Latest News and Comment from Education

Friday, August 31, 2018

***UPDATE SEA & SPS have reached a tentative agreement*** Seattle Teachers Poised to Strike Draw Solidarity from Their Brothers and Sisters In Puerto Rico -

Seattle Teachers Poised to Strike Draw Solidarity from Their Brothers and Sisters In Puerto Rico -

***UPDATE SEA & SPS have reached a tentative agreement***

SPS and SEA Negotiations 2018 - Seattle Public Schools -

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Seattle Teachers Poised to Strike Draw Solidarity from Their Brothers and Sisters In Puerto Rico
To prepare for what we are likely to face in our struggle for a just contract, Seattle educators recently organized a panel that included a representative from the Puerto Rico Federation of Teachers.

Seattle teachers and staff have authorized a strike unless negotiations with Seattle Public Schools don’t result in a tentative contract by the first day of school, September 5. Our vote to strike is part of a unified labor action across Washington to protest the lack of adequate and equitable funding for schools and teachers in this state.

Seattle teachers are hardly alone in the struggle for fair working conditions for educators and better learning conditions for students. The wave of teacher walkouts and protests that swept through West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, and other states this spring brought to the fore the need for teachers to receive competitive pay raises and improved learning resources and smaller class sizes.

To prepare for what we are likely to face in our struggle for a just contract, Seattle educators recently organized a panel that included a representative from a community of educators that’s been hit hardest by financial austerity and the privatization movement: Mercedes Martinez, president of the Puerto Rico Federation of Teachers.

These teachers have been leading courageous struggles not only for their own pay, but to defend public education and create the schools Puerto Rican students deserve.

Their fight has escalated since the devastation of Hurricane Maria brought disaster capitalists flocking to the island in an effort to profit off the island’s vulnerability.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico’s secretary of education, echoed former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s comment that Hurricane Katrina was the best thing that ever happened to New Orleans schools. She called New Orleans a “point of reference” for the reorganization of schools in Puerto Rico into charter schools, and an “opportunity” to remake education according to a vision of outsiders.

Using what Naomi Klein calls the “shock doctrine” playbook for privatizing Continue reading: Seattle Teachers Poised to Strike Draw Solidarity from Their Brothers and Sisters In Puerto Rico -

Connecting School Quality Dots: Money, Race, Suspension, and Safety Education Law Prof Blog

Education Law Prof Blog

Connecting School Quality Dots: Money, Race, Suspension, and Safety

School quality and school discipline are intertwined.  As I explain in Reforming School Discipline, "[s]ocial science increasingly demonstrates that while student misbehavior is a function of individual choices that students make, individual student misbehavior is also a function of the school environment in which they learn and act. Quality schools and orderly environments consistently produce higher student achievement and less misbehavior. Low quality schools with disorderly, hostile, and punitive environments produce lower student achievement and higher rates of suspension and expulsion."  And as Bruce Baker, Kirabo Jackson, and official government reports establish, there is a direct link between school funding and school quality and student outcomes.
If we take these two basic insights about money and school discipline and throw some basic data points together, a pretty stark image emerges. This week, the ACLU and UCLA Civil Rights Project issued a new report on race, discipline, and school safety that gave me the tools to do just that.  They issued heat maps that show on a district-by-district basis how many students are suspended, whether there is a shortage of school counselors.  And earlier this year, Bruce Baker and his colleagues issued a report that measured school spending levels against what it would take for students in each district to achieve at average levels.
Side by side these maps nearly look like mirror images, even though they are measuring two seemingly different things.
Side by side

The bright spots in the image on the left show districts with high rates of school suspension.  The yellow, orange and red spots in the image on the right show districts that are the most underfunded.  The dark blue on the left image and the green on the right image show the other end of the spectrum--schools with low discipline rates and high funding levels.  There are, of course, exceptions.  Texas, for instance, has a serious school funding problem, but relatively low discipline rates.  Although you can still see that within Texas, there are discipline problems in the southern and eastern part of the state, where underfunding is also a problem.
Trying to draw an even more vivid picture, this morning I decided to do it the new, old-fashioned way--cutting and Continue reading: Education Law Prof Blog

