Demographics & Diversity

Overview

Demographics & Diversity

Is it possible to provide every child an equal education, to create classrooms where all students can learn effectively regardless of the multitude of differences each student brings to the schoolhouse every morning?

Is it possible to provide every child an equal education, to create classrooms where all students can learn effectively regardless of the multitude of differences each student brings to the schoolhouse every morning? From preschool to K-12 to higher education, each school seeks to cultivate not only student success but also equity with regard to how resources are allocated and goals met among the variety of students enrolled.Indeed, the question of equity—more specifically, how to address the racial, socioeconomic, gender and cultural differences that students bring with them to classrooms so that all might have an equal opportunity to learn—has shaped the way that the nation’s schools have operated for more than two centuries, often sparking charged debates that reverberate outside of schoolhouses. This Topics section gathers research, news articles, and other resources to examine how student demographics and diversity can affect the education process.

In education circles today, the “achievement gap” is the term used most often to discuss the differences between the academic performance of students from different racial or socioeconomic backgrounds. The root of that terminology can be traced back to Horace Mann, the early 19th century Massachusetts state senator turned education secretary often credited as the leading voice in organizing a national public school system. He argued compulsory education paid for through taxes—with consistent standards for classrooms and instructors—would resolve the financial gap between rich and poor and unite communities mired in isolation.

Mann’s efforts focused on overcoming the differences between rich and poor students to achieve his vision of instilling social harmony through schoolhouses. But by the middle of the 19th century, the debate over how schools could best serve all students had shifted largely to the matter of race and had moved into the legislative and judicial systems. In 1860, for example, California enacted a law that effectively excluded Chinese, African American and Native American students from public schools. Such practices had long been in use in the South—and some other parts of the nation. In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson upheld this practice of racial segregation in public facilities, affirming the notion of “separate but equal.” That ruling was overturned in 1954 in the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, which catalyzed the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The subsequent efforts to desegregate schools and improve racial equity in education have yielded some success, though issues of funding, access and achievement remain.

According to one measure of academic achievement, African American and Hispanic students have surged in math and literacy since the 1970s. Released in 2009, The Nation’s Report Card: Long-Term Trend 2008 report—based on results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress test—shows black 9, 13 and 17-year students who were tested in 2008 scored 34, 25 and 27 points higher respectively on reading than a similar cohort that was measured in 1971. Those scores closed the gap between blacks and whites by 20, 18 and 24 points, respectively. Among Hispanic 9, 13 and 17-year old students, the most recent cohort tested improved by 24, 10 and 17 points compared to a similar Hispanic set of students tested in 1975. The gap between whites and Hispanics narrowed by 13, 4 and 15 points respectively. Math gains were just as pronounced for black students and slightly more dramatic for Hispanics.

Nevertheless, these test score improvements for black and Latino students have not resolved other issues of academic achievement these minority groups face, particularly male students of color. For example, the Schott foundation in 2010 found that 53 percent of black males dropout of high school, compared to 22 percent for whites. Among those black male students who do go onto college, 60 percent grew up in two parent households; less than 18 percent were from low-income backgrounds; and 57 percent of their mothers and 50.5 percent of fathers had an associate’s degree or higher, according to recent research from the University of Pennsylvania.

Socioeconomic Factors

Along socioeconomic lines, there are wide disparities between the academic performance of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch and those who do not. Recent NAEP scores on reading among fourth graders show that students who participated in the free/reduced-price lunch program produced a score of 207 nationally, 28 points behind students who do not participate in the program. Nationwide, the percentage of students that qualify for the subsidized lunch program was roughly 44 percent, with students receiving free lunch outnumbering those with reduced-price vouchers 18.3 million to 2.7 million. For cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, figures jump significantly, the number of students who use the free or reduced-price lunch program ranging between 74 and 87 percent in 2011. (The most recent NAEP reading scores for fourth graders show a three-point gap between the national average and large-city average.)

More and more, homelessness also is affecting the nation’s overall student body: The number of students who live on the streets, in motels with relatives or in shelters has jumped 38 percent between 2007 and 2010 to 1.6 million pupils — roughly 3 percent of all K-12 public school students. The economic slowdown is largely to blame for this spike.

There is ample research that examines how out-of-school factors—particularly those connected to socioeconomic status–contribute to a child’s classroom performance. Many studies show that schools and teachers have a smaller effect on student performance than family income and health issues. An Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report from 2005 that examined over 20 countries concluded socioeconomic factors outside the classroom are the most significant variable in a student’s success. Additionally, a 2007 study from Ohio State University determined, “the differences between rich and poor schools are much smaller than the differences between rich and poor homes.”

