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Noteworthy headlines from the education wire
  • EduClips: NYC Specialized School Proposal Sparks Outrage in Asian Communities; IL Raises and Limits Teacher Pensions — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | June 6, 2018

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

    Top Story

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told a Senate committee on Tuesday that the federal commission on school safety set up this year after the Parkland, Florida, school massacre will not focus on the role guns play in school violence.

    The comments, provided in testimony before the Senate subcommittee that oversees education spending, perplexed senators who questioned how the commission, led by Ms. DeVos and convened by President Trump, could avoid the subject when it was a military-style assault rifle that left 17 students and staff dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

    “That’s not part of the commission’s charge, per se,” Ms. DeVos said in response to a question from Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, about whether the commission would look at the role of firearms in the gun violence that has plagued the nation’s schools. (Read at The New York Times)

    National News

    IMMIGRATION — Asked again about school staff referring students to ICE, DeVos says ‘I don’t think they can’ (Read at Chalkbeat)

    DEVOS — Betsy DeVos Headed to Europe to Explore Career Education, School Choice (Read at Politics K-12)

    RURAL SCHOOLS — What Budget Cuts Mean for Third-Graders in a Rural School (Read at The New York Times)

    SCHOOL CHOICE — New Leader of School Choice Caucus in Congress Hails From DeVos’s Home State (Read at Politics K-12)

    KEN LANGONE — Billionaire Ken Langone: Public education is the ‘biggest single problem confronting America’ (Read at CNBC)

    DAVID KOCH — David Koch Steps Down From Company, Political Groups (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    ESSA — Betsy DeVos Greenlights ESSA Plans for Nebraska and North Carolina (Read at Politics K-12)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — De Blasio’s specialized school proposal spurs outrage in Asian communities (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ILLINOIS — In Illinois, New Budget Caps Raises and Limits Pensions for Teachers (Read at Teacher Beat)

    PENNSYLVANIA — New test: 10.7 million asbestos fibers on floor at Philadelphia elementary school (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    CALIFORNIA — Where Education Did (and Didn’t) Matter in California’s Primary: Newsom & Cox Advance in Gubernatorial Race, Reformer Tuck Leads Thurmond for Superintendent (Read at The74Million.org)

    NEW YORK — State Senate overrides Cuomo’s veto of full-day kindergarten bill (Read at the New York Post)

    CALIFORNIA — LA Unified not directing enough money to help low-income students, report charges (Read at EdSource)

    TEXAS — Parents, Schools Step Up Efforts to Combat Food-Allergy Bullying (Read at Texas Public Radio)

    FLORIDA — Far fewer South Florida children ready for kindergarten, state tests show (Read at the Sun Sentinel)

    NEVADA — Clark County school trustees revisit hot-button gender diverse policy (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Think Pieces

    EDUCATION & ECONOMICS — The Difference Between Roads and Education: The Human Mind (Read at Forbes)

    NEW MEXICO — Aragon: New Mexico Is First State to Approve School Turnaround Plans Under the Every Student Succeeds Act. But Will Adult Politics Now Keep the Kids Waiting? (Read at The74Million.org)

    TEENAGERS — Pens to Power: The Learning Network in Print (Read at The New York Times)

    MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi’s graduation rate gaps are among lowest in the country, report finds (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “So we’ll look at gun violence in schools, but not look at guns? An interesting concept.” —Senator Patrick J. Leahy, responding to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s testimony on the limited mandate of the federal school safety commission. (Read at The New York Times)

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  • EduClips: CA Races Expose North-South Divide in Ed Politics; IL Assembly Passes Mandate for $40,000 Minimum Teacher Salary — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | June 5, 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

    IMMIGRANT STUDENTS —Education Secretary Betsy DeVos continues to face a backlash after she told Congress that schools should be able to decide whether to report undocumented students to immigration authorities, an assertion that critics say flies in the face of the law and could stir fear in immigrant communities.

    DeVos appeared before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce late last month. When Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) asked her if principals or teachers had a responsibility to report undocumented students and their families to immigration authorities, DeVos replied: “Sir, I think that’s a school decision. That’s a local community decision.”

    Civil rights groups swiftly condemned the remarks, noting that the Supreme Court ruled in the 1982 case Plyler v. Doe that undocumented children are entitled to a public education. Since then, courts have struck down measures that could deter undocumented or immigrant children from showing up to school, such as requiring a U.S. birth certificate or threatening to call immigration authorities. About 725,000 K-12 students were undocumented in 2014, the most recent data available, according to the Pew Research Center. (Read at The Washington Post)

    National News

    TRANSGENDER STUDENTS — Despite Recent Gavin Grimm Court Ruling, Trump Administration Unlikely to Change Course on Transgender Rights. Will Supreme Court Weigh in? (Read at The74Million.org)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Florida school massacre survivors ready voter registration push (Read at Reuters)

    READING — Are Poor Kids Really Behind by 30 Million Words? A Debate Rages as New Research Questions One of Early Childhood’s Premier Studies — and Researchers Say It’s More Complicated (Read at The74Million.org)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Ready for a Shooter? 1 in 5 School Police Say No (Read at Education Week)

    ESSA — Trump Administration Considering ESSA Spending Guidance, Advocates Say (Read at Politics K-12)

    PARKLAND SHOOTING — 4 Parkland Seniors Who Died in School Shooting Are Honored at Graduation (Read at The New York Times)

    District and State News

    CALIFORNIA — Primary Day in California: 6 Ways This Year’s Races for Governor and Superintendent Have Resurfaced a North-South Divide in Education Politics (Read at The74Million.org)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois General Assembly Passes Bill Mandating $40,000 Minimum Salary for Teachers (Read at Illinois Policy)

    FLORIDA — How many ways can you think of to make schools safer? This Broward group has 100. (Read at the Miami Herald)

    CALIFORNIA — Why L.A. Unified may face financial crisis even with a giant surplus this year (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    NEW YORK — A Chalkbeat cheat sheet: The Specialized High School Admissions Test overhaul (Read at Chalkbeat)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Mayor, superintendent push for more Philadelphia school repair funding (Read at 6abc.com)

    NEW YORK — Critics blast Mayor de Blasio’s school desegregation plan (Read at the New York Daily News)

    TEXAS — Poverty Poses Challenges for Schools — and Texas’ Future, Education Leaders Say (Read at KERA News)

    FLORIDA — It’s time we call out Florida lawmakers for shortchanging education | Opinion (Read at Florida Today)

    TEXAS — What does Texas need to boost public education? Pre-K and quality teachers top the list for these leaders (Read at Dallas News)

    Think Pieces

    TEACHER PREPARATION — A teacher prep program that really works? This one is successfully minting math and science educators (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CHARTER SCHOOLS — Unchartered Territory: A new kind of charter school could shake up the battle over school choice and segregation. (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — As America Grapples With Gun Violence in Schools, a UVA Librarian Recounts How — and Where — It All Began (Read at The74Million.org)

    PRIVATE SCHOOLS — We need an education commission to take a critical look at private schools (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “This is wrong. The secretary showed a sophomoric understanding of the law and at minimum used her bully pulpit to recklessly send a mixed signal to school districts across the nation that complying with federal law and long-standing legal precedent is optional.” —Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, on U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s testimony that schools should be able to decide whether to report undocumented students to immigration authorities. (Read at The Washington Post)

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  • As America Grapples With Gun Violence in Schools, a UVA Librarian Recounts How — and Where — It All Began

    By Taylor Swaak | June 4, 2018

    School gun violence has pervaded the public consciousness in 2018 in the wake of the mass shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas.

    Despite the widespread perception that such violence on school grounds is a modern phenomenon, it actually predates the Civil War. The first known reported U.S. school shooting was at the University of Virginia in November 1840, when an 18-year-old student shot and killed a law professor.

    Related

    T74 Interactive: Here’s How Many People Have Been Injured or Killed at Schools Due to Guns in 2018

    The narrative remained stagnant until University of Virginia librarian Jean Cooper solved the mystery of what happened to the killer in 2013, and was largely unknown to the public before recent reporting on school shootings brought it into the mainstream. Although a tragedy 178 years ago might seem worlds away, Cooper said the message it sends about human behavior and accountability is timeless.

    “Everybody on [campus] knows this story,” Cooper told The 74. “The first day you’re here, you’re told about it.”

    University of Virginia librarian Jean Cooper (Courtesy)

    In 1840, the university was immersed in a years-long power struggle between faculty and students, many of them the entitled sons of wealthy Southern plantation owners and merchants. During the 1836–37 school year, faculty had dismissed a group of students who’d refused to disband a newly created military unit that practiced drills with guns on the university’s iconic lawn. Guns were technically prohibited on campus, according to 1824 meeting minutes from the university’s governing body.

    In response, some students — there were fewer than 200 enrolled annually at the time — held yearly protests, where they’d brandish guns and cause a ruckus on the main lawn near professors’ residences.

    “The students said, ‘Well, we’re going to riot or we’re going to demonstrate so they know that we haven’t submitted peacefully to these rules,’ ” Cooper said.

    By that fateful Thursday night on Nov. 12, 1840, the number of protesters had dwindled to two: 18-year-old Joseph Semmes and fellow student William Kincaid. Amid their caterwauling, law professor John Davis, who also served as chairman of the faculty, confronted them at about 9 p.m.and grabbed Semmes, whose identity was hidden behind a white “calico mask,” according to student accounts. Semmes escaped his grasp and, before fleeing, turned and shot Davis in the stomach with a pistol. Davis died on Nov. 15, presumably from infection, as antibiotics didn’t exist at the time.

