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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
‘When we fight, we win:’ Chicago teachers score another victory for public education and they organized a new generation of teachers in the process.
Alan Maass, The Nation
The slogan on the banner that led many of the marches during last week’s Chicago teachers strike told the story: “When we fight, we win.” Not always, not everything, not yet enough to meet the dire need. But a whole lot more than when we don’t fight. The two-week strike by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) ended last week with a tentative agreement and a compromise over making up lost school days. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 had walked out of schools in a first-ever joint strike with the CTU—its 7,500 special-education classroom assistants, custodial workers, bus aides, and others won a new contract a few days before the teachers and ratified it last week. The CTU’s 25,000 members will vote on their agreement in a week’s time.
Sonali Kohli and Howard Blume, The Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles school board rejected a proposal to give Yelp-like ratings to its schools, but agreed Tuesday to make data on how students perform year to year on standardized tests more easily available. The board voted 6-1 against a first-ever proposal to rate schools on a scale of 1 to 5. School board Vice President Jackie Goldberg had fueled the anti-rating momentum after the plan became more widely known in August. It was never supported by the unions representing teachers or administrators.
Investigations unearth systemic corruption in K-12 school leadership—and students and teachers lose out
Jeff Bryant, The Progressive
Revelations of corruption in business and government are becoming an everyday affair, with example after example of people in leadership positions using elevated status for personal gain rather than for the public good. The deluge of stories about lying and cheating politicians, industry lobbyists, and corporate executives can lead to easy cynicism about how things work in business and politics. But what about when corruption flourishes in public schools? A recent series of investigative articles I reported for Our Schools, an education project of the Independent Media Institute, found numerous instances of school purchases and personnel being steered toward decisions that rewarded opportunistic leaders and well-connected companies rather than students and teachers. And even though a number of such exposés suggest systemic corruption, media accounts generally frame these scandals as singular examples of corrupt behavior.
Language, Culture, and Power
Jesus Cortez, OC Weekly
In 1994, the world seemed to be crumbling around me in California. Governor Pete Wilson was in power and for undocumented people, it seemed that nobody was coming to defend or rescue us. The 90’s also happened to be one of the most violent decades in the state. All the while Proposition 187 loomed large threatening to limit the lives of those of us who were thrown into the shadows due to our immigration status. Youth all over the state knew something had to be done. In Anaheim, that sense of urgency 25 years ago proved no different.
Corey Mitchell, Education Week
Latino students are the largest ethnic group in U.S. public schools, representing 25 percent of the overall population. Yet, Latinos make up only 9 percent of the nation’s teaching corps. While demographic gaps exist between all nonwhite student populations and teachers, the gap for Latinos is the largest, a new report from New America’s Education Policy Program shows. Despite the fact the number of K-12 Latino teachers has more than quadrupled over the last three decades, the growth has not kept pace with the rise in student population.
Adrian Figueroa, UCLA Newsroom
Growing up in the generation of Indiana Jones, Jason De León already knew what he wanted to major in when he enrolled at UCLA in 1995 — anthropology. He wasn’t exactly sure what a career in the field would look like, but De León figured he would be focusing on ancient Egypt. His senior year, a professor invited him to spend a quarter working on an archaeological project in Mexico. This trip shifted De León’s research focus from the pyramids in Egypt to studying Latin America, a region that held a special place in his curiosity since first visiting the pyramids at Teotihuacán, Mexico, when he was 8 years old. But the people he met while working on that project and other excavations in Mexico and other parts of Latin America in subsequent years have had a stronger influence on his career path than the buildings and artifacts he encountered.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Jackie Botts and Felicia Mello, Mercury News
A college student in Fresno who struggles with hunger has applied for food stamps three times. Another student, who is homeless in Sacramento, has applied twice. Each time, they were denied. A 61-year-old in-home caretaker in Oakland was cut off from food stamps last year when her paperwork got lost. Out of work, she can’t afford groceries. While picking up a monthly box of free food, a 62-year-old senior in San Diego told outreach workers that she won’t apply for food stamps because she worries that it might prevent her from qualifying for U.S. citizenship.
