Noteworthy headlines from the education wire
  • Marching and Mourning: Students Protesting Florida Lawmakers in Wake of Parkland Shootings Inspire Wave of Walkouts, Vigils Around the Country

    By Laura Fay | Today

    As survivors of last week’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, took buses to the state capitol to implore lawmakers to enact stricter gun control, like-minded students around the country staged marches and walkouts to cast a national spotlight on the tragedy.

    “Our message is very simple,” Tanzil Philip, 16, told The Miami Herald. “Never again. This never should have happened.”

    The message reverberated around the nation.

    Students in Independence, Kentucky, walked out of school for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting. District officials said the protest was student-led but supported by the district

    In Florida, about 100 students from Parkland took buses to Tallahassee Tuesday afternoon after attending a funeral for a classmate, one of 17 killed in the shooting. They spent the night in the local civic center, welcomed by students and staff from nearby Leon High School.

    Hundreds of students board busses to take their message to Tallahassee to protest the 17 students and teachers were killed on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the second-deadliest shooting at a U.S. public school. (Photo credit: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)


    State Sen. Lauren Book, a Democrat, also spoke with the students and spent the night with them. Book helped organize meetings for the students as well.

    On Wednesday morning, the students broke into smaller groups for more than 70 meetings with Florida lawmakers and officials.

    Some lawmakers welcomed the student activists.

    Students gathered in the state Senate chamber to watch a session.

    Inside the Senate chamber, a student spoke about one of the victims before explaining her argument for stricter gun regulations.

    “She was going to change the world, and I’m sure of that,” the student said about her classmate. “But she doesn’t have the chance now.”

    Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley, a Republican, told the students he and his colleagues were working as fast as they could.

    “We are moving as quickly as the system allows, with the urgency that is deserving of the emotion and the concern that … I feel,” Bradley said.

    Some students watched from the gallery Tuesday night as Republicans in the Florida House of Representatives voted not to debate a ban on assault weapons, which would have outlawed the gun used in the shooting at their school Feb. 14.

    Students were scheduled to speak with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, at 5 p.m. in a closed-door meeting before heading back to South Florida, according to a schedule posted by Book.

    Meanwhile, protesters marched to the capitol in Tallahassee shouting “This is what democracy looks like” and “Vote them out.” Capitol police estimated 3,000 protesters were in the crowd, The Tallahassee Democrat reported.

    The Parkland students, who quickly became known nationwide after harnessing the power of social media and appearing on Sunday news shows, inspired other students to join the cause.

    Students in Silver Spring, Maryland, marched in solidarity.

    Students from Montgomery Blair High School march down Colesville Road in support of gun reform legislation February 21, 2018 in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)


    Students also showed support with marches, walkouts, and rallies across Florida and around the country.

    A teacher praised the students at this walkout in Upper Arlington, Ohio.

    The students have also garnered high-profile support from Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, and others.

    A series of events are planned for the coming months, including a march in Washington, D.C., March 24, and nationwide school walkouts on March 14 and April 20, the 19th anniversary of the deadly Columbine High School shooting.

    The March 14 effort is supported by the youth branch of the Women’s March organization.

  • Wildflower to Bring Montessori Microschools to Indianapolis After Winning Charter Design Challenge from The Mind Trust

    By Kate Stringer | Today

    A school model led solely by classroom teachers that operates in one-room storefronts has been awarded a $250,000 grant to put down roots in Indianapolis.

    Wildflower Schools, which operates 14 Montessori microschools in three states and Puerto Rico, was selected as the second winner of the Charter School Design Challenge, which seeks to bring innovative charter school models to the city.

    Wildflower was chosen because of the innovations it brings to charter schools, said Brandon Brown, vice president of education innovation at The Mind Trust, the Indianapolis-based nonprofit that runs the competition. Wildflower schools have no principals or administrators, but instead are run by two teacher leaders who instruct 20 to 30 students spanning multiple grades using the Montessori model of observation and student-driven learning. The schools are run in one-room storefronts — another departure from traditional school design.

    “This type of model does not exist locally and will be revolutionary to how we view innovation in Indianapolis,” Brown said.

    Three to four schools are planned to open in 2020, but these plans are flexible as the school works through its startup process. The grant money will go toward hiring a site entrepreneur, whose job it is to figure out how to make Wildflower meet Indianapolis’s district requirements, as well as find teachers to lead the schools, said Matt Kramer, CEO of Wildflower Schools. Funds could also be used for expenses like hiring legal experts, a charter school application writer, or a local Montessori teacher to help advise the process.


    Montessori Was the Original Personalized Learning. Now, 100 Years Later, Wildflower Is Reinventing the Model

    Wildflower is not the first model to tackle small schools, teacher leaders, or the Montessori method, Kramer said. “We are not the first person to come up with any of these thoughts. It’s that we’re relatively close to the cutting edge on each of them,” and the first to try to make the model sustainable with public funding and governance.

    This trailblazing comes with its own set of challenges, like figuring out how a microschool can operate under the accountability and reporting structures required of schools that have a much larger student population and administrative staff, Kramer said. For example, services for students who are English language learners or have disabilities are often centralized with a specific support team in a traditional school or district, but Wildflower schools have only two classroom teachers.

    Photo credit: Wildflower Schools

    Components like testing will also be tricky, with just eight to nine students per grade.

    While the traditional Montessori model does not test students, public Montessori schools in the U.S. must abide by state testing requirements. Nevertheless, these models have proven successful in the public sphere. A recent study in South Carolina found that low-income students in the state’s nearly 50 public Montessori schools performed significantly better than their traditional school peers in academics and soft skills like behavior and independence.

    Wildflower currently operates 14 private schools in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico. Its first charter will open this school year in Minneapolis.

    Wildflower is the second charter school model to be awarded funds by The Mind Trust. The first was Rooted School, which focuses on workforce development for high school students.


    New South Carolina Study of Public Montessori Schools Shows Majority Low-Income Students Outperforming Peers

  • EduClips: School Districts Beef Up Security After Parkland; Teacher Shortages Persist in CA — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | 1 day ago

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

    Top Story

    SCHOOL SHOOTING — When classes were dismissed Tuesday at East Brunswick High School, students could be seen yelling and laughing as they exited the building, just as they would on any other day. Except that it wasn’t a typical day. Outside the school building, the lights of three police vehicles flashed continuously. Students who normally did not wear their IDs on a lanyard were required to because of tightened security. And everywhere, students said, people were talking about the school board’s decision last week to place armed police officers inside the schools.