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Former Schott Foundation Board Member Andrew Gillum Selected by Florida Voters to be Democratic Nominee for Florida Governor | Schott Foundation for Public Education

Former Schott Foundation Board Member Andrew Gillum Selected by Florida Voters to be Democratic Nominee for Florida Governor | Schott Foundation for Public Education

Former Schott Foundation Board Member Andrew Gillum Selected by Florida Voters to be Democratic Nominee for Florida Governor

On behalf of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, I would like to take this moment to congratulate Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for being selected as the Democratic nominee for governor of the state of Florida. The media called it an upset victory, and certainly the results defied the experts and pundits. But I’ve known Andrew Gillum for close to two decades, as a friend, staunch advocate for an opportunity to learn for all students and ultimately as a colleague as a member of the Schott Foundation Board of Directors. Defying the odds is what Andrew does. Since his first election to the Tallahassee City Commission as a student, its youngest ever member, continuing throughout his career as a public servant, he has brought indefatigable energy, deep thoughtfulness, a compelling vision and courage to every organizing endeavor. Organizing — bringing people together, encouraging them to believe in themselves and what they can achieve together. Florida’s primary voters clearly saw these qualities in Andrew when they propelled him to victory. 

Andrew shares Schott’s core belief that change comes from the bottom-up. That belief is a strong light in these dark times of rancor and divisiveness—it is our guiding light to a better future.

Andrew’s focus on public education reflects a deep understanding of the issues facing Florida’s children, families, and educators. He is a proud #PublicSchoolGrad who knows the struggles of low-income communities, and we applaud his emphasis on reinvestment, equity, and opposition to the failed privatization policies of the past.

All of us at Schott are proud of what our colleague and friend has accomplished, and can’t wait to see what Andrew Gillum, Florida voters and the growing movement for public education in Florida achieve next.

Yours in the struggle,

John H. Jackson
President and CEO

Former Schott Foundation Board Member Andrew Gillum Selected by Florida Voters to be Democratic Nominee for Florida Governor | Schott Foundation for Public Education

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Today’s lesson, boys and girls? “G” is for guns in your schools. | Miami Herald

Today’s lesson, boys and girls? “G” is for guns in your schools. | Miami Herald

Today’s lesson, boys and girls? “G” is for guns in your schools.

Certainly no Republican (with the possible exception of the president who nominated her) has done more than DeVos has to antagonize and energize Democratic and independent voters, and particularly the student and parent activists awakened by the Parkland, Florida, school shootings. Confirmed by a single vote in February 2017 when Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaker, DeVos has spent most of her first year-and-a-half in office trying to emasculate the department Donald Trump selected her to lead.
This is not an act of insubordination, but a sabotage mission that has enjoyed the White House’s enthusiastic support. The big idea: Slash billions of dollars earmarked for public schools and divert part of the savings to initiatives to expand for-profit charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools.
It is of a piece with the agenda DeVos and her clan promoted with their privately bankrolled Great Lakes Education Project before Trump handed them the keys to the U.S. Department of Education. So far, though, members of the U.S. Congress have displayed little interest in DeVos’ grand scheme, routinely ignoring the administration’s proposals to decimate federal funding for education and passing budgets that maintain or increase support for the public school districts they represent.

