Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post
The American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers union in the country, is urging members to endorse or support three candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination: former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont or Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. AFT President Randi Weingarten, in a telephone town hall meeting with thousands of union members Thursday, said the union’s executive council had decided on this path until a national endorsement is made.
John Nichols, The Nation
Elizabeth Warren enlivened and enlightened the 10th Democratic presidential debate with a soliloquy on supporting public education that reminded everyone who was paying attention that she is not just ready to govern, she is excited by the prospect. For Warren, it was an electric moment at a point when her campaign needs juice. She’s trailing in the polls and too frequently neglected by the media—except when she is shredding billionaire contender Mike Bloomberg. Even her own supporters worry that the senator from Massachusetts is hitting her mark at too late a point in the race. Yet Warren’s ability to grab hold of issues and to infuse them with insight and passion is such that she cannot be written off.
Jake Jacobs, The Progressive
Mike Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City now running for President, often brags about being one of the most prolific charter school creators in the United States. Bloomberg says he absolutely intends to expand charters in his federal education plan. This is a serious threat to public education, especially given Bloomberg’s history of using his fortune to shape policy. Since 2013, Bloomberg has been one of the nation’s biggest donors to candidates and ballot initiatives promoting charters and vouchers, giving more than $4 million to candidates in New Jersey, Colorado, Minnesota, and Louisiana, often through “dark money” PACs. In California, Bloomberg spent a whopping $39 million, backing both Democrats and Republicans who support charters.
Language, Culture, and Power
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, LAist
At some California college campuses this year you can see, hear, and taste the political engagement energy. “Free pupusas,” said Cal State Northridge student Leslie Aguirre, chair of legislative affairs for Associated Students. That’s the reward she included in a four-hour voter education event she organized on campus last week called “Politics isn’t a bad word.”
There’s a lot of voter related activity on California campuses this year. There are official voting centers at dozens of colleges, while student associations are getting creative in the way they’re bringing the voter engagement message to students.
Take Two Show, LAist
Boyle Heights has been a center of anti-gentrification sentiment for years. The neighborhood itself has a diverse history: predominantly Latino, you can still see remnants of its past as an early hub of the city’s Jewish community. The Breed Street Shul stands right off Cesar Chavez Avenue, a street that a lot of locals still call Brooklyn Avenue. Now, all the existential wrestling over this neighborhood has a new locus: a Netflix show called Gentefied (which btw got its start as a web series). Set in Boyle Heights, it’s the story of three cousins and their immigrant abuelo fighting to save the family’s taqueria against a wave of change. Actress America Ferrera — currently of Superstore fame — is one of the executive producers.
Anya Kamanetz, NPR
Ryan Pascal, a 17-year-old student at Palos Verdes High School near Los Angeles, says when her school holds active shooter drills, it’s “chaos.” The first time it happened, not long after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, rumors started flying over Snapchat and text that the school was really under attack. “We had some students trying to stack up desks to blockade the door. We had some students sort of joking around because they weren’t sure how to handle this. There are other students who are very, very afraid.”
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Rebecca Tan, The Washington Post
Susan Burkinshaw remembers feeling relieved when she saw a police car parked outside the high school her three children attended. “There’s an officer in the building,” she would tell herself. “If anything happens, there’s boots on the ground.” But when Tiffany Kelly sees a cruiser near her 10-year-old son’s elementary school, her heartbeat quickens. Last year, the child, who has learning disabilities, was questioned by police at his school for playing with counterfeit money. “I constantly live with this fear,” Kelly said. “If there’s a cop, I immediately think: What’s happened to Sadiq?”
Dan Levin, The New York Times
Shortly after his first-grade class let out for the day, Nash Kitchens sat with a dozen other young children at a library and played a murder mystery game that had a surprising plot twist. The victim was a restaurant worker who had been found dead in a freezer. The killer, the children would discover, was heroin laced with fentanyl, an often fatal opioid. Nash, who at 7 years old has a relative who has struggled with addiction, was wide-eyed as Jilian Reece, a drug prevention educator, talked about an ongoing opioid epidemic in their small rural community. She then demonstrated how to administer Narcan, an overdose reversal nasal spray.
Phil Ige, KTLA
Volunteers distributed uniforms Saturday for more than 3,000 students who will be taking part in the Los Angeles Marathon next month. The organization Students Run L.A. is dedicated to helping at-risk youths develop character and skills by training for and completing the Los Angeles Marathon, which is scheduled for March 8.
