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EduClips: From Miami’s A Grade to Abuse Allegations in Las Vegas, School News You Missed This Week From America’s 15 Biggest Districts

By The 74 | July 18, 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 — For Second Straight Year, Miami Schools Get an A: Standing near two giant cardboard cutouts of the letter A, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho recently celebrated good news from the Florida Department of Education: For the second year in a row, it was named an A-rated district. In what is likely an even greater accomplishment, for the third year, no schools in the district, traditional or charter, received a failing grade. Only one traditional school and five charter schools received D grades. The Miami Herald reported, “Coupled with a graduation rate of almost 90% for traditional high schools, Carvalho called Thursday’s announcement of grades his proudest moment.” (Read at the Miami Herald)

New York City — Officials Deny Rumors that Embattled Chief Carranza is Leaving: With Chancellor Richard Carranza facing criticism for his performance and for some of his racial integration policies, district officials offered an unusual public denial that the schools chief’s resignation was imminent. As reported by Chalkbeat, at a monthly meeting of parent leaders, Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council member Sheree Gibson asked Deputy Chancellor Hydra Mendoza if Carranza was leaving. The deputy chancellor was “surprised and emphatically stated that’s not true,” according to Gibson, who added that Carranza “is a fighter.” The flurry of concern about Carranza’s fate came amid pointed criticism of his performance by city leaders, who said he should be fired if he “continues to divide this city” with “contentious rhetoric about race,” Chalkbeat reported. (Read at Chalkbeat)

Clark County — Las Vegas Schools Have Paid Half a Million Dollars to Fight Abuse Cases Against Former Teacher: The Clark County School District has spent $500,000 defending two cases against a former special education teacher who is accused of abusing autistic students and depriving them of food and drink. The teacher, Kasey Glass, once taught at Las Vegas’s Kirk Adams Elementary School but now teaches in Nye County, Nevada, according to The Las Vegas Review-Journal. One suit claims that Glass repeated pushed a child’s head down with his foot, and another says a child repeatedly returned home with injuries that he told his mother had been caused by Glass. Both suits claim the district failed to report and take action on the allegations. A lawyer for Glass declined to comment on the suits. (Read at the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Los Angeles — Complaint Alleges Failure to Adequately Address High-Needs Students: L.A. Unified’s plans for high-needs students “undermine basic notions of transparency and equity” and are failing to adequately ensure that more than $1 billion annually in state funds goes to this group, according to a complaint filed on behalf of two district parents. The complaint is brought by two law firms that won a similar case in 2017 alleging that the district misallocated $450 million annually in funds for high-needs students. L.A. Unified receives about $1.1 billion each year set aside for boosting services for low-income students, English learners and foster youth. The complaint claims that the district’s required annual plans for these students are “opaque” and “rife with fundamental errors.” (Read at The 74Million.org)

Orange County — Florida Teachers Offered Bonuses to Work in Struggling Schools, Orlando Sentinel Reports: Teachers with “proven records of success” under the state’s merit pay law will be eligible for one-time bonuses of up to $15,000 if they work in the state’s neediest schools. The state Department of Education announced that teachers who work in schools that received Ds or Fs under the state’s grading system — 172 schools this year — would receive the bonuses from a $16 million federal grant designed to help improve long-struggling schools, according to the Orlando Sentinel. To receive the bonuses, teachers would have to be rated “highly effective” or “effective” for three years under the state’s value-added model, which evaluates teachers’ impact on student performance. Eighteen percent of state teachers were rated “highly effective” and 54 percent were deemed “effective” under the system at the end of the 2017-18 school year. (Read at the Orlando Sentinel)

National — Online Teachers Bear Witness to Child Abuse: It began in 2018, when a teacher logged on to her account with a Beijing-based company that connected children in China with native English-speaking teachers for live, online video lessons. As reported by EdSurge, the teacher witnessed a mother repeatedly hitting a 4-year-old boy during one English lesson. After the lesson, the teacher logged on again and saw the woman continuing to repeatedly strike her son with a plastic coat hanger. As far as the teacher knew, the company had no systems in place to address what had happened. After reporting the incident to the company, she drafted a post in a private Facebook forum. She soon learned that her experience was not unique. According to EdSurge, “In the Facebook group she posted in, and others like it, new reports of parental abuse surface nearly every week.” (Read at EdSurge)

Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

EDLECTION 2020 — Stewart: Hey, Bill de Blasio, I Was Once a Charter School Parent — and I Don’t Deserve Your ‘Hate’ (Read at The74Million.org)

RESEARCH — EdBuild, nonprofit that highlighted funding disparities, plans to close next year (Read at Chalkbeat)

DEVOS — Trump Picked His Perfect Education Secretary in Betsy DeVos (Read at Bloomberg)

SCHOOL LUNCH — Does lunch have to be 45 minutes? Rethinking school schedules to support innovation (Read at The Hechinger Report)

TENNESSEE — Tennessee school turnaround models either haven’t worked or are stalling out, new research finds (Read at Chalkbeat)

Quotes of the Week

“Imagine if we published student grades and even … student work. How about nurse reports and private health information? What would the parents have to say about this? What sort of lawsuits would they begin?” ­—letter sent to the Columbia Falls School District in Montana that signaled a massive ransomware attack. Such events are becoming increasingly common in schools. (Read at The74Million.org)

“I DONT [sic] NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS!” —a text message from Christian Sobrino, former chief financial officer of Puerto Rico, referring to the island’s teachers union. The release of the messages, in addition to corruption charges against former education secretary Julia Keleher, are threatening to unravel the administration of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. (Read at Politics K-12)

“Anyone who does what we do knows it’s happened not by chance but by deliberate choice by those who embrace and embark on this work.” —Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade superintendent, on the district getting an A grade from the state education department two years in a row. (Read at the Miami Herald)

“The blood-curdling sobbing, the screaming. I have him in my ears. It was bad. Honestly, it was traumatic.” —Jordan, an online English instructor, describing a mother in China beating her 4-year-old son during a video lesson. Online teachers report that parental abuse is far from uncommon on some platforms that cater to international students. (Read at EdSurge)

“Schools in north Baton Rouge for 100 years have been getting less. I firmly believe the St. George movement is rooted in racism. Look at the boundaries. You go down Florida Boulevard and it’s like the Mason-Dixon line. South of Florida, it’s white; north, it’s black.” —Tramelle Howard, new member of the school board in East Baton Rouge Parish, which is facing a secession attempt from a mostly white and affluent enclave. (Read at The74Million.org)

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