Just News from Center X – April 8, 2016

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Will controversial new tests for teachers make the profession even more overwhelmingly white?

Peggy Barmore, The Hechinger Report

Most of the 50-plus teacher hopefuls who crowded into a small atrium at Clarkson University on a Saturday morning in January to hear a panel discussion about the teaching job market and new licensure requirements shared two traits: They were female. And white. About a third were people of color or males. There was one lone African-American man. They are the picture of – and the problem with – America’s teacher pipeline.

Those urban-education heroes

Melinda D. Anderson, The Atlantic

The storyline is a familiar one: An idealistic new teacher, full of hope and enthusiasm, embarks on a career at a tough urban school. The plot then takes one of two typical turns: Either the fervent novice, facing the unyielding and ever-increasing pressures of the classroom, leaves teaching and emerges with insights on improving urban schools—or the newbie, due solely to individual moxie and an untiring work ethic, achieves seemingly miraculous results with a hard-to-teach student population.

White teachers and black teachers have different expectations for black students

Emma Brown, The Washington Post

Many in the education world talk about the power of expectations, expressing the belief that if adults in a school expect students to succeed, then students will rise to that expectation, and if adults expect failure — well, that, too, can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Confronting the housing dilemma for teachers

Kimberly Beltran, Cabinet Report

A Richmond lawmaker wants the state to pony up $100 million to help school districts build housing for teachers, who often are unable to afford to live in the communities in which they work. By establishing a grant program that offers “development financing assistance” to districts “for the creation of affordable rental housing” for employees, the plan by Democratic Assemblyman Tony Thurmond provides some leverage for schools to partner with other local agencies or businesses to build economical housing as an incentive to get and retain teachers.

Language, Culture, and Power

Dual-language classes for kids grow in popularity

Janet Adamy, The Wall Street Journal

Penelope Spain is desperate to make her 3-year-old son fluent in a second language. Last year, the Washington, D.C., attorney competed with hundreds of other parents for a spot at several prekindergarten programs that teach lessons partly or mostly in Spanish. She struck out. “I sat on the couch and just cried endlessly,” she recalled. Now she has widened her search to French and Mandarin schools. Public schools that immerse students in a second language have become hot destinations for parents seeking a leg up for their children in a global economy. New York, Utah, Delaware and other states are adding classrooms where at least half of lessons are taught in a second tongue.

NYC to unveil big expansion of bilingual education programs in schools

Ben Chapman, New York Daily News

Big Apple public schools are going to become a bit more of a melting pot — at least linguistically. Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will unveil a plan Monday to open 38 bilingual programs at city schools starting in September, the Daily News has learned.

Sacrifice zones

Rosemarie Frascella, Rethinking Schools

The concept of sacrifice is nothing new for my immigrant students. They have heard, seen, and lived the sacrifices their family members made coming to the United States. Some risked their lives crossing deserts and borders; others sailed through the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean in pitch-black containers. Most left loved ones and land in order to survive. Their parents may not have a shot at the “American Dream,” but they have all sacrificed tremendously to give their children a chance to make it. However, the idea that they or their parents may not really have had a choice in the sacrifices they made is new to many of my students, who escaped lands and economies made uninhabitable by capitalism and its hunger for fossil fuels and profits.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

LAUSD revisits how it refers students for special education services

Kyle Stokes, KPCC

Los Angeles school officials are changing the way that they screen students for special education services – a move partially motivated by financial pressures but also aimed at righting inequities in the way some students are educated. Los Angeles Unified officials are now putting some special education referrals through extra scrutiny and looking for ways to better integrate students with special needs back into traditional classrooms.

High school diplomas at last for students who failed exit exam

Fermin Leal, EdSource

Nearly a decade of frustration, anxiety and disappointment ended for Marisa Herrera this month when her long-awaited high school diploma arrived in the mail. “Finally!” she remembered saying after ripping open the envelope, fighting back tears. “I didn’t think this day would ever come. But I can finally say that I’m a high school graduate.” Herrera, now 27, is among the thousands of students across California who failed the state’s high school exit exam but are now receiving diplomas retroactively because a new state law has eliminated the test as a graduation requirement.

New app helps undocumented immigrants find college scholarships

Mariela Patron, KQED

As a senior at North Hollywood High, Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca did not know if she could afford college. She was an undocumented student with limited options to make money. So she turned to her counselor and teachers for help — but they did not know where to refer her for scholarships.

UC offers admission to 15% more Californians, particularly Latinos and African Americans

Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times

The University of California announced Monday a significant boost in California students, particularly Latinos and African Americans, offered admission for fall 2016. The announcement comes as the UC system has been under political fire for what critics say is a policy of admitting too many applicants from other states and countries.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Do choice policies segregate schools?

