Just News from Center X – Oct 18, 2019

Just News

Just News from Center X is a free weekly news blast about equitable and inclusive public education. Please share and encourage colleagues and friends to subscribe.

Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Chicago teachers test unions’ ‘social justice’ strategy

Kathleen Foody, Associated Press
A threatened strike by Chicago teachers would test a strategy employed by a growing number of urban teachers unions convinced that transforming contentious contract talks into discussions about class sizes and student services wins public support and can be a difference maker at the bargaining table. Unions in left-leaning cities including Los Angeles, have made a renewed push to use the strategy this year, emboldened by strengthened public support for teachers and their unions amid 2018 walkouts and protests in conservative states. Chicago’s last major teachers strike in 2012 also has been cited as early inspiration by other unions.

Governor vetoes bill to give California teachers paid maternity leave

Diana Lambert, EdSource
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday vetoed a bill that would have given California K-12 and community college teachers and other school employees at least six weeks of fully paid maternity leave, saying it would be too costly for school districts and community colleges. “Providing every California worker with paid family leave is a noble goal and a priority for my administration,” Newsom said in his veto message. “However, this bill will likely result in annual costs of tens of millions of dollars and should be considered as part of the annual budget process and as part of local collective bargaining.”

LAUSD teachers protest handling of Valley campuses during Saddleridge fire

Ariella Plachtta, Los Angeles Daily News
Third-grader Dawson Floyd said he had a rough time back at Van Gogh Charter School Monday, in the wake of the massive Saddleridge fire that left his family evacuated from their Granada Hills home and burned over 8,000 acres in the northwestern San Fernando Valley foothills. “I could hardly breath,” he said Tuesday after school, adding that he thought the air was worse inside classrooms than outside. “When I went to the library Monday, I couldn’t go inside because it was too smokey.”

Language, Culture, and Power

California community colleges need money to meet new state law to help dreamers

Michael Burke, EdSource
The California Community Colleges system does not have the money needed to implement newly signed legislation requiring its colleges to expand resources for undocumented students, the system’s vice chancellor said. Only 19 community colleges have staff designated to serving undocumented students, according to the system’s data. But under AB 1645, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Saturday, all 115 colleges in the system will be required to designate a staff member as a Dream Resource Liaison. The liaisons will be responsible for assisting undocumented students in accessing financial aid and other resources.

Here’s how boy band BTS inspired a school in South L.A. to teach Korean culture

Jeong Park, The Orange County Register
Two years ago, Ruben Hernandez didn’t know what the Korean boy band BTS was. But his students at the Los Angeles Academy Middle School in South Los Angeles surely did. They asked him to play the band’s songs over speakers at lunchtime. “When I put on the songs, I could hear the screaming,” said Hernandez, the school’s principal. The student body of 1,246 is more than 90% Hispanic; only one person identified as Asian, according to 2018 state data. But Hernandez wanted to tap into the students’ fandom over BTS and K-Pop. The students craved to learn more about those traditional Korean dresses, or hanbok, BTS wore. They wanted to know more about the Korean foods the band members were eating. So, Hernandez, this fall, jumped at the opportunity to have his school be the first in the country to offer a Korean American Culture and Society course. The program, taught in English, will educate students about Korean culture: from etiquette such as bowing to K-Pop and Korean dramas.

3 ways to speak English [VIDEO]

Jamila Lyiscott, TedSalon
Jamila Lyiscott is a “tri-tongued orator;” in her powerful spoken-word essay “Broken English,” she celebrates — and challenges — the three distinct flavors of English she speaks with her friends, in the classroom and with her parents. As she explores the complicated history and present-day identity that each language represents, she unpacks what it means to be “articulate.”

Join us at UCLA for a keynote address by Professor Lyiscott on November 2 at the With Different Eyes Conference.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Trump official defends plan affecting school meals to skeptical democrats

Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week
House Democrats and an official from the U.S. Department of Agriculture clashed Wednesday over a Trump administration proposal that could affect hundreds of thousands of students’ automatic enrollment in free school meals programs. The plan would change eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food assistance to families in need.

California becomes first state in the country to push back school start times

Taryn Luna, The Los Angeles Times
California will become the first state in the nation to mandate later start times at most middle schools and high schools under legislation signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday, a proposal designed to improve educational outcomes by giving students more sleep. The new law, however, is not without controversy. It was opposed by some school officials and rejected twice before by lawmakers and Newsom’s predecessor.

Los Angeles finalizes $14 million school stability plan for foster kids, guaranteeing reliable transportation to home schools

Susan Abram, LA School Report
A recent federal report found administrative and financial obstacles challenged the ability to keep foster youth in their school of origin. Los Angeles might emerge as a pioneer on fighting those barriers, now that one of the largest school districts in the nation has approved its share of a five-year, at least $14 million transportation plan for these students.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

‘Free and appropriate’: Special ed stakeholders work to make IEP meetings less one-sided

Linda Jacobson, Education Dive
There have been moments for Marini Hamilton Smith when negotiating aspects of her son’s Individual Education Program felt a lot like haggling with a car salesman. The Los Angeles mom would tell the teachers, specialists and administrators in the room what her medically fragile son Colson needs in terms of therapy and special educational services. A representative of the district would offer something less — $80 per hour for a specialist instead of $95, for example — but Smith would hold firm. The district official would leave the room to speak with someone who could presumably approve the costs and then come back with a new offer. “I don’t feel like they see my son as a person,” Smith says. “It is not a partnership as it’s supposed to be. We’re only working as a team if you agree to what they’re offering.”

