Just News from Center X – Aug 2, 2019

Just News from Center X is a free weekly news blast about equitable and inclusive public education. Please share and encourage colleagues and friends to subscribe.

Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Stanford GSE professor emerita Linda Darling-Hammond talks about educating teachers for the 21st century

Carrie Spector, Stanford Graduate School of Education
Linda Darling-Hammond, professor emerita at Stanford Graduate School of Education, has spent decades studying teacher education programs and practices and is widely considered one of the most important voices in the field. She founded the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and led former President Barack Obama’s education policy transition team in 2008. Now president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), she was recently appointed president of the California State Board of Education, which oversees academic standards, curriculum, assessments and accountability for K-12 schools throughout the state. In a new book, Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning, she and UCLA Professor Jeannie Oakes, with LPI colleagues, profile seven groundbreaking teacher education programs in the United States, detailing the practices that set them apart. We spoke with her about what 21st-century teacher preparation looks like.

Positive outliers: Understanding extraordinary school districts

Author Anne Podolsk, Learning Policy Institute
The Learning Policy Institute Blog sat down with Anne Podolsky, the lead author of California’s Positive Outliers: Districts Beating the Odds, to explore the key findings of this groundbreaking study and to discuss the implications for local and state policymaking.

LA Unified’s spending and accountability plan should be rejected and rewritten, says advocates’ complaint

John Fensterwald, EdSource
A public interest law firm that has bird-dogged Los Angeles Unified’s spending has filed a formal complaint demanding that the state’s largest school district redo its 2019-20 school accountability plan. The complaint argues that the district wrote a vague and deficient Local Control and Accountability Plan — or LCAP – that fails to meet the state’s transparency requirements on how it will spend $1.2 billion in state funding dedicated to high-needs students. The district’s board of education approved the plan last month, although several board members acknowledged at the hearing that they found the LCAP and the budget to be confusing.

Language, Culture, and Power

For these Native American girls, coding became the language to discuss mental health

Emily Tate, Education Surge
Kindra Locklear was tuned in to CNN one day last fall when she came across a segment about a nonprofit organization that aims to close the gender gap in technology by teaching young girls to code. It struck a chord. Locklear works in the information technology department at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and sees first-hand how women are underrepresented in the field. An effort to bring more females into the field, she thought, might do her own community some good. UNC Pembroke, located in a small, rural town in south-central North Carolina, was founded as a school for American Indians, and today still serves and employs many members of the Lumbee Tribe, of which Locklear is a member. As a Lumbee woman, and a woman in tech living in a rural area, Locklear kept thinking about the nonprofit she saw on TV—Girls Who Code—and wondering if she could establish a chapter in Pembroke.

Julián Castro: Why my mother yanked me from my sixth-grade classroom

Julián Castro, CNN
“Look around,” the school official said in a stern voice, almost daring the assembled crowd of incoming sixth-grade students and parents. It was the summer of 1986, and I was sitting in a hot auditorium with my mother and my brother, Joaquin, nervously waiting to start the new school year. “Statistically, the chances are that up to half of you won’t be here when it’s time to graduate from the eighth grade.” Those were infamous last words. Mom announced the next morning that we would attend another school, a foreign-language magnet program two miles away. My mom, a Chicana activist and hell-raiser, had higher aspirations for us.

English learners with disabilities: shining a light on dual-identified students [REPORT]

Janie Tankard Carnock and Elena Silva, New America
The following brief provides an overview of the separate but intersecting federal policies that govern the identification of and services provided to English learners and students with disabilities. This overview will frame key opportunities to serve ELs with disabilities more equitably with the aim of helping policymakers, advocates, and practitioners take more strategic action on behalf of these students.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Trump plan failed to note that it could jeopardize free school lunches for 500,000 children, Democrats say

