Just News from Center X – May 13, 2016

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

Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice


Madeline Will, Education Week
The teacher pipeline is riddled with holes when it comes to diversity in the profession, a new U.S. Department of Education report finds. Full-service and pre-service teachers of color are falling out at every stage of the pipeline, according to the report on “The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce,” which was released today to coincide with the department’s National Summit on Teacher Diversity.

Valerie Strauss, Answer Sheet; Carol Burris, Network for Public Education
The previous post reports the news that a judge in New York has ruled in favor of a master teacher who went to court to challenge the validity of her evaluation. You can read it here. The following post explains what the ruling means and why it matters to more than Sheri Lederman, the teacher who filed the suit in an effort to challenge not only her own evaluation but assessment systems that use “value-added modeling,” or VAM, which purports to be able to use student standardized test scores to determine the “value” of a teacher while factoring out every other influence on a student (including, for example, hunger, sickness, and stress).

Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week
Education researcher Linda Darling-Hammond and former Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson are the most likely picks to be U.S. Secretary of Education for White House candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively, according to an “Education Insiders” survey by Whiteboard Advisors released Monday. And who’s second on the list for Clinton? American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, say these insiders.

Language, Culture, and Power


Peggie Garcia, P. Zitlali Morales, Education Policy Analysis Archives
Although there has been a great deal of debate about the effectiveness of charter schools in the research literature, there has been surprisingly little attention paid to English language learners (ELLs) in charter schools. Moreover, the charter school research has predominantly focused on whether or not charter schools are effective rather than how or why high-performing charter schools work, particularly for ELLs. We contend that researchers must expand their focus beyond access and achievement and begin to grapple with questions related to the quality of programs for ELLs in charter schools. To meet an emerging need in the field, we synthesize several strands of existing research—related to charter schools, school improvement, and ELLs in traditional public schools— to propose a five-component framework that describes essential elements of quality programs for ELLs in charter schools. We conclude with a discussion of implications of our framework for research, policy, and practice.

Alyson Klein, Education Week
Three years ago, Kevin Pineda—who came to the United States from Guatemala at age 6—was failing or struggling in nearly all his classes at Fairfax High School here. He was on the verge of following his father’s advice to drop out of school and come work alongside him as an electrician. Part of what changed Pineda’s mind: the one class he liked and was beginning to succeed in, Advanced English Language Development. That class was a brand-new course aimed at students, who, like Pineda, had been enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District for years but never managed to “reclassify” and move on from the English-language-learner designation.

Emma Brown, The Washington Post
North Carolina receives more than $4 billion in federal education funding each year. Now the federal government is considering withholding that money because, the Justice Department says, the state has passed a law that violates the civil rights of transgender individuals by forcing them to use bathrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates instead of their gender identity. But would federal officials really withhold billions of dollars meant to help educate poor children, children with disabilities, and college students who can’t afford to go to school without federal aid? They’ve done it before.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement


Michael Janofsky, EdSource
In the face of losing more than 100,000 students since 2000, Los Angeles Unified is turning to magnet schools as a strategy to slow enrollment decline and provide an alternative to independent charter schools, which have nearly doubled in number over the same period, to more than 260.

Sonali Kohli, Los Angeles Times
Alberto Retana wants a very specific kindergarten experience for his 4-year-old son: a dual-language Spanish and English immersion program, close to home near View Park-Windsor Hills, with a diverse student population and a track record of preparing students well. Now the Los Angeles Unified School District wants to make it easier for parents like Retana to find the school that best fits their child by creating a search-engine-style website and a single application process for almost all district public schools, but not its charter schools.

Catherine Gewertz, Education Week
“Building a Grad Nation,” the seventh in an annual series of reports on U.S. graduation rates, concluded that regular district high schools make up 41 percent of those that didn’t surpass the 67-percent threshold in 2013-14. Charter, virtual, and alternative schools—a small sector, representing only 14 percent of the country’s high schools and 8 percent of its high school students—account for 52 percent of the schools that fell short of that mark. (The remaining 7 percent are vocational and special-education schools.)

Joy Resmovits, Los Angeles Times
U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. wants colleges to stop asking applicants about their criminal histories early in the admissions process, he announced at UCLA on Monday. Asking prospective students for information about their criminal history can prevent them from finishing their applications, King said. Because a disproportionate number of people who have been charged with crimes are people of color, the U.S. Department of Education says, these questions add one more barrier to those that disadvantaged students already face when seeking a college education.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation


Helen Ladd, Pedro Noguera, Paul Reville, and Joshua Starr, Education Week
Education policy in the United States has taken a turn in a new direction, and anyone with a stake in public education should celebrate this. Policymakers increasingly recognize that stresses related to student poverty—hunger, chronic illness, and, in too many cases, trauma—are the key barriers to teaching and learning. And calls for tending not only to the academic but also the social, emotional, and physical needs of children are gaining ground across the country. Indeed, the inclusion of the whole-child perspective in the Every Student Succeeds Act shows that this mindset has moved from the margins to the mainstream.

Melinda D. Anderson, The Atlantic
Congress is considering a rule change to the school-nutrition law that would bar thousands of schools from offering complimentary lunch to all students.

Emily Badger, The Washington Post
Wealthy parents are famously pouring more and more into their children, widening the gap in who has access to piano lessons and math tutors and French language camp. The biggest investment the rich can make in their kids, though — one with equally profound consequences for the poor — has less to do with “enrichment” than real estate. They can buy their children pricey homes in nice neighborhoods with good school districts.

Public Schools and Private $


Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times
A teachers union-funded report on charter schools concludes that these largely nonunion campuses are costing traditional schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District millions of dollars in tax money. The report, which is certain to be viewed with skepticism by charter supporters, focused on direct and indirect costs related to enrollment, oversight, services to disabled students and other activities on which the district spends money.

Kyle Stokes, KPCC
Board members have already asked L.A. Unified leaders numerous times to increase the number of seats available in the district’s popular programs — to name a few: magnet and pilot schools, dual language immersion programs and International Baccalaureate tracks — in hopes of reversing a decade-long decline in enrollment. But a new resolution proposed by board members Ref Rodriguez and Mónica García adds an emphasis on seeking outside partnerships. If passed during Tuesday’s board meeting, the resolution directs Superintendent Michelle King to produce a strategy for engaging funders and organizations that might help scaling up successful academic offerings.

Larry Cuban, National Education Policy Center
I saw this cartoon and burst out laughing. The cartoonist takes airline frequent flier practices that sort out passengers for best-to-worst seating and applied it to school busing.  The New Yorker cartoonist’s pen gives satisfaction to critics of business-influenced school reform, by poking at the unrelenting “privatization” of public schooling over the past three decades.

Other News of Note


The Plessy and Ferguson Foundation
The 1890 Separate Car Law of Louisiana mandated separate accommodations for Black and White railroad passengers. It was a product of segregation laws that were being enacted across the South during the post-Reconstruction era.  Homer Adolph Plessy and other members of a New Orleans multi-racial group called the Citizens’ Committee challenged those laws and launched the final post-Reconstruction Civil Rights Movement of the 19th Century, built around a strategy of civil disobedience and peaceful protest.
We are approaching the 120th anniversary of the Plessy v. Ferguson case on May 18, 2016. To date, he has never been officially acknowledged for his sacrifice on the altar of freedom. Those Americans who know the history of our struggle, however, look upon Plessy as a figure of immense historical importance. It is time now for us to stand up and insist on the acknowledgement of his rightful place in the history of American Civil Rights.
Just News from Center X is a free weekly education news blast edited by Jenn Ayscue.