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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
Michael Burke, EdSource
Scoring an overwhelming victory, veteran lawmaker and activist Jackie Goldberg defeated Heather Repenning in a special election Tuesday to fill an open seat on the Los Angeles Unified school board. With all 122 precincts reporting, Goldberg received 71.6 percent of the vote, far ahead of Repenning’s 28.4 percent, out of the just over 24,000 votes counted on election night, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office. Some mail-in and provisional ballots are yet to be tallied. In a feat unmatched in the history of the district, she returns to the board after an absence of nearly three decades, having served on the board from 1983 to 1991, including a term as its president. She was then elected to the Los Angeles City Council and served three terms in the California State Assembly, where among other positions she was chairperson of the Assembly Education Committee. Due to term limits, she could not run for reelection at the end of her third term in 2006.
John Fensterwald, EdSource
Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing to address the state’s teacher shortage by spending $90 million on college scholarships for individuals committed to become special education, math and science teachers. That money, plus additional funds for teacher and principal training and for educating students with disabilities, would comprise most of the $389 million increase in ongoing funding for K-12 and community colleges beyond what Newsom proposed in January for 2019-20. Community colleges would receive $75.2 million more for career and technical education programs. Total funding for education, from early childhood programs through higher ed, would make up a record 45 percent of the state’s general fund — well beyond the minimum required, Newsom said.
Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post
Why is it so hard for schools to keep teachers? Here’s the short, graphic version, from the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington that works to broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers. The graphic is part of a new EPI report looking at the growing teacher shortage, a result of low pay, little respect for the profession and insufficient funding for schools.
Language, Culture, and Power
Elissa Nadworny and Clare Lombardo, NPR
In the second-floor girls’ restroom at Bronx Prep Middle School in New York, there’s a sign taped to the back of the toilet stall doors. It’s a guide on how to “properly dispose feminine products.” On the list? “Make sure that no one views or handles product.” It’s not even saying the word pad. It just says product!” explains Kathaleen Restitullo, 13. “Just, like, don’t let anyone see that you are on your period.” But Kathaleen and six of her fellow female eighth-graders decided they’re tired of NOT talking about periods. So they made a podcast about it — called Sssh! Periods — and it’s the middle school grand prize winner in the first-ever NPR Student Podcast Challenge. “We wanted to shine a light on this subject because it’s something that’s kind of hidden away,” says Raizel Febles, 14. “You kind of are ashamed for having it, which sucks because it’s something so natural and so normal.”
Ricardo Cano, CALmatters
In the past decade, California has adopted more than a half-dozen laws intended to prevent bullying, strengthen suicide prevention and cultivate inclusive learning environments for LGBTQ students in the state’s public schools. But the state’ school districts are implementing these new laws inconsistently, according to a new sweeping report-card style analysis from the Equality California Institute. As an emotional, hours-long hearing last week on statewide sex education guidance underscored last week at the state Board of Education, California has been slow in general to fully embrace new laws aimed at deterring discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, along with those questioning their sexual identities. Public middle and high schools were required to follow the sex ed laws in the California Healthy Youth Act beginning in 2016, but the state Board of Education just last week approved a new framework for teaching sex education. The state board came up with the framework—teaching recommendations by the state that educators are not required to follow—after two years of public deliberation. Equality California’s analysis, published Monday, used a 90-question survey covering school climate, curriculum, teacher training, suicide prevention and transgender students to rate school districts’ LGBTQ policies on a three-tier, color-coded scale. Of the 130 K-12 school districts that participated in the years-long survey effort, 22 school districts were given “top tier” ratings, 80 were considered “middle tier,” and 28 districts were labeled “priority districts,” the lowest rating.
Ashley Thompson, Voice of America
About 10 percent of public school students in the United States are English language learners. In some states, that number is much higher. In California, for example, 38 percent of students enter the public school system as English learners. Overall, about 21 percent of California public school students are considered English learners. For years, these students had few chances to receive a bilingual education or take special classes for English learners. In 1998, California voters passed a measure that ended many programs for English language learners, in favor of English-only education. The measure was known as Proposition 227, or the “English in Public Schools” measure.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Olga Grigoryants, Los Angeles Daily News
The Los Angeles Unified School District is eyeing its properties across the city, looking for possible places to house homeless students. The effort is facing a backlash from some West Valley neighbors who contend the area needs more schools, not shelters. West Valley neighbors believe the district is studying plans for its unused or underused school sites in Woodland Hills and West Hills, including Collins Elementary, Highlander Road Elementary, Hughes Middle, Oso Elementary and Platt Ranch Elementary schools. Last week, the Woodland Hills-Warner Center Neighborhood Council passed a motion saying it does not support the use of the former school sites for any purpose “other than schools.” The council also asked the city and district leaders to “immediately” start construction of a new K-8 school.
