University of Detroit Jesuit, Detroit, Michigan
Orchard Lake St. Mary's Preparatory, Orchard Lake, Michigan
Novi Detroit Catholic Central, Novi, Michigan
Brother Rice High School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Birmingham Public Schools, Birmingham, Michigan
Westwood Community School District, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Inkster, Michigan
The Roeper School, Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Cranbrook Schools, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Marian High School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Academy of the Sacred Heart, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Mercy High School, Farmington Hills, Michigan
Notre Dame Preparatory, Pontiac, Michigan
Regina High School, Warren, Michigan
Lincoln Consolidated Schools, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Grosse Pointe Public School System, Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Oakland Accelerated College Experience, Oakland County, Michigan
Oakland Opportunity Academy, Oakland County, Michigan
Oakland Schools Technical Campuses, Oakland County, Michigan
Virtual Learning Academy Consortium, Michigan
Bloomfield Hills Schools, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Comprehensive education at its finest.
Everest Collegiate High School and Academy. Clarkston, Michigan. An Authentic Catholic School of Distinction.
Oakland Christian School, Auburn Hills, Michigan. Oakland Christian School engages students in a rigorous and relevant education
Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Academic foundation for success.
Utica Community Schools, Image the Potential.
Lake Orion Community Schools, Lake Orion, Michigan. Providing an exemplary education for all learners
Shrine Catholic Schools, Royal Oak, Michigan. Faith. Family. Future.
Berkley School District, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Oak Park, Michigan. Engage. Inspire. Achieve.
AIM High School, Farmington Hills, Michigan. Aim High is a 6th-12th grade, tuition-based private school that provides an educational alternative
Parkway Christian School, Sterling Heights, Michigan. Challenging Minds. Capturing Hearts. Cultivating Gifts.
Franklin Road Christian School, Novi, Michigan. a K-12, coeducational, college-preparatory school with a nondenominational Christian philosophy.
Southfield Christian, Southfield, Michigan. Pursuing Excellence for the Glory of God.
Plymouth Christian, Canton, Michigan. A non-denominational, college preparatory Christian school

A New Idea About How to Stop School Shootings

Opinion: On Wednesday, as the nation grieved one of the worst school shootings in American history, journalists republished old articles that had been written about previous mass shootings in American history. Elected officials, too, recycled the same threadbare thoughts and prayers that were left over from the last tragedy, although they have at least stopped saying “thoughts and prayers.” I did, though, encounter one new idea—a proposal made by educational psychologist David C. Berliner that was posted on Diane Ravitch’s education blog: It is way past time. Between now and May 1st teachers have to agree on the gun legislation they want. They can consult with [Gabby] Giffords and [Mark] Kelly, and others who have suffered, such as the parents who have already lost children to this horrible characteristic of our culture. (Slate)

 

For Parkland Students and Teachers, Wrenching Questions Surround Return to School

Holly Van Tassel-Schuster has not been back to her classroom at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since she left it after the mass school shooting there last week, changing her life and her town in an instant. But she knows it remains largely untouched. Students’ backpacks are piled up where they left them, inaccessible as the Parkland, Fla., campus turned into a massive crime scene cordoned off by police tape. The 36-inch television Van Tassel-Schuster wheeled in front of the classroom door—planning to push it onto the gunman if he tried to enter—is likely still in the spot where it was moved aside as SWAT team members arrived to help escort students out of the building. (Education Week)

 

Parkland Students Want to Know: Will the Shooting at Their School Change Gun Laws?

Students and community members grieving the largest mass shooting at an American high school express a common sentiment that’s as much a challenge as it is a prediction: Nothing will change. The prediction: Politicians who right now express sympathy and call for safer schools will follow a familiar pattern after school shootings by letting what happened in the South Florida community fade from the headlines without making meaningful changes to gun laws. The challenge: Don’t let that happen this time. Police say Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old student who’d been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took an Uber there Wednesday, carrying a powerful AR-15 rifle and extra rounds of ammunition. (Education Week)

Related stories:

> Education Week: Why Security Measures Won't Stop School Shootings

> Washington Post: Teachers say Florida suspect’s problems started in middle school, and the system tried to help him

> Washington Post: After Fla. shooting, schools tighten security, field threats and reassure parents

> USA Today: Security, training 'not enough' to stop tragedy of Florida school shooting

> Bridge: Did a Michigan campus narrowly avert a massacre like the Florida shooting?

> Detroit Free Press: What's the point in writing about another school shooting?

> Detroit Free Press: Florida shooting: How Mich. schools boost security to prevent tragedy

 

Does Trump’s Education Budget Even Matter?

President Trump’s proposed federal budget, unveiled Monday, calls for major cuts to existing education programs and a huge increase for school-choice initiatives. The first question stemming from his blueprint is this: How seriously will Congress take his administration’s plan, even with Republicans controlling both chambers? If history is any indicator, the answer could well be “not very,” as presidential budgets and what Congress ultimately approves can be farther apart than Norway and Tonga in the Winter Olympics medal count. Lawmakers already have their own budget deal (albeit one that still needs to secure a final vote) setting general parameters for spending, including on both K-12 and higher education. (Atlantic)

Related story:

> Washington Post: Trump and DeVos call for massive cuts to college student aid programs

 

One Year In, Betsy DeVos Has Supercharged Teacher Activism

NEW YORK ― When Betsy DeVos was named education secretary last February, she become public education’s No. 1 enemy. After all, the billionaire is notorious for her desire to expand private school choice programs (which include many religious private schools that teach Christian fundamentalist doctrine). One year into her tenure, educators have turned this opposition into action. As in so many industries and among Democrats at large, there has been a wave of activism in response to President Donald Trump in the past year. In education, this activism has manifested as a renewed rallying around traditional public schools. (Huffington Post)

 

Why NYC parents keep sending their sick kids to school

They may not get into the city’s best public schools, but they’re gonna die trying. Parents are so desperate to get their children into coveted public middle and high schools that they are sending them in sick — even with dangerous flu symptoms — because absences count when it comes to admissions, an advocacy group said Monday. While city education officials publicly tell parents to keep their kids home, they allow many of the schools to set their own admissions policies — which can put much more weight on attendance than actual school performance, according to Community Education Council 2 in Manhattan. (New York Post)

 

BAN 'best friends'! Schools are told to stop kids using the term which makes classmates feel left out

Schools around the world are banning the term 'best friends,' stopping children from naming their favorite buddy in a bid to ensure classmates don't feel left out. A New York psychologist says the trend that started in London is now spreading across the US.   'The idea of banning the phrase "best friends" is a very intriguing social experiment,' clinical psychologist Dr. Barbara Greenberg tells CBS in New York. (Daily Mail)

 

Staffing Schools in No-Stoplight Towns

Rangely is one of Colorado's most isolated school districts. It's 90 miles from the nearest big city, and the closest major grocery store is an hour's drive away, across the border in Vernal, Utah. (Bring a few coolers.) There's a stark beauty to the high desert surrounding Rangely, which is also home to some of the best fishing, hunting, and outdoor sporting in the state. But there's no doubt that the town of about 2,300 is also small and remote. (Education Week)

 

DeVos seeks cuts from Education Department to support school choice

More than $1 billion would be spent on private school vouchers and other school choice plans under the budget proposal released Monday by President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The proposal also calls for slashing the Education Department’s budget and devoting more resources to career training, at the expense of four-year colleges and universities. (Washington Post)

 

Florida bill would let bullied students go to private school

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — From third to fifth grade, Alyson Hochstedler says bullies slammed her son into lockers and punched him. One threatened to stab him. The public school's administration did little to stop his tormentors, she says, so the mother of five transferred her son to private school, using a state grant for low- and middle-income families to pay his tuition. The Florida Legislature is considering a proposal that would give parents like Hochstedler a second, more controversial option, especially if they aren't eligible for an income-based grant. That option is a state-funded private school voucher averaging $6,800 a year expressly for children who say they have been bullied, regardless of income. (AP)

 

D.C.'s Scandal and the Nationwide Problem of Fudging Graduation Numbers

The headlines made a big splash, and yet they were strangely familiar: Another school system was reporting a higher graduation rate than it deserved. The most recent scandal—in the District of Columbia—is just the latest example in a growing case file of school systems where investigators have uncovered bogus graduation-rate practices.  Those revelations have unleashed a wave of questions about the pressures and incentives built into U.S. high schools, and fueled nagging doubts that states’ rising high school graduation rates—and the country’s current all-time-high rate of 84 percent—aren’t what they seem. (Education Week)

 

As online schools expand, so do questions about their performance

After years of steady growth, virtual schools are experiencing a blip as some states attempt to claw back public funds, citing student inactivity online, or force schools to close due to habitual poor performance. Virtual schools, where all classes are online and old-fashioned classrooms don’t exist, had full-time student enrollment of about 300,000 last school year, or less than 1% of the nation’s nearly 51 million public-school students, according to a Wall Street Journal review of enrollment data. That is up from about 199,000 in the 2011-12 school year, under a tally by the National Education Policy Center. (Wall Street Journal)

 

The New Tax Law’s Subtle Subversion of Public Schools

American public schools have long been, and remain, deeply unequal. At the most dilapidated and underperforming schools, teachers are blamed for stagnant graduation rates, students are derided for low tests scores, and parents are chastised for not being involved. Too often, however, scrutiny of these schools’ performance doesn’t take into account the structural factors that have contributed to their outcomes. One of the most significant factors contributing to the chasm of educational opportunity is the way that schools are funded. (Atlantic)

 

The Bureau of Indian Education Is Broken

Opinion: The Bureau of Indian Education recently wrapped up its tribal consultation process on its latest proposed strategic plan "to guide its work and service delivery to [Native] students, schools, and tribes." While the BIE creates plan after plan intended to restructure, realign, reform, redesign, revise, and redo their education system, in actuality these plans are rarely carried out. The necessary changes to schooling simply remain words written on paper. Meanwhile, tribes, schools, educators, parents, and students continue to wait for the federal government to meet its legal trust responsibility to provide a quality education to American Indian students. (Education Week)

 

When Students Assault Teachers, Effects Can Be Lasting

When Michelle Andrews leaned over to talk to a disruptive 6th grader in her class, she says the student struck her in the face, causing Andrews’ neck to snap backwards. The 2015 incident was scary, and it also caused permanent nerve damage, said Andrews, who had been teaching for six years before the attack. The student was suspended for a week for disrespect toward a teacher—not for assault—and then returned to Andrews’ classroom in Bridgeton, N.J. When Andrews asked her principal to permanently remove the student from her classroom … (Education Week)

 

Tinkering Toward Better Schools

It's been said time and again, there's no silver bullet in education. But the urge to find one often leaves districts with a constant churn of new leaders, new initiatives, and new short-lived training that results in equally short-lived gains. That's why, for the 4,000-student Menomonee Falls district, northwest of Milwaukee, real improvement means slowing way down and making sure everyone carries a piece of the load. "We're not about chasing random attempts to improve a particular thing," said Patricia Greco, the Menomonee Falls superintendent. "We are building a culture where everyone is thinking of how they can improve." (Education Week)

 

A year after ascending, DeVos hails shrinking of the Education Department

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proclaimed Wednesday that her proudest accomplishments in her first year in office were shrinking the role of the agency, rolling back Obama-era initiatives and erasing outdated regulations. The secretary reflected on her tenure exactly a year after she was installed in the post, following a trial-by-fire confirmation. Last year, the Senate confirmed her by the narrowest margin possible — with Vice President Pence casting a tiebreaking vote to make her education secretary. It was the first time a vice president had to vote to confirm a Cabinet member. (Washington Post)

 