Gov. Newsom vetoes allowing districts to substitute SAT for 11th grade state test

John Fensterwald, EdSource
Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation on Sunday that would have let school districts substitute the SAT or ACT college entrance exams for the state’s standardized 11th grade math and reading/writing tests to meet state and federal testing requirements. In a four-paragraph message, Newsom said that instead of encouraging access to college, the bill could have “the opposite effect.” Using the SAT and ACT “exacerbates the inequalities for underrepresented students,” he wrote, since performance “is highly correlated with race and parental income and is not the best predictor for college success.”

House Democrats unveil higher education plan to lower college costs

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, The Washington Post
The Democratic-controlled House is expected Tuesday to release a plan to make college more affordable and schools more accountable for students’ success, reviving fraught efforts to reauthorize the main federal law governing higher education. Compared with some of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates’ higher education proposals, including student debt forgiveness, the House bill is pretty tame. Still, the legislative package — provided in advance to The Washington Post — delivers reforms that top the wish lists of many liberal policymakers. Yet it may not go far enough for some student advocates.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Study finds relationship between racial discipline disparities and academic achievement gaps in U.S. schools [VIDEO]

Francis Pearman, AERA.net
An increase in either the discipline gap or the academic achievement gap between black and white students in the United States predicts a jump in the other, according to a new study published today in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association. This is the first published peer-reviewed nationwide study of this topic. According to the study, a 10 percentage point increase in the black-white discipline gap in a school district predicts an achievement gap that is 17 percent larger than the average black-white achievement gap. The researchers also found that an increase in the achievement gap between black and white students predicts a larger than average discipline gap.

This trail-blazing suburb has tried for 60 years to tackle race. What if trying isn’t enough?

Laura Meckler, The Washington Post
It’s an article of faith in this Cleveland suburb: If any place can navigate the complex issues of race in America, it’s Shaker Heights. Sixty years ago, black and white families came together to create and maintain integrated neighborhoods. The school district began voluntary busing in 1970, and boundary lines were drawn to make schools more integrated. Student groups dedicated themselves to black achievement, race relations and cross-racial friendship. So why, last November, was 16-year-old Olivia McDowell on the stage of Shaker Heights High School, begging the packed auditorium to understand how hard it is to be one of the few black kids in Advanced Placement English?

Districts weigh cutting gifted programs as inclusivity lags

Shawna De La Rosa, Education Dive
Districts around the country grapple with the problem of inequity in gifted programs. Many argue the problem isn’t that there are fewer low-income, minority gifted students, it’s that they often go unidentified. Whether it’s because they are in schools that don’t test everyone or that those tests contain innate language barriers, the problem means many highly intelligent students aren’t given the same opportunities as their affluent peers. Some districts are pushing to dismantle gifted schools and programs all together. Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau is pushing to end the district’s Highly Capable Cohort program. In the district, 67% of HCC students are white, but only 47% of the overall student population is white. Black students make up only 1.6% of HCC students, but account for 15% of district students.

Public Schools and Private $

DeVos announces plan to encourage more charter schools in opportunity zones

Evie Blad, Education Week
Private consultants will work with charter school networks to assist in opening more of the publicly funded, independently managed schools in economically distressed areas under a plan announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Thursday. Investors who build in those areas—identified as Opportunity Zones under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by President Donald Trump in 2017—qualify for the use of an investment vehicle called an Opportunity Fund, allowiing them to defer taxes on capital gains by investing them in projects in those zones instead.

Your neighbor’s Christian education, courtesy of your tax dollars

Emma Green, The Atlantic
One of the persistent disappointments of media coverage in the Trump era is how the eye-popping daily headlines about the president obscure slower-moving, equally important developments at all levels of government. This term, the Supreme Court is set to consider cases that could have momentous implications for the future of abortion and LGBTQ rights. It will also hear arguments in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, an important case about state-voucher funding for private religious schools. If the petitioners win, this case could empower activists such as the current secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, who want more government money to flow to private education, and who believe states are in serious need of a course correction on the way they view religious schools. But according to their progressive opponents, Espinoza could blur the separation of Church and state, locking taxpayers into funding religious education even when they don’t want to.

NEPC Review: The effects of means-tested private school choice programs on college enrollment and graduation

T. Jameson Brewer, NEPC
A report by the Urban Institute, The Effects of Means-Tested Private School Choice Programs on College Enrollment and Graduation, compares certain outcomes of three school voucher programs to traditional public school programs. It finds that students using vouchers to attend private schools sometimes have higher rates of college enrollment and completion than their public school counterparts. These findings, however, arise from comparisons of apples to oranges, because the two case studies showing some voucher benefits do not sufficiently account for pivotal differences between choosers and non-choosers. Only in the third case study, which uses random assignment and thus avoids these selection effects, do we see no voucher benefits. Two other concerns are important to note. First, the literature review places an unbalanced reliance on non-peer-reviewed sources. Second, the report attempts to “move the goalposts” away from the test-score outcomes that have been the center of voucher advocacy and debate for decades—coinciding with recent voucher studies finding null or negative effects on test scores. These shortcomings render the report of limited value for evaluating voucher policies.

Other News of Note

All the right moves

Amirah Sackett, The Harvard Gazette
Amirah Sackett uses dance to challenge conceptions of Muslim womanhood. The Chicago dancer, choreographer, educator, and activist combines hip-hop with Islamic themes to explore her identity and invites viewers to expand their understanding of movement as a mode of self-expression. During her visit to campus this week, Sackett met with undergraduate students at an ArtsBites session on Wednesday, sponsored by the Office for the Arts. And on Thursday she planned to teach a hip-hop dance master class at the Harvard Dance Center. That session will be free and open to the public. The Gazette spoke to Sackett about the importance of education in the arts, her activism, and love of poetry.