    Tuesday was the first day that a new policy adding armed police officers to the security forces at East Brunswick schools took effect. The measure, approved by the school district on Thursday night, thrust this central New Jersey town into the spotlight as one of the first districts to take concrete action on security in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., shooting. (Read at The New York Times)

    National News


    Kentucky Moves To Add Guns To Schools After School Shooting (Read at NPR)

    ‘I Worry Every Day’: Lockdown Drills Prompt Fear, Self-Reflection After School Shooting (Read at EdWeek)

    Florida Teachers’ Pension Fund Invested in Maker of School Massacre Gun (Read at Bloomberg)

    Miami-Dade Schools want $30 million to protect against mass shootings (Read at Miami-Herald)

    Here’s What Happened the Last Time Congress Considered School Shootings (Read at Politics K-12)

    CLIMATE CHANGE — Some States Are Trying to Downplay the Teaching of Climate Change. Teachers See ‘Educational Malpractice.’ (Read at PBS Newshour)

    UNIONS — After Janus, Another Key Lawsuit Targeting Unions: How California’s Yohn Case Targets Opt-Out Rules (Read at

    D.C. SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR — D.C. Public Schools leader to resign after skirting school assignment rules (Read at The Washington Post)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA —Teacher shortages persist in California and getting worse in many communities (Read at EdSource)

    ILLINOIS — In Chicago’s Rough and Tumble Politics, Schools Chief Rises Above the Fray (Read at EdWeek)

    NEVADA — AP exam figures give Nevada rare chance for education celebration (Read at Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    TEXAS —State Proposes New Guidelines For Convicted Teachers (Read at KTSA)

    CALIFORNIA — Suspension rates for black male students in California higher for foster youth, rural students (Read at EdSource)

    NEW YORK — Opinion: Will anyone notice if Carmen is replaced by an empty chair? (Read at New York Post)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois private scholarship program applications to reopen (Read at Pantagraph)

    Think Pieces

    SHOOTING — I’m a Florida teacher in the era of school shootings. This is the terrifying reality of my classroom during a lockdown drill. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CHARTERS — Return on Investment: Study Shows Big-City Charters Use Education Dollars More Effectively — and Provide Better Future Earnings for Students — Than District Schools (Read at

    NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS — New York’s Separate and Unequal Schools (Read at The Nation)

    SHOOTING — I’m a teenager. And I’m fed up with adults’ excuses for weak gun laws. (Read at Vox)

    Quote of the Day

    “There’s an old adage that you’re not a leader if you don’t have any followers. Well, she ascribes to the notion that you aren’t a leader if you aren’t developing other leaders.” — Patrick McGill, the current principal at George Westinghouse Prep, on new Chicago Schools CEO Janice K. Jackson. (Read at EdWeek)

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

  • How Governors Aim to ‘Raise the Bar’ on American Education: The 74 & Walton Family Foundation to Present Axios Live Event This Friday

    By The 74 | 1 day ago

    Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen on Friday morning will convene a gathering of governors from across the country to discuss the tactics and strategies being used to improve their states’ education systems.

    Cutting across regions as well as political parties, Allen will sit down for individual conversations with Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC), and Gov. Butch Otter (R-ID) for “Raising the Bar: A Conversation on Education in America,” guiding an in-depth conversation about states’ responsibilities in raising expectations for students and exploring what methods are now proving successful in lifting student achievement. (See complete details of the D.C. event — and RSVP — right here)

    The Axios Live event, presented by The 74 and sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation, coincides with this weekend’s National Governors Association 2018 Winter Meeting being held in the nation’s capital.

    “The best governors out there are problem solvers and the best solutions to the toughest challenges are ones that transcend politics,” said Marc Sternberg, K-12 education program director at the Walton Family Foundation. “By working with families, educators, community leaders, and other key stakeholders across geographies, demographics and political parties, governors will find the best solutions that put children, especially those with the most at stake, at the front of the conversation.”

    Sixteen years after No Child Left Behind was signed into law, and three and half decades since President Ronald Reagan’s A Nation at Risk, governors and state education departments have an increasingly important role in guiding and setting education policy under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.


    The 74 will be covering the event live on Friday, as well as previewing the most critical education issues in Colorado, North Carolina, and Idaho in advance of #Axios360 and reporting on the conversations in the days to follow. For the latest updates, sign up for The 74 Newsletter — and follow @The74, @WaltonFamilyFdn, and the hashtag #Axios360 Friday morning beginning around 8 a.m. eastern.

    The 74 will be launching its new Election 2018 section to coincide with the Axios interviews, expanding on the site’s deep coverage of both candidates and key education votes from 2016, which began with the 2015 New Hampshire Education Summit. (Video Replay: Watch six former candidates for president lay out their education priorities)

    With 36 gubernatorial contests this year — as well as countless congressional, state and local races that will shape the future of the country’s education system — there will be no shortage of storylines over the coming months.

    “When we launched The 74 in the midst of the 2016 presidential primaries, we quickly became an influential source of information on candidates’ education stances. In 2018, it is once again a priority for us to elevate education as an issue since it matters so greatly to our nation’s students,” said Romy Drucker, co-founder of The 74.

    More Details: The 8 a.m. Axios event at AJAX, 1011 4th St. NW, is open to the public. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. Friday. Follow the hashtags #Axios360 and #EDlection2018 on Twitter for live updates; see the full Axios invitation here.

    Disclosure: The Walton Family Foundation provides funding to The 74 and is the sponsor of this event.

  • D.C. Chancellor Antwan Wilson to Resign After Bypassing Lottery to Allow Daughter to Attend Popular High School

    By Mark Keierleber | 1 day ago

    After just one year on the job, the schools chancellor in Washington, D.C., Antwan Wilson, resigned from his post Tuesday amid a brewing scandal involving his daughter’s school transfer. His resignation follows news reports that Wilson had skirted a district school lottery system so his daughter could transfer to a sought-after high school, skipping over hundreds of other families.

    The district policy requires students to navigate an admissions lottery if they want to apply to a school outside their residential boundary. But Wilson and his wife had approached Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles about problems their daughter was having at school. Niles, who resigned last week, ultimately helped Wilson bypass the lottery so his daughter could transfer from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts to Woodrow Wilson High School, a popular school with a waiting list.

    The story comes with a smidge of irony: Just last year, Wilson implemented a new district policy to prevent public officials from bypassing the lottery to secure highly sought school placements for their children. Wilson’s predecessors, Kaya Henderson and Michelle Rhee, had previously allowed the children of local and federal officials to attend choice schools outside the lottery.

    As recently as Tuesday morning, Wilson rejected calls to step down by seven members of the 13-member D.C. Council, though he acknowledged in an interview with The Washington Post that he had “failed miserably.”

    “It wasn’t a mistake out of anything other than trying to ensure that my daughter’s well-being was taken care of,” he said.

    The news follows a separate D.C. scandal over district graduation policies. In January, a D.C. Office of the State Superintendent investigation found that more than a third of students who received their diplomas last year should not have crossed the graduation stage. In that scandal, the origins of which predate Wilson’s tenure, investigators found a pattern in which high school administrators throughout the district rarely followed district policies and engaged in a culture where educators felt pressure to pass and graduate students regardless of merit. The FBI, the U.S. Department of Education Inspector General’s Office, and the D.C. Inspector General’s Office are reportedly investigating the graduation scandal, though the scope of their inquiry remains unclear.

    The city named Amanda Alexander, chief of elementary schools, as the district’s interim chancellor.


