Just News from Center X – February 19, 2016

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Scalia’s death likely to alter outcome in Friedrichs lawsuit

John Fensterwald, EdSource

With the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the California Teachers Association will likely gain an unexpected victory, at least for now, in its legal battle to continue the right to require all teachers to pay the costs of collective bargaining.


Why would a principal want to work in a teacher-powered school?

But what if principals’ roles were defined differently? Perhaps one way forward is to pursue a different job description. As an advocate for teacher-powered schools, which are collaboratively designed and run by teachers, I often meet principals who believe that a teacher-led approach to school governance is bound to make their positions obsolete. No, I tell them, teacher-powered schools just shift the accountability framework. The team of teachers becomes accountable for school success, alongside you, I explain.


School budgets long recovered, not teacher-librarians

Kimberly Beltran, Cabinet Report

The good news is that the number of certificated librarians in California schools has increased slightly the past three years. The bad news, however, is that the state’s ratio of one librarian for every 7,187 students ranks at the bottom nationally for professional library staffing.


Language, Culture, and Power

Grammy nominee Jose-Luis Orozco on his bilingual children’s album

Deepa Fernandes, KPCC

It’s Grammy time. The big awards show is this Monday, here in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. There are of course the usual headliners, but also some artists you may not have heard of before. Jose-Luis Orozco doesn’t spend a lot of time in hip clubs or on arena tours. He’s most often seen performing on the local preschool and elementary school circuit. This year he’s nominated for a Grammy for Best Children’s Album for ¡Come Bien! Eat Right! The dual language album, made collaboration with Smithsonian Folkways, is all about the benefits of healthy eating.


Protecting our Muslim youth from bullying: The role of the educator

Jinnie Spiegler, Anti-Defamation League and Sarah Sisaye, Office of Safe and Healthy Students; Homeroom

Classrooms and schools should provide learning environments that are not only free from discrimination and harassment based on protected traits—including religion—but should also be conduits for students to build bridges with other students across different backgrounds, break down stereotypes, acknowledge and affirm important aspects of their identity, and learn how to be an ally when faced with bullying and bias.

Hillary Clinton’s plan to undo the school-to-prison pipeline, explained

German Lopez, Vox

At a speech in Harlem on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton will call for a $2 billion plan to help end punitive school policies that can push black children from schools to jails and prisons. The new $2 billion plan, which goes after the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline,” will incentivize the hiring of “school climate support teams” — made up of social workers, behavioral health specialists, and education practitioners — to work with school staff to reorient and develop comprehensive reform plans for school discipline policies.


Access, Assessment, and Advancement

Smarter Balanced tests mostly well-aligned to Common Core, studies find

Theresa Harrington, EdSource

Smarter Balanced tests administered in California and other states are well-aligned to Common Core standards in math and English language arts, but could be improved, according to two new studies.


Why elite-college admissions need an overhaul

Jonathan R. Cole, The Atlantic

March madness is almost here. No, I’m not referring to the college-basketball playoffs; I’m alluding to the anxious waiting of young people and their families of word about their fate from the highly selective colleges of America. And I’m talking as well about those who are about to venture forth on the ritualistic campus tours to determine where they will apply next fall. What few of these families realize is how broken the admission system is at these selective colleges.


Colleges offer microgrants to help low-income students pay bills that can derail them

Timothy Pratt, The Hechinger Report

The idea, being tried at a growing number of colleges and universities, is simple: For low-income students, many of them minorities or the first in their families to go to college, surprisingly small financial shortfalls are often all that stands between them and their goals, according to Tim Renick, vice president for enrollment management and student success at Georgia State. Microgrants ranging from several hundred dollars to $2,000 can get them to the finish line.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Gov. Jerry Brown opposes $9-billion school bond measure

Melanie Mason, Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday came out against a $9-billion school bond measure that will go before voters in November, erecting a political hurdle for advocates of new spending on school construction. “I am against the developers’ $9-billion bond,” Brown said in a statement to The Times. “It’s a blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl and squanders money that would be far better spent in low-income communities.”


Report offers strategies to create successful community schools

Susan Frey, EdSource

California’s new school finance system and the state’s rules regarding Medi-Cal are making it easier for low-performing schools to transform themselves, according to a recent report. Some of those schools are becoming community schools, which emphasize student and community engagement and work with outside partners to provide health, social and other services to students and their families.


Program aims to keep schools diverse as New York neighborhoods gentrify

Kyle Spencer, The New York Times

How white is too white? At the Academy of Arts and Letters, a small K-8 school in Brooklyn founded in 2006 to educate a community of “diverse individuals,” that question is being put to the test. The school—along with six others in New York City—is part of a new Education Department initiative aimed at maintaining a racial and socioeconomic balance at schools in fast-gentrifying neighborhoods.


Public Schools and Private $

What’s a ‘walk-in’ and why were they happening at L.A. schools today?

Sonali Kohli and Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

“Let’s go, dolphins, let’s go!” chanted dozens of students, parents and teachers as they walked into 20th Street Elementary School before class, professing love for their neighborhood school, one that might soon become a charter school. They were part of a “walk-in” demonstration organized on Wednesday morning by teachers unions in Los Angeles and The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools. The rallies around the country were hashtagged as #ReclaimOurSchools. In Los Angeles, they highlighted positive experiences at traditional public schools in the face of an increasing number of charter schools.


Can Inglewood’s NFL-fueled turnaround be a success if its schools are failing?

Zahira Torres, Los Angeles Times

Laura Rosales, mother of three, lives blocks from the site of Inglewood’s planned NFL stadium.

Watching the fast-moving construction of a futuristic complex that is expected to bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenues to the city makes her think about the toilets at her 7-year-old son’s school. They are so dirty that he waits until he gets home to use the restroom. The high school that her teenage daughters attend chronically underperforms academically, as do most of the district’s schools. And those aren’t the only problems. Three years ago, after Inglewood school administrators hugely and repeatedly overspent their budget, the state took control of the district.


Charter growth spurs division among educators

Maureen Magee, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Charter school growth has shaken up the landscape of public education in San Diego County in recent years, and there is no sign it’s slowing — stirring animosity and legal disputes that have made for tense relationships in districts that are scrambling to recoup enrollment.


Other News of Note

College freshmen are more politically engaged than they have been in decades

Mikhail Zinshteyn, FiveThirtyEight

new survey that captures the attitudes of 2015 college freshmen shows unprecedented levels of interest in both political engagement and student activism, underscoring the youth vote’s potential to reshape the electoral landscape. The survey also finds that more of these students identify as liberals, seek to become community leaders and want to influence the political structure.


Indian students, teachers protest after nationalist violence

The Associated Press, The New York Times

Students, journalists and teachers protested inside a university campus in the Indian capital Tuesday, demanding the release of an arrested student leader and denouncing violence by Hindu nationalists.


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