Just News from Center X – June 3, 2016

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Keffrelyn Brown and Lorena German, The Hechinger Report

A litany of recent events link supporters of presidential hopeful Donald Trump to racist, sometimes violent, behavior at political rallies. Is it possible to teach in a way that people will not be violent toward one another? How do we begin to undo racism and future oppression through the classroom experience? One answer is critical teachers of color — a step beyond mere cultural competency. As teachers of color who have taught in school settings with a student population that is majority of color, we know the power of working with students racially and ethnically diverse students in urban areas. It is important students see themselves in their teachers.

Ariel Tichnor-Wagner, Hillary Parkhouse, Jocelyn Glazier, and Jessie Montana Cain, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Education Policy Analysis Archives

Educators today must be able to respond to the needs of an increasingly diverse student body and to teach all students the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for civic participation in a globalized, pluralist society. While state departments of education and national teacher organizations have begun to adopt global awareness in their teaching standards and evaluation tools, there is a need for educators to understand what globally competent teachers actually do in classrooms across subject areas and grade levels. This qualitative, multiple case study explores the signature pedagogies (Shulman, 2005) of 10 in-service teachers in one southeastern state who teach for global competence in math, music, science, English, social studies, and language classes across elementary, middle, and high schools. We found three signature pedagogies that characterized globally competent teaching practices across participants: 1) intentional integration of global topics and multiple perspectives into and across the standard curriculum; 2) ongoing authentic engagement with global issues; and 3) connecting teachers’ global experiences, students’ global experiences, and the curriculum. These signature pedagogies provide visions of possibility for concrete practices teachers can adapt to infuse global citizenship education into their own contexts and for policies that school districts and teacher education programs can consider in preparing and supporting teachers in this work.

Language, Culture, and Power

Theresa Harrington, EdSource

Teachers need special support and training to help English language learners and special education students meet Common Core standards, says a report by a Los Angeles area teachers group.

Valeria Pelet, The Atlantic

From New York to Utah, U.S. schools have seen a steady rise in bilingual education. Dual-language immersion programs first appeared in the U.S. in the 1960s to serve Spanish-speaking students in Florida. Since then, the demand—and controversy—surrounding these programs has been widespread, and they now address the needs of more than 5 million students who are English-language learners in the country’s public-school system.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

Elissa Nadworny, NPR

Mel Atkins has spent most of his life with Grand Rapids Public Schools in Michigan. He graduated from Ottawa Hills High, where he played baseball. But his real love was bowling. He says he’s bowled 22 perfect games. He’s been a teacher and principal in the city’s public schools. And now he works for the district, overseeing just about everything related to students. One more thing you need to know about him: Mel Atkins is a number-cruncher. Three years ago, the superintendent came to him with a question: Does Grand Rapids have an issue with chronic absenteeism?

Joy Resmovits, Los Angeles Times

California is getting closer to defining what a good school should look like. But how will parents know if their school is one of them? On Thursday, the federal government released draft regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act’s provisions on school accountability. Under the guidelines, states have to tell parents how their schools are doing on a range of factors — and also give the school an overall rating.

Mikhail Zinshteyn, The Hechinger Report

Whites, blacks, Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are all graduating from college at higher rates now, but stubborn racial and gender gaps are widening, a new federal report finds. Women earn more college degrees than men but receive lower wages, while whites and Asian-Americans continue to earn bachelor’s degrees at higher rates than blacks and Hispanics.

Larry Gordon, EdSource

Undocumented college students are leaving a wealth of unspent aid money on the table five years after the passage of the landmark California law that provides those immigrants grants for higher education.


Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Michael Janofsky, EdSource

Members of the Los Angeles Unified school board got a sobering economic report this week as finance experts warned that a slowing state economy and failure of a November ballot measure to extend an increase in personal income taxes could cost the district hundreds of millions of dollars.

Deepa Fernandes, KPCC

When then-state senator Joe Simitian spearheaded an initiative to move the kindergarten birthday cutoff date from December to September in 2010, he wanted to make sure that the 4-year-old kids who would be excluded from starting that year wouldn’t languish. That’s why he drove the creation of transitional kindergarten, or TK, a new public school grade for children born in the months between September and December, to get them ready for school.

William Mathis, National Education Policy Center

When our nation was young and figuring out how to make this little-known thing called democracy work, some power brokers of the day said the people were too ignorant to govern themselves. Thomas Jefferson disagreed. In 1820, he wrote, I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves: and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their controul (sic) with a wholsome (sic) discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.  Fewer than 30 years later, Horace Mann, the father of the common school movement, proclaimed universal education to be the bedrock of democracy.


Public Schools and Private $

Marco Amador, Capital and Main

With Los Angeles at the forefront of the national debate over public education, Capital & Main will examine the potential impacts of large-scale charter school expansion in the country’s second-largest district. “Failing the Test: Charter Schools, Privatization and the Future of Public Education in Los Angeles and California” will explore the uneven results of California’s charter school growth, and the potential impacts of further expansion on public education.

This weeklong series is based on extensive interviews with education experts, community advocates, parents, teachers and elected officials on both sides of the escalating controversy over charter schools. “Failing the Test” documents how charter advocates are aggressively pushing for dramatic growth despite evidence that these schools do not improve overall student performance. The series reports on how privately operated charter schools leave some kids behind, even as they enjoy taxpayer support and broad exemptions from the laws that govern traditional public schools.

Zahira Torres, Los Angeles Times

A panel of state lawmakers on Wednesday voted to audit Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, a move that raises the stakes in a yearlong battle over unionizing teachers at the biggest charter organization in Los Angeles. Since launching a unionization effort last year, United Teachers Los Angeles and a group of Alliance educators have filed several complaints accusing the charter group of violating state laws that allow educators to organize without fear of reprisal.

Jessica Calefati, The Mercury News

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling for a state audit of a profitable but low-performing network of online charter schools following this newspaper’s investigation of K12 Inc., the Virginia company at the heart of the operation.

Other News of Note

Danny McDonald, The Boston Globe

One Harvard graduate’s poetic and poignant graduation speech that tackled race and education has gone viral. Donovan Livingston, a 2016 graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, performed spoken-word poetry, telling the crowd at a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, “For some, the only difference between a classroom and a plantation is time. How many times must we be made to feel like quotas?” His poem referenced how slaves could be punished to death if they were caught trying to educate themselves. He said that divisiveness in American education continues to this day, and that he represented “a movement, an amalgam of memories America would care to forget.”


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