Exactly how much schools can do to counteract the effects of student poverty is one of the central elements of most discussions of equity and school reform. Some of the options that have demonstrated notable benefits involve providing children with increased opportunities to learn. Access to early childhood education before the age of five for low-income minorities has been shown to boost the chance of on-time high school graduation by 55 percent and cut many negative adult attributes such as incarceration and drug abuse by a quarter, according to the seminal Chicago Longitudinal Study results from 2011. Expanded classroom time also has shown positive results: Adding extra days to students’ classroom time led to test-score jumps ranging from a low of 2 percent to a high of 90 percent. Numerous other studies indicate increased summer enrichment programs can stanch summer learning loss for poorer students.

The Gender Gap

Another area often examined in discussions of equity in education is the gender gap—whether girls and boys have access to the same opportunities and achieve the same levels of success. Whether the two sexes learn differently and should be taught accordingly are among the questions that have arisen since the founding of the first women’s colleges in the 1830s to the rise of single-sex charter schools today. The 1970s in particular were a watershed period for efforts to protect the civil rights of female students. Through Title IX of the federal Education Amendments of 1972, individuals were protected from discrimination based on gender. Over the years, court activity and legislation have clarified that the law applies to all institutions that receive any federal funding, including colleges that enroll students who receive federal financial aid.

In the past two decades, women have leapfrogged men on many education measures, particularly at the postsecondary level. For each year during the 11-year period from 1998 to 2009, women earned more associate’s degrees (between 61 and 62 percent of the degrees earned) and bachelor’s degrees (57 percent) than men. Among minorities, women outperformed men by a ratio of 2-to-1 at times. Of the postsecondary certificates earned by black students during that time period, women earned two-thirds or more of the associate’s, bachelor’s degrees, master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as 62 percent of first-professional degrees. Hispanic women also held an edge over Hispanic men, earning more than six in 10 associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as 53 percent of first-professional degrees and 57 percent of doctoral degrees.

One area of higher education where women are underrepresented is in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. For example, according to the National Science Foundation, colleges and universities awarded 138,874 STEM bachelor’s degrees to men in 2007, while just 88,371 women earned such degrees. A 2010 report from the American Association of University Women concluded that more active recruitment efforts and messaging that challenges the stereotypes that women underachieve in math and science would encourage more women to pursue STEM degrees.

Hispanics and Immigration

In recent years, many districts have had to adapt to the upswing in the number of Hispanic students and those with English as a second language. Between 2000 and 2009, the percentage of Hispanic students enrolled in the nation’s schools rose from 16.6 percent to 22.2 percent. (These enrollment percentages changes can be even more pronounced at the state or district level.)

As a group, Latino students tend to be disproportionately disadvantaged socioeconomically. According to Pew Hispanic Center, more Hispanic children lived in poverty in 2010—6.1 million—than any other demographic; that figure accounts for just over one-third of all the U.S. children living in poverty. Of those Hispanic children occupying the lower economic rungs, more than two-thirds have immigrant parents. According to Berkeley’s Institute of Human Development, in 2005, only 53 percent of Latinos four-year olds were enrolled in preschool, compared to 69 and 70 percent for blacks and whites.

One of the biggest political debates regarding Hispanics in education is the DREAM Act, a bill that has been in legislative pipeline since 2001. If passed, it would grant undocumented immigrants a path toward legal residency if they serve in the military or enroll in higher-ed institutions for a certain period of time. Supporters of the bill view it as a reasonable solution to a large cohort of young adults who already are in the country, while opponents believe it grants scofflaws amnesty and places an unfair tax burden on authorized residents. California and Texas have passed their versions of the law, while other states are caught in internal challenges to the legislatively-backed versions of the law.

Laws in Alabama, Georgia and Arizona targeting undocumented residents—for example, checking residency status when families enroll students in school—have had an effect on schools as well: News reports noted an uptick in out-of-state migration and drops in school attendance as Hispanic families left states following the passage of these laws. Federal precedent requires public schools to educate students regardless of their residency status.

Member Stories

January 12-19
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

“While Trump spoke of his desire to reinvest in rural America, most of his education policy has had an urban focus,” Ben Felder writes for The Oklahoman in a story that’s part of a series leading up to the inauguration.

