Just News from Center X – Dec 20, 2019

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Democratic presidential hopefuls are promising to ramp up funding for public schools

David Knight, The Conversation
Democratic presidential candidates are proposing bold new approaches to the federal government’s role in public education. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Cory Booker want to triple the US $15 billion spent annually on Title 1, a program that sends federal dollars to high-poverty school districts. Sen. Elizabeth Warren
wants to go further and quadruple funding for that same program. She also wants to make quality child care and preschool affordable or free for all American families with kids, along with free breakfast and lunch for all public school students.

6 notable moments from Saturday’s Democratic education forum

Matt Barnum & Kalyn Belsha, Chalkbeat
Education rarely comes up in the presidential debates, but it had its own day in the spotlight this weekend. In a six-hour Pittsburgh forum hosted by teachers unions and their allies, seven Democratic presidential hopefuls tried to distinguish themselves — though they made similar promises to bring new respect to the teaching profession, pour more money into high-poverty schools, and scale back, or even eliminate, standardized testing.

Stanford study finds school shootings lead to increase in anti-depressant prescriptions

Aldo Toledo, Mercury News
Though the mental health effects of a school shooting are more prevalent among victims and their families, a new Stanford study suggests that local exposure to a fatal school shooting increases antidepressant use among youth even when they are not directly affected. Maya Rossin-Slater, a faculty fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, recently published her findings in the National Bureau of Economic Research which said the average rate of antidepressant use among youths under age 20 rose by 21 percent in the local communities affected by fatal school shootings.

Language, Culture, and Power

L.A. Unified’s ban on willful defiance suspensions, six years later

Carolyn Jones, EdSource
Long before California banned suspensions for “willful defiance” or disruption of school activities in K-8 classrooms, Los Angeles Unified embarked on an even more ambitious goal: eliminate defiance suspensions entirely. Six years after it implemented the policy, L.A. Unified officials, advocates and students say they’ve seen dramatic improvements in campus culture at many schools, providing lessons for California as it attempts to reshape school discipline across the state.

California middle schools won’t be able to suspend disruptive students next year

Andrew Sheeler, The Sacramento Bee
Next school year, it will be illegal for California middle schools to suspend students for disruptive behavior. The new law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September, goes into effect July 1, 2020. When it does, it will be unlawful for both public and charter schools to suspend students from kindergarten through eighth grade for unruly or disruptive behavior. Previously, the ban was in place just for kindergarten through fifth grade.

Ethnic studies have helped Sacramento City Unified students. Now Elk Grove wants in

Theodora Yu, The Sacramento Bee
The Sacramento City Unified School District has been successful in adding an ethnic studies program to its curriculum. Now activists are trying to make it happen in Elk Grove schools. An Elk Grove chapter of a grassroots organization has been vital in pushing for ethnic studies in school districts, despite slow progress in state Legislature. California’s student body reflects diversity. Minorities account for more than 71 percent of the student population within the state.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Social-emotional learning can be an answer to America’s meltdown, and principals are getting on board

John Bridgeland, Roger Weissberg and Matthew Atwell, LA School Report
Our cultural, social and political breakdown is fresh evidence that we need to do something different in the education and development of leaders. Some call for more civic education, others bemoan the decline in participation in our religious and civic institutions, and still others reach for solutions they cannot yet define. The underlying problems we face in our communities and country are becoming clearer. We see the emergence of a culture of scapegoating, blaming and bullying at a time when our nation is becoming more diverse; repeated eruptions in hate-inspired violence; vanishing civic intermediating institutions such as religious congregations, daily newspapers and unions that in previous generations taught us how to work together across our differences; growing isolation and separation of groups into hardened camps; and political dysfunction with a loss of core values and civility itself.

