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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
Anne Podolsky, Tara Kini, Joseph Bishop and Linda Darling-Hammond, Learning Policy Institute
One of the most pressing issues facing policymakers is how to staff classrooms with a stable teaching workforce responsive to complex student needs and the growing demands of the knowledge economy. Recurrent teacher shortages are a function of both declines in entrants to teaching and high rates of teacher turnover, especially in low-income schools. This turnover is costly, and undermines student achievement and school improvement efforts. A better understanding of why teachers enter and leave the profession, and what might encourage them to stay or return, is critical to improving the educational opportunities for all students, especially those attending the most disadvantaged schools.
Zaidee Stavely, EdSource
Kindergartners across California could soon be spending more time in their classrooms if Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a bill approved by the state Legislature last week. The legislation, Assembly Bill 197, introduced by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, would require every public elementary school, including charter schools, to offer at least one kindergarten class the same length as 1st grade, beginning in the 2022-23 school year.
California has voted to expand its ban on “willful defiance” suspensions. A look at how an even more expansive 2013 reform has played out in L.A. Unified
Taylor Swaak, LA School Report
As California this month expanded a statewide ban on suspending younger students for defiant behavior, lessons on how this increasingly sweeping school discipline reform may play out can be found in Los Angeles, which barred such suspensions on an even broader scale six years ago. Previously in California, “willful defiance” suspensions were not permitted in grades K-3. Beginning in July 2020, under the new state law, they will be prohibited for students in both traditional and charter schools from kindergarten to eighth grade. Expanding the suspension ban to the older grades was contentious, as was the use of the subjective term “willful defiance,” defined in state code as “disrupt[ing] school activities or otherwise willfully def[ying]” authority. It can include the use of cell phones in class, wearing a hat and even chewing bubble gum.
Language, Culture, and Power
Back to school but nothing’s normal. Schools mobilize to help children of immigrants after traumatic summer
Conor P. Williams and Rosario Quiroz Villarreal, LA School Report
It was a busy, if often frustrating, summer for the Trump administration’s many efforts to destabilize U.S. immigration policies. Federal judges ruled in August that, under a longstanding legal agreement, the administration was required to provide detained children at the border with “edible food, clean water, soap and toothpaste.” So the administration announced that it would write new regulations to supersede that agreement. This came on the heels of the culmination of the administration’s multi-year push to redefine the country’s “public charge” rule, aiming to make it harder for hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants to obtain long-term legal residency in the United States. That effort also drew a raft of lawsuits.
Parents and community leaders from Southeast Los Angeles joined together Saturday for a Peace Walk to call for an end to the hostility against immigrant families and to unite all parents with children in all types of public schools: traditional, magnet, pilot and charter. The Peace Walk, organized by Parents in Action and supported by Speak UP, was part of a community festival at Riverfront Park in Maywood, attended by local elected officials, including Maywood Councilmember Heber Marquez and LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin. The event was designed to break down barriers of division and bring the community together to unify all children, all parents and all teachers for great public schools.
Diana Lambert, EdSource
The question of how best to represent all Californians when teaching ethnic studies is back on the table. Monday State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced a plan to revise the proposed ethnic studies curriculum and to bring it back to a vote of the State Board of Education in 2020.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
A bill that would let students sleep in longer is now on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. Lawmakers passed the bill that proposes California middle schools and high schools push their start time back to 8:30 a.m. This comes after three decades worth of research on teen health. If the governor signs the bill, California would become the first state to mandate schools to start later in the morning.
Will Huntsberry, Voice of San Diego
Stories about schools, strangely, often focus on adults. What new policy did the school board pass? What did the superintendent say today? How will the adults handle the budget? But San Diego Unified School District, as well as other districts around the state, possess a trove of information on students’ perspectives of their educations. Those perspectives say a lot about the health of the region’s schools.
Concerned about LAUSD sites for homeless students, west Valley neighbors want a face-to-face with local leaders
Olga Grigoryants, Los Angeles Daily News
A West San Fernando Valley homeowners group is calling on local officials to discuss the future of five Los Angeles Unified School District properties that the neighbors believe might be used to house homeless students. The Save Our School Sites Coalition, overseen by the Woodland Hills Homeowners’ Organization, has launched an effort to convince LAUSD board members Scott Schmerelson and Nick Melvoin, Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield and newly elected Councilman John Lee to rebuild or preserve the school sites and to guarantee that the five sites “remain reserved for neighborhood school needs only,” according to the group’s recent newsletter.
Access, Assessment, and Advancement
Michael T. Nietzel, Forbes
The vast majority of Americans – both Republicans and Democrats – value higher education as a good investment, a pathway to economic mobility, and a ticket to better job security. But two-thirds of Americans believe higher education is in need of substantial changes, and they tend to agree on specific reforms involving the goals of higher education, institutional accountability and admissions to elite colleges. Those are just a few of the findings of New America’s just-released Varying Degrees 2019: New America’s Third Annual Survey on Higher Education, based on a nationally representative survey of 2,029 Americans ages 18 and older. The survey covered topics such as Americans’ perceptions of higher education, its contribution to economic mobility, how state and federal government should fund it and what changes to it are preferred.