Suzy Khimm, NBC News
The Trump administration determined that more than 500,000 children would no longer be automatically eligible for free school meals under a proposed overhaul to the food stamp program, but left that figure out of its formal proposal, according to House Democrats. The Department of Agriculture wants to crack down on eligibility for food stamps, estimating that 3.1 million Americans would lose benefits under the proposed rule that the agency unveiled on Tuesday. The proposal, however, did not include the USDA’s own estimate that more than 500,000 children would lose automatic eligibility for free school meals under the proposed change, according to Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

Bandwagon builds for LGBTQ diversity on children’s TV

Associated Press
Wilson Cruz, a co-star in the new Hulu animated children’s series “The Bravest Knight,” describes the show’s dad couple this way: “We’re not explaining homosexuality, or same-gender sexuality. We’re talking about the love of a family.” His words and those of his fellow Hulu father, T.R. Knight, speak loudly about the state of LGBTQ representation in TV fare for kids, a segment of media that has been broadening story lines over the last several years to include a range of LGBTQ characters.

Civil rights enforcement for LGBTQ students scaled back under Trump, analysis finds

Evie Blad, Education week
Students’ discrimination complaints related to sexual orientation and gender identity have been much less likely to lead to changes in schools under the Trump administration than they did under the Obama administration, an analysis of federal records finds. About 2.4 percent of “LGBTQ-related complaints” to the U.S. Department of Education resulted in an agreement to correct alleged discrimination against the student under the current administation, according to the analysis by left-leaning Center for American Progress. That’s compared with 22.4 percent under the previous administration.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

Parents are giving up custody of their kids to get need-based college financial aid

Jodi S. Cohen and Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica Illinois
Dozens of suburban Chicago families, perhaps many more, have been exploiting a legal loophole to win their children need-based college financial aid and scholarships they would not otherwise receive, court records and interviews show.
Coming months after the national “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal, this tactic also appears to involve families attempting to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive and expensive college admissions system.
Parents are giving up legal guardianship of their children during their junior or senior year in high school to someone else — a friend, aunt, cousin or grandparent. The guardianship status then allows the students to declare themselves financially independent of their families so they can qualify for federal, state and university aid, a ProPublica Illinois investigation found.

The student debt crisis has hit black students especially hard. Here’s how

Annie Nova, CNBC
When Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren earlier this week unveiled the details of her bill to cancel student debt, she stressed how it would deliver significant financial relief to borrowers of color. “The day our bill gets signed into law, that black-white wealth gap would shrink by 25 points,” the Massachusetts senator said. Under the proposal, introduced along with Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., borrowers with household incomes under $100,000 would get $50,000 of their student debt forgiven. Higher earners would get a smaller share of their debt voided. Black borrowers do stand to benefit greatly from Warren’s bill. That’s because, by almost every measure, the student debt crisis has hit them especially hard.

Don’t call them test companies: How the College Board and ACT have shifted focus

Jeffrey R. Young, Education Surge
These days the leaders of the College Board, which runs the SAT, have been making a surprising argument—that colleges and parents should stop taking the scores of its signature test so seriously. Or, at least, that SAT scores should be considered as just one factor among many in judging whether a student is ready for college, or a fit for a highly-selective campus.

A welcome message, or a warning?

Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed
A senior State Department official said Tuesday that the U.S. welcomes students from China. But Marie Royce, the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, also said that colleges need to do a better job integrating their Chinese students and that many live in a “bubble” of Chinese Communist Party propaganda and misinformation that skews their perceptions of the U.S. And she said that the U.S. takes the threat of academic espionage seriously and will not tolerate intellectual property theft, even as she noted that only 0.0001 percent of Chinese students’ visa applications are refused for this reason.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Study: Black students receive fewer warnings from teachers about misbehavior

Sharita Forrest, Illinois News Bureau
A new study of racial and ethnic disparities in school discipline found that black middle school students were significantly less likely than their white peers to receive verbal or written warnings from their teachers about behavioral infractions. “While at first glance, disparities in teacher warnings seem less concerning than being expelled or sent to the principal’s office, warnings represent opportunities for students to correct their behavior before the consequences escalate and they’re removed from the learning environment,” said University of Illinois social work professor Kate M. Wegmann, who led the study.