    Portrait of professor John Davis

    The student body “was really shocked,” Cooper said. “It just wasn’t done.”

    Notice of Davis’s death in the Richmond Enquirer expressed similar disbelief, the headline “HORRIBLE OUTRAGE” written in all caps. Authorities arrested Semmes a few days later, linking the bullet that killed Davis to a gun in his possession. Semmes served about six months in prison, Cooper said, before being released on bail with deteriorating health prior to his October 1841 trial date. He never showed.

    Notice of professor John Davis’s death in the Richmond Enquirer on Nov. 17, 1840

    Up until 2013, rumor had it that Semmes fled to Texas and died by suicide soon after. But while working on an archival project, Cooper decided to seek out an answer to the lingering mystery.

    “I’ve been working on a website that has short bios of UVA graduates from those first 50 years … and I said, ‘Oh gee, I wonder what happened to this guy,’ ” she said. Cooper spent about two hours scouring online government databases and ultimately tracked down an article in The Sun (now the Baltimore Sun) from 1847 reporting Semmes’s death:

    “He shot himself with a pistol, the ball entering the left eye and penetrating the brain” at his brother’s house in Georgia, the story read.

    Even with the mystery solved, Cooper admitted it can be difficult to draw people into the history — especially when circumstances seem so different today. Guns now are more dangerous, the fatalities often higher. The motives behind modern shootings are frequently mysterious, and the media offer ballooning visibility.

    But there are a few notable parallels, in Cooper’s opinion, that make this story relevant.

    For one: Students’ impassioned responses to the violence. Before today’s youth harnessed social media to demand gun reform, a group of Virginia students submitted an editor’s note to the Richmond Enquirer in the days after Davis’s shooting, denouncing the attack and promising justice for their beloved professor.

    Related

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

    The notion that such crime did not exist was “a sweet self-delusion,” they wrote. But “[let us] boldly cast every imputation against our honor.”

    The tragedies then and now also speak to the unchanging nature of human behavior, Cooper said.

    “People, no matter what time period they’re in, behave the same,” she said. “Some people are not safe with guns.”

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  • Despite Recent Gavin Grimm Court Ruling, Trump Administration Unlikely to Change Course on Transgender Rights. Will Supreme Court Weigh in?

    By Mark Keierleber | June 4, 2018

    Just hours before a federal judge ruled in favor of a transgender student from Virginia, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared at a congressional hearing in Washington and defended the Trump administration’s stance on public restrooms.

    In the May 22 subcommittee hearing, attention turned to an Obama-era guidance document the Trump administration rescinded. Citing Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools, the 2016 letter from the Departments of Education and Justice said schools must allow transgender students to use restroom facilities that align with their gender identity. In defending the administration’s decision to revoke the guidance, DeVos said courts had reached “mixed” conclusions on the matter.

    That same day in Virginia, the federal judge’s ruling became the latest in a series of court decisions acknowledging the rights of transgender students. But the fight over transgender bathroom policies — in Virginia and elsewhere — isn’t yet over.

    Last month the federal judge handed a victory to Gavin Grimm, who is transgender and identifies as male, in his years-long fight to use the boys’ bathroom at his high school — from which he has since graduated. In the order, Judge Arenda Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia struck down the Gloucester County school board’s argument that Grimm’s “biological gender” was female and barred him from using the boys’ restroom. Wright Allen found that Title IX and the Constitution protect transgender students from being excluded from facilities that align with their gender identity, consistent with the Obama-era guidance.

    On Friday, however, the Gloucester County school board moved to appeal the decision to the U.S Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, arguing that federal law should be interpreted in a way that allows schools to “rely on the physiological differences between males and females rather than students’ gender identity” when separating boys and girls in restrooms.

    Since Grimm sued to challenge a school bathroom policy that required he use a single-stall restroom, the case has become a legal whirlwind, and it’s possible the Supreme Court may be called upon to rule on the case. Absent a Supreme Court decision or action from Congress, however, DeVos said the Trump administration doesn’t plan to intervene.

    “I’m not going to make up law from the Department of Education,” she told the subcommittee.

    In responding to DeVos, Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who represents Grimm, said the administration “has dug in their heels on their interpretation and I don’t expect them to change anything until they’re forced to do so.”

    Related

    Obama-Era Protections for Transgender Students to Be Revoked, Gavin Grimm Supreme Court Case at Risk

    Resistance from the Trump administration continues, Block said, despite several recent court decisions affirming the rights of transgender students.

    Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia handed a victory to transgender students, striking down a lawsuit filed against a school district that allows students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity.

    In a 2017 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that both Title IX and the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause protect transgender students from discrimination, and affirmed their right to access restroom facilities that align with their gender identity. In a settlement agreement with the student, Ash Whitaker, the school district agreed to withdraw its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Transgender Law Center.

    On several occasions, courts have dealt blows to transgender rights advocates, including in 2016 when a federal judge in Texas blocked the Obama administration from enforcing the guidance, noting that the government’s directives “contradict the existing legislative and regulatory text.”

    Catherine Lhamon, an author of the Obama-era guidance, blasted DeVos’s Education Department for its inaction. Lhamon served as assistant secretary for civil rights at the department during the Obama administration and is now chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Countering DeVos, Lhamon said the Obama-era guidance outlined districts’ legal responsibilities under Title IX, rather than creating new policy. In ignoring court precedent, Lhamon said, the Trump administration is bystepping its obligation to enforce the law.

    “The reality is that Title IX has been interpreted by multiple federal courts in multiple jurisdictions to protect students like Gavin Grimm in school and to promise that those students enjoy the same protections against discrimination as other students in school,” Lhamon said. “I’m not waiting for someone else to speak to what is now clear in the law, and I think it’s very important that our schools not wait either.”

    An Education Department spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

    Among critics of the guidance is Gail Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, which backed out of plans to hear the case after the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era guidance. In that brief, she sided with the school board and, in an interview with The 74, argued that the latest court decision in Virginia used an improper interpretation of Title IX. Among her arguments, Heriot said that because Title IX became law in 1972, at a time when the notion of transgender rights was far outside the mainstream, Congress couldn’t have intended for it to include protections for transgender students.

    Related

    Supreme Court Sends Transgender Case Back to Lower Court; Gavin Grimm Vows to Continue His Fight

    “A lot of people would like Title IX to cover these situations, but you’ve got to think about the importance of the rule of law,” Heriot said. “As much as people are tempted to want to make statutes mean what they want them to mean, that is a fundamentally anti-democratic desire.”

    Heriot said schools should have the discretion to decide how to respond based on their individual circumstances. The decision in the Grimm case, she said, “locks schools into one single approach.”

    “I think that’s a mistake,” she said. “If it turns out at some point that most Americans believe that the approach is the right approach, then pass a statute.”

    As cases continue to work their way through the courts, Sarah Munshi, state and district policy manager at the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, said the advocacy group has largely localized its efforts given the uphill battle it faces nationally with the Trump administration. That includes advocacy around the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law. As states work to draft plans to comply with the law, a handful include school climate as an indicator of school performance. GLSEN is advocating for those plans to include policies for LGBTQ youth, she said.

    Meanwhile, as the national debate over transgender bathroom rights rages on without guidance from the Education Department, the ACLU’s Block said the courts are the best place for transgender students to assert their rights.

    “At the end of the day, if the Supreme Court has to answer the question, it’ll reach the same conclusion that a vast majority of courts have reached,” Block said. “I’m confident if it makes it there that Gavin will ultimately prevail.”

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  • EduClips: Principals at NYC’s Troubled Schools Face Investigations; Teachers Are Running for Office — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | June 4, 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

    GOVERNORS’ RACES —A subterranean divide among Democrats between backers of teachers unions and those of charter schools and other education innovations is helping shape key gubernatorial primaries, even as red-meat issues like guns, inequality, and President Donald Trump have dominated the races.

    In California, former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s campaign has been kept afloat partly by more than $20 million spent by a political committee funded by supporters of charter schools and other educational initiatives. In New York, actress Cynthia Nixon, a fierce critic of charter schools, is challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s sparred with teachers unions.

    The most public split comes in Colorado, where two Democrats with deep roots in education policy have come under attack by the state’s biggest teachers union on behalf of the state’s former treasurer, Cary Kennedy. (Read at PBS NewsHour)

    National News

    ELECTIONS — From the classroom to the campaign trail: Emboldened teachers run for office (Read at The Washington Post)

    TEACHER STRIKES — The Numbers That Explain Why Teachers Are in Revolt (Read at The New York Times)

    JANUS — If Janus Ruling Means Teachers No Longer Have to Join Unions, Will Breaking Away From State and National Affiliates Be a Way to Save Local Membership? (Read at The74Million.org)

    SCHOOL SAFETY —Profile of a School Shooter (Read at The Wall Street Journal)

    CIVIL RIGHTS — In Seeking to Decrease ‘Burden’ of Complaints, Education Department Is Closing ‘Meritorious’ Civil Rights Cases, Federal Lawsuit Says (Read at The74Million.org)

    IMMIGRATION — Lawmakers, civil rights groups call for Betsy DeVos to set the record straight on immigration and schools (Read at The Washington Post)

    BLOOMBERG — Bloomberg Pledges $375 Million in College- and Workforce-Readiness Initiatives (Read at Education Week)*

    ESSA — How Are States Handling Testing Opt-Outs Under ESSA? (Read at Politics K-12)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — A New Principal Pushes for Change. Then the Investigations Start. (Read at The New York Times)

    ILLINOIS — Investigation: Chicago Schools Failed to Report Abuse Cases (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