    Pomp & Circumvent: In Widening Scandal, Report Finds That a Third of D.C. Graduates Received Diplomas Despite Excessive Absences

  • Return on Investment: Study Shows Big-City Charters Use Education Dollars More Effectively — and Provide Better Future Earnings for Students — Than District Schools

    By Kevin Mahnken | 1 day ago

    Charter schools educate their students more efficiently than traditional public schools, according to a new analysis of financial and testing data in eight major cities. A head-to-head comparison of student academic results suggests that charters, which tend to receive less financial support from state governments, nevertheless take greater advantage of the resources provided to them, the authors argue.

    The study was co-authored by Patrick Wolf, a professor of education policy at the University of Arkansas’s Department of Education Reform, and Corey DeAngelis, a policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute. The pair have each written previous explorations of funding disparities between traditional public schools and charters in New York City and elsewhere.

    Using funding data from FY 2014, the researchers examined student learning outcomes from both district and charter sectors in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, New York City, San Antonio, and Washington, D.C. Eighth-grade math and reading results for the biannual National Assessment of Educational Progress — commonly referred to as the “nation’s report card” — were used as an academic indicator.

    In a study of cost-effectiveness, charter schools in the eight cities yielded an average of 17.76 points on NAEP reading scores per $1,000 spent in per-pupil funds, versus 13.42 points for traditional public schools. In math, charters produced 19.21 NAEP points per $1,000, compared with just 14.48 points for traditional public schools. Those differences amount to charter school advantages of 32 percent and 33 percent, respectively, over their traditional counterparts.

    It is important to note that the charter school boost is not identical from place to place. In Houston, charter students enjoyed just a 2 percent edge over traditional public school students on NAEP reading scores; in Washington, D.C., the difference was an astounding 67 percent.

    Source: University of Arkansas

    The authors also performed an analysis of the return on investment in terms of future earnings for both charter and district students. Working with evidence on charter learning gains from Stanford’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes, they estimate that each dollar invested into a child’s K-12 education pays back $6.44 in future earnings for a charter school student — compared with $4.67 per dollar for students in traditional public schools, a 38 percent difference.

    These figures also vary significantly based on location. Charters in the District of Columbia, Indianapolis, and Boston all run far ahead of the pack in terms of projected earnings advantage compared with their local districts, but for different reasons. In Boston, charter students were found to achieve much higher than their district school counterparts; in the other two cities, charter students still performed better, but their rate of return is heightened by the severe funding deficits at local charters compared with traditional public schools.

    Source: University of Arkansas

    A critical note of caution: Study after study of charter school quality has found that, although charter students nationwide perform roughly as well as students at traditional public schools, urban charters — especially those serving low-income students — have often dramatically outperformed local districts. Explanations for the phenomenon differ; some have credited the rigors of the much-publicized “no-excuses” model, employed by networks like Success Academy and KIPP, emphasizing strict discipline.

    In any case, by focusing specifically on urban schools, Wolf and DeAngelis have concentrated on charters’ area of greatest strength.

    Still, their findings provide more ammunition for charter advocates, who will likely marshal it in battles over finite education spending. In Massachusetts, where a measure to lift a statewide charter cap was easily defeated in 2016, the education community will have to consider a startling gap in future earnings between students in charters and district schools.


    Massachusetts Voters Say No to Charter School Expansion

  • Charter Funding: Two Georgia Bills Would Allow More Dollars to Flow to State-Run Charter Schools

    By Laura Fay | 1 day ago

    Two Georgia state lawmakers have proposed separate bills to fix funding disparities between district and state-run charter schools.

    Rep. Scott Hilton and Rep. Todd Jones, both Republicans, have introduced legislation that would allocate more state money to the 32 charter schools authorized by the state commission to bring their spending levels closer to that of their 82 district charter school counterparts.

    In Georgia, there are two options for authorizing charter schools — local school districts and the State Charter School Commission. Like traditional public schools, charter schools authorized by districts are eligible for local tax dollars, but those authorized by the state commission receive only state and federal dollars. As a result, the state provides additional funding to the commission-authorized schools through a supplement. As the law is currently written, the supplement is the equivalent of the local tax revenue for the average of the five districts in the state with the lowest local tax revenue.

    Hilton’s proposal would raise the amount of the supplement so that it matches the overall statewide average that districts receive through local taxes, and would boost funding for facilities in regions of the state where real estate is more expensive. The bill would also provide charter schools financial support if they are expanding to meet demand.

    With the current funding formula, charter schools are being asked to “meet higher standards with less funding,” Hilton told The 74. He said he’s introducing the bill because he wants parents and students to have more choice in education.

    Rep. Scott Hilton (Photo credit: Georgia House of Representatives)

    “What keeps me up at night is thinking about those students where the only school they’ve got access to is one that doesn’t serve their needs,” Hilton said, even though the area where he lives, Peachtree Corners, is “blessed with fantastic schools.”

    Hilton’s bill found “a good middle ground” between how much money charter advocates would like to see allocated and how much the state can offer, he said.

    Jones proposed a similar bill that would increase the state supplement even more for schools in more expensive districts. He told The 74 that he sees providing excellent school options as a “moral responsibility.”

    Both bills also include increases in funding for virtual charter schools and would allow the commission-authorized charter schools to participate in Regional Educational Service Agencies, which provide professional development for teachers and other services.

    Of the 114 charter schools in Georgia, about a third are authorized by the state commission, said Tony Roberts, president and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, an advocacy group. The commission-authorized charter schools struggle to open and then to grow, Roberts said, especially in urban areas where it is more expensive to operate and obtain facilities.

    Jones’s bill is “the north star” — a reach — Roberts said, but Georgia charter advocates would be happy with either bill.

    Roberts told The 74 he expects Hilton’s bill to pass in the state House of Representatives, which has historically been more “friendly” to charters, but he is less confident it will pass in the state Senate. Roberts also said he believes Hilton’s bill is more likely to be adopted than the one proposed by Jones because it will cost the state less money.

    Charter schools in Georgia have a complex legislative history. In 1994, the Georgia legislature passed a law allowing for “conversion charter schools,” public schools that are turned into charters to grant more flexibility. In 1998, a broader charter law was passed, allowing the state board of education to authorize more charter schools, but later the state Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for those state charter schools to get money from the local district. In 2012, voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing the state to authorize charter schools, leading to the establishment of the State Charter Schools Commission. However, commission-authorized schools cannot get local funding because of the Supreme Court ruling.

  • EduClips: Students Plan Marches, Walkouts in Response to FL Mass Shooting; Turpin Abuse Case Prompts CA Bill to Tighten Home School Regulation — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | 2 days ago

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

    Top Story

    SCHOOL SHOOTING — High school students are planning marches and school walkouts across the country in the coming weeks and months as the number of protesters on social media grows, galvanized by last week’s school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead. Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — using various social media platforms and hashtags such as #NeverAgain and #Enough — have encouraged students and anti-gun-violence activists to organize. A nationwide walkout by teachers and students is planned for March 14, and marches are planned for March 24, along with a day of protests on April 20, the anniversary of the deadly 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado.

