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Noteworthy headlines from the education wire
  • Monthly QuotED: Of School Safety, Parental Choice, and Teachers Running for Office — 5 Notable Quotes That Made Education Headlines in July

    By Andrew Brownstein | July 30, 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.

    “I believe that parent choice is widespread in America — unless you are poor.” —Howard Fuller, school choice advocate and distinguished professor of education at Marquette University. (Read at The74Million.org)

    Howard Fuller (Getty Images)

    “There’s a strong drive by the security industry to push their products under a target-hardening approach to school safety. But is this the best use of time, energy, and resources right now? My answer is ‘no.’ ” —Kenneth Trump, school safety consultant. (Read at Education Week)

    “Just because I’ve filed more than one complaint, that doesn’t make me a ‘frequent flyer.’ It makes me a repeat victim.” —Joy Orton, who has repeatedly filed civil rights complaints with the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of her daughter, who is blind. The department has recently cracked down on those who file repeat complaints. (Read at NPR)

    Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    “The anger and resentment that led to the strike, those feelings have been here for a long, long time. A lot of teachers had been dissatisfied with people who have no experience in education, no real vested interest in education, dictating laws and dictating policy.” —Cody Thompson, a high school social studies and civics teacher in Elkins, West Virginia, who filed to run for the state house this year. (Read at Education Week)

    Keri Rodrigues Lorenzo/Twitter

    “You can’t do this in a vacuum. If you don’t bring parents and families along with you, you’re building a sand castle by the sea.” —Parent activist Keri Rodrigues Lorenzo. (Read at The74Million.org)

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



  • As Chicago Prepares to Close Additional Schools, New Report Shows the Shuttering of 49 Campuses in 2013 Led to Lower Test Scores

    By Kevin Mahnken | July 30, 2018

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

    Mass school closures initiated by the Chicago Board of Education in 2013 led to declines in student math performance, according to research published last month. Now, following the expiration of a five-year moratorium on further closures, the district is preparing to shut down several high schools — and locals wonder whether authorities have learned the lessons of one of the most tumultuous episodes in the city’s recent history.

    Overall, students from 49 shuttered elementary schools and one high school fell roughly two months behind in math compared with their counterparts in other schools, a setback that hasn’t been rectified in the years since. Students and staff struggled to find their footing in new situations, while the leaders of the receiving schools complained that they didn’t have the time or resources to manage an orderly consolidation process, the authors found.

    Published by the UChicago Consortium on School Research, the study offers perhaps the most comprehensive look yet at the effects of shutting down a school and relocating its population. Past evidence has been mixed, though researchers generally believe that students can make learning gains after being relocated to better schools.

    Related

    Research Shows Students Can Benefit When a School Closes — but Only If There Are Better Ones to Attend

    The hope of spurring kids to greater achievement was at least a secondary consideration in Chicago’s closure wave five years ago, which was triggered by budgetary concerns. During the 2012-13 academic year, hundreds of mostly elementary schools were identified as targets for closure, precipitating months of public hearings where parents and students made emotional pleas to keep their schools open.

    But the drawn-out process doesn’t seem to have worked to the district’s benefit, one of the study’s authors said.

    “For students, for teachers, and for parents, it was just kind of a chaotic year where there was a lot of uncertainty about whether or not [their schools] would be closed,” Lauren Sartain, senior research analyst at the UChicago Consortium, told The 74. “We think that having that process linger throughout the year probably contributed to negative test score effects.”

    Forty-seven schools were shuttered before the 2013-14 year, along with two more the year after, and roughly 8,000 students were placed into nearby “welcoming” schools. Notably, the overall quality of the welcoming schools seems to have been better: While 36 of the closed schools were previously in probationary status — the city accountability system’s lowest ranking — only 13 of the welcoming schools earned that designation. Conversely, 35 welcoming schools were considered to be in “good” or “excellent” standing; just 11 closed schools were in good standing, and none were considered excellent.

    But by the spring of 2013, even before shutdown plans were finalized, students in soon-to-be-closed schools had already fallen behind by 1.5 months in reading and two months in math. While reading scores eventually bounced back to where they ought to have been, given previous trends, math scores never did.

    UChicago Consortium on School Research

    What’s more, by waiting until May to vote on the plan, the school board left little time for school communities to prepare for a jarring exodus. For the report’s qualitative section, authors surveyed students and teachers from closed schools, who lamented the loss of their community and the feelings of dislocation that followed. Students struggled to make new friends in their first year, while faculty often said they were treated as outsiders.

    Staff and administrators at receiving schools, meanwhile, described a frenzied rush to integrate huge numbers of incoming kids and adults. In over a dozen cases, they themselves were required to move into buildings that had housed shuttered programs, which claimed precious days and weeks. Teaching materials were sometimes lost in the migration.

    Welcoming school leaders said they were grateful for the additional resources provided by the district to ease the transition, including funds for welcoming events and extra support personnel, but also said that their carefully mapped plans to combine schools ultimately bore little resemblance to what actually unfolded in classrooms and on playgrounds. As one principal told the researchers, “You can write all the plans you want, but when you get in there, you’re not sure what’s gonna happen.”

    “I think it’s fair to say these schools, and the district, need more time to think about how to make this transition,” Sartain said. “What’s challenging, especially in closures of this scale, is that you’re really merging two different school cultures, you’re merging two different groups of students, and you’re also merging two different groups of teachers together. So how do you not end up in a building where you have this ‘us-versus-them’ mentality?”

    The study was released during an eventful period in the history of Chicago Public Schools. In an analysis published last year, Stanford education professor Sean Reardon found that the district is improving at the fastest rate in the country, imparting six years of learning to its students in just five years of school. At around the same time, CPS alumna Janice Jackson rose to become the system’s latest CEO.

    Related

    Cunningham: What’s Driving Chicago’s School Turnaround Success? Lessons From 30 Years of Ed Reform

    The biggest challenge facing Jackson will be Chicago’s dwindling student population, which has dropped by roughly 70,000 over the past 15 years. To address that decline, the district announced the slow-motion closure of four under-enrolled high schools on the city’s South Side. Though the move has sparked renewed protests, UChicago’s Sartain says that Jackson seems to have internalized the lessons of 2013. Rather than shutting the schools down this month, the plan is that current students will remain enrolled through 2021, when this year’s freshmen graduate.

    “The reality of Chicago is that we have parts of the city, certain neighborhoods, that have depopulated,” Sartain said. “When you think about high schools that have an incoming ninth-grade class of 30 students … I think the reality is that Chicago is going to have to close more schools.”

    Related

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  • EduClips: CA’s High School Grad Rate Drops with New Methodology; IL Embraces the SAT — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | July 30, 2018

    Updated

    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

    CIVIL RIGHTS — As an elementary school student, Ken Marcus once wandered down a street just outside his predominantly Jewish hometown of Sharon, Massachusetts, when a group of children spotted him.

    “They started throwing rocks and yelled for me to go back to my ‘Jew town,’” he recalled in an interview this week.

    The episode, Marcus said, shaped his view on the need for greater civil rights protections — and particularly for a more vigorous battle against anti-Semitism in the U.S.

    In Marcus, the Trump administration has chosen an outspoken activist against faith-based discrimination, in line with its agenda to elevate religious freedom as a civil rights concern. Critics say his focus is too narrow and elevates the rights of students who haven’t traditionally faced the most ostracism in schools. (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    National News

    SPORTS — Competitive Kids Are Specializing in One Sport at Early Ages, Raising Injury Risks (Read at Education Week)

    HIGHER EDUCATION — DeVos to Announce New Push for Deregulation, Innovation (Read at Inside Higher Ed)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — California high school grad rate drops with new methodology (Read at EdSource)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois has embraced the SAT, and the ACT is mad about it (Read at Chalkbeat)

    TEXAS — Study: Texas students don’t gain much by taking college courses in high school (Read at the Houston Chronicle)

    FLORIDA — And Then There Was One: 3 Things to Know About Florida’s Stalled Education Plan — and Why the State Could Be Risking $1 Billion in Federal Funds (Read at The74Million.org)

    CALIFORNIA — LeBron James Family Foundation’s I Promise school opens Monday with hopes of changing public education (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    NEW YORK — How the city is failing my special-education students (Read at the New York Post)

    FLORIDA — Clashes emerge on education amendment — two decades later (Read at Florida Politics)

    HAWAII — Big Island Charter School Buried in Lava Finds New Home (Read at Hawaii Public Radio)

    NEVADA — Clark County schools get à la carte budget docs in autonomy test run (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    GEORGIA — Gwinnett continues to outpace state in Milestones tests (Read at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    Think Pieces

    COMMON CORE — The mysteries of the classroom: What works, what doesn’t and why (Read at The Washington Post)

    STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES — Study: Washington State Charters Enroll Higher Percentages of Special Needs Students Than Traditional Schools (Read at The74Million.org)

    ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE — How artificial intelligence could help teachers do a better job (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    HAPPINESS — To Focus on Students’ Emotional Well-Being, India Tries ‘Happiness Classes’ (Read at NPR)

    DENVER — Elevating Expectations in the Mile High City: How Tom Boasberg Reshaped Denver’s Schools (Read at The74Million.org)

    Quote of the Day

    “I know these kids basically more than they know themselves. I walked the same streets. I rode the same bikes on the streets that they ride on. I went through the same emotions. The good, the bad, the adversity. Everything these kids are going through, the drugs, the violence, the guns, everything they’re going through as kids, I know.” —Basketball star LeBron James, in opening the I Promise School, a public non-charter elementary school, in Akron, Ohio. James’s foundation was the school’s top donor. (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

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  • Study: Washington State Charters Enroll Higher Percentages of Special Needs Students Than Traditional Schools

    By Kevin Mahnken | July 29, 2018

    Updated July 30

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

    Washington State’s nascent charter school sector enrolls a higher percentage of children with disabilities than the state’s traditional public schools, new research finds. Charter students with special needs are also more likely to spend their days in inclusive environments than their peers in district public schools.

