Just News from Center X – July 19, 2019

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

Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

School principals, not formulas, should decide how to spend education dollars

Aaron Garth Smith, The Hill
A recent trend in public education spending is positive for educators: revenues are on the rise as states such as Texas, Arizona and West Virginia inject new money into school districts. While many schools will receive additional resources as a result, they won’t necessarily get the things they need most. A common myth is that principals are like CEOs of their schools, with authority to make key decisions and strategically deploy resources. The reality, though, is quite different. Principals typically are treated like middle managers, with little control over the $694 billion in annual U.S. public education spending. Instead, decisions often are made by legislators and district-level bureaucrats, who are far removed from students and classrooms.

Principal turnover: Insights from current principals

Stephanie Levin, Kathryn Bradley, and Caitlin Scott, Learning Policy Institute
Studies show that school functioning and student achievement often suffer when effective principals leave their schools. Past research has identified five main reasons principals leave their jobs: inadequate preparation and professional development, poor working conditions, insufficient salaries, lack of decision-making authority, and ineffective accountability policies. This study draws on evidence from focus groups to better understand the challenges principals face and highlight strategies that can support principals and increase their retention. Focus group participants identified multiple strategies, including high-quality professional learning opportunities, support from strong administrative teams with adequate school-level resources, competitive salaries, appropriate decision-making authority, and evaluations characterized by timely and formative feedback.

LAUSD isn’t properly keeping track of $1 billion for high-needs students, complaint alleges

Sonali Kohli, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Unified School District is not giving the public enough information about how schools use more than $1 billion a year in state funding meant for high-needs students, according to a complaint filed Thursday with the California Department of Education. These dollars are part of a funding formula that California implemented during Gov. Jerry Brown’s tenure. Districts receive extra money for each student who is low-income, an English learner or a foster youth. L.A. Unified is the state’s largest school district by far, and most students fall into one of the three categories. The funding accounts for about 15% of the district’s annual budget, and the community is supposed to be involved in how the money is spent.

Language, Culture, and Power

Michelle Obama appeals to teachers: Make sure your students are registered and ready to vote

Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post
Former first lady Michelle Obama is urging teachers throughout the country to make sure students who are eligible to cast ballots actually register and “are ready to vote.” Obama made her call through a video address at two recent teachers union conferences: the annual convention of the National Education Association, the country’s largest labor union, and the American Federation of Teachers. Together, the organizations have as many as 5 million members, most of them educators.

How the stress of separation and detention changes the lives of children

Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker
The horrific accounts of the conditions under which immigrant children are being held has focussed outrage and attention on the Trump Administration’s actions and agenda. But any future reversal of policy will do little to help kids who have already been detained—many of them after being separated from a parent or other relative. The psychological effects of separation and detention have worried experts in child development, and some of them are speaking out. The American Psychological Association, among other groups, has issued multiple statements on the effects of the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, writing that they “pose serious harm to the psychological well-being of immigrant children, their U.S.-born siblings, and other family members.”

Cyberbullying is on the rise among teenagers, national survey finds

Héctor Alejandro Arzate, Education Week
While smartphones, tablets, and other digital tools have transformed how schools teach, they’ve also changed the way students interact with one another. And with those changes, have come increased reports of cyberbullying, according to the new report by the National Center for Education Statistics. The nationwide report, “Student Reports of Bullying: Results from the 2017 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey,” found that 20 percent of surveyed students ages 12-18 reported being bullied during the 2016-2017 school year. Among those students, 15 percent were bullied online or through text messages.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

More kids are getting placed in foster care because of parents’ drug use

Susie Neilson, NPR
The number of cases of children entering the foster care system due to parental drug use has more than doubled since 2000, according to research published this week in JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers analyzed data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), a federally mandated data collection system that includes information on children in foster care in the United States. They looked at nearly 5 million instances of children entering foster care between 2000 and 2017 and analyzed how many times foster children were removed from their homes due to their parents’ drug use each year.