Hidden Labels Hold Students Back

Schools used to blatantly track students. Beginning in the early 20th century, many schools funneled students into high, medium, or low groups of expected academic achievement and educational attainment, regardless of their potential. Once labeled, students most likely remained in those groups throughout most or all of their schooling, which undermined their future workforce opportunities. However, dating back to Howard Becker's development of the "labeling theory" in the 1960s, sociology research has long suggested that students' images of themselves may become intertwined with the label. Regrettably, most schools and districts still have ... (Education Week)

 

Latino Male Teachers: Building the Pipeline

By all accounts, Angel Magana is a natural-born teacher. Growing up, he spent hours teaching his two younger siblings what he learned in school. But in northeast Denver, every single one of his teachers in elementary and middle school was a white woman. The only adults who looked like him were the ones serving lunch in the cafeteria or emptying the trash cans in the hallway. Magana, a Mexican-American 19-year-old, knows he doesn't look like the average teacher. (Education Week)

 

Report calls into question validity of hundreds of diplomas

One of every three graduates from the District’s public schools last year missed too many classes or improperly took make-up classes, undermining the validity of hundreds of diplomas, according to a report released Monday. The study, commissioned by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, takes the district’s central office to task and is the latest bolt of bad news for a school system reeling from a graduation scandal. The analysis concluded the District’s schools are plagued by a culture that encourages educators to hand out diplomas to meet lofty graduation goals, even if that means giving a high school degree to a student who missed half of the academic year. (Washington Post)

 

Investigation finds D.C. schools fostered a culture of passing students

Each year, students would enter Rob Barnett’s 12th-grade math class at Eastern High School struggling with fractions and basic division. The students worked hard and improved, but mastering probability and statistics in a single year when they started grade levels behind proved grueling — and not always possible. So at the end of the course, Barnett said, a crushing dilemma confronted him: Should he pass these students even if they hadn’t earned it or flunk them senior year, leaving them without a diploma? (Washington Post)

 

The Outdated Study That Education Reformers Keep Citing

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, made a bold statement in a recent essay: By giving students individual help, average students can be turned into exceptional ones. “If a student is at the 50th percentile in their class and they receive effective one-on-one tutoring, they jump on average to the 98th percentile,” Zuckerberg wrote. It’s a remarkable claim, one that strains the limits of belief. And for good reason: The results from the 1984 study underlying it have essentially never been seen in modern research on public schools.

Still, the results have become a popular talking point among those promoting the “personalized learning” (Atlantic)

 

Milwaukee proves that private school vouchers don’t make much of a difference: report

Private school voucher programs have been a controversial topic for years, and the concept is traditionally most popular amongst conservatives. President Donald Trump's administration plans to overhaul the nation's education system to push school-choice programs. But a recent analysis shows that "vouchers worked best when enrollment from voucher students was kept low." Milwaukee is home to the nation's pioneer school vouchers program, which began nearly 30 years ago. The Wall Street Journal looked at the successes and failures of the programs. The WSJ analysis showed that the differences in performance of students from public and private schools is far more marginal than one may have thought and what's often been advertised by Republicans. (Salon)

 

Growth of Charter Schools Is Slowing Down. Here's What's Behind the Trend

For many years, charter schools have been expanding at an impressive clip in the U.S.—adding thousands of students and hundreds of schools every year. That growth—which has happened over most of the 25 years since the first charter law was passed in Minnesota—has given charter schools a unique status in American public education as the only real competition to the traditional district school system. In a handful of cities, charter schools now enroll more students than traditional district schools. (Education Week)

 

Does the big boss really matter in big-city school districts?

School district superintendents are often nice people, but boring. They rarely have much effect on what happens in classrooms, where the most interesting and productive changes occur. But because the nation’s two largest districts, New York and Los Angeles, are looking for new superintendents, I forced myself to read a trenchant new guide for superintendent success by two scholars who think the man or woman at the top is important. Can Paul Hill and Ashley Jochim of the University of Washington save NYC and LA from fractious politics and stopgap solutions? Probably not. But they offer enough shrewd insights to help us decide whether new superintendents in those cities and your city have any hope of progress. (Washington Post)

 

How Mike Pence expanded Indiana’s controversial voucher program when he was governor

This is the second of three pieces about school “reform” in Indiana, where Vice President Pence was governor from 2013 to 2017 and pushed policies to expand school choice. The choice program started in 2011, when Mitch Daniels was governor, and continued under Pence, who drove an effort to expand charter schools and loosen eligibility requirements to expand the voucher program’s reach. A Washington Post story on Indiana’s voucher program, published in December 2016, said in part: Indiana lawmakers originally promoted the state’s school voucher program as a way to make good on America’s promise of equal opportunity, offering children from poor and lower-middle-class families an escape from public schools that failed to meet their needs. (Washington Post)

 

Should teachers be armed in schools?

Opinion: Sometimes, "How could this have happened?" isn't the only question we should be asking. After two teenagers were shot and killed in their Kentucky school Tuesday by a fellow student, two Republican state senators introduced a bill in the state legislature that would allow school districts to appoint armed "marshals" in public schools. Use of the firearm would be authorized for "the protection of a third person from imminent death or serious physical injury."(Salon)

 

Racial Disparities in Special Ed.: How Widespread Is the Problem?

Are too many minority students being placed into special education who don’t need to be there? And, once enrolled, are they kept in isolated classrooms or punished more severely than their peers? For 423 school districts in the 2015-16 school year—the most recent year for which complete federal statistics are available—the answer was yes. That’s about 3 percent of the nation’s 14,500 or so school systems. More than 20 states documented no disproportionality in their districts that year, according to an analysis by the Education Week Research Center. (Education Week)

 

'Do We Build Bridges or Walls?' Teachers Weigh In on DACA

Since the Trump administration announced last fall it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which allots protections and work permits to people brought to the country illegally as children, hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been waiting to find out: Would Congress come up with a way to help them? For that group, known as Dreamers, which includes nearly 9,000 U.S. educators and many more school-age children, last week’s budget negotiations were supposed to offer an answer. But after a government shutdown was resolved on Monday, lawmakers are still in disagreement about immigrants' legal protections. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pledged to vote on a bill to resolve DACA and border-security issues by early February. (Education Week)

 

Racial Disparities in Special Ed.: How Widespread Is the Problem?

Are too many minority students being placed into special education who don’t need to be there? And, once enrolled, are they kept in isolated classrooms or punished more severely than their peers? For 423 school districts in the 2015-16 school year—the most recent year for which complete federal statistics are available—the answer was yes. That’s about 3 percent of the nation’s 14,500 or so school systems. More than 20 states documented no disproportionality in their districts that year, according to an analysis by the Education …

 

Teacher Recruitment and Retention: It's Complicated

At a broad national level, statistics tell us there is no teacher shortage. In fact, the number of U.S. teachers has grown by 13 percent in four years, far outpacing the 2 percent rise in student enrollment during the same period. But that doesn't mean teacher shortages aren't real. In certain states and districts, and in particular specialties like special education or foreign languages, teacher shortages are a recurring fact of life. An Education Week analysis of federal data finds that all 50 states and most territories reported experiencing statewide shortages in one teaching area or another for either the 2016-17 school year, the current one, or both. (Education Week)

 

Indiana school's work partnership concept could go statewide

A year ago, Batesville Community Schools Superintendent Paul Ketcham and State Rep. Robert Behning discussed ways the southeastern Indiana district partners with businesses to prepare students to join the workforce. They focused on expanding Batesville’s model to the rest of the state. On Tuesday, the men brought the idea to the Indiana House Education Committee with hopes of implementing programs to reach students beyond Batesville’s rural area and going into urban districts. (Herald Bulletin)

 

Illinois bill would connect rural schools to high-speed internet

More than 90,000 students across 100 school districts in rural Illinois would get access to high-speed internet under a bill proposed Wednesday by state lawmakers. Proponents say the bill takes advantage of federal money earmarked for Illinois while bridging the digital divide that puts many rural school districts at a disadvantage compared to their urban counterparts. The legislation would set aside $16.3 million in state funds from the upcoming budget, which would leverage as much as $50 million in matching funds from the federal government. (State Journal-Register)

 

Experts Agree Social-Emotional Learning Matters, and Are Plotting Roadmap on How to Do It

A national coalition of researchers, policymakers, and educators has forged a consensus on why schools need to be more responsive to students’ social, emotional, and developmental needs, and it will now finalize recommendations for how to carry out that vision. The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development has convened working groups and visited schools around the country that are using strategies around social-emotional learning and student engagement. (Education Week)

 

Five Hurdles That Keep School Systems From Improving

Among states that received the lowest grades in the latest Quality Counts report, the Education Week Research Center identified several common challenges. These include relatively high rates of children and parents living in poverty, limited opportunities for early learning, and struggles with producing strong academic outcomes. These states also have (and provide) limited resources and funding to their K-12 systems. Here are some snapshots of how low-performing states are dealing with these challenges—or the hurdles they continue to face. In some cases, the proposed solutions to these problems, like new revenue for schools, come from state capitals. (Education Week)

 

A lot of learning happens when teachers leave the classroom and visit homes

When I was writing in the 1980s about the startling success of low-income students in Advanced Placement calculus at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, many otherwise smart and well-educated people tried to convince me that the deep learning I was seeing with my own eyes couldn’t be real. They said Garfield must have let only students with college-educated parents into those difficult classes. Nope. Only 35 of the 109 calculus students I surveyed had even one parent with a high school diploma. (Washington Post)

 

How ‘segrenomics’ underpins the movement to privatize public education

“If we as a nation really took seriously dismantling underperforming school districts and replacing them with the same types of educational experiences we provide the wealthy, it would negatively impact the bottom lines of many companies.” — Noliwe M. Rooks  That is a striking truth at the heart of an important new book, “Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and The End of Public Education.” It was written by Noliwe M. Rooks, director of American studies at Cornell University whose research includes racial inequality in education. (Washington Post)

 

Five Common Traits of the Top School Systems

States that rank high on Quality Counts' annual report card—including this year's top five—typically share common strengths when it comes to supporting their education systems. They may enjoy good economic climates, for example, or built-in advantages like a large proportion of parents with strong educational backgrounds. But while factors like a state's underlying economy or family demographics are important, some high-performing states also make the most of strategies that can prove useful to policymakers elsewhere, no matter what cards they're originally dealt. And even the high-performers can face daunting challenges in sustaining the factors that put them in the front... (Education Week)

 

Case of 13 California kids allegedly tortured ‘fits this pattern we’ve been tracking for a long time’

Shortly after news broke that 13 home-schooled children had allegedly been held captive in their filthy California home, some chained to furniture, Rachel Coleman got a message from a colleague: “Why is this case the one making international news?” The accusation against the Turpins — with children ages 2 to 29, reportedly malnourished and living in conditions authorities called “horrific” — isn’t the first allegation of abuse made against parents who claim to be home-schooling their children. The story of the Turpin family — with siblings, ages 2 to 29, reportedly malnourished and living in conditions authorities called “horrific” — is hardly the first involving the abuse of children kept at home by parents who claim to be home schooling them. (Washington Post)

 

What Can the Nation Do to Shift Schools Out of Neutral?