    Smaller events are popping up as well. Students at Douglas High School plan to visit politicians in Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, on Tuesday and Wednesday to urge them to tighten gun laws. On Tuesday, Florida officials will hold workshops in Tallahassee focused on safety and security measures at schools, on mental health and child-welfare services. (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    National News


    School Shootings Put Teachers in New Role as Human Shields (Read at The New York Times)

    After school shooting, anger and grief dominate anti-gun rally (Read at the Miami Herald)

    For Parkland Students and Teachers, Wrenching Questions Surround Return to School (Read at Education Week)

    SCHOOL BOARDS — School boards increasingly embrace the ABCs of social activism (Read at The Washington Post)

    ESSA — Democrats Say DeVos Is Flouting ESSA. She Says No Way. Let’s Unpack the Debate (Read at Politics K-12)

    YEARBOOKS — Students, free speech advocates outraged over policy that would censor yearbooks (Read at USA Today)

    EDUCATION DEPARTMENT — Betsy DeVos’s Team Moves to Cut Political Positions, Merge Federal Education Programs (Read at Politics K-12)

    D.C. CHANCELLOR — One year after arriving in D.C., a schools chancellor under fire (Read at The Washington Post)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — Turpin abuse case prompts state bill to tighten regulation of home schools (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    NEW YORK — As chancellor search continues, Weingarten dismisses Orlando schools chief as ‘Joel Klein type’ (Read at Chalkbeat)

    HAWAII — ‘Decades of monstrous sexual abuse’ by psychiatrist costs famous Hawaiian school $80 million (Read at The Washington Post)

    NEVADA — How struggling Las Vegas elementary became a top-rated school (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    NEW YORK — For New York City’s next schools chancellor, four questions and a lesson from Finland (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    CALIFORNIA — A Bay Area lawmaker’s crusade to require public charter schools to provide free lunch (Read at the Mercury News)

    TEXAS — Texas Education Agency prepares plan to correct issues in special education system (Read at Community Impact Newspaper)

    FLORIDA — Florida Senate doubles down on HB 7055 with its own version (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    Think Pieces

    REMEDIATION — How to help students avoid the remedial ed trap (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    CHARTER UNIONIZATION — New Report Shows Charter Schools Less Likely to Be Unionized Than They Were 6 Years Ago; Majority of Those Schools Located in 4 States (Read at

    SCHOOL SHOOTING — What educators, parents, and students are grappling with in the wake of America’s latest school shooting (Read at Chalkbeat)

    DENVER — Denver Backs Down on Huge Gains for Schools After Community Cries Foul Over ‘Inflated’ Report Cards (Read at

    Quote of the Day

    “I visualized what it would look like, and it made me sick. Could I empty out the cabinet and throw out the shelves and put kids in the cabinets? Is my better chance just barricading the doors? Can I move furniture that fast? Do I ask my kids to help me?” —Catherine Collett, a sixth-grade teacher in Northern Virginia, on mentally preparing for a school shooting. (Read at The New York Times)

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

  • Philadelphia Principal Promises Students $100 Each If They Finish the Year Without a Fight

    By Laura Fay | 6 days ago

    To make sure her students stay on the right track, Principal Stephanie Andrewlevich is trying a new strategy — cash. She promised the eighth-grade class at Mitchell Elementary in southwest Philadelphia that she would give each of them $100 at graduation if they all make it through the school year without any physical fights, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

    About 80 percent of students at Mitchell, a K-8 school, live in poverty, and many live in violent neighborhoods. But Andrewlevich, in her third year as principal, wanted her students to get the message that they don’t have to solve problems through fighting.

    “I wanted to challenge them to be what their families see in them, what we know they are,” Andrewlevich told the Inquirer. “They have a choice — to become the violence they see in their day-to-day lives, or to be peaceful models for our school and our community.”

    The challenge, which started in late September, hasn’t fixed everything at the school, but so far this year, 8 percent of eighth-graders have been suspended, a steep decrease from 17 percent at this point last year. Students in the class said they don’t feel like they need or want to fight anymore, and they are helping younger students solve problems through peer mediation.

    Research shows that using behavior management systems focused on incentives, known as Positive Behavior Incentives and Supports or PBIS, rather than punishments can be more effective in promoting good student behavior.

    The Mitchell challenge has an added element of cooperation — not one of the 33 eighth-graders can get in a fight, or else they will all lose out on the prize. As of last week, the class was on track to earn the reward.

    District spokesman Lee Whack said Andrewlevich’s challenge is not a district-sponsored initiative but the district backs evidence-based practices to support student behavior and school culture.

    Andrewlevich, who ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2016 to raise money for new computers for her school, said she’ll pay the students herself if no one comes forward to sponsor the inventive. And she shook off the suggestion that she’s bribing kids to behave.

    “I see it as an investment in our kids,” she said.

  • EduClips: Mass Shooting at Florida High School; Stalled Chancellor Search in NYC — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | 7 days ago

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

    Top Story

    SCHOOL SHOOTING — What is known about the Valentine’s Day slayings at a South Florida high school suggests the carnage was planned with chilling precision: The alleged shooter — armed with an assault-style weapon — pulled a fire alarm and waited as his victims began pouring into the halls.

    What remained to be unraveled Thursday was what drove the teenage suspect, Nikolas Cruz, to bring his rage to a school he once attended and claim the lives of students he once called classmates — in what would become the nation’s second deadliest public school shooting, with a toll of at least 17 lives. (Read at The Washington Post)

    National News


    The victims of the Douglas High mass shooting (Read at The Miami Herald)

    Florida shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz: Guns, depression and a life in trouble (Read at The Washington Post)

    Florida school shooting: Security, training ‘not enough’ to stop tragedy (Read at USA Today)

    Florida School Shooting: Superintendent ‘Never Thought’ He’d See Such Tragedy in His District (Read at Education Week)

    Florida lawmakers repeatedly denied pleas for more school-safety money (Read at USA Today)

    DACA — As DACA Deadline Looms, Young Immigrants Plan for the Unknown (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    ABSENTEEISM — Students can’t learn if they don’t show up at school (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    FLU EPIDEMIC — Schools in Texas, Massachusetts, Oklahoma & Tennessee Mourn Educators (Read at

    DEVOS — DeVos Dogged by Failures to Disclose (Read at U.S. News & World Report)

    TECHNOLOGY — Teachers want to prepare students for the jobs of the future — but feel stymied (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — Months of Searching Still Hasn’t Found New Schools Chancellor (Read at The New York Times)

    TEXAS — Paxton: Three Texas school districts illegally endorsed politicians (Read at the Austin American-Statesman)

    ILLINOIS — Old Idea Could Change School Funding Dollars (Read at NPR Illinois)

    NEVADA — CCSD Trustee says school police need more funding to protect students (Read at KTNV)

    CALIFORNIA — With support instead of punishment, a California school district works to improve special education (Read at EdSource)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Protesters decry Philly district’s ‘overreach’ with charters (Read at the Philadelphia Inquirer)

    NEW YORK — Brooklyn school therapist sues principal for targeting her for being an Orthodox Jew (Read at the New York Daily News)

    CALIFORNIA — Enrollment season: Bay Area parents pin hopes on coveted schools’ lotteries (Read at the Mercury News)

    Think Pieces

    SCHOOL SHOOTINGS — Why security measures won’t stop school shootings (Read at Education Week)

    DACA — Study finds DACA encourages undocumented kids to stay in school, as Congress ponders their future (Read at Chalkbeat)