California’s Dixie School District to be renamed

Education Week
Trustees of the Dixie School District voted Tuesday to change the name of the 150-year-old district, which critics linked to the Confederacy and slavery.
Dixie will be renamed the Miller Creek Elementary School District, trustees decided. The vote was 3-1 with one abstention.
Trustees rejected three other options: Laurel Creek, Creekside or Kenne school district.
Trustees also voted 4-1 to rename the district’s only elementary school, from Dixie to Lucas Valley Elementary.

South Gate students make history with hydrogen prototype vehicle, win world automotive competition [VIDEO]

Eric Resendiz, ABC 7
A group of students from STEAM Legacy High School in South Gate won a world automotive championship and made history in the process. “This little city from South Gate, this little school from South Gate, these kids from immigrant parents, we were able to accomplish and become world champions in the automotive field with engineering,” said Alan Gallardo, a STEAM Legacy student. In June, the students traveled to the Czech Republic to compete in the 2019 Horizon Grand Prix. The competition addresses climate change by having students create and put to the test alternative energy solutions.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

College education ‘opportunity cost’ depends on where you live

Lee J Miller and Wei Lu, Bloomberg
The Grammy Award-winning song from the 1960s “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” may be more relevant today than ever — at least for university graduates seeking to maximize their investment in education. San Jose, California, is where graduates with bachelor degrees have the highest premium compared to those who maxed out with a high school diploma, according to a Bloomberg gauge that tracks “upward mobility” in nearly 400 U.S. metropolitan areas.

Certain groups of students attend alternative schools in greater proportions than they do other schools [REPORT]

U.S. Government Accountability Office
Students may attend alternative K-12 public schools due to issues like poor grades and disruptive behavior. Some students attend for a few days to a few years, while others cycle in and out. Among other things, we found: Enrollment at these schools dropped between school years 2013-14 and 2015-16. Declines in White and Hispanic enrollment accounted for most of the drop. Some groups, such as Black boys and boys with disabilities, were overrepresented—particularly in schools with a discipline focus. A lower percentage of alternative schools had support staff (such as counselors and social workers) than nonalternative schools

States are ratcheting up reading expectations for 3rd-graders

Alexandra Starr, NPR
Changes in education policy often emanate from the federal government. But one policy that has spread across the country came not from Washington, D.C., but from Florida. “Mandatory retention” requires that third-graders who do not show sufficient proficiency in reading repeat the grade. It was part of a broader packet of reforms proposed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002. Now 19 states have adopted the policy, in part because Bush has pushed hard for it. Not all children who perform poorly on reading tests are retained: Generally students with special needs and kids who have been in the country less than two years are exempted. And studies have shown that a child’s early literacy skills can have long-term implications. One out of six students who are not reading proficiently by fourth grade, according to a study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, don’t graduate from high school on time. That rate is four times greater than that of proficient readers.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

The myth that busing failed [AUDIO]

Michael Barbaro and Nikole Hannah-Jones, The Daily
The first Democratic debate brought renewed attention to busing as a tool of school desegregation. We spoke to a colleague about what the conversation has been missing.

What it means when Democratic frontrunners say they support the Strength in Diversity Act

Kalyn Belsha, Chalkbeat
When Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden sparred on the Democratic primary debate stage, they launched a national conversation about school desegregation and prompted questions about how candidates would tackle the issue as president. Their exchange also raised the profile of legislation known as the Strength in Diversity Act, which several Democratic frontrunners have endorsed. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were both early co-sponsors of the bill, and Harris signed on just this week.