    The research brief was released by the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a Washington State–based research and policy center. The authors examined enrollment trends at the state’s 10 charter schools, all of which have opened since 2015.

    Notably, Washington reimburses schools for the cost of special education only up to 13.5 percent of total student enrollment. A public school can identify and educate special needs students past 13.5 percent of its enrollment, but it must use local or federal revenues to pay for their services. The reimbursement cap arose from the state Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in the long-running McCleary case, which ruled that the state had violated its own constitution by shortchanging public schools.

    The CRPE brief finds that Washington’s tiny charter sector, which accounts for fewer than 2,400 students, enrolled 16.1 percent special needs students as of May 2018, compared with the 10.6 percent average for charters across the country. Washington’s statewide average for all public schools is 12.4 percent, beneath the statutory 13.5 percent cap.

    Among Washington’s individual charters, eight out of 10 enroll a higher percentage of special needs students than the state average, including two that enroll over 20 percent students with disabilities. Eight out of 10 charters also exceed their local district average.

    Charters do seem to educate children with a narrower range of disabilities than students in traditional schools. The vast majority of special needs students in charter schools are afflicted with health impairments or specific learning disabilities, while fewer suffer from multiple disabilities, developmental delays, or intellectual disabilities.

    The comparatively smaller percentages of students with developmental or communication problems is a possible consequence of age, the authors note; most children facing these challenges are identified in the elementary grades, but only three of 10 Washington charter schools serve elementary students.

    Special needs students enrolled in Washington charter schools are also much more likely to spend large chunks of their day in inclusive settings among students without disabilities. The authors find that 86 percent of Washington charter students with disabilities spend between 80 and 100 percent of their day in such settings, compared with a statewide average of just 56 percent.

    Historically, charters have lagged behind traditional public schools in serving special needs populations, though there is reason to think the gap between the two sectors is shrinking. In a series of case studies conducted by the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, researchers have found charter schools in New York and California that successfully include students with special needs in mainstream classrooms.

    The sector’s particular success in attracting and integrating students with disabilities could offer some welcome publicity — especially given the blizzard of legal snags that have arisen since Washingtonians voted to allow charter schools in 2012.

    Just as the first charters were set to open in September 2015, their funding mechanism was ruled unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court. The legislature acted to change their financing, which has allowed the sector to take root over the past few years. But additional lawsuits have developed during that time — including one that came before the court this spring — that may still imperil their growth.



  • EduClips: Embattled Administrator Sues Clark County Schools; After NYC Middle School Integration Battle, Parents Turn Attention to Harlem — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | July 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

    CONGRESS —A blue wave of support for Democrats is coming, many election handicappers say, one that could have a big impact on federal education policy.

    If party control of the U.S. House changes, and Democrats take the reins on the Education and the Workforce Committee, the panel could switch from one that has largely adopted a hands-off approach to federal education policy, particularly K-12, to one with an intense focus on civil rights, equity, and oversight of the Education Department and its controversial secretary, Betsy DeVos.

    Predictions on how many seats Democrats will pick up — and if they will be enough to retake the majority — seem to shift daily, as the whiplash news cycle changes public perceptions of President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans. And that’s even before accounting for the dynamics of individual races and the House candidates themselves.

    As of July 24, Real Clear Politics predicted the Democrats would win 199 seats, including those they judge as “likely” and “lean” Democratic, while Republicans would win 202 seats. Another 34 are rated as toss-ups, 32 of which are currently held by Republicans. (Read at The74Million.org)

    National News

    CIVIL RIGHTS — Students Seeking Equal Access to Education May Find Federal Help Harder to Come By (Read at NPR)

    DEVOS — Betsy DeVos to Conservative High Schoolers: Are You ‘Bored’ in School? (Read at Politics K-12)

    MILITARY FAMILIES — At the Military Child Education Coalition Conference, a Clearer View of How School Choice Is Expanding for Military Families — and the Unique Hurdles That Remain (Read at The74Million.org)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — After a battle to integrate middle schools, parents turn their attention to Harlem (Read at Chalkbeat)

    NEVADA — Embattled administrator sues Clark County School District, officials (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    CALIFORNIA — Judge allows suit accusing California of providing inadequate education to kids (Read at the San Francisco Chronicle)

    FLORIDA — At Elite Miami Private School, Black Students Challenge Culture of Racist Bullying (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    ILLINOIS — Possible key to black boys’ academic success: Hire black men as elementary school teachers (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    NEW YORK — Why teachers spend so much of their own money on students (Read at the New York Post)

    CALIFORNIA — Education is a critical area for Latino voters to exert influence as immigration furor fuels newfound political activism, experts say (Read at LA School Report)

    TEXAS — Commentary: How Texas schools benefit from unbiased energy curriculum (Read at the Austin American-Statesman)

    Think Pieces

    BLACK TEACHERS — Black teachers leave schools at higher rates — but why? (Read at Chalkbeat)

    SCHOOL REFORM — Enough With Top-Down Education Reform. It’s Time for a Grass-Roots Approach (Read at Education Week)

    APPRENTICESHIPS — Lake & Gross: From Switzerland by Way of Colorado, a New Approach to Apprenticeships That Rethinks the Path From High School to College to Career (Read at The74Million.org)

    GENETICS — Why We Shouldn’t Embrace the Genetics of Education (Read at Inside Higher Ed)

    STRESS — OPINION: Child victims of toxic stress face a long road to healing (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “Just because I’ve filed more than one complaint, that doesn’t make me a ‘frequent flyer.’ It makes me a repeat victim.” —Joy Orton, who has repeatedly filed civil rights complaints with the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of her daughter, who is blind. The department has recently cracked down on those who file repeat complaints. (Read at NPR)

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  • At the Military Child Education Coalition Conference, a Clearer View of How School Choice Is Expanding for Military Families — and the Unique Hurdles That Remain

    By Carolyn Phenicie | July 25, 2018

    Washington, D.C.

    Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Thomas Mazzone’s 17-year-old daughter has been in eight schools in the past seven years.

    Though some of those transitions are natural — from middle to high school, for instance — she has attended traditional district, charter, magnet, and online schools as her father has been transferred around the country, and those transitions weren’t always smooth, Mazzone said.

    There is an expanding menu of school choices available for military families during these transitions — charter schools, district school choice, vouchers, and other private school choice programs — but not all work well for this unique population, and military families don’t have enough information, Mazzone said.

    “We’re absolutely making progress on the amount of choices. I just like to think if we could streamline [information about the choices and what they mean] … I think that we gain a lot more,” he told attendees Wednesday at the Military Child Education Coalition’s conference in Washington.

    School Choice Initiatives and the Impact for Military-Connected Students — A Panel Discussion

    #MCECNTS2018 — This panel brings together education leaders for an informed discussion to explore the pluses, as well as the concerns surrounding school choice initiatives. Most importantly the experts will examine how the potential implementation of these school choice policies may affect opportunities for military children. Scott Pearson is the Executive Director of the DC Public Charter School Board (DCPCSB), and previously served in the Obama Administration as the Deputy of the Office of Innovation and Improvement for the U.S. Department of Education. Michael (Mike) Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, executive editor of Education Next, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Education Commission of the States. Chief Master Sergeant Thomas “Tommy” B. Mazzone is the Command Chief for Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), and Air Forces Strategic – Air, headquartered on Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. David Lapan (Moderator)David Lapan, Senior Director of Communications, Bipartisan Policy Center

    Posted by Military Child Education Coalition on Wednesday, July 25, 2018

     

    Not all school choices are well suited for the logistics of military life, panelists said.

    Even charter schools, which are abundant in Washington, D.C., for example, may not be a good option if their lotteries close before military families know their assignments, said Scott Pearson, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board.

    Elsewhere, charters are being specifically designed for military students.

    Pearson, who worked in the federal Education Department during the Obama administration, said military families assigned to bases that don’t have Defense Department–run schools and where local schools are of poor quality are at a particular disadvantage.