 

Kate Murphy of the Cincinnati Enquirer interviews the sexual assault survivor whose case launched a federal investigation of how the University of Cincinnati handles reports of sexual assault.

 

Latest News

Kids at Barack Obama Elementary Have Known Only One President. Many Fear the Next.

For those who attend and live around the Prince George’s County school named for the country’s first African American president, the shift in power will not only evoke intense emotions — it will also cut at their identity. This is Obama territory, one of the nation’s most affluent, majority-black communities, where residents speak of the 44th commander in chief as they would a relative.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

For Trump Pick DeVos, Confirmation Hearing Is a Bear

Tuesday’s confirmation hearing for billionaire school advocate Betsy DeVos — President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. secretary of education — was a doozy.

DeVos sought to present herself as ready to oversee the federal agency, but some of her remarks suggested a lack of familiarity with the federal laws governing the nation’s schools.

In her opening statement before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, DeVos said:

EWA Radio

‘The Book of Isaias’: A Memphis DREAMer’s Uncertain Path
EWA Radio: Episode 106

Journalist Daniel Connolly spent a year embedded at a Memphis high school to learn first-hand about the educational experiences of Hispanic immigrants’ children. Connolly’s new book focuses on star student Isaias Ramos, “the hope of Kingsbury High.” The author explores how Isaias, born in the U.S., seeks to overcome obstacles to his plans for college. How did Connolly (The Memphis Commercial Appeal) gain such extraordinary access to the students, educators, and families of this school community? What does Isaias’ journey tell us about the hopes and aspirations of Hispanic immigrant families? And how are real world realities pressuring public schools to redefine expectations for student success?

Latest News

The View From Room 205

This is a story about some little kids and a big idea.

The little kids are fourth graders. They go to William Penn Elementary School on Chicago’s West Side in the North Lawndale neighborhood.

It’s the first day of school, September 2014, and they’re filing into the auditorium because Mayor Rahm Emanuel is here to tout rising test scores. The head of Chicago Public Schools at the time, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, is here too.

She’s laying out the big idea that I want to wrestle with:

Latest News

Obama’s Impact On America’s Schools

When President Obama took office in January 2009, the country was on edge, the economy in free-fall. The federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind, was also in need of an update after earning the ire of teachers, parents and politicians alike. In short, there was much to do.

In time, that update would come, but President Obama’s education legacy begins, oddly enough, with his plan to bolster the faltering economy.

Latest News

The Longstanding Crisis Facing Tribal Schools

Havasu Canyon is home to turquoise waterfalls, billowing cottonwood trees, and red sandstone cliffs that attract thousands of tourists each year. It’s also home to the Havasupai people, a federally recognized Native American tribe allegedly subject to education conditions so dreadful it’s as if many of the reservation’s children don’t attend school at all.

Member Stories

January 6 – January 12

More districts and states are enacting rules to monitor school water safety. “The action is an acknowledgment that the largely voluntary testing system present in most of the country isn’t sufficient,” writes Stacy Teicher Khadaroo for The Christian Science Monitor.

Eric Kelderman of The Chronicle of Higher Education with an important insight into the likely education secretary under Trump: “Ms. DeVos shows her belief in developing civil society through the contributions of individual citizens rather than government.”

Latest News

More English Learners Move Into Rural Schools

The population of English learners has been increasing in North Dakota schools — most recently in rural districts.

“It’s growing. The need there is growing,” said Lyle Krueger, executive director of the Missouri River Educational Cooperative, one of eight regional education associations in the state. The MREC is comprised of 37 school districts in south-central North Dakota.

In rural districts, Krueger said the numbers are sporadic. They may not have an English learner for years; then, when they do, they are often at a loss to offer help.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Quickly Could Trump Change Public Education?

It’s shaping up to be a contentious year on the education beat, fueled in part by Donald Trump’s upset victory in the presidential election. For starters, in the days and weeks since his election, his campaign call for expanding school choice has sparked widespread discussion and debate.

Latest News

Incoming DC Schools Chancellor Has Reputation For Reducing Suspensions

Antwan Wilson will take over as head of DC Public Schools following Kaya Henderson’s exit. While he is an outsider, he is not expected to make sweeping changes to the direction the district has been heading over the last decade. His success on reducing suspensions in Oakland comes at a time when the nation is moving away from zero tolerance discipline policies in favor of keeping kids in classrooms.

Member Stories

December 29 – January 5
Here's what we're reading by EWA members

Nationally, 84 percent of computer science majors are men. At Harvey Mudd College in California, women make up 55 percent of computer science graduates. Rosanna Xia explores the school’s gender-equity efforts in this Los Angeles Times story.