How Joe Biden became the Democrats’ anti-busing crusader

Astead W. Herndon and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times
In July 1974, with a federal court in Delaware on the verge of ordering busing to integrate Wilmington’s overwhelmingly black public schools, Joseph R. Biden Jr. arrived at a school auditorium in this predominantly white suburb to find himself the target of a political ambush. Just two years after narrowly winning a Senate seat at the age of 29, Mr. Biden had recently cast two votes to protect the practice of busing to achieve desegregation — despite his own very public unease with it. He thought he had come to Newport simply to address a local civics organization. But when he got there, more than 200 people, organized by a largely white parent group that opposed busing, jeered and heckled Mr. Biden, demanding that he more vocally join their cause.

Public Schools and Private $

Trump picked his perfect education secretary in Betsy DeVos

David Leonard and Shahien Nasiripour, Bloomberg Businessweek
For all the years since Jimmy Carter picked Shirley Hufstedler in 1979 to be the first holder of the title, it’s been a tradition for the U.S. education secretary to address the annual gathering of the hundreds of journalists covering their department. Two years ago, Betsy DeVos, who’d recently been confirmed as President Donald Trump’s education secretary, turned down an invitation from the Education Writers Association. The next year she did so again, raising the possibility that she might be the first person with the job to snub the organization altogether in almost 40 years. So the association’s members were excited when DeVos agreed to appear this year. What would their reluctant keynote speaker say? The tables in the ballroom on Baltimore’s inner harbor quickly filled with journalists eager to find out. The slim 61-year-old walked onstage wearing a light blue pantsuit, sparkling gold heels, and a forced smile. “The simple truth is,” DeVos said, sighing, “I never imagined I’d be a focus of your coverage. I don’t enjoy the publicity that comes with my position. I don’t love being up on stage or any kind of platform.” She gave her audience a plaintive look. “I am an introvert,” she said, placing her hand on her heart. Then she became defiant: “And as much as many in the media use my name as clickbait or try to make it all about me, it’s not.”

New charter schools to open this fall despite efforts to curb growth

Michael Burke, EdSoure
It took Tiffany Gilmore 14 months, two failed petitions to the Moreno Valley school board and two appeals to the Riverside County Board of Education before she secured approval to open her charter school. The Garvey/Allen Visual and Performing Arts Academy, which will open in August, will mix STEM and arts education and will prioritize closing the achievement gap between white and black students, as well as white and Latino students. Gilmore, the school’s founder and CEO, is one of several charter operators who will open schools in California this fall despite an increasingly contentious climate surrounding the charter sector.

California charter school regulations pass Senate Education Committee after marathon session and intervention by Gov. Newsom

Noble Ingram, LA School Report
After a seven-hour hearing and in a room inundated with advocates in color-coordinated T-shirts, the California Senate Education Committee narrowly passed two bills this week that will more strictly regulate charters, including giving local districts greater leeway to deny charter applications. The sharply contested bills split the committee 4-3, with state Sen. Steve Glazer, a Democrat, siding with the committee’s two Republicans in opposition. The committee, which covered 25 bills during its day-long session, took several earlier votes on the charter bills that deadlocked 2-2 and then 3-3 before all seven members were present.

Other News of Note

Recasting families and communities as co-designers of education in tumultuous times

Ann Ishimaru, Megan Bang, Michelle Valladares, Charlene Nolan, Henedina Tavares, Aditi Rajendran, and Katherine Chang, National Education Policy Center
In a national moment of political tumult and violence directed at immigrants, people of  color, and other marginalized groups, our education systems need new strategies to meaningfully engage families and communities in ensuring equitable learning for our youth. Not only do families and communities bring historical and lived knowledge about how to persist through these challenges, they can also bring critical expertise in how to advance educational justice and community well-being. In these difficult times, or perhaps because of them, we have found evidence of justice-based approaches to family engagement that position parents and families, particularly from communities of color, as fellow leaders in transforming schools and educational systems to better serve all children, families, and communities. Our project, the Family Leadership Design Collaborative (FLDC), is a national network of scholars, educators, and family and community leaders who work to center racial equity in family engagement. We do this by reimagining how families and communities can create more equitable schools and educational systems.