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)

Related stories:

> Chronicle of Higher Education: Trump Will End DACA in 6 Months, Confirming Dreamers’ Fears and Putting Onus on Congress

> 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)

Related stories:

> KOSU: Houston School Superintendent Says A Lot Of Work Ahead To Open Schools

> Houston Chronicle: Houston area schools, universities working to re-open after Harvey

 

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)

 

 

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