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EduClips: From Philadelphia’s Crumbling Schools to Violence Against Children in Houston, Stories You Might Have Missed This Week From America’s 15 Top School Districts

By Andrew Brownstein | February 1, 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.

Houston — 1 in 4 10th-Graders Is a Victim of Violence, Study Finds: More than 25 percent of Houston 10th-graders have been shot, stabbed, or assaulted violently enough to require medical attention, according to a new study. The study, by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, found that the rate of violent injury among Houston schoolchildren increased as they aged — from 13 percent in fifth grade to 24 percent in seventh. None of the injuries involved mass shootings. According to experts, one of the study’s biggest surprises was that it isn’t bullying victims, but bullies themselves, who are most likely to get seriously hurt: Bullies were 41 percent more likely to be violently injured than other children, the study found. The researchers also found that black students were 30 percent more likely to suffer violent injury than other races or ethnic groups, and that boys were 22 percent more likely to sustain injuries than girls. (Read at The Houston Chronicle)

Miami-Dade — What Do Florida’s A-List Schools, Including Those in Miami, Have in Common?: More veteran teachers. Fewer chronically absent students. Those are the two most consistent elements of schools that earned an A in the state’s tough rating system, according to an examination of data by the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Of Florida’s 22 large school districts, meaning those that serve 40,000 students or more, seven received A’s, including Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Those districts have a few things in common that are believed to have factored into their high marks, which are based largely on standardized test scores. The average teacher in each of the big A districts has more than the state average of 11.3 years’ experience. Students in these districts attend school more often, and every large A district falls below the 10.2 percent statewide average for students who are chronically absent. Beyond those two shared factors, there is wide variation, from the wealth of families of children attending school to average teacher salaries. Miami-Dade was the only district of the seven to have more schools that receive Title I funding than the state average. (Read at The St. Augustine Record)

Los Angeles — Following Strike, L.A. Opts for Charter School Moratorium: The Los Angeles Unified school board approved a resolution calling for a moratorium on new charter schools, a move set in motion by January’s deal between the district and the teachers union to settle a six-day strike. The vote directs the state, which has the power to change the law, to conduct an eight-to-10-month study of potential changes while instituting a temporary moratorium. Board member Nick Melvoin, who cast the sole “no” vote, expressed “consistent frustration” with the heated political battle over charters in Los Angeles. “We’re blaming others for our financial problems without getting our house in order.” To loud applause, he added, “I’d like to see a moratorium on low-performing schools.” (Read at The74Million.org)

New York City — Graduation Rate Continues Its Steady Climb: New York City’s graduation rate continued its steady improvement, with the percentage of students who received diplomas climbing to almost 76 percent in 2018, according to state data. City officials touted the results as evidence that mayoral control was working and gave credit to former chancellor Carmen Fariña’s plan to reach an 80 percent graduation rate. However, the rising rate continues to be affected by changes in state graduation requirements made before last year, meaning the trend may not entirely reflect gains in student learning. The city’s gains reflect a 1.6 percent increase in the number of seniors who graduated last year compared with 2017. Graduation rates at charter schools fell 2.5 percent across the state but increased in the city by .7 percentage points, to 76.3 percent, according to city officials. (Read at Chalkbeat)

Philadelphia — Charter Operator Makes Bid to Repair District’s Crumbling School Buildings: String Theory Schools, which took out $55 million in bonds in 2013 to buy a Center City office tower and now runs the largest single charter school in the city, is eyeing a bigger expansion: It wants to build schools to replace the district’s in some neighborhoods, a takeover it says would spare the district from having to make costly repairs to some aging buildings. Pennsylvania law tasks districts with authorizing new charter schools, which are publicly funded but independently run. In Philadelphia, charters enroll one-third of public school students, and how the newly appointed school board will address further charter school growth has been an open question. “I’m not ideological about charter schools,” said Jason Corosanite, String Theory’s chief innovation officer. “But I do think as an instrument, or a vehicle to address the facilities problems we have right now in the city of Philadelphia, I think it’s a viable solution.” (Read at The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

GRADUATION — Across U.S., graduation rates are rising, with little connection to test scores (Read at Chalkbeat)

L.A. STRIKE — Aldeman: The L.A. District May Owe $13.6 Billion for Health Care & Pensions — and the Strike Made Things Worse. Obamacare Is a Way Out (Read at The74Million.org)

EDUCATION REPORTING — In 13 Years of Education Reporting, So Much Has Changed (Read at The New York Times)

DEVOS — Betsy DeVos Is Fabricating History to Sell a Bad Education Policy (Read at The New Republic)

MEASUREMENT — Now That Schools Are Promoting Broader Definitions of Success, How Do We Measure Progress? (Read at Forbes)

Quotes of the Week

“Those numbers are ridiculous, scary. We know injury is a leading cause of death in children, but the sheer scale of intentional violent injuries children are sustaining is stunning.” —Katelyn Jetelina, assistant professor of epidemiology at the UTHealth School of Public Health and author of a paper showing that more than 1 in 4 Houston 10th-graders had been the victim of violence. (Read at The Houston Chronicle)

“I hear you, I’m with you. No matter what happens here today, don’t give up your power as parents to choose the best education for your children.” —Los Angeles Unified school board president Mónica García to charter school supporters, before voting on a resolution to enact a moratorium on new charter schools in the district. (Read at The74Million.org)

“The high school graduation rate numbers have been going up and up and up, which I do think is a good outcome. But it also calls into question whether all of those diplomas mean the same thing, whether they are as meaningful a credential as it once was.” —Anne Hyslop, a former Department of Education official now at the Alliance for Excellent Education. (Read at Chalkbeat)

“If we make this a right to an education or a right to a certain level of funding … then this really is a lawyer full employment act.” —Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, on the debate over establishing a federal right to education. (Read at The74Million.org)

“I’m here to say, when you complained about Common Core, I hear you, I told you I’d do something about it, and today we are acting to bring those promises into a reality.” —Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, on his pledge to revamp education standards and eliminate “vestiges” of the politically unpopular Common Core. (Read at the Daily Commercial)

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