Last year, state officials nationwide got a startling reality check about attitudes toward school policy when they held public meetings about how to reset their K-12 agendas under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Trust in state accountability system had eroded. Teachers were exhausted from haphazard, underfunded, and short-lasting reform efforts. And in many places, concentrated poverty had constricted more than ever schools' day-to-day operations. But while there was large consensus about the problems among those who participated in last year's ESSA feedback, there was little agreement on solutions. That's been the case nationally for a long time. (Education Week)

 

No, Students Don't Need Grades

Opinion: Technology and social media continue to disrupt education. Classrooms are morphing into maker spaces; STEM labs and media centers are filled with fascinating electronic gadgets. Teachers spend less time in front of the class and more time in the middle of the action. Schools, teachers, leaders, parents, and students across the country are embracing this brave new... (Education Week)

 

Nation's Schools Stuck in 'Average' Range on Annual Report Card

As a new presidential administration nears the close of its first year in office and educators across the country grapple with the challenges and opportunities in implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, the nation's educational performance earns a grade of C from Quality Counts 2018, the 22nd annual report card issued by the Education Week Research Center. The nation's score of 74.5 is about the same as last year, when it posted a 74.2, also a C grade—continuing years of flat performance noted in the annual report, which weighs a host of academic, fiscal, and socioeconomic factors. (Education Week)

Related story:

> Education Week: State Grades on K-12 Education: Map and Rankings

 

Betsy DeVos: Nothing Presidents Barack Obama or George W. Bush did in education reform really worked

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos delivered her first speech of 2018 and flatly declared that school reform efforts under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush had not worked — nor had any other reform effort by any education secretary. She also said the establishment of the Education Department by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 was essentially a “giant nod to union bosses.” DeVos gave a keynote address at the American Enterprise Institute’s conference titled “Bush-Obama School Reform: Lessons Learned,” and then answered questions from Rick Hess, resident scholar and director of Education Policy Studies at the conservative think tank. (Washington Post)

 

How to Solve the Parent-Engagement Problem

Opinion: When I think about families and schools, I think about my own mother. She was a single mom who exhausted her resources to supplement the public school education I was getting in East St. Louis, Ill., which she knew was mediocre compared with the one my more affluent peers were receiving just six miles down the road. My mom was always my champion, fighting for me and my future at every parent-teacher conference and stitching together a patchwork community of friends, neighbors, coaches, and mentors to help guide me. They were a constant presence along my path from East St. Louis Senior High to Jackson State, Columbia, and Harvard Universities. (Education Week)

 

After Trump Insult, Educators Rally Around Haitian, African Students

Educators across the country are rallying around their students of Haitian and African descents after President Donald Trump demanded to know why the United States should accept immigrants from Haiti and the "shithole countries" in Africa. Trump's comments come at a time when more foreign-born black people live in the United States than at any time in history—and many of the residents are children enrolled in the nation's K-12 public schools. The president made the remarks while rejecting a bipartisan immigration deal on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that would have offered more visas to underrepresented countries in Africa... (Education Week)

 

Yes, you should hover! Why kids in school need helicopter parents

Opinion: There are, it seems, an astounding number of ways to be a well-intentioned but bad parent. Just take a look at the names tossed around by parenting magazines and teachers’ forums: Special Snowflake Parent, Ghost Parent, Drama Queen/King, Tiger Mom and — perhaps the most dreaded — Hovering Parent and Helicopter Parent. In fact, glance through any parenting website, and you’ll find article after article about how not to hover. We're warned that solving children’s problems for them can plunge them into anxiety and resentment, clinical depression and possibly binge drinking. (Salon)

 

Homeschooling: Requirements, Research, and Who Does It

Even as recently as 1980, home schooling was illegal in a majority of states­—and didn’t become lawful nationwide until 1993. But once seen as a fringe practice of families on the extreme right and left­—religious conservatives and hippies—homeschooling today is viewed as a small, but integral part of the education ecosystem in the United States and a pillar of the school choice movement. Home schooling has gained wider attention and more-mainstream acceptance as the numbers of students learning at home doubled in the past decade—a trend driven in some measure by the expansion of online schooling options. (Education Week)

 

Students ‘horrified’ about coach with white nationalist ties, school says

Students at an all-girls Catholic high school in Maryland discovered another side to one of their former coaches last week: Gregory Conte, who had also worked as a substitute teacher, maintained strong ties to white nationalists who rallied last summer in Charlottesville. The Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington fired Conte in October. But Conte’s role in the classroom and on the playing field have come to wider attention in recent days as students made the connection on social media, the school emailed families and a string of news reports was published. (Washington Post)

 

Is the ‘War on Teachers’ as Dire as It’s Made Out to Be?

Is a “war on teachers” driving them out of the classroom? In many states, teachers and their unions have made that case, noting that it’s become tougher to earn tenure, bargaining rights have been diminished, and more of their evaluations are based on test scores. A new study tries to find out whether the two—recent policy changes and teacher turnover—are really linked. Its findings make it the latest in a handful of recent studies to suggest that the weakening of teachers unions and job protections hits already-struggling schools the hardest (Atlantic)

 

Why are so many children being raised by their grandparents?

When social conservatives tell stories about the way things used to be, the nuclear family is the star of the tale. A man, a woman, with their two and half children behind a white picket fence: Nostalgia for a Leave It to Beaver way of life infuses the politics of the Christian right. More recently, that nostalgia has taken the form of a more policy-oriented approach, contributing to the idea that a decline of two-parent households creates a culture of poverty. “You don’t have to like the suburbs or minivans or soccer or even monogamy to comprehend that the biological nuclear family’s stability and repertoire is tops over the long run,” the sociologist Mark Regnerus once claimed in The New York Times. (New Republic)

 

A teacher is handcuffed and jailed after criticizing school superintendent's raise

Deyshia Hargrave couldn't believe her Louisiana school district's superintendent was slated to get a raise while teachers like herself struggled. So she spoke up at a school board meeting. "You're making our job even more difficult," she told the Vermilion Parish school board, according to video from CNN affiliate KATC. "A superintendent or any person in a position of leadership getting any type of raise, I feel like it's a slap in the face to all the teachers, cafeteria workers, and any other support staff we have." (CNN)

 

Despite Concerns Over Child Safety, Homeschool Lobby Aims to Avoid Regulation

A homeschooling lobby group with a low profile, but growing influence, has a surprising agenda: keeping public money away from home-schoolers, the better to ensure that parents can operate free from government regulation, including from child-welfare workers. Critics of the group, called the Home School Legal Defense Association, say less scrutiny is the last thing homeschooling needs. And they point to a spate of recent instances of misconduct in the home-school community, including child abuse. (Talking Points Memo)

 

Trump's Latest Immigration Move Could Affect Thousands of Salvadoran Students

The Trump administration will end temporary legal immigration status for hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans who have been living in the United States since 2001. The decision means that immigrants from El Salvador who currently have Temporary Protected Status, a program that allows immigrants from countries in crisis to live and work in the United States legally, must return to the Central American nation by September 2019 or be subject to deportation. (Education Week)

 

In Schools, Classroom Proximity Breeds Teacher Collaboration

When a teacher has a problem, she might go to a mentor or an instructional coach—but often, she goes to whomever is closest at hand. That’s why a new series of studies suggests that school administrators can boost teacher collaboration and build on formal teacher training by paying more attention to how teachers are assigned to classrooms within the building. “Clearly, it can make a big difference,” said co-author James Spillane of Northwestern University, whose most recent work is published Tuesday in the magazine Education Next. (Education Week)

 

School ditches online learning after parents revolt

Cheshire, Conn. – The fast-growing online platform was built with help from Facebook engineers and designed to help students learn at their own speed. But it’s been dropped because parents in this Connecticut suburb revolted, saying there was no need to change what’s worked in a town with a prized reputation for good schools. The Summit Learning program, developed by a California charter school network, has signed up over 300 schools to use its blend of technology with go-at-your-own-pace personalized learning. Cheshire school administrators and some parents praised the program, but it faced criticism from others who said their children were spending too much time online, some content was inappropriate, and students were not getting enough direct guidance. Superintendent Jeffrey Solan said this week he accepted the change was too much, too soon for some. (Detroit News)

 

Four Things Educators Should Know About the Tax Bill Trump Just Signed

President Donald Trump just signed a major tax bill into law. It took two votes in the House to finally get it done, and the holdup was related to education. (More on that below.) So what does it mean for education? Here's a short list. School funding in states and districts might get shaken up. That's because the tax bill changes how deductions for state and local tax work. In short, it imposes a new, $10,000 cap on those deductions—taxpayers can choose to deduct that amount in either property or sales taxes they pay, or property and income taxes. Supporters of such a move argue it will rein in improperly high state and local tax rates. But by the same token, critics charge decreasing these federal deductions could ultimately lead to stagnant or reduced state and local funding for K-12. Click here to read more about the potential impact of this change on schools. (Education Week)

 

North Carolina’s big school voucher problem

In July of 2013, North Carolina governor Pat McCrory signed a state budget that included school choice vouchers for students, and implemented a new program called the Opportunity Scholarship Program.  At the time, North Carolina was the tenth state to implement a program that has now grown to 13 states and the District of Columbia. The Opportunity Scholarship Program allows students in underserved public schools the chance to attend a private institution and receive an education with a grant up to $4,200 a year, which is funded through tax-payer dollars. Kindergarten through twelfth grade students who come from a low-income, military or foster home family qualify for the scholarship. (Salon)

 

How Rural Students Define the American Dream

The belief that if a person works hard enough she can become financially successful, regardless of existing barriers to opportunity, is integral to the American mythos of meritocracy. But a 2011 Pew Charitable Trust poll found that many Americans—whether they are living in cities, small towns, or rural communities—share pessimism about upward mobility.Rural communities experience higher rates of poverty and lower rates of college completion than urban communities, making upward mobility for rural students more difficult. What do students in rural communities think about the American Dream? Does it exist, is it attainable, and what role does education play in their climb? I spoke with students from rural communities about the American Dream and what it means to them. Below are highlights from five of those interviews. (Atlantic)

 

'What If This Were Your Kid?'

At the Onondaga County Justice Center in Syracuse, New York, between 2015 and 2016 more than 80 teenage offenders were regularly locked in solitary confinement. They’d spend 23 hours a day, seven days a week, in dimly lit cells measuring roughly half the size of an average parking space. In lieu of regular schooling, they were given photocopied pages of a high-school equivalency workbook, which they were left to complete, or not, without supervision or review. These circumstances are far from isolated: Across the country, young offenders in solitary confinement experience gaps in their education that can leave them unprepared to return to school upon release—if they return at all. (Atlantic)

 

How Drug-Free School Zones Backfired

In 1970 a new trend in narcotics law began to spread: Legislators began creating Drug Free School Zones, imposing harsh penalties on drug crimes committed within them. The theory behind these zones was straightforward: kids are the last people we want drug dealers to target; schoolyards are the last place we want them plying their violent trade; so why not create an incentive to keep drugs elsewhere? “Drug-free zones around schools offer communities one way to give students a place where they can play and talk without being threatened by drug dealers and drug users,” one sheriff’s department declares on its webpage. Then the same webpage offers some confounding advice: Don't stop at the school's boundaries. Expand your drug-free zone efforts to any area besieged by problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse. (Atlantic)

 

ACLU sues a Louisiana district over school prayer, enforced religion

For students in the Webster Parish school district in Louisiana, according to court documents filed by the ACLU on Monday, Christian proselytization is inescapable. From elementary school throughout graduation, the ACLU alleges, the school exerts immense pressure on students and their parents not only to be Christian but to be showily public about their faith. Now a student and her mother are suing, claiming that the school district has repeatedly violated the constitutional ban on governmental establishment of religion. (Salon)

 

Many Educators Skeptical of School Choice, Including Conservatives, Survey Shows

School choice may be U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ favorite policy topic. But an Education Week nationally representative survey indicates that classroom teachers, principals, and district superintendents are highly skeptical of vouchers, charter schools, and tax-credit scholarships. And that includes many who voted for President Donald Trump, and even some who teach at private schools.  “I understand how [vouchers] would gut public schools and they wouldn’t actually help independent schools,” said Anna Bertucci, the associate head of school at Oakwood Friends School, a Quaker boarding school in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. “I feel like that funding should go into public schools.” (Education Week)