Key Coverage

Broke: Why More California Families Are Becoming Homeless

California is failing to keep parents with young children from slipping into extreme poverty and, ultimately homelessness.

Despite federal and state money earmarked specifically to support children’s wellbeing, government programs are inadequate to meet the region’s rising housing costs and falling incomes, leaving the poorest families on the street.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Georgia Judge: DACA Students Can Pay In-State Tuition Rate

Undocumented immigrants in Georgia who came to the U.S. as children and have received temporary protection from deportation under the Obama administration will now be able to pay in-state tuition at the state’s colleges and universities, a judge ruled in the years-long court case Tuesday.

Latest News

Newcomers Help Others Learn English

When Perla Anguiano Carrizales walked up to Ralston High School for the first time in August 2015, she was terrified. The building was massive — nothing like her school back in Mexico. She didn’t speak English. She knew no one.

More than a year later, Carrizales gets good grades. The 17-year-old is aiming to get a scholarship to college. And she wants to be a nurse.

Latest News

Immigrants Who Challenged In-state Tuition Policy Win Case

A judge says the Georgia university system must allow immigrants to pay in-state tuition if they’ve been granted temporary permission by the federal government to stay in the U.S.

Georgia’s state colleges and universities require verification of “lawful presence” in the U.S. for in-state tuition. The Board of Regents had said students with temporary permission to stay under a 2012 program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, didn’t meet that requirement.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

What’s Next for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics?
A Q&A With Outgoing Executive Director Alejandra Ceja

Alejandra Ceja has been the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics since 2013 — a position she’ll give up at noon on Jan. 19, the day before the presidential inauguration. I recently sat down with her at the U.S. Department of Education to talk about the state of Latino education, the Initiative’s first 25 years, and what we can expect from the Initiative under the next administration. 

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length. 

Latest News

How A California Tribe Is Trying To Revitalize Itself, From Cradle To College

It began with everyone in the Corning-Paskenta Tribal Community doing their parts.

There were home visits to new parents, a deep look at how to boost early-reading skills,and programs to help middle-schoolers avoid substance abuse and violence.

There were four years of surveys and research on what worked and what didn’t. And there were dozens of meetings that reached out to many groups normally left out of policy discussions, such as teen parents and migrant workers.

Member Stories

December 15 – December 22
Some of our favorite stories by EWA members this week

This company trains schools how to respond to active shooter attacks, reports Dan Carsen for WBHM. Unlike other training, this group, which has partnered with 3,700 districts, encourages staff and students to fight back.

A heartwarming tale or a case study in picking favorites? Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel examines the merits of a Florida university absorbing a bionics company and the worries other firms have about an unfair competitive environment.

Latest News

Great Divide: How Extreme Academic Segregation Isolates Students in New York City’s High Schools

A Chalkbeat analysis found that over half the students who took and passed the eighth-grade state math exam in 2015 wound up clustered in less than 8 percent of New York City high schools. The same was true for those who passed the English exam. Meanwhile, nearly 165 of the city’s roughly 440 high schools had five or fewer ninth-graders who took and passed the state math test in 2015.

Latest News

The Learning Curve: Race and Class Often Color the Debate Over Charter Schools

Charter schools have existed in San Diego since 1994, but the debate over whether they’re good for public education shows no signs of slowing down.

Charter schools are publicly funded but independently run. In San Diego, there’s been a steady growth of students opting out of traditional schools and into charter schools. This year, roughly 20 percent of students living within San Diego Unified boundaries are enrolled in charters, and district officials expect the numbers to rise.

Latest News

Behind Connecticut’s “Opportunity Gap”

In Hartford, Connecticut, a third-grade class read enough books to earn a pizza party. The excited students piled onto a bus, crossing the Connecticut River to a pizza parlor in East Hartford. One student pointed out the window: “What’s that?” She had never seen a river, recalls current Westport Public Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer. Shortly after, Palmer visited a third-grade classroom in the affluent town of Weston. A girl told Palmer it was almost her birthday, and Palmer asked what she was doing to celebrate. The answer: her father was taking her to Paris.

Member Stories

December 8-15
Some of our favorite stories by EWA members this week

Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel investigates how Orange County school board members spent $500,000 of taxpayer money over the last two years. “One board member paid $2,500 for a school mural that depicts herself,” she writes.