Access, Assessment, and Advancement
Rachel Burstein, EdSurge
Cindy Decker had big plans when she began her job as executive director of an early childhood education program in Tulsa, Okla. She was excited to launch new professional development opportunities, hoped to strengthen the coaching model for teachers and was eager to come up with a more sophisticated set of data points for examining educational quality. But Decker soon realized that her staff had more urgent concerns, and one in particular stood out: the student-teacher ratio they needed to maintain, which, for Decker’s Early Head Start program, was federally-mandated. Teachers told her that paid time off requests were sometimes denied, which seemed to Decker like a straightforward problem. But soon, she realized that the ratio issue had spiraled into a series of greater challenges for staff, and it was taking a toll on morale.
Hannah Furfaro, The Seattle Times
Black high school students are more likely to enroll in advanced coursework when their schools employ at least one Black instructor to teach such classes, new research suggests. Students of other races are also more likely to take advanced classes when they have the option to take one from a Black teacher. The study adds to a growing body of evidence that hints that greater representation by teachers of color can boost students’ academic success. In Washington, the number of teachers of color is growing, but there are still few of them in classrooms.
Stacey Caillier and Ben Daley, EdSource
Aaliyah Eslava-Deanda is a speech pathology major at UC Irvine and the first in her family to attend a four-year college. But she didn’t always know she would get to college. Fortunately, her high school counselor made sure she applied to college and that her family completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). As a result, she received a Cal Grant, a Pell Grant and additional scholarships that provided her with a full ride.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
An increasing number of local families are living in motels, cars, shelters and small shared spaces.
Erin Rode, VC Star
Maria Medina never thought she’d become homeless. When she lost her leg due to diabetes last summer, her husband, a farmworker, missed work to take care of her. Then he lost his job, leaving the family unable to pay their $1,300 monthly rent. The family of five, with one daughter in high school and two daughters under age 4, was homeless.
“I always thought about homelessness as something that wouldn’t happen to me. But you don’t know until it happens to you, and you can’t easily explain to the kids,” said Maria Medina, who has lived in Oxnard her entire life.
Tracking and the future of career and technical education: How efforts to connect school and work can avoid the past mistakes of vocational education
Emily Hodge, Shaun Dougherty, and Carol Burris, NEPC
Despite the popularity of Career and Technical Education (CTE), concerns remain about the availability of resources for different CTE pathways, their relative status, and the degree to which adults working within schools are problematically sorting students explicitly or implicitly into different course-taking pathways. This brief examines the tension that has often arisen between the desire to link learning to post-high-school work and the desire to avoid low academic expectations for students perceived as unlikely to attend college. The authors explore the question of how schools might meaningfully support career exploration and preparation, while avoiding the tendency of prior vocational education to disproportionately sort students into distinct tracks by ethnic, racial, and/or socioeconomic characteristics. They conclude with recommendations for enacting CTE in ways that support the equitable distribution of educational opportunity.
Crystal R. Sanders, The Washington Post
This week, the world mourns Katherine Johnson, a pioneering mathematician and scientist who became famous for performing the calculations that enabled the first American, John Glenn, to orbit the Earth. Although the blockbuster hit “Hidden Figures” made Johnson famous for her work at NASA, she also made history long before the space race with the Soviet Union as one of the first black graduate students to attend a previously all-white, tax-supported Southern university. Johnson blazed a trail in West Virginia when she desegregated West Virginia University in 1940. Her quest for education helped to chip away at a racial caste system that stifled the academic pursuits of generations of African Americans. Moreover, she was in the vanguard of black students at predominantly white institutions who started the push for inclusion and equity that is still ongoing today.
Public Schools and Private $
Louis Freedberg, EdSource
If there is one issue on which Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump agree, it is on the value of charter schools. One difference is that Bloomberg does not appear to back using taxpayer funds to underwrite tuition for private and parochial schools, as Trump does. Another is that Bloomberg has actually been able to implement his pro-charter agenda, when he was mayor in New York City, and in backing pro-charter causes and candidates in other states, most notably in California.
Kristen Taketa, The San Diego Union Tribune
Prosecutors leading the A3 charter school criminal case want to take back potentially millions of dollars of charter school oversight fees that were paid to small school districts that were supposed to hold the A3 schools accountable. Prosecutors with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said in a motion last week that six small school districts — including Dehesa School District in San Diego County — were paid millions of dollars by the A3 schools to oversee them but ended up providing little to no oversight of the schools, which prosecutors said turned out to be vehicles for fraud.
Steve Lopez, The Los Angeles Times
There she was, sitting right in front of me. Evil in the flesh, or so you’d believe from the fliers now landing in mailboxes across a wide swath of Los Angeles.
Other News of Note
Norma Martinez and Lauren Terrazas, High Plains Public Radio
The Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that racial desegregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Some school districts were not swayed by Brown v. Board of Education and found ways to discriminate. Mexican-American students in Driscoll, Texas, were purposely held back to avoid “retarding” the white students. Students with Spanish surnames were made to take first grade for three years. It didn’t matter how fluent they were in English, or if English was their primary language. As a result, Mexican-American students were graduating from high school in their early 20s.