    One such location was a key Navy training facility in north Chicago, where families were unwilling to relocate, Pearson said. The Education Department stepped in to help open a charter school nearby in 2012, he said.

    But in D.C., efforts have temporarily stalled to open a similar charter school near Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, which would be able to save half its seats for military children, because of a new D.C. law, he said.

    Another proposal that has received widespread attention in recent months is a bill that would provide education savings accounts to some military-connected children to pay for homeschool materials, private school tuition, or other expenses.

    Related

    Hard Battle Lines Drawn as Congress Considers Using $1.4B in Federal ‘Impact Aid’ to Expand School Choice for Military Families

    Rep. Jim Banks, the Indiana Republican who wrote the bill, proposed paying for it by tapping Impact Aid, a long-standing federal program that supports the education of federally connected children like Native Americans or those whose parents are in the military.

    But widespread criticism is likely to doom the bill. Critics, even those who support school choice, argue that using Impact Aid would reduce resources for military children, the same ones the bill purports to help.

    The proposal to provide the education savings accounts paid for with Impact Aid “has been a non-starter,” panelist Michael Petrilli said to a smattering of applause from the audience.

    “Even the current administration, which is obviously very much pro–school choice, came out against the idea of taking money out of Impact Aid. I think that was a ridiculous notion, to eat into Impact Aid for that program,” said Petrilli, president of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

    Related

    No Vote in the House for Proposal on Military Education Savings Accounts, Closing the Door on Last Likely Federal Choice Proposal This Congress

    Even if the specifics have yet to be worked out, it’s good people are thinking beyond “this traditional model of, ‘This is where you are, this is where you go to school, and deal with it,’ ” Mazzone said.

    Related

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  • EduClips: Cursive Makes a Comeback in Chicago Schools; Fight to Fill Vacated Board Seat in Los Angeles — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | July 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

    IMMIGRATION — Some school districts are preparing for more immigrant students than usual this fall due to the presence of children who were separated from their parents at the border and others who came alone and are settling in their areas.

    Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida, wrote Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in June about not being told that 1,000 children were being housed at a shelter in his area. It isn’t clear if the children were separated from parents or came unaccompanied, or both.

    “We could have an influx of kids entering our schools, that’s why the secrecy around this issue has been uncomfortable on so many levels,” Carvalho said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal.

    Carvalho said federal officials responded to his letter but by last week hadn’t set a date to discuss, as he requested. Carvalho, who came to the U.S. as an unaccompanied minor at 17, said he is worried about the emotional trauma the children are going through, having “walked their footsteps.” (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    National News

    CAREER-TECHNICAL EDUCATION — As House Prepares to Approve Federal CTE Law, Some Worry That Senate Provision Could Incentivize States to Lower Their Goals for Students (Read at The74Million.org)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Trump’s School Safety Commission Probes ‘Trauma-Informed’ Mental Health Supports (Read at Politics K-12)

    KIPP — New documents show what KIPP told Mike Feinberg leading up to his firing (Read at Chalkbeat)

    U.S. EDUCATION DEPARTMENT — Education Dept. Illegally Curbed Workers’ Union Protections, Mediators Suggest (Read at The New York Times)

    District and State News

    ILLINOIS — Cursive Writing Coming Back to CPS Elementary Schools (Read at Chicago Tonight)

    CALIFORNIA — A New Fight in Los Angeles to Fill a Vacated School Board Seat, After a Swing Vote Resigns Following Plea Deal (Read at The74Million.org)

    NEW YORK — As clock ticks down, Carranza and de Blasio decry inaction on school-zone cameras (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — Literacy Lawsuit in California Can Proceed, Court Rules (Read at Education Week)

    TEXAS — Teacher shortage areas continue to impact rural school districts (Read at News Channel 10)

    NEW YORK — Success Academy charter school CEO Eva Moskowitz begs Mayor de Blasio for classroom space (Read at the New York Daily News)

    ILLINOIS — Possible key to black boys’ academic success: Hire black men as elementary school teachers (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    FLORIDA — Florida TaxWatch presses for focus on school leadership, role of principals (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    TEXAS — Science, not oil and gas cheerleading, is needed in Texas classrooms. [Editorial] (Read at the Houston Chronicle)

    NEVADA — Bar lowered for students taking ACT in Nevada (Read at KTNV)

    Think Pieces

    INTEGRATION — The feds are discouraging districts from using race to integrate schools. A new study points to a potential downside (Read at Chalkbeat)

    DENVER — Mascareñaz: How Denver’s Schools Can Embrace Change While Building on the Best of Tom Boasberg’s Tenure (Read at The74Million.org)

    RESTORATIVE JUSTICE — Restorative justice is about more than just reducing suspensions (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE — How Is AI Used in Education — Real World Examples of Today and a Peek Into the Future (Read at Forbes)

    Quote of the Day

    “There isn’t any compelling research that says if you don’t teach kids cursive handwriting they’ll be doomed, they’ll never succeed. There’s nothing that points to that.” —Marie Donovan, an associate professor of early childhood teacher education at DePaul University’s College of Education, on a new Illinois law requiring cursive instruction in elementary school. (Read at Chicago Tonight)

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  • EduClips: Lawsuit: NYC’s Orthodox Jewish School Law Is Unconstitutional; LAUSD Board Member Pleads Guilty to Campaign Money Laundering — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | July 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

    BUSINESS SURVEY — Cities and towns looking to grow their economies are likely misdirecting their efforts if their priorities are not centered on education, a new national survey of business leaders suggests.

    In canvassing 234 local business leaders on the state of their public schools and how they could be improved, Business Forward found that a majority believe that American K-12 schools are “on the wrong track” — and 1 in 4 are concerned that poorly performing schools will negatively impact their businesses.

    “When considering relocating, good schools are a primary consideration for both companies and prospective employees,” P. Morgan of San Antonio, Texas, said in response to the survey. (Read at The74Million.org)*

    National News

    TESTING — Anti-Test Movement Slows to a Crawl (Read at Education Week)

    SCHOOL MERGERS — New Report: Most States Lack Power to Merge Struggling Districts With Wealthy Neighbors, Leaving Poor Districts Stranded (Read at The74Million.org)

    CAREER-TECHNICAL EDUCATION — Trump Priority Gathers Steam as Senate Passes Career-Technical Education Bill (Read at Politics K-12)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — A Law Tailored for Orthodox Jewish Schools Is Unconstitutional, Lawsuit Says (Read at The New York Times)

    CALIFORNIA — LAUSD Board Member Pleads Guilty in Campaign Money Laundering Conspiracy (Read at NBC Los Angeles)

    NEVADA — Clark County School District has no money to up support staff pay (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    ILLINOIS — New Law Allows Kids to Unlock Potential (Read at the Daily Herald)

    CALIFORNIA — Charter school network spreads ‘personalized learning’ model nationwide (Read at EdSource)

    TEXAS — Other Voices: Numbers show Texas school funding can improve soon (Read at the Longview News-Journal)

    FLORIDA — Community, students help collect thousands of books for children in need (Read at the Miami Herald)

    Think Pieces

    GENETICS — Many Genes Play a Role in Educational Attainment, Enormous Genetic Study Finds (Read at The New York Times)

    CIVICS — What does civics education look like in America? (Read at Brookings Institution)

    SCHOOL CHOICE — A Plea for a Fact-Based Debate About Charter Schools (Read at The New York Times)

    PARENTS — The ‘Over-Parenting Crisis’ in School and at Home (Read at NPR Ed)

    BUSINESS — In Their Own Words: 10 Business Leaders Explain Why They Are Calling for Major Changes at America’s Schools (Read at The74Million.org)

    STUDENT-PARENTS — OPINION: Many student-parents drop out because they don’t have enough time for their schoolwork, research shows (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “If you listen to the teachers, [they’ll say,] ‘I give up a day of teaching for these tests, and I don’t even get the info back in time to help my students. Most teachers said, ‘If I don’t have it within a week that doesn’t help me.’” —Patricia Levesque, the chief executive officer of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a think tank started by former Florida governor Jeb Bush, on problems with standardized testing. (Read at Education Week)

    * Disclosure: Walton Family Foundation provided support to Business Forward for this survey and provides support to The 74.

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  • New Report: Most States Lack Power to Merge Struggling Districts With Wealthy Neighbors, Leaving Poor Districts Stranded

    By Mark Keierleber | July 24, 2018

    For more than two decades, students at a small Pennsylvania school district loaded into school buses every morning for an eight-mile commute — to attend classes in another state. Midland’s school district fell into a financial decline after the local steel mill closed shop. With a withering tax base, the district’s entreaties to join forces with a better-off public school system right next door were rejected.

    With few other options to escape and needing to slash costs, the district shuttered its high school and shuffled its students across the state line to a district in Ohio.

    report released Tuesday on school district consolidations highlights the roadblocks Midland and other financially fraught districts across the country face when school leaders try to merge with more stable neighboring districts. Lawmakers in nine states have granted a state-level entity authority to mandate school district consolidations under dire circumstances, while mergers remain voluntary in most parts of the country. The report was done by EdBuild, a nonprofit think tank that focuses on public school funding equity.