Segregation of Latino students from white peers increased over a generation, study finds

Christina Samuels, Education Week
In 1998, the average Latino elementary school student attended a school where 40 percent of her classmates were white. But by 2015, the average young Latino student was attending a school with a student body of only 30 percent white students, demonstrating an increased level of ethnic segregation, according to a new analysis of student data. One factor is the growing share of Latino students among the elementary-school population, the study notes.

How segregation keeps poor students of color out of whiter, richer nearby districts

Alvin Chang, Vox
Much of the conversation about school segregation in America is about how to lessen segregation within a school district, ensuring students of all races in the same district can study together in the same school. That’s the kind of policy Joe Biden opposed in the 1970s, which he was called out for during the first Democratic presidential debates. These policies tried to ban federal courts from forcing districts to bus children from one neighborhood to another to desegregate schools. But many districts are so segregated that they can’t be integrated just by moving students around within their borders. School district boundaries that draw a sharp line between two separate and unequal districts — one majority-white and well-funded, one nonwhite and underfunded — are quite common in the United States.

Public Schools and Private $

Do school vouchers lead to better education? New research raises questions

Christopher Lubienski and Joel Malin, Miami Herald
For the past couple of decades, proponents of vouchers for private schools have been pushing the idea that vouchers work. They assert there is a consensus among researchers that voucher programs lead to learning gains for students — in some cases bigger gains than with other reforms and approaches, such as class-size reduction. They have highlighted studies that show the positive impact of vouchers on various populations. At the very least, they argue, vouchers do no harm. As researchers who study school choice and education policy, we see a new consensus emerging — including in pro-voucher advocates’ own studies — that vouchers are having mostly no effects or negative effects on student learning. As a result, we see a shift in how voucher proponents are redefining what voucher success represents. They are using a new set of non-academic gains that were not the primary argument to promote vouchers.

Betsy DeVos wants to team with the IRS to crack down on education loan borrowers

Peter Greene, Forbes
Betsy DeVos has had some trouble with loan programs since taking office. Last year, she was taken to court and directed to finally implement an Obama-era rule for forgiving the loans of students who had been defrauded by for-profit colleges. More recently, she has been sued over a program that is intended to forgive the college loans of public service workers but which has, to date, rejected 99% of the 73,000 teachers, nurses, public defenders, military personnel and other public servants who applied. That program has been in place since 2007 and has run into trouble in the last couple of years; DeVos has proposed eliminating the program in her budget three years in a row. Now, DeVos has announced her intention to address some of the education department’s loan problems by cracking down–on borrowers.

How did charter schools lose their luster? 

Eliza Shapiro and Dodai Stewart, The New York Times
Charter schools were once hailed by supporters as a way to save public education in big urban districts. Founders presented them as a way to offer low-income minority families safe, orderly schools with rigorous academics, and they were embraced across the country as a hopeful alternative. But charter school executives have recently started to acknowledge shortcomings, as questions about whether they are fulfilling their mission have mounted. Democratic presidential candidates have turned away from the charter movement. Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the New York State Legislature would not raise a cap on the number of charters in New York City, halting the growth of the model in the country’s largest school system.

Other News of Note

Who isn’t writing about education—and should be?

Mike Rose, Mike Rose’s Blog
There’s a rock in my shoe, a small thing, a really small thing that I started noticing years ago and can’t shake loose. An irritant that has grown in significance. Over the last 20 years, The New Yorker magazine has published 60 articles under the banner “Annals of Medicine,” and 38 of them, 63%, are written by medical doctors. During that same period, the magazine has published 17 articles under the banner “Annals of Education,” and not a single one of them is written by a professional educator, nary a classroom teacher or educational researcher among the authors. To pick two examples of omission, life-long teachers and writers Deborah Meier and Vivian Paley, both recipients of door-opening MacArthur “Genius Grants,” have never graced The New Yorker’s pages.