 

Starting in January, Portland Community College will teach a specially designed curriculum for nursing students left stranded by the closure of the for-profit ITT Technical Institute earlier this year, Andrew Theen reports for The Oregonian.

Latest News

Protecting Or Policing?

 In the sweltering days of July, tensions between police and civilians were running high. A cop fatally shot Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, setting off a week of protests. Another police officer fatally shot Philando Castile in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, while his fiance and her 4-year-old daughter watched. A sniper shot and killed five police officers in Dallas.

Latest News

Facing Pressure to Cut Special Education, Texas Schools Shut Out English Language Learners

Refugees, immigrants and other kids who do not speak English are entitled to the same special education services as native speakers. But in this Southeast Texas city, they seldom get them. Just 39 of the nearly 1,000 English Language Learners here receive services like tutoring, counseling and speech therapy, 70 percent fewer per capita than a decade ago.

Latest News

As Other Districts Grapple With Segregation, This One Makes Integration Work

The Morris School District was created in 1971, after a state court decision led to the merger of two Northern New Jersey communities — the mostly white suburbs of Morris Township, and the racially mixed urban hub of Morristown — into one school district for the purpose of maintaining racial and economic balance. Paul Tractenberg says the district has a “remarkable can-do attitude” that has allowed officials to continuously “rejigger what they are doing to accommodate the demands of the moment.”

Member Stories

December 2 – December 8
Here's what we're reading by EWA members

Boys are less likely than girls to take advantage of college-prep services in California. Larry Gordon of EdSource reports on the how and why.

The school district in Ohio’s capital created a counseling response team to aid students at campuses beset by tragedy. A team of roughly 20 personnel responded to 17 incidents last year, write Bill Bush and Shannon Gilchrist for The Columbus Dispatch.

Latest News

In Diverse California, a Young White Supremacist Seeks to Convert Fellow College Students

Nathan Damigo brought his message of white separatism to an unusual place: an ethnic studies class at Cal State Stanislaus called Searching for America.

Speaking to a crowd filled with black and Latino students, he wove a country song tale of whites becoming an endangered minority in America and compared their plight to Native Americans — before describing his fantasy for a utopian homeland for whites not unlike Indian reservations.

Latest News

Clovis Teacher Disciplined for Wearing Black Lives Matter Pin

David Roberts, a 75-year-old substitute teacher, went to work last month at Clovis West High wearing a Black Lives Matter button on his shirt pocket. A day later, he was told that he was no longer allowed to work at the school.

“They said it was a violation of their policy of being neutral regarding political issues, but I don’t consider it a political statement. It is a moral statement,” Roberts said. “I was very surprised because I didn’t think it was a violation of anything.”

Latest News

Xavier Partners With Charter Schools in Bid to Diversify New Orleans’ Teaching Force

Xavier University has joined forces with a nonprofit group at the forefront of the New Orleans charter school movement to create a first-of-its-kind “residency” program intended to diversify the city’s public school teaching force. The program will primarily recruit Xavier University seniors and recent graduates, many of whom have ties to the community. It is the first such partnership in the country between charter schools and a historically black college or university. 

Latest News

How the Face of Denver Public Schools Is Changing, Explained in Five Charts

Colorado’s largest school district continues to grow, though not at the same breakneck pace that saw Denver Public Schools gain 20,000 students in the past decade. This year, DPS has 902 more students in preschool through 12th grade for a total of 92,331 kids, according to officials.

That’s about a 1 percent increase over last year, when the district had 91,429 students.

There are several reasons why student enrollment is slowing even as the city’s population is surging.

Latest News

Detroit Just Created Its First Intentionally Diverse Charter School. Here’s Why It Might Not Stay That Way.

In the 20 years since charter schools first opened as a free alternative to traditional district schools in Michigan and around the country, many of the privately run, publicly funded schools have focused on serving poor students in urban areas. It’s one of the reasons why charter schools are some of the most segregated schools in the nation.

But a growing group of educators have tried to change that by building schools designed to attract kids from different backgrounds and different neighborhoods.

Latest News

Desegregation As a Human Right: New York City Councilman Proposes ‘Office of School Diversity’

New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres introduced a bill Tuesday that would create an Office of School Diversity aimed at tackling deep segregation in the nation’s largest school system.

If approved, the office would be housed within the city’s Commission on Human Rights, and would be tasked with investigating the causes and extent of school segregation in the city.

