Just News from Center X – May 6, 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


Saa’un P. Bell, Californians for Justice

Each and everyone one of us can recall that one teacher that changed our lives. Teachers that inspired us, taught us to pursue our passions and aspirations. On Teacher’s Appreciation Day, Californians for Justice student leaders are honoring ten educators that are closing the Belief Gap and making sure that all students, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to reach their highest potential.


Andre Perry, The Hechinger Report

If we are to improve educational outcomes among low-income students of color, then it’s not just the black students who need black teachers; it’s white students too. We regularly extol the benefits of black and brown teachers on the students who look like them. But undoing the racism that stifles achievement requires something more. Better teaching should be aimed at the source of schooling problems – future policy makers.


Craig Clough, LA School Report

About 200 parents, students and teachers rallied Wednesday morning outside Castelar Street Elementary School in Chinatown as part of a “walk-in” calling for lower class sizes at LA Unified, increased staffing and more accountability for Prop. 39, the law that gives charter schools the right to use empty class space at district schools through a process called “co-location.”


John McDonald, UCLA Newsroom

UCLA and Horace Mann Middle School in South Los Angeles are joining together to offer the Mann-UCLA Summer Institute, a suite of summer programs to be held at the middle school to boost educational success and opportunities for its students.


Language, Culture, and Power


Michael Janofsky, EdSource

An expansion of ethnic studies courses in some of California’s largest school districts is changing the way thousands of students are learning about the historical contributions of a wide range of racial and ethnic groups. Over the past few years, Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest school district, and San Francisco Unified, the sixth biggest, have added courses in their high schools designed to broaden understanding of the roles played by African-Americans, Latinos and other racial and ethnic groups.


Kimberly Beltran, Cabinet Report

A pilot program being designed to boost the linguistic and literacy skills of preschool children learning two languages at once has caught enough attention at the White House that expectations are staff will issue a policy brief on the educational benefits of bilingualism next month. The Dual Language Learner Pilot, a project of the state’s First 5 California, is aimed at supporting teacher training and effective practices that improve educational gains of California’s more than 1.5 million dual language learners under the age of 5 who, by third grade, lag behind others in reading ability. The $16 million pilot program has been in the planning stage since last year but is moving closer to final design and its planned launch next January.


Jay Mathews, The Washington Post

The biggest difference between schools I attended a half-century ago and schools I visit now is special education: It took a while for our country to grasp how to help students with extra needs.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement


Corey Mitchell, Education Week

Immigrant children living in the United States as unaccompanied minors have been blocked or discouraged from registering for school in at least 35 districts in 14 states, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Julian R. Betts, Sam M. Young, Andrew C. Zau, and Karen Volz Bachofer, Public Policy Institute of California

Major urban school districts–including those in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland–have recently changed their high school graduation requirements, making college preparatory coursework mandatory. These districts now require students to complete the a–g sequence, 30 semester-long courses in assigned subjects required for admission to the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems. This bold reform seeks to equalize access to college prep coursework, thus making college more possible for historically underserved students. But it also risks denying a high school diploma to many of the very students it is designed to help. This report examines the benefits and potential pitfalls of the reform—as experienced in San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles—with primary focus on the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).


Fermin Leal, EdSource

Many African-American students admitted to University of California campuses said they chose to enroll at other universities because of the UC system’s lack of diversity, its high costs to attend and poor outreach to them while they applied, according to a new UC survey.


Inequality, Poverty, Segregation


Jonathan Rabinovitz, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Almost every school district enrolling large numbers of low-income students has an average academic performance significantly below the national grade-level average, according to Stanford Graduate School of Education research based on a massive new data set recently created from more than 200 million test scores.


Robyn Bresnahan and Joel Westheimer, CBC

Many of the Syrian children who came to Canada are now in school but the key to their success may be found in Finland.


Jennifer Jellison Holme, University of Texas at Austin; Kara S. Finnigan, University of Rochester; Albert Shanker Institute

In this blog post, we outline a set of strategies based on our research that seek to address these issues through specific education policy leverage points: the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and two federal grants programs (Stronger Together and the Magnet School Assistance Program).



Public Schools and Private $

Kyle Stokes, KPCC

Martin Wong and Wendy Lau were frustrated. They’d gotten a letter from the Los Angeles Unified School District saying their daughter’s school, Castelar Street Elementary in Chinatown, might have to turn over several classrooms to a charter school. Most frustrating about the letter, dated February 27, was that Wong and Lau could do little to stop Metro Charter School from “co-locating” on the district’s property — a California law known as Prop 39 says school districts must open up their campuses to charter schools searching for a building.


Sarah Tully, Education Week

The Walton Family Foundation has decided to pull its funding in support of charter schools in seven cities as it shifts to a new focus and investments in other communities.


Valerie Strauss, Joanne Barkan; Answer Sheet

Here is a case study about how influential some ultra-wealthy philanthropists in the United States have become in market-based school reform. It’s about what happened in Washington state when some billionaires decided they had to have charter schools in the state — something voters had rejected three times.


Other News of Note


Liz Dwyer, takepart

“Stand up if you live two blocks from a liquor store or fast-food restaurant.” That was the instruction given by a young, twentysomething facilitator to a room of roughly 25 black and Latino high school students from underserved neighborhoods in the greater Los Angeles area. They were just some of the nearly 200 teens of color who attended “Rise Up for Humanity–Justice for the Forgotten,” a conference hosted last Friday by the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission.


Sean Coughlan, BBC

More than 40,000 parents have signed a petition calling for a boycott of primary school tests, which are due to be taken later this month. Parents supporting the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign have complained of a damaging culture of over-testing. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says taking pupils out of school “even for a day is harmful to their education”.




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