Just News from Center X – Feb 14, 2020

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Bell High wins LAUSD’s 2020 Academic Decathlon, a first for the school

James Rainey, The Los Angeles Times
Bell High School has won the 2020 Academic Decathlon for the Los Angeles Unified School District, a first for the team from the working class and immigrant-rich community in southeast Los Angeles County. District officials announced Bell’s victory Saturday at Hollywood High School, a week after the school finished first in one of the final phases of the competition, the Super Quiz.

6 districts invested in principals and saw dramatic gains. Dozens more will try to do the same

Denisa R. Superville, Education Week
Over several years, six large school districts had doubled down on making their principals more effective as a major lever for improving student performance. And they’d seen gains in both subjects. There was also dramatic academic growth in their lowest performing schools where new principals were placed. So, it begs the question: Can those results be replicated on a grander scale?

About to become teachers, they’re worried about affording the rent

Steve Lopez, The Los Angeles Times
“So what we’re going to do now is label our triangles,” student teacher Keiri Ramirez told her class at Northridge Academy High School. “A prime, B prime and C prime.” Ramirez, inspired by her middle-school teacher in Huntington Park, is about to graduate from Cal State Northridge and become a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where the starting salary is about $53,000. She’s a natural in class, with a big easy smile and lots of encouraging words as she leads 23 students through a drill on triangle dilation.

Language, Culture, and Power

We’re California graduate students, and we’re not taking poverty wages anymore

UC Santa Cruz Wildcat Strikers, The Nation
In Santa Cruz, our situation has become desperate. At one point, several graduate students in a single department at UC Santa Cruz were sleeping in their offices—they either lived too far to drive home after teaching an evening class or had nowhere else to sleep. Others were sleeping in cars. Another graduate student was evicted. Some grad students with children had almost no money for child care. For years, countless other grad students have had to make tough decisions between prioritizing health care or buying groceries. In late December, we collected hundreds of other anonymous stories from graduate students, which we sent directly to the chancellor’s office, passing along tales of grad students’ developing mental and physical health issues because of housing precarity and falling devastatingly behind in the research we came here to do, all because of our poverty wages.

Berkeley High students storm district office, speak frankly with superintendent

Natalie Orenstein, Berkeley Side
“I believe you,” Berkeley Unified Superintendent Brent Stephens told legions of students, who’d crowded into a district room Tuesday to say sexual assault is prevalent at Berkeley High and administrators don’t do enough to stop it. The extraordinary face-to-face between top district executives and high schoolers followed a raucous march that morning, where teenagers chanted, screamed and stomped through the streets of Berkeley and the hallways of the BUSD headquarters. It was day two of student-organized protests against what they describe as a culture and administration that enables sexual assault and harassment.

Teaching black history in culturally responsive ways

Rann Miller, Edutopia
As Black History Month kicked off, I was reflecting on my time as a student. My experience all those years ago was similar to that of most black children today: mostly white teachers teaching black history primarily in February. I was told of Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass. I heard very little of Malcolm X, the FBI’s campaign against civil rights leaders, the Rainbow Coalition put together by the Black Panther Party’s Fred Hampton, or Hampton’s assassination. I learned about the struggles of my enslaved ancestors, but not about Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, or Nat Turner.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Ending curriculum violence

Stephanie P. Jones, Teaching Tolerance
In elementary school, my teacher made me pick cotton. She brought each student their own plant, and her goal was to make us understand how hard cotton is to pick. It has only been a couple of years since I began to tell this story in public. I kept it a secret for a couple of reasons. First, as a small child, I trusted my teacher and did not allow myself to believe that she would cause me or any other students harm. Second, after some years passed, I was ashamed that it had taken me this long to understand the impact of what happened.

Teachers unions ask: Is it time to rethink school-shooting drills?

Pat Easton-Robb
The nation’s two largest teachers unions want schools to revise or eliminate active-shooter drills, asserting Tuesday that they can harm students’ mental health and that there are better ways to prepare for the possibility of a school shooting. The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Assn. joined with the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund in calling for an end to unannounced drills or drills that simulate gun violence.

Moreno Valley schools to use San Bernardino’s ‘undercover’ anti-bullying program

Beau Yarbrough, The Press-Enterprise
After the September death of a middle school student assaulted by two other students, Moreno Valley school leaders went looking for new approaches to curb bullying on its campuses, where it teaches 32,763 students. In the weeks after Landmark Middle School eighth grader Diego Stolz’s death, district leaders held several public events, including a board workshop, where they invited public input on how to tackle complaints about bullying. But they also turned to experts.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

High school students benefit from taking college courses, but access uneven in California

Louis Freedberg and Ali Tadayon, EdSource
At least 1 in 8 California high school seniors take community college courses while still in high school, an increasingly popular strategy that gives students a head start on their college careers, and has been shown to boost both high school and college graduation rates. A new study from the Wheelhouse Center for Community College Leadership and Research at the UC Davis School of Education provides the most specific figures yet about how many students in California participate in so-called “dual enrollment” programs.

