Just News from Center X – May 27, 2016

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Louis Freedberg and John Fensterwald, EdSource

A small item in Gov. Jerry Brown’s May revision of California’s $122 billion budget for the coming fiscal year touches at the core of how the state prepares most of its teachers. Brown is proposing to spend $10 million in the form of $250,000 grants to encourage expansion of what are called “integrated” or “blended” preparation programs that allow undergraduates to earn their teaching credential by the time they graduate.


Linda Darling-Hammond and Steve Barr, EdSource

This was a year of good news and bad news in California’s schools. Faster-than-expected infusions of new funding under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) allowed many districts to replace teachers and programs lost during the Great Recession. However, as the school year opened last August, districts around California scrambled to hire qualified teachers and many came up short. About one-third of the credentials issued by the California Teacher Credentialing Commission this past year were for teachers on the equivalent of emergency permits, who lacked training for their assignments and were not in any structured preparation program.


Joy Resmovits, Los Angeles Times

The fight over teacher tenure in California continues. On Tuesday, former students who sued over the issue asked the state Supreme Court to hear their appeal of the judicially whipsawed Vergara v. California case. Meanwhile lawmakers have introduced legislation that one opponent has labeled “Vergara Lite” to change the way California’s educators are hired and fired.



Language, Culture, and Power


Tatiana Sanchez, The San Diego Union Tribune

Young people living along the U.S-Mexico border maintain close ties to both sides, often crossing for school or to see close family members. But the pressures associated with this constant migration can pose educational barriers for students, a new study shows.


Janie Har, Associated Press, KPCC

How do you teach the history of the world in California schools, where nearly two-thirds of students are Latino or Asian, many from newly immigrated families? That’s the challenge facing a California panel charged with establishing a new history and social studies framework for the state’s 6.2 million public school students.


Priska Neely, KPCC

At Huntington Park Elementary School on Friday, young musicians picked up their violins, clarinets, flutes and cornets and played songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Hot Cross Buns” before a small group of parents in the auditorium. Most schools have culminating festivities like this around this time of year, but just several months ago, this particular showcase wouldn’t have been possible. In the fall, the school had no instruments and the L.A. Unified School District said it couldn’t provide them.



Access, Assessment, and Advancement


Anya Kanenetz, All ThingsConsidered
Grit has been on NPR several times recently, not to mention front and center on the national education agenda.  The term expresses the idea that a crucial component of success is people’s ability to pick a goal and stick with it. That’s the main thrust of research by Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania, which has earned her a MacArthur “genius” grant, national acclaim and, this month, a best-selling book.  But a new report suggests that we should all take a step back and chill.


Jeremy Hay, EdSource

It seemed a straightforward enough goal: define what it means for a child to be ready for kindergarten. But when a bill to establish a kindergarten readiness standard was introduced in the Legislature in February, several child development and early education experts objected, suggesting it could push preschools to become overly and inappropriately academic.


John Fensterwald, EdSource

To shine a brighter light on academic disparities, the six California districts known as the CORE districts have tracked test results for much smaller student subgroups than the state requires, giving a more complete picture of how some groups – African-American children and students with disabilities, in particular – performed.


Kimberly Beltran, Cabinet Report

As a population targeted for new state support, foster youth continue to struggle – a fact that prompted the California School Boards Association to launch an initiative to raise awareness and offer strategies for improving safety, stability and uninterrupted access to education for this at-risk group of students.


Inequality, Poverty, Segregation


Craig Clough, LA School Report

California may spend more on its students, but the high cost of living means students in the state — and particularly in Los Angeles — are getting far less on average than those in the rest of the nation, a new study shows. But even if there’s less purchasing power for education in California, at least what is spent is distributed more equitably than in other states, it states.

Kevin Welner and William Mathis, National Education Policy Center

Educational opportunities, and therefore life chances, have long been tied to family wealth and to housing, with more advantaged communities providing richer opportunities. Recognizing the key role of housing in this system, equity-minded reformers have proposed five types of interventions: (a) school improvement policies; (b) school choice policies; (c) school desegregation policies; (d) wealth-focused policies; and (e) housing-focused policies. In a new brief released today, Housing Policy, Kevin Welner and William Mathis discuss each of these interventions, with an emphasis on housing-focused policies.



Public Schools and Private $


Aaron Mendelson, KPCC
Groups that support the expansion of charter schools in California are spending big this year to support the campaigns of sympathetic Democrats vying for open seats in the state Legislature. One charter group alone has spent more than $1 million in the Southern California contest to replace Assemblyman Mike Gatto.


Liana Heitin, Education Week
In a letter posted today on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s website, chief executive officer Sue Desmond-Hellman acknowledged that the group had made some miscalculations regarding implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Kyle Stokes, KPCC
If a study commissioned by Los Angeles’ teachers union is right — that charter schools cost the L.A. Unified School District more than $591 million annually— it’s a big deal.

Other News of Note

Omid Safi, On Being
Graduates, family members, loved ones, faculty and staff. It’s wonderful to be back home. This place is and forever will be home to us.  When I had a chance to come back home and share some thoughts with you, I wanted this as a chance to give something back to you beautiful people sitting here. The first thing is, I wanted you to have a tool in your toolbox, I wanted you to have a weapon to fend off that nastiest question of all:“What are you gonna do after graduation?”


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