Lawmakers have also taken pains to limit the administration’s discretion in spending funds earmarked for student safety. Just this past spring, after the president responded to another cluster of school shootings with a proposal to arm teachers, Congress allocated $50 billion to help local school districts bolster security but explicitly forbade them from spending the money to purchase firearms.
But now, according to the New York Times, DeVos and her merry band of public school saboteurs believe they have discovered a way to tap a $1 billion grant program established to benefit students in the nation’s most underfunded school districts to pay for the guns Congress forbade them to buy with school safety funds. Money allocated under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is supposed to be used to improve learning conditions and promote digital literacy. But because its congressional sponsors failed to include language specifically barring its use for firearm purchases, the Department of Education is considering allowing schools to use the money to purchase firearms for school staffers.
Until now, the Times reports, the Department of Education has encouraged grant recipients to spend ESSA money on mental health counseling, dropout prevention initiatives and programs to facilitate the re-entry of students returning to school from the juvenile justice system.
But departmental researchers have proposed that gun purchases could fall under ESSA’s charter to improve learning conditions in schools that serve low-income students. If it also bolsters revenues for firearm manufacturers and gun shop dealers, well, that’s just icing on the cake.
Surely anyone with the money and executive authority at DeVos’ command has the Continue reading: Today’s lesson, boys and girls? “G” is for guns in your schools. | Miami Herald

National Student-led Forum on Gun Safety and Safe Schools | KRWG

National Student-led Forum on Gun Safety and Safe Schools | KRWG

National Student-led Forum on Gun Safety and Safe Schools

Commentary: Today, students and teachers from across America announced a student-led educational and interactive forum on gun violence in America. The October 20-21st summit in D.C. will aggregate conversations and compromise by students to develop a “Students’ Bill of Rights,” which will be an organizing document for student led events and actions demanding elected officials and candidates address important issues like preventing gun violence, mental health, community and school safety, and illegal guns.
At the end of the school year, returning students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida began calling for students to come together in agreeance on meaningful policy proposals and develop an action plan to make them law. They began with the hashtag “#TimetoTalk.” The students formed a national student advisory committee and engaging with students from across the country. Additionally, teachers are being encouraged to come and serve as advisors to the Bill of Rights process as well as to chaperone.
“We wanted to create an environment where students could rise above the rhetoric, dig into the facts and discuss real solutions. When we return home, armed with ideas, we’ll talk to elected officials and candidates from school board members to senators and ask where they stand on achieving meaningful common sense change,” said Jack Macleod, student co-founder of Students For Change.
The goal of the summit will be to review existing student plans to reduce gun violence and combine them into a single “Students’ Bill of Rights” on school safety, along with a corresponding action plan. The Students’ Bill of Rights will be used by students across the country as an organizing document for civic engagement activity focused on reducing the gun violence that has affected far too many young lives.
“Virtually nothing has been done on a national level to confront the crisis imperiling students’ and educators’ lives. Indeed, Betsy DeVos’ insane and possibly illegal attempts to use federal funds to arm teachers shows how far she will go to advance the interests of the National Rifle Association rather than the children she’s charged with protecting. But if politicians don’t act, students and educators will—and we will organize and vote and call “BS” until change is won.
“The AFT is proud to be a part of this work, work we believe empowers students to seize their future and will help ensure public schools are safe and welcoming places to teach and learn,” said Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers.

“Gun violence has been a norm in our country for many years and the youth has finally stepped up to do something about this terrible epidemic. We are finally Continue reading: National Student-led Forum on Gun Safety and Safe Schools | KRWG
Image result for lily garcia nea students gun safety

BARBARA MADELONI: As the School Year Begins, More Teachers Across the Country Could Soon Strike

