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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
Mikhail Zinshteyn, EdSource
Programs run by the U.S. Department of Education, which distributes funding for numerous programs to all states, would be cut by $9 billion under the Trump administration’s proposed federal budget for the fiscal year beginning in October. California’s K-12 federal allocation would shrink from the 2016-17 level of approximately $4 billion to $3.64 billion in 2017-18. Presidential budgets typically serve as wish lists, and it is far from clear what parts of the document released Tuesday will be enacted by Congress. But the document provides important insights into President Donald Trump’s education agenda, and where his priorities lie.
Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times
The University of California, under fire for controversial budget practices, would lose the autonomy it has enjoyed for 138 years under a state constitutional amendment proposed Tuesday. The amendment suggested by state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) would give the Legislature the power to directly fund the UC Office of the President, which is currently supported by campus fees. Such legislative control was recommended in a recent state audit, which found that central administrators in the office failed to disclose a $175 million surplus, did not adequately justify spending on presidential initiatives and paid unusually generous salaries. UC disputed some findings but has agreed to the audit’s 33 recommended reforms. The bill faces tough odds. First, it would have to pass the Legislature, which has rebuffed two previous attempts in recent years to limit UC’s autonomy. Second, voters would have to agree to amend the Constitution.
John Fensterwald, EdSource
Regarding the $1 billion in one-time funding for K-12 schools that Gov. Jerry Brown proposed last week in his 2017-18 budget: The word is don’t count on it – at least not next year. In what a school consultant is calling a “bait and switch,” the Department of Finance is saying that the money won’t be available until May 2019 at the earliest – and possibly only partially then. The department will release the funding after it’s sure that the revenue projections on which the budget is based came true.
Language, Culture, and Power
Bonnie Petrie, KPCC
A relatively small number of the California children eligible for subsidized childcare are enrolling – but among Latino and Asian families, the share of eligible kids receiving childcare is even tinier. More than a million Latino children in California are eligible for subsidized childcare, but according to new research from the California Budget and Policy Center, only 11 percent are enrolled. More than 100,ooo Asian children are eligible. Only about eight percent are enrolled. Why? Early childhood education advocate Diana Chun at Early Edge said language is a significant barrier. “Many parents who speak a different language, as well as immigrant families, face significant barriers to access,” Chun said. “And eligibility and reporting requirements to access these early learning programs are burdensome for families.”
Jessica Lahey, The Atlantic
On June 8, 1964, Gerald Gault and Ronald Lewis were arrested when their neighbor, Mrs. Cook, alleged they had made a lewd phone call to her home. The police detained Gerald overnight and held a hearing the next day in the juvenile judge’s chambers. Gerald’s parents, who were at work at the time of his arrest, were not notified, and Gerald was not provided an attorney during his interrogation or at either of his two hearings. Gerald was found to be guilty of an Arizona statute that makes it a crime to use “vulgar, abusive or obscene language in the presence of a woman or a child,” and was committed to the Arizona State Industrial School until his 21st birthday. Gerald was 15 at the time of his arrest. By the time the U.S. Supreme Court heard his case, In re Gault, on December 6, 1966, Gerald had been living in detention for two and a half years. On May 15, 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Arizona violated Gault’s due-process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, and that Constitutional due-process rights apply to children as well as to adults. Justice Abe Fortas’s majority opinion, dubbed “the Magna Carta for juveniles” by Chief Justice Earl Warren, stated that even in the case of juveniles, “Due process of law is the primary and indispensable foundation of individual freedom.”
Melissa Hung, NPR
Today, more Americans graduate high school and go on to college than ever before. But as the country becomes more diverse — the Census Bureau expects that by 2020 more than half of the nation’s children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group — are colleges and universities ready to serve them? “If you look at the past 50, almost 60 years, you see we have made a lot of progress as a country in terms of high school seniors deciding to go to college in the 1.5 years after graduating,” says Andrew Nichols, director of higher education research and data analytics at the Education Trust, a nonprofit. “And that isn’t just white students. It’s also for black and Latinos. You’re seeing that increase for everybody.” The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2015, 88 percent of seniors – nearly 3 million students – graduated high school. By the following October, 69 percent of them – or more than 2 million people – were enrolled in college. But where are they attending? And do they graduate?
