Just News from Center X – February 12, 2016

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

In Oakland, building boys into men

Patricia Leigh Brown, The New York Times

Mr. Jennings’s class, at the Montera Middle School in Oakland, Calif., is part of a novel and ambitious initiative by the Oakland Unified School District to rewrite the pernicious script of racial inequality, underachievement and lack of opportunity for African-American boys.

L.A. teachers union wins dues increase, vows to battle foes of traditional public education

Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

The rallying cry went out from the leaders of Los Angeles teachers’ union: We need more money to fight the rich and powerful forces that want to take over public schools. Members have responded by agreeing to raise their annual dues by about a third, to $1,000 a year. The increase was approved by 82% of those who cast ballots, according to United Teachers Los Angeles, which tallied the votes Wednesday.

Looking anew at how teachers teach

Larry Cuban, Stanford University

Today, reformers from both ends of the political spectrum push Common Core Standards into classrooms. They champion charters and more parental choice of schools. They want teachers to be evaluated on the basis of student test scores. Policymakers, philanthropists, and vendors send tablets to classrooms. Look at these reforms as blood relatives fixed on changing how teachers teach so students can learn more, faster, and better. An old story to be sure.

Language, Culture, and Power

Bilingual toddlers demonstrate greater cognitive flexibility, study finds

Peter Dockrill, Science Alert

Speaking more than one language at home doesn’t just expose young children to two sets of vocabularies – it could also confer hidden benefits to their cognitive control, according to a new study.

ICE agents won’t be going onto Los Angeles public school campuses

Sonali Kohli, Los Angeles Times

Immigration agents won’t be allowed onto the campuses of the Los Angeles Unified School District to look for undocumented students, the school board promised with a unanimous vote Tuesday.

Room to improve school services for LGBT students

Alisha Kirby, Cabinet Report

Even with all of the progress made in recent years to improve educational services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, their well-being is still at risk in many schools with only a handful of districts attempting to address the issue through their Local Control Accountability Plans, advocates said.

‘Comfort women’ and a lesson in how history is shaped in California textbooks

Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times

After nearly a decade of delays, California educators released a draft guideline that will shape how history is taught to students across the state. The nearly 1,000-page “History/Social Science framework” received little public attention and went largely unreported in mainstream media when it was announced in December.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement


How school suspensions push black students behind

Alia Wong, The Atlantic

The racial disparities in school-discipline rates are well-known, as are the damaging effects that harsh disciplinary policies can have on school climates. Less clear is whether—and if so, how —these tendencies contribute to the race-based achievement gap, a problem so entrenched and pervasive that discussing it is almost cliché.

UC expands its recruiting efforts targeting black and Latino students

Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times

The pitch came hard and fast: The University of California is the nation’s finest public system of higher education. Financial aid is aplenty. The commitment to diversity is strong.

The college recruiter who spoke Thursday to teachers, counselors, parents and more than 100 top students of color at Manual Arts High School should know her stuff. After all, she’s president of the 10-campus, 246,000-student UC system — Janet Napolitano.

Boost in Cal Grant funding aims to keep pace with growing rate of college-ready students

Fermin Leal, EdSource

The state could help more than 20,000 additional students pay for college under Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget proposal. The governor wants the state to invest $2.1 billion in 2016-17 in the Cal Grant Program, the nation’s largest state-funded college aid program. That’s $137 million more than last year, which will help up to 7 percent more incoming freshmen, transfer, and continuing college students.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

U.N. experts seem horrified by how American schools treat black children

Rebecca Klein, The Huffington Post

American schools are hotbeds for racial discrimination, according to a preliminary report from a group of United Nations experts. The U.N.’s Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent traveled around the U.S. last month to learn more about the various structural barriers and challenges African-American face. The group, which plans to release its full report in September, has given the media its preliminary findings, including several recommendations about reducing inequality in the U.S. education system. The overall findings — which touch on topics of police brutality, school curriculum and mass incarceration — are bleak.

Obama budget to seek new money to help schools integrate, sources say

Alyson Klein, Education Week

Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. has been talking a lot about ensuring that schools are diverse, as a means to ensure equity and boost student achievement. And now it seems he’s hoping to put some new money where his rhetoric is. The Obama administration’s final budget, slated to be released Tuesday, is expected to ask for $120 million for a new competitive-grant program—called “Stronger Together”—that would help districts—or groups of districts—tackle the sticky issue of making schools more socio-economically integrated, sources say. Grantees could either use the money for planning grants, or they could move right into implementing ideas.

How racially diverse schools and classrooms can benefit all students

Amy Stuart Wells, Lauren Fox, and Diana Cordova-Cobo, Teachers College; The Century Foundation

TCF investigates the evidence on racially and socioeconomically integrated schools and finds that diverse classrooms produce smarter, more tolerant students.

Public Schools and Private $


Education in two worlds: Would Horace Mann tweet?

Gene V. Glass, Arizona State University, National Education Policy Center

A democratically run public education system in America is under siege. It is being attacked by greedy, union-hating corporations and billionaire boys whose success in business has proven to them that their circle of competence knows no bounds. If we can find the answer to the question in our title, perhaps we will find the answer to the question “What can be done to restore democracy to public education in America?” But to begin to answer these questions, we have to start our inquiry some 30 years ago, when America’s public schools were said to be in a state of crisis.


Charter schools say L.A. Unified is unfairly scrutinizing their campuses

Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

Caprice Young thought the worst was behind her, that her group’s charter schools would be free to grow after straightening out the poor financial record-keeping that prompted a recent state audit. She was wrong. The school district still found fault with her organization’s petitions to open new campuses. District officials told her to expect rejection.

Reframing Teach For America: A conceptual framework for the next generation of scholarship

Janelle Scott, Tina Trujillo, and Marialena D. Riviera, University of California at Berkeley; Education Policy Analysis Archives

In this article, we advance a conceptual framework for the study of Teach For America (TFA) as a political and social movement with implicit and explicit ideological and political underpinnings. We argue that the second branch of TFA’s mission statement, which maintains that TFA’s greatest point of influence in public education is not in classrooms, but in its facilitation of entry into leadership positions aimed at reshaping public schooling, can be better understood in terms of the organization’s: a) infusion of “policy entrepreneurs” into educational policymaking processes; b) cultivation of powerful networks of elite interests; c) promotion of “corporate” models of managerial leadership; and, d) racial and social class identities of its corps members that facilitate entry into leadership and policy networks.

Other News of Note

Black girls in Durham, NC, school denied right to honor African heritage

Janelle Harris, The Root

It started as a collective expression of pride. A group of young women at the School for Creative Studies in Durham, N.C., decided to wear head wraps—also called geles—to align with and honor their culture at the start of Black History Month. Instead, they say, administrators warned that they were in violation of the dress code and threatened them with suspension.

‘Dreamers’ on the front lines of the 2016 race

Ernesto Londoño, The New York Times

During the 2012 presidential race, Erika Andiola, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, chased Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, across the country, challenging his suggestion that America should become so inhospitable to people like her that she would self­-deport. She was taunted, booed, assaulted and escorted out of campaign rallies. But she kept coming back. “When I was a bit younger, the passion got to me and I did a lot of things without thinking,” Ms. Andiola said. “Little by little, we became more strategic.” Four years later, she and other young Latino activists known as Dreamers are on the front lines of presidential politics, having become campaign strategists and volunteers in the unexpectedly competitive Democratic race.


Just News from Center X is a free weekly education news blast edited by Jenn Ayscue.