 

Five Years After the Sandy Hook School Shootings, a Focus on Preventing Violence

City buildings in Newtown, Conn., will close for 45 minutes Thursday morning to provide a moment of reflection five years after a school shooting that shook the town and became a new focal point in ongoing debates about school safety and gun laws. Unlike smaller-scale events of violence that tragically feel more routine, the details of that day are etched in public memory: On December 14, 2012, a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School where he shot and killed 20 young children and six adults before killing himself as law enforcement arrived. (Education Week)

Related stories:

> Education Week: Perspectives on Gun Violence and Schools 5 Years After Sandy Hook

> Detroit Free Press: Brighton moms demand action on gun violence five years after Sandy Hook

 

What Pre-K Means for Your Pre-Teenager

Opinion: Just how important is good preschool in the course of a child’s life? Skeptical researchers have contended that it doesn’t really matter, that preschool provides only short-term educational assistance that fades out after a few years. But new findings from a continuing study of 4,000 children in Tulsa, Okla., should put that contention to rest. High-quality prekindergarten has powerful long-term cognitive effects. The researchers, based at Georgetown University, began tracking these children in 2006 and followed them through the eighth grade. As eighth graders, they were less likely to be held back than their classmates who did not attend preschool, and their scores on the state’s math achievement test was higher. They were also more likely to take algebra in the eighth grade — a consistent predictor of college readiness. (New York Times)

 

Betsy DeVos may not recognize it, but these public schools work

If you listen to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos talk about traditional public schools, you could get the impression that they are pretty much all the same. She repeatedly talks about how they are designed in “old factory model” that worked decades ago but no longer meets the individual needs of students. That is why, she says, she wants to expand alternatives in the form of charter schools and programs that use public funds to pay for private school education. On a stop at a school in Wyoming this fall, DeVos said: “For far too many kids, this year’s first day back to school looks and feels a lot like last year’s first day back to school. And the year before that. And the generation before that. And the generation before that! That means your parent’s parent’s parents! Most students are starting a new school year that is all too familiar. … They follow the same schedule, the same routine—just waiting to be saved by the bell.” (Washington Post)

 

House GOP higher ed bill moves ahead, despite cries to slow down

House Republicans are pressing ahead with a sweeping overhaul of the federal law that governs almost every aspect of higher education, without hearings and despite mounting pressure to provide more time for analysis and input. On Tuesday, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce considered amendments to the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform Act, introduced by Chairman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.). The process known as “markup” was expected to take two days as Democrats and Republicans plan to introduce nearly 60 amendments, according to congressional staffers. (Washington Post)

 

Trump Taps Ex-Florida Chief, Lt. Governor for Top K-12 Post Under DeVos

President Donald Trump has tapped Frank Brogan, who served as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's lieutenant governor, as assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education, the top post at the Education Department overseeing K-12 policy. Brogan was elected Florida's commissioner of education in 1994, a gig he held until 1999, when he became lieutenant governor. He then served as Bush's second banana from 1999 to 2003. He has also held just about every possible job in K-12 education policy and instruction. He's been a teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools in Florida's Martin County. The news isn't exactly a shocker. (Education Week)

 

Students Must Be Prepared to Reinvent Themselves

Opinion: In my 45 years as a professor of learning technologies, I've had just one "career," yet I've had to reinvent myself many times. Thanks to the rise of social media, my instructional goals and teaching methods have completely changed in the last decade. On-the-job learning is familiar to most adults; many of us take on roles that fall outside of our academic training. But our children and students face a future of multiple careers, not just jobs. The average lifespan of the next generation is projected to be 80-90 years. (Education Week)

 

Vocational education: From the three ‘Rs’ to the four ‘Cs’

Vocational education at the secondary level has a long and storied tradition in the history of the United States. It is an institutional framework that meets the needs of individual students and the American economy. This type of education serves a great purpose through the training of students who can immediately go into the workforce upon high school graduation. Furthermore, not every student wants to attend college, nor should we push all students toward the acquisition of a four-year degree. (District Administration)

 

Why girls lose interest in STEM — and how to get them back

Suz Somersall has always been a maker and a self-described nerd who defied what others thought a girl was capable of. As a kid, she would repurpose the tops of her dollhouses into starship control panels. So it’s no surprise that she wanted to go to college for engineering. But that’s when she made the first of many pivots in her life. In my conversation with her for my podcast "Inflection Point," Somersall recalled her first encounter with the engineering curriculum at Brown. “I just remember looking through the course catalog and being so uninspired by the content," she said. "And also intimidated, if I'm totally honest. I was like, ‘oh that doesn't sound like approachable’ or you know ‘I think I'm interested in engineering but that doesn't sound exciting to me.’” (Salon)

 

Inside The Voucher Schools That Teach L. Ron Hubbard, But Say They’re Not Scientologist

CLEARWATER, Fla. ― It was a weekday afternoon here in early December, and a gaggle of kids outside of Clearwater Academy International were playing with a ball, their laughter and shouts filling the air. The school is just a few blocks away from the spiritual headquarters for the Church of Scientology, and church volunteers appeared to be preparing for an event. Garrett Cantrell, who is not a Scientologist, recalled his time at the school as he sat near Clearwater’s harbor, surrounded by Scientologist retreat centers. The school was small and private, exactly what Cantrell was seeking in a high school after moving to Florida from New York in 2008. (Huffington Post)

 

What's Behind the Record Rises in U.S. Graduation Rates?

There seems to be no consensus about whether the across-the-board increases in U.S. graduation rates reported by the federal government last week are the result of No Child Left Behind-era accountability mechanisms or the data-based decisionmaking stressed under the Obama administration, more early-warning systems to identify potential dropouts, or fewer high school exit exams. But whatever the reason, the numbers themselves gave educators and policymakers reason for cautious optimism. The new data show that U.S. students are graduating at record numbers for the fifth year in a row, with improvements for students of different racial and language backgrounds. (Education Week)

 

For Students With Disabilities, Quality Of Education Can Depend On ZIP Code

At the start of every school year, Jawanda Mast met with administrators at her daughter Rachel’s school. Every year, it was the same fight. Teachers wanted to separate Rachel ― who has Down syndrome ― from her peers without disabilities, and put her in a segregated class. Mast always pushed back. Isolating her daughter from her peers would have a devastating effect. Rachel was vivacious and social, and loved to be with her friends.  After years of having the same fight over and over, Mast made a hard choice right before Rachel was set to begin third grade. Mast and her family decided to leave their home in Tennessee for Kansas, where they could put Rachel into a school system that offered a better education and would include her in an integrated classroom. The family also made the move due to Mast’s husband’s job, but the education issues in Tennessee were a key factor. (Huffington Post)

 

8 Tips to Prepare Schools for Potential Disasters

From hurricanes to floods to fires, natural disasters can take a devastating toll on not only people, but on schools and critical technology infrastructure. Districts should have emergency preparedness plans in place to be ready to respond to both human and natural disasters, from hazardous material spills to tornadoes. And when it comes to natural disasters in particular, they should keep in mind the kinds of threats that are likely to affect their regions and build facilities with an eye toward withstanding those regional threats. (Education Week)

 

The Charter-School Crusader

In the spring of 2007, I moved to New York City to cover what I was sure was the most important story in the country. One of those annoying people who had settled on a career before I knew how to drive, I was a young and enthusiastic reporter on the education beat. In New York, I could cover the biggest education revolution ever attempted: a total overhaul of the way public schools worked, in the country’s largest school system. The drivers of this transformation were the city’s billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and his handpicked schools chancellor, Joel Klein, a prosecutor who had previously taken on Microsoft and had now set his sights on toppling his hometown’s education status quo. “BloomKlein,” as their enemies called them, radiated a crusading moral confidence. (Atlantic)

 

Efforts to reduce standardized testing succeeded in many school districts in 2017. Here’s why and how.

Analysis: Assessment reform campaigns rolled back the amount of testing and reduced high-stakes exams in many states and districts across the United States this year. A new FairTest report, “Test Reform Victories Surge in 2017: What’s Behind the Winning Strategies?” explains how and why local activists were successful. It is based on interviews with groups around the nation. Widespread public awareness of the damage caused by the overuse and misuse of standardized testing, coupled with effective grass-roots organizing by parents, teachers, students and their allies, is increasingly producing positive changes in state and district testing practices. Local victories often occur in communities with large percentages of African American or Latino students and low-income families. (Washington Post)

 

Voucher Schools Championed By Betsy DeVos Can Teach Whatever They Want. Turns Out They Teach Lies.

PORTLAND, Ore. ― It was late morning in an artsy cafe, the smell of coffee and baked goods sweetening the air, and Ashley Bishop sat at a table, recalling a time when she was taught that most of secular American society was worthy of contempt. Growing up in private evangelical Christian schools, Bishop saw the world in extremes, good and evil, heaven and hell. She was taught that to dance was to sin, that gay people were child molesters and that mental illness was a function of satanic influence. Teachers at her schools talked about slavery as black immigration, and instructors called environmentalists “hippie witches.”  (Huffington Post)

 

Too Many Children in California Can’t Read, Lawsuit Claims

Parents and educators at struggling schools in California say students there are not reading well, and lawyers this week sued the state, arguing that it had failed to provide the children with the resources they needed to learn. The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday on behalf of parents, teachers and students at three schools — La Salle Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles; Van Buren Elementary School in Stockton; and Children of Promise Preparatory Academy, a charter school in Inglewood. (New York Times)

 

Is Teacher Recertification Broken?

Every five years, teachers across the United States engage in a ritual of sorts, submitting paperwork to prove they’ve sat through a specified number of hours of coursework and paying a fee to renew their licenses. It’s hard to think of something that has more influence over teachers: Relicensing affects all 3.5 million public school teachers who currently hold a standard license. But, curiously, it is rarely ever the topic of much debate. For one thing, nobody seems to know how much money is caught up in relicensing. Accountability for providers of the training is minimal. (Education Week)

 

What the latest research really says about LGBTQ youth in schools

The American Educational Research Association just released a special issue of its journal Educational Researcher on the topic of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in education. The special issue explores a range of timely topics, such as LGBTQ homelessness and student-led groups for LGBTQ youth, and it includes a diversity of research approaches. The latest research on youth who identify as LGBTQ provides some key insights into what we know and — perhaps more important what we think we know but don’t actually know about LGBTQ youth. Here we discuss some of these insights. (Washington Post)

 

Global Reading Scores Are Rising, But Not for U.S. Students

The good news from the latest Progress in International Reading Literacy Study is that basic literacy is at an all-time high worldwide and a majority of countries have seen rising reading achievement in the last decade. The bad news is that students in the United States are bucking the trend. While U.S. 4th graders performed at an average score of 549, above the average of the 58 education systems participating in PIRLS in 2016, that score was 7 scale points lower than the last test in 2011—basically the same as they did in 2006. (Education Week)

Related story:

> Washington Post: U.S. schoolchildren tumble in international reading exam rankings, worrying educators

 

U.S. Agencies Grapple With Student-Data-Privacy Guidance for Schools

Two federal agencies are grappling with how to guide schools on protecting students’ personal information while using educational technology. That increasingly delicate balancing act was front and center during a discussion Friday convened by the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission. At issue were such fundamental questions as: • What counts as students’ personal information? • How should schools and companies protect parents’ legal right to access and delete information collected online from young children? (Education Week)

 

How Effective Is Your School District? A New Measure Shows Where Students Learn the Most

CHICAGO — In the Chicago Public Schools system, enrollment has been declining, the budget is seldom enough, and three in four children come from low-income homes, a profile that would seemingly consign the district to low expectations. But students here appear to be learning faster than those in almost every other school system in the country, according to new data from researchers at Stanford. The data, based on some 300 million elementary-school test scores across more than 11,000 school districts, tweaks conventional wisdom in many ways. Some urban and Southern districts are doing better than data typically suggests. Some wealthy ones don’t look that effective. Many poor school systems do. (New York Times)

 

How Young Is Too Young to Go to School?

