Just News from Center X – May 20, 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

John King, The Washington Post

One of my top priorities as education secretary is to help our public schools serve the needs of our increasingly diverse students so that they have the opportunity to pursue the American dream and use their talents to help our nation tackle some of its most difficult problems. To achieve this goal, we need a teaching force that is as diverse as our students. More and more research shows that diversity isn’t just a nicety — it’s a real contributor to better outcomes in our schools, workplaces and communities. But while students of color are now a majority in our schools, teachers of color make up only 18 percent of their faculties. Unless we do something as a country, demographic projections show that this mismatch is likely to get worse.

Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle

The taxpayer-supported Teach for America program, which supplies enthusiastic if inexperienced teachers to thousands of schools in lower-income areas across the country, has fallen out of favor in San Francisco. The city’s school board made clear this week that staffing some of the city’s neediest classrooms with recent college graduates who are on a two-year teaching stint and with just five weeks of training is no longer acceptable.


Jackie Mader, The Hechinger Report

It was almost the end of first period at Bret Harte Middle School when the five superintendents descended on math class. Dressed in suits and armed with pens, notebooks, and laptops, the superintendents had one specific goal as they fanned out across the classroom, interacting with students: to look for evidence that a geometry lesson was aligned to the new state math standards.

Language, Culture, and Power


Corey Mitchell, Education Week

When people come across Michelle-Thuy Ngoc Duong’s name, they often see a stumbling block bound to trip up their tongues. The 17-year-old sees a bridge. A bridge spanning her parents’ journey from Vietnam to the United States. A bridge connecting the U.S.-born teen to Vietnamese culture. A bridge to understanding.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, KPCC

Nearly three out of four American public school classrooms now includes at least one student who is learning English as a new language, and California is emerging as a leader among states for helping long-term English learners get up to speed. That’s the conclusion of a 28-page report

out Wednesday from the publication Education Week, which details the rapid growth in the U.S. of the population of students whose first language isn’t English.


Susan Frey, EdSource

California foster youth who are taking advantage of newly extended services are having a smoother transition into adulthood, according to a study released this month. But the state needs to do more, the researchers say. Foster youth who remained in care after age 18 were more likely to be in school, had more social support, experienced fewer economic hardships and were receiving more supportive services than those who left care, according to the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study by researchers from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement


Joy Resmovits, Los Angeles Times

California’s schools are going to have to answer for more than just test scores, by the year after next. The state may also judge them on suspension rates, graduation rates, attendance and the rate at which students who are still learning English are becoming proficient. Those are the measures the California State Board of Education voted on Wednesday to include in its new school ratings system. The vote came after more than 100 members of the public spoke about what they think a good school looks like. They pressed the board to include non-academic factors, such as surveys on school climate — a measure of how safe a school feels — parental engagement and suspension rates.

Deepa Fernandes, KPCC

Some 4-year-olds in California may miss out on public preschool as Gov. Jerry Brown stuck to his Child Care Block Grant proposal in his revised budget plan released Friday that eliminates the transitional kindergarten program. The governor doesn’t believe the state should pay for middle- and upper-income children to attend transitional kindergarten, said Jessica Holmes, an analyst at the California Department of Finance.


Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, KPCC
California high school students graduated at a rate of 82.3 percent in 2015, up 1.3 percentage points from the year before. Those numbers represent a slightly larger increase than the state has seen in recent years and bring graduation rates to another record high, according to state Department of Education data released Tuesday.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation


Ana Tintocalis, KQED

A handful of first-graders sit cross-legged on a rainbow-colored rug with their eyes fixed on Katherine Craig, the reading specialist at Oak Ridge Elementary in Sacramento. She’s in charge of a special program for struggling readers called Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics and Sight Words

(SIPPS). At the beginning of every class, Craig shuffles through a stack of flashcards and asks students to sound out letters and blend those sounds together.


Anya Kamenetz, NPR

The U.S. Education Department said this week it will make Pell Grants available to 10,000 high school students who are enrolled in courses at 44 colleges. It’s an ambitious experiment aimed at closing the attainment gap between rich and poor students in higher education. The Obama administration wants to give students a head start on college.


The Associated Press, Newsday

Six decades after the Supreme Court outlawed separating students by race, stubborn disparities persist in how the country educates its poor and minority children. A report Tuesday by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found deepening segregation of black and Hispanic students at high-poverty K-12 public schools. These schools often offered fewer math, science and college prep classes, while having disproportionally higher rates of students who were held back in ninth grade, suspended or expelled.


Kinga Wysieńska-Di Carlo

, National Education Policy Center

The current attention being given to the state of teacher diversity, including ASI’s recent report

on the subject, is based on the idea that teacher diversity is a resource that profits everyone, and that policymakers and administrators should try to increase this resource. We agree.



Public Schools and Private $

Morgan Springer, NPR

The Traverse City Area Public Schools in northern Michigan have a saying: “Great Community, Great Schools.” The Washington Post agrees, ranking Traverse City high schools some of the most challenging

in the country. But the district of about 9,500 is losing enough students — 12 percent in the last 10 years — that last fall superintendent Paul Soma recommended closing three elementary schools. Then came a surprise. At a school board meeting in March, when members had just voted to close two of the schools, Soma made an announcement about the third. “We are in the receipt of new information regarding a donor offering over $800,000 to keep Old Mission open.”


Jan Resseger, National Education Policy Center

Ohio’s Senate Bill 298, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni’s proposed law to ensure that the state is paying online charter schools for real students, not merely phantom students, will have a fourth hearing this week. Ohio pays on-line charter schools nearly $7,000 per pupil. According to Bill Phillis of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy, e-schools are draining approximately $250 million in public dollars to the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), the Ohio Virtual Academy—a K12 Inc. affiliate, and other e-schools.

Web Desk, Geo TV

A large number of teachers from different parts of the province had gathered for a sit-in in Lahore outside the Punjab Assembly after talks with the provincial government remained unsuccessful on Saturday.


Other News of Note


Allison Pohle, Boston.com

The last time thousands of Boston Public Schools students walked out of their classrooms to protest proposed budget cuts, some officials said the students left class based on “misinformation.” When student activists once again walk out of their classes Tuesday, they hope there will be no miscommunication.

Jeremy C. Fox, Boston Globe

Hundreds of Boston students walked out of class Tuesday to protest cuts to the school budget, then thronged City Hall Plaza and an emotional City Council hearing to call for full funding of education. The rally, the second in recent months, capped a school year in which students were emboldened to speak up.


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