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Rina Palta, KPCC
A swath of reforms could save the country’s child welfare systems some $12 billion, according to a new report by the nonprofit RAND Corporation. The think tank, based in Santa Monica, built a model using data from 24 million children born between 2010 and 2014. With it, they simulated how investments in various types of programs could impact child welfare outcomes. The team of researchers is expected to present its findings to the Congressional Caucus on Foster Care in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. The report found investing in child abuse prevention services and support for family members who take in foster kids collectively have massive benefits for children and the system as a whole. Researchers simulated investing $4.4 billion nationally into such programs for the group of children and the model showed lower rates of child abuse, fewer children entering foster care, and improved job prospects and social outcomes for foster kids—and ultimately cost savings to the system.
Alejandra Matos, The Washington Post
Adrian Washington fills a large plastic bag with two cartons of ripe strawberries, potatoes, a bushel of kale and a few tomatoes. He spends his Wednesday mornings this spring at River Terrace Education Campus’s farmers market in Southeast Washington filling orders for teachers and community members. Some of the vegetables sold at the market are grown in the school’s greenhouse and garden. River Terrace, which opened in 2015, serves 130 D.C. students from kindergarten to high school who have severe physical or intellectual disabilities. It aims to give them more individualized attention and prepare older students for independent lives after graduation.
Ed Yong, The Atlantic
For some women, enrolling in an engineering course is like running a psychological gauntlet. If they dodge overt problems like sexual harassment, sexist jokes, or poor treatment from professors, they often still have to evade subtler obstacles like the implicit tendency to see engineering as a male discipline. It’s no wonder women in the U.S. hold just 13 to 22 percent of the doctorates in engineering, compared to an already-low 33 percent in the sciences as a whole. Nilanjana Dasgupta, from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, thinks that mentors—people who can give advice, share experiences, or make social connections—can dismantle the gauntlet, and help young women to find their place in an often hostile field. In a year-long study—one of the strongest yet to look at the value of mentorship—Dasgupta showed that female engineering undergraduates who are paired with a female mentor felt more motivated, more self-assured, and less anxious than those who had either no mentor or a male one. They were less likely to drop out of their courses, and keener to look for engineering jobs after they graduated. “Often, science is messy and things don’t turn out neatly,” Dasgupta says. But in this study, “it was very gratifying how clean the results were.”
Access, Assessment, and Advancement
Madeline Will, Education Week
With classmates, parents, teachers, and even the Roanoke County schools superintendent standing before him, high school senior Bubba Smith took a deep breath and set the two-story Rube Goldberg machine into motion. The contraption, which performed a series of complicated actions to lift a banner, was part of Bubba’s fourth-quarter grade for his AP Physics class. Students in physics and the AP Calculus class worked on the machine for nine weeks and then presented it during Hidden Valley High School’s end-of-year exhibition of students’ projects, most of which they designed themselves. “We were doing stuff we don’t normally do in a classroom,” Bubba said of his project. “We don’t play with PVC pipes and ropes in the classroom.” His classmate Ryan Crosser agreed. “A normal project is the same thing over and over again. It’s very structured—school is very structured,” he said. Student-led assessments like this one are, in many ways, antithetical to the structure of the typical fill-in-the-bubble test. Students are asked to demonstrate their learning and knowledge in a meaningful way and to reflect on their own performance.
Matt Barnum, The Atlantic
When teens complain that school starts too early, they’re not wrong, according to new research. This comes as school districts across the country—including in Colorado, California, Indiana, and Tennessee—consider starting school later. The study, published last month in the peer-reviewed Journal of Human Resources, looks at districts in Florida and uses a novel approach: the fact that some areas in the state operate in the Central time zone while others use Eastern time. That means that if one district starts school at 8 a.m. Eastern and one right next door starts at 8 a.m. Central, students are actually heading to school at different times, relative to the sunrise—creating a natural experiment for the researchers to study how that affects student achievement.
Larry Gordon, EdSource
California’s colleges and universities are celebrating what many describe as a happy surprise: the revival of federal financial aid for summer school. The move will help more low-income students graduate on time and help reduce college debt, its proponents say. Congress recently approved, and President Trump signed, omnibus budget legislation that included funding for those so-called year-round Pell grants. The awards are expected to be as large as $2,960 a year for each recipient’s summer classes and other non-traditional sessions. Those would be in addition to the maximum $5,920 that eligible students will be able to receive during the regular school calendar.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, KPCC
The state agencies charged with providing services for Californian kids with developmental disabilities spend far more on their white clients than they do on black and Latino children, according to a new report from the legal advocacy group Public Counsel. At the 19 of the state’s 21 agencies, known as “regional centers,” officials authorized less spending for their Latino students than their white ones. And centers that serve predominantly black and Latino students receive much less funding overall than centers with mostly white clients. For example, the report compared funding levels at the South Central Regional Center – where 91 percent of clients are black or Latino – to those at the Westside Regional Center, whose clients are just over half black or Latino. A child at the South Central Regional Center receives on average nearly $8,000 less in services than their counterpart at the Westside center. And at Los Angeles’ Lanterman Regional Center, for example, Latino kids received on average $3,375 less in services compared to the center’s white clients.
