Just News from Center X – Jan 17, 2020

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Newsom’s budget includes $900 million to address California teacher shortage

Howard Blume, The Los Angeles Times
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed state budget includes $900 million to recruit and retain teachers, part of a plan to attack a critical statewide shortage of instructors, especially in math, sciences and for students with disabilities. The plan, included in his $222.2-billion budget unveiled Friday in Sacramento, was among a range of education measures that also includes the creation of an early childhood development department, significantly more money to cover the costs of teaching students with disabilities and a funding boost to the school lunch program, a hedge against possible reductions at the federal level.

Follow the money: Are changes coming for California’s school funding law?

Ricardo Cano, CalMatters
Galvanized by a state audit that criticized California’s lax oversight of school spending, legislators are ringing in the new decade with proposals that would require the state to follow the money that districts get to educate disadvantaged kids. Assembly Bills 1834 and 1835, introduced this week, mark the latest effort by lawmakers to bolster transparency under the so-called Local Control Funding Formula, the landmark 2013 law that overhauled how the state funds public schools.

As tensions with Iran escalate, it is time to challenge empire in the classroom

Shirin Vossoughi, Roozbeh Shirazi & Sepehr Vakil, Truthout
For educators, war is one of the most difficult topics to discuss within our classrooms. And yet, with the recent U.S. assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iraqi senior military leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and other Iraqis, the threat of imminent war is now forcefully part of the everyday thoughts of many students. For families from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and other parts of the region, the weight of these anxieties has been carried for decades.

Language, Culture, and Power

U.S. schools see surge in number of Arabic- and Chinese-speaking English-learners

Corey Mitchell, Education Week
Spanish remains the language most frequently spoken by English-learners in U.S. schools by a wide margin, with roughly 76 percent of the nation’s 5 million English-learners speaking Spanish, but the numbers for several other languages are surging. Overall, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Somali were the top five languages spoken by English-language learners in the nation’s K-12 public schools during the 2016-17 school year, according to recently released data from the U.S. Department of Education.

Years of reform efforts contribute to declining African-American suspension rates in California

Carolyn Jones, EdSource
After nearly a decade of school discipline reform in California, the suspension rate for African-American students continued to decline last year, according to recently released state data. The statewide suspension rate was 3.5 percent in 2018-19, the same as the year before, but the suspension rate among black students fell from 9.4 percent to 9.1 percent, a drop of more than 3,500 suspensions, according to the California Department of Education. Among Latino students the rate remained the same, 3.6 percent.

The starts and stumbles of restorative justice in education: Where do we go from here?

Anne Gregory and Katherine Evans, NEPC
Schools are implementing Restorative Justice in Education (RJE) initiatives across the United States, often to reduce the use of out-of-school suspension, which is known to increase the risk for dropout and arrest. Many RJE initiatives also aim to strengthen social and emotional competencies, reduce gender and racial disparities in discipline, and increase access to equitable and supportive environments for students from marginalized groups. We view RJE as a comprehensive, whole school approach to shifting school culture in ways that prioritize relational pedagogies, justice and equity, resilience-fostering, and well-being. Guided by a set of restorative values and principles (e.g., dignity, respect, accountability, and fairness), RJE practices are both proactive and responsive in nurturing healthy relationships, repairing harm, transforming conflict, and promoting justice and equity. Drawing on the writings of Paulo Freire and bell hooks, educators in RJE schools and classrooms work to ensure that the “vulnerable are cared for, the marginalized are included, the dignity and humanity of each person in the educational setting matters, and everyone’s needs are heard and met.”

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Jet fuel dumped on schools, children sparks questions and outrage

Colleen Shalby, Ruben Vives, Matt Stiles, Andrew Campa, Los Angeles Times
At Park Avenue Elementary School in Cudahy, Josue Burgos was outside in PE class when he felt drops landing on him and looked to the sky for rain. He did not see storm clouds. He did see a jetliner flying ominously low. He and his classmates realized the plane was dropping fuel on them and ran for cover. At least 20 children were hit by the jet propellant Tuesday morning when Delta Flight 89 abruptly turned back to LAX shortly after taking off for Shanghai due to an engine problem and dumped fuel to reduce weight before landing, officials said.

What students are saying about 2020, growing up in another era, and distraction

The Learning Network, The New York Times
Happy 2020 to all our students and teachers! To kick off the New Year, we invited students to tell us their predictions about the year and decade ahead. We also asked them what bygone era they would have liked to have grown up in and how they deal with frenzied thoughts.

Hundreds of Seattle students kept out of classes over vaccine records

Ryan Blethen and Hannah Furfaro, Seattle Times
On Wednesday, for the first time under a new state law, Seattle Public Schools students were barred from attending classes if they lacked complete vaccination records. As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, 565 students in the district didn’t have paperwork on file with their schools showing their vaccinations, immunity to certain illnesses or exemption from vaccines. By late afternoon, only 476 students were without paperwork. “We only had to exclude less than 1% of our students today,” district superintendent Denise Juneau said at a school board meeting Wednesday night.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

Cal State Fullerton a state and national leader in graduating underrepresented students

Susan Gill Vardon, The Orange County Register
Cal State Fullerton is first in California and second in the nation for awarding bachelor’s degrees to underrepresented students in all disciplines, according to the latest rankings by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. Florida International University took the top spot nationally. Last year, CSUF ranked in fourth place nationally and second in the state. CSUF also was second in the nation for undergraduate degrees awarded to Hispanic students in all disciplines.