PARIS—Abdelali Kerrach has eagerly awaited the day his younger daughter can start school since just about the day she was born. That’s because he wants her to get a strong—and notably early—start to her education at École Albert Camus, a small, friendly building near his home in the Parisian suburb of Trappes. A few years ago, Kerrach, a Moroccan immigrant, enrolled his older daughter there as a 2-year-old. Kerrach now credits that early beginning with helping the girl become a stronger, more disciplined student as she progresses through her “école maternelle,” as school is known for children ages 6 and younger in France. (Salte)

 

School Voucher Programs Leave Parents in the Dark on Disability Rights, Feds Say

States are not doing enough to inform parents about the special education rights they give up when they enroll their children in private schools with publicly funded vouchers. That's according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office that also urges Congress to compel states to tell parents about the tradeoffs they are making when they opt to participate in a private school choice program. (Education Week)

 

School Planners Face Daunting Task in Matching Facilities, Enrollment

Frisco, Texas, was a farming and ranching outpost about 30 miles from Dallas, with one traffic signal and 800 schoolchildren, when Rick Reedy got a job there in 1976 as a high school math teacher and coach. By the time he retired in 2013, having risen to become superintendent, the bedroom community where the majority of residents once grew wheat and corn, raised cattle or commuted to work in the city, had become a thriving exurb of about 129,000 residents, with a bustling multimillion-dollar shopping mall, office parks, and a Major League Soccer team. (Education Week)

 

Betsy DeVos Sounds Off on Workforce Readiness, Alternatives to College

President Donald Trump tapped Betsy DeVos to be U.S. secretary of education one year ago, on Nov. 23, 2016. At the time, she was expected to focus primarily on school choice. One year later, Congress hasn't really embraced that agenda. But DeVos has broadened her message, talking about issues like apprenticeships and alternatives to traditional four-year college. At the same time, she hasn't backed off school choice, despite setbacks. She's made it clear she plans to stick around for Trump's entire term, despite rumors to the contrary. (Education Week)

 

Research shows disparity in K12 special needs reporting

How do districts define and identify their special needs students? And how does that compare with the way it is done in other districts and states? Moreover, do these students receive the help they need? A new report, the first in a series by the Frontline Research and Learning Institute, sets out to answer those questions, and establishes baselines for future research. “Crossing the Line” is based on surveys of more than 3,600 educators in 19 different roles. (District Administration)

 

When It Comes to Sexual Harassment, Schools Are Not Immune

Early in Kelly Wickham Hurst’s teaching career, some of her colleagues warned her about an older male coworker. He came in early and sometimes cornered women, telling inappropriate jokes that at times led to uncomfortable physical contact he brushed off as accidental, they said. The Springfield, Ill., middle school had a wave of young, newly hired female teachers that year, and they believed its administration didn’t take their concerns about the man seriously, Hurst said. (Education Week)

 

Why it’s a big problem that so many teachers quit — and what to do about it

Arkansas legislators voted unanimously this month to study exactly why nearly 40 percent of teachers in the state leave the classroom after five years. In South Carolina, the Clemson University Board of Trustees approved initial plans for the state’s first university-led teacher residency program in part to address the problem of teacher attrition. These are just two of many places around the country where teacher turnover is a serious problem — and in some places, it’s getting worse. (Washington Post)

 

Bullied teens twice as likely to bring weapons to school, study shows

One in five teens are victims of bullying, and these adolescents are about twice as likely to bring guns and knives to school than peers who aren’t bullied, a U.S. study suggests. Researchers examined how high school students answered three survey questions: how often they skipped school because they felt unsafe; how often they got in physical fights at school; and how many times they were threatened with a weapon at school. “High school students who reported being bullied on school property within the past 12 months were not at increased risk for carrying a weapon to school if they answered ‘no’ to all three of these questions,” said senior study author Dr. Andrew Adesman, a researcher at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in Lake Success. (Reuters)

 

How Extra Year of High School Can Set Students Up for College Success

When Ricky Sierra graduated from Da Vinci Design High School in Wiseburn, California near Los Angeles, she was excited to be attending Sonoma State University. She had considered completing her general education requirements at a community college closer to home, but was eager to get settled at a four-year university. Just one semester later she found herself unhappy and wanting to leave school. “I didn’t really feel comfortable there and I didn’t really feel like I fit in with the rest of the students,” Sierra said. “It was just a really big adjustment for me.” (KQED)

 

Can We Improve America by Taking Better Care of Our 2-Year-Olds?

In Wichita, Kansas, single mother Tiffany McNitt sometimes cries after dropping her kids, aged 2 and 3, at their babysitter’s house on her way to work. It’s not just that she’ll miss them—she worries her children aren’t learning anything and are already falling behind. In Seattle, Tori Gottlieb and her husband agonized over spending 25 percent of their income on day care for their 2-year-old daughter last fall. They didn’t see how they could afford to have the second child they knew they wanted. (Slate)

 

Restructuring for a culture of collaboration in K12

The organizational tendency of many large school districts is to divide elementary and secondary education into separate departments. Dearborn Public Schools’ central office followed this model for decades. During tough financial times there was a history of competition for limited district resources between elementary and secondary central office staff and building administrators. This led to a culture of little collaboration between secondary and elementary faculty. (District Administration)

 

The Student Who Challenged My Teaching On Race

Opinion: At first, the Philadelphia high-school student Valentina Love Salas was not exactly excited about taking African American history, a required course for graduation. She had heard that the class was depressing. She had also suffered from racist taunts and bullying in the past—painful experiences that made her reluctant to speak her mind in a class focused on issues of race and identity. Her teacher, Ismael Jimenez, was accustomed to at least some amount of student disinterest or reticence. “A lot of the students you … can kind of see the glaze over their eyes,” he said. (Atlantic)

 

'There Is No Oversight': Private-School Vouchers Can Leave Parents on Their Own

Erica Florea was fed up. The Jupiter, Fla., mother had feuded for months with her daughter's middle school over her special education needs. Florea believed Jessica, who has dwarfism and epilepsy, also had autism. But the school system, Florea said, had missed the diagnosis and was not providing the supports she insisted her daughter needed. So, before school resumed in the fall of 2015, she took a friend's advice and applied for one of Florida's publicly funded voucher programs to help pay tuition expenses for Jessica to attend a private school. (Education Week)

 

Trump nominee for No. 2 spot at Education Department stumbles on key questions at confirmation hearing

The retired brigadier general tapped to be No. 2 at the Education Department behind Betsy DeVos told Congress on Wednesday he was “unaware” of extensive research showing that voucher programs in three states negatively affected student achievement. And he conceded that his belief that school choice always led to positive impacts on achievement rested on anecdotal evidence. (Washington Post)

 

Food Allergies Are on the Rise. Are Schools Prepared?

When Abbe Large's daughter was a toddler, she was diagnosed with a peanut allergy so severe that the skin on her cheek reacted to a kiss from her father hours after he'd eaten peanuts. With two daughters with multiple food allergies, Large worked with an allergy consultant to figure out how to eat, how to store food, and how to control her children's exposure to the allergens that could send them into anaphylaxis. Large was anxious when it was time to send them to their Connecticut elementary school. Peanut protein is difficult to clean from skin and surfaces, which would leave her younger daughter, now 10, vulnerable to a reaction even if peanut-eating classmates didn't have the nuts at school. (Education Week)

 

‘No-fail’ grading methods designed to better reflect students’ knowledge and abilities

One education researcher calls it “the academic death penalty”: A grade of zero on a 100-point scale, a mark that spells disaster for a student’s class average. “It’s such an extreme score in a percentage grading system,” says Thomas R. Guskey, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Kentucky. “To recover from that single zero, a kid would have to get at least nine perfect papers.” As educators across the country move toward standards-based grading—which often replaces the percentage system with rubrics linked to a 1-to-4, four-point grading scale—a growing number of schools no longer give zeros for late, missing or incomplete work. (District Administration)

 

Will Schools Start Lying About Attendance Rates?

Schools across the country are about to be held accountable for student attendance—attaching stakes to a measure that previously had much less significance and increasing the risk that schools will try to manipulate that data. But it’s unclear how effectively states have prepared for that possibility, or have systems in place to accurately monitor absenteeism data at all. “It’s human nature, when the stakes rise, to want to game the system,” said Phyllis Jordan of the Georgetown-based think tank FutureEd. She recently wrote an analysis finding that 36 states plan to use chronic absenteeism to measure schools under ESSA, the federal education law. “In that regard, I don’t think chronic absenteeism is any different than other measures, like test scores.” (Atlantic)

 

Privileged Kids Aren't the Only Ones Who Deserve a Good Education

Throughout the past year, we have heard broad assertions that U.S. public schools are failing low-income children, suggestions that teachers are a major part of the problem, and pledges from President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to fix the problem in a business-like manner. Missing from all of these discussions—and from many similar ones under former education secretary Arne Duncan—is a fundamental truth. Namely, that all children need, and will thrive, if provided with certain basic resources and supports. (Education Week)

 

Betsy DeVos is going to quit because she’s powerless? Don’t bet on her leaving soon — and she’s plenty powerful.

There are new murmurings in the education world that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may be ready to give up her job — but don’t hold your breath waiting for the Michigan billionaire to leave. Ever since DeVos became the first Cabinet nominee in history to need the vice president to break a tie to win Senate confirmation in February, some have speculated she would be a short-timer. Some recent media stories have revived the rumblings, this time contorting a quote from a Politico profile of DeVos from an education expert who said Washington is getting ready for the post-DeVos era but who admits he has no idea what the secretary is really thinking. (Washington Post)

 

Schools Take a Page From Silicon Valley With 'Scrum' Approach

Words like "product," "artifact," and "backlog"—these are not education terms. And yet they cover the walls at the school system's central office here in Chesterfield County, where district leaders are infusing project-management strategies from the world of software development into the daily work of running a 60,000-student school system. The lingo stems from a management approach for developing software that is known as Agile, and a specific process within that framework called Scrum. The structure is trickling into classrooms here as well, with some middle school teachers using Scrum meetings and Agile processes to keep students on track as they do project-based learning. (Education Week)

 

The Case(s) Against Personalized Learning

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are backing it with hundreds of millions of dollars. States from Florida to Vermont have adopted supportive laws and policies. And school districts across the country are embracing this emerging education trend. But as "personalized learning" takes root, it's also coming under greater scrutiny. Leading researchers say their work does not support the most enthusiastic claims being made by personalized-learning supporters. Education experts are raising questions about implications for teaching and learning. (Education Week)

 

Yes, the Republican tax bill would help rich parents send their kids to private school

For years, conservatives have been promoting publicly financed private school vouchers for low-income students. There doesn’t seem to be much to recommend them: not only do the vouchers divert public funds away from public schools, but the evidence is very mixed about whether such programs improve the academic achievement of the vouchers’ recipients. Despite these concerns, Republicans in Congress are now proposing to spend billions of federal funds over time to subsidize private-school education for the children of higher-earning families. (Washington Post)

 

Why are all the black kids still sitting together in the school cafeteria?