L.A. County and Planned Parenthood to open 50 high school sexual health and well-being centers

Sonali Kohli, The Los Angeles Times
A high school senior decided recently that she wants to become sexually active with her boyfriend. But she is not yet comfortable talking to her mom about birth control and would be unable to get to a doctor’s appointment on her own. Instead, she walked over to the new well-being center at school during a free period. It was easy. Planned Parenthood runs a sexual healthcare clinic at Esteban Torres High School in East L.A. once a week. Other days educators are available for stress management and students’ other health concerns, including substance abuse.

Low-income districts find ways to help students make music

Lillian Mongeaud, The Hechinger Report
Luke Said, 18, spent the summer of 2018 picking raspberries. In 2019, he got a job with a general contractor building food carts. He’s setting aside most of the money for college, but some goes to feed a school-year habit he just can’t kick: playing the trombone. “It’s a fun instrument,” he said. “You can use it with jazz, in musicals, basically everywhere.” Luke, a senior, is the first-chair trombone in the wind ensemble and jazz band at David Douglas High School in Portland, Oregon. He wakes at 5:10 every morning to get in the personal practice, private lessons, band practice and marching band drills he needs to play the instrument he loves. He’s also an A student. Luke’s family helps to cover the cost of private lessons and band fees but he pays for anything “extra” like mutes (a sort of plug for the horn of a trombone), slide oil and other accessories.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

Some ratings rise in 3rd year of California School Dashboard

John Fensterwald, EdSource
Significantly fewer school districts will require county help this year for poor performance on the state’s school accountability tool, the California School Dashboard, reflecting what State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond called “steady — albeit slow — progress in important areas” such as high school graduation rates and, by one measure, test scores. On Thursday, the California Department of Education released the third year of dashboard results, covering 2018-19, in three new languages: Vietnamese, Tagalog and Mandarin. For the first time, it also released all of the underlying data for the dashboard in DataQuest, the state’s school data site

San Francisco high school graduation rate increases with help from various programs

Anna Bauman, The San Francisco Chronicle
When Kamiah Brown was a freshman at Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School in San Francisco, she sometimes felt lost and discouraged in the classroom. As one of 21 African American students in her class of 164, there were few faces that looked like hers. But Brown found mentorship and role models in two African American “success liaisons.” These district staff members, plus a separate nonprofit called SEO Scholars, helped her study for the SAT, polish her college application essay, gather college recommendation letters and apply for summer internships. It paid off. Brown, 18, is studying public health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and credits her success partly to the confidence that grew out of the support at Wallenberg.

Fewer students are going to college. Here’s why that matters

Elissa Nadworny, NPR
This fall, there were nearly 250,000 fewer students enrolled in college than a year ago, according to new numbers out Monday from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which tracks college enrollment by student. “That’s a lot of students that we’re losing,” says Doug Shapiro, who leads the research center at the Clearinghouse. And this year isn’t the first time this has happened. Over the past eight years, college enrollment nationwide has fallen about 11%. Every sector — public state schools, community colleges, for-profits and private liberal arts schools — has felt the decline, though it has been especially painful for small private colleges, where, in some cases, institutions have been forced to close.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Extremely separate and widely unequal 

Deepa Fernandes, LAist
More than 65 years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine in its landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, California’s public preschools remain deeply segregated. The numbers are striking: 94% of students across all preschools run by the Los Angeles Unified School District, are children of color, according to the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights. Just 2% of children attending most Head Start programs in L.A. County are white and almost 90% are Latino, the L.A. County Office of Education says. Home-based preschools are even more segregated, according to a recent study by the Urban Institute. Why?

The lines that divide: School district boundaries often stymie integration

Laura Meckler and Kate Rabinowitz, The Washington Post
The football stadium at Houston High School was alive with the sounds of a 185-student marching band and an announcer bellowing “Touchdowwwwn, Mustangs!” Videos played on a sophisticated scoreboard as players scrambled across pristine artificial turf. It made the community’s wealth obvious, especially to parents from Southwind High, seated on the visitors’ bleachers. At Southwind, more than 4 in 10 students live in poverty and nearly all are black or Hispanic. It is part of the Shelby County Schools, which primarily serve Memphis.

