Just News from Center X – March 24, 2016

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

‘For White Folks Who Teach In The Hood…’: An interview with Chris Emdin

Larry Ferlazzo, Education Week

Educator Christopher Emdin’s book, For White Folks Who Teach In The Hood…and the rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education, was officially published today and he graciously answered several of my questions last week. Christopher Emdin is an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he also serves as associate director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education. He is the creator of the #HipHopEd social media movement and Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. Emdin was named the 2015 Multicultural Educator of the Year by the National Association of Multicultural Educators and has been honored as a STEM Access Champion of Change by the White House. In addition to teaching, he serves as a Minorities in Energy Ambassador for the US Department of Energy.

Culturally-responsive and sustaining pedagogy

American Educational Research Association Division G Podcast

This podcast features a discussion on the need for research that centralizes pedagogy that connects the experiences of students’ lives to the classroom with Dr. Lorri J. Santamaría (Univ. of Auckland), Dr. Tonikiaa Orange (UCLA), Dr. Django Paris (MSU), Ms. Adeyanju Odutola (Clemson University), and Ms. Taylor Allbright (USC).

Why Teach for America is scrapping its National Diversity Office

Emily Deruy, The Atlantic

shakeup at Teach for America, the controversial nonprofit that places recent college graduates in low-income school districts across the country, will eliminate the organization’s Office of the Chief Diversity Officer this fall. The announcement comes amid layoffs that will shrink the national staff about by 15 percent.

Replacing teacher evaluation systems with systems of professional growth: Lessons from three California school districts and their teachers’ unions

Daniel C. Humphrey, Julia E. Koppich, Juliet Tiffany-Morales, SRI Education

It is hard to find many teachers or principals who believe that traditional teacher evaluation systems are of much value. Typically, they neither identify struggling teachers nor contribute to improving practice for any teachers. While there may be some exceptions, most teacher evaluation systems are simply a series of sporadic events designed to gauge practice in the moment. On-going professional growth and improvement rarely enter into the equation. This report draws lessons from three California school districts and their teachers’ unions that have charted a different course and determined that the purpose of evaluation should be to improve teaching in order to advance student learning.

Supervisors hiring an ex-dropout to lead L.A. County education office

Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

Debra Duardo, a former high school dropout, will become the top education official for Los Angeles County, heading an agency that provides schooling for teenage inmates as well as for thousands of disabled students—programs that have been criticized in recent years.

Language, Culture, and Power

Immigrant influxes put U.S. schools to the test

Corey Mitchell, Education Week

Bishar Hassan spends his days navigating the halls and classrooms of Talahi Elementary School, working to embrace and empower the dozens of Somali students who have arrived since the start of the year. Across town, his brother, Ahmed Hassan, fills a similar role at Discovery Community School, another campus that has experienced a recent surge in enrollment of Somali students. The Hassan brothers are part of a growing community of Somali residents in this central Minnesota city of 65,000. The recent influx of immigrant students is nothing new in the St. Cloud school district, where English-language-learner enrollment has spiked by 350 percent in the past 15 years.

Punishment shouldn’t keep students from learning

Pedro A. Noguera, The San Diego-Union Tribune

San Diego Unified School District is searching for new ways to address school discipline and its efforts should be applauded. The old way — relying on suspensions for even minor offenses — has been widely recognized as unfair and ineffective, both because it typically results in the most disadvantaged children being disproportionately punished and because it’s at odds with the goal of keeping kids in school. Since embarking on this search, suspensions at San Diego city schools have declined from 10.3 percent in 2009-10 to 5.8 percent in 2013-14.

Restorative justice also boosts school climate

Alisha Kirby, Cabinet Report

Restorative justice techniques often used to lower suspension and expulsion rates may also boost school climate by strengthening relationships between students and teachers, according to a recent study.

Study finds many charter schools feeding “school-to-prison pipeline”

Daniel J. Losen, Michael A. Keith II, Cheri L. Hodson, Tia E. Martinez, The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the UCLA Civil Rights Project

first-ever analysis of school discipline records for the nation’s more than 5,250 charter schools shows a disturbing number are suspending big percentages of their black students and students with disabilities at highly disproportionate rates compared to white and non-disabled student.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

Study: Preschool funding needs to support 10 ‘building blocks’ of quality

Susan Frey, EdSource

As California legislators consider a new approach to financing the state’s preschool programs, they need to develop a funding strategy that will ensure those programs are high quality, according to a recent research brief.

Night at the museum? Try a week. These fourth graders did and it changed their world

Priska Neely, KPCC

In a workroom at the Hammer Museum on a recent afternoon, a group of two dozen fourth graders from Cienega Elementary sat focused on constructing tiny art galleries out of paper, coloring and glueing paintings on the walls.

Should non-cognitive skills be included in school accountability systems? Preliminary evidence from California’s CORE districts

Martin R. West, Brookings

Evidence confirms that student skills other than academic achievement and ability predict a broad range of academic and life outcomes. This evidence, along with a new federal requirement that state accountability systems include an indicator of school quality or student success not based on test scores, has sparked interest in incorporating such “non-cognitive” or “social-emotional” skills into school accountability systems.

