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
Denise-Marie Ordway, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy
While bigger paychecks don’t guarantee greater job satisfaction, academic studies indicate that when teacher earnings rise, public school districts and students can benefit in a range of ways. The impact seems to vary, however, according to the structure and implementation of school districts’ pay systems. Research conducted in recent years in various parts of the country and world has helped clarify the role of teacher pay.
Diana Lambert, EdSource
A state program that recruits classroom aides, food service workers and bus drivers — who are already on campus and invested in local schools — and trains them to become teachers is one innovative way California is trying to combat its teacher shortage. The California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program has helped transform 299 school employees into teachers, with thousands more in the pipeline, according to a new report from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
John Fensterwald, EdSource
Gavin Newsom wasn’t pressed during his 2018 campaign for governor to be specific about his education goals or how he’d raise taxes for the additional revenue that he agreed schools need. Well-assured of election, he didn’t have to. He faced a weak opponent in Republican John Cox after vanquishing opponents in the primary. Plus, K-12 education wasn’t a central issue in the election. But in his first year in office, Newsom partially made good on education positions he highlighted on his website and in a questionnaire for EdSource. These include making early education a priority, funding incentives to hire more teachers and creating the framework for a database to track students from pre-K to higher ed. In 2019, he also made decisions that sometimes surprised, and largely pleased, education groups and advocates and that distinguished him from his predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown.
Language, Culture, and Power
Robin Young & Serena McMahon, WBUR
In 2019, a lot of parents had to decide: Should they let their kids skip school to protest? In September, students in 150 countries skipped class to participate in the global climate strike led by 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. New York City gave its students an excused day off with parental consent for those who wanted to take to the streets. Now, one of the largest school districts in the country, Fairfax School District in Northern Virginia, says starting Jan. 21, the district will let its nearly 189,000 students use one excused absence every school year for a protest they may want to attend.
Kate Taylor, The New York Times
The news spread quickly, angering Latino students and others at Harvard: One of the few professors who specialized in Latino and Caribbean studies and devoted time to mentoring students of color had been denied tenure. The students sprang into action, occupying an administration building last month and also disrupting a faculty meeting. They submitted a letter to administrators demanding transparency about the tenure process and the creation of an ethnic studies department. And on the day in December that early admissions decisions were to be released, black, Latino and Asian students protested in the admissions office, accusing the university of using them as tokens in its professed commitment to diversity, while failing to invest in academic areas critical to their lives.
Anabel Munoz, ABC7
Through dancing and chanting, dozens denounced a proposed detention center for migrant children in Arleta. “I’m so glad we’re here to say, ‘This is enough. Not in our neighborhoods,’” said local activist Trini Cardenas. The federal government awarded Tucson-based Vision Quest a grant to house unaccompanied minors in Texas, Arizona and California. The agency has faced accusations of mistreating children under its care.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Partnership for the Future of Learning
Americans want, need, and deserve excellent schools for all students. Community Schools provide each and every student with the resources, opportunities, and support that make academic success possible and that create strong ties among families, students, schools, and community. This guide provides tools for advancing community schools as a strategy to improve schools, provide more equitable opportunities, and prepare students for success in life and as citizens.
See also the Community Schools Playbook.
Sammy Caiola, Capital Public Radio
Across California, posters and billboards from the state health department warn young people about the dangers of vaping. State lawmakers introduced a bill this week to end all store sales of flavored tobacco, and the federal government recently moved to ban some e-cigarettes. But experts say bans and information campaigns don’t get at one crucial problem: how to help young people who are already addicted to nicotine.
Julia McEvoy, KQED
A California state lawmaker is moving to repeal a 40-year-old law requiring public school teachers on extended sick leave to pay for their own substitute teachers. KQED first reported on the state law last spring, after a San Francisco Unified school community created a GoFundMe account to help one of their teachers who was battling cancer. That teacher had to pay the cost of her own substitute — amounting to nearly half of her paycheck — while she underwent extended treatment. After the story published, more California public school teachers came forward to describe similar hardships.
Access, Assessment, and Advancement
Sarah McCammon, NPR
NPR’s Sarah McCammon talks with high school senior Kayla Sasser and law professor Mehrsa Baradaran about the challenge of answering college applications questions for disadvantaged students.
California governor keeps key higher education pledges but significant aid for non-tuition costs remains
Michael Burke, EdSource
With investments in financial aid and more money for California’s university systems, Gov. Gavin Newsom fulfilled key campaign pledges on higher education in his first year in office, experts and advocates say. On the campaign trail in 2018, Newsom said he would expand financial aid by growing the number of Cal Grants available to older students — known as competitive Cal Grants — and providing two years of tuition-free community college.