EWA Radio

‘Unprepared’ in Memphis: The Realities of College Readiness
EWA Radio: Episode 99

In a new series, Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter Jennifer Pignolet tells the story of Shelby County students working hard to make it to college — and to succeed once they arrive. And their challenges aren’t just financial: for some, like Darrius Isom of South Memphis, having reliable transportation to get to class on time is a game changer. And what are some of the in-school and extracurricular programs that students say are making a difference? Pignolet also looks at the the Tennessee Promise program, which provides free community college classes to qualified students, and assigns a mentor to help guide them. 

THANKSGIVING BONUS: EWA journalist members share some of the things they’re grateful for this year. 

Latest News

‘Here, I Am Above Average’: Chinese ‘Parachute Kids’ Are Coming to the U.S. at Younger Ages

Before she came to the U.S. for high school, Yuhan “Coco” Yang remembers wanting to “fly away” from her life in China, where school began at the crack of dawn and lasted until the sky went dark.

Every year, more students like Yang arrive in American schools, dreaming of a different future than the one China allowed them.

Latest News

U.S. Secretary John King to States: End Corporal Punishment in Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. has called on states to stop allowing schools to use corporal punishment to discipline students, arguing that it is a “harmful practice.”

In his letter to governors and chief state school officers dated Tuesday, King pointed out that the corporal punishment practiced in some states’ schools could also be classified as criminal assault or battery under separate laws in those same states. Corporal punishment is often used disproportionately on certain groups of students, such as students of color, King said. 

Latest News

Opinion: Jeff Sessions’ Other Civil Rights Problem

Jeff Sessions became attorney general four decades after the Supreme Court struck down segregated schools in its landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. In the intervening years, racial segregation diminished somewhat, but separate and unequal continued in another form. In 1956, as a way to sidestep Brown, Alabama voters amended the state Constitution to deprive students of a right to public education. Public support for school funding collapsed in its aftermath.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Texas Education Board Rejects ‘Racist’ Textbook

After months of controversy surrounding a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook that critics called racist and inaccurate, the Texas State Board of Education voted this week to reject its adoption. 

The board rejected the textbook on Wednesday 14-0, with one board member absent. A final vote will take place today, but even if the board votes “no” again, the text could still show up in Texas public school classrooms — just not on the board-approved list of instructional materials.

Latest News

Study Shows Implicit Racial Bias in Parent-Teacher Communication

Growing up in Columbia, Maryland, Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng was a self-described troublemaker in grade school. He even got sent to the principal’s office once for in-class misbehavior. But none of his teachers ever called his parents about his school misconduct. In fact, throughout his K-12 schooling, Cherng can’t recall once when a school staffer reached out to his parents. Meanwhile, even though it was customary in high school for the counselor to personally congratulate parents of students who gained early admission to college, his name was left off the call list.

Latest News

‘Education Not Deportation’: Hundreds of NYC Students Walk Out of Class, March to Trump Tower in Protest

Leaving biology, English, and calculus behind, hundreds of New York City high school students walked out of class and into the pouring rain, marching to Trump Tower exactly a week after the eponymous candidate’s victory. The march began around 10 a.m., when well over 100 students streamed out of Manhattan’s selective Beacon High School, chanting, “This is what democracy looks like!” and “Education, not deportation!” The protest coincided with others at colleges and university across the country.

Latest News

L.A.’s Education Board Sends a Message to Trump: Schools Will Stay ‘Safe Zones’ for Students Here Illegally

The nation’s second-largest school system on Tuesday sent a message to President-elect Donald Trump: Los Angeles’ public schools will continue to be “safe zones” for students in the U.S. illegally. The Los Angeles Board of Education voted to approve a resolution reaffirming L.A. Unified’s current policy, which directs school staff members not to allow federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents onto school campuses unless their visit has been approved by the superintendent and the district’s lawyers.

Latest News

Tougher Times For Latino Students? History Says They’ve Never Had It Easier

There’s been lots of chatter on social media and among pundits, warning that the treatment of immigrant kids and English language learners is going to “get worse” under a Donald Trump presidency.

Some people on Twitter are even monitoring incidents in which Latino students in particular have been targeted.

But I wonder: When were these students not targeted? When did immigrant students and their families ever have it easy?

Latest News

‘Invisible’ Children: Raised in the U.S., Now Struggling in Mexico

Children and teenagers of Mexican descent make up one of the fastest-growing populations in the nation’s public schools.

