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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
The 50 states of education policy: Tackling school safety in an age of mass shootings and gun reform
Naaz Modan, Education Dive
This month, students head back to school in the aftermath of recent mass shootings that have lawmakers at odds once more on gun control. As Democrats push for stricter gun legislation that includes comprehensive background checks and hardline Republicans take a staunch position against the matter, schools are left to navigate a patchwork of gun control legislation that varies widely by state and often has a direct impact on school safety. Though most states have legal codes prohibiting firearms in schools, almost all have exceptions to their laws and allow them on school grounds under certain conditions. In most states, law enforcement is permitted to carry firearms on campus. And in 21 states, school security officers can be armed.
Savannah Smith, NBC News
After nearly 1 million children were left out of the U.S. census in 2010, the federal government formed a task force to tackle the problem. But lingering confusion over whether a citizenship question would be added, changes to how the Census Bureau is conducting this survey and a host of other challenges have advocates and experts sounding the alarm about the consequences of an even more inaccurate count in 2020.
Kimberly Underwood, EdSurge
Two percent. That figure may seem insignificant, until you understand the context. Despite students of color representing more than half the student population, Black males make up only two percent of the teacher workforce. So as it happens, that statistic is very significant as this lack of diversity has negative implications for all students. For years, Black males have been underrepresented in PK-12 education. While there have been many efforts to diversify classrooms by adding more Black male educators, there are still obstacles preventing us from successfully reaching this goal. Now these educators are speaking up and their voices are sounding the alarm for education diversity.
Language, Culture, and Power
They worry about anger, fear, guilt. Some feel ill-equipped. Educators confront teaching about slavery.
Joe Heim, The Washington Post
In his eighth-grade American history class at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Germantown, Md., Philip Jackson tells a story about going on long family road trips to southern Virginia and North Carolina when he was a child in the late 1970s and early ’80s. When they would stop to pick up his grandmother, he tells the students, she would bring a basket of food, toilet paper and a large container of iced tea. It wasn’t until Jackson was older that he learned his grandmother’s habit grew from traveling during periods of enforced segregation that prohibited blacks from stopping at certain restaurants or using restrooms available to white patrons. A granddaughter of a woman who had been born into slavery, she grew up in the Jim Crow South, where such discrimination was common. Bringing supplies with her, even long after Civil Rights laws were passed, was a practice she never shook.
John Fensterwald, EdSource
The author of legislation that would require students to take an ethnic studies course as a requirement for high school graduation has put off a vote on the bill this year amid widespread criticism of a proposed curriculum that would serve as a guide for school districts statewide. “It is not a question of whether the subject itself is necessary but rather, how do we ensure the curriculum is comprehensive, rigorous and inclusive enough,” Assemblyman José Medina, D-Riverside, said in a statement on Thursday. “This underscores the importance of taking the time necessary to ensure we get the curriculum right.”
California may join many other states in allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections, if they will turn 18 before the following general election, under a proposed amendment to the state constitution approved Thursday by the state Assembly. If two-thirds of senators agree, the measure would to go to voters for their consideration in California’s March primary election, but it would not affect next year’s elections.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Amy Ettinger, The Washington Post
The scene was the same every day at Deb Shell’s house in Berkeley, Calif. She would send her three children to elementary school with packed lunches, and they would come home with their lunch bags almost completely full. Shell started talking to other parents and learned that the Berkeley Unified School District had cut lunchtime at some schools to add additional instructional minutes to the classroom. Many kids were going through the day hungry.
It’s time to change the conversation around music education to its positive impact on student success
Tiffany Kerns, The Hechinger Report
Research continues to show that children who participate in quality music programs go on to earn higher test scores and have a greater likelihood of postsecondary success than their peers who don’t — yet music programs across the country lack support, commitment and funding. That’s why it is time to change the conversation around music education. With funding cuts across all sectors of education, not just in the arts, it’s vital that we take a different approach to showcase the value of music and focus on the greater impact it could have across an entire school community.
Sasha Khoka, The California Report
Teachers and parents all over the country are noticing an increase in mental health issues, including anxiety, among students. In 2004, the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that about a third of adolescents (ages 13-18) have been or will be seriously affected by anxiety in their lifetimes. More recently, a study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics concluded that more than one in twenty U.S. children (ages 6-17) had anxiety or depression in 2011-2012. And a UCLA survey of college freshman conducted each year, found in 2017 that close to 39 percent frequently felt “overwhelmed by all I had to do.”
Parents and educators are scrambling to understand why kids seem to be more anxious and how to help them.
Access, Assessment, and Advancement
Travis J. Bristol, Brookings
Ongoing negotiations in Congress about the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) have direct implications for increasing the ethnoracial diversity of our country’s educator workforce. Initially signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 as part of his larger Great Society initiatives and most recently reauthorized in 2008 by President Barack Obama, one of HEA’s primary goals was to increase access and opportunity to higher education for our nation’s historically marginalized students.
Michael Burke, EdSource
The College Board on Tuesday announced changes to a new college admissions tool to measure information about a freshman applicant’s high school and neighborhood, doing away with plans to create a single “adversity score” from 1 to 100 for each student. Responding largely to criticisms that one score can’t reflect the hardships a student has had to overcome, the College Board, which administers the SAT, will be giving college admissions offices data on six factors about the applicant’s neighborhood and high school: college attendance rates, household structure, median family income, housing stability, education levels and crime.