    Related

    EdBuild: How a New Player in the Ed Reform Game Is Skipping the Usual Battle Lines to Focus on Funding

    In states where consolidation is voluntary, however, community members and school leaders in wealthier school systems have few incentives to help out their struggling neighbors.

    “By allowing our public education system to be separated into territories of haves and have-nots, we reproduce our wider social inequality in the schools that should be the opposite: The ladder that enables mobility, and greater equality for all,” according to the report. “Instead, we permit segregation to develop as the wealthy sort themselves into advantaged districts, leaving the needy behind.”

    Laws in nine states outline authority for state-mandated school district mergers when a system falls into financial distress.

    EdBuild puts the blame on the system employed in most U.S. states, which ties school funding revenue to local property taxes. Because district borders define both school assignments and property tax jurisdictions, wealthy systems benefit when they stay small. Local taxes account for nearly half of school funding nationally, and residents in more affluent communities benefit from district borders that exclude areas with lower property values and poorer residents. When well-off families buy into better-funded (and usually higher-achieving) districts, poverty is further concentrated.

    “That locally rooted funding system that leaves poorer communities without the resources to self-fund, that same locally rooted funding system means that nobody else has the incentive to open their doors,” said Zahava Stadler, EdBuild’s policy director.

    The EdBuild report traces the issue back to the 1940s, when Texas officials encouraged district mergers but the Edgewood Independent School District in San Antonio was repeatedly shut out, leaving students stranded in underfunded schools. The district sued, arguing that the state’s system of funding schools in part through local property taxes deprived low-income children of an education. The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court; justices found in 1973 that the Constitution does not give the federal government authority to enforce state school-funding systems.

    But constitutions in every state guarantee children a free public education. When state officials fail to step in and help cash-strapped districts, EdBuild researchers argue, they fail to uphold their state constitutional obligations to low-income children.

    “One thing that they could do is to ensure that when a district becomes unsustainable within the borders that it has, that there’s a way to change those borders to give those students access to the resources that they need,” Stadler said.

    Midland schools’ financial woes, which were highlighted in the EdBuild report, began in the 1980s when the steel mill, the town’s largest employer, shut down. As property values plummeted and residents fled, school leaders approached more than a dozen neighboring districts with hopes to merge. With no takers, the Midland district closed its high school in 1985 and, since then, has relied on patchwork tuition agreements to send students to nearby districts, including, until 2015, the one in Ohio. Today, Midland students attend charter schools or high schools in the neighboring Beaver Area School District.

    Pennsylvania has long faced criticism over its funding system, and the commonwealth currently is defending itself against a lawsuit arguing that lawmakers failed to provide a “thorough and efficient” education system guaranteed by the constitution. Legislators updated the funding formula in 2016, but its effects are limited. EdBuild found 18 Pennsylvania districts that have sought to merge with neighboring systems since 2000, but only one succeeded, making it the commonwealth’s only merger since the 1960s.

    “School funding is especially local in Pennsylvania, just because there’s a history of the state not doing as aggressive a job of compensating for those differences in local tax bases that we see in some other states,” Stadler said. “Pennsylvania has done quite a poor job of ensuring all its kids have access to an equally well-funded education.”

    Related

    Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules School Funding Inequity Lawsuit Must Go to Trial

    In the nine states that give lawmakers the option to initiate district mergers, authority differs. In North Carolina, for example, state education officials can merge districts for any reason, while officials in Oklahoma can only force district mergers when a system is struggling academically or ends up not operating any schools.

    In 25 states, including New York and Texas, lawmakers can encourage district mergers through financial incentives, but EdBuild found that that’s rarely successful since the monetary enticements expire and often fail to offset the revenue losses brought by merging. Well-off districts, therefore, opt to keep to themselves.

    In 25 states, financial assistance is awarded to districts who choose to merge. Incentives vary across states, and EdBuild argues they’re rarely successful since they have expiration dates.

    Through the report, EdBuild aims to highlight strategies states can take to make schools more equitable between districts, Stadler said. Legislators could adopt laws that mandate consolidations when necessary, or they could take a more sweeping approach and distribute education funds centrally rather than relying on local property taxes.

    The report is the group’s third in a series scrutinizing school district borders. The first report highlighted America’s most socioeconomically segregated school district borders, and the second delved into state laws that allow affluent communities to secede from school districts to create their own, wealthier systems.

    The second report focused heavily on the community of Gardendale, Alabama, where the court found that now-defeated secession efforts were motivated by race.

    Related

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

    School secessions and district consolidations, Stadler said, are “two sides of the same coin.” Alabama, for example, has a permissive secession policy but lacks authority to merge a school system should it fall into financial distress.

    “If a town like Gardendale pulls away using the state’s very permissive laws and then the state begins to see deleterious effects on kids, it can’t do anything to put those districts back together,” Stadler said. “So once the districts break apart, there’s nothing the state can do to remedy the situation.”

    Disclosure: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation provide financial support to EdBuild and The 74.

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  • EduClips: School Funding as Key Midterm Issue, Nevada Lowers Bar for HS Juniors Taking ACT, California Pensions, and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Steve Snyder | July 23, 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

    EDUCATION POLITICS — How — or whether — to pour more money into public school coffers has emerged as one of the most divisive issues for states in this year’s midterm elections. In at least nine states, voters this fall will consider ambitious ballot measures that seek to increase, or in some cases curtail, how much legislatures distribute to schools. Similarly, those running for governor in states including Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have sparred over the dynamics of their states’ public school spending habits and over plans to upend how their states fund schools. (Read at Education Week)

     

    National News

    HISTORY — After Outcry, College Board Restores 250 Years to Proposed AP History Course (Read at Education Week)

    DIVERSITY — Girls-only trade classes are spreading — and upending stereotypes (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    EARLY EDUCATION — Big move for Big Bird: Sesame Street is entering classrooms (Read at Education Week)

    CONGRESS — This Week in Education Politics: Congress Moves Forward on Trump Administration ‘Workforce Education’ Priorities, School Choice for Military Families & More (Read at The74Million.org)

     

    District and State News

    NEVADA — Nevada sets bar lower for 11th-graders taking ACT (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    NEW YORK — Officials promised to update a Giuliani-era agreement between the NYPD and city schools almost a year ago. So where is it? (Read at Chalkbeat)

    TEXAS — Schools Eye Facial Recognition Technology to Boost Security (Read at CBS DFW)

    CALIFORNIA — How California’s public schools are grappling with growing pension costs (Read at The Mercury News)

    ILLINOIS — Rockford schools pays more than $1 million in penalties for inappropriate spending (Read at WQAD)

     

    Think Pieces

    EDUCATION REFORM — A Plea for a Fact-Based Debate About Charter Schools (Read at The New York Times)

    THE WEALTH GAP — White College Graduates Are Doing Great With Their Parents’ Money (Read at The Atlantic)

    SCHOOL SCHEDULES — Why a Longer School Day Could Make Learning More Compelling for Kids — and Life Less Stressful for Parents (Read at The74Million.org)



  • This Week in Education Politics: Congress Moves Forward on Trump Administration ‘Workforce Education’ Priorities, School Choice for Military Families & More

    By Carolyn Phenicie | July 21, 2018

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

    INBOX: WORKFORCE EDUCATION IN FOCUS — Following the Trump administration’s launch last week of the “National Council for the American Worker,” congressional committees in both chambers will highlight workforce education and training issues.

    On Tuesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee hosts an “innovation forum and showcase” that will allow 24 invited companies from committee members’ districts to highlight “how they are addressing the nation’s education and workforce development challenges,” according to the committee. Five panels of company representatives will speak and answer questions from the House members, and they’ll also have a showcase in one of the House office buildings to share their work.

    On Thursday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on modernizing apprenticeship programs.

    And following the committee’s approval in late June of its reauthorization of the federal law, the Senate is likely to pass its Perkins bill by the end of the month, Education Week reported, citing a Senate aide.

    Though the bill will have to be reconciled with a House version that passed early last year, a CTE reauthorization represents the best chance for a substantial K-12 education law change before the current session of Congress finishes at the end of the year.

    President Trump, meanwhile, last week signed an executive order creating the National Council for the American Worker. It will develop a strategy to train American employees for high-demand jobs.

    Part of the council’s job will be to develop a national campaign to raise awareness of several issues, including the importance of STEM education. It will also help expand apprenticeships, and it called on companies to sign a pledge to create more work-based education opportunities. The executive order came with no additional funding.

    “This Administration understands that a dynamic and changing economy requires dynamic and changing approaches to education and workforce development,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a press release after the signing. “The partnerships announced today involve those who are best-positioned to identify ideas and drive solutions.”

    Business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also praised the move.

    Education and the Workforce Committee Democrats, meanwhile, dismissed the executive order in a tweet as “just a publicity stunt” that “provides no new investments or tangible support to prepare workers for high-quality, in-demand jobs.”

