Just News from Center X – March 4, 2016

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Election guide: 5 education takeaways from the presidential candidates

Alyson Klein and Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week

The major party hopefuls still in the race as of last week boasted widely varied records and stances on K-12.

What are the presidential candidates saying about poverty and opportunity?

Ron Haskins, Brookings

The nation is now in the midst of a fascinating presidential campaign that, as always, creates an opportunity for a national debate on both the proper priorities of the federal government and the specific policies that Republican and Democratic candidates propose to address those priorities. My purpose in this article is to examine whether the candidates are advancing similar or different proposals on how to reduce poverty and increase economic mobility. It is useful to lay the groundwork for this exercise by first reviewing (a) what we know about poverty and economic mobility in the United States and (b) what the public thinks about poverty and economic mobility in the United States.

How can states better support and keep new teachers? A Q&A with Liam Goldrick

Jackie Mader, The Hechinger Report

States have largely failed to invest in programs that support new teachers, even as the percentage of new teachers in schools nationwide has skyrocketed. That’s the main finding of a report released Tuesday by the nonprofit New Teacher Center, which looked at state policies that support new teachers through mentoring and teacher induction programs.

Language, Culture, and Power

Commentary: Why CA’s ‘Multilingual Education Act’ matters: Politics, language and Los Angeles’ future

Conor P. Williams, LA School Report

Fittingly, in California, the campaign season will include a subplot — and perhaps a denouement — from one of the last rounds of American immigration anxiety. In 1998, Californians anxious about a recent influx of immigrants passed Proposition 227, a ballot measure that mandated English immersion for nearly all of the states’ multilingual students. This year, as the country argues over whether to build a wall on our southern border, Californians will vote on the Multilingual Education Act, a new ballot initiative that would update and improve Prop. 227 by expanding the availability of bilingual education models (including popular dual-immersion programs) for English language learners.

Ed. department to triple size of Native American youth grant program

Corey Mitchell, Education Week

The U.S. Department of Education is tripling the size of a grant program designed to help Native American students succeed in school. The Native Youth Community Projects will make $17.4 million available to organizations, after awarding $5.3 million in grants to a dozen recipients last year. The education department billed the grant program’s expansion as the federal government’s latest move in a broad effort to boost the college and career prospects for American Indian and Alaskan Native youth.

South Dakota governor vetoes bill that would have restricted transgender students’ access to school restrooms

Emma Brown, The Washington Post

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) has vetoed a bill that would have been the first in the nation to restrict transgender students’ access to school restrooms and locker rooms, a move that came after LGBT-rights activists waged a furious campaign against the measure.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

The pros and cons of 4 plans to solve the preschool access crisis in California

Deepa Fernandes, KPCC

California has a preschool access problem: 40 percent of all 4-year-olds in the state are not enrolled in early learning. The state’s level of preschool enrollment mirror those across the United States, which has some of the lowest rates of preschool enrollment in the world. Market rates for private preschool are comparable to the cost of community college, leaving many families unable to pay for school. Public preschool is available for families whose income is low enough. But even among families that are eligible, an estimated 30-35,000 children still don’t have a seat.

The consequences of poor science education in kindergarten

Lydia Lum, The Atlantic

When children start kindergarten, sizable gaps in science knowledge already exist between whites and minorities—as well as between youngsters from upper-income and low-income families. And those disparities often deepen into significant achievement gaps by the end of eighth grade if they aren’t addressed during elementary school.

Trapped in the community college remedial maze

Mikhail Zinshteyn, The Atlantic

A majority of students with A and B grade point averages in high school still require developmental education at the community-college level, raising new questions about the skill level of incoming college students and the ways institutions measure their abilities. This is especially worrisome for students of color given that half of Hispanic college students and nearly a third of black college students start their higher-education paths at community colleges.

Kids from poor families with bachelor’s degrees wind up earning less — reports

Valerie Strauss, The Answer Sheet

It is axiomatic that college graduates earn on average more money than those students who don’t go to college, and, so, kids from low-income families can climb out of poverty through higher education. But two new reports show that a college degree isn’t worth as much — at least when it comes to wages — to students who grew up in poor families.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Separate and still unequal

Janie Boschma, The Atlantic

In a modern-day tale of two cities, in virtually every major U.S. metropolitan area students of color are much more likely than whites to attend public schools shaped by high concentrations of poverty, an analysis of federal data has found.


Testing for joy and grit? Schools nationwide push to measure students’ emotional skills

Kate Zernike, The New York Times

The fifth graders in Joy Cooney’s classroom compete against a kitchen timer during lessons to see how long they can sustain good behavior—raising hands, disagreeing respectfully and looking one another in the eye—without losing time to insults or side conversations. As reward for their minutes without misconduct, they win prizes like 20 seconds to kick their feet up on their desks or to play rock-paper-scissors. And starting this year, their school and schools in eight other California districts will test students on how well they have learned the kinds of skills like self-control and conscientiousness that the games aim to cultivate—ones that might be described as everything you should have learned in kindergarten but are still reading self-help books to master in middle age.

The White House and Michelle Obama release $250M ‘Open eBooks’ app for Title I and special education teachers

Mary Jo Madda, EdSurge

Do you remember how it felt when you first read what would eventually become your favorite book? For many students, that’s a feeling that’s hard to come by—books aren’t always cheap or easily accessible, especially when school budgets are stretched thin. However, the government is hoping to help schools save money and time by offering thousands of popular and award-winning titles—$250 million worth of books, in fact—to Title I, military base and special education teachers and librarians, and by extension, students.

Public Schools and Private $

New L.A. schools chief Michelle King calls for making peace with charters

Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

Recently hired school L.A. schools Supt. Michelle King on Tuesday called for traditional public schools and charters—groups often at odds—to work together, pledging to set up a conference where they could share ideas.

Bill to restore Washington’s charter school law faces uncertainty

Arianna Prothero, Education Week

A bill to restore Washington state’s charter school law failed to get out of a legislative committee Thursday, putting supporters of the state’s fledging charter movement on edge. House Education Committee Chairwoman Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, pulled the bill from the voting list because she was waiting on a report from a work group on whether the measure passes constitutional muster, according to the Associated Press.

K12 Inc. ramps up focus on virtual career-tech education

Sean Cavanagh, EdWeek Market Brief

K12 Inc., the major for-profit provider of online education, is making a big expansion where it says there is strong demand from schools–and employers: career-and-technical studies.

Other News of Note

Campus politics: A cheat sheet

Alia Wong and Adrienne Green, The Atlantic

The country’s college campuses have seen a surge in student activism amid escalating tensions over their hostile racial climates. Student groups nationwide—many of them in conjunction with national initiatives such as the Black Liberation Collective and Black Lives Matter movement—have issued sets of demands aimed at improving the campus climate, enhancing student and faculty diversity, and ensuring better support for people of color in higher education. Common demands include the development of curricula focused on teaching cultural competency, the creation of cultural centers, and leadership changes.

This cheat sheet and timeline provide a working overview of how things look right now and include highlights from some of the most high-profile campus protests.


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