    CALIFORNIA — LAUSD workers ratify new contract, after being on the verge of a strike (Read at the Los Angeles Daily News)

    TEXAS — Texas School Districts Struggled to Use Law That Could Stave Off State Takeover (Read at Houston Public Media)

    PENNSYLVANIA — In one Philly neighborhood, critics ask: Is gentrification closing our high school? (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    NEW YORK — After long wait, de Blasio backs plan to overhaul admissions at New York City’s elite high schools (Read at Chalkbeat)

    GEORGIA — 80 Gwinnett high school students caught cheating on final exams, teachers say (Read at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    FLORIDA — PolitiFact Florida: House says per-student bump of 47 cents is a myth. Here’s why that’s overstated (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    CALIFORNIA — California’s teachers’ unions dig in as Janus decision nears (Read at The Orange County Register)

    FLORIDA — ‘It gets better’: Jimmy Fallon brings hope, laughter to somber Parkland graduation (Read at the Miami Herald)

    Think Pieces

    CHARTER SCHOOLS — Betsy DeVos Loves Charter Schools. That’s Bad for Charter Schools. (Read at The New York Times)

    DE BLASIO — Mayor Bill de Blasio: Our specialized schools have a diversity problem. Let’s fix it. (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CAMDEN — Magee: As Paymon Rouhanifard Prepares to Leave Camden, Some Lessons in Equity and Innovation From the Turnaround He Led (Read at The74Million.org)

    RISKY BEHAVIOR — Can Greater Academic Demands Lead to Less Risky Behavior in Teenagers? (Read at Education Week)

    READING — OPINION: We can’t become a nation of equal learners until we become a nation of readers (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “We have reached the breaking point.” —Christine Marsh, a high school English teacher and 2016 Arizona Teacher of the Year, one of many educators running for election this year. (Read at The Washington Post)

    *Disclosure: Bloomberg Philanthropies provides financial support to The 74.

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  • Michael Bloomberg Pledges $375 Million to Help Prepare Students for College and Careers

    By Laura Fay | June 1, 2018

    Michael Bloomberg will donate $375 million to education initiatives in the United States over the next five years, he announced at a New York Times event Thursday. The former New York City mayor said he wants to “focus on what works,” especially when preparing students for college and careers.

    The pledged money will support a range of projects, including the Bloomberg-backed American Talent Initiative and CollegePoint, as well as some career-training programs, and will be geared toward cities and states that are “taking innovative approaches to improving and reforming K-12 education,” a Bloomberg Philanthropies spokesperson said in an email to The 74.

    Here are three things to know about the announcement:

    1 The focus is on higher education and career prep

    Bloomberg said there is a “false choice” between making it possible for all students to receive four-year college degrees and preparing students for well-paying careers that don’t require going to a four-year college. Right now, he said, some schools are not preparing students for either.

    “On the one hand, as evidenced by the low college graduation rate, we are not preparing high school graduates for success in college, and on the other, we effectively treat non-college-bound students as second-class citizens, giving them no preparation for their next steps in life,” he said during the announcement.

    Currently, career and technical education programs are outdated and stigmatized when they should provide a viable option for students who do not want to pursue an academic degree, he added. Bloomberg pointed to new vocational and skills-training programs implemented in New York City during his mayoral tenure that helped improve the graduation rate.

    2 This builds on Bloomberg’s existing philanthropic priorities.

    Bloomberg has long made education a priority of his philanthropy, and this pledge will benefit at least two initiatives his foundation already supports, CollegePoint and the American Talent Initiative. Bloomberg sees education as a pathway out of poverty. One of the goals of Bloomberg Philanthropies is to “close the growing wage gap between high school and college graduates” by improving education through advocacy and policy change.

    “If we want to stop intergenerational poverty, we have to start by helping more of those deserving kids go to good colleges. The better the college, the better the education students receive. And the better the education, the better the opportunities they will have,” Bloomberg said in his remarks.

    CollegePoint provides free mentoring and support for students from low- and middle-income backgrounds during the college application and selection process. The American Talent Initiative is a collaboration between Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Aspen Institute, research firm Ithaka S+R, and 100 colleges and universities that works to attract, enroll, and graduate high-achieving, low- and moderate-income college students.

    3 Some organizations have already set specific goals.

    The American Talent Initiative has set a goal for 50,000 lower-income students to enroll at affiliated colleges by 2025. The goal of CollegePoint, the mentoring organization, is for more than half of high-achieving, lower-income students to enroll in top colleges by 2020.

    Bloomberg also emphasized that cities and states should be setting ambitious goals related to career and college readiness — and sharing them publicly for the sake of accountability. Some of the pledged funding will support leaders working on innovative approaches to both college and career preparation for K-12 students.

    See Bloomberg’s full remarks here.

    Disclosure: Bloomberg Philanthropies provides financial support to The 74.

    Related

    Apprenticeships? Competency-Based Programs? GOP-Led Overhaul of Higher Ed Looks to Push These Concepts Into Mainstream

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  • DeVos Focuses School Safety Field Hearing on Positive Behavioral Interventions — an Obama-Backed Reform She’s Considering Scrapping

    By Carolyn Phenicie | May 31, 2018

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Thursday used a visit by the federal school safety commission to a Maryland school to explore positive behavioral interventions and supports, a move some said failed her promise to highlight innovative school safety programs.

    Positive behavioral interventions and supports — which in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, schools, means a focus on relationship building among students, teachers, and staff — directly affects school safety, educators said.

    Students who feel more connected to a school and its community are less likely to harm it, Kathy Rockefeller, the district’s school climate specialist, told DeVos and other representatives of the commission.

    “Connection breeds safety,” she said.

    In a separate action Thursday, the Education Department awarded $1 million to help with the recovery at Santa Fe High School in Texas, where 10 people were killed earlier this month.

    The Maryland visit came as DeVos has faced criticism for conducting school safety commission business behind closed doors and failing to offer opportunities for public input. The department is also deciding whether to scrap an Obama-era guidance document that encouraged schools to adopt some of the very same positive behavioral supports and restorative discipline practices the commission examined Thursday. The guidance focused in particular on reducing suspensions and expulsions for students of color.

    DeVos visited classrooms at Hebron-Harman Elementary School in Hanover, Maryland, and then held a roundtable discussion with district leaders, principals, teachers from Anne Arundel schools, and an expert in those interventions and supports. The secretaries of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security and the attorney general — also members of the commission — sent representatives to the meeting.

    Related

    DeVos’s School Safety Commission Will Be Just Cabinet Secretaries, Will Begin Work ‘Within the Next Few Weeks,’ She Tells Congress

    Some advocates criticized DeVos for looking into a practice in use for decades after saying she’d focus on school practices that aren’t well known.

    “We’re concerned the secretary is just getting up to speed while the rest of the education community feels the urgency to act to implement practices we already know work. It’s a hazard of a chief education officer who is not in touch with what’s happening in schools,” JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said in a statement.

    Representatives of the Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the criticism.

    Positive behavioral supports and intervention broadly refers to a system of expectations and supports to encourage better behavior, particularly for traditionally disadvantaged students. It originated for students with disabilities, and is included as a recommended intervention in federal special education law, but has since expanded to cover all students.

    Should a shooting or other traumatic event happen, schools that have positive behavioral interventions in place can respond “more quickly and more strategically,” said George Sugai, co-director of the Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, which receives funding from the Department of Education.

    The techniques can bolster other security efforts, Sugai told the commission.

    “Yes, you have to make sure that your [secure] doors and windows and your signaling systems are in place, and kids have to practice [safety drills], but you want to do it in the context of having this positive climate in place,” he added.

    In Anne Arundel, positive behavioral interventions, alongside restorative discipline practices, have saved a year and a half of instructional time for students who otherwise would have been suspended over the past five years, Kathy Lane, the district’s executive director of alternative education, told the panel.

    That drop in suspensions came even as the percentage of students who reported feeling safe at school increased, she said. Conservatives critics say the Obama-era guidance is forcing schools to keep potentially dangerous students in the classroom.

    DeVos in May told the House Education and the Workforce Committee that the commission should have recommendations by the end of the year but could produce an “interim report” before then.

    Related

    From School Safety to Discipline Guidance: 9 Subjects DeVos Addressed in Wide-Ranging First Appearance Before House Ed Committee

    The commission will hold additional meetings, field visits, and listening sessions “in the coming weeks and months,” the Education Department said in a press release.

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  • In Seeking to Decrease ‘Burden’ of Complaints, Education Department is Closing ‘Meritorious’ Civil Rights Cases, Federal Lawsuit Says

    By Mark Keierleber | May 31, 2018

    The NAACP and other civil rights organizations have filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos, seeking to reverse a recent department policy that has effectively dismissed hundreds of complaints it views as an “unreasonable burden.”

    The lawsuit, filed Thursday, takes aim at a revised “case processing manual” in the department’s Office for Civil Rights. The document specifies how federal investigators should respond to civil rights complaints against schools and, under a revision effective March 5, says the office will dismiss allegations that are a “continuation of a pattern of complaints” that place an “unreasonable burden” on department resources. The revisions also eliminated appeals in situations where investigators found insufficient evidence to determine whether a civil rights violation occurred.

    The National Federation of the Blind, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, and the NAACP filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. DeVos and Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil rights, are named as defendants.

    Denise Marshall, COPAA executive director, said in a statement the new policies run counter to the mission of the civil rights division and were implemented without public notice. Calling the changes “arbitrary and capricious,” Marshall said the Office for Civil Rights had abandoned its duty to investigate legitimate discrimination complaints filed by students, their parents, and their advocates.

    Additionally, the suit alleges, the Education Department did not provide a legal basis to exclude repeat filers without considering the validity of their complaints.