That’s a well-known statistic, but less known is that, in the last eight years, nearly 500,000 of these children have returned to Mexico with their families. Nine out of 10 are U.S. citizens because they were born in the U.S. That’s according to Mexican and U.S. government figures compiled by researchers with the University of California system, and the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

Latest News

School Districts Offer Counseling Support After Trump Victory As Officials Try to Calm Fears

Some school districts are offering counseling services to students and staff upset about the election of Donald Trump to the presidency while school and community leaders sent out messages urging calm.

Parents dropping their students off at schools in different areas reported seeing teachers crying, and teachers said non-white students expressed fears that they and their families would be negatively affected by a Trump administration.

Latest News

California Will Bring Back Bilingual Education As Proposition 58 Cruises To Victory

Public schools in California will have more power to develop their own bilingual and multilingual programs after voters on Tuesday approved a measure repealing English-only instruction across the state.

With nearly 21% of 24,849 precincts reporting, Proposition 58 appeared to coast to victory, with 73% support among voters. Twenty-seven percent of voters sought to defeat it.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Will Education Fare Under President Trump?

The long, strange election cycle came to an end Tuesday with the election of Donald Trump as the next president. And while his campaign platform was scarce on education policy details, there’s no question his administration will have a significant impact, from early childhood to K-12 and higher education

Latest News

How Can Being Bilingual Be an Asset for White Students and a Deficit for Immigrants?

Katie Cardamone teaches second grade in the Mendon-Upton Regional School District, about 40 miles southwest of Boston. Barely 1 percent of Mendon’s population is Latino and about 2 percent of Upton’s is, but Cardamone teaches her entire class in Spanish. According to Cardamone, about 250 predominantly white families across the district have signed their children up for the immersion program, recognizing the value of becoming bilingual and of starting the process in kindergarten.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Latino Students, Charter Schools and the Massachusetts Ballot Question

This Election Day, Massachusetts voters will decide whether to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state — a hotly contested ballot measure that’s drawn more than $34 million in fundraising among the two sides and garnered national attention, with parents of students of color and advocates for minority students on both sides of the issue.

Latest News

The Burden of Being a Black School Teacher in America

As classrooms across the United States become more diverse, schools are working to hire more teachers of color, particularly black teachers. Some have actually done a reasonable job of bringing more African American educators in the door. Yet the vast majority of teachers remain white women, in part because many black teachers leave just a few years into the job. Federal data suggests that in 2012-13, nearly 22 percent of black public-school teachers moved schools or left the profession altogether, compared to only about 15 percent of white, non-Hispanic teachers.  

Latest News

With Data, and Helping Hands, a School Turns Around its Dismal Dropout Trend

A program called Diplomas Now, a partnership between Johns Hopkins University, City Year, provides academic support in struggling schools, and Communities In Schools, a national nonprofit that tackles out-of-school problems like getting kids glasses or helping their families find child care for younger siblings. Based on the data the team monitors, he helps City Year and Communities In Schools staff figure out who needs extra attention. Without Diplomas Now, “You just don’t have enough adults in this school to meet the needs of the kids here.”

Latest News

Black Teachers Interviewed for Report on Teacher Struggles

Students need many things, from visionary principals to sharp pencils. Somewhere near the top of that list should be these two words:

Black teachers.

As of 2012, 16 percent of public school students were African-American, while just 7 percent of teachers were black. To make matters worse, according to the U.S. Department of Education, black teachers are leaving their classrooms at a higher rate than any other group.

Latest News

Review: Anna Deavere Smith’s ‘Notes From the Field’ Delivers Voices of Despair and Hope

Just listen, if you would, to how she listens.

That may sound like an odd way to invoke what Anna Deavere Smith does in “Notes From the Field,” her wonderfully energizing new performance piece about the cursed intersection of two American institutions, the school and the prison, in a racially divided nation. After all, Ms. Smith talks practically nonstop in the show, which opened on Wednesday night at Second Stage Theater.

Latest News

What 1.6 Million American Students Are Missing

John B. King Jr. understood the importance of school counselors from a young age, because his own mother served as one in his school. “I can remember hearing her talk with my father about her students and the kinds of support she was providing them,” he says.

Report

Changes in Income-Based Gaps in Parent Activities with Young Children from 1988-2012
American Educational Research Association

Numerous studies show large differences between economically advantaged and disadvantaged parents in the quality and quantity of their engagement in young children’s development. This “parenting gap” may account for a substantial portion of the gap in children’s early cognitive skills. However, researchers know little about whether the socioeconomic gap in parenting has increased over time. The present study investigates this question, focusing on income- (and education) based gaps in parents’ engagement in cognitively stimulating activities with preschool-aged children.