Kristen Taketa, The San Diego Tribune
San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten said she will ask the school board to join Los Angeles Unified’s class action lawsuit against one of the country’s leading e-cigarette companies, as vaping-related illnesses and deaths prompt school districts to protest marketing they say targets school-age students. L.A. Unified announced its lawsuit against the company, Juul, last month. The lawsuit seeks compensation for funds that L.A. Unified says it lost due to vaping-related absences, as well as funds the district has spent on vaping education and prevention campaigns, among other things.
Veronica Miracle, ABC7
One of the biggest sports rivalries in Los Angeles took place Friday night, as football teams from Garfield High School and Roosevelt High School played in the annual East L.A. Classic. This year, Garfield picked up the win, shutting out Roosevelt 25-0. The football rivals have battled each other since 1925. The Garfield Bulldogs from East Los Angeles and the Roosevelt Rough Riders from Boyle Heights both have deep roots in the community. Both schools were two of the first established in East L.A., meaning their rivalry dates back nearly a century.
Access, Assessment, and Advancement
Allison Scott and Julie Flapan, The Hill
We see the impact of technology in every aspect of our lives. The tech sector plays a major role in our nation’s economy, producing nearly one-quarter of the nation’s economic output and projects to add over 1 million job openings in the next decade. Tech giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook create products which have impacts across the globe, while creating jobs and wealth. And beyond these companies, sectors as diverse as defense, transportation, entertainment and agriculture are increasingly driven by technology and reliant on a tech-savvy workforce. But, if you look inside these companies, on their engineering teams, in their boardrooms, and in the neighborhoods and communities in which their employees work and live, you will see an increasingly segregated picture. Black, Latinx, and Native American professionals are vastly underrepresented in tech fields, representing only 8 percent of the Silicon Valley tech workforce and 15 percent of the national computing workforce. Less than 30 percent are women, and less than 2 percent are women of color . There is little to no racial or gender diversity in the creation of new technologies, business ventures, or in investment, limiting our innovation potential.
John Fensterwald, EdSource
In its first detailed examination of former Gov. Jerry Brown’s landmark school funding law, the California State Auditor sharply criticized the Legislature and State Board of Education for failing to ensure that billions of dollars have been spent on low-income children and other students targeted for additional state money. “In general, we determined that the State’s approach” to the Local Control Funding Formula “has not ensured that funding is benefiting students as intended,” State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote in a letter with the audit, released on Tuesday.
Regina Williams, Youth Today
Access to post-secondary education is a common goal for many adolescents. Appropriate assistance from a knowledgeable adult is critical for successful navigation of the challenging post-secondary education preparation process, therefore vital in achieving access to higher education. Unfortunately, foster care youth experience barriers when it comes to educational attainment, making it more difficult to achieve as compared to their counterparts. According to research, only about 10% of youth who were formerly in foster care enrolled in college, and only 4% of these youth obtained a bachelor’s degree. Moreover, foster care adolescents are more likely to not complete high school, be suspended or expelled, or repeat a grade level. With minimal support, it is estimated that only one-third of foster care youth who have aged out had a driver’s license, basic necessities or money upon leaving the foster care system. Additionally, little is known about foster youth’s readiness to engage in post-secondary education, their developmental needs during their college transition and ways that higher education professionals and the child welfare system can offer support.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
‘A shade less offensive’: School integration as radical inclusion in the pursuit of educational equity [VIDEO]
Prudence Carter, American Educational Research Association
Bridget Huber, The Nation
One of the first lessons Jalyn Wharton learned her freshman year at Kennesaw State University was how to stretch a pizza so it would feed her for a week. It wasn’t the only time she’d had to ration food. When she was in high school, her family became homeless and Wharton would sometimes eat less to make sure her younger siblings got enough. Even as her family bounced between hotels and friends’ houses, Wharton stayed focused on school. Everyone told her education was her path out of poverty. She finished high school with honors and was thrilled to get into Kennesaw State, a research institution with 35,000 students near Atlanta, Georgia. It was a relief to finally start college, Wharton says, but there were new obstacles. “I wasn’t really a resident here, or a resident of anywhere,” she says. Because she’d had no permanent address while her family was homeless, she couldn’t prove that she qualified for in-state tuition or a state scholarship. She couldn’t afford books or campus housing, which started at about $600 a month for a room, so she moved into a cheap hotel. Her family, now living in Indiana, pulled together enough money to pay for the room and to have a large pizza delivered once a week. “I was trying to remain positive, because this is what I needed to do to get where I want to go. This will help me stop the cycle of poverty, ” Wharton says. She was scared to admit how much she was struggling, and felt pressure to set a good example for her siblings. So she told herself: “You’re just going to tough this out.”