Are Zillow and realtors contributing to school segregation?

NEPC Newsletter
How do renters or buyers judge the quality of the schools zoned to their prospective homes? Often it starts not with schools or teachers or students, but with the real estate industry. Two recent pieces of investigative journalism call attention to a prominent flaw with this system: Realtors and real estate websites alike share assessments that downgrade schools that serve higher percentages of low-income and minority students, while also serving to maintain segregated housing patterns by steering Whites away from districts that serve students of color. For a series of articles published earlier this month, the Newsday newspaper in Long Island paired testers of different ethnicities and races and had them seek similar homes from the same realtors.

Public Schools and Private $

The dark side of parent fundraising

NEPC Newsletter
Choir trips to Africa. A yearbook, a school newspaper, a series of pricey building renovations, and multiple Advanced Placement offerings. A grant of up to $1,000 per teacher per year for classroom instructional supplies. All of the above and more were made possible by parent donations to a Denver public high school where NEPC graduate assistant researcher (and CU Boulder doctoral student) Anna Noble once taught. As Noble wrote in a recent piece for the non-profit journalistic website Chalkbeat, she has long felt gratitude for the parent gifts that helped make her school a great place to teach and to learn. Yet as her professional role changed and she started visiting schools that served families that could not afford to make donations, she was shaken by the inequities. She saw schools without theater programs, and teachers who spent a large portion of their paychecks on classroom supplies. Even worse, she saw sinks with mold, drinking water with lead, and walls harboring asbestos.

D.C. charters say the city needs to give them empty buildings. The city says no.

Perry Stein, The Washington Post
The students, carrying signs that read “I [heart] charter schools,” packed the sprawling auditorium at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. More than 1,000 children and teachers left school midday last month to attend a rally alongside leaders and consultants from the District’s charter sector. Chants ensued. The speeches, calling on Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) to allow charter schools to use vacant city campuses, were impassioned.

As cities dole out billions in subsidies to developers, teachers ask: What about us?

Sophie Kasakoved
When Hilario Dominguez looks around his school, he sees dilapidated bathrooms, students taking recess in the parking lot, and sick kids going through the day without care because there’s a nurse on staff just one day a week. But, beyond the school’s walls, Dominguez, a case manager and special education teacher at Peter Cooper Elementary Dual Language Academy, sees money flowing. Not far from his school building on Chicago’s Southwest Side, construction crews recently broke ground on “The 78,” a $7-billion waterfront project by luxury real-estate developer Related Midwest. A few miles away, along the Chicago River, developers are building an upscale 55-acre commercial and residential project named Lincoln Yards.

Other News of Note

Jitu Brown “If We Must Die” by Claude Mckay [VIDEO]

Jitu Brown, National Director of the Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J) is a long-time community organizer born on Chicago’s south side. He is a product of Chicago’s public school system and is a proud parent and husband. Jitu started volunteering for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), the oldest black-led organizing community-based organization in Chicago in 1991. He eventually joined the staff as Education Organizer in 2006 and organized in the Kenwood Oakland neighborhood for over 20 years bringing parents, students, teachers and community members together to collectively participate in the education system by developing various educational initiatives and battle back against efforts to systematically disinvest in, close and privatize schools in Chicago.

Jaylen Brown on a mission to change inequality in education system

Nicole Yang, boston.com
Jaylen Brown still remembers the tears hitting the page. Brown, then an incoming freshman at Cal Berkeley, was reading “Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequality’’ by Jeannie Oakes. Oakes explains how publicly defining and separating students by their apparent intellectual capabilities generates damaging and unfair consequences. As Brown combed through terms such as social stratification (the system of categorizing people based on socioeconomic factors) and curricular tracking (the practice of grouping students based on their perceived ability), he couldn’t help but cry.