    MONDAY: ECONOMIC MOBILITY — The American Enterprise Institute hosts the World Bank authors of a report on global economic mobility — that is, whether young people exceed their parents’ standard of living or educational attainment. The report, “Fair Progress? Economic Mobility Across the Generations,” found, for example, that girls are outperforming boys in higher education attainment and economic mobility in advanced countries, and that the trend is “in the similar direction in the developing world.”

    TUESDAY: AMATEUR ATHLETE SAFETY — A Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee holds a hearing on changes made by the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and Michigan State University to better protect amateur and Olympic athletes from abuse.

    Larry Nassar, a former doctor at Michigan State who worked with the USA gymnastics team, was accused of assaulting hundreds of young women under the guise of medical treatment; he has been convicted of multiple counts of child pornography and sexual assault of minors. The Education Department in February launched a Title IX investigation of Michigan State’s handling of the incidents.

    TUESDAY: FOSTER CARE — A House Ways and Means subcommittee looks at implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act. The legislation, passed as part of a budget deal this spring, permits federal reimbursement for in-home parenting skills training, mental health care, and substance abuse treatment, with the goal of putting fewer children in foster care. The number of children in foster care rose 10 percent between 2012 and 2016, and in many places, that correlated with the opioid crisis, according to a federal report.

    WEDNESDAY: MILITARY CHILDREN — The Military Child Education Coalition holds its national training seminar in downtown Washington, including a session Wednesday on school choice and military-connected children.

    A bill proposed earlier this year to provide education savings accounts to some children whose parents are in the military has not been considered, either as a stand-alone measure or as part of a must-pass annual defense bill.

    THURSDAY: CHARTER STIGMA? — The conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, noting increasingly narrowed political support for charter schools in recent months, pledges to “flog a panel of experts to examine what America’s rising polarization and populism mean for charter schools.” Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Charles Barone, director of policy for Democrats for Education Reform; and Carlos Marquez, senior vice president for government affairs at the California Charter Schools Association, participate.

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  • EduClips: In San Francisco School Elections, Non-Citizens Legally Register to Vote; Court Decision Paves Way for Puerto Rico School Closures — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | July 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

    TEACHERS UNIONS —Rachael McRae, a fifth-grade teacher in central Illinois, was sitting on the couch the other day with her 4-month-old when she saw the email.

    “He was having a fussy day,” she says, “so I was bouncing him in one arm, and started going through my emails on my phone, just to feel like I was getting something done.” In her spam folder, she found an email from an organization called My Pay, My Say, urging her to drop her union membership.

    Last month, the Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME deal a major blow to public-sector unions. The court ruled that these unions cannot collect money, known as agency fees, from nonmembers who are covered by collective bargaining agreements.

    Organizations on both sides across the country sprung into action. (Read at NPR)

    National News

    SCHOOL SECURITY — Facial-Recognition Systems Pitched as School-Safety Solutions, Raising Alarms (Read at Education Week)

    WISCONSIN — Scott Walker Crushed Wisconsin’s Teachers Union. Can He Win a Third Term Against Its Superintendent of Schools? (Read at The74Million.org)

    DEBATE — Black Students From Atlanta Make History at Harvard Debate Competition (Read at HuffPost)

    TARGET — Target’s latest sale is aimed at underpaid teachers who buy their own classroom supplies (Read at The Washington Post)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — Non-citizens legally register to vote in San Francisco school elections (Read at the Sacramento Bee)

    PUERTO RICO — Court Decision Paves Way for Puerto Rico School Closures (Read at Education Week)

    LLINOIS — How Illinois obscures racial disparities in school discipline data (Read at The Chicago Reporter)

    FLORIDA — Miami-Dade teachers could get as much as a 20 percent raise — but it’s up to voters (Read at the Miami Herald)

    ILLINOIS — Amid Cuts to School Board Program, Norridge-Area Taxpayers Fund 59 District Employees Making Over $100K (Read at Illinois Policy)

    TEXAS — Texas senators agree on the need for school mental health services, but can they fund it? (Read at The Texas Tribune)

    FLORIDA — Florida Board of Education adopts rules on scholarships for bullied students (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    NEW YORK — Does Admissions Exam for Elite High Schools Measure Up? No One Knows (Read at The New York Times)

    NEVADA — CCSD Trustee Kevin Child accused of creating new stir (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    TEXAS — Charter schools continue to grow in Texas, and districts shouldn’t treat them as enemies (Read at Dallas News)

    CALIFORNIA — Far from home and alone: Unaccompanied immigrant youth find refuge in Oakland Unified (Read at EdSource)

    NEVADA — CCSD support staff bemoan health insurance cost hike (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Think Pieces

    COMMON CORE — New Study of Common Core Reading Standards Finds Teachers Aren’t Giving Students Appropriately Challenging Texts (Read at The74Million.org)

    EXAMS — Evidence on New York City and Boston exam schools (Read at Brookings Institution)

    LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Schools Hammered by Two Different Reports That Say District Is Moving Too Slowly in Helping Neediest Students (Read at The74Million.org)

    SUMMER LEARNING — OPINION: Teachers at work in summer learning programs report these 5 benefits (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “There’s a strong drive by the security industry to push their products under a target-hardening approach to school safety. But is this the best use of time, energy, and resources right now? My answer is ‘no.’ ” —Kenneth Trump, school safety consultant. (Read at Education Week)

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  • EduClips: Denver’s Boasberg Steps Down After Nearly 10 Years as Schools Chief; Florida Remains Only State Without Fed-Approved ESSA Plan — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | July 18, 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

    EDUCATION FUNDING —The share of federal spending that goes to programs and other benefits for children, including education funding, is expected to decline by more than 25 percent over the next decade, according to a new report published Wednesday by the Urban Institute.

    “Kids’ Share” projects that Washington’s budget for health, nutrition, tax provisions, and education spending on children will drop from 9.4 percent of the fiscal 2017 budget to 6.9 percent after 10 years, a decline of 27 percent from 2017 levels. The Urban Institute expects spending on elementary and secondary education to dip to $37 billion from $42 billion, and for early-childhood education to drop to $14 billion from $15 billion, after adjusting for inflation. However, the organization also predicts that spending on children’s health and income security is expected to rise somewhat in the coming years.

    And the report says the recent decline in discretionary spending on education can be pinned at least in part on the Budget Control Act of 2011, which brought sequestration and new caps on federal spending. From 2008 to 2017, federal education spending dipped by 9 percent, the Urban Institute says. (Read at Politics K-12)

    National News

    DENVER — Denver superintendent Tom Boasberg is stepping down after nearly 10 years (Read at Chalkbeat)

    PRE-K — As Universal Pre-K Struggles to Secure a Nationwide Platform, It Finds Hope in Cities Like Chicago (Read at The74Million.org)

    ELECTION — With Successful Strikes Behind Them, Teachers Are Now Running for Office (Read at Education Week)

    ONLINE USE — Is your teen online a lot? Study finds mild link between ADHD and digital media use (Read at USA Today)

    SUMMER SLIDE — Summer Learning Gaps Worsen in Higher Grades, Just Not the Way You Think (Read at Education Week)

    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION — Senate Confirms Reform Advocate Jim Blew in Narrow Vote, Rounding Out Ed Dept’s K-12 Team (Read at The74Million.org)

    DRINKING WATER — Fewer Than Half of Schools Report Testing Drinking Water for Lead (Read at Education Week)

    District and State News

    FLORIDA — Florida stands alone as sole state without federally approved accountability plan (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    NEW YORK — City should offer sex ed to elementary students, Mayor de Blasio’s task force says (Read at the New York Daily News)

    ILLINOIS — Lawmakers found more money for schools this year, but what about down the road? (Read at the Chicago Sun Times)

    NEVADA — Where CCSD’s extra money went (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    CALIFORNIA — Auditors call for criminal investigation of Montebello school system (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    NEW YORK — To integrate specialized high schools, are gifted programs part of the problem or the solution? (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — Oakland charter school approved amid concerns over fiscal impact on district (Read at EdSource)

    TEXAS — Texas teachers’ health care explained: State program was created to save districts money, but a few want out (Read at the Texas Tribune)

    Think Pieces

    NEW ORLEANS — In the Aftermath of Katrina-Inspired School Reforms, Report Shows New Orleans Students Are Now More Likely to Attend — and Graduate From — College (Read at The74Million.org)

    IMMIGRANTS — A free sandwich can make the difference for some migrant worker children in college (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    ‘EDUCATION DESERTS’ — Who Lives in Education Deserts? (Read at The Chronicle of Higher Education)

    CHILDREN — Empowering Kids in An Anxious World (Read at NPR)

    RELIGION — Public Schooling Must Discriminate Against Religion; American Education Must Not (Read at Forbes)

    Quote of the Day

    “The anger and resentment that led to the strike, those feelings have been here for a long, long time. A lot of teachers had been dissatisfied with people who have no experience in education, no real vested interest in education, dictating laws and dictating policy.” —Cody Thompson, a high school social studies and civics teacher in Elkins, West Virginia, who filed to run for the state house this year. (Read at Education Week)

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  • In the Aftermath of Katrina-Inspired School Reforms, Report Shows New Orleans Students Are Now More Likely to Attend — and Graduate From — College

    By Kevin Mahnken | July 17, 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.