Visit just about any racially mixed school and you will see black, white, Asian and Latino kids clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, an authority on the psychology of racism, says straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about communicating across racial and ethnic divides. Tatum first addressed the question in her landmark 1997 book, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? Now, 20 years later, with the national conversation about race becoming increasingly acrimonious, Tatum is back with a fully revised edition. (District Administration)

 

Cyberbullying's chilling trend: Teens anonymously target themselves online, study finds

Cyberbullying is not a new phenomenon. But an alarming number of teenagers are anonymously posting mean things online — about themselves. About 6% of kids from the ages of 12 through 17 have bullied themselves digitally, according to research conducted by Sameer Hinduja, a professor of criminology at Florida Atlantic University and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “It’s a new phenomenon, and this is definitely happening" for teens across the U.S.,  Hinduja said. “We have a tendency to demonize the aggressor, but in some cases, maybe one out of 20, the aggressor and target are the same.” (USA Today)

 

What Democratic Victories in Virginia and New Jersey Mean for K-12 Policy

Democratic victories in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races Tuesday will have reverberations in the debate over those states' school accountability systems, the role of standardized tests, and the fate of their school spending funding formulas.  In Virginia, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam beat former Republican party chairman Ed Gillespie, while in New Jersey,  Democrat Phil Murphy, a financier and diplomat, beat the GOP nominee, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. In Virginia, school choice and the state's accountability system both found their way into that state's gubernatorial debates. Northam said he wanted to role back the state's role in improving schools and Gillespie... (Education Week)

 

How Do Trump's K-12 Campaign Promises Hold Up a Year After His Election?

President Donald Trump was elected one year ago Wednesday, promising a huge new school choice initiative, a slimmed down—or nonexistent—U.S. Department of Education, the end of the Common Core State Standards, new tax incentives to cover child-care costs, and more. So how are those campaign pledges coming one year after Trump's upset presidential victory? Here's a score card: Vouchers and School Choice. The campaign promise: In his one and only campaign speech on K-12, Trump pledged to create a brand-new, $20 billion public and private school initiative, offering vouchers of up to $12,000 per student. Trump did not say where the money would come from. (Education Week)

 

Hate at school: 90-plus ‘poisonous’ incidents reported on K-12 campuses in October

Teaching Tolerance is a project of the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center that is dedicated to reducing prejudice and supporting equitable school experiences for all children in the United States. It provides free award-winning educational materials, and its magazine is sent to nearly every school in the country to help teachers, counselors and administrators effectively respond to hate and bias on campus. Before the 2016 presidential election, Teaching Tolerance did not track incidents of hate at the K-12 school level, though in the 10 days after the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center tracked almost 900 incidents, of which 183 were at K-12 schools, according to Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance. Also after the election, about 10,000 teachers responded to an online (nonrepresentative) survey by the law center and collectively described 2,500 incidents they had witnessed. (Washington Post)

 

For Online Schools, Unique Challenges in Serving Transgender Students

Indiana Connections Academy faced a dilemma. Around 2013, a growing number of transgender students at the K-12 school began telling staff they wanted to be recognized by a different name and gender than was listed on their birth certificates. But Indiana Connections Academy is a full-time online charter. That means most of students’ interactions with teachers and classmates occur online, using technology platforms that display each child’s name and other information (Education Week)

 

Students’ grades determine where they may eat lunch at a Florida high school

Students at a high school in Florida are now “tracked” by grade-point average, attendance and other data points in a program that determine where they can eat lunch and whether they get other perks as well. FOX 13 in Pasco County reported that Hudson High School officials recently started the program with the belief that it will encourage students not deemed to be on track to step up their performance, though some students told the news station that that wasn’t likely to happen. (Washington Post)

 

Why Are There So Many School Levies On Ohio Ballots?

This Election Day, voters in nearly four dozen Ohio school districts will decide if they want to increase local taxes to pay for their schools. But even more – about 70 districts -- are asking voters to renew existing taxes. Just about all of them are dealing with a nuance of state law that ensures the districts will have to go back to the voters again in a few years. That’s because property tax concerns of more than 40 years ago are still shaping the way we pay for schools today. (WOSU)

 

When Kids Have to Act Like Parents, It Affects Them for Life

Laura Kiesel was only six years old when she became a parent to her infant brother. At home, his crib was placed directly next to her bed, so that when he cried at night, she was the one to pick him up and sing him back to sleep. She says she was also in charge of changing his diapers and making sure he was fed every day. For the majority of her early childhood, she remembers that she tended to his needs while her own mother was in the depths of heroin addiction. (Atlantic)

 

Students Are Worrying About Donald Trump Instead Of Their Schoolwork

Politicians can be powerful role models for kids, for better or worse. And with Donald Trump in the White House, an increasing share of teenagers are mimicking the hateful language, brazen lies, and racial animus they see modeled by the president, according to a study released Thursday. The study, conducted by the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, details how the Trump administration is affecting American classrooms. It is based on a nationally representative May 2017 survey of 1,500 public high school teachers and open-ended answers from 850 of them, plus 35 follow-up interviews. (Huffington Post)

Related story:

> Washington Post: Stress, hostility rising in American high schools in Trump era, new UCLA report finds

 

How Betsy DeVos Became The Most Hated Cabinet Secretary

WASHINGTON ― Cabinet secretaries are rarely household names. For every Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton, there are 10 Ann Venemans and Anthony Foxxes. If an official does gain wider name recognition, it’s usually someone in a higher position like the attorney general or secretary of state.  Under President Donald Trump, however, something different is happening: Everyone hates the education secretary, the person who is 16th in line to the presidency and controls only 3 percent of the federal budget. (Huffington Post)

 

Ed. Dept. Sweeps Away Old Special Education Guidance and Regulations

One of the Trump administration's first executive orders was directing federal agencies to search for—and eliminate, if possible— regulations considered to be burdensome to the American public.  On Friday, the federal office for special education and rehabilitative services took its first crack at clearing the book of "outdated, unnecessary or ineffective regulations." In all, 63 pieces of guidance from the office for special education programs were identified for elimination, along with 9 documents fro the Rehabiliation Services Administration, for 72 documents in all.  (Education Week)

 

The ‘Problem Child’ Is a Child, Not a Problem

Opinion: Matt Hannon was in preschool when he started getting into trouble. Teachers quickly labeled his mischievous behavior — like cutting his hair under the table — problematic. His kindergarten teacher warned that if Matt didn’t stop using “potty words,” she would make him do his work in the bathroom. His first-grade teacher forced Matt to copy the phrase “I will not blurt out in circle” 100 times. Matt began to dread school and developed serious separation anxiety. His acting-out got worse. (New York Times)

 

School districts cut bus costs by going electric

Districts in Minnesota and California are participating in pilot programs that provide all-electric, zero-emissions buses that should cost much less to power and maintain. Schmitty & Sons, a transportation company in Lakeville, Minnesota, partnered with a local wholesale power supplier and utility co-op to put the Midwest’s first all-electric school bus into service. The 71-passenger vehicle, manufactured by Canada-based Lion Electric Co., began transporting Lakeville students this fall. (District Administration)

 

The Wildfires' Ripple Effect on California's Schools

Debra Sanders has spent the past five years providing guidance and comfort to Sonoma County’s homeless students, helping them navigate the school system and claim their rights to an education. Then, last week, she became homeless herself. Sanders, her husband, and her 11-year-old son lost their home in the fires that roared through the Wine Country. Like many of the students she serves, she and her family are now living “doubled up” with another family because they lack a home of their own. “Sometimes we can only relate to what we’ve experienced ourselves,” she said. “But for us, this is all temporary. It will resolve. For so many families who were renters or already living on the margins, it’s not going to resolve. At least not anytime soon.” (Atlantic)

 

The Problem With the “Pipeline”: A pervasive metaphor in STEM education has some serious flaws.

If you’ve spent any time listening to conversations about STEM education, you’ve surely heard about the pipeline. Different groups talk about variations of the pipeline. Some describe a pipeline from science education to a STEM career, or as a way to describe a treacherous path through such an education that loses many female, black, Latino, or American Indian people along their educational careers. But the variations are all based on an idea that impacts entire sectors of our 21st-century economy: the preschool-to-Ph.D. pipeline. (Slate)

 

Educator: Schools shouldn’t merely allow students to protest. They should support them.

Students have protested a range of things at their public schools in recent years. Some have protested standardized tests, miserable building conditions — and now, some are acting in solidarity with players in the National Football League who are taking a knee during the national anthem to protest systemic racism in the United States. Schools officials are reacting in different ways to the protests — some pressuring students not to do it, while others promise to protect their First Amendment rights — but this post suggests a reaction that is markedly different from most of what we see. What if schools actually encouraged and supported student engagement with challenging issues? (Washington Post)

 

Schools Mount Fight Against Chronic Absenteeism

The elementary school in Oregon's Willamina district set out last year to pick apart a complicated problem that would ultimately require an equally complicated solution: Many of its Native American students failed to show up on a regular basis. Addressing that chronic absenteeism was like untangling a rope, loosening knotted-up, long-established habits, cultural issues, and the persistent barriers of poverty that can keep children out of school, leaders in the district of 835 students said. There was no one answer. The work includes home visits with parents, constant encouragement for students, and lots of listening. (Education Week)

 

Thank you, Vince Reed, Washington’s education hero

Opinion: A hero of mine — and of many, many other Washingtonians — died Tuesday.  In the late 20th century, Washington had two great school superintendents, Vincent Reed and his dear friend and successor, Floretta McKenzie. Let me tell you about Vince. The 14th of 17 children in a family in St. Louis, Vince was captain of the football team at West Virginia State University before coming to Washington as a graphic arts teacher. He was smart, hard-working and a born leader; he worked his way up through the system and became the first African American principal of Woodrow Wilson High School. Before long, he was the assistant superintendent of schools. (Washington Post)

 

In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News

ROME — After reading the horrors in Dante’s “Inferno,” Italian students will soon turn to the dangers of the digital age. While juggling math assignments, they’ll also tackle worksheets prepared by reporters from the national broadcaster RAI. And separate from the weekly hour of religion, they will receive a list of what amounts to a new set of Ten Commandments for the digital age.

Among them: Thou shalt not share unverified news; thou shall ask for sources and evidence; thou shall remember that the internet and social networks can be manipulated. (New York Times)

 

Betsy DeVos releases her priorities for U.S. Education Department grants. Guess what’s No. 1.

