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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
Yuxuan Xie, Daniel J. Willis, and John Fensterwald, EdSource
California school districts need to significantly increase their education spending to ensure that students have adequate resources and support to provide the state’s content standards and meet its academic goals. Based on 2016-17 numbers, funding schools adequately to meet these goals would have required a 38 percent increase in spending, or $25.6 billion. That would mean an average increase of $4,686 per student in that year, although the amount would vary by school district.
Joseph Bishop, Center for the Transformation of Schools
This case study summarizes how the state’s school funding law, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), is being implemented in San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). The perspectives of various education stakeholders including students, teachers, principals, school board members, and district staff are drawn upon to better understand how LCFF is being implemented to achieve the goal of advancing equity in the district. The report is intended to inform educators and education system leaders how district practices have changed as a result of the law and to understand how it is being used to improve educational outcomes for historically under-served students.
Kyle Stokes, LAist
The Los Angeles Unified School District receives more than $1 billion each year in state funds meant to directly help three vulnerable groups: low-income kids, English learners and foster youth. But for the second time in four years, LAUSD has been hit with a formal complaint accusing school district officials of doing a sloppy job explaining how they’ve spent this $1 billion. And that’s not all. The complaint — filed in July by the law firm Public Advocates — even raises the possibility that LAUSD misspent this money, potentially shortchanging programs meant to help those three vulnerable student groups in order to pay for across-the-board employee raises.
Language, Culture, and Power
Sawsan Morrar, The Sacramento Bee
Dozens of teachers, activists, former officials and community members from all over California packed the California Department of Education on Friday to give their input on how the state should move forward with the ethnic studies curriculum. The curriculum, which was shelved because of its controversy, was put back on the table this week after State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Monday he supported a plan to revise the curriculum. The State Board of Education will vote on it in 2020.
Michael Burke, EdSource
Working with three nearby community colleges, San Diego State University is launching a training program aimed at increasing the number of Latino and bilingual teachers in California. Beginning next year, San Diego City College, Southwestern College and San Diego Mesa College — each with significant Latino student populations — will send 100 students annually to San Diego State’s bilingual credentials program, which prepares teachers to teach in bilingual K-12 classrooms. Students who participate in the partnership, announced last month and supported by a $3.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, will receive stipends to cover some costs, such as books, exam registration fees and professional development opportunities, but not tuition.
Parents are expressing fear over using public school services such as free lunch because of new Trump administration changes to a rule excluding immigrants from becoming permanent residents if they use government social services. In fact, the changes to the so-called “public charge” rule, set to take effect Oct. 15, do not apply to any school services such as free lunch or special education. Nevertheless, uncertainty is affecting parent behavior.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
About a half-million students could lose access to free school meals under a Trump administration proposal to limit the number of people who qualify for food stamps, drawing protests from congressional Democrats who say it could harm needy schoolchildren. The change, proposed over the summer, would cut an estimated 3 million people from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. It is intended to eliminate eligibility for people who get food stamps because they have qualified for other forms of government aid, even though they may have savings or other assets.
Millions of students are chronically absent each year. Improve school conditions and more kids will show up, report argues
Mark Keierleber, LA School Report
An obvious educational rule of thumb is that in order for students to learn at school, they first have to show up. But with millions of children counted “chronically absent” each year, a new report argues that educators can improve attendance by first making their schools more welcoming places to attend.
Julie Watts, CBS Sacramento
This summer, we reported that one out of five California schools found detectable levels of lead in drinking water, but we also told you, hundreds of schools still hadn’t reported the required lead test results. Now that school is back in session, CBS13 investigative reporter Julie Watts is digging into the updated data.
Access, Assessment, and Advancement
Lauren Camera, U.S. New and World Report
More students in the graduating high school class of 2019 took the SAT than ever before, despite a record number of colleges and universities dropping the entrance exam requirement that’s long been a standard part of the admissions process. More than 2.2 million students took the SAT, which is administered by the College Board, representing a 4% increase over the number of students who took the college entrance exam in 2018. The increase was driven in large part by the growing number of states that allow schools to administer the test during the school day, typically free of charge.
Annie Nova, CNBC
Bronsyn Foster’s 8-year-old son wondered why his mother was still in school. “He said, ‘Why couldn’t you just finish school before you had me?’” said Foster, now 48. “It’s hard for a little kid to understand why you can’t be around more often.” Yet he was one of the main reasons she was, at nearly 40-years-old, back in the classroom. After the single mother was laid off from her job as a graphic designer at a newspaper during the Great Recession, her path forward was a giant question mark. She had dropped out of college years before. And so, in 2009, she enrolled at the University of Washington to become a speech language pathologist.