As the School Year Begins, More Teachers Across the Country Could Soon Strike

As the School Year Begins, More Teachers Across the Country Could Soon Strike

As teachers, school employees, and students head back to school, what’s ahead for the #RedforEd movement?
This spring, teachers mobilized on an unprecedented scale in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, North Carolina, and Colorado. They protested, walked out, and even held statewide strikes—in states with limited to no collective bargaining rights, where school unions have traditionally focused on state politics.
The springtime actions, led by rank and filers, inspired educators and unionists across the country. It looks like the cusp of a labor upsurge that could spread beyond schools.
The mobilizers met with varying degrees of support or resistance from their own state union leaders. The militancy made leaders anxious, but many were also savvy enough to see that the uprisings were effective—and that they’d better not get in the way.
Teachers saw just how powerful they can be when they act collectively. But now with midterm elections coming up, the impulse to turn toward electoral politics—and a strong push from statewide education unions to elect new faces into the statehouses—presents a challenge.
Will members go back to thinking that power resides mainly in electoral politics? Or will their newborn rank-and-file movement be able to use ballot measures and elections to extend their networks at the grassroots?
Here’s a state-by-state rundown of where the campaigns stand and what it might mean for ongoing organizing:
West Virginia Digs In
While West Virginia teachers were furious at Governor Jim Justice’s initial offer of a 1 percent raise, their nine-day strike was prompted in large part by cost increases in their state health plan, the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA).
Now the teachers are awaiting recommendations from the PEIA Task Force, established in the March agreement that ended the strike. With GOP heavies like Senate President Mitch Carmichael—teacher enemy number one—on the Task Force, many expect the recommendations to fall far short of what’s needed.
But teachers are getting ready, focusing on forming “really solid friendships and connections across the state,” said Jay O’Neal, a Charleston teacher who started the Continue reading: As the School Year Begins, More Teachers Across the Country Could Soon Strike

How America Is Breaking Public Education

How America Is Breaking Public Education

How America Is Breaking Public Education

The ultimate dream of public education is incredibly simple. Students, ideally, would go to a classroom, receive top-notch instruction from a passionate, well-informed teacher, would work hard in their class, and would come away with a new set of skills, talents, interests, and capabilities. Over the past few decades in the United States, a number of education reforms have been enacted, designed to measure and improve student learning outcomes, holding teachers accountable for their students' performances. Despite these well-intentioned programs, including No Child Left BehindRace To The Top, and the Every Student Succeeds Act, public education is more broken than ever. The reason, as much as we hate to admit it, is that we've disobeyed the cardinal rule of success in any industry: treating your workers like professionals.
Everyone who's been through school has had experiences with a wide variety of teachers, ranging from the colossally bad to the spectacularly good. There are a few qualities universally ascribed to the best teachers, and the lists almost always include the following traits:
  • a passion for their chosen subject,
  • a deep, expert-level knowledge of the subject matter they're teaching,
  • a willingness to cater to a variety of learning styles and to employ a variety of educational techniques,
  • and a vision for what a class of properly educated students would be able to know and demonstrate at the end of the academic year.
Yet despite knowing what a spectacular teacher looks like, the educational models we have in place actively discourage every one of these.
The first and largest problem is that every educational program we've had in place since 2002 — the first year that No Child Left Behind took effect — prioritizes student performance on standardized tests above all else. Test performance is now tied to both school funding, and the evaluation of teachers and administrators. In many cases, there exists no empirical evidence to back up the validity of this approach, yet it's universally accepted as the way things ought to be.
Imagine, for a moment, that this weren't education, but any other job. Imagine how you'd feel if you found yourself employed in such a role.

Requiring teachers to follow a script in a variety of educational settings is one of the surest ways to squash creativity and kill student interest. It is a more widespread practice than ever before.JAMES FOLKESTAD / SLIDESHARE
You have, on any given day, a slew of unique problems to tackle. These include how to reach, motivate, and excite the people whose Continue reading: How America Is Breaking Public Education

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Racial and Ethnical Diverse America’s Public Schools + NCES Blog | Back to School by the Numbers: 2018

Racial and Ethnical Diverse America’s Public Schools

Racial and Ethnical Diverse America’s Public Schools

The FINANCIAL -- Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 20% of all public elementary and secondary school teachers in the United States during the 2015-16 school year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). That makes teachers considerably less racially and ethnically diverse than their students – as well as the nation as a whole.
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By comparison, 51% of all public elementary and secondary school students in the U.S. were nonwhite in 2015-16, the most recent year for which NCES has published data. And 39% of all Americans were racial or ethnic minorities that year, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates. (Younger Americans are a more racially and ethnically diverse group than older people.)

