Just News from Center X – Sept 6, 2019

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

CA bill would bar schools from suspending students for defying teachers

Hank Berrien, The Daily Wire
A California bill that has already passed the state Senate and Assembly Legislature would bar public schools, including charter schools, from suspending students for willful defiance. SB 419, which was authored by California State Senator Nancy Skinner, who hails from Berkeley, states that existing law allows a student to be suspended if “the superintendent of the school district or the principal of the school in which the pupil is enrolled determines that the pupil has committed a specified act, including, among other acts, disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators, school officials, or other school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties.”

In an era of campus active shooters, LAUSD to tighten lockdown drill requirements at schools

Ariella Plachta, Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Unified School District campuses will be required to conduct two lockdown drills per year at the start of each semester starting in 2020-21 in the wake of a particularly grim year of gun violence in U.S. schools. Superintendent Austin Beutner announced the action Tuesday, put forward in collaboration with School Board member Scott Schmerelson who was lobbied on the issue by grassroots group West Valley Resistance in coordination with LA School Police.

The teaching profession in crisis: The decrease of enrollment in normal schools of Mexico

Jihan Garcia-Poyato Falcon and Graciela Cordero Arroyo, EPAA
The decrease in interest in pursuing a teaching career is an international phenomenon. In the case of Mexico, periods of decline in interest in entering normal schools are associated with changes in the working conditions of teachers. The objective of this article is to present the results of a research work on the declining enrollment of the bachelor of arts in primary education (BAPE) as a consequence of the decrease in the number of applicants to enter this profession in Mexico. This exploratory study comprised two phases. In the first one, a revision of the federal policies regarding the teaching career and entrance to the normal schools is made. In the second phase, the statistics of the BAPE were analyzed. In relation to the applicants, a national reduction of 57% was found from 2011-2012 to 2017-2018, while enrollment shows a national declining of 17% from 2011-2012 to 2018-2019. In view of the clear and abrupt reduction of interest towards teacher education in a normal school, it is necessary to deepen the identification of the causes to implement national strategies that allow for reversing this phenomenon.

Language, Culture, and Power

Controversial MCAS question hurt scores of some black students, study finds

James Vaznis, Boston Globe
A Stanford University study has concluded that a controversial tenth-grade MCAS essay question that many students and teachers derided as racist hurt the performance of a small number of black students, state officials announced Friday, prompting them to take the unusual step of waiving the passing score for a limited number of students. The essay question from this spring’s MCAS was based on a passage from Colson Whitehead’s book, “The Underground Railroad,’’ and asked students to write a journal entry from the perspective of a white woman who used derogatory language against a young runaway slave and was reluctant to hide her in her home. Students encountered the question on the second day of testing, although it did not appear on all the tests.

School district plans to teach students multiple languages 

Edhat Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara school officials have taken to heart the call to action from state education leaders to join them on the road to a multilingual California. The Global California 2030 initiative challenges state schools to develop opportunities for students to acquire multiple languages that will prepare them for the 21st century economy, broaden their perspective and understanding of the world, and strengthen the diversity of backgrounds and languages that make California’s culture and economy vibrant and dynamic.

Student, community activists laud HSU decision to provide undocumented students with legal aid

Freddy Brewster, Lost Coast Outpost
Students at Humboldt State are praising the recent announcement of legal services for undocumented students, with some saying it is a much needed service that provides relief for the nearly 100 undocumented students at the university. Anayeli Auza is a fifth-year student at HSU and the student coordinator for Scholars without Borders — an on-campus center that provides services and a safe space for undocumented students, as well as recipients of the Defered Action for Childhood Arrivials (DACA) and their allies. Auza said the services are a relief for undocumented and “DACA-mented” students because it allows them to focus more on their studies and helps with the financial burden of renewing a DACA application.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Police and punitive policies make schools less safe, especially for minority students

Kathryn Schumaker, The Washington Post
At the start of a new school year, parents, policymakers and educators are once again focused on school safety. Although it’s an understandable concern, especially in an era of unchecked mass shootings, calls for school safety measures are not as benign as they seem: Such policies have often made schools more dangerous for students of color.

A dinner to remember, made by culinary students who are aging out of foster care

Robin Abcarian, The Los Angeles Times
AUG. 30, 2019 6 AM
On a hot summer afternoon, the spacious kitchen of Pasadena’s First United Methodist Church was bustling. Culinary students and their chef-teachers were chopping basil, crushing watermelon, and laying slices of rustic bread on baking sheets. The students — in their late teens and early to mid-20s — were in high spirits. It was Saturday, and they were preparing a five-course meal for dozens of lucky guests, who would gather for dinner in the church’s courtyard on Sunday.

Bill to allow homeless California students to park on college campuses overnight dead for year

Emily Deruy, Mercury News
A bill that would have required community colleges across the state to allow homeless students to sleep in their cars in campus parking lots overnight appears dead for the year. Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) announced Tuesday he would make AB 302 a two-year bill and go back to the drawing board after the Senate Appropriations Committee weakened the proposal.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

How the advanced placement program is failing students

Annie Abrams, The Washington Post
In August, the College Board announced a new website designed to complement Advanced Placement courses. “AP Classroom” offers standardized year-long curricular sequences, divided into nine units. These sequences create cookie-cutter course structures to prepare students for the paid exams taken to earn college credit. AP classes will also feature another change this year: students must buy exams in November instead of March, and there’s a new $40 cancellation fee. These combined changes will raise the stakes for students, increasing already intense pressure, and push teachers to turn their courses — purportedly college equivalents — into glorified test prep.