    TEACHER VACANCIES — Brookings: New Revelations About Teacher Vacancies — and Which Students Go to Those Schools (Read at

    ECONOMY — OPINION: Here’s an economic engine that powers communities: School (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    CHARTERS — Manno: Return of the Jedi — Progressive K-12 Reformers Strike Back in Defense of Charter Schools (Read at

    BLACK PANTHER — Black Panther Proves That Our Kids Need More Black Superheroes, Both on the Screen and in the Classroom (Read at Education Post)

    Quote of the Day

    “I think everyone in this school had it in the back of their mind that if anyone was supposed to do it, it was most likely gonna be him.” —Dakota Mutchler, who went to middle school with Nikolas Cruz, 19, suspected of killing 17 people at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Read at The Washington Post)

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

  • At Least 17 Dead in Florida School Massacre: 7 Early Questions Answered About the Deadliest Shooting Since Newtown

    By Mark Keierleber | 7 days ago

    In one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, 17 people were killed and 15 were wounded after a former student opened gunfire in a southern Florida high school Wednesday afternoon. The incident unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The campus is part of the Broward County School District, America’s seventh largest.

    Here’s what we know so far:

    When did the incident happen?

    Student witnesses reported that a fire alarm went off in the school about 10 minutes before the end of the school day Wednesday. The gunman opened fire as students began to evacuate, part of what authorities believe was a calculated attempted to maximize casualties. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office first tweeted about the incident at 2:53 p.m. Wednesday.

    How many students were injured or killed?

    Seventeen people were killed, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed during a press conference Wednesday evening. Students and adults were among those killed, though it remains unclear if any of those adults were teachers. Twelve were killed inside the school, two just outside the building, one on a nearby street corner, and two died in the hospital.

    An additional 15 others were wounded.

    How did the superintendent respond?

    Superintendent Robert Runcie said he had just presented a new car to the district’s Teacher of the Year when he was notified of the shooting. In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Runcie called the shooting “an unspeakable tragedy.”

    Who is the suspect?

    Police say the suspect is 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student who had been expelled for disciplinary issues within the past few years. He was taken into custody in nearby Coral Springs without additional incident.

    Where is Parkland?

    Parkland is an upper-class community in Broward County, Florida’s second most populous county. Fort Lauderdale is the county seat. About 3,000 students are enrolled at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

    What kind of weapon was used?

    Police recovered an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and multiple magazines from the scene.

    What was the shooter’s motive?

    The shooter’s motive remains unknown. Israel said investigators have begun to scour Cruz’s social media accounts, which included “very, very disturbing” content, though he didn’t elaborate further.

    Behind the numbers

    Wednesday’s shooting is the 11th incident in 2018 in which someone was shot and injured or killed in a K-12 school or university. It is the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since 2012, when 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — and worse than the massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999 that left 12 students and one teacher dead.

    Prior to the Florida shooting, at least six people have been killed and 27 have been injured due to school shootings. Learn more about each incident with our interactive map, which will be updated to include the Florida shooting as soon as law enforcement officials confirm the details:

    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.

    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.


  • Social Media Videos, Photos, Reactions Capture the Chaos Outside Florida School Shooting

    By Laura Fay | 7 days ago

    This report will no longer be updated. It was last refreshed at 10:30 p.m. EST; follow us on Twitter @the74 for the latest updates on the incident.

    Officials report that at least 17 people have died and more than a dozen have been injured following a Wednesday afternoon shooting at a South Florida high school. Photos and videos shared on social media in the minutes and hours after the attack captured scenes of heroic rescue efforts, chaotic evacuations, and confusion as students streamed out of school, parents rushed to reunite with their children, and law enforcement officials descended on the scene, fighting to get the situation under control.

    Some of the sights and sounds from the day:

    The shooting happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, which is about an hour northwest of Fort Lauderdale. The school is part of Broward County Public Schools.

    Shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday, videos started to emerge of first responders reaching the wounded:

    And students evacuating under police protection:

    As those students ran out, a SWAT team ran in.

    Inside the building, armed emergency responders helped students evacuate.

    A harrowing livestream captured the moments students fled their school, hands over their heads:

    One parent called CBS to share what he heard from his daughter, who was inside the school at the time of the shooting:

    One teacher spoke to CNN about hiding in the closet with her students during the incident.

    Other parents waited anxiously for word from their children.

    At least 14 were transported to area hospitals, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said during a press conference.

    Israel described the incident as “catastrophic.”

    Parkland Springs Mayor Christine Hunschofsky’s reaction: “A tragedy can happen anywhere.”

    Authorities said the suspect, who was identified as a former student at the school, was taken into custody without incident.

    Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, an outspoken advocate for stricter gun regulation, spoke about the incident on the Senate floor. “If you turn on your television right now, you’re going to see scenes of children running for their lives.” He said the United States is seeing an “epidemic of mass slaughter” that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.

    Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie confirmed that there were multiple fatalities.

    President Donald Trump reacted on Twitter soon after the news broke:

    As helicopters hovered overhead, families reunited. A family reunion site was set up at a nearby hotel, according to WSVN.

    The 74 has been tracking every incident of gun violence on school property in 2018. (You can see our recap of all the incidents thus far here.) To get the latest school safety news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

  • Brookings: New Revelations About Teacher Vacancies — and Which Students Go to Those Schools

    By Kevin Mahnken | 7 days ago

    Schools afflicted with hard-to-fill teacher vacancies are also more likely to enroll minority students, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution. Both minority students and teachers are more likely to be clustered in schools with one or more such vacancies, the report finds.

    Written by Brookings senior fellow Michael Hansen, the report addresses recent attempts by states to effectively kill two birds with one stone by hiring black and Hispanic teachers to counteract persistent staff shortages at schools that predominantly teach black and Hispanic students.

    On the one hand, teacher vacancies in hard-to-staff disciplines like STEM and special education can often drag on long into the school year, resulting in abrupt staffing changes and an unhealthy reliance on substitutes. Studies have shown that elevated teacher turnover, and the vacancies that result from it, are harmful to student achievement.

    At the same time, America’s rapid demographic transformation in recent decades has produced schools where overwhelming majorities of white teachers preside over classrooms with steadily growing numbers of non-white students. That’s worrisome to many researchers and student advocates, who point to an ample body of evidence showing that minority students score higher on standardized tests and drop out at lower rates when exposed to at least one teacher of their own ethnicity.


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

    Schools serving large minority populations tend to suffer the highest rates of teacher turnover and shortage. Noting the linkage between the two problems, several states have announced initiatives to curb shortages paired with financial incentives to increase teacher diversity. The result, ideally, would be fewer shortages and more minority representation in the teacher workforce at the same time.

    That approach is flawed, according to Hansen, for a simple reason: Schools with the greatest need for more non-white staff are less likely to experience vacancies, and those that struggle to fill jobs already employ proportionately more teachers of color.

    Citing data from the Schools and Staffing Survey, a regular poll conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, Hansen shows that minorities represent 41 percent of the student population in schools with no social studies vacancies, but 48 percent of the population in schools that do have vacancies in that subject. In schools with vacancies in STEM, minority students make up 46 percent of the population, noticeably higher than the 41 percent of students at schools with no STEM vacancies.