    Sweeping education reforms introduced in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina have dramatically lifted students’ chances of finishing high school and entering college, according to a new policy brief released this week by the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans. Even more striking, the new policies appear to have narrowed large gaps in educational attainment between advantaged and disadvantaged students.

    The report was authored by Doug Harris, ERA’s director, and Matthew Larsen, an economics professor at Lafayette College. The alliance was formed by Tulane University to study the changes instituted after the hurricane, which wiped away most of New Orleans’s existing education governance structure. Prior studies have indicated that those changes — turning over nearly all of the city’s schools to charter operators and allowing families near-total freedom to choose where to enroll their children — brought major improvements in K-12 academic achievement.

    The latest publication goes even further. While rising test scores offered strong evidence in the reforms’ favor, later-life outcomes are seen as better indicators of their effectiveness. The researchers find that the changes boosted the rate of immediate college entry for New Orleans students by 15 percentage points. College persistence (the rate at which students remain in college for two or more years) grew by seven points, while college graduation shot up five points.

    In an interview with The 74, Harris said that the post-secondary results were the most noteworthy in the report.

    “If you look at the national charter debate, part of the concern is that, even if charter schools are able to get students to college, they may be dropping out at higher rates and being saddled with debt. This is our attempt to get at that in the New Orleans case, and results still look positive for all those outcomes.”

    Education Research Alliance for New Orleans

    One shortcoming of previous New Orleans analyses has been that not enough time had passed to truly know if more students were passing through high school and on to college — and, if they were, how many were then earning a degree. Now that nearly 13 years have passed since Katrina made landfall, kids who were enrolled in pre-K before the storm are preparing to apply to college.

    It can also be difficult to point to a starting line for the reforms. Though many of them, including the statewide takeover of the school district, took place immediately post-Katrina, it still took years for students to return to the city after having been evacuated — and for charter operators to open new schools and welcome them back.

    “The first four or five years, it was still just getting the system in place, getting toward something that resembles where it is now,” Harris said. “2012 is probably the most realistic date to say, ‘At this point, it was similar to where we are now.’ That’s why looking at those last few years is the focus of the report. That’s really when we start to have faith in what the reforms were able to accomplish.”

    According to Harris, two items of the study stand out.

    One is the sheer range of outcomes across which he and Larsen detected progress. In cases where standardized test scores suddenly shoot up, improvement may come at the expense of the high school graduation rate, since more rigorous standards and pedagogy drive the weakest students to drop out. Meanwhile, when high school graduation rates tick upward — as is the national trend — college entry can head in the other direction, since the marginal students who would have otherwise dropped out often don’t go to college.

    But in New Orleans, a plethora of indicators have shown promising movement. Pupils are scoring higher on standardized tests. They are picking up diplomas at higher rates and entering college immediately. Those who enroll in college stay longer, and an encouraging number are finishing with a degree.

    Perhaps even more promising, black and low-income students have seen greater improvements than white and more affluent students in both high school graduation and college entry. That means that the achievement gaps separating the city’s most advantaged students from its most disadvantaged ones have meaningfully shrunk.

    “Partly it’s surprising because it’s yet another example of how we see it having positive effects on so many different measures,” said Harris. “It’s not even just that average test scores went up, and average high school graduation and average college entry went up, but gaps also closed at the same time. You just don’t see that in other policies and programs and cities.”

    Related

    With Reunification, New Orleans Becomes the First District in the Country to Oversee a Citywide System of Public Charter Schools. Will It Work?

    One potentially complicating factor: For the first time in over a decade, those positive effects are now in the hands of the city’s elected school board. While the era of foundational school reform in New Orleans has proved to be broadly popular with residents, some worry that inevitable disputes over authority and jurisdiction could endanger academic gains that have taken years to develop.

    Harris says he believes that the signs of forward momentum are something that “the school district, the school board, the superintendent should pay attention to as they’re thinking about what’s next.”

    “If we’d seen something very different — if we’d seen a steep drop compared to 2012, or if we never saw any positive outcomes for college-going — it probably would have called for more fundamental reconsideration of what’s happening here,” he said. “But since the results are more positive, I probably wouldn’t want to make dramatic changes. Certainly there’s room for improvement, but the positive results suggest we’re on the right track.”

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  • EduClips: New Era of School Security Strains Miami-Dade’s School Budget; Amid School Sex Abuse Scandal, Chicago Hires 250 Social Workers, Case Managers — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | July 17, 2018

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

    Top Story

    SCHOOL SAFETY —The number of Americans who fear for their child’s safety in school has nearly tripled over the past five years, according to a new survey.

    Still, the majority of Americans believe their kids are safe at school. The poll found that 34 percent of parents said they feared for their child’s physical safety, while 65 percent said they did not. In 2013, only 12 percent said they were afraid.

    The findings were published by PDK International Poll, which conducts an annual survey of attitudes toward education. (Read at The74Million.org)

    National News

    CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION — Career and Technical Education Bill Expected to Clear Senate by Month’s End (Read at Politics K-12)

    PARENTS — #NotHereToBakeCookies: To Get Her Kids the Schools They Deserve, Advocate & ‘Mom-in-Chief’ Keri Rodrigues Has Raised a Parent Army (Read at The74Million.org)

    ESSA — Does ESSA Require Teachers to Be Highly Qualified? (Read at Politics K-12)

    District and State News

    FLORIDA — A new era of school police and online surveillance strains Miami-Dade’s 2019 budget (Read at the Miami Herald)

    ILLINOIS — Citing ‘firmer’ budget and sex abuse scandal, CPS to hire 250 social workers, case managers (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    CALIFORNIA — Walters: The new players in California school war (Read at The Mercury News)

    NEW YORK — Regents use annual retreat to take stock of changes in testing, charter schools and more (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ILLINOIS — Terrorism Task Force Takes On School Safety (Read at NPR Illinois)

    GEORGIA — Suit: Gwinnett teacher sexually assaulted girls, but school ignored it (Read at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    FLORIDA — Hillsborough County has more ‘persistently low-performing’ schools than any other Florida district (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    TEXAS — UNT-Dallas, El Centro launch partnership for academy to help with Texas teacher shortage (Read at Dallas News)

    CALIFORNIA — As Gov. Brown urges work on new online college, community college faculty drop their opposition (Read at EdSource)

    NEW YORK — Meditation and Mindfulness: How a Harlem principal solves conflict in her community (Read at Chalkbeat)

    Think Pieces

    PRIVATE SCHOOLS — Study: As Catholic Options Dwindle, Middle Class Retreats From Private Schools (Read at The74Million.org)

    MENTORS — Mentors matter: Good teaching really can be passed down to student teachers, new research finds (Read at Chalkbeat)

    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION — Why Trump is trying to reduce the status of the Department of Education (Read at the Brookings Institution)

    SCHOOL THERAPISTS — What It’s Like to Be a School Therapist (Read at HuffPost)

    Quote of the Day

    “You can’t do this in a vacuum. If you don’t bring parents and families along with you, you’re building a sand castle by the sea.” —Parent activist Keri Rodrigues Lorenzo. (Read at The74Million.org)

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  • Study: As Catholic Options Dwindle, Middle Class Retreats From Private Schools

    By Kevin Mahnken | July 17, 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.

    The complexion of America’s private school sector has undergone massive changes over the past half-century, driven mostly by a decline in Catholic school enrollment, according to a major new report published in the journal Education Next. The authors find that middle-class families in particular have been leaning away from private schools for several decades.

    Written by renowned researchers Sean Reardon of Stanford and Richard Murnane of Harvard, the report uses census data, longitudinal studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, and family surveys to create a picture of trends in private elementary school enrollment since the 1960s.

    Overall, attendance in both religious and nonreligious private elementary schools has fallen from a peak of 15 percent of the total K-8 population in 1958 to just under 9 percent in 2015.

    That shrinkage has occurred at different rates among different student populations and regions of the country, but one phenomenon has stood out: A form of income segregation is influencing the demographics of the private sector. More affluent families, especially in the South, are increasingly sending their children to non-religious private schools, while their low- and middle-income peers are more likely to choose some form of parochial education.

    “The big decline is in the Catholic schools — and that’s a huge decline,” Murnane told The 74 in an interview. “In 1960, 9 out of 10 kids who were in a private elementary school were in a Catholic school. That’s now 4 in 10.”

    At the same time, he noted, the percentage of all private school elementary students enrolled in religious non-Catholic schools — whether an evangelical Protestant academy in Kansas or a Jewish day school in New York City — has skyrocketed from just 8 percent in 1965 to 45 percent in 2013. The proportion of kids attending non-religious private schools increased from 4 percent to 18 percent over the same period.