Clarissa Sosin, Youth Today
Homelessness and a lack of education for unaccompanied youth are intertwined. Young adults who do not finish high school or get a GED are 4.5 times more likely to experience homelessness than stably housed youths. Conversely, youth who experience homelessness are more than two-thirds as likely to not be enrolled in a four-year college program, according to the latest report in a series by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. “We know that this time in people’s lives is really sensitive and it’s a period of time when they get to explore who they are and who they want to be, and we really see that homlessness inhibits those opportunities,” said Melissa Kull, the lead researcher for Chapin Hall for this brief. “For young people who are not pursuing their education, that have dropped out of school, it becomes more difficult for them to then to exit homelessness because they often don’t have strong careers with growth potential that will help them to advance their economic mobility. And then the same thing on the other side, we saw that for young people who were homeless, we saw that they were more likely to be leaving school and to not be advancing their careers.”
Public Schools and Private $
Hannah Furfaro, Seattle Times
Do charter schools affect school segregation by income? According to new research published this week, public schools in the United States are becoming more separated based on class — and the expansion of charter schools may add to this imbalance. The opening of even one charter school in a district previously without one leads to a modest uptick in socioeconomic segregation within that district, suggests the research, published in the academic journal Educational Researcher. The national research matters here because in Washington, charter schools have been pitched as a way to level the playing field for the state’s most disadvantaged students, not exacerbate inequities. The state’s nine charter schools are publicly funded but privately run.
Mackenzie Mays, Politico
Nearly all California students must get vaccinated after state leaders tightened laws following the 2014 Disneyland measles scare, but at least one loophole remains: new hybrid programs known as charter home schools. Across the country, state leaders and health advocates have aggressively pushed for new vaccination requirements, especially after the U.S. this year experienced its highest number of measles cases since 1992. California has been at the forefront, enacting a law last month that cracks down on doctors known for approving scores of waivers so unvaccinated children can attend school.
Robert Kunzman, National Education Policy Center
Homeschooling and Educational Freedom, a report from the Cato Institute, argues that homeschoolers should support school choice proposals because greater educational freedom empowers parents to provide richer learning opportunities for their children. Drawing on four states with expansive education choice programs, the report’s rationale is grounded on a purported chain of causation from robust school choice policies to homeschooling growth to educational innovation. These causal contentions are purely speculative and are not borne out by the broader state-level data. In fact, at least half of all states lack reliable data. Among states with data, some that do show dramatic homeschooling growth have regulatory environments more favorable to school choice, but enough counterexamples exist to make even simple conclusions uncertain. While these problems compromise the usefulness of this new report, nothing here should be read to question the report’s contention that homeschooling is a context in which educational innovation can indeed flourish. Such innovations are not the sole province of homeschoolers, since we find compelling examples in all sectors of schooling. But the flexibility of homeschooling provides ample room for learning experiences that can meet the needs of individual students. With modest state oversight to protect children’s basic educational interests while preserving freedom for parents and their delegates to tailor the learning experience, homeschooling serves as one potentially effective option for a good education.
Other News of Note
Rachel Cohen, In These Times
As young people across the country join the global movement to mobilize school strikes to demand climate action, one group is starting to think more seriously about how to best support those efforts: their teachers. Educators, like those in the California Federation of Teachers and the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), are beginning to leverage their power both as teachers and union members to push the bounds of climate activism. Kurt Ostrow, a high school English teacher in Fall River, Mass., has helped lead his union to the forefront of the climate movement over the last few years. “Climate to me has always been the major crisis that needs to be addressed, and even though in the classroom I really try to prioritize it, it just doesn’t feel always enough,” he says. “So I have been trying to use the leverage that we have a as union of 110,000 people to support the movement.”