    Further, minority students are even more concentrated in schools with hard-to-fill vacancies. In other words, the more difficult it is fill a job opening at a given school, the more likely that school is to educate high percentages of minority students. For instance, minority students account for 47 percent of the student population in schools with easy-to-fill vacancies in social studies, but that number jumps to an incredible 64 percent in schools that struggle to fill those roles.

    Source: Brookings

    It should be mentioned that, compared to science, math, and special education, subjects like English and social studies are relatively easy to staff. In a report for the Hamilton Project, Stanford professor Tom Dee found that the percentage of schools reporting vacancies in social studies has always remained much lower than those reporting vacancies in other subjects.

    Source: The Hamilton Project

    A school that struggles to hire social studies teachers, therefore, is experiencing very acute staffing troubles. And those schools tend to enroll many more minority students.

    But the catch is that such schools also employ more minority teachers. While the percentage of minority students jumps by a startling 17 points between schools with easy-to-fill and hard-to-fill social studies vacancies, the percentage of minority teachers leaps by 23 points, from 18 percent to 41 percent. Similar increases, though not of the same magnitude, are observed when vacancies get harder to fill in English, STEM, and special education.

    The upshot, he notes, is that although schools with vacancies (and especially vacancies that they struggle to fill) enroll more minority students, the problem of demographic mismatch isn’t necessarily worse at those schools, because they also employ more minority teachers already.

    “Schools facing shortages — at least from this national perspective — do not show any systematic pattern of minority underrepresentation,” Hansen concludes. “Further, schools with many hard-to-fill vacancies had some of the highest teacher minority shares in the analysis. Hiring more minority teachers specifically to these schools would simply concentrate them where they already teach in high numbers.”

  • Ten Finalists Named for $1 Million Global Teaching Prize, Including an Engineering Teacher Who First Brought Robotics Programs to Hawaii

    By Laura Fay | 7 days ago

    Ten teachers are one step closer to winning $1 million.

    Bill Gates announced the 10 finalists for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize Wednesday morning in a video posted online.

    The finalists represent 10 countries and were selected from more than 30,000 nominations and applications from 173 countries.

    “Research has shown that having a great teacher can be the most important factor that determines whether students get a great education,” Gates said in the video. “Finalists were selected based on a rigorous set of criteria, including their proven effectiveness in inspiring students and helping them learn.”

    One American, Glenn Lee, an engineering teacher from Hawaii, is in the running for the prize. Lee created Hawaii’s first organized robotics program in 1999, Hawaii News Now reported.

    “He’s one of those people that, if you ask him for something that’s going to help you grow and learn, he’s going to do it, he’ll go out of his way,” his student Levi Kim said.

    The prize celebrates exceptional teachers and recognizes the importance of the teaching profession. The first winner, Nancie Atwell of Maine, received the award in 2015.

    The full list of finalists:

    • Nurten Akkuş, a preschool teacher and principal at Ayvacık Pre-School, Samsun, Turkey: After founding the first kindergarten in her community, Akkus increased family engagement by creating a program to get fathers involved in education. Learn more.
    • Marjorie Brown, who teaches history at the Roedean School, Johannesburg, South Africa: Brown has improved literacy in South Africa with a program called Kids Lit in SA. Learn more.
    • Luis Miguel Bermudez Gutierrez, a social science teacher at the Colegio Gerardo Paredes IED, Bogotá, Colombia: Gutierrez created a new curriculum for his students that led to a drop in teen pregnancy and was recognized as Colombia’s teacher of the year in 2017.
    • Jesus Insilada, who teaches English and creative writing at Caninguan National High School in Lambunao, Iloilo, the Philippines: Insilada is an advocate for indigenous people and teaches his students through traditional dances, songs, crafts, and games.
    • Glenn Lee, an engineering and technology teacher from Waialua High & Intermediate School, Waialua, Hawaii: Lee is a former engineer who advocates for STEM education across Hawaii. Learn more.
    • Diego Mahfouz Faria Lima, director of Darcy Ribeiro Municipal School, in São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo, Brazil: As a school leader, Lima harnessed the power of his community to transform the school culture and improve the school’s reputation.
    • Koen Timmers, a lecturer at PXL University College in Hasselt and a computer science teacher at CVO De Verdieping school in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium: Timmers co-founded a project that provided education resources to refugee camps in Kenya and created projects that teach students to be global citizens.
    • Eddie Woo, a mathematics teacher from Cherrybrook Technology High School, Sydney, Australia: Woo is a math teacher famous for his WooTube videos that help people learn worldwide. Learn more.
    • Andria Zafirakou, an art and textiles teacher from Alperton Community School, Brent, London, United Kingdom: Zafirakou has taken the time to learn phrases from the 35 languages her students and their families speak, and she uses real-world situations to help her students in math. Learn more.
    • Barbara Anna Zielonka, an English teacher at Nannestad High School, Norway: Zielonka is an English teacher who uses a “genius hour” to allow her students to pursue projects they are passionate about.

    “The thousands of nominations and applications we received from every corner of the planet is testimony to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives,” Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said in a statement.

    The winner will be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on March 18, 2018.

    The Varkey Foundation is a nonprofit “established to improve the standards of education for underprivileged children throughout the world,” according to its website.

  • Schools in Texas, Massachusetts, Oklahoma & Tennessee Mourn Educators Who Have Died Due to the Flu

    By Laura Fay | February 14, 2018

    At least three teachers and a school counselor have died of flu or related complications so far this season, which may last until May and could break modern records.

    Phyllis Gotlib, 68, a music teacher in Massachusetts; Susan Roberts, 58, a counselor in Oklahoma; and Emily Poe, 69, a high school English teacher in Tennessee, all died in January. Heather Holland, 38, a second-grade teacher in Texas, died in February.

    Crystal Whitley, 35, a special education teacher in Texas, remains on life support after contracting two strains of the flu and then pneumonia and MRSA, a bacterial infection that is difficult to treat with antibiotics, according to published accounts.

    In Swampscott, Massachusetts, the three schools where Gotlib worked were closed so students and staff could attend her funeral.

    Remembering Phyllis Gotlib today and all she did to make children shine! God Bless her.

    Posted by Stacy Ann Phelan on Friday, January 19, 2018

    In a Facebook post, Stacy Ann Phelan wrote, “Remembering Phyllis Gotlib today and all she did to make children shine! God Bless her.”

    Following her death, rumors spread online that Holland, the teacher from Texas, could not afford to purchase the medication her doctor prescribed to combat the flu, a generic form of Tamiflu. Although Holland did hesitate because of the $116 price tag, her husband has said he later bought the medication and she started taking it. (Though the viral stories that she couldn’t afford the medication because of her insurance were false, Holland’s husband did say he wished teachers had better coverage, according to the The Wall Street Journal.)

    “It’s principle with her. She’s a very frugal person in general, always has been,” he said.

    But a few days after visiting the doctor, Holland’s condition worsened and she was admitted to intensive care at a local hospital, according to the Journal. The following day, she died.