William J. Mathis and Kevin G. Welner, National Education Policy Center

School choice advocates have contended from the outset that choice policies would advance integration by giving students the opportunity to attend a school outside of highly segregated neighborhoods. In a new brief, Do Choice Policies Segregate Schools?, authors William J. Mathis and Kevin Welner of the National Education Policy Center examine the research evidence. They conclude that, while choice policies might be designed and implemented in ways that advance integration, this has not been done—and the result has been increased stratification by race, ethnicity, special needs status, income and first language. While some choice school enrollments are integrated, the authors contend, the research literature documents an “unsettling degree of segregation – particularly in charter schools.” Choice advocates, Mathis and Welner note, are correct in pointing to the need to address school segregation due to housing policies and school district boundaries, which would result in segregated schools even without school choice. But unregulated choice policies lack the necessary “guardrails”—rules that should be included within those policies and designed to ensure accomplishment of a community’s goals. Without protections against unconstrained segregative choices, stratification is often exacerbated, not mitigated.

L.A. is resegregating — and whites are a major reason why

Michael Bader, Los Angeles Times

Some of America’s most racially integrated neighborhoods and cities are on a path to becoming segregated all over again. In Los Angeles this means neighborhoods where Latinos and Asians now live alongside black or white neighbors may have few to no whites or blacks in 10 to 20 years.

First-ever education secretary had a groundbreaking tenure at the Department

Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week

When Congress approved the creation of a U.S. Department of Education as its own cabinet-level agency in 1979, it did so only after encountering opposition from both sides of the aisle. Many conservative lawmakers were concerned that it would be a bureaucratic intrusion into education, while some liberals were worried its creation would make getting additional federal aid for education more difficult, among other concerns. Then, when President Jimmy Carter, a supporter of a separate education department, made his selection for the nation’s first secretary of education, he picked Shirley M. Hufstedler, at the time a serving federal appeals court judge and former California Court of Appeals judge who did not have a background in education policy.

Public Schools and Private $

One application for many LAUSD school options? That’s the district’s plan

Kyle Stokes, KPCC

Attention, families overwhelmed by the dizzying process of choosing a school in Los Angeles: school district officials say they feel your pain — and they’re beginning an effort to make it easier to enroll a child in a school other than the one dictated by their home address. L.A. Unified leaders are in the early stages of creating a unified enrollment system that would create a single application with a single deadline for many of the district’s dozen or so disparate school choice programs. It’s one way district officials are trying to break the steady trend of enrollment decline in L.A. Unified — which has lost 200,000 students since 2002 — and offer clearer alternatives to the charter schools to which many of these students have flocked.

Bill would limit autonomy of LA Unified inspector general regarding charter schools

Michael Janofsky, EdSource

In the late 1990s, Los Angeles Unified became the first and only school district in California to have an Office of the Inspector General, with responsibilities to oversee the vast finances and operations of the state’s largest school district. Now, a bill gathering support in the Assembly, AB 2806, would place new limits on the office’s autonomy, making it answerable to the seven-member school board with restrictions on how much time and money the office could spend on its investigations of charter schools.

Washington charter school bill to become law without governor’s signature

Arianna Prothero, Education Week

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has said he will neither sign nor veto a bill reinstating charter schools, allowing the measure to become law on Sunday without his signature. The legislature passed a bill last month to resurrect the state’s fledgling charter school sector six months after the Washington Supreme Court ruled the original law, passed by voter referendum in 2012, was unconstitutional. It was the first time a state’s high court has ruled wholesale against a charter law.

Other News of Note

Chicago Teachers Union goes on strike in response to alleged unfair labor practices

Casey Quinlan, ThinkProgress

On Friday, the Chicago Teachers Union staged a strike. Union members picketed schools, held rallies at City Hall, the Cook County Jail and Chicago State University, and protested for higher wages for fast food workers. The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, who has been closely involved in Chicago labor politics, joined in on some of the events.

Tenacious change agent makes improving L.A. Unified his mission

Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times

“He could be a burr in your saddle,” says former L.A. Unified Supt. Roy Romer. “But generally he was there when I needed him to help get the job done.” “I don’t always agree with Scott, and sometimes I vigorously disagree with him,” says school board President Steve Zimmer. “But I always want to know what he’s thinking, and if I’ve done something wrong in his eyes, I’m interested in that criticism.” Both men are talking about Scott Folsom.


Just News from Center X is a free weekly education news blast edited by Jenn Ayscue.