    Marshall said that while she understands the department’s desire to prevent “abuse of the system,” the policy change effectively dismisses meritorious complaints.

    “What they have done in this instance is akin to using a sledgehammer to open a nut,” she said in the release. “Instead of examining the substance and taking lawful action to eliminate injustice, they have smashed the system to smithereens, rendering it useless.”

    The department didn’t respond to a request for comment on Thursday, but agency spokeswoman Liz Hill previously told The 74 that three people had submitted 23 percent of complaints last year. Presumably, that includes advocate Marcie Lipsitt, who, over the course of several years, has filed thousands of civil rights complaints in a crusade to make school and university websites accessible for people with disabilities, including those who are blind or deaf or have fine motor impairments. The Michigan-based activist has dubbed the revision targeting repeat filers the “Marcie Lipsitt Rule.”

    Although Lipsitt wasn’t named in the lawsuit filed Thursday, her efforts have improved website accessibility for disabled students across the country. About half of her complaints have resulted in signed resolution agreements between institutions she targeted and the Education Department’s civil rights office.

    Beginning in March, the department cited the revised case processing manual to dismiss hundreds of pending civil rights investigations that stemmed from her complaints.

    By closing the cases, Lipsitt argues, the Education Department has violated federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. “I have believed since day one that those revisions were unlawful, that the OCR has no leg to stand on when it comes to dismissing meritorious complaints,” she told The 74.

    Related

    A Civil Rights Activist Filed Thousands of Disability Complaints. Now the Education Department Is Trying to Shut Her Down

    Although Lipsitt is an outlier in terms of the sheer volume of complaints she’s filed with the Office for Civil Rights, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue that the revised case processing manual hinders their work since they often file complaints on behalf of students. Additionally, persistent discrimination often requires students with disabilities to file more than one complaint.

    The civil rights groups request the court to declare parts of the case processing manual invalid and to bar the department from implementing them.

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

    By Kate Stringer | May 31, 2018

    A fourth-grader reading at grade level at a Louisiana public school might find himself behind his new classmates if his family moved to New York.

    That’s because state exams in New York require a higher proficiency standard for fourth-grade reading than Louisiana’s do. A 48-point-higher standard, to be exact.

    That’s according to a comparison of state proficiency standards released today by the National Center for Education Statistics that looks at 2015 data. But more states than ever, including Louisiana, are raising their standards closer to the proficiency bar set by the National Assessment of Educational Progress — commonly referred to as the Nation’s Report Card.

    Over the past 15 years, NCES has been tracking how each state defines proficiency and comparing that to NAEP’s benchmark. NAEP is the only common national test taken by students in every state, and it is generally considered to have rigorous standards for defining proficiency (although some have argued that the standards are too high).

    The reason for this move toward higher academic standards for reading and math comes from a national push over the past decade for common, rigorous standards, like the Common Core, Peggy Carr, associate commissioner for NCES, said during a call Wednesday with reporters.

    Related

    States Are Raising the Bar for Their Students, New Report Shows, but Higher Standards Are Not Driving Higher Test Scores

    But just because state standards are higher, that doesn’t mean students are performing better. Carr said there is no correlation between states with high standards and test results. A recent report from Education Next also found that there is no relationship between rigorous state standards and student performance.

    “While higher proficiency standards may still serve to boost academic performance, our evidence suggests that day has not yet arrived,” Harvard professor Paul Peterson wrote in the Education Next report.

    Variations in expectations across states have a visible effect on daily classroom instruction, Carr said, making the reading experiences of fourth-graders in Louisiana and New York very different. For example, the gap between these two states’ fourth-grade reading proficiency standards is 48 points on the NAEP scale created by NCES researchers.

    Source: NCES

    But even though the difference between the two states is large, it’s actually an improvement, as Louisiana’s score moved up nine points from 2013 to 2015. Nationally, the gap is shrinking across subject areas and grades: The difference between highest and lowest state standards decreased 35 points in eighth-grade reading, 28 points in fourth-grade reading, 12 points in fourth-grade math, and 10 points in eighth-grade math over that two-year period.

    Eighth-grade reading proficiency standards compared between 2013 and 2015 (Source: NCES)

    For the first time, the NCES analysis compared standards set by three of the tests that many states use: PARCC, Smarter Balanced, and ACT Aspire. It found that PARCC proficiency standards were the highest of the group.

    Not all states were included in this report because of difficulty collecting data or because some administered reading and math tests that couldn’t be easily compared with NAEP.

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  • EduClips: Chicago’s Emanuel Calls for Universal, Free Pre-K; Post-Shooting, TX Governor Unveils School Safety Plan — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | May 31, 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

    IMMIGRANT STUDENTS —As Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento sat in a detention center 80 miles away from his Texas home this past winter, clad in a blue inmate uniform, he could see his high school diploma slipping further from his reach. Graduation was in June, but a schoolyard scuffle with a girl who he said had called him a racial epithet had gotten him arrested by his high school’s police officer.

    Then a state law that required the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to cooperate with federal immigration officers flagged him for deportation, back to his native Honduras, from which he and his family had fled five years ago. The case of the “quiet kid who was good at soccer” hauled from high school to a deportation center turned Mr. Rivera-Sarmiento into a cause célèbre in Houston, a textbook case of what immigration advocacy groups fear could happen as schools tighten discipline in the wake of school shootings, the police ratchet up sweeps for gang members, and local law enforcement draws closer to the federal immigration authorities.

    No one is sure how many students like Mr. Rivera-Sarmiento have been channeled from the principal’s office to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A spokesman for ICE said that the agency cannot track the number of students detained based on school arrests because it does not record how undocumented immigrants are originally arrested. (Read at The New York Times)

    National News

    TX SCHOOL SHOOTING — Gov. Abbott wants more marshals, increased mental health screening to make schools safer (Read at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

    TEACHER PAY — Teachers Find Public Support as Campaign for Higher Pay Goes to Voters (Read at The New York Times)

    WALMART — Walmart to offer employees a college education for $1 a day (Read at The Washington Post)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Amid fear of shootings, parents and students count down till school’s out for summer (Read at NBC News)

    FL SENATE RACE —Education Issues, Control of the U.S. Senate Loom Large in Florida Senate Race Between Gov. Rick Scott and Longtime Democratic Incumbent Bill Nelson (Read at The74Million.org)

    District and State News

    ILLINOIS — Emanuel calls for free full-day public preschool for 4-year-olds (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    NEW YORK — With School Visits, Chancellor Signals a Softer Stance on Charters (Read at The New York Times)

    ILLINOIS — Illinois lawmakers pass $40,000 minimum wage requirement for teachers (Read at Illinois News Network)

    FLORIDA — Florida teachers union grades lawmakers on education issues (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    NEW YORK — Carranza didn’t expect ‘screening’ comments to create such an uproar (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — In race for California schools chief, candidates are buoyed by big money from charter supporters and unions (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    PUERTO RICO — Months After a Devastating Hurricane, Puerto Rican Schools Turn to the Sun (Read at EdSurge)

    CALIFORNIA — California governor’s race: Dems agree on child care, higher spending; differ on districts rejecting charters based on financial impact (Read at EdSource)

    TEXAS — Transgender Teen Wins Battle for Chosen Name at Graduation in Texas (Read at the Huffington Post)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Opinion: Billions of your tax dollars feed growing school reserve funds | John Baer (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    Think Pieces

    STUDENT CONCENTRATION — Is It Actually Smart to Sit Still? (Read at The New York Times)

    TENURE — Can Ending Teacher Tenure Improve Student Achievement? A Case Study in Florida Yields Important Results (Read at The74Million.org)

    SCHOOL COUNSELORS — School counselors keep kids on track. Why are they first to be cut? (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    ARTS EDUCATION — The ‘shadow education system’: How wealthier students benefit from art, music, and theater over the summer while poor kids miss out (Read at Chalkbeat)

    INEQUALITY — Education Won’t Solve Inequality (Read at Slate)

    TEACHING SCHOOLS — Don’t Rate Teaching Schools Based on Student Test Scores, Study Warns (Read at The74Million.org)

    ANTI-BIAS EDUCATION — Should All Americans Receive Anti-Bias Education? (Read at The New York Times)

    Quote of the Day

    “I actually don’t think this is real. I never thought I’d be graduating. I thought I would be in Honduras right now.” —Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento, a 19-year-old undocumented immigrant now in an immigration detention center following a schoolyard scuffle. (Read at The New York Times)

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  • Can Ending Teacher Tenure Improve Student Achievement? A Case Study in Florida Yields Important Results

    By Kevin Mahnken | May 30, 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.

    Florida’s controversial move to end teacher tenure and tie educator pay to student performance in 2011 likely caused a modest improvement in student test scores, according to research published by the Brookings Institution this month. While the overall benefits of the policy were slight, the authors conclude, the lowest-performing students experienced the greatest gains in achievement.

    The study is the latest to examine the effects of paring back employment protections for school employees, who have traditionally enjoyed rare job security. Studies of tenure reform in huge school districts like Chicago and New York City have shown that allowing principals more leeway to fire teachers in their probationary period (typically the first three years of employment), or to extend that period rather than grant tenure so quickly, can lead to a decline in teacher absenteeism and prod lower-performing educators to leave the profession.

    On the other hand, a study of similar policy changes in Louisiana found that making tenure harder to achieve and easier to lose may have led to the exit of more than 1,500 teachers. Some have also argued that offering administrators the right to fire ineffective employees doesn’t mean they’ll exercise it, and that retaining the best teachers is more important than counseling out the worst ones.

