conference committee agreed to $440 million for charter schools, an increase of $40 million. That 10 percent increase is one of the largest of any Education Department program in the bill, and it follows several years of substantial gains for the federal charter school program even when overall education funding was cut.

    Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, in a statement praised the “record-high funding level” for the program.

    “While the new funding levels for the [charter school program] will help serve more students, the need for charter school funding is enormous. We look forward to the day when all parent demand is met with access to a high-quality public school,” she said in a statement.

    The Trump Administration has repeatedly requested $500 million for the program, which aids start-up and expansion costs for charter schools.

    The members’ report recommends setting aside $7.5 million to establish or expand charters in “underserved, high-poverty, rural areas.”

    3 Congress again ignores the administration’s requests for cuts, private school choice.

    The Trump Administration made waves in its fiscal 2018 budget proposal with requests to eliminate funding for long-standing grants covering everything from teacher training and salaries (known as Title II) to afterschool programs to programs for Native Hawaiian and Alaskan students.

    Not only did they not cut many of the programs the Trump administration sought to eliminate, but lawmakers put more money into several of them, including afterschool programs, which will get a $10 million increase to $1.2 billion, and the Special Olympics, which will get $18 million, up $2 million from the current year.

    Members also again ignored DeVos’s request for a $1 billion pilot voucher program. Concerns about civil rights protections for students with disabilities and LGBT students not being observed in private schools receiving taxpayer money have been the focus of much of congressional Democrats’ debates with DeVos about her school choice budget proposals for the last two years.

    Changes on desegregation, school facility study stand.

    The Education Department funding bill approved by the House earlier this summer eliminated long-standing prohibitions on using federal funding for school integration efforts, and the Senate’s version required a Government Accountability Office study on the state of America’s aging public school infrastructure. Both changes ended up in the compromise version.

    Related

    Facing a ‘Really Big Issue,’ Senators Push for First Federal Survey of the Condition of U.S. Schools Since 1995

    5 Congress expressed skepticism on department reorganization.

    Members expressed “concerns” that stakeholder views are not being taken into account in a plan to reorganize the Education Department bureaucracy.

    Related

    Williams: Trump Continues Anti-Immigrant Assault By Targeting the Education Department’s Office Serving English Learners

    “In particular, the conferees recognize the value of the Office of English Language Acquisition and the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) and are concerned that the elimination or consolidation of either office will undermine the ability of the department to fulfill not only its mission, but also congressional directives to implement relevant programs and purposes,” the conferees wrote.

    The conference report goes so far as to remind the department that the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education is expressly authorized in federal law, and any changes would have to be approved by Congress.

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  • EduClips: Two Students Join Philadelphia School Board; Culture Wars Play Out in Texas Classrooms — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | September 19, 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

    FUNDING —The Senate has approved a spending package that contains funding increases for prominent education programs focusing on disadvantaged students and special education, among several others.

    Senators voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday in favor of the legislation, which was crafted and approved by House and Senate appropriations leaders last week. The bill for fiscal 2019 includes a $581 million increase in total U.S. Department of Education spending over current levels for fiscal 2018. (That figure does not include a provision that rescinds $600 million from reserves for Pell Grants for college students from low-income backgrounds.) Title I and career and technical education grants would get relatively small increases, as would aid to charter schools and a block grant districts can use to help create safe schools. (Read at Politics K-12)

    National News

    SCHOOL SECURITY — After Recent School Shootings, Teachers Ask Public for Help Buying Safety Supplies (Read at Education Week)

    21ST CENTURY SCHOOLS — Look Overseas to Find Keys to 21st Century Schools, Expert Says, More Choice, Strong Accountability, and High-Stakes Tests for Students, Not Teachers (Read at The74Million.org)

    District and State News

    PENNSYLVANIA — The Philly school board is getting 2 new members. They’re 17. (Read at the Philadelphia Inquirer)

    TEXAS — Classrooms: the latest battleground in Texas’s culture wars (Read at The Guardian)

    FLORIDA — How are Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum different? Look at their education plans. (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    CALIFORNIA — California Gov. Brown signs bill banning for-profit charter schools. But will it really do that? (Read at The Washington Post)

    PUERTO RICO — Puerto Rico’s beleaguered public schools face controversial reform after Hurricane Maria (Read at PBS Newshour)

    CALIFORNIA — How LAUSD’s superintendent intends to make every school ‘a place of great teaching’ (Read at LA School Report)

    NEW YORK — For the first time in two decades, New York’s Teacher of the Year hails from New York City — and West Africa (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois schools have installed active-shooter alarms — will that do anything? (Read at Yahoo! News)

    NEW YORK — Another year, another set of NYC school bus fiascos (Read at the New York Post)

    NEVADA — DNA linked Clark County school bus driver to sexual assaults (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Think Pieces

    GRADE INFLATION — Study: Grade Inflation More Prevalent at Wealthy Schools, Where Parents Have Greater Ability to Game the System (Read at The74Million.org)

    SCHOOL LUNCH — A benefit of free lunch for all: fewer students get repeatedly suspended, new study suggests (Read at Chalkbeat)

    SCOTUS — The Power of the Supreme Court Inside America’s Schools (Read at The New York Times)