How some California school districts invest in counseling – and achieve results

Carolyn Jones, EdSource
Geovanna Veloz, a senior at Mission High School in San Francisco, has always known she wants to be a nurse. What she didn’t know was how to get there. Her parents couldn’t help much. Immigrants from Mexico, they speak limited English, work long hours and don’t have much experience with education. Neither went to high school at all, in fact.

Waiting for college decisions? In Lynwood, 381 admissions are offered in a day

Teresa Watanabe, The Los Angeles Times
Kameron Pryor, a senior at Firebaugh High School in Lynwood, wanted to go to college but figured his grades wouldn’t get him very far, at least in California. His 2.47 GPA is below the average at the University of California and California State University. But Wiley College, a four-year, historically black liberal arts institution in Texas, showered him with assurances during a visit to his high school last week. All you need is a 2.0 GPA and high school diploma or equivalent, campus admissions counselor Olivia Johnston told him. And if you can nudge up your GPA to a 2.5, she added, you can apply for a scholarship.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

More high school students than ever are coming out, but their despair remains acute

Rita Giordano, The Philadelphia Inquirer
The proportion of high school students who identify as a sexual minority — lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning (LGBQ) — doubled in the past several years, according to a new study published Monday.
Yet those greater numbers have not necessarily meant they have found greater acceptance or peace. The study, based on data from a federal survey, found that those teens attempted suicide at a rate nearly four times higher than their heterosexual peers.

Trump’s jab at ‘government schools’ echoes rhetoric of segregation

Maureen Downey, AJC
In a new book, longtime civil rights advocate Steve Suitts traces the history of the modern school choice movement, a movement built, he says, on a segregationist foundation. Today, Suitts shares some of his research in a guest column. An Atlanta resident and longtime education and civil rights advocate in the South, Suitts maintains in “Overturning Brown: The Segregationist Legacy of the Modern School Choice Movement” that the strategies and rhetoric of school choice echo those used by segregationists to stop integration after the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Two boys with the same disability tried to get help. The rich student got it quickly. The poor student did not.

Mike Elsen-Rooney, USA Today
For both boys, the struggles at school started in the first grade. Isaac Rosenthal was a fast talker with a big vocabulary. But when it came time to read, he couldn’t keep up with his classmates. He didn’t pick up on the rhyme scheme in Dr. Seuss books, and often mispronounced words whose meaning he knew (like “Pacific,” for which he’d substitute “the other ocean”). Landon Rodriguez, four years younger than Isaac, was energetic and talkative at home but quiet and withdrawn at school. When he brought home reading assignments, Landon often confused Bs and Ds, and he labored through even short passages.

Public Schools and Private $

Trump Administration’s budget would eliminate federal funding for charter schools

Lauren Camera, U.S. News and World Report
The Trump administration would eliminate federal funding for public charter schools under its budget request for 2020, instead allowing states to tap into a $19 billion pool of money to spend on K-12 education as they see fit. The proposal – from an administration that has made school choice its No. 1 education priority – stands in stark contrast to the last three budget proposals, all of which included major funding increases for the $440 million federal charter school program.

Where Sanders, Trump, and Warren have common ground on charter schools

Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week
If you put Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont or Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in a room with President Donald Trump, the two politicians might not agree on very much. But through his proposed education budget, the president has actually managed to occupy what might be described as a piece of common ground with the two Democratic candidates for president: what position to take on the federal Charter School Program grants.

Girl chosen by Trump to symbolize failing schools attends a popular charter program

Laura Meckler, The Washington Post
The Philadelphia fourth-grader whom President Trump singled out during his State of the Union address as one of thousands of students “trapped in failing government schools” actually attends a sought-after charter school. Janiyah Davis and her mother, Stephanie Davis, were seated in the House chamber for the president’s prime-time address last week. Trump said Janiyah was one of thousands of students on a waiting list for private school scholarships, and he urged Congress to pass a federal tax break that would reward donations to these scholarship programs.

Other News of Note

Trump’s budget cuts could saddle students with billions more in debt

Paul Blest, Vice
A little over two years after GOP-engineered tax reform blew a hole in the deficit, the Trump administration has decided to try to fix it by slashing domestic spending, including cuts to student loan programs. The president’s $4.8 trillion budget, released this week, would cut $6 billion from federal student loan programs in its first year and cut a total of $170 billion by 2030. As part of those cuts, the administration would kill the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF), which was created in 2007 to incentivize college students to enter public service after college by fully forgiving their loans after 10 years of service. The Department of Education-run program began accepting applicants in October 2017, but as of 2018, it had accepted just 1 percent of applicants.