    Related

    Study: Weakening Tenure in Louisiana May Have Caused Thousands of Teachers to Quit

    The Brookings report, written by Northwestern professor David Figlio, University of Tennessee professor Celeste Carruthers, and Georgia State professor Tim Sass, studied student performance on standardized tests following the 2011 passage of Florida’s Student Success Act.

    Before the adoption of SSA, teachers in Florida were fireable without cause within the first 97 days of employment; if they received satisfactory evaluations over their first three years (99.7 percent were rated satisfactory in 2009), they were signed to a “professional services contract” that made them difficult to terminate. The new law mandated annual contracts for teachers hired after July 1, 2011, with renewal conditioned on regular evaluations that are weighted heavily toward measures of student test score growth on state exams.

    Using statewide scores from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (the state’s primary assessment until 2015) between the 2007–08 and 2012–13 academic years, the researchers compared student performance at schools more affected with those less affected by the SSA. Though all schools across Florida were subject to its requirements, some employed relatively more rookie teachers — whose employment status would hinge the most on the new reforms — and some evaluated a higher percentage of their teachers in the initial years.

    Overall, the study found that in schools where the SSA was felt more forcefully, students performed incrementally better in math and reading on the FCAT test. Scores on the test were declining for all schools in the years before the law’s implementation and recovered ground after 2011 — though the authors note that these trends were small enough that they could simply represent a smoothing-out of data over time.

    In schools that evaluated more teachers, and in those with relatively more rookie teachers (7.6 versus 3.2 on average), improvements in scores were proportionally larger than schools less affected by the SSA. Schools that employed higher percentages of rookies, whose overall student performance had lagged those with more experienced teachers in the years before the change in law, outperformed them in the years immediately following the end of tenure.

    Brookings Institution

    What’s more, students who had previously performed the worst on the test made the biggest improvements. When sorted by scores into separate quintiles, the differences in scores between the most- and least-impacted schools were the largest among students in the bottom quintile.

    The authors do caution that the picayune size of the effects should be taken into account.

    “Even for the bottom quintile of students, the evident gain in achievement is not large — less than 1 percent of a standard deviation,” they write. “That said, this pattern of findings makes us somewhat more comfortable that the post–tenure reform results may be genuinely due to tenure reform.”

    The findings are especially bullish when viewed alongside Florida students’ eye-opening growth on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which has occurred at almost exactly the same time that the SSA has taken effect. While national NAEP scores have remained disappointingly flat over the past decade, Florida has won the kudos of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for its decade of improvement.

    Related

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

    Education figures to be a defining issue in this fall’s U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and his challenger, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who pushed to pass the SSA in the first months of his administration. Scott has been quick to take credit for Florida’s recent gains, though he has also been bitterly criticized by the state’s largest teachers union.

    In the meantime, national reformers will debate the results of the Brookings study, and particularly the use of test scores as an achievement metric. Any improvement to student performance will be welcomed regardless of its size, though the controversy attached to changing public employee contracts makes it a politically costly tactic. And other new research indicates that limiting job security could make teaching a less attractive career.

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



  • Monthly QuotED: Of Childish Gambino, Starbucks, and Midnight Tweets — 9 Notable Quotes That Made Education Headlines in May

    By Andrew Brownstein | May 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 will always pay more attention in the future when I re-tweet to make sure the language that is automatically generated in the retweet is something I would say.” —New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, on his sharing of a tweet at 1 a.m. that read, “WATCH: Wealthy white Manhattan parents angrily rant against plan to bring more black kids to their schools.” (Read at CBS)

    “If you’re interested in ‘Will young organizers make a difference in this election,’ I think the answer is yes. But if you’re interested in ‘Do young people really participate in our democracy,’ then I think the answer is basically no. And that’s a bad thing.” —Peter Levine, who studies youth civic engagement and is the associate dean for research at the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. (Read at the74Million.org)

    “It’s really too little, too late. Especially [for] those children who needed early childhood intervention. You can’t get those years back.” —Jill Goolsby of San Antonio, Texas, on the state’s attempt to make reforms after the U.S. Department of Education found it had illegally barred tens of thousands of children with disabilities, including her son, from receiving a free and appropriate education. (Read at Texas Public Radio)

    Dawn Penich-Thacker

    “This cross-state communication is happening because of hashtags. The reason the tactics look the same is because we’re all looking at one another’s pictures and saying, ‘Oh, that looks super cool, all that red.’ We’re just stealing good ideas from each other.” —Dawn Penich-Thacker, communications director at Save Our Schools Arizona, on the national teacher strike movement. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “These amendments should be assigned to the ash heap of history.” —U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, on the so-called Blaine amendments that prohibit taxpayer funding of sectarian activities such as religious schools. (Read at Politics K-12)

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is sworn in before testifying before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on May 22, 2018. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    “Sir, I think that’s a school decision. That’s a local community decision. And again, I refer to the fact that we have laws and we also are compassionate, and I urge this body to do its job and address or clarify where there is confusion around this.” —U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos answering, incorrectly, a question from Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) about whether schools can decide to report undocumented students to immigration enforcement officials. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “It’s typically not a proactive call, it’s a reactive call. I think that speaks volumes.” —Jennifer Moore, a former middle school teacher who now leads racial bias trainings through her organization, Initiate Equity, on how such trainings typically get started. Starbucks closed the majority of its locations on the afternoon of May 29 to engage in similar trainings. (Read at The74Million.org)

    “My first indication is that our policies and procedures worked. Having said that, the way things are, if someone wants to get into a school to create havoc, they can do it.” —J.R. “Rusty” Norman, president of the district board of trustees that oversees Santa Fe High School in Texas, where a student gunman killed 10 and injured 13 people. (Read at The Washington Post)

    “They gave more care to the gun than they did to the victim, which I thought was very interesting. And my teacher didn’t point that out, I did. Which was pretty cool.” —Kenny Shirley, 14, a student in Nathan Tanner’s history class at Northwest Middle School in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” video. The class is one of many in the U.S. to use the video to explore issues of race, gun violence, and history. (Read at The74Million.org)

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

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  • EduClips: Special Ed Advocate: Chicago Sought ‘Ways to Reduce the Level of Service’; Santa Fe High School Students Return to Class — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | May 30, 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

    TEACHER STRIKES —This spring’s historic teacher uprising, which emptied classrooms and rocked statehouses for three months, just claimed its first political casualty.

    In Kentucky’s state legislative elections last week, House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell — a promising young Republican who enjoyed the patronage of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell — was defeated in the GOP primary by Travis Brenda, a high school math instructor and political unknown. Shell had spearheaded a controversial law to trim teacher retirement benefits, which led thousands of protesters to descend on the state capitol in April.

    Captured in Twitter posts and videos on Facebook Live, the spontaneous demonstration unfolded as just one of a relay-style procession of labor actions that hasn’t been seen in recent decades. Beginning in late February, and heading straight into the end of the school year, a torch has been passed from West Virginia to Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina: Teachers have walked off the job, pulled on red T-shirts, headed for their state capitols, and extracted significant concessions.

    Other than perhaps the groundswell of activism around gun control following February’s Parkland massacre, it is the biggest education story of the year. But could it become part of the biggest political story of the year? (Read at The74Million.org)

    National News

    TX SCHOOL SHOOTING — Less than two weeks after Santa Fe shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott to announce school safety plan Wednesday (Read at the Texas Tribune)

    TEACHER PAY — As Educators Across America Demand Better Pay and Greater Education Spending, Delaware Has a Novel Proposal: Money to Help Teachers With Their Student Loans (Read at The74Million.org)

    DEVOS — State Restrictions on School Choice Earn Betsy DeVos’s Ire (Read at Education Week)

    TX SCHOOL SHOOTING — Texting About His Day at School, a Santa Fe Student Describes a ‘Nervous’ Return (Read at The New York Times)

    UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS — Civil Rights Groups Are Pressing Betsy DeVos to Affirm a Supreme Court Decision That Protects Undocumented Students’ Education. Here’s the Backstory on Plyler v. Doe (Read at The74Million.org)

    District and State News

    ILLINOIS — Ahead of state report, special ed advocate says Chicago Public Schools sought ‘ways to reduce the level of service’ (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    NEW YORK — Violence-plagued Bronx high school looks to Craigslist for security help (Read at the New York Daily News)

    FLORIDA — Florida prepares suspicious activity reporting app for schools (Read at the Tampa Bay Times)

    CALIFORNIA — Candidates for governor of California share their thoughts on education (Read at EdSource)

    ILLINOIS — Suburban districts spending millions on lobbying organizations (Read at the Chicago Daily Herald)

    HAWAII — Volcanic Ash Swamps Hawaii School, Turning Tennis Court Gray (Read at the Associated Press)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Charter school staffer suspended after bringing gun to school (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    FLORIDA — A Coral Gables High student made threats posing as a classmate, police say (Read at the Miami Herald)

    NEVADA — Editorial: Competitive pressures and the Clark County School District (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    VIRGINIA — Virginia student sues school system, alleging mishandling of sexual assault report (Read at The Washington Post)

    CALIFORNIA — Parents to Keep Kids Out of School to Protest SDUSD Sex Ed Course (Read at NBC Los Angeles)

    NEVADA — Opinion: 3 ways to fix collective bargaining (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    Think Pieces

    UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS — Children belong in school. You’d think the education secretary would know that (Read at The Washington Post)

    STUDENT MOBILITY — Lost in the Shuffle: Student Turnover in the Era of Grading Schools (Part I) (Read at WABE)

    VOUCHERS — D.C.’s private school voucher program hurt low-income students’ math test scores, according to federal study (Read at Chalkbeat)

    INTEGRATION — Meet the Women Who First Integrated America’s Schools (Read at NPR)

    SCHOOL DISCIPLINE — 7 Suggestions for Better School Discipline (Read at Education Week)

    Quote of the Day

    “This cross-state communication is happening because of hashtags. The reason the tactics look the same is because we’re all looking at one another’s pictures and saying, ‘Oh, that looks super cool, all that red.’ We’re just stealing good ideas from each other.” —Dawn Penich-Thacker, communications director at Save Our Schools Arizona, on the national teacher strike movement. (Read at The74Million.org)

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  • From Noblesville to Parkland, These Classroom Heroes Saved Students’ Lives During School Shootings

    By Mark Keierleber | May 29, 2018

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

    If not for the bravery of science teacher Jason Seaman, authorities say the school shooting at a middle school in Noblesville, Indiana, could have been much more grave.

