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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
Associated Press, NBC Los Angeles
Lake Elementary School, just a half-hour drive northeast of San Francisco, is a relic from 1957. Much of the school’s scuffed flooring is old linoleum that contains asbestos, as does the insulation around the school’s hulking old steel furnace where grey duct tape is wrapped around rusting pipes. “The heating system is literally held together by duct tape. Exposed wires are taped together across the hallway ceilings,” said Tony Wold, associate superintendent for the West Contra Costa Unified School District in the San Francisco Bay Area. “The roofs are dropping and need repairs. Is this the safest environment for students?”
Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week
President Donald Trump will release his federal budget proposal, including for the U.S. Department of Education, on Feb. 10, according to the Office of Management and Budget. In all likelihood, Trump will propose cuts to the department’s overall budget and call for the elimination of some programs; he already highlighted the administration’s flagship school choice plan, unveiled last year on Capitol Hill, in his State of the Union address. And in all likelihood, Congress will once again ignore that proposal. All that doesn’t mean it isn’t newsworthy: An administration’s budget proposal provides some insight into its priorities beyond just dollars and cents. But obscure parts of such plans can also whip up a sudden furor over tangential issues for education like Special Olympics aid (more on that in a bit), while obscuring bigger challenges. It’s also a part of how Washington creates uncertainty and controversy over the way federal education spending works.
Hannah Wiley, The Sacramento Bee
Luis Guerrero didn’t abandon a career in electrical engineering to become a McClatchy High School math teacher for the money. Guerrero, 28, instead committed to the classroom believing his story as a South Sacramento, first-generation college graduate with immigrant parents would create a ripple effect through his own community and former high school. “I have a lot of similarities with my students, from colloquialism, to the urban swagger, the ethnic background, the cultural experiences,” Guerrero said. “All those things manifest in the classroom for students to connect to a role model that they need.”
Language, Culture, and Power
“At first, my abuela, she didn’t get it. ‘Dalia, it’s too rough for a girl. Your mom was a cheerleader – why don’t you be a cheerleader?’ Football is where I get my strength. Where I prove that nothing is off-limits. Where I can be whatever I want.” Dalia Hurtado’s family had specific expectations of her: Work hard, get good grades, and follow in her mother’s footsteps as a cheerleader. But cheering on the sideline was never an option for Dalia. As a kid in Mexico, she was the only girl who would play soccer with the boys, and after moving back to East LA with her abuela, she set her sights on football. At 16, she became the only girl to make the varsity team at her high school. Two years later, she’s inspired more girls to play football at her high school.
Zaidee Stavely, EdSource
If your child attends public school or eats school lunch, it won’t hurt your application for permanent residency. That’s the message school officials across California are trying to send to parents after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that the Trump administration can begin using new rules to deny permanent residency, or green cards, based on whether an immigrant is likely to use certain public benefits, such as food stamps or public health insurance. The court has not ruled on the merits of the new rules, but is allowing them to go into effect, while lawsuits move through lower courts.
Larry Gordon, The Los Angeles Times
It wasn’t a weekend concert or sports event that brought Vilma and David Martinez to the Cal State L.A. campus on a recent Saturday morning. Instead, they attended college for a day to learn about ways to encourage their son’s success at a university where only about half of incoming freshmen finish within six years. They and 160 others who showed up for this “Parent Academy” are part of an effort to improve graduation rates, especially among students who are the first in their family to attend college. Parents increasingly are seen as partners with the university in supporting these young adults when they encounter emotional, bureaucratic, financial or academic obstacles.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Brita Belli, Yale News
Ask a high school student how he or she typically feels at school, and the answer you’ll likely hear is “tired,” closely followed by “stressed” and “bored.” In a nationwide survey of 21,678 U.S. high school students, researchers from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the Yale Child Study Center found that nearly 75% of the students’ self-reported feelings related to school were negative.
Austin Beutner and Alberto Retana, Los Angeles Daily News
Every day, students make their way to and from school walking with friends, getting dropped off by a parent or family member, or riding a yellow school bus — a ride that costs them nothing and gets them to school safely and on time. But Los Angeles Unified serves students in communities spread across more than 700 square miles, and it’s simply not possible for school buses to address the entire need. Thousands of students rely on public transportation to fill the gaps and, unfortunately, every trip to and from school comes with a price. For their families, coming up with the money for a transit pass can be a barrier which prevents a child from getting the education they deserve.
Sydney Johnson, EdSource
Parents are playing a more hands-on role in California’s ongoing quest to grow the number of students who pursue technology professions — and tech-savvy workers in all kinds of fields. At schools around the state, parents are learning how to code alongside their young children as a way to increase interest in computer science as a potential career path. Called Family Code Night, these events are designed to help address the need to expand the pipeline in order to meet the demand of one of the state’s fastest growing job sectors.