Jenny Gathright, NPR
More and more incarcerated students are getting access to educational technology. These technologies offer access where education is limited, but not much is known about the quality of the programs.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
Understanding the linkages between racial/ethnic discipline gaps and racial/ethnic achievement gaps in the united states
Maithreyi Gopalan, Education Policy Analysis Archives
This study estimates racial/ethnic discipline gaps, using multiple measures of school discipline outcomes, in nearly all school districts in the United States with data collected by the Office of Civil Rights between 2013 and 2014. Just like racial/ethnic achievement gaps, discipline gaps also vary substantially, ranging from negative to greater than two standard deviations, across districts. However, unlike the correlates of racial achievement gaps, the extensive set of district-level characteristics available in the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) including economic, demographic, segregation, and school characteristics, explain roughly just one-fifth of the geographic variation in Black-white discipline gaps and one-third of the variation in Hispanic-white discipline gaps. This study also finds a modest, statistically significant, positive association between discipline gaps and achievement gaps, even after extensive covariate adjustment. The results of this analysis provide an important step forward in determining the relationship between two forms of persistent inequality that have long plagued the U.S. education system.
Christina A. Samuels, Education Week
Years ago, as part of my parents’ unending attempts to clear the house of the junk I left when I moved out, my mother handed me a folder stuffed with remnants of my public school education.
Tucked away with my elementary school report cards and other papers were some yellowed form letters from The College Board declaring my SAT scores. I took the college admissions test twice as a high school student in the late 1980s, prepped only with the practice tests that my school offered. My SAT scores might have remained a bit of trivia had I not become an education reporter. But my career has given me a reason to think a lot about testing, and what seems to be an intractable test-score gap between black students (as well as Hispanic and American Indian and Alaska Native students) and white and Asian students.
Julie Bosman, Emily Shetler and Natalie Yahr, The New York Times
The video was just two minutes long: a sunny montage of life at the University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus in Madison. Here were hundreds of young men and women cheering at a football game, dancing in unison, riding bicycles in a sleek line, “throwing the W” for the camera, singing a cappella, leaping into a lake. “Home is where we grow together,” a voice-over said. “It’s where the hills are. It’s eating our favorite foods. It’s where we can all harmonize as one. Home is Wisconsin cheese curds. It’s welcoming everyone into our home.” Days before Homecoming Week, the student homecoming committee, tasked with producing the video, posted it online. The outrage was almost instantaneous. Virtually every student in the video was white.
Public Schools and Private $
Anna M. Phillips & Howard Blume, The Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles County Board of Education voted Tuesday to close an Inglewood charter school with a lengthy history of financial problems and mixed academic performance that illustrated flaws in California’s oversight system. The board’s unanimous decision marks the third time it has attempted to shut down a charter school run by Today’s Fresh Start, a nonprofit started by a wealthy couple, Clark and Jeanette Parker of Beverly Hills. The group currently operates two charters on three campuses in Los Angeles, Compton and Inglewood.
Kristen Taketa, The San Diego Union Tribune
Churches and corporations that were paid tax dollars to educate A3 charter school students are asking a judge for $1.8 million they say they are owed by the network, which was shut down last year after A3 leaders were indicted for an alleged fraud scheme. Currently at least six charter school vendors are asking San Diego Superior Court Judge Frederic Link for money from A3 schools. All the A3 schools were shut down at the end of June by a court order and their money and other assets remain frozen as the A3 case continues in court. Link will hear their claims at a hearing in February. The vendors include:
Howard Blume, The Los Angeles Times
The candidates are confirmed and the upcoming Los Angeles school board races are all but certain to make for a high-stakes election cycle that will pit teachers and their allies against backers of charter schools for influence over the nation’s second-largest school system. The March election, in which four of the seven board seats are up, comes at a critical juncture for the L.A. Unified School District, which is struggling to make progress academically against the backdrop of budget problems and political instability. District leaders have been focused on raising low student achievement, especially among black and Latino students, and are looking for ways to help low-income families meet basic needs for students’ healthcare and food, as well as family housing.
Other News of Note
Elizabeth Shockman, MPR News
Two prominent Minnesotans launched a campaign Wednesday to change the state’s constitution in an effort to eliminate persistent disparities in education. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari and former Supreme Court Justice Alan Page say the constitution’s call for a “uniform system of public schools” isn’t good enough. “With all due respect, that’s like a McDonald’s uniform franchise of adequacy,” Kashkari said. “Is that what we aspire for Minnesota’s children? I don’t believe that.” The new language proposed by Kashkari and Page starts with the phrase, “All children have a fundamental right to a quality public education that fully prepares them.” They say it’s meant to focus on outcomes for kids.