The Education Department released a list of 11 priorities Thursday that Secretary Betsy DeVos wants to set for the agency’s competitive grant program to fulfill her “vision for American education.” Can you guess what her No. 1 priority is? It’s school choice, of course, given that DeVos has made it crystal clear that her chief priority as education secretary is to promote school choice (unlike every other education secretary before her). DeVos says she just wants to give parents a choice of schools for their children, while her critics say she is determined to push the privatization of public education. (Washington Post)

 

Illinois steers funding toward struggling school districts

Illinois has revamped state education funding to provide extra support to economically challenged K12 districts. Evidence-based funding, which goes into effect in 2018, considers each district’s needs and local funding resources when allocating state aid, with extra emphasis placed on high-poverty districts. Previously, nearly two-thirds of funding for each district—compared to a national average of 45 percent—came from local property taxes. This generally benefited districts in wealthier communities. Opponents of the new structure say it forces those more affluent districts to support struggling systems. (District Administration)

 

Florida’s schools — once integration’s great hope — are resegregating

In the years after the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, many Southern states revolted against school desegregation orders. Not Florida. There, leaders accepted them. Florida witnessed more dramatic integration than other states, in part because desegregation was allowed — and then embraced — by LeRoy Collins, who was Florida’s governor in the late 1950s. The state’s school systems are also organized by county — encompassing cities and their whiter, more affluent suburbs — making it easier to create demographically balanced schools. (Washington Post)

 

Why NC charter schools are richer and whiter

Charter schools in North Carolina are more segregated than traditional public schools and have more affluent students.  Most charters have either a largely white population or a largely minority population, according to a News & Observer analysis. On the whole, charter schools are more white and less Latino than schools run by local districts. In North Carolina school districts, slightly more than half the students come from low-income families. But in charter schools, one in three students are low-income. (News & Observer)

 

Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan

This past June, Florida’s top education agency delivered a failing grade to the Orange Park Performing Arts Academy in suburban Jacksonville for the second year in a row. It designated the charter school for kindergarten through fifth grade as the worst public school in Clay County, and one of the lowest performing in the state. Two-thirds of the academy’s students failed the state exams last year, and only a third of them were making any academic progress at all. The school had had four principals in three years, and teacher turnover was high, too. “My fourth grader was learning stuff that my second grader was learning — it shouldn't be that way,” said Tanya Bullard, who moved her three daughters from the arts academy this past summer to a traditional public school. “The school has completely failed me and my children.” (ProPublica)

 

Independent Charter Schools Aim to Elevate Their Status

Students dressed in uniforms standing in military-straight lines under a dangling line of college pennants. An ethos of "no excuses" for low academic achievement. That, perhaps, is the most popular notion of what makes a charter school. And that's because a relatively small number of charter networks—KIPP, Success Academy, and YES Prep to name a few—dominate the sector in ways that over the last decade or so have shaped the national debates and policy agendas around charters. (Education Week)

 

Betsy DeVos Finds 'Bully Pulpit' No Easy Perch

Late last month, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave a high-profile speech at Harvard University on school choice—her number-one policy priority. But afterward, all anyone could seem to talk about were the protestors yelling, "This is what white supremacy looks like!" The problem for DeVos—arguably the best-known and most controversial secretary in the department's 30-plus-year history—is that her public appearances also provide a platform for her harshest critics, even months after her rocky confirmation process made her a social-media sensation. (Education Week)

 

In Puerto Rico, a Daunting Effort to Reopen Schools, Headed by a Determined Leader

Can Puerto Rico’s schools get back on their feet in just over a month after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria? The U.S. territory’s top school official has an urgent need to do just that. There's been little sleep for Puerto Rico's Secretary of Education as she and her staff work the phones and back channels from a busy command center here to get as many schools open as possible within the next two weeks. Doing so could bring much-needed solace and stability to the commonwealth's 700,000 students and their families in the aftermath of one of the worst storms to hit the commonwealth in recent memory. (Education Week)

Related story:

> New York Times: After Hurricanes, Schools Accommodate Puerto Rican Students

 

The College Board earns over half of all its revenues from the courses—and, in an uncertain environment, students keep being suckered.

Fraudulent schemes come in all shapes and sizes. To work, they typically wear a patina of respectability. That's the case with Advanced Placement courses, one of the great frauds currently perpetrated on American high-school students. That's a pretty strong claim, right? You bet. But why not be straightforward when discussing a scam the scale and audacity of which would raise Bernie Madoff's eyebrows? The miscellany of AP courses offered in U.S. high schools under the imprimatur of the College Board probably started with good intentions. (Atlantic)

 

Ohio: Massive Theft of Public Funds! Legislators Shrug.

Opinion: Bill Phillis of the Ohio Coalition of Equity and Adequacy reports that the Electronoc Classroom of Tomorrow has received $121 million from the Columbus School District, while providing an online program of low quality. He writes: “ECOT has drained $121,655,364.35 from one Ohio school district-for what? “The ECOT business plan puts a heap of money into the private companies involved in this operation. Over the years, considerable wealth has been accumulated by the ECOT Man. Remember that over several years, ECOT has collected a billion dollars on the basis of enrollment and NOT student participation in the “program.” (Diane Ravitch)

 

The Arts Have Much More to Teach Us

Opinion: Fifty years ago, a small group of scholars joined together to launch Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The philosopher Nelson Goodman christened the interdisciplinary team "Project Zero" to convey that while there was plenty of useful lore in education in the arts, there was little systematic knowledge. Through much of the 20th century, it's fair to say that artistry had not been taken seriously in American social science. (Education Week)

 

School funding still inadequate and unfair, Kansas Supreme Court rules

In a case with potentially hundreds of millions of tax dollars at stake, the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the Legislature’s latest efforts to provide adequate and fair funding for schools still falls short. The decision that the current system is unconstitutional will send the issue back to the Legislature with orders to add more funding to school district budgets statewide next year. (Wichita Eagle)

 

Here's What a 'Kindness Curriculum' Looks Like

Scientists want to make kindness as integral to the curriculum as reading or math. Researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Healthy Minds have created a "kindness curriculum" which they have tested in six schools in that city. The curriculum is available online for free and has so far been downloaded 7,300 times. Twice a week for 20 minutes during pilot testing of the curriculum, pre-kindergartners did activities aimed at helping them to pay attention, regulate their emotions, and practice kindness. Past studies have shown that children who learn these skills tend to become healthy adults who continue their education and end up financially stable. The skills may also better equip them to deal with future life stress. (Education Week)

 

Huge Stakes for Teachers' Unions as Fees Case Reaches High Court

In a case with enormous financial implications for teachers' unions, the U.S. Supreme Court once again has agreed to take up a dispute that threatens a 40-year-old precedent giving unions the right to collect fees from nonmembers. The justices last week granted review in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31, which could affect the treasuries and political might of all public-employee unions, including the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and their state and local affiliates. (Education Week)

 

Parents Square Off Over School Vaccine Rules

Every state requires children to be vaccinated before they attend school, but many offer exemptions for religious, personal, or philosophical reasons. However, high-profile outbreaks of preventable diseases, like the 2015 Disneyland measles outbreak, have led states like Vermont and California to tighten their restrictions for opting out of vaccination. (Education Week)

 

What's Lost When Only Rich Kids Play Sports

As a child in the 1970s, Kathleen Castles lived across the street from her elementary school, and most mornings she got up at dawn to horse around the playground. She loved sports. The gym teacher, Ken Kuebler, would allow Castles to make use of the gym before classes started while he readied for the day.  He knew that Castles’s family was poor. Kuebler, who also coached track and cross country at the local high school, eventually started a before-school running group for the elementary-schoolers. (Atlantic)

 

The Limits of Education's Promise of Success

One of the most commonly taught stories American schoolchildren learn is that of Ragged Dick, Horatio Alger’s 19th-century tale of a poor, ambitious teenaged boy in New York City who works hard and eventually secures himself a respectable, middle-class life. This “rags to riches” tale embodies one of America’s most sacred narratives: that no matter who you are, what your parents do, or where you grow up, with enough education and hard work, you too can rise the economic ladder. (Atlantic)

 

Disasters: Pairing Prevention With Preparedness in the Classroom

This September, across Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, and South Asia, great winds howled while all the rain in the world seemed to fall all at once and all in one place. Out west, a blistering sun turned the smoke-clogged dome of the sky into a blast furnace. The parched plains got no relief. And in Mexico, the earth shook, sending homes, buildings, and at least one school crashing down on people's heads. Isn't it fitting, then, that September is National Preparedness Month? (Education Week)

 

Boys Are Not Defective

Jordan has never had a female minister of education, women make up less than a fifth of its workforce, and women hold just 4 percent of board seats at public companies there. But, in school, Jordanian girls are crushing their male peers. The nation’s girls outperform its boys in just about every subject and at every age level. At the University of Jordan, the country’s largest university, women outnumber men by a ratio of two to one—and earn higher grades in math, engineering, computer-information systems, and a range of other subjects. (Atlantic)

 

South Carolina 5th Graders Are Asked to Explain K.K.K.’s Thinking

“You are a member of the K.K.K.,” the fifth-grade homework assignment read. “Why do you think your treatment of African-Americans is justified?” The work sheet, given on Thursday as part of a lesson on the Reconstruction period, caused an outcry after one student’s uncle, Tremain Cooper, posted a photo of the assignment on Facebook. “This is my little 10-year-old nephew’s homework assignment today,” he wrote. “He’s home crying right now.” Mr. Cooper identified the teacher as Kerri Roberts of Oak Pointe Elementary School in Irmo, S.C., a suburb of Columbia, and added, “How can she ask a 5th grader to justify the actions of the KKK???” (New York Times)

 

Hurricane-Ravaged Schools Turn to Tech to Keep Students on Track

As high school students in South Carolina's coastal Beaufort County schools waited for the winds of Hurricane Irma to die down, floodwaters to recede, and their schools to re-open, many of them were also able to do their school work—with the help of technology. Officials in the 1-to-1 device district scrambled ahead of the storm to distribute laptops to its 6,000 high school students and had virtual meetings with teachers, telling them to make assignments as they would if school were open. While schools were closed, two technology coaches were available by phone and text and on Facebook to provide support for teachers and students, said Christine Robinson, the director of educational technology for the 22,000-student district. (Education Week)

 

Report: Arizona charter schools widely abuse public funding

A report by an Arizona think tank found that most charter schools in the state abused public funding by engaging in business transactions that involved their owners, board members or their families. The Grand Canyon Institute report indicated that 77 percent of all Arizona charter schools engaged in some form of related-party transactions, and that the state's regulatory system failed to ensure that tax dollars given to the schools are primarily used for the education of students, The Arizona Daily Star reported on Monday. (Miami Herald)

 

While the rest of the world invests more in education, the U.S. spends less

Opinion: The world’s developed nations are placing a big bet on education investments, wagering that highly educated populaces will be needed to fill tomorrow’s jobs, drive healthy economies and generate enough tax receipts to support government services. Bucking that trend is the United States. U.S. spending on elementary and high school education declined 3 percent from 2010 to 2014 even as its economy prospered and its student population grew slightly by 1 percent, boiling down to a 4 percent decrease in spending per student. (Hechinger Report)

 

The Controversy Behind Chicago's Diploma Mandate

When students start school in the United States, they tend to proceed along one of two paths. For many, college is the assumed destination from their earliest days in the classroom, reinforced progressively at every step of their education. The only mystery is what higher-education institution they’ll attend. But for a vast set of students, there is no assumed destination except adulthood—school will be a fact of life until it simply isn’t any longer, and at that point, they’ll have to figure out what comes next. (Atlantic)

 

States Adjust Course on School Turnaround Districts

In the waning years of the No Child Left Behind Act, school turnaround districts became a solution du jour for many state legislatures: Take all of your worst-performing schools, place them in their own state-controlled district, and either run them directly or hand them over to a charter school operator. A network of autonomous, independently-run schools was seen as a route to swift, efficient, and inspirational improvement. To date, six states have experience with some form of turnaround district, their startup costs paid in a variety of ways, including by philanthropists, state funding, and federal ... (Education Week)

 

In front of kids, Betsy DeVos says school is too often a ‘mundane malaise’

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in Wyoming on Tuesday to begin a six-state “Rethink School” tour, welcomed young students at a learning center in Casper — but it was hardly a typical back-to-school speech. DeVos called school a “mundane malaise” for too many kids and said that it must be reinvented so that the country can get out of “the mess we’re in.” (Washington Post)

 

After More Than 20 Years, Newark to Regain Control of Its Schools

NEWARK — In 1995, when Marques-Aquil Lewis was in elementary school, the State of New Jersey seized control of the public schools here after a judge warned that “nepotism, cronyism and the like” had precipitated “abysmal” student performances and “failure on a very large scale.” For more than 20 years, local administrators have had little leverage over the finances or operations of the state’s largest school district. Choices about curriculum and programs were made mostly by a state-appointed superintendent, often an outsider. The city could not override personnel decisions. (New York Times)