California is providing first-time students with 2 years of free tuition at community colleges

Aris Folley, The Hill
California will provide first-time, full-time students with two years of free tuition to community colleges in the state. The effort is being rolled out under the state’s California College Promise program, which already provided California students with one free year of tuition at community colleges. “This is real help for students trying to improve their lives and build their future,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement this week. “No one can argue with the fact that the full cost of attending institutions of higher learning is still far too high – both in California and across the country.”

Math is dividing the Cal State community. Here’s what happened at the public forum

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, LAist
Public speakers gave impassioned pleas on Thursday for California State University trustees to slow, and give more thought, to a proposal that would increase application requirements for one of the system’s 23 campuses. The proposal would require high school students to take an extra year of math, or a related class, to be considered for admission

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Study: School district secessions in the South have deepened racial segregation between school systems [Video]

Ericka Frankenberg, American Educational Research Association
Since 2000, school district secessions in the South have increasingly sorted white and black students, and white and Hispanic students, into separate school systems, weakening the potential to improve school integration, according to a new study published today in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

School resources and the Local Control Funding Formula: Is increased spending reaching high-need students?

Julien Lafortune, Public Policy Institute of California
California enacted the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013–14 in an effort to simplify school finance, revamp accountability, and increase funding for high-need students—those who are low income, English Learners, homeless, and/or foster youth. The LCFF represents an overhaul of the previous system of K–12 school finance that had been in place for nearly four decades. Under the LCFF, extra funding is allocated to districts with more high-need students. The LCFF also gives districts greater spending flexibility, with the consolidation of many categorical aid programs—which fund specific areas or services—into unrestricted block grants.

Why students at LA’s richest public schools are far more likely to get extra time on the SAT

Austin Peay and Sam Kmack, LAist
In Los Angeles County’s richest communities, students have a little-known but powerful advantage over their peers in the county’s poorest communities. In affluent enclaves, including Pacific Palisades, Palos Verdes, and Santa Monica, students are up to 77 times as likely to receive a federal disability designation that entitles them to extra help in the classroom. And that designation virtually ensures them an assist in the cutthroat competition to get into college: Extra time to take the critical SAT and ACT exams.

Public Schools and Private $

Who owns America’s schools? [Audio]

Janelle Scott, Scholars Strategy Network
Back-to-school season is upon us, and back as well are some familiar debates. From charter schools to voucher programs, education in America is becoming more privatized than ever – and some communities are pushing back. Professor Janelle Scott reveals why so many schools are shifting toward privatization, why these reforms are so controversial, and what they mean for inequality in America’s education system.

Gov. Newsom, legislative leaders agree on certification for all charter school teachers

Diana Lambert, EdSource
As a result of an agreement reached last week between Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders, California charter school teachers will have to get the same background checks and the same credentials, certificates or permits as teachers in regular public schools. The agreement, which addresses a major point of contention in the push to reform California’s nearly three decades old charter school law, would eliminate at least one of the many disparities in how charter schools and regular public schools operate, with ramifications for the over 600,000 students attending charter schools in California. These students comprise just over 10 percent of California’s public school enrollment of 6.2 million students.

Charter school compromise could intensify L.A.’s school board battles

Howard Blume, The Los Angeles Times
A major agreement aimed at setting stronger standards for charter schools stands to intensify power struggles for seats on the Board of Education in Los Angeles, setting the stage for more contentious and costly election battles between charter advocates and allies of the teachers union, a cross section of education leaders and experts said. Under a compromise announced last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom, local school boards will have more authority to reject new charter school petitions, making their decisions crucial to the growth of the charter sector. The proposed law, which still needs legislative approval, also requires charter school teachers to hold the same credentials as those in traditional schools and attempts to increase accountability for charters — moves touted as better serving students.

The new terrain of the school voucher wars

Christopher Lubienski and Joel Malin, The Hill
Donald Trump has summed up his education platform in two words: “school choice.” Now, with the U.S. Supreme Court taking up the issue of public funding for private schools this fall with Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, back-to-school season also means back-to-the-school-voucher-wars. But much has changed since the Court voted 5-4 in 2002 to permit a program designed to increase academic performance in Cleveland. After two decades of choice advocates arguing that school vouchers in particular improve academic achievement for poor children, Trump elevated Betsy DeVos, one of the leading voucher proponents, as his secretary of Education. State policymakers have also massively scaled-upschool vouchers and voucher-like programs such as education savings account programs across the country. However, over the last four years, researchers have consistently found insignificant or, more often, substantially negative impacts on learning for the children whose parents have enrolled them in these programs. Such negative impacts are largely unprecedented in evaluations of educational interventions, raising questions about the ethics of experimenting on children through these programs.

Other News of Note

Students boycott classes on the first day of the school year in Hong Kong’s latest democracy protest

Time Staff
The Demosisto party of high-profile activist Joshua Wong called a student strike Monday—the first day of the new school year—in a bid to maintain momentum in Hong Kong’s intensifying democratic rebellion. Local media estimated that as many as 10,000 students from some 200 secondary and tertiary institutions were joining the class boycott, which was co-organized with two student groups. As the morning got underway, pupils from both elite private colleges and government secondary schools braved the stormy weather to join hands in human chains around their campuses.