Linda Jacobson, Education Dive
States requiring high school students to take more end-of-course (EOC) exams have higher graduation rates than those with fewer such assessments. A greater number of EOCs is also linked to higher scores on college entrance exams, according to a new report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative nonprofit education policy think tank. In recent years, states have moved away from high school exit exams in favor of EOCs, as exit exams have been criticized as a barrier to graduation, especially for poor and minority students.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
On August 12th, the Trump administration proposed a new rule to change the criteria considered when the U.S. government decides whether to extend visas or grant permanent residency (“green cards”). These criteria—which are inextricably tied to a history of bias in the immigration process—have long included evidence about the likelihood of the immigrant becoming dependent on public benefits. But the approach that is now used focuses on cash benefits, such as Supplemental Social Security (“disability”) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“welfare”). The proposed rule will expand that to the main non-cash benefits used by immigrants: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps; Medicaid; and housing vouchers and other housing subsidies. The rule, if unchanged, will go into effect in 60 days barring judicial action (17 states plus DC have brought two lawsuits against the administration, alleging that the rule redefines the term “public charge” inconsistently with Congress’ intent in the Immigration and Nationality Act; that it violates constitutional equal protection guarantees by effectively targeting immigrants from poorer areas in Asia, Latin America, and Africa; that it infringes on states’ rights to protect their own residents; and that it punitively, arbitrarily and capriciously targets immigrants for using public benefits programs that are used by about half the country’s residents).
Hosted by Larry Mantle, KPCC
New York City public schools are considering a proposal to end “gifted and talented” programs in the district, according to a report from the New York Times. If the initiative is approved, the racial make-up of New York schools would be dramatically reshaped. Gifted programs, about a quarter of the district’s middle and high schools, include primarily white and Asian children, while the rest of the system enrolls mostly black and Hispanic students. The “gifted” designation is based on exams, grades and attendance rates. Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio, who appointed the panel members responsible for the proposal, can approve the desegregation plan without city or state approval. The mayor’s decision could potentially influence other school districts around the county. Meanwhile, Kelly Gonez of the LAUSD Board of Education has proposed a resolution that would create a group to examine new school choice programs in L.A. and make recommendations on how to decrease segregation. We talk with Gonez about her proposal and the state of school segregation in Los Angeles.
Kevin Kruse, The New York Times
Atlanta has some of the worst traffic in the United States. Drivers there average two hours each week mired in gridlock, hung up at countless spots, from the constantly clogged Georgia 400 to a complicated cluster of overpasses at Tom Moreland Interchange, better known as “Spaghetti Junction.” The Downtown Connector — a 12-to-14-lane megahighway that in theory connects the city’s north to its south — regularly has three-mile-long traffic jams that last four hours or more. Commuters might assume they’re stuck there because some city planner made a mistake, but the heavy congestion actually stems from a great success. In Atlanta, as in dozens of cities across America, daily congestion is a direct consequence of a century-long effort to segregate the races.
Public Schools and Private $
John Fensterwald, Ed Source
Ending months of difficult negotiations, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders announced Wednesday they had reached a final deal on the most extensive changes to California’s charter school law since it was adopted nearly three decades ago. The agreement would create a truce in the years-long battles in Sacramento over charter schools and resolve the most contentious education issue facing Newsom in his first year in office. “A lot of hard work has gone into this, and all that matters to me is the result,” Newsom said Tuesday on a visit to Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, the Los Angeles Times reported. “If we can pull something off, it’s a significant thing and it’s not easy. A lot of people have strong opinions on both sides.”
School districts for the first time would be able to consider the financial and academic impact on the district or neighborhood of a new charter school or a charter school that wants to expand. Districts like Oakland Unified that could show they are under fiscal distress will be able to deny any proposed charter from opening. “The presumption in those districts will be that new charters will not open,” said a statement from the governor’s office.
Kyle Stokes, KPCC
Four years ago, dissatisfied parents at 20th Street Elementary School were so unhappy with the L.A. Unified School District’s management of the school that they threatened to invoke California’s “parent trigger” law. The law allows parents at a school deemed “underperforming” to start a petition. If enough signed, the law lets parents “trigger” big changes — like closing the school down or, in 20th Street’s case, converting to a charter school. But ultimately, parents at 20th Street backed down on their “trigger” campaign. They made a deal with L.A. Unified and with a new day-to-day operator for the school, the Partnership for L.A. Schools.
Michael Hiltzik, The Los Angeles Times
Obituary writers have been struggling for days with the task of balancing the philanthropic record of billionaire David H. Koch with his baleful influence on democratic electoral principles and the science of climate change. Massachusetts Institute of Technology seems to have found a solution to the challenge. In its send-off to Koch published Friday, the day of his death, the university went on at length about his donations to MIT in the fields of cancer research, child care and even basketball. Of his role in suppressing the facts of climate change, fighting access to medical coverage for low-income Americans and undermining the expansion of renewable energy, MIT was completely, utterly silent.
Other News of Note
Jhoni Jackson, TeenVogue
Sweeping change for Puerto Rico did not start — nor will it end — with Governor Ricardo Rosselló stepping down. His resignation, under pressure from weeks of mass protests, was undoubtedly a monumental demonstration of people power. But this achievement exists within a broad history of grassroots activism in Puerto Rico that predates July’s leak of offensive private chats between Rosselló and his closest allies and the arrests of members of his administration on fraud and related charges. Existing sociopolitical movements concentrated around better quality of life in Puerto Rico, be it via the stoppage of toxic coal ash dumping or calls for an independent auditof the government’s $120 billion debt, continue, now bolstered and empowered by the recent historic grassroots win for the island’s activists. Among those movements is the intersectional fight of La Sombrilla Cuir (in Spanish, the Queer Umbrella), a collective of more than 20 young activists, mostly in their early 20s, who believe that confronting the root causes of oppression — systems like capitalism, the patriarchy, the gender binary, and colonialism — is foundational to achieving genuine progress for Puero Ricans who are LGBTTQIAP+ (the acronym the group prefers to use, which means “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual”). And educating the general public about these subjects is key.