    On Friday morning, a male student walked into Seaman’s classroom at Noblesville West Middle School near Indianapolis and opened fire. Springing to action, Seaman, a former college football player, tackled the shooter to the ground and halted the gunfire. Before subduing the suspect, Seaman was shot three times. Also injured in the shooting was 13-year-old student Ella Whistler, who was transported to a hospital in Indianapolis and remained in “critical yet stable” condition Tuesday, the girl’s family told the Indianapolis Star.

    Noblesville police say a student asked to leave the classroom and “returned armed with two handguns” before opening fire. Police say they received reports of the shooting just after 9 a.m., on Friday, and an officer stationed at the school responded quickly to detain the gunman. Authorities have not identified the suspected shooter.

    “My actions on that day, in my mind, were the only acceptable actions I could have done given the circumstances,” 29-year-old Seaman, a seventh-grade science teacher, said during a press conference on Monday. “I deeply care for my students and their well-being. That is why I did what I did.”

    Seaman is among several educators, school resource officers, and students who’ve taken bold actions in recent months to thwart shootings at schools. Here are several recent school shootings that could’ve been much worse without swift action from campus heroes:

    Santa Fe, Texas

    On May 18, a 17-year-old student opened fire at Santa Fe High School in Texas, fatally shooting 10 people and leaving another 13 injured. But John Barnes, a school resource officer who responded quickly to the incident, has been deemed a hero. Barnes and another officer quickly responded to reports of the attack and contained the shooter in a classroom, drawing his attention and gunfire away from other students. After being shot in the arm by a shotgun, which left him in critical condition, Barnes instructed the other officer to leave him behind to ensure students’ safety.

    “Officer Barnes is a hero,” Sheriff Henry Trochesset said. “The two officers that engaged that individual within four minutes, or approximately four minutes — they’re heroes. They contained him in that one area, isolated to them and engaging with them, so he did no more damage to other classes.”

    Related

    7 Updates on Santa Fe High School Rampage: Here’s What We Know So Far About Mass Shooting That Left 10 Dead

    Dixon, Illinois

    School resource officer Mark Dallas was deemed a hero after thwarting a school shooting in Illinois this month before the suspected gunman was able to injure any students.

    Matthew Milby, a 19-year-old former student, is suspected of opening fire at Dixon High School near a school auditorium as students gathered to rehearse their graduation ceremony. After spotting the armed suspect at the school, Dallas reportedly confronted the former student, prompting a shoot-out between the officer and the suspect. Dallas shot Milby and took him into custody. Nobody else was injured in the shooting.

    “I could not be more proud of the police officer and the way he responded to the situation. With shots ringing out through the hallways of the school, he charged towards the suspect and confronted him, head on,” Police Chief Steven Howell said. “Because of his heroic actions, countless lives were saved. We are forever indebted to him for his service and his bravery.”

    Parkland, Florida

    Seventeen people were killed in the February 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Though it was among the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, actions by several students and educators were credited for saving countless lives.

    Among them is 15-year-old student Anthony Borges, who was shot five times as he used his body as a human shield to protect his classmates from gunfire.

    Although Borges lived to tell his story, assistant football coach and security guard Aaron Feis did not. The 37-year-old used his body to shield students from gunfire, an act that cost him his life.

    The Cut at New York magazine offers an extensive roundup of the educators, janitors, and students whose heroism helped save lives at Marjory Stoneman.

    Behind the numbers:

    In 2018, at least 41 people have been killed and 71 have been injured due to school shootings. Learn more about each incident with our interactive map:


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

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

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

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

    If we’ve missed a school incident you think should be included in our coverage, please send an email to info@the74million.org, and bookmark this page for the latest reports of incidents involving the discharging of a firearm on school property that results in a wound or fatality.

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

    By Taylor Swaak | May 29, 2018

    Last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos asserted before a House committee that reporting undocumented students to authorities is “a school decision,” prompting impassioned retorts from civil rights groups, lawyers, and educators and a co-signed letter Tuesday from more than 170 organizations demanding clarification of her comments.

    The issue at hand is Plyler v. Doe, a 1982 Supreme Court case that established the precedent that all children — independent of legal status — have the right to a public education. As education powerhouses such as New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and former education secretary John King Jr. pointed out last week, this means schools cannot deny their enrollment, or adopt policies that might discourage or hinder enrollment.

    “It is imperative that you immediately make clear publicly … [that] schools may not do anything to deny or chill access to that constitutional right,” the letter read. DeVos has not made a public clarification so far, though department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill told outlets such as NBC News last week following mounting criticism that “the secretary’s position is that schools must comply with Plyler and all other applicable and relevant law.”

    While scores of recent articles have name-dropped Plyler v. Doe, the case’s backstory remains less known.

    The story of the case began when the Texas legislature revised the state’s education laws in 1975, withholding state funds from local school districts for students enrolled who were not “legally admitted” into the U.S. and authorizing schools to bar such students. In response, Tyler Independent School District in northeast Texas — under the direction of superintendent James Plyler — adopted a policy two years later that required each undocumented student to pay an annual tuition of $1,000.

    As a result, a group of children of Mexican origin were unable to attend school.

    A class action lawsuit in U.S. district court, brought on behalf of four families, followed. The court allowed the families to be identified by pseudonyms — hence, “John Doe” — and deduced that the statute didn’t serve “the purpose or effect of keeping illegal aliens out of the State of Texas” or improve the quality of education. The school district took the case to an appeals court, and it later filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court’s 5–4 decision on June 15, 1982, upheld prior rulings and found the policy in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, which declares that “no State shall ‘deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ ” Many justices also believed the revisions imposed “a lifetime hardship” on children who had no control over their circumstances, and that “by denying these children a basic education, we … foreclose any realistic possibility that they will contribute in even the smallest way to the progress of our Nation.” The dissenting opinion suggested that the court “abuses” the 14th Amendment, adding, “By definition, illegal aliens have no right whatever to be here, and the state may reasonably, and constitutionally, elect not to provide them with governmental services.”

    For attorneys Jessica Hanson and David Hausman, the ruling made no exceptions: Reporting undocumented students produces a “chilling effect” and can deter parents from enrolling their children — thus violating federal law. Hausman, a Skadden Fellow with the ACLU immigrants’ rights project, noted that the precedent is bolstered by 2014 Education Department guidance; a 2012 federal court ruling that deemed the Alabama practice of collecting and reporting students’ immigration status unlawful; and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prohibits schools from disclosing any student’s personal information to outside parties without a judicial court order.

    Someone who is reported, in fact, could feasibly sue the school and bring a case to court, Hanson added.

    “The biggest concern is that families are going to hear [DeVos’s statement] and pull their kids out of school,” said Hanson, a Skadden Fellow for the National Immigration Law Center. She cited an April scenario in Tennessee in which more than 500 students skipped school the day after a local Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid. “With every wave of immigration enforcement, we have seen that. It is dangerous when leaders in our government make statements that directly cause that chilling effect.”

    Related

    New Research Shows Aggressive Immigration Enforcement Deeply Affecting Students — Immigrant and Citizen, Alike — and Their Teachers

    Although immigration and the rights of undocumented immigrants have been a heated sociopolitical issue for decades, tensions have festered under President Donald Trump’s administration. The president has referred to some immigrants as drug dealers and “rapists,” and he has unsuccessfully tried to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects nearly 700,000 undocumented people from deportation. Recent MS-13 gang violence in Long Island, New York, has also fueled Trump’s efforts to curtail immigration.

    Nonetheless, Hausman stressed, the right of undocumented students to a public education is still very much protected.

    “The most important thing is to counter the message of fear … and to really emphasize that statements [like DeVos’s] are flatly contradicted by the administration’s own policy,” he said. “School is still a safe place for undocumented students.”

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  • Don’t Rate Teaching Schools Based on Student Test Scores, Study Warns

    By Kevin Mahnken | May 29, 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.

    How do you rate a teacher prep program?

    About 2,000 of them exist across the United States — mostly degree-focused departments within colleges and universities, but also “alternative” programs operated by Teach for America or for-profit companies like Kaplan. They assign coursework, give aspiring teachers experience in the classroom, and send their graduates into schools. So how do we know which ones do the best job of equipping future educators with the skills they need?

    According to research published in the journal Education Next, there’s one clear way not to do it: using student test scores. Reviewing studies that examined teaching programs in six locations, University of Texas professor Paul T. von Hippel writes that rankings based on “value added” models — complex measurements of growth on standardized test performance — essentially spit out random results.

    The finding is noteworthy, since the federal government has spent the past few years wrestling with the question of how to improve teacher quality. In the waning days of the Obama administration, the Department of Education issued a mandate for all states to classify their teacher preparation programs using certain metrics of student outcomes, and particularly student value-added scores. Last year, the Senate voted 59–40 to block the rule, with a large number of Democratic defectors from states that President Trump won in 2016.

