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EduClips: From Helping Hawaii’s Teachers Find Housing to Philadelphia’s Blighted Former School Buildings, Headlines You Missed Last Week From America’s 15 Biggest School Districts

By The 74 | May 4, 2019

EduClips is a roundup of the week’s top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here.

Miami-Dade County — As Florida Pushes to Arm Teachers, Several Districts Opt Out: The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature recently passed a bill that would allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom, a move to make schools more secure after the 2018 shooting of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But the Broward County School District, Parkland’s home district, won’t be participating. Nor will South Florida’s other two school districts: Palm Beach County and Miami Dade County. Despite opposition from top law enforcement officials and several school districts and teachers unions, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is widely expected to sign the bill into law, according to Miami New Times. (Read at Miami New Times)

Hawaii — Firm Offers Housing Assistance to Teachers Facing Island’s High Cost of Living: Hawaii school officials are hopeful that a San Francisco-based company that offers down payment assistance to public school teachers may help stem the tide of teachers who have departed due to the extremely high cost of living on the island. Landed Inc. has formed similar partnerships with school districts in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver and San Diego. According to Honolulu Civil Beat, its model helps teachers stay in the high-cost areas they service by helping with a down payment in exchange for a future share in home appreciation. Average teacher salary is $57,000 in Hawaii — 18th in the nation, but dead last when adjusted for cost of living. The island lost 1,300 teachers last year, 500 of them leaving for the mainland due to Hawaii’s high cost of living in Hawaii. (Read at Honolulu Civil Beat)

Los Angeles — Elite Parents Anxiously Await Second Wave of Prosecutions in College Admissions Scandal: An expected second wave of prosecutions in the college admissions fraud scandal has put scores of elite Los Angeles-area parents on edge about “which well-heeled executive or celebrity might be the next to be charged,” according to The New York Times. While the exact number of parents the prosecutors have met with is unclear, the lead prosecutor in the case met with at least two during a trip to Los Angeles in April. The college consultant at the heart of the case, William Singer, was based in Newport Beach, and many of his clients were from Los Angeles. As the Times reported, “Some of those clients are now grappling with a secret, nerve-racking waiting game, while fellow parents openly gloat about cheaters getting their due or whisper about which high school senior might have benefited from some shady help.” A second wave of prosecutions has been expected since prosecutors first announced they were charging 50 people in an elaborate scheme that included paying for spots at elite schools and cheating on college entrance exams. (Read at The New York Times)

Puerto Rico — Odds Stacked Against Island Youth Who Want to Go to College: In Puerto Rico, only 694 high school graduates, or roughly 2 percent, go on to college in the U.S. mainland or abroad. Of this number, many are children from high-income families who, according to The Hechinger Report, “can afford to pay for private schools or to hire college consultants.” For the island, the report said, “it means an unremitting cycle in which too few people have the skills to work in knowledge-economy jobs — or create new opportunities and industries that can encourage other Puerto Ricans to go on to college.” (Read at The Hechinger Report)

Philadelphia — Six Years After Sale, 7 Former Schools Remain Vacant, Blighted: When Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission bucked neighborhood pressure and closed 21 schools in 2013, officials promised that the buildings would be sold and blight avoided. But according to WHYY, seven of the properties remain vacant with no plans for reuse. Here is a stark description of one of the former campuses: “Broken glass, withered pieces of cardboard and used diapers lay at the front door of former Fairhill Elementary School. Graffiti pierces through a careless paint job. Windows are pried open.” The story indicated that all of the vacant buildings are in high-poverty neighborhoods where “residents are used to property owners abandoning their claim.” (Read at WHYY)

Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

COMMON CORE — Nearly a decade later, did the Common Core work? New research offers clues (Read at Chalkbeat)

SCHOOL SHOOTINGS — Rash: Hear Me Screaming, North Carolina — Fear of Gun Violence Has No Place in Our Schools, at Our Colleges and Universities (Read at The74Million.org)

TEACHER PAY — My teacher salary was so low I slept in my car. Today, educators still barely get by. (Read at USA Today)

SCHOOL DISCIPLINE — The Solution to School Discipline: Undercover School Leaders (Read at U.S. News and World Report)

SCHOOL REFORM —Education Reform as We Know It Is Over. What Have We Learned? (Read at Education Week)

Quotes of the Week

“It’s become a homeless and vacant spot for people to sleep in. Sometimes they put the cars in front of it, and they burn them.” —Marilyn Rodriguez, who lives around the corner from the former Fairhill Elementary School in Philadelphia, and who once taught in its classrooms. Fairhill is one of seven schools that remain unused and blighted after the district’s School Reform Commission closed them in 2013. (Read at WHYY)

“He’s a pretty chill dude.” —Dunbar High School senior Ciata Lattisaw, on new DC Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee. (Read at The74Million.org)

“It was constant hate and control and manipulation. I felt like we were his slaves.” —Sharif Hassan, a former student at Atlah High School, one of two schools run by the Atlah World Missionary Church in Harlem led by Pastor James Manning. The church has been labeled an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Read at HuffPost)

“Respectfully, in Miami-Dade, we believe that safety and security shall be provided by law enforcement, the only entities allowed to carry firearms into schools, not teachers.” —Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade superintendent, on the district’s decision to not follow the state’s lead in allowing teachers to be armed. (Read at Miami New Times)

“Our No. 1 job as adults in this system has got to be that every child who shows up to school can learn feeling safe, being safe, in an environment that’s orderly. If we can’t meet that, we’ve got a real problem on our hands. We’ve got to keep those kids front and center as well.” —Mike Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. (Read at The74Million.org)

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