    BURN VICTIMS — Rotherham: Inside a Very Special Summer Camp for Young Burn Survivors — Where Every Kid Gets to Be a Kid for at Least One Week a Year (Read at The74Million.org)

    Quote of the Day

    “Last week was a perfect demonstration of why it’s a really bad idea for politicians to write curriculum standards that guide what public schools teach. Because then you end up with history that’s decided by a majority vote instead of by facts and historical accuracy. But that’s what we’ve got in Texas, unfortunately.” —Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, a left-leaning advocacy group, on the decision to excise Hillary Clinton, Helen Keller, and Barry Goldwater from Texas’s history curriculum. (Read at The Guardian)

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  • Study: Grade Inflation More Prevalent at Wealthy Schools, Where Parents Have Greater Ability to Game the System

    By Kevin Mahnken | September 19, 2018

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

    Grade inflation — the phenomenon of large numbers of students receiving ever-higher grades in class, regardless of how much they’ve actually learned — is more prevalent in higher-income schools than less affluent ones, according to research released today by the Fordham Institute. Many pupils who received passing grades nevertheless failed to score proficient on their end-of-course exam for the same subject, the author found.

    The study was authored by Seth Gershenson, an education economist at American University. Fordham is a reform-oriented think tank that has issued influential publications warning against false notions of academic success common among American students.

    The undeniable trend toward grade inflation has raised concerns in recent years, with high school graduation rates soaring around the country even as students make no comparable progress on benchmark tests like the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In a few high-profile examples, swaths of high schoolers have been granted diplomas despite falling far short of their schools’ academic and attendance requirements.

    Related

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

    Previous studies — including one last year from College Board analyst Michael Hurwitz — have also pointed toward steadily rising average high school grades occurring alongside stagnant SAT scores, and noted that the problem is particularly evident in wealthier schools. But critics have pushed back, arguing that organizations like the College Board (which owns the SAT) have an interest in maintaining the supremacy of college entrance exams. GPA, they assert, tends to be an accurate predictor of academic success in college.

    Unlike the College Board report, which relied heavily on data from students who had taken the SAT (and who were therefore somewhat less representative of typical students, many of whom do not take the exam), Gershenson gathered student-level data for more than a million North Carolina students enrolled in an Algebra 1 course between 2005 and 2016. Since that subject is accompanied by a mandatory end-of-course (EOC) exam, it provided a good vantage onto the divergence between course grades and test scores.

    While students who scored high on the EOC exam tended to also earn a high course grade, Gershenson found that the reverse was not always true. Just 21 percent of students who received an A and 3 percent who received a B ended up earning a “superior” designation (the exam’s highest proficiency level). One-third of students who earned B grades failed to score proficient, according to the exam’s standards.

    In an interview with The 74, Gershenson explained that false impressions of proficiency, even if delivered with good intentions, can be damaging if they instill undue complacency among students and parents.

    “Algebra 1 is an important class in that it’s a gateway to the next math sequence,” he said. “If you get a passing grade on your report card even though you’re failing to master the material … you’re not going to go out of your way to get more study time or tutoring or help to get caught up. And as a result, you move on to the next stage of your educational career set up to struggle.”

    Even more striking, not all students’ grades are inflating at the same rate. In the period Gershenson measured, GPA rose by an average of .27 points in affluent schools, compared with just .17 points in those that were less affluent. Not only does that provide an edge to already advantaged students, it could also amplify the disparity in expectations and confidence between middle-class students and their low-income peers, who are less likely to apply to selective colleges even if their transcripts and test scores merit it.

    Fordham Institute

    Higher-income schools are likelier to feature college counselors and pushy parents willing to ask a teacher to consider raising C-pluses to Bs and Bs to As. According to Stuart Rojstaczer, a writer and former academic who has focused heavily on grade inflation in both K-12 and higher education, less fortunate parents may not have the same bandwidth.

    “Many [wealthy] parents have been trying to game the education system for future career advantages since their children were toddlers,” he told The 74 in an email. “They certainly aren’t going to stop doing that in high school. Parents without wealth don’t usually have the time, energy, or resources to game the education of their children for future career advantages.”

    Even experts concerned about grade inflation agree that GPA is a worthwhile indicator of student achievement. It is generally believed that grades and test scores measure distinct attributes: While scores more aptly capture subject mastery and cognitive skill, grades give a broader picture that includes diligence, attendance, and participation.

    Jack Buckley, a senior vice president at the American Institutes for Research and a former College Board staffer who helped revise the SAT several years ago, agreed that the two metrics were actually complementary. Still, he said, the “inflation gap” along the income curve is concerning.

    “High school grades right now, on average, are as good a predictor as college entrance exams of your success in college,” he said in an interview. “When you use both of them together, you’ll do a better job of predicting college success. I do think, though, that … the fact that it seems to benefit certain types of students and families disproportionately … calls into question the long-term predictive power of grades, and it’s something that admissions people at selective schools should at least be monitoring.”

    Though he acknowledges the value of course grades, Gershenson concluded that grade inflation is indeed a cause for worry. The false signals, he said, were too pernicious to ignore.

    “These are real issues that are sending real signals to parents and principals and school counselors and teachers about what kids are excelling at or need help with. And when those signals are wrong, everyone with a stake in a child’s success — including the child — can make not-so-great decisions about how they allocate their time.”

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

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