Linda Jacobson, Education Dive
Almost 51 years ago, the son of an immigrant family shot and killed Senator Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel, west of downtown Los Angeles. Today the complex of six community schools named for Kennedy — and occupying the same piece of land as the site of the assassination — houses a new legal clinic designed to assist families in the immigrant-dense communities of Koreatown and Pico-Union. The Immigrant Family Legal Clinic at RFK Community Schools is a partnership between the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). “This effort is about transforming Los Angeles,” LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia said Thursday at a ceremony celebrating the opening of the clinic. “It is about the pursuit of justice.” The legal clinic “advances two key pillars” of the community school model — “integrated student supports and family and community partnerships,” Karen Quartz, the director of UCLA’s Center for Community Schooling, said in an interview.
Anya Kamenetz, Cory Turner, and Chloee Weiner, NPR
Most kids value success and achievement more than caring for others, according to Harvard’s Making Caring Common project. Who is to blame? We are. We talk to Scarlett Lewis of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement; Jennifer Kotler Clarke, vice president of content research and evaluation at Sesame Workshop; and Thomas Lickona, author of How To Raise Kind Kids, for some ideas on how to do better, and why.
Access, Assessment, and Advancement
Sarah D. Sparks, Education Week
The effects of the small, highly intensive Perry Preschool program continue to ripple out, not just for the original students but for their own children, too. Students who attended the Ypsilanti, Mich., preschool between 1962 and 1967 are now in their mid-50s, and they continue to be healthier, more socially adept, and earn higher incomes than their peers who did not attend the program, according to two new studies released this morning. Moreover, University of Chicago researchers James Heckman and Ganesh Karapakula find the several hundred children born to those students—and particularly the boys—also grew up to have higher education and employment, and lower rates of displine in school or criminal behavior out of school. “For the first time we have experimental evidence about how the case for early-childhood education propagates across generations,” Heckman said. Those findings come as the federal government rolls out massive new funding for early-childhood education, from Head Start to home visits. And at a time of increasing academic focus in preschool, the new studies also highlight the importance of non-academic school connections to children’s longterm success.
Alison Hewitt, UCLA Newsroom
Ever since she was little, Joselyne Franco wanted to go into medicine like her mother, who had been a nurse before emigrating from Guatemala. Growing up in a Los Angeles neighborhood where few students went to college and in a family that sometimes couldn’t afford the basics like notebooks, Franco saw her dream as out of reach. But thanks in part to her middle school and high school teachers at the Robert F. Kennedy UCLA Community School located in Koreatown, Franco, now a UCLA junior, is preparing to take exams for medical school so she can become a doctor. She’s not RFK UCLA’s only success story. Although 92% of the school’s K-12 students are low income — higher than the statewide and districtwide averages — 86% of its graduates go on to pursue higher education.
Hallie Busta, Education Dive
New research offers early evidence that short-term, nondegree certificates and other credentials can have a positive impact on an individual’s economic mobility, according to a report released today by Strada Education Network and the Lumina Foundation. Adults with a certificate or certification but no degree are employed full time at a higher rate (85%) than those with no credentials (78%). The former also reported higher annual median income ($45,000) than the latter ($30,000). The report is based on responses from 50,000 people between age 25 and 64 that are in the labor force, don’t have a college degree and aren’t enrolled in college. Nondegree credentials tend to deliver the largest earnings boost for workers in fields such as security/protective services, architecture and engineering, and construction; they have the least benefit for individuals in education and administrative positions. Men and women benefited roughly the same from nondegree credentials in terms of full-time employment, though the resulting income premium was “considerably larger” for men.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
New research from UCLA Civil Rights Project details increasing segregation in a transformed school population
John McDonald, Ampersand
As the nation prepares to mark the 65th anniversary of the landmark Brown v Board of Education ruling declaring segregation in public schools unconstitutional, the UCLA Civil Rights Project today published new research detailing school enrollment patterns and segregation in the nation’s schools. The findings are not cause for celebration. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown decision in 1954 held that segregated education was “inherently unequal” and created irreversible harm to segregated students. The ruling held forth great promise, but was met with intense opposition, and little progress was made, until the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and other events of the 1960s furthered desegregation of public schools, including a series of Supreme Court decisions in the late 1960s and early 1970s. That progress was checked by Supreme Court rulings in the 1990s leading to the end of desegregation orders and plans, fueling racial and economic re-segregation over the past three decades. Since 1988, the share of intensely segregated minority schools — schools that enroll 90-100% non-white students, has more than tripled from 5.7% in 1988 to 18.2% in 2016. Historically many of these intensely segregated minority schools have also had high concentrations of low-income students.
Catherine Gewertz, Education Week
As politicians and parents fight about how to bring more Latino and African-American students into New York City’s elite public high schools, another big urban district has gotten closer to an answer, building far more diversity into its selective-admission high schools. In Chicago, the country’s third-largest school district, 47 percent of the K-12 students are Latino and 37 percent are African-American. In the hallways of its 11 most elite high schools, 34 percent are Latino and 29 percent are black. Those coveted classrooms aren’t exactly a racial mirror-image of Chicago’s school population. But they come closer than those in the most-sought-after high schools of the country’s biggest school district. In New York, black and Latino students represent hefty double-digit slices of the school population, but have only a slim single-digit presence in its eight most prestigious high schools. A snapshot of New York schools in 2017-18, the most recent audited figures available, shows a student population that’s 41 percent Latino and 26 percent African-American. But in its selective-admissions high schools, only 6 percent were Latino and 4 percent were black. Just seven black students were offered spots in next fall’s freshman class of nearly 900 students at Stuyvesant High School. Those big gaps in New York have prompted yet another round of feverish debate in a years-long struggle to diversify its most famous high schools.