    Teachers unions applauded the reversal, saying that drawing conclusions from test scores would penalize teachers who work in disadvantaged schools (and the programs that those teachers attended). Still, some 21 states and the District of Columbia have announced that they would “collect and publicly report data that connect teachers’ student growth data to their preparation programs.”

    Related

    Arnett: Trump May Have Stripped Back Regulations on Teacher Preparation, but Many States Are Moving Forward

    That’s a bad mistake, says von Hippel. With co-author Laura Bellows, he writes that the original DOE rule and state-level efforts to replicate it are wrongheaded efforts to glean information from unreliable sources.

    For one thing, there are very few studies pointing to meaningful differences between different teacher prep programs — whether at a university education department, at a for-profit enterprise, or within the umbrella of a municipal “teaching fellowship” — based on student test scores. Von Hippel notes that neither the DOE officials who drafted the short-lived regulation, nor the union voices that vociferously opposed it, cited existing research to make their cases.

    In fact, he writes, there are so many possible variables in measuring teaching programs (the strength of an individual class of future teachers, the schools to which they are later assigned, and the makeup of their own students, to name just a few) that it is nearly impossible to assess the success or failure of a program based on student test scores.

    “The errors we make in estimating program differences are often larger than the differences we are trying to estimate,” von Hippel and Bellows write. “With rare exceptions, we cannot use student test scores to say whether a given program’s teachers are significantly better or worse than average.”

    Education Next

    To illustrate the point, von Hippel charts the value-added scores of students taught by graduates of Texas’s roughly 100 teaching programs, sorted from lowest to highest. He then overlays another distribution of the programs — this one counting all of them as identical, except for random estimation errors. The two charts look almost completely the same.

    He then examines previous studies that focused on teacher preparation in Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, Washington State, and New York City, reanalyzing using the same statistical methods.

    “In every state,” he writes, “the differences between most programs were minuscule. Having a teacher from one program or another typically changed student test scores by just .01 to .03 standard deviations, or 1 to 3 percent of the average score gap between poor and non-poor children.”

    Too little hard information, lost amid far too much statistical noise, makes program rankings like the ones recommended by the DOE next to useless, von Hippel and Bellows conclude. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the question of how teachers are prepared for the classroom, especially since a significant body of research indicates that teacher quality is the single most important ingredient to student success.

    Principal evaluations are one possible alternative, but they are also biased in ways that are unfair to teachers of disadvantaged students. Teachers can also be asked to rate the programs they graduated from, though that presents the opportunity for bias to creep in as well.

    The best existing proposal, the authors argue, is to measure programs based on the percentage of their graduates who are hired and retained as teachers. Given the relatively large number of teaching school graduates who never take classroom roles, or who leave the profession within a few years, programs’ records of placing their graduates in schools long-term may be the best reflection of their success.

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



  • EduClips: Some Parkland Victims Slam District as Unsupportive; NYC Schools That Cater to Students Who Have Fallen Behind Undergoing ‘Systemic’ Transformation — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | May 29, 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

    STARBUCKS RACIAL BIAS TRAINING — They were educators, not baristas, and copies of How Bear Lost His Tail lined the wall rather than promotions for the Ultra Caramel Frappuccino. But on a recent Friday afternoon, the staff of Coney Island Prep Elementary School in Brooklyn engaged in the same activity nearly 175,000 Starbucks employees will participate in today: racial bias training.

    After students left for the day, nearly three dozen staff gathered in Room 446, sat in tennis-ball-bottomed chairs, and shared how they — just like everyone else — had occasionally and unintentionally offended by making assumptions based on race. Many had been on the receiving end of such offenses. They happen in schools, offices, Starbucks — everywhere, in other words. (Read at The74Million.org)

    National News

    GAY STUDENTS — Catholic School Rejected Its Gay Valedictorian’s Speech. So He Gave It With a Bullhorn. (Read at The New York Times)

    TESTING — Can Districts Use the SAT or ACT for School Accountability Without State OK? (Read at Politics K-12)

    RURAL SCHOOLS — A rural school turns to digital education. Is it a savior or devil’s bargain? (Read at NBC News)

    District and State News

    NEW YORK — Behind the scenes, New York City schools that serve students who have fallen behind are undergoing a ‘systemic’ transformation (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — Fueled by unlimited donations, independent groups play their biggest role yet in a California primary for governor (Read at the Los Angeles Times)

    FLORIDA — Some Parkland victims slam school district as unsupportive: ‘They know I am broken’ (Read at the Sun Sentinel)

    TEXAS — Twice a week, these Texas students circle up and talk about their feelings. It’s lowering suspensions and preventing violence. (Read at The Texas Tribune)

    PENNSYLVANIA — Philadelphia school returns donated iPads for strange reason (Read at Metro)

    CALIFORNIA — California schools are short of teachers. One reason? They’re going to Texas (Read at The Sacramento Bee)

    FLORIDA — The Sunshine Economy: State of Teachers’ Unions (Read at WLRN)

    NEW YORK — NYC pols, advocates urge education officials to offer more social workers for homeless students (Read at the New York Daily News)

    TEXAS — Texas education agency penalizes testing vendor over STAAR glitches (Read at KTSM)

    Think Pieces

    SCHOOL TEMPERATURE — Higher temperatures equal lower test scores — study confirms that students learn less in overheated classrooms (Read at Chalkbeat)

    ENGLISH — ‘OMG This Is Wrong!’ Retired English Teacher Marks Up a White House Letter and Sends It Back (Read at The New York Times)

    DEVOS — OPINION: Did Betsy DeVos just suggest that schools roll back students’ civil rights? (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    ELECTION — Can Ms. Hayes go to Washington? A national teacher of the year explains why she’s running for Congress (Read at Chalkbeat)

    PERSONALIZED LEARNING — Analysis: Through Co-Teaching, Team Teaching, and Collaboration, These Pioneering Schools Are Rethinking How to Best Deliver Personalized Learning for Students (Read at The74Million.org)

    KINDERGARTEN — Money makes the difference for kindergarteners in the summer (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “It’s typically not a proactive call, it’s a reactive call. I think that speaks volumes.” —Jennifer Moore, a former middle school teacher who now leads racial bias trainings through her organization, Initiate Equity, on how such trainings typically get started. Starbucks is closing the majority of its locations today to engage in similar trainings. (Read at The74Million.org)

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  • Watch: 7 of This Year’s Most Memorable — and Inspiring — Graduation Speeches

    By Laura Fay | May 23, 2018

    This article is one in a series at The 74 that profiles the most inspiring things happening at schools all across America. Read more of our recent inspiring headlines at The74Million.org/Inspiring.

    As graduates around the country receive their diplomas, pose for photos, and make plans for their futures, they will likely listen to a series of long commencement speeches. This is when celebrities, students, and faculty celebrate their accomplishments. Pursue your dreams, they’ll say. Reach for the stars.

    But each year, there are always a few speeches that reach past the clichés to comment on current events, offer rare advice, and make people laugh.

    We collected a few of the season’s best:

    Oprah Winfrey at USC: In an Era of Cynicism, ‘Exemplify Honesty’ — and Vote

    In the words of Oprah Winfrey, graduates are being “catapulted into a world that appears to have gone off its rocker.” In a speech at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Winfrey asked graduates to declare war on cynicism and embrace honesty.

    Winfrey made only a passing reference to politics, encouraging graduates to vote.

    “So, I hesitate to say this, because the rumors from my last big speech have finally died down, but here it is. Vote. Vote. Vote.” (See the transcript here.)

    Hillary Clinton at Yale: The Speech With the Hat

    Other speakers made more specific political references.

    Hillary Clinton brought out a Russian hat during her speech at a graduation event at Yale.

    “If you can’t beat them, join them,” she joked.

    Jimmy Carter at Liberty University: A Jab at Trump

    Former president Jimmy Carter bragged that the crowd to see him at Liberty University was bigger than the one that gathered to see President Donald Trump give the commencement address there last year.

    “I don’t know if President Trump would admit that or not,” Carter said.

    Boston University’s Yasmin Younis: Daughter of Iraqi Immigrants Reclaims Her Name

    Yasmin Younis, a student speaker at Boston University’s commencement and the daughter of Iraqi immigrants, spoke about how she reclaimed her name when she arrived at the school. Before college, she used an anglicized pronunciation of her name and neglected her middle name. But as an undergraduate, she started to proudly refer to herself in full: Yasmin Liwa Younis. She compared her identity struggle to other hardships she and her classmates faced — Boston winters, difficult classes, and social adjustments.

    “Every struggle we overcame added to our story. It helped us figuratively reclaim our names, like my struggles pushed me to literally reclaim mine.” (Read more about Younis here.)

    Chadwick Boseman at Howard: A Wakanda-Flavored Call to ‘Savor the Taste of Your Triumphs’

    At Howard University, alumnus Chadwick Boseman of Black Panther fame remembered his own time on campus, crossing paths with Muhammad Ali and participating in student protests. He praised graduates for their own activism this year and explained how his time protesting as a student prepared him to deal with discrimination later in his career. Boseman also encouraged students to appreciate their graduation experience.

    “Invest in the importance of this moment, and cherish it. … Savor the taste of your triumphs today, don’t just swallow the moment whole without digesting what has happened here.”

    He ended the speech with a “Wakanda salute” from Black Panther, saying “Howard forever.”