Larry Gordon, EdSource
The University of California wants to increase graduation rates over the next decade by as much as 21 percentage points for students who are low-income, African-American, Latino or in first generation in their families to attend college. A report presented Thursday to the system’s board of regents detailed ambitious goals for improvement by 2030. It emphasized ways to bolster academic skills, make students feel they belong on campus and prevent drop-outs in freshmen year, a point where many now leave. The focus also will be on getting students to finish in four years, rather than the six-year measurement that often was used in the past.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
Laura Meckler, Washington Post
High concentrations of poverty, not racial segregation, entirely account for the racial achievement gap in U.S. schools, a new study finds. The research, released Monday, looked at the achievement gap between white students, who tend to have higher scores, and black and Hispanic students, who tend to have lower scores. Researchers with Stanford University wanted to know whether those gaps are driven by widespread segregation in schools or something else.
Eric Loomis, Boston Review
In 1954 the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that the segregation of schools was unconstitutional, but in fact schools have barely desegregated in the last half century. When the Court pumped the breaks on the process in 1955 by clarifying that school districts needed only to move with “all deliberate speed,” whatever that meant, it made space for most cities simply to do nothing for over a decade. The 1957 desegregation battle in Little Rock caught the nation’s attention, but the city’s choice the following year simply to close all its public schools made plain the durability of the desire for segregated schools—and not only in the South, as quickly became clear. Brown v. Board was followed by a nationwide rise of Christian private schools, which kept white children in all-white educational spaces. And as histories of conservatism have demonstrated with exacting detail—from Kevin Kruse’s White Flight (2005) to Stacie Taranto’s Kitchen Table Politics (2017)—the movement of whites to the suburbs was also explicitly, although not exclusively, about creating all-white educational spaces.
Sarah Todd, Quartz
Harvard University is a notoriously tough school to get into, with an acceptance rate of just 4.5% in the most recent admissions cycle for the class of 2023. But it’s significantly easier to land a spot at the esteemed Ivy League institution if you’re a legacy student or an athlete—a fact that disproportionately benefits white applicants. A new study notes that in the six admissions cycles between 2014 and 2019, 43% of white students admitted to Harvard were either legacies, recruited athletes, children of faculty and staff, or students on the Dean’s Interest List—a list of applicants whose relatives have donated to Harvard, the existence of which only became public knowledge in 2018. By contrast, no more than 16% of admitted students who were African-American, Asian-American, or Hispanic fell into one of those favored categories.
Public Schools and Private $
David Goldstein, CBS Local
It’s a drill that’s practiced every year in schools across Southern California: kids prepare for an earthquake. But an investigation by CBSLA’s David Goldstein found that because of a loophole in a state law, not all schools may be as safe as they could be.
Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union Tribune
The California Charter Schools Association has expelled the Inspire home charter school network from its membership and is now calling for a third-party investigation, citing concerns about the network’s operational and governance practices. At the same time, a group of county superintendents from across the state has asked a state agency to audit Inspire, though the scope of that audit request and the list of superintendents requesting it have not yet been finalized.
DeVos visits school that bans transgender students during tour promoting taxpayer-funded private Education
David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Thursday morning visited a Pennsylvania school whose policies ban both transgender students and teachers in her annual “back to school” tour promoting taxpayer-funded private education, which she calls “education freedom.”
DeVos once again chose to visit a religious school, the Harrisburg Catholic Elementary School, after which she held a roundtable (video below). For decades DeVos has devoted her professional life to finding ways to make taxpayers pay for private education. Since becoming Education Secretary DeVos has heightened her focus, politicizing her agency to promote private and charter schools over public schools, and working to further marginalize minority students, especially LGBTQ, Black, and disabled children.
Other News of Note
Greta Thunberg, PBS Newshour
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg chastised world leaders Monday, Sep. 23, for failing younger generations by not taking sufficient steps to stop climate change. “You have stolen my childhood and my dreams with your empty words,” Thunberg said at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York. “You’re failing us, but young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you,” she added. Thunberg traveled to the U.S. by sailboat last month so she could appear at the summit. She and other youth activists led international climate strikes on Friday in an attempt to garner awareness ahead of the UN’s meeting of political and business leaders.