Emma Brown, The Washington Post
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to say Wednesday whether she would block private schools that discriminate against LGBT students from receiving federal dollars, explaining that she believes states should have the flexibility to design voucher programs and that parents should be able to choose schools that best fit their children’s needs. DeVos returned frequently to the theme of what she called a need for more local control in her first appearance before Congress since her rocky confirmation hearing in January. Fielding questions from members of a House Appropriations subcommittee, she said that states should decide how to address chronic absenteeism, mental health issues and suicide risks among students and that states should also decide whether children taking vouchers are protected by federal special-education law.
Jackie Zubrzycki, Education Week
At age 15, students around the world from higher-income families knew significantly more about financial concepts than their peers from lower-income families. And students who are more financially literate are more likely to report that they expect to go on to university education. That’s according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s latest Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, exam for financial literacy, the results of which were released today. Students in 10 OECD countries and several partnering countries took the second-ever PISA exam in financial literacy in 2015. The PISA test evaluates students’ ability to answer questions related to personal finance, not bigger-picture economics. For instance, they might be asked to identify an invoice or figure out how to respond to a message from a bank.
Public Schools and Private $
DeVos promises ‘the most ambitious expansion of education choice in our nation’s history’ — but offers no details
Emma Brown, The Washington Post
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos promised Monday evening that President Trump would propose “the most ambitious expansion of education choice in our nation’s history,” but she offered no details about the administration’s plans. Speaking in Indianapolis before a friendly audience of school voucher proponents, she instead laid out a moral case to dramatically transform American education — and improve young people’s prospects — by expanding school choice. “We must acknowledge that the future is bleak for millions of students if we only continue to tinker around the edges with education reform,” she said. “We stand on the verge of the most significant opportunity we have ever had to drag American education out of the Stone Age and into the future.” DeVos was addressing the national conference of the American Federation for Children, a pro-school-choice advocacy group that DeVos founded, funded and chaired until stepping down to become Trump’s education secretary.
When Nick Melvoin and — assuming her narrow lead in Tuesday’s election holds — Kelly Gonez are sworn in as the newest members of the Los Angeles Unified School Board in July, the balance of power on the board will shift. Their accessions will mean a majority of the seven-member board will have been endorsed by the California Charter School Association, a watershed moment on a board with which the district’s main teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, has long held much sway. Melvoin and Gonez join Mónica García, who won re-election outright in the March primary, and Ref Rodriguez as candidates who have the charter association’s imprimatur. But in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s vote, it’s not entirely clear to John Rogers, a professor of education at UCLA, what exactly that transition of power will mean — and even whether these four board members’ shared endorsement history even ensures they’ll end up voting as a bloc.
Sarah Tully, Education Week
States so far are making little mention of charter schools in their federal Every Student Succeeds Act plans, instead lumping charter and traditional public schools together in accountability proposals, according to a new report. The Education Commission of the States this month released a policy brief, called Charter School Accountability Under ESSA, that examines how states and the District of Columbia are addressing charter schools in their plans to the U.S. Department of Education on the new federal law. Jennifer Thomsen, the author and director of the commission’s Knowledge and Research Center, examined 22 plans—17 have been submitted and five were drafts—for the report. Read about the 17 ESSA plans in Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog. Of those, five plans specifically address charter schools, she said. In some cases, states are planning to continue what they were already doing under the previous law, No Child Left Behind.
Other News of Note
Allie Gross, The Atlantic
When prospective families arrived at Cornerstone Schools’ flagship campus on Nevada Street in Detroit last month, they were greeted by a staff primed to woo and sell. Folding chairs had been placed in the tidy front entrance of the northeast Detroit school, and one by one, administrators stood up to speak about the rich culture and strong curriculum that parents and children had come to know and love since the religious school opened in 1991. “You know, when you come in the fall, we’re going to have a team of parents waiting for you to teach you how to do things because there’s a way to do things. Just like when you go to a church or join a new group,” said Candace Brockman, the primary-school principal and soon to be K-8 leader, to the crowd of potential families.