    Actor Chadwick Boseman gives a Wakanda salute to the crowd as Howard University holds its commencement ceremonies on May 12, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

    Soccer Star Abby Wambach at Barnard: It’s OK to be Disappointed

    Retired soccer star Abby Wambach spoke to graduates at Barnard College about the expectations women face in the workplace, the power of learning from failure, and the importance of lifting up other women.

    Wambach compared the commencement to being honored at the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards after her retirement from professional soccer in 2015.

    “Here’s what’s important,” she said. “You’re allowed to be disappointed when it feels like life’s benched you. What you aren’t allowed to do is miss your opportunity to lead from the bench. … If you’re not a leader on the bench, don’t call yourself a leader on the field.” (See the transcript here.)

    Ronan Farrow at Loyola Marymount: How He Almost Gave Up on the Harvey Weinstein Investigation That Won Him the Pulitzer

    Ronan Farrow, who wrote one of the Pulitzer Prize–winning stories that brought down Harvey Weinstein and electrified the #MeToo movement last year, spoke to graduates at Loyola Marymount University about the process of investigating and writing about Weinstein — and the moment he almost gave up. Farrow told graduates he hoped they, too, would persist when they faced obstacles in their work.

    “I didn’t stop. Because I knew I’d never be able to live with myself if I didn’t honor the risks those women had taken to expose this. But also, less nobly, because I really had gambled too much and there was no way out but through.” (See the transcript here.)

    Columnist Mitch Albom Hears ‘the Best Commencement Speech of the Year’ — in a Phone Call

    Author and columnist Mitch Albom wrote in The Detroit Free Press that he heard “the best commencement speech of the year” — not at a high school or college graduation, but in a phone call.

    The “speech” came when Albom interviewed a local high student, Sean English, who lost his leg a year ago when hit by a car; the accident occurred while English was on the side of the road helping a family that had car trouble. Another woman who had stopped to help was killed. When Albom talked to English, the student had recently attended his prom and participated in a track meet with his prosthetic leg. Yet English was relentlessly positive.

    “I mean, life can always be worse. You can go to your local hospital and see people in positions much worse than what you’re experiencing. So you should always remember to be grateful for that,” English said. (Read the full column here.)

    Go Deeper: This article is one in a series at The 74 that profiles the most inspiring things happening at schools all across America. Read more of our recent inspiring headlines at The74Million.org/Inspiring.

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  • With Easy Primary Win, Stacey Abrams Moves Closer to Becoming Nation’s First Black Woman Governor

    By David Cantor | May 23, 2018

    Former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams cruised to a lopsided victory in the state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday, becoming the first black woman ever to be nominated for governor by a major party.

    Abrams won nearly 76 percent of the vote and will face the winner of a July 24 runoff between two current state GOP officeholders. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who led candidates in both parties in polls and fundraising throughout the race, failed to win a majority against a crowded primary field, attracting 39 percent of Republican voters.

    In a year when Democratic office seekers in conservative districts have tried to distance themselves from the party’s liberal leadership, Abrams campaigned as an unapologetic progressive, aiming to mobilize non-participating and unregistered voters, particularly in black and Hispanic communities.

    Her “new Democratic majority,” as a supporter called it, won the support of the Bernie Sanders wing of the party, as well as celebrities ranging from Meryl Streep to Cardi B and organizations like Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List. Profiles of Abrams appeared in every national news outlet, both legacy and online, sometimes several times.

    “Having interviewed Stacey Abrams back in the day,” said Rachel Maddow, the popular left-leaning MSNBC news personality Tuesday night, “I found her to be one of the most charismatic politicians of her generation.”

    Abrams easily defeated her more moderate Democratic rival, Stacey Evans. If Cagle emerges from the GOP runoff in July, the two will compete to succeed outgoing Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who pursued several education-reform-minded initiatives during his two terms.

    Deal helped pass a 2012 constitutional amendment allowing the state to authorize charter schools, which Abrams voted against. She also objected to Deal’s signature 2016 proposal: a so-called Opportunity School District for chronically low-performing schools. The schools, which enrolled 68,000 students at that time, Deal said, would be run by the state. Voters rejected the plan by a 60–40 voter margin. The Georgia Federation of Teachers still felt that Abrams, as House minority leader, didn’t do enough to get her caucus to defeat the Opportunity School District before it could get to voters and endorsed Evans.

    Abrams supported 2011 legislation, advanced by Deal, that raised academic eligibility requirements for the state’s HOPE college scholarships. Evans had argued that poorer students are being hurt, which data bear out. Abrams said she saved the scholarship from further cuts and negotiated added benefits. Abrams has promoted early education, improved social-emotional learning, and increased school funding. She believes quality day care needs to be part of the solution and opposes private school vouchers.

    Cagle, the leading Republican, supports voucher expansion and charter schools, along with prep programs that prepare students for study at one of Georgia’s 22 technical colleges.

    Cagle wrote a 160-page book, Education Unleashed, blurbed by former U.S. secretary of education William Bennett, that functions as a campaign manifesto. He decries “the compliance mentality of our state’s educational bureaucracy” and calls for empowering local districts, even allowing them to design their own assessments.

    Back in January, Georgia voters identified education as the state’s most important issue. Whether that will hold true through the general election remains to be seen, as does whether Abrams’s electoral strategy will work beyond Democratic voters. Donald Trump won Georgia modestly — by 5 points — but his approval ratings have climbed. And Georgians haven’t elected a Democrat to statewide office in two decades.

    As with Democrat Doug Jones in his successful U.S. Senate race in Alabama — which comes up often in interviews with Abrams supporters — she will need a large turnout, particularly in Atlanta and the state’s relatively few other urban areas.

    Preliminary reports indicated voter turnout was low Tuesday.

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  • EduClips: Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Transgender Student in Bathroom Case; TX Governor Touts Plan to Stop School Shootings — and More Must-Reads From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

    By Andrew Brownstein | May 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.

    EduClips will be going on vacation until after the Memorial Day holiday. We will return Tuesday morning, May 29.

    Top Story

    TRANSGENDER BATHROOMS —A federal judge in Virginia has found in favor of a transgender student whose efforts to use the boys’ bathrooms at his high school reached the Supreme Court and thrust him into the middle of a national debate about the rights of transgender students. In an order handed down on Tuesday, Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia denied a motion by the Gloucester County school board to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the student, Gavin Grimm.

    The school board had maintained that Mr. Grimm’s “biological gender” was female and had prohibited administrators from allowing him to use the boys’ restrooms. He sued the school board in July 2015, alleging that its policy violated Title IX as well as the equal protection clause of the Constitution. The board had argued in essence that its policy was valid because Title IX allows for claims only on the basis of sex, rather than gender identity, and that its policy did not violate the equal protection clause.

    But Judge Wright Allen disagreed, writing that Mr. Grimm’s transgender status constituted a claim of sex discrimination and that the bathroom policy had “subjected him to sex stereotyping,” violations of the law. (Read at The New York Times)

    National News

    DEVOS TESTIMONY

    From School Safety to Discipline Guidance: 8 Subjects DeVos Addressed in Wide-Ranging First Appearance Before House Ed Committee (Read at The74Million.org)

    ‘Astounding ignorance of the law’: Civil rights groups slam DeVos for saying schools can report undocumented students (Read at The Washington Post)

    TEACHER GRANT PROGRAM — Education Secretary DeVos Acknowledges Problems With Teacher Grant Program (Read at NPR)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — Arne Duncan Is Serious: Americans Should Boycott School (Read at The Atlantic)

    TEACHER PAY — Democrats: Boost Teacher Pay Instead of Giving Tax Cut to ‘Richest Americans’ (Read at Politics K-12)

    SCHOOL SAFETY — ‘All of These Tweets Are People’s Futures’: After Texas Tragedy, Hashtag #IfIDieInASchoolShooting Gives Voice to Students’ Despair (Read at The74Million.org)

    APPRENTICESHIPS — Trump’s Apprenticeship Task Force Sheds No New Light on High School Expansion (Read at Education Week)

    District and State News

    TEXAS — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott touts immediate plans to stop school shootings, but avoids talk of a special session (Read at The Texas Tribune)

    ILLINOIS — Editorial: When Chicago schools close: How to help students thrive (Read at the Chicago Tribune)

    NEW YORK — Charter schools advocates’ next push: Funding for school security (Read at Chalkbeat)

    TEXAS — Opinion: Something Has Changed in the Gun Debate in Texas (Read at the Texas Observer)

    CALIFORNIA — Modesto taps Sacramento educator as next schools leader. Board member resigns. (Read at the Modesto Bee)

    NEW YORK — Another integration plan for Upper West Side middle schools is met with some support, but also familiar concerns (Read at Chalkbeat)

    CALIFORNIA — Latinos, African-Americans have less access to math, science classes, new data show (Read at EdSource)

    Think Pieces

    CHICAGO SCHOOLS — Study: CPS 2013 closings didn’t keep promises of better academic opportunities (Read at The Chicago Sun-Times)

    EDUCATION REFORM — Bailey: Student-Centered Education Reforms + Time to Let Them Work = Progress. Need Proof? Look at Florida’s NAEP Scores (Read at The74Million.org)

    GENDER EQUALITY — Gender equality in schools is hiding disadvantages for both boys and girls (Read at Quartz)

    GRADING — Has video killed the red grading pen? (Read at The Hechinger Report)

    Quote of the Day

    “Sir, I think that’s a school decision. That’s a local community decision. And again, I refer to the fact that we have laws and we also are compassionate, and I urge this body to do its job and address or clarify where there is confusion around this.” —U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos answering, incorrectly, a question from Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) about whether schools can decide to report undocumented students to immigration enforcement officials. (Read at The Washington Post)

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