NyRee Clayton-Taylor, EdSurge
As I sat across from Tykia, a 17-year-old student from Success Academy in Lexington, Ky., I could feel her frustration as she detailed a recent argument with a substitute bus driver. Listening to her account, I was reminded of my own aggravations when dealing with adults as a young African American girl in middle school. TyKia described how the events of the argument unfolded. “I was just tryin’ to help the man,” she said. “He didn’t know where he was going, so I was just tryin’ to tell him and that’s when he yelled at me.” TyKia needed to get home to take care of a few things for her family, but the bus driver was lost. She took out a piece of paper and wrote down everyone’s bus stop for him, but the bus driver didn’t appreciate the help. Instead, he was angry with her for getting involved. “Yes, I cussed, and I shouldn’t have done that,” TyKia admitted. “But he was driving all over the place and I had to get home.” TyKia, who had already attended a previous high school and was in danger of not graduating because of a lack of credits, explained that this type of treatment wasn’t uncommon. From her perspective, her actions had been misunderstood by adults since elementary school. But she said that her outlook was changing because at her new school, Success Academy, she was able to build a strong relationship with her principal, Dr. Janice Wyatt-Ross.
Robert Ubell, EdSurge
Colleges and universities are struggling to keep students focussed long enough to graduate within a reasonable amount of time after they first enroll. In the U.S., only about 60 percent of undergraduates earn their degrees in six years. The rest commonly face a blizzard of troubles—added debt, poor job prospects and, in some cases, lack of self worth. While one of the biggest causes of dropping out is money—especially as the cost of college rises—that is not the only hurdle. It turns out that in ways that are not always well understood by the public, colleges themselves share a good deal of the blame.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
Casey Leins, U.S. News and World Report
Nearly one in three college students in California faces food and housing insecurity, according to the California Student Aid Commission’s 2018-2019 Student Expenses and Resources Survey (SEARS) released Thursday. The survey, which sampled 150,000 college students from four-year institutions in 2018 and community colleges in 2019, found that students’ financial concerns extend far beyond tuition and fees. All California State Universities and University of California institutions were represented in the study, according to the report.
Laura Meckler and Kate Rabinowitz, The Washington Post
The number of children attending U.S. public schools with students of other races has nearly doubled over the past quarter-century, a little-noticed surge that reflects the nation’s shifting demographics, a Washington Post analysis has found. At the same time, children in most big cities and many suburbs remain locked in deeply segregated districts, with black students more likely to be enrolled in segregated districts than Hispanics or whites, The Post found.
Justin McCarthy, Gallup
A majority of Americans say that racial segregation in U.S. public schools is a “very” (21%) or “moderately serious” (36%) problem. A slim majority of whites (52%) consider school segregation a serious problem, but the view is even more widespread among U.S. blacks (68%) and Hispanics (65%). Democrats (75%) are more than twice as likely as Republicans (35%) to say that segregation in schools is serious, with the views of political independents falling about halfway in between. These data come from a July 15-31, 2019 Gallup poll. The issue of racial segregation has been an ongoing challenge for U.S. schools since the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that the concept of “separate but equal” was unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education. The issue gained renewed prominence this year when Democratic presidential candidates sparred over ways to address the issue in the first set of candidate debates.
Public Schools and Private $
Leery of charter talk, Democratic candidates wade into teacher pay, college debt, the next ed secretary — almost any other school issue — during Thursday debate-a-thon
Carolyn Phenicie, The 74
Call it the education question that wasn’t. More than two hours into Thursday night’s Democratic debate-a-thon, ed watchers’ ears perked up: finally, a question about K-12. But it was ultimately a letdown, with eight of the candidates on stage taking a “try a lot and see what sticks” approach to ed policy rather than discussing any one issue with real depth. They seemed particularly wary of charters, the actual jumping-off point for the questions and the most divisive K-12 issue among the Democratic field right now.
How Khan Academy, the popular free tool for students, wants to play a more official role in America’s classrooms
Kalyn Belsha, Chalkbeat
When teachers in Compton Unified School District first started using Khan Academy, they deployed the online learning tool on their own — allowing students to use its tutorial videos to review concepts and practice key skills. But that started to change two years ago, when district officials saw Khan Academy had launched a partnership with Long Beach Unified, a neighboring school district. Greg Puccia, a Compton schools official who oversees curriculum, called up Khan Academy to see if his district could strike a similar deal.
Peter Greene, Forbes
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos kicked off her back to school tour at the Saint Marcus Lutheran School in Milwaukee. The choice of location itself sent a message about what DeVos means by “freedom.” The school’s mission is “to disciple children for Christ, now and for all eternity, and to train them in excellence for their roles in their family, church, community, workplace and country,” and it is a longtime beneficiary of Wisconsin’s voucher program. Its core values are “Christ First, Biblical Discipleship, Sacrificial Love, and Radical Expectations.” It is not particularly unusual to find that a voucher-supported school is using public tax dollars in a private religious setting; in most voucher programs, the vast majority of taxpayers’ money is directed to religious schools.
Other News of Note
Anne Barnard, The New York Times
When New York City announced that public school students could skip classes without penalties to join the youth climate strikes planned around the world on Friday, you could almost hear a sigh of relief. Before the announcement, the protests, to be held three days ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit here, had thrown a new complication into the usual back-to-school chaos: With the protests framed as a cry to protect their futures from climate disaster, should students heed the call?