    So far this season, schools in at least 22 states have closed for a day or more because of rampant flu. Around the country, students are also mourning lost peers, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting 63 pediatric deaths since flu season began October 1.

    Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat said on Twitter last week that the virus activity still seems to be on the rise. She recommended that people stay home from work or school if they get sick with flu symptoms and seek medical attention for extreme symptoms like persistent high fever, shortness of breath, or rapid heartbeat.

    Schuchat also said in a press call Friday that this year may break records for hospitalizations, especially among children and young people, as she expects several more weeks of flu.

  • EduClips: Special Ed Crisis in NYC; IL Governor’s Budget Asks Schools to Pay Millions Toward Teachers’ Pensions — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | February 14, 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

    IMMIGRATION — The Trump administration is considering making it more difficult for immigrant families to become lawful permanent residents of the United States if they use certain social services, such as Head Start, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or food stamps.

    Reuters and Vox were the first to write about the possibility. Vox posted a draft of the proposal, which has not been officially published by the administration. If the policy were to become a reality, however, it would mark a sharp departure from current rules, which do not allow authorities to negatively evaluate a green-card applicant who uses most taxpayer-funded public benefits. (Read at Education Week)

    National News

    PHILANTHROPY — Blackstone CEO Schwarzman Gives $25 Million to His High School (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    GATES FOUNDATION — To fight poverty in U.S., Bill and Melinda Gates say they may move beyond education (Read at Chalkbeat)

    SECESSION — Citing Racial Motive, Federal Appeals Court Blocks Alabama School Secession Plan (Read at

    SCHOOL DANCE — A school made children say ‘yes’ to any classmate who asked for a dance. Then a parent spoke up. (Read at The Washington Post)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — NYC’s Special Education Crisis, Where 1 in 4 Families Doesn’t Receive Guaranteed Services and Students Are Forced to Wait 60 Days (or More) for IEP Meetings (Read at

    ILLINOIS — Rauner’s budget will ask local schools to pay millions more toward teachers’ retirements (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    NEW YORK — Mayor de Blasio’s second-term education agenda? More of the same. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    PUERTO RICO — A Pair of Rural Schools Struggle Back in Puerto Rico (Read at Education Week)

    TEXAS — TEA: Some school districts’ innovation plans don’t require teacher certification (Read at Valley Central)

    CALIFORNIA — Science education funding still in Trump’s crosshairs, despite being saved by Congress (Read at EdSource)

    NEVADA — Fund Our Future campaign highlights Nevada’s education woes (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Philly schools ditch Styrofoam trays, embrace a greener lunch option (Read at the Philadelphia Inquirer)

    CALIFORNIA — Poll: The Majority of California Parents Like New State Report Card (Read at State EdWatch)

    Think Pieces

    SPECIAL EDUCATION — No Racial Quotas in Special Education (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    MISTER ROGERS — A Mister Rogers Postage Stamp Is Coming to Your Neighborhood (Read at The New York Times)

    ABSENTEEISM — D.C. graduation scandal shows how chronic absenteeism threatens America’s schools (Read at The Conversation)

    Quote of the Day

    “It’s very upsetting and continues to be upsetting. We’re still out of compliance, which means a lot of kids are not getting services, at least on paper, that they’re entitled to. And why does this problem still persist?” —Mark Alter, professor of educational psychology at New York University, on New York City’s special education crisis. (Read at

    Disclosure: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports The 74.

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

  • Citing Racial Motive, Federal Appeals Court Blocks Alabama School Secession Plan

    By Mark Keierleber | February 13, 2018

    Parents in a Birmingham suburb can’t secede from the county school district to create their own educational system, a federal court ruled on Tuesday. Efforts by predominantly white Gardendale parents to break away from the predominantly black Jefferson County School District, the court ruled, were motivated by race.

    The issue gained national attention last year when a U.S. District Court judge ruled that secession efforts could continue, even after acknowledging race was a factor in some parents’ decision to form a new education system. Gardendale parents have long maintained that their efforts centered on a desire for local control.

    The Jefferson County School District has been under a federal desegregation order since 1971. In its ruling Tuesday, the 11th Circuit found that the lower court “abused its discretion” when it allowed the secession effort to proceed, even though the lower court acknowledged that the move could hinder the county’s desegregation obligations.

    “The district court found that the Gardendale Board acted with a discriminatory purpose to exclude black children from the proposed school system and, alternatively, that the secession of the Gardendale Board would impede the efforts of the Jefferson County Board to fulfill its desegregation obligations,” the court ruled Tuesday. “Despite these findings, the district court devised and permitted a partial secession that neither party requested.”

    The Gardendale issue was highlighted in a 2017 report by EdBuild, a nonprofit that advocates for education funding equity. Since 2000, the group found, at least 71 communities nationwide have attempted to secede from their school districts, and 47 have been successful. Community efforts to break away from existing school districts often leave existing education systems with high poverty and poor funding, the report notes.

    “We commend the federal appeals court for its decision that combats a disturbing re-segregation trend, seen not just in Gardendale, but in cities across the country,” Sam Spital, director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement. The NAACP represents black parents in the lawsuit against the Gardendale secession effort. “We must continue to thwart re-segregation efforts so that students can benefit from co-existing and learning together. We will continue doing everything in our power to ensure that state and local governments facilitate the integration of all children.”


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

  • EduClips: Philadelphia Principal Offers Students $100 If They Make It to Graduation Without Fighting; Trump’s Education Budget — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | February 13, 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

    TRUMP’S EDUCATION BUDGET — The administration is hoping to cut about 5 percent of funding — $3.6 billion — from the federal Department of Education. Keep in mind that federal dollars account for only about 10 percent of the money that public schools receive, though that money disproportionately goes to high-poverty schools. The proposal would hold steady the funding for students with disabilities through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. But the request would take the axe to Title II, funding that goes toward teacher training and class-size reductions, and an after-school program known as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. The administration has argued that both initiatives have proven ineffective.

    In a similar proposal to last year, the Trump administration said Monday that it wants to spend more federal dollars on a school choice program — which includes private school vouchers — and less on after-school initiatives and teacher training. Last year, the administration’s budget proposal was largely ignored, and many see this year’s as likely to suffer a similar fate. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    National News

    INFRASTRUCTURE — No Targeted Funding for School Construction in Trump’s Infrastructure Proposal (Read at Politics K-12)

    TRANSGENDER STUDENTS — The Education Department Officially Won’t Deal With Transgender Students Experiencing Bathroom Discrimination (Read at HuffPost)

    HIGHER EDUCATION ACT — Lamar Alexander’s White Whale: Will 2018 Be the Year the Education Veteran Finally Gets His Chance to Rewrite the Higher Ed Act? (Read at

    RUSSIAN MONEY — Russian Billionaires Are Building Megaschools to Rival Eton and Exeter (Read at Bloomberg)

    SOUTHERN VOTERS — Poll finds Southern voters want more education spending (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    OLYMPICS — Learning From Olympians: How Classroom Champions Is Pairing Athletes With Schools to Offer Unique Lessons on Grit, Goals, and Perseverance (Read at