Access, Assessment, and Advancement
Felicia Mello, Cal Matters
It’s quiet in the spare bedroom of Maria Garcia’s cheerful Antioch duplex as she sits down to study on a Friday morning. Her husband has been off working construction since 3:00 am, and Garcia, 24, will spend the day on her laptop, poring over a lesson on encrypted communication. It’s one more step on a path she hopes will lead to a cybersecurity certificate from Calbright College — California’s new online community college — and a job that pays a living wage. Of the more than 450 students who have enrolled at Calbright since it launched statewide October 1, Garcia is one of only a couple dozen who have passed its course in basic workplace skills and moved on to career training. Former Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law establishing the college in 2018, with the goal of providing flexible job training for working adults without college degrees. Calbright currently offers certificates (though not degrees) in medical coding, IT or cybersecurity.
Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post
The 10-campus University of California system, an influential force in how colleges use admissions tests, should keep requiring SAT or ACT scores to admit students because the exams are good predictors of academic success — at least until it can develop its own exam for applicants, a faculty task force recommended.
The report, ordered by UC President Janet Napolitano more than a year ago, was released Monday at a time when a record number of colleges and universities — more than 1,000 — are making test scores optional for admissions and amid growing disenchantment with the tests nationally. Critics cite research showing that standardized tests discriminate on the basis of race, income and the education level of a student’s parents. Those allegations are denied by the College Board, which owns the SAT, and ACT Inc., which owns the ACT exam.
Cal State University approves plan to add new admissions requirement — but delays making formal change before studying impact
Taylor Swaak, LA School Report
California State University overwhelmingly decided Wednesday to move forward with a new admissions requirement, but will delay making formal alterations to state regulations until the consequences of the change are studied. Until last week, the CSU Board of Trustees were expected to cast votes on Wednesday either greenlighting or rejecting a controversial addition to admissions standards: Requiring applicants to take a fourth year of high school math/quantitative reasoning to be eligible to apply to the system’s 23 campuses. The change would go into effect in the fall of 2027, with the current class of fifth-graders.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
Leah Asmelash, CNN
As homelessness continues to rise in states like California, new federal data shows that the number of students experiencing homelessness is increasing dramatically. A report by the National Center for Homeless Education was released this week, summarizing data taken from state submissions to the US Department of Education. The data, taken from public school districts during the 2015-16 school year through the 2017-18 year, shows that students experiencing homelessness at some point during the three-year period increased by 15% — from 1.3 million students to just over 1.5 million.
Ricardo Cano, The Mercury News
Few goals in education have been as frustrating and urgent as the deep, generational disparity in achievement between the haves and the have-nots in California schools. It is an article of faith in the K-12 school system that every student — regardless of race, creed, wealth or color — can and should be academically successful. But in measures from standardized tests to dropout rates to college completion, the achievement gap has persisted in cities, rural communities and suburbs, a sign that opportunity is not yet equal for many children in California classrooms.
Andrew Joseph Pegoda, Time
During Black History Month and beyond, Americans are generally taught to believe that contact between white and black Americans was gradually prohibited after Reconstruction through a combination of social and legal traditions. Under the regime of Jim Crow segregation, two supposedly “separate but equal” societies gradually emerged — one for white people, another for black people — and lasted until the ’50s and ’60s. The two societies in that infamous phrase were never equal, as the Supreme Court acknowledged in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education, but the “separate” part of the equation is misleading, too. In fact, in the Jim Crow South, Americans of different races lived in extremely close contact — contact that was vital to maintaining and perpetuating racist and unequal ideologies; contact that manifested through never-ending physical and psychological violence.
Public Schools and Private $
Naaz Modan, Education Dive
President Donald Trump addressed the nation Tuesday night in a much-anticipated State of the Union speech following the conclusion of Senate impeachment proceedings this week, briefly touching on school choice and private scholarship tax credit programs. “For too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools,” Trump said, calling on Congress to pass the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunities Act. He pointed to 18 states, such as Florida and Ohio, that have already passed similar tax credit incentives.
Kristen Taketa, The San Diego Union Tribune
The Dehesa School District says a corporation that has been managing the Inspire charter schools across California appears to have been skirting transparency and conflict of interest laws. Dehesa says the corporation, called Inspire District Office, is a charter management organization and therefore is subject to such laws. The corporation, which has ties to charter schools around the state serving more than 36,000 students, denies that.
Jonathan Haber, EdSurge
Education reformers and technologists often lament that the best ideas or tools don’t win. Might those failures have less to do with financial challenges or lack of product-market “fit,” than with a failure to understand the pieces and politics at play in the board game of education? I thought of this while reading a fascinating and provocative article titled “Want to Fix Public Schools? Fix the Public First” by David J. Ferrero, an educational consultant and former program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Paul G. Allen Foundation, that provides a comprehensive run-down of public-school stakeholders and the interactions between them.
Other News of Note
The Learning Network, The New York Times
This week in our writing prompts we asked teenagers about library books, being a tourist, quitting, and what they’re doing to improve their schools. But no prompt garnered more responses than the one about the sudden and tragic death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who were killed in a helicopter crash, along with seven others, on Jan. 26.