Amadou Diallo, The Hechinger Report
As first period gets underway at Cambridge Street Upper School, veteran math teacher Stephen Abreu leads a small-group discussion. But the conversation isn’t about middle school algebra, and Abreu isn’t talking to students. Seven of his fellow teachers, nearly all of them white women, are sitting across from each other talking about race, white privilege and how their own biases affect their relationships with students. “Am I just always going to be wrong?” one teacher wonders about her interactions with students of color. “Black kids need to know they’re not being singled out,” says another, during a conversation about making sure that her students see she isn’t playing favorites when it comes to classroom discipline. Another colleague confesses her surprise at how often teachers of color have reported experiencing racial bias in their own interactions in the building. Each of Cambridge Street’s staff members participate in meetings just like this one every week. They’re known as cultural proficiency seminars and attendance is mandatory. Teachers describe these 45-minute sessions as candid and, more often than not, uncomfortable. But they say the discussions are helping them to become better educators within a system in which predominantly white staff teach in schools with significant numbers of black and Latino students.
Public Schools and Private $
At ed reform conference, charter leaders feel the political heat — and strategize about how to fend off unions
Matt Barnum, Chalkbeat
Charter schools are on “the chopping block.” There’s a national effort to “charter bust.” Many charter schools are “under attack.” Such was the mood at an annual convening of supporters of charter schools and education technology in Oakland last week. During panel discussions at the NewSchools Venture Fund Summit, advocates and school leaders said they were worried about declining political support nationally and unionization efforts among their own staffers. “When we were writing our first charter, it was 2008,” said Kriste Dragon, CEO of Citizens of the World Charter Schools. “If I had to think of the biggest shifts since then, the barriers to entry feel greater — politically, obviously. Financially, too.” The event offered a look at how charter leaders from across the country are coming to grips with new limits on their growth and political clout. And there are signs that their anxiety is warranted, with charters losing support particularly in blue states and cities and among Democrats. NewSchools attendees were reminded of the opposition when dozens of protestors, organized by the Oakland Education Association, gathered outside the conference hotel downtown. One of their chants: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, charter schools have got to go.” “They are a leech onto the public system,” said Harley Litzelman, an Oakland teacher who protested at the event. But charter backers also used the event to explain how they’re planning to confront what they see as the danger posed by teachers unions, internal and external.
Louis Freedberg and Theresa Harrington, EdSource
Against the backdrop of greater scrutiny of charter school operations across California, officials at the Oakland Unified School District have drawn up a sweepingly critical portrait of the impact of charters on their district. These include the costs of having to deal with lawsuits and revocations of charters, the turmoil created by charter schools that close during the middle of the year and the negative consequences of locating charter schools on the same campuses as district schools. This practice — called “co-location” — is “harmful to students” because it allows less space for “intervention” programs for students in district schools. It can also require staggered lunch schedules, as well as combining grades in single classrooms. The catalog of criticisms is contained in a 28-page PowerPoint presentation that district officials, including board president Aimee Eng, made last month to the Charter Task Force, an 11-member body created by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond at the request of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post; Carol Burris, Network for Public Education
Schoolsforsale.com claims to be “the largest school brokers in the United States that you will need to call.” Its owner, Realtor David Mope, is a broker for private schools, online schools and preschools. He will also help you start your own virtual school by providing certified teachers, marketing expertise, and assistance in securing accreditation. Mope is not a newcomer to the for-profit school world. He was the owner and CEO of Acclaim Academy, a military-style charter chain. Acclaim’s “cadets,” who were predominantly minority students from low-income homes, wore army fatigues and engaged in drills. The schools’ education director, Bill Orris, had previously led a charter school that was shut down after its management company abandoned it. Warning signs of failure were there from the beginning. The chain aggressively attempted to open new schools in multiple districts before establishing a track record in its two existing schools. Most districts saw red flags, but two did not. In the fall of 2013, two more Acclaim schools were approved, bringing the total schools in the chain to four.
Other News of Note
Peter Barnes, The Nation
In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Committee on Economic Security defined economic security as “the assurance of an adequate income to each human being” at every stage of life and called for its establishment in the¬¬ United States through a piecemeal process. Out of the committee’s work came what we know today as Social Security and unemployment insurance, the first pieces of a grander vision. Eighty-four years later, the lack of economic security in America remains staggering.¬¬ Yes, thanks to Social Security and Medicare, insecurity among the elderly has declined dramatically, but among nearly everyone else it is as high as ever. The root of today’s insecurity is insufficient labor income. This is due to multiple factors—globalization, automation, financialization, monopoly power, concentration of wealth and decline of labor unions—none of which are going away soon.