 

Schools reopen in Houston, buoying hope for recovery

HOUSTON — Terra Black, 11, awoke on her first day of sixth grade on a cot in the middle of a sprawling convention hall in downtown Houston, the place she has called home since escaping neck-deep floodwater that threatened her family’s apartment. Here, in bathrooms she shares with about 1,400 other evacuees, she got ready for school, styling her hair and slipping on a pink T-shirt her mother had snatched from a donation pile.  “I’m a little nervous,” Terra said later, grinning widely as she munched on a breakfast sandwich at a nearby Walmart. “It’s a new year, a new learning experience.” (Washington Post)

Related story:

> New York Times: After the Storm, It’s Finally the First Day of School in Houston

 

Why Teachers Need Their Freedom

My co-teacher and I met in the parking lot before school and stared into my car trunk at the costumes and props we had gathered over the weekend. We were giddy with excitement and nervous because neither of us had tried anything like this before. We also taught in the kind of school where one wrong move in the classroom could lead to disastrous results because of our students’ intense behavioral and learning needs. The co-teacher, Alice Gnau, had found a book called Teaching Content Outrageously by Stanley Pogrow, which explained how secondary classrooms can incorporate drama into any content to engage students in learning—incorporating the element of surprise, for example, or developing role-play or simulation experiences to teach content and standards. (Atlantic)

 

School-readiness boosters for kids with learning and attention issues

For kids with special needs, the idea of heading back to school is both fun and fraught. Keeping up with academics, staying on top of tasks, and managing relationships each offer challenges and opportunities. Apps can help kids practice skills – from reading and math to making friends – in a supportive environment. Check out these tools to see which ones might help boost your kid’s success, and explore our guide, which features even more resources. (Salon)

 

The sad story of public education in St. Louis

“This is a disaster.” Walker Gaffney and I were at the entry of Cleveland High School in St. Louis. Broken glass speckles the floor. Black mold crawls up the sides of the stone walls. Rotted plaster hangs from the high arched ceiling. “It’s worse every time I come here,” said Gaffney, who is the school district’s real estate director. “I once found a dog-fighting operation in one of these old schools.” Gaffney led the way, first to the majestic swimming pool with its ornate tiled walls smeared with graffiti – the Olympic-size pool shrunk to a black, fetid puddle in the deep end. (Washington Post)

 

Senate panel rejects Trump’s proposed federal education cuts

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve a spending bill that rejects President Trump’s proposed cuts to education funding for fiscal year 2018 and, for now at least, derails the administration’s goal of directing federal dollars toward promoting and expanding school choice and private school vouchers. The 29 to 2 vote on the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill further illustrates the president’s difficulty in moving his education agenda through Congress despite Republican control of the House and Senate. (Washington Post)

 

Who Benefits From the Expansion of A.P. Classes?

Laura Fuchs has been teaching Advanced Placement U.S. government and politics at H.D. Woodson High School in Washington for six of her 10 years there. She is in her early 30s, wears her hair pulled back in a bun and has a no-nonsense way of dealing with her students. But that apparent sternness belies a genuine love of teaching and a deep well of patience, two qualities that have prepared her for teaching a college-level course at a school like Woodson. (New York Times)

 

New York City Offers Free Lunch for All Public School Students

Lunch at New York City public schools will be available free of charge to all 1.1 million students beginning this school year, Carmen Fariña, the schools chancellor, said on Wednesday in the basement cafeteria of a Hell’s Kitchen elementary school. The new school year begins on Thursday. “This is about equity,” Ms. Fariña said. “All communities matter.” This move has been long sought by food-policy advocates and many members of the New York City Council, who said that some students would prefer to go hungry rather than admit they cannot afford to pay for lunch. Nationally, the practice of “lunch shaming” — holding children publicly accountable for unpaid school lunch bills — has garnered attention. (New York Times)

Related story:

> Mother Jones: New York City Puts an End to School-Lunch Shaming

 

The Department of Justice Is Overseeing the Resegregation of American Schools

On weekends, North Smithfield Manor smells like freshly cut grass, as men venture out under the Alabama sun to tend to their lawns. Kids race their bikes up and down the neighborhood’s hilly streets. Leslie Williams, a 34-year-old mother of three, lives in her childhood home in this secluded subdivision, perched atop a ridge five miles north of downtown Birmingham. The neighborhood hasn’t changed much since Williams was growing up. She remembers riding her bike over the same hills, admiring the men with their lawn mowers, and hanging out in the small park that serves as the community’s heart. (Nation)

 

Information literacy lost: Most CPS schools no longer have librarians

Students in three out of four Chicago Public Schools won't have access to a librarian this fall — one result of years of budget cuts. The district has budgeted for fewer than a third as many librarians in 2017-18 as it did in 2012, when nearly every school library was staffed. The district budgeted for about 454 librarians in 2013, but only 139 for the 2017-18 school year, according to CPS data. It's difficult to pinpoint how many librarians work in CPS because the district and the Chicago Teachers Union count that work differently. CPS spokesman Michael Passman said the district's library staffing numbers are "conservative" because they do not account for all teachers and assistants who also work in library support roles. (Chicago Tribune)

 

Americans Have Given Up on Public Schools. That’s a Mistake.

Public schools have always occupied prime space in the excitable American imagination. For decades, if not centuries, politicians have made hay of their supposed failures and extortions. In 2004, Rod Paige, then George W. Bush’s secretary of education, called the country’s leading teachers union a “terrorist organization.” In his first education speech as president, in 2009, Barack Obama lamented the fact that “despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we’ve let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us.” (Atlantic)

 

Trump Cancels DACA, Impacting Tens of Thousands of Students and Teachers

President Donald Trump will end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that gives protection to an estimated 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the order to end DACA Tuesday morning at the U.S. Department of Justice. The decision leaves the undocumented residents, an undetermined number of whom work and learn in the nation's K-12 schools, in a state of limbo. The Washington-based Migration Policy Institute estimates 250,000 school-age children have become DACA-eligible since President Barack Obama began the program in 2012. (Education Week)

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> Chronicle of Higher Education: What Major Universities Had to Say About Trump’s Move to Roll Back DACA

 

In Harvey's Wake, a Rough Road Ahead for Schools

Educators in school districts serving about 1 million students along the Texas coast are picking up the pieces after Hurricane Harvey pummeled the area during what was supposed to be the first days of the new school year. Some of the roughly 220 affected school districts still planned to open right after Labor Day, others in a matter of weeks, but for school administrators who have survived other devastating natural disasters, they know the road to normalcy can take years. In the immediate aftermath of such a natural disaster, several school leaders who've experienced similar events said the immediate priority should be making sure students, teachers, and school staff are safe and sound. (Education Week)

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There Trump goes again bashing public schools — and why it matters

He can’t seem to help himself. Just about anytime President Trump talks about or does something in regard to public schools, it is in a disparaging manner. He did it at his January inauguration — saying America has “an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.” In February, he invited 10 teachers and parents to the White House, but less than one-third were involved in traditional public schools, which educate the vast majority of America’s children. (Washington Post)

 

Public Support for Charter Schools Plummets, Poll Finds

President Donald Trump’s vocal support for charter schools and private-school vouchers has had some school choice supporters wringing their hands over whether it will have a negative impact on the policies they champion. This is particularly true for charter school backers who, over time, have built up bipartisan support. Now a new public opinion poll from Education Next, a journal published by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is providing insights into whether the president—as well as the broader political dynamics in play—have swayed the public’s views on school choice. (Education Week)

 

Why Suburban Schools Are Inflating Kids' Grades

PITTSBURGH—Monet Spencer remembers traveling to affluent suburban high schools when she was a member of the marching band at Brashear High School in this city’s low-income, high-crime Beechview neighborhood. The suburban band members’ uniforms were brand new, Spencer noticed—not passed down and worn-out like hers. So were their instruments, unlike the scratched and tarnished castoffs her school loaned her and her bandmates, including the secondhand flute she played. (Atlantic)

 

Educator slams Betsy DeVos for ‘woefully insufficient’ response to Charlottesville violence

How did Education Secretary Betsy DeVos react to the weekend violence when white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members staged a march and fought with counterprotesters, leaving one woman dead and many injured? The Education Department did not respond to a query about whether any other statement was available. So that appears to be the extent of her comments about an act of domestic terrorism on a college campus. In this post, an African American educator blasts her for what he calls a “woefully insufficient” response and why it matters. (Washington Post)

 

The Nation's Teaching Force Is Still Mostly White and Female

Teachers tend to be white, female, and have nearly a decade and a half of experience in the classroom, according to new data released Monday by the federal government. But there are signs that the nation’s teaching force is gradually growing more diverse. It is also more heterogeneous: The nation’s charter school teachers look significantly different from teachers in traditional public schools. The U.S. Department of Education has been collecting data on schools, teachers, and administrators through its Schools and Staffing Survey every four years since 1987. (Education Week)

 

This ALEC state report card speaks volumes about Betsy DeVos’s education agenda

Quoting from the late British Prime Minister Margaret “Iron Lady” Thatcher, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently said that there is “no such thing” as society, trashed the federal government and hailed the spread of school “choice.” She was speaking at the annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and espoused a philosophy that mirrored that of the powerful conservative organization. If you don’t know about ALEC, you should. It is a member organization of corporate lobbyists and conservative state legislators who craft “model legislation” on issues important to them and then help shepherd it through legislatures. It describes itself as being dedicated to promoting “limited government, free markets and federalism,” though the New York Times called it essentially a “stealth business lobbyist.” (Washington Post)

 

DeVos Invested More Money in 'Brain Performance' Company, Despite Weak Evidence

Since being confirmed as U.S. secretary of education in February, Betsy DeVos has significantly increased her family’s financial stake in a company that makes questionable claims about its treatment for conditions such as anxiety, autism, depression, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The new investments in the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Neurocore could total as much as $5.5 million. The investments were reported on two separate financial disclosure forms that DeVos filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics in April and June. That office certified both forms. (Education Week)

 

The 'Trump Effect' on Canada's Classrooms

Standing at the front of her classroom this past February, the public high-school English teacher Jana Rohrer wrote the words “American Flag” on the board and asked her ninth-grade students to tell her what came to their minds. Over the past six years Rohrer has used the exercise as part of a lesson to help explain symbolism in Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird. And over the past six years, the students’ answers had become routine: Freedom. Independence. Patriotism. This time, there were new words mixed among the more familiar responses: Hate. Racism. Danger. (Atlantic)

 

What should America do about its worst public schools? States still don’t seem to know.

Two years after Congress scrapped federal formulas for fixing troubled schools, states for the most part are producing only the vaguest of plans to address persistent educational failure. So far, 16 states and the District of Columbia have submitted proposals for holding schools accountable under the 2015 law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act. With few exceptions, the blueprints offer none of the detailed prescriptions for intervention, such as mass teacher firings or charter-school conversions, that were once standard elements of school reform. (Washington Post)

 

Why the NAACP said 'enough' to school privatization

The reaction to the NAACP’s hard-hitting new report  on charter schools, calling for tighter regulation and an end to for-profit schools, was swift and furious. Charter advocates and school choice proponents painted the NAACP as out of touch, or worse, doing the bidding of the teachers unions. These critics are missing what’s most important about the civil rights group’s strong statement. School privatization has allowed state governments to avoid their obligation to educate children of color, especially the poor. The NAACP said “enough” this week. (Salon)