    District and State News

    PENNSYLVANIA — Why one Philly elementary school is paying kids not to fight (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    TEXAS — Some Texas schools still face busing challenges after Harvey (Read at the Houston Chronicle)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois school choice program sees “historic” rush, crashes servers (Read at Illinois News Network)

    PUERTO RICO — Tensions Rise Over Path Forward for Puerto Rico Schools (Read at Education Week)

    NEW YORK — With changes coming to New York’s teacher evaluations, union and state officials prepare to clash (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — Creating a ‘test kitchen’ to come up with a better school accountability plan in California (Read at EdSource)

    HAWAII — DOE could be sued over lack of female locker rooms — a violation of federal law (Read at Hawaii News Now)

    ILLINOIS — Opinion: More Dollars Add Up to Less Trust (Read at NPR Illinois)

    NEW YORK — Protesters demand removal of principal over black history scandal (Read at the New York Daily News)

    CALIFORNIA — Brown appoints 15 to new K-12 science panel (Read at EdSource)

    NEVADA Las Vegas students get lesson in pre-integrated military (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Think Pieces

    DEVOS — In Her Words: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Assesses a Year on the Job (Read at The New York Times)

    ONLINE SCHOOLS — As Online Schools Expand, So Do Questions About Their Performance (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    CIVICS — For students from Oklahoma, a look under the fractured hood of democracy (Read at The Washington Post)

    CHARTER SCHOOLS — Lessons in flexibility from the nation’s largest charter school network (Read at The Washington Post)

    MICHIGAN STATE SCANDAL — Where was the board at Michigan State? (Read at The Washington Post)

    Quote of the Day

    “I wanted to challenge them to be what their families see in them, what we know they are. They have a choice — to become the violence they see in their day-to-day lives, or to be peaceful models for our school and our community.” —Stephanie Andrewlevich, principal of Philadelphia’s Mitchell Elementary School, who is offering students $100 if they can make it to graduation without fighting. (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

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

  • Survey: 1 in 3 Community College Students Reports Inadequate Advising on Academic Plans; 60 Percent Report Lack of Information About Job Opportunities

    By Kate Stringer | February 13, 2018

    College advising has room for improvement when it comes to engaging students, according to a new national survey from the Center for Community College Student Engagement that collected responses from 113,000 students at 188 colleges.

    Students reported feeling more engaged when they met with their college advisers more frequently and for longer periods of time than those who did not, the survey found.

    But the survey also identified areas for improvement. While 86 percent of students said advisers explained which classes they should take, just 65 percent said they reviewed an academic plan and only 39 percent reported being informed about local employment opportunities in their field of study.

    “So many of our students, they need an advocate. They need somebody connected to them,” said Evelyn Waiwaiole, the center’s executive director. “When we talk about engagement, we know that the more connected you are to the institution, to a peer, to the material, the more likely you are to be successful.”

    This is important, as persistence rates for community college students hover around 60 percent, and those who do graduate sometimes end up with more credits than they need. This can be because the students switch their focus area or because schools require extra credits for graduation.

    In an analysis by Complete College America, community college students graduate with an average of 80 credits, 20 more than the organization says a typical associate’s degree should require.

    Many community college students start school already behind. Nearly two-thirds of incoming students require remedial courses, and only half who enroll in those classes complete them all. The cost of remediation to students has been estimated to be as high as $4 billion.

    The report found that more students are seeking out advisers than in the past. In 2011, 56 percent of students said they had met with an adviser to talk about academic goals, a number that increased to 67 percent in 2016, Waiwaiole said.

    Satisfaction with advising is also an area for improvement: 47 percent of students said they were very satisfied with their advising experience, while 44 percent said they were somewhat satisfied and 7 percent said they were not at all satisfied.

    Advisers should be talking with students not just about their academic plans but also about their obligations outside school, Waiwaiole said. Many community college students juggle families, jobs, children, and finances. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 36 percent of students are the first in their families to go to college, 17 percent are single parents, and 58 percent receive financial aid.

    Waiwaiole recommends this as an area for further professional development. She also suggests that colleges hire more advisers. At Georgia State University, 42 advisers were added to the staff, and although this cost $2 million, “it more than paid for itself because the increased retention rate meant more revenue for the school,” Timothy Renick, vice president for enrollment management and student success at Georgia State, said in the report.

    Schools could also incorporate advising into college classes to increase accessibility, or build academic planning into the registration process, the report suggested. It also cautioned against practices that could hinder the advising process, such as allowing students to register for classes a week before classes start rather than encouraging them to start earlier and meet with an adviser first.

    The report pointed to Cleveland State Community College as a model. The school’s three-year graduation rate increased by 8 percentage points after it refreshed its advising program in 2013 to require students to see an adviser before registering for classes, assign advisers to students according to their area of academic interest, and lengthen advising sessions for new students to as much as an hour. After these policies were implemented, more students reported advising sessions as being helpful.

    “Very few students are having in-depth conversations,” Waiwaiole said. “We’re trying to change what those conversations are about.”

  • Analysis of Personalized Learning Programs in Chicago Shows That Strong Teacher Leaders, Not Technology, Key for Financial Sustainability

    By Kate Stringer | February 13, 2018

    A new analysis of Chicago public schools found that teachers, rather than technology, are the most important factor in creating sustainable personalized learning models — especially when they rely on teacher leaders who have more authority in their classrooms.

    “That reaffirms that personalized learning is not about technology — it’s about changing teacher and school practices in support of better outcomes,” said Tim Carnahan, director of programs at LEAP Innovations, a national personalized learning organization based in Chicago that released the report.

    Principals called teachers the most important asset in implementing personalized learning, the report authors found. “Teachers remain the most critical resource in personalized learning models,” Carnahan said.

    The analysis — conducted by the education consulting firm Afton Partners — looked at six district and charter schools in Chicago’s Breakthrough Schools Initiative and found that although upfront costs were 7 percent of per-pupil funding, after five years they were 2 percent of the school’s budget. Startup costs ranged from $338,000 to $780,000 at each school.

    This finding is important to personalized learning supporters looking to scale programs at a time when many districts find their budgets perpetually on the chopping block, said Katie Morrison, director at Afton Partners.

    “What happens in the case of budget reductions?” she said. “[The analysis] confirms that [personalized learning] can be done with limited funds.”

    About half the startup costs were for “things” — technology software or new classroom furniture to create flexible learning spaces — and the other half were for “people” — professional development, stipends, and bonuses, Morrison said.

    Many teachers in these personalized learning schools worked as part of a team, instructing multi-age classrooms with small staff-to-student ratios in project-based learning environments. Technology allowed teachers to create profiles for students with individualized learning pathways.

    But Carnahan and Morrison agreed that schools need to do a better job of financially supporting the teachers in these roles. Stipends — rather than increased salaries — for new teacher leadership responsibilities aren’t a sustainable model, Morrison said, and schools need flexibility to restructure how teachers are paid as their roles expand.

    The authors recommended that schools pilot programs with flexible pay models for teachers and analyze which technology is the most sustainable and effective.


    Disclosure: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides funding to The 74 and the Breakthrough Schools Chicago Initiative.

Load More