According to PRC, nonwhites make up a small share of public school teachersNonwhite teachers not only were sharply outnumbered by white teachers in America’s classrooms, they also tended to work in different school environments, the NCES data show. For example, 31% of teachers in city schools were nonwhite, versus just 11% of teachers in rural schools – a reflection of the broader racial and ethnic makeup of America’s communities. And while nonwhite teachers accounted for 29% of the total in public charter schools, their share was considerably lower in traditional public schools (19%).
Larger shares of teachers were nonwhite at schools with more nonwhite students, while the reverse was true for schools with more white students. For instance, nonwhites made up 55% of teachers in schools where at least 90% of students were nonwhite. By comparison, across schools where at least 90% of students were white, nearly all teachers (98%) also were white. This is similar to the experience for students: Many students go to schools where at least half of their peers are their race or ethnicity. (A recent article by the Brookings Institution argued that students benefit from a diverse teacher workforce so nonwhite teachers should be more evenly distributed.)

In addition, considerable shares of teachers were nonwhite in schools with higher percentages of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. (Such eligibility is often used as a proxy measure for lower household income.) Nonwhites represented 34% of teachers in schools where at least three-quarters of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. In schools where a quarter or fewer students were eligible, just 11% of teachers were nonwhite.
While only one-in-five of America’s public school teachers these days are nonwhite, this share has increased since the 1987-88 school year (the earliest with comparable data), when about 13% of teachers were nonwhite. Hispanic and Asian teachers have accounted for much of the growth during that span. While the number of black teachers also has increased since the late ’80s, the share of black teachers has declined.
Racial, ethnic diversity has grown more quickly among U.S. public school students than teachersIn the past 30 years, Hispanic teachers have overtaken blacks as the second-largest racial or ethnic group among U.S. public school teachers. In 1987-88, there were about three times as many black public school teachers (191,000) as Hispanic teachers (69,000). Since then, the number of Hispanic teachers increased about fivefold to 338,000, while the number of black teachers increased by 34%, to 256,000. And while Hispanics still account for just 9% of teachers overall, they have accounted for a sizable share (18%) of the growth in teachers since 1987-88.
The share of Asian public school teachers has also grown steadily. Between 1987-88 and 2015-16, the number of Asian teachers roughly quadrupled, from 21,000 to 86,000. (Broadly, the Asian and Hispanic populations in the U.S. have grown dramatically in recent decades. In fact, they were the nation’s first and second fastest-growing racial or ethnic groups between 2015 and 2016.)
Meanwhile, the pattern in racial and ethnic diversity among principals is similar to that of teachers. Nonwhites made up 20% of U.S. public school principals in 2015-16, a share that has grown since 1987-88, according to another NCES survey. Much of this growth can again be attributed to Hispanics and Asians, who have both doubled in number. Though Hispanics and Asians still account for very small shares of all principals (8% and 1%, respectively), they accounted for much of the growth among principals since 1987-88.
Growth in racial and ethnic diversity has been much faster among U.S. students than among both teachers and principals in recent years. During the 1986-87 school year (the earliest year with comparable data), Continue reading: Racial and Ethnical Diverse America’s Public Schools

NCES Blog | Back to School by the Numbers: 2018 -

Trump’s Student Debt Policies Are Mind-bogglingly Corrupt

CFPB’s Student Loan Watchdog Resigns In Protest of Trump

Trump’s Student Debt Policies Are Mind-bogglingly Corrupt

The Republican Party’s economic policies have grown so corrupt and regressive as to be literally unbelievable. In focus groups, Democratic operatives have found that swing voters will often dismiss simple descriptions of the GOP’s self-avowed fiscal priorities as partisan attacks — after all, how could any major political party actually favor slashing Medicare benefits to lower taxes on the one percent?
Alas, a plain recitation of the Trump administration’s agenda on student debt is sure to strike many Americans as even more implausible.
But before we examine the president’s (absurdly corrupt) “college affordability” policies, let’s take a quick tour of the crisis that he inherited.
In the United States today, 44 million people carry $1.4 trillion in student debt. That giant pile of financial obligations isn’t just a burden on individual borrowers, but on the nation’s entire economy. The concomitant rise in the cost of college tuition — and stagnation of entry-level wages for college graduates — has depressed the purchasing power of a broad, and growing, part of the labor force. Many of these workers are struggling to keep their heads above water; recent research suggests that 11 percent of aggregate student-loan debt is more than 90 days past due or delinquent. Other borrowers are unable to invest in a home, vehicle, or start a family (and engage in all the myriad acts of consumption that go with that).