How to graduate more black students

Emily Deruy, The Atlantic

Many more black students are graduating from college than a decade ago. According to a new report from The Education Trust, a nonprofit that focuses on improving outcomes for low-income students of color, completion rates for African Americans increased at nearly 70 percent of the four-year public schools that raised their overall graduations rates between 2003 and 2013. But at the same time, a third of the colleges the group studied that had rising overall graduation rates actually had stagnant or declining graduation rates for black students.

Can an innovative Pittsburgh program help repair the broken lives of foster kids?

April Brown and Mike Fritz, PBS

For kids growing up in foster care, personal traumas and frequent moves from home-to-home and school-to-school have led to grim educational outcomes. Only about half finish high school and of that group, only 20 percent go on to college. The NewsHour’s April Brown reports from Pittsburgh on one effort to improve lives and opportunities for children in the system.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Lifting all children up

Kevin G. Welner, National Education Policy Center

What will it take to ensure that all children have an opportunity to learn and to thrive, regardless of their background or which school they attend? The opportunity gaps faced by children arise in their schools and in larger structural inequalities like housing, poverty, parental unemployment, and disinvestment of public resources. These structural problems weigh down students and their schools in ways that do not burden more affluent communities. So what should we as a society do about this added weight?

Doing more for our children: Modeling a universal child allowance or more generous child tax credit

Irwin Garfinkel, David Harris, Jane Waldfogel, and Christopher Wimer, The Century Foundation

Child poverty in the United States remains stubbornly high, with 12.2 million children living in poverty in 2013. Nearly 17 percent of children in the United States lived in poverty in 2013—a higher rate than for other age groups, and considerably higher than the child poverty rate in other advanced industrialized countries. The U.S. deep child poverty rate—children who live in families with incomes less than half of the poverty line—was 4.5 percent of all children in 2013, meaning nearly 1 in 20 children live in families that cannot even afford half of what is considered a minimally adequate living. One key policy for reducing child poverty is the child tax credit (CTC)—which reduces the child poverty rate from 18.8 percent to 16.5 percent of American children. There is broad acceptance of the importance of the CTC, and key expansions to the CTC were made permanent at the end of 2015. At a moment when leaders ranging from President Barack Obama to Speaker Paul Ryan are talking about poverty, now is an opportune time to explore policy options that would build on this success. This report models two approaches to reduce child poverty in the United States even further—a universal child allowance and an expanded CTC.

Budgeting from the blacktop: How one school is trying to bridge inequities

Ana Tintocalis, KQED

School starts in 10 minutes at Oak Ridge Elementary in Sacramento. Principal Daniel Rolleri is on the blacktop greeting students as he usually does. Oak Ridge is like many other campuses in cities across the Golden State. The students are mostly poor. Many are struggling to learn English. Others don’t speak it at all. “There’s a vicious cycle of poverty, there’s a vicious cycle of difficult situations going on in our families’ lives,” says Rolleri, as he makes his final rounds before the bell rings. “Education needs to be the greatest equalizer for our students to succeed in life.” Rolleri is now tasked with steering the school’s finances under California’s bold new experiment in school finance known as the Local Control Funding Formula enacted three years ago.

Racial segregation is making Americans sick

Olga Khazan, The Atlantic

Racial housing segregation is worst in the northeast and Great Lakes regions, according to a new report, and it’s making people sick. This year’s edition of County Health Rankings, an annual rating of the health of all the nation’s counties, added the segregation measure because it has “been linked to poor health outcomes, including greater infant and adult mortality, and a wide variety of reproductive, infectious, and chronic diseases,” the report authors write.


Public Schools and Private $

Growth of charter schools in California leads to conflict with school districts

Rachael Myrow, KQED; Guests: Alex Caputo-Pearl, United Teachers Los Angeles; Antwan Wilson, Oakland Unified School District; Jed Wallace, California Charter Schools Association; John Fensterwald, EdSource

Charter school advocates are seeking to double the number of students attending charter schools in California by 2022. One advocacy group is suing state school districts – including Oakland Unified – to be able to use more of their classrooms, even though the districts says they’re strapped for space. In this hour of Forum we’ll get the latest on the fight over charter schools in California.

The ‘Broad plan’ for LA schools grows to more than charters only

Michael Janofsky, EdSource

It landed like a bombshell last summer, a leaked plan to double the number of charter schools in Los Angeles Unified and students attending them over the next eight years. It talked of raising half a billion dollars from foundations and high-wealth donors to get it done, all with the idea of improving the quality of education for low-income students.

What can happen when a neighborhood school is forced to share its space with a charter

Carol Burris, The Answer Sheet

One of the features of the charter school movement that may be unknown to many is what is called “co-location,” when a charter is permitted to open up in a traditional school building to share space with a functioning school. The schools are run independently but resourced differently. In this post, Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is now executive director of the nonprofit Network for Public Education, explains how co-locations work and problems they can create. She was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, the same organization named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year.

Other News of Note

City College students stage protest, ditch uniforms as ‘forced assimilation’

Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun

Some City College high school students with a growing profile in local activism circles have begun their latest protest — this time breaking from the school’s dress code for a week and instead wearing clothing that has historical, cultural or political significance. The students, members of a group called City Bloc, announced their plans on social media last week, outlining their reasoning for the protest in a letter to school administrators. Among their goals is to start a dialogue at the school that reflects the national debate around racial and social justice issues.


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