New push in California to increase diversity among math and science teachers

Sydney Johnson, EdSource
When State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond took office in 2019, he announced that recruiting more male teachers from diverse backgrounds would be one of his top priorities. That is a principal focus of two new offices he has set up in the California Department of Education that are charged with attracting black and other teachers who more closely match the racial and ethnic makeup of the state’s student population.

To and through: What research says about what works (and what doesn’t) to help students complete college

Matt Barnum, Chalkbeat
Getting to college is just the beginning of the challenge for America’s students looking to earn a degree. About 40 percent of students who enroll in college for the first time won’t have a degree six years later, the latest data show. And the disparities here are striking: While two-thirds of white students who start college finish a degree in that time, only about 40 percent of black students and 50 percent of Hispanic students do. Students from more affluent families are also much more likely to earn a degree than students from low-income families.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Amid shortages, schools settle for underprepared special education teachers

Diana Lambert, EdSource
Due to statewide teacher shortages, many of California’s approximately 800,000 special education students are being taught by teachers who haven’t completed teacher preparation programs or have received only partial training. There were more special education teachers with substandard credentials than in any other subject area in 2017-18, the most recent year for which data is available. About 60 percent of first-year special education teachers were working without a full special education teaching credential, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Berkeley Unified’s students are coming from wealthier families

Natalie Orenstein, Berkeleyside
The population of Berkeley schools has become much more affluent over the past decade, with just over a quarter of students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches — a proxy for tracking low-income students — compared to 44% in 2010-11, a new data set shows. This year, only 26.7% of Berkeley Unified’s around 9,800 students can access the subsided school lunches, according to BUSD. “The ongoing gentrification of Berkeley has changed the population of Berkeley schools significantly this decade,” wrote BUSD Technology Director Jay Nitschke in a memo to the School Board.

Good schools for all: Breaking down barriers for homeless youth

Nate John, Voices of San Diego
In late 2019, the San Ysidro School District kicked out a homeless student over a paperwork problem. Reporter Lisa Halverstadt got a tip from that student’s older sister and followed the story. For the final episode of Good Schools for All season two, Halverstadt sat down with host Will Huntsberry to talk about that student, how her family got caught off guard by school bureaucracy and what they had to do to make things right — to get the girl back in the classroom. At the heart of Halverstadt’s story and this episode is a federal law called the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. It aims to ensure no barriers exist between homeless students and their education.

Public Schools and Private $

Trump administration moves to protect prayer in public schools and federal funds for religious organizations

Moriah Balingit, The Washington Post
The Trump administration is moving to strengthen protections for students who want to pray or worship in public schools and proposing changes that would make it easier for religious groups that provide social services to access federal funds. Nine federal agencies, including the Education Department, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department, are proposing rules that would reduce requirements for those religious organizations. The rules would lift an Obama-era executive order that compelled religious organizations to tell the people they serve that they can receive the same service from a secular provider.

Education can be the great equalizer, but it isn’t yet

Andre Perry, The Hechinger Report
When it comes to education spending, middle-income Americans typically don’t put their money where their mouth is. How often do we hear politicians and parents wax poetic about education being the great equalizer? Yet they do nothing about lopsided budgets that favor wealthier districts. It’s impossible for education to be an equalizer if budgets don’t meet every kid’s needs.
In a noble attempt to level the education playing field, in October a Maryland state panel, known as the Kirwan Commission, voted to recommend a new funding formula calls for spending to increase by $4 billion per year by 2030. About a third of that increase, $1.2 billion, would come from local municipalities, with the state picking up the remaining $2.8 billion per year — 37 percent more than it currently spends. The increases would be phased in over the course of this decade. How to pay for this plan, which would certainly benefit low-income districts, will ultimately be determined by lawmakers during the 2020 legislative session.

School choice and post hoc family preference in Spain: Do they match up?

Jesus Rogero-Garcia and Mario Andres-Candelas, Education Policy Analysis Archives
The process of school choice depends on a wide range of circumstances including those related to the accessibility to schools and parental preferences. This paper has three goals: (1) Identify whether the preferences for the different kinds of schools (public, publicly-funded private, or private) vary according to the family’s traits; (2) estimate the degree of concurrence between the kind of school their children attend and the kind of school the parents prefer a posteriori; and (3) identify which social groups demonstrate lower levels of concurrence. We used a sub-sample of people with children registered in compulsory grades or post-compulsory grades up to university from representative national survey. Results show that post hoc school preferences differ by educational level, economic status, religious orientation, and size of town. Likewise, we find divergences between the school parents prefer and the school their children attend, something that occurs more frequently among those with less economic resources.

Other News of Note

New Zealand schools to teach students about climate crisis, activism and ‘eco anxiety’

Charlotte Graham-McLay, The Guardian
Every school in New Zealand will this year have access to materials about the climate crisis written by the country’s leading science agencies – including tools for students to plan their own activism, and to process their feelings of “eco-anxiety” over global heating. The curriculum will put New Zealand at the forefront of climate change education worldwide; governments in neighbouring Australia and the United Kingdom have both faced criticism for lack of cohesive teaching on the climate crisis. The New Zealand scheme, which will be offered to all schools that teach 11 to 15 year-old students, will not be compulsory, the government said.