    What explains the decline in market share commanded by Catholic elementary schools? The departure of white families from urban centers, sometimes called “white flight,” is one factor. The traditional constituency for Catholic education was urban, middle- or working-class whites, often the children of Irish, Polish, Italian, and Lithuanian immigrants. As they decamped to the suburbs in huge numbers beginning in the 1960s, the number of parents willing to pay Catholic school tuition plummeted.

    That aggravated what Murnane deemed the biggest problem faced by Catholic schools and their supporters: vanishing funds for scholarships and operations. At the same time the schools were losing a large group of potential customers, they were also deprived of cheap labor by the sharp decrease in the number of priests, nuns, and religious orders.

    “It used to be that dioceses contributed significant amounts of money to support private schools in low-income parishes,” he said. “They don’t have that money anymore, in part because attendance is down and in part because settling these sexual abuse cases cost tens of millions of dollars in dioceses like Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. That money used to be available to support low-income parishes. Now it’s not.”

    “Basically, what the dioceses have had to say to local parishes is, ‘You’re on your own.’ ”

    That explains why the number of Catholic schools dropped by 37 percent between 1970 and 2010 — a loss felt predominantly in the areas of the country where Catholics have historically been most plentiful, the Northeast and Midwest. In those that remained open, the financial calculation has changed. Once a popular choice among the working class, Catholic schools have raised their inflation-adjusted annual tuition nearly 600 percent in those four decades, from $873 to $5,858.

    During a long period of stagnation for middle- and working-class wages, that was a recipe for polarization by income. The authors make frequent reference to the “90-50 gap” — the disparity in private school attendance between families at the 90th percentile of income and those at the 50th percentile.

    In terms of overall private school attendance, that gap stood at 5.5 percentage points in 1968, when roughly 12 percent of middle-income children and 18 percent of high-income children attended private schools. It grew to 9.3 percentage points by 2013; while both groups were less likely to send their children to private schools, the decline among middle-income children (to 7 percent) was much larger than that among high-income children (to 16 percent).

    Perhaps nowhere is the 90-50 gap more prevalent than in the small but growing sector of private non-religious schools, which have become an attractive option for upper-class families. The enrollment rate of affluent students at such schools tripled between 1969 and 2011, from 2 percent to 6 percent, and the 90-50 gap grew from just 1 percentage point to nearly 5 percentage points over the same period.

    Meanwhile, the country has seen a remarkable growth in the enrollment of students at religious non-Catholic schools, particularly in the South. That expansion took place during a fraught period of America’s slow-moving culture war, as the Supreme Court moved to ban prayer in public schools; the authors also note that court-mandated desegregation orders may have led middle- and upper-class families to flee the public school system in the same way that their Northern counterparts were moving from the cities to the suburbs.

    If the South’s more affluent families came to view private schools as an escape hatch from a school system that was increasingly racially mixed, it would explain why the 90-50 gap doubled there between 1968 to 2013, to an extraordinary 14 percentage points.

    Murnane said that the growth of non-Catholic religious schools should spark more research. While Catholic schools have been a part of America’s educational framework for over a century, and have worked hard to adapt to the era of educational accountability (about half of the nation’s 195 dioceses adopted the Common Core learning standards, for instance), the non-Catholic religious sector is newer and much more opaque.

    “Very little is known about the non-Catholic religious schools. Because Catholic schools were the dominant provider, they were included in a great many of the Department of Education longitudinal studies. There have been lots of books written about how effective Catholic schools are. But these other schools — much less is known about what they teach, what kids learn.”

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  • EduClips: How Will Trump’s Rollback of Affirmative Action Guidelines Affect K-12 Schools; Can Philly School Officials Be Trusted With Millions in State Funds to Clean Up Lead Paint? — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | July 16, 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

    AFFIRMATIVE ACTION — The Trump administration’s recent decision to roll back affirmative action guidelines sent a ripple through the nation’s colleges and universities, but it will also likely have a far-reaching impact on K-12 schools.

    Despite the rollback, schools are still permitted under federal law to use race broadly as one factor when drawing up voluntary integration plans. In a recent statement, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, whose agency joined the Justice Department in removing the Obama guidelines, said Supreme Court precedent, not direction from the executive branch, should dictate schools’ actions.

    But the administration’s decision to rescind the guidelines signals its legal philosophy, and may indicate going forward that it will investigate complaints or join lawsuits against schools that do use race in their desegregation plans. (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    National News

    SATs — On Twitter and Reddit, calls from students to #rescoreJuneSAT (Read at The Washington Post)

    STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES — Trump Team May Change Rules on Jobs for Students With Disabilities (Read at Education Week)

    CHARTERS — AP Analysis: Billionaires fuel powerful state charter groups (Read at Associated Press)

    KHAN ACADEMY — Khan Academy launches free early learning educational app for toddlers (Read at USA Today)

    MATH — Scared of Math? Here’s One Way to Fight the Fear (Read at NPR)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — Educators to Trump school safety commission: Don’t repeal Obama discipline guidelines (Read at EdSource)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Can Philadelphia school officials be trusted with millions in state money to clean up lead paint? (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    NEW YORK — NYC’s private school headmasters rake in huge salaries (Read at the New York Post)

    ILLINOIS — Ralph Martire | School-funding formula change is proof of meaningful reform (Read at The News-Gazette)

    TEXAS — Editorial: Education done right is better than just doing it cheaply (Read at the Longview News-Journal)

    CALIFORNIA — How the Los Angeles School Board Teamed Up With Elon Musk to Field-Test a Child-Sized Submarine to Aid With the Thailand Cave Rescue (Read at The74Million.org)

    FLORIDA — It’s a Google and Amazon world. And these kids are taking this step to work there (Read at The Star Online)

    NEVADA — Parents, students to get more info on Clark County school lunches (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Think Pieces

    HOWARD FULLER — 74 Interview: Longtime Civil Rights Activist Howard Fuller on Trump, DeVos, and What It’s Like to Advocate for School Choice in an Age of ‘Hypocrisy’ (Read at The74Million.org)

    NEW ORLEANS — A Better Way to Run Schools (Read at The New York Times)

    SUPREME COURT — STUDENT VOICE: Lost on campus in the Supreme Court’s shuffle? (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL — Student’s Perspective: Reflections From an Online High School Valedictorian — We Are the Adults Now, and We Have to Make Our Own Futures (Read at The74Million.org)

    Quote of the Day

    “I believe that parent choice is widespread in America — unless you are poor.” —Howard Fuller, school choice advocate and distinguished professor of education at Marquette University. (Read at The74Million.org)

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  • How the Los Angeles School Board Teamed Up With Elon Musk to Field-Test a Child-Sized Submarine to Aid With the Thailand Cave Rescue

    By Esmeralda Fabián Romero | July 13, 2018

    This article was produced in partnership with LA School Report

    Water levels were rising dangerously high and time was running out to rescue a team of soccer boys and their coach who had been trapped for two weeks in a Thailand cave.

    Thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, Elon Musk, the famed founder of the SpaceX rocket company, and his crew were holed up at the company’s Hawthorne headquarters designing and building a mini-submarine escape pod.

    News came last Saturday as they raced to finish the aluminum sub that the first four boys had been rescued. Nine people were still stranded, however, and a coming monsoon threatened to flood the narrow caves.

    But one last thing was needed before the sub could be whisked off to Thailand: a pool big enough for a test.

    Enter the Los Angeles Unified School District.

    Nick Melvoin, vice president of the school board, was at a wedding in Oregon when he got a call from Musk’s chief of staff asking for help.

    “It was 10:45 at night. He said the SpaceX engineers had just designed a mini-submarine that they wanted to send the next day to Thailand to help in the rescue, and they were looking for a pool,” Melvoin told LA School Report. “We went to high school together and he thought maybe our school’s pool may be available, and I said, I don’t know about that, but we have pools at your disposal in LA Unified, and we’d love to help.”

    By 11:30, the two were on a group call with Melvoin staffer Allison Holdorff Polhill and Don Parcell, director of operations at Palisades Charter High School.

    At midnight, Musk personally approved the underwater test at Pali, and by 12:30 a.m. Parcell met Holdorff Polhill at the pool. She had been board chair at the school before running against Melvoin in last year’s school board primary. She is now his senior adviser and director of community engagement. The Pacific Palisades high school is an independent charter school, meaning it is a public school and part of LA Unified but has its own board and functions under a contract, or “charter,” that governs all details of the school’s operation.

    “The SpaceX team needed to move fast, and that’s what Pali can do because it’s independent,” Holdorff Polhill said. “They could make those decisions without the burden of the bureaucracy. But we are working to make [all of LA Unified] that efficient.”

    Melvoin said, “It was really about who could we get on the phone at 11 o’clock on a Saturday night, check the pool in the middle of the night, and make sure it was going to work.”

    SpaceX engineers arrived early Sunday with the sub. Melvoin and Musk were on the phone with their respective teams throughout the hours of underwater testing.

