Just News from Center X – February 5, 2016

Just News from Center X is a free weekly news blast about equitable public education. Please share and encourage colleagues and friends to subscribe.

Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

How a Lincoln High teacher gets all his students to pass the AP Calculus exam

Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times

Yom, as the students call their Lincoln High calculus teacher, is at the blackboard with marker in hand. He can’t be stopped. Left to right he works, light on his feet, flicking out triangles, stacking towers of numbers, turning Room 754 into a gallery of cave art. And here’s the really impressive part: Every student is locked in. There’s no daydreaming or goofing.

State legislators pitch 3 ideas to combat California’s teacher shortage

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, KPCC

The state Senate bills aim to improve recruitment of college students thinking about becoming teachers, increase mentorship of beginning teachers, and forgive student loans for teachers who work in high-need schools.

GOP-led states increasingly taking control from local school boards

Lyndsey Layton, The Washington Post

Republican lawmakers in Illinois last month pitched a bold plan for the state to seize control of the Chicago public schools, becoming one of a growing number of states that are moving to sideline local officials — even dissolve locally elected school boards — and take over struggling urban schools.


Teachers union sues DPS, asks judge to boot EM

Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Federation of Teachers, its umbrella group and several parents slapped the city’s school district with a lawsuit today over the mold, rodents and other issues in dilapidated schools, saying the poor conditions seriously threaten students’ health. They are asking a judge to force the district to fix the problems and boot out state-appointed emergency manager Darnell Earley.

Language, Culture, and Power

New federal law puts spotlight on English learners

John Fensterwald, EdSource

In passing the Every Student Succeeds Act, Congress rolled back the federal government’s overall reach into testing requirements for K-12 education. But there is a significant exception: English learners.


The other children of Silicon Valley

Alia Wong, The Atlantic

Thousands of low-income kids—most of whom have immigrant parents—are missing out on the early education they need to keep up with their affluent peers.

The chilling rise of Islamophobia in our schools

Kristina Rizga, Mother Jones

Accusations, beatings, even death threats—that’s life for Muslim kids in America.

Legislator proposes new credentials for dance, theater teachers

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, KPCC

In an effort to increase the number of public schools offering theater and dance classes and to lure more dance and theater professionals to teaching, Santa Monica-area State Senator Ben Allen unveiled a bill on Wednesday to create, for the first time, teaching credentials in those subjects.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement


Obama outlines $4 billion ‘Computer Science for All’ education plan

Emma Brown, The Washington Post

President Obama announced Saturday that he seeks $4 billion from Congress to dramatically increase the number of children who have access to computer science classes in school, a move he said is necessary to ensure that students are competitive in a job market that rewards technological know-how.

The Long Beach miracle

Lillian Mongeau, The Atlantic

Every fourth-grade student in Long Beach’s public schools attends a tour like this and all fifth-graders visit California State University, Long Beach, known as Long Beach State. The tours are just one example of the many ways the three biggest public-education systems in this working-class, seaside California city cooperate. Long Beach City College, Long Beach State, and the Long Beach Unified School District have cooperated for about two decades on initiatives like early college tours, targeted professional development for teachers, and college-admissions standards that favor local students.

Studies look at possible replacements for race-based college admission policies

PR Newswire

As higher education officials struggled to find race-neutral alternative college admissions policies in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 2013 Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin ruling, a new series of studies commissioned by Educational Testing Service (ETS), finds that race-neutral approaches fall far short. The four studies were commissioned by ETS’s Policy Evaluation & Research Center and conducted in cooperation with the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. In the search for substitutes for race, nationally known researchers looked at: socioeconomic (SES) factors, state-sponsored guaranteed college admission programs, use of correlates of race, and the University of California’s race-neutral efforts.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Public schools see influx of state funds but financial challenges still loom

Judy Lin, KPCC

Up and down California, public schools are enjoying a rapid rise in state funding. With the state’s economic gains and a temporary tax increase approved by voters in 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed $71.6 billion education budget for the next fiscal year is up more than 50 percent since 2011. Spending per student has increased more than $3,800, to a projected $14,550 this year.


Rich kids stay rich, poor kids stay poor

Ben Casselman and Andrew Flowers, FiveThirtyEight

On Friday, a team of researchers led by Stanford economist Raj Chetty released a paper on how growing up in poverty affects boys and girls differently. Their core finding: Boys who grow up in poor families fare substantially worse in adulthood, in terms of employment and earnings, than girls who grow up in the same circumstances.

How rich parents can exacerbate school inequality

Laura McKenna, The Atlantic

Is all this work from parent-school groups—work that is done with the best of intentions—unfairly increasing advantages in already privileged communities?

State says number of students approved to get free lunch is way up

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, KPCC

A change in the way California determines which students are eligible for meal programs means far more kids this year will receive free lunch at school. There was a 32 percent increase in December to the number of California students automatically enrolled in the federally funded free and reduced meal program, California Department of Education officials announced.

Public Schools and Private $


The Seventy Four, founded by controversial advocate, takes over LA School Report

Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

The Seventy Four, an organization whose co-founder is a controversial education advocate, has taken over LA School Report, a website covering the Los Angeles Unified School District. The organization’s name is a reference to 74 million students attending public schools in the United States. The site was co-founded by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, who is part of a lawsuit seeking to overturn tenure protections for teachers in New York.

The group’s funders include a roster of charter school supporters, such as the Walton Family Foundation, the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Our children are not commodities

Scott Schmerelson, Steve Zimmer, and George McKenna, EdSource

In their first meeting of the new year, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education set a strong new direction for the district by adopting the “Excellent Public Education for Every Student” resolution. The board’s unanimous approval of this action made it clear that the district would no longer be doing business as usual and would stand together to counter efforts to move more than 250,000 students from LAUSD public schools to privately operated charter schools.

Education reform’s devious blame game: The charter school movement doesn’t want you to know it’s failing

Steven Rosenfeld, Salon

Insiders finger Wall Street for misspent funds and schools’ poor performance. It’s all part of a new PR strategy.

Other News of Note

Students say racial hostilities simmered at historic Boston Latin school

Jess Bidgood, The New York Times

Two black students, employing YouTube videos and a hashtag, started a campaign to expose what they see as a hostile school climate—one in which, they said, racial insensitivity is too common and hate speech is not effectively punished.

Meet the new student activists

Abby Ellin, The New York Times

Young African-Americans and their allies are demanding change, leading people of all backgrounds to talk about issues that have lain dormant for decades. What do they want? Inclusion and representation—now. Here, seven students talk about the problems, the protests and themselves.


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