The full scale of this disaster is still coming into view. Just this week, the Center for American Progress (CAP) revealed that official government statistics have been hiding the depths of our student-debt problem. Federal law requires colleges that participate in student-loan programs to keep their borrowers’ default rates under 30 percent for three years after they begin repayment. But once those three years are up, federal tracking ends. Using a Freedom of Information Act request, CAP’s Ben Miller secured never-before-released data on what happens to default rates after Uncle Sam stops watching.
He found that many colleges (especially for-profit ones) have been artificially depressing their default rates during the three-year window by showering their borrowers in deferments — essentially, special allowances that empower debtors to temporarily stop making debt payments without going into delinquency. After the three years are up, the deferments disappear — and the default rates skyrocket.
Photo: Department of Education
Photo: Department of Education
Just about all of America’s institutions of higher learning are complicit in this sorry state of affairs. But for-profit colleges have been far and away the most malevolent actors. The entrepreneurs behind such schools looked at Continue reading: CFPB’s Student Loan Watchdog Resigns In Protest of Trump
How Betsy DeVos could trigger another financial meltdown - The Washington Post -

Betsy DeVos's Program Scorecard Isn't Going To Work - by @dereknewton on @forbes

RANDI WEINGARTEN: There are many ways to make schools safer, arming teachers is the last thing we should do | TheHill

There are many ways to make schools safer, arming teachers is the last thing we should do | TheHill

There are many ways to make schools safer, arming teachers is the last thing we should do

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants to take away money used for after-school programs and school counselors in order to arm our children’s teachers.
We’ve known DeVos has wanted to do many things that would hurt students—including cutting federal spending for public schools and undermining the rights of vulnerable students or those who have student loans—but this idea is one of the most reckless and dangerous ideas I’ve heard from her.
Under the plan exposed by the New York TimesDeVos would divert funding that goes principally to vulnerable and poor kids through community schools, mental health programs, college and career counseling, after-school programs, and other services that help keep kids safe and help them learn. Instead, the plan would allow states to use that money to buy guns for educators. Regardless of where you fall on the debate on guns, everyone agrees we need more mental health services. Everyone agrees we need more counselors. But DeVos is trying to take them away from our kids.

We knew DeVos would try to do the bidding of the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers, but to even consider diverting resources used to support poor kids to flood schools with more guns is beyond the recklessness we believed she was willing to pursue. Put simply, it’s insane.
Does DeVos want a kindergarten teacher interacting with her students with a holstered gun on her hip? Would the teacher need to engage in gunfire instead of getting her students to a safe place? How could teachers ever receive enough training to engage in a shootout with someone who has a military weapon, especially in the chaos of students and other educators fleeing for safety? The more you think it through, the crazier the plan sounds.

Beyond the insanity of it, beyond the fact that arming teachers would make our children’s classrooms less safe, it’s also not what educators and students want. Educators, students and parents have made clear that they don’t want more guns in schools; teachers want to teach and students want to learn. They want their schools to be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses.
In her testimony before the Federal Commission on School Safety, Newtown, Conn., teacher Abbey Clements said, “I would like to make something perfectly clear: Had school employees been carrying guns at Sandy Hook School, it would not have made us or our students any safer.”
Equally astounding is that DeVos has no authority to use these funds for Continue reading: There are many ways to make schools safer, arming teachers is the last thing we should do | TheHill

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The Daily Devil’s Dictionary: Betsy DeVos Uses Her “Discretion”

 - by @pisackson on @myfairobserver