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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
Jack Crosbie, The Atlantic
As the strike vote got closer, Anna Lane realized that she was going to have to throw out her lesson plan. Lane, a history and civics teacher at Kelly High School, in Chicago’s Brighton Park neighborhood, was in the middle of teaching a unit about how the city funds public-education initiatives. But as labor negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) started to make the local news last month, Lane’s students began asking questions that her original syllabus didn’t cover.
Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is fond of saying that public schools in America haven’t changed in more than a century and, as a result, are failing kids. Our children, she has said repeatedly, deserve better than the “19th-century assembly-line approach,” and would do much better with her vision of education, one in which taxpayers shoulder the cost for any school that parents want to send their children, and the ability to choose is the most important measure of success.
Madeline Will, Education Week
A new analysis shows that 35 states now have formal teacher-leadership policies that allow accomplished teachers to both have a hand in school decision making and offer instructional support to others in the building without fully leaving the classroom. But only 21 of those states have policies that give teacher-leaders extra pay or other incentives, like a reduction in course load, says the analysis, which was done by the National Council on Teacher Quality. “We find this to be exceedingly promising news,” said Elizabeth Ross, the managing director of teacher policy at NCTQ and a co-author of the report. “The critically important next step is to make these roles maximally attractive and also sustainable for teachers.”
Language, Culture, and Power
Deepa Fernandes, PRI
Growing up in Las Vegas, Norma Ramírez set her sights on attending an Ivy League college. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Ramírez excelled at school and thought she had a shot at Harvard or Yale. But as she was planning her future, her father told her to forget college. Ramírez didn’t have legal status in the United States, he reminded her. At five years old, she had arrived from Mexico without a visa, a country she barely remembered. The reality of being undocumented in America came crashing down on Ramírez, then a high school senior. Her dreams of a prosperous future tanked. While no federal law prevents undocumented students from attending college, access to financing or scholarships is almost impossible.
Corey Mitchell, Education Week
Just 15 years ago, bilingual education was banned in three states-Arizona, California, and Massachusetts-which altogether educated 40 percent of the nation’s English-language learners. Now, amid the national embrace of biliteracy and dual-language education, those statewide English-only laws are on the brink of extinction. In the past three years, voters and lawmakers in California and Massachusetts repealed anti-bilingual education laws, leaving Arizona’s as the last one standing.
Christopher Yee, Pasadena Star News
Last school year, Alhambra High student Krystal Li ate spicy chicken sandwiches from the cafeteria every day. They were good enough, the now-junior said, and she didn’t have to worry about bringing lunch. This school year, the cafeteria started serving pho — the Vietnamese noodle soup — twice a week, and Li said she has been hooked ever since.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Sasha Khokha, KQED
Classical music plays, silk curtains blow in the wind and comfy couches offer a place to curl up with a book. There are wooden toys, colorful magnetic blocks, and crayons organized by color in glass jars. Children use light projectors to make patterns and shapes on the walls. It may sound like a high-end early childhood education center in California, but this is Tijuana. The students and their parents have fled violence in Central America, or other parts of Mexico, and are waiting for their asylum applications to the U.S. to be processed.
Sonali Kohli and Nina Agrawal, The Los Angeles Times
During this Santa Ana wind season, 12-year-old Nicholas Ladesich tends to go to bed worrying about what might burn overnight. He often has dreams of waking up in his old house that burned down in the Woolsey fire last year. But he awakens instead in the living room of the one-bedroom guest house he shares with his brother and parents. He demands that his mom turn on the news to monitor possible fires while his 15-year-old brother Lucas uses an app to check the strength and direction of winds.
Linda Jacobson, Education Dive
LAUSD’s class action lawsuit, filed in a California superior court, argues vaping is contributing to student absenteeism, which affects the district’s state funding. In his statement, Beutner also described increases in behavior problems and incidents of students vaping cannabis. Absenteeism and increases in suspensions related to vaping are also noted as reasons Arizona districts are hoping to hold Juul responsible. A 2016 study of high school students in South Korea showed vaping was linked to increased asthma symptoms, which also led to more days absent from school. Vaping is also linked to use of other substances.
Access, Assessment, and Advancement
Larry Gordon, EdSource
Pressures are mounting on the University of California to drop the use of college admissions tests, with a new round of criticism from several civil rights organizations that the test is biased against low income, black and Latino students. A coalition of organizations announced Tuesday that it would file suit against the university if UC does not drop the tests as a freshman application requirement.
Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, The Washington Post
A federal judge on Thursday held Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt for violating an order to stop collecting loan payments from former Corinthian Colleges students. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco slapped the Education Department with a $100,000 fine for violating a preliminary injunction. Money from the fine will be used to compensate the 16,000 people harmed by the federal agency’s actions. Some former students of the defunct for-profit college had their paychecks garnished. Others had their tax refunds seized by the federal government.
Anthony P. Carnevale, CNBC
Back-to-school season is in full swing for students throughout the educational pipeline. On college campuses, many students are starting their journey from youth dependence to adult independence—and making their first and probably one of the largest investments of their lives. For most, that means taking out college loans, assuming student debt, and finding a job to help stay afloat. It didn’t always use to be this way. Since 1980, tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities have risen 19 times faster than average family incomes. Given the costs of college, working while enrolled is the new normal for today’s students; eight out of 10 students work while in college. But the reality is that working while in school doesn’t leave enough to cover living and tuition costs. You just can’t work your way through college anymore.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
Cody Cain, Salon
Income inequality is raging out of control. The rich keep getting richer and everyone else keeps falling ever further behind. Not only is such drastic inequality unfair economically, but it is also destroying our democracy politically. It has led to the rise of a destructive strain of far-right populism that is tearing apart the fabric of our cherished society. This downward spiral will only become worse unless and until financial security is restored to the working class.
Annette Lin, Teen Vogue
For as long as she can remember, Citlali says, she has been bullied for being a Mexican immigrant. Since arriving in Southern California as a four-year-old with false documents, she says she’s been called slurs like “beaner” and “wetback” at lunchtime; listened to students make callous jokes about being undocumented; felt police discrimination just for being in certain parts of town; and been bullied for being held back at school as a result of her poor English, when she first got to the U.S.
Kyle Spencer, The New York Times
Diogene Artiles, now a sophomore at Columbia University, recalls gathering in a Manhattan auditorium his freshman year of high school with dozens of ninth graders. They clutched sealed envelopes containing the results of a test they had taken a few weeks earlier, administered by SEO Scholars, a college prep program that ushers low-income students to and through college.
Most, who were recently accepted into the program and accustomed to stellar grades and accolades from teachers and parents, were excited, and even a little cocky.
Public Schools and Private $
Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post
A growing number of schools across the country share buildings and other facilities with other schools, a practice called “co-location.” Although on the surface it seems to make sense to give empty space in a public school building to, say, a charter school without a brick-and-mortar home, there are a variety of issues that make this a far more problematic “solution” than it seems. In this post, academics Kathy Schultz, Wagma Mommandi and Melia Repko-Erwin of the University of Colorado at Boulder look at those unintended consequences, which affect teachers, students and entire communities.
Neil Campbell, American Progress
Twenty-five years ago, Congress created the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) as part of 1994’s Improving America’s Schools Act, a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. Just a few years earlier, in 1991, the country’s first charter school law was enacted in Minnesota, with the idea quickly spreading to California in 1992. The very next year, six additional states passed laws allowing the creation of public charter schools. With bipartisan support in Congress and requested increases from each presidential administration since 1994, the program has grown from an initial $4.5 million appropriation to $440 million in fiscal year 2019.
Skanda Kadirgamar, The Nation
In June, a group of City University of New York students concerned about the rising cost of tuition met with Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson at his office. There, members of the University Student Senate argued that the City needed to urgently address the hikes and underfunding at CUNY. They didn’t get far in their argument. The students say they were cut off and the meeting was terminated 15 minutes into the hour the deputy mayor’s office had promised to set aside for the discussion. After the meeting’s premature end, the students say, Thompson’s secretary ushered them out of the office. “Don’t come to us with problems,” one of the students remembered her telling them. “We know what the problems are. Come back to us when you have solutions.”
Other News of Note
Andrea Miliani, Teen Vogue
Not long after a new transit fare hike was announced in Santiago, Chile, earlier this month, high school students from the Instituto Nacional organized a mass strike using an Instagram account: CursedIN. They shared videos of groups of students jumping over turnstiles and safety railings at subway stations, resisting and arguing with authorities, backed up by a lively soundtrack of ska music. Soon more commuters got involved, and within days the fare evasion campaign had turned into a mass outpouring of the population’s rage and suppressed discontent over the rising costs of living. More than a million people have taken to the streets, workplaces have ground to a halt, and more than 20 people have died. Wittingly or unwittingly, the young Chilean students had launched a revolution.