    “The SpaceX team had basically been awake for two days straight,” Holdorff said. “It was high pressure. It had to be tested once without anyone in the tube and once with a human being in the tube. They were so gracious to Pali,” said Holdorff, who fed the team from the farmers market held Sundays at the high school and whose son, an underwater photographer, documented the testing for SpaceX.

    By mid-afternoon the sub was on a plane to Thailand, and the pool, which is used by local sports teams and the community, was reopened to the public.

    But before the sub could be sent down into the caves, Thailand’s navy rescued the coach and remaining eight boys. Musk posted Monday on Twitter that the sub will remain in Thailand and will be named Wild Boar after the boys’ soccer team. “Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future. Thailand is so beautiful.”

    As the rescue captivated the world’s attention, Melvoin said that at LA Unified, “we care for all kids wherever they are,” and that he hopes the district can continue to use its resources to help — as it did two weeks ago during a toy drive for immigrant children detained at the border. On Tuesday, the school board unanimously passed Melvoin’s resolution directing the district’s chief lobbyist to advocate for a permanent end to family separations and for the district to offer free legal services for those impacted by forcible separation. About 100 children separated from their parents are being held in the Los Angeles area.

    “We had an asset that was helpful, and I hope this is the first of many times that we can use the district’s resources to help,” said Melvoin, who this week was appointed to a second term as vice president of the school board. He said the willingness of the director of operations and of district officials to work overnight to go over liabilities and make the pool available shows what can be done even in a district as big as LA Unified.

    “I have been trying to build more efficiency within the district and cut some red tape,” Melvoin said. “There was no protocol here. We were just saying there’s a problem here, how do we solve it? And I hope that can be emblematic in future approaches that the district takes.”

    He added, “It was very cool. I’m grateful to Pali. It was a nice experience and something fun for Pali’s students to share when they return from summer break.”

    Because of Pali’s quick help, SpaceX has invited 30 Pali students and five faculty members to participate in its Hyperloop competition on July 22, Holdorff said.

    “We hope our small part in a heroic effort will be of great help to rescue efforts in the future,” reads a Pali High Facebook post. “We’d like to extend a special thanks to SpaceX, Nick and Allison for reaching out to us.”

    Go Deeper: This article is one in a series at The 74 that profiles the heroes, victories, success stories, and random acts of kindness found at schools all across America. Read more of our recent inspiring profiles at The74Million.org/series/inspiring.

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  • House Committee Approves $71 Billion Education Funding Bill in Meeting Dominated by Fate of Separated Migrant Children, Increases Money to School Safety Programs

    By Carolyn Phenicie | July 12, 2018

    The House Appropriations Committee, after a day-long markup dominated by concerns for immigrant children separated from their parents, approved a $71 billion spending bill for the Education Department.

    The most notable change adopted during the committee’s consideration was boosting funding for the School Safety National Activities program. The committee’s first draft of the bill would have funded the grants at $43 million; the committee upped funding to $90 million, the same as it received last year.

    Related

    House Committee Advances Education Spending Bill With $41 Million Increase, Ends Long-standing Ban on Federal Integration Efforts

    It was included in what’s called a manager’s amendment, offered by the bill’s author at the start of the markup that usually, as in this case, includes changes previously agreed to by both parties. Democrats during subcommittee consideration had criticized the cut to the school safety programs, particularly in the wake of the February mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and ensuing student advocacy around school safety and gun control.

    The bill avoids most of the controversial issues that had surrounded it last year, including the Trump administration’s proposed school choice programs and huge cuts to programs for teacher training and afterschool programs. The path is also made easier by an existing deal that set out a higher total spending cap.

    Overall, it would provide small boosts for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grants and level funding for other big K-12 programs, including teacher training, Title I grants for low-income students, and afterschool programs. Lawmakers would give a big boost to career and technical education grants and charter schools.

    Democrats at the markup, which ran past 11 p.m., offered some amendments related to education, largely around higher education. A proposal to increase the maximum Pell Grant for low-income college students, for instance, was rejected on party lines.

    On the K-12 side, Rep. Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, introduced but ultimately withdrew an amendment that would block the Education Department from overturning an Obama-era guidance that urged schools to limit suspensions and expulsions and end racial disparities in discipline.

    Related

    Federal Civil Rights Data Highlight Racial Disparities in Discipline as DeVos Mulls Guidance Rollback

    The guidance encourages districts to look at disparate impact — that is, policies that aren’t written in a racially biased way but that result in different outcomes for students of different races. That principle underscores other civil rights protections in housing and other areas, Lee said.

    “If the Trump administration chooses to rescind the guidance, we would open the door to a full-out assault on civil rights protections,” Lee said.

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has not yet changed the discipline guidance, even as the department has revoked others on racial disparities in special education placement and affirmative action. Conservatives say the discipline guidance is overly prescriptive and makes schools unsafe by keeping disruptive students in class.

    Related

    More Than 70 Top Education Leaders Sign Letter Demanding the Trump Administration Maintain Obama-Era Guidance on Student Discipline

    Education Department funding is included in the same bill as the Department of Health and Human Services, which takes custody of unaccompanied minors who cross the border and those who were separated from their parents, a practice that began this spring as part of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal immigration.

    Democrats proposed a volley of amendments surrounding the children, who are cared for by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Adopted amendments would institute financial penalties on the department for failing to create a plan for reunifying children with their parents, ban children from being medicated without being seen by a doctor, and prohibit religious tests for families who take in the children.

    “The president of the United States instituted an unconscionable and reckless policy that is causing profound trauma and threatens to destroy lives,” Rep. Nita Lowey, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said at the start of the hearing.

    “Until we, and that means all of us, say enough is enough to the lies, to the bigotry, to using distraught children and anguished parents as political pawns, then the consequences of our inaction will be a stain on our nation forevermore,” she added.

    Related

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

    A little more than half of the 103 children under the age of 5 in the agency’s custody had been reunited with their families as of Thursday morning, according to the Los Angeles Times. A federal judge had ordered the reunification of all children in that age group by Tuesday. The remaining were ineligible to be reunited for various reasons, including because parents had criminal histories or had already been deported, the government said.

    Officials said they would search for other sponsors for children who could not be reunited with parents who had criminal records, and work with foreign consulates to return children to the parents who have already been deported, the Washington Post reported.

    The spending bill’s next stop will be the House floor, though timing is unclear, particularly as the chamber runs up to its month-long August recess. Leaders in both chambers have been bringing “mini-bus” bills to the floor, D.C. jargon for bills that combine perhaps two or three separate appropriations bills.

    Senate Appropriations Committee leaders said before the July 4 holiday that they would like to bring the bill to the floor in the upper chamber, the first time that would happen in over a decade. Leaders have said they hope to tie it to the defense spending bill to attract broad bipartisan support.

    Related

    Senate Appropriations Committee Advances $71 Billion Education Spending Bill as Leaders Eye Rare Floor Consideration

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  • 5 Things to Know About California’s Final ESSA Plan Following a Year of Discussion & Debate Surrounding the Golden State’s Schools

    By Mario Koran | July 11, 2018

    After nearly a year of discussion and three rounds of revisions, California’s Board of Education on Wednesday approved its final version of its state accountability plan known as ESSA, to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

    Here are five things to know about the last leg in California’s journey to win approval — and the roughly $2.6 billion in federal dollars it means for the state each year.

    1. A federal thumbs-up is now virtually guaranteed. In a letter to the state late last month, a top Department of Education official wrote that he expected the department to approve the plan if California agreed to the feds’ latest round of changes. The state board on Wednesday unanimously approved the last details. The state will now resubmit its plan and expects to hear back within 30 days whether U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will at last sign off.

    2. The plan prioritizes tracking of suspensions. Each state had to choose a way of evaluating schools that didn’t revolve around academics. Most states — three-quarters of them — chose chronic absenteeism as their “school quality or student success” measure, but California chose to use that as part of its academic measurements. So the state is going with suspension rates for elementary and middle schools. For high schools, the state will use suspension rates as well as the college and career indicator, which is based on completion of college-preparatory courses or career tech courses, or high scores on certain tests.

    3. How California will work to boost struggling schools: The last sticking point for California was how and when to identify the lowest-performing schools and those that are struggling to serve student groups. The law requires each state to list its bottom 5 percent of schools so they can receive help. That’s around 300 schools in California.

    California first ran afoul of the feds because its new accountability measurement tool, the California State Dashboard, didn’t clearly identify those bottom 300. Then the latest snag was that California wanted to take longer to identify those schools that are low-performing for specific student groups. The feds won, and California has now agreed to move up its timeline. Schools will now be eligible for support after two years of low performance.

    4. Only three states have not won final approval from the feds. The other two are Utah and Florida.

    5. What took so long? California was basically being California, an education advocate said Wednesday. “I think it stems from California wanting to do things California’s way,” said Carrie Hahnel, deputy director of research and policy at The Education Trust–West. “California has treated the ESSA plan as a compliance document as opposed to a plan to guarantee students’ civil rights. The state was working on its own accountability system before ESSA, and they’ve essentially taken their plan and tried to wedge it into the ESSA template.”



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