Latest News

Trump Rhetoric Complicates Border Crossing for Students

All along the U.S.-Mexico border, hundreds of children from kindergarten on up make their way through checkpoints and guard stations each day to study. This has been happening for decades. Many, like Vidaña Sanchez, are Americans born to Mexican parents who desperately want to create a better life for their offspring and see education as the path forward.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Feds: ‘E’ in ESSA Stands for ‘Equity’

Here’s a secret about federal laws: Even after Congress passes them and the president signs them, federal agencies can take actions –through writing regulations — that change their impact considerably. That worry is on full display almost a year after Congress overhauled the nation’s main K-12 education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

Latest News

Theme High Schools Long to Find the Most Interested Applicants

New York City’s Department of Education frequently boasts that 75 percent of eighth graders get one of their top three choices for high school. That sounds impressive for a system handling about 75,000 applications each fall. But teachers and principals at small schools with special themes told WNYC they wind up with students each year who don’t want to be there, while some who really do want to attend aren’t accepted.

Latest News

How a Happy School Can Help Students Succeed

A study published in the Review of Educational Research today suggests that school climate is something educators and communities should prioritize — especially as a way to bridge the elusive achievement gap. The authors analyzed more than 15 years of research on schools worldwide, and found that positive school climate had a significant impact on academics.

Latest News

Number of Home-Schooled Students Has Doubled Since 1999, New Data Shows

Approximately 1.8 million U.S. children were home-schooled in 2012, more than double the number that were home-schooled in 1999, when the federal government began gathering data on national home-schooling trends, according to estimates released Tuesday. The estimated number of home-schooled children represents 3.4 percent of the U.S. student population between the ages of 5 and 17.

The increase was fastest between 1999 and 2007, then slowed between 2007 and 2012, according to the estimates from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Latest News

Boulder 5th Graders Find Hope, Yes Hope, In the 2016 Election

(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News) In this fractious election season, we searched — and we found — some hopeful voices. There’s a catch, though: They can’t vote. But they want you to.

Fifth graders from the Boulder Community School of Integrated Studies recently took a field trip to the University of Colorado Boulder campus, where they shared their get out the vote message with college students. Along the way, they tackled important issues about who gets to vote — and who historically hasn’t been allowed to.

Latest News

School Segregation

Public schools are increasingly divided by race and class. John Oliver discusses the troubling trend towards school resegregation, citing findings that showed the South had actually the least-segregated schools in the nation, but New York was found to have the most segregation.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

A Push for More Latino College Graduates in Texas, but Not by ‘Business as Usual’

Latino children will “pretty much determine the fate of Texas” during the 21st century, the state’s Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes said in his annual address this week.

That’s why the state will need to get more creative in educating Latinos and ensuring they graduate from college. “Doing business as usual,” won’t work, he said, according to the Austin American-Statesman

Member Stories

October 20-October 27
Some of our favorite stories by EWA members this week

In Texas school districts, it’s often the men who are calling the shots. Shelby Webb of The Houston Chronicle explores why it’s the case that in a state where three out of four teachers are women, only one of five superintendents are female. Click here to bypass the story’s paywall.

Latest News

Do California Parents Want Bilingual Education?

Bilingual education is back on the ballot in California. Do voters feel differently about the issue now than they did in 1998?

At present, the Golden State public schools are required to teach most English learners in English-only programs. In some circumstances, parents can request consideration for bilingual programs. By voting “yes” on Proposition 58, California voters would make it easier for schools to decidehow they teach English learners, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the California legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal and policy advisor.

Key Coverage

In One Corner of the Law, Minorities and Women Are Often Valued Less

The 4-year-old boy was mentally disabled, unable to speak in complete sentences and unable to play with other children because of his violent fits of hitting and biting.

The decision facing one Brooklyn jury last year was how much a landlord should pay in damages to the boy — named “G.M.M.” in court documents — after an investigation showed he had been living in an apartment illegally coated with lead paint. To determine that, the jury would have to decide how much more the boy would have earned over his lifetime without the injury.

Latest News

A Look at Alabama Math Scores: ‘We’re in Trouble’

Newly appointed state superintendent Michael Sentance, during his first work session, warned the Alabama Board of Education of a crisis in math education.

“We’re in trouble,” he said. 

The numbers he used as proof: scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, also known as the nation’s report card. Alabama’s fourth-graders landed in 52nd place in 2015. All fifty states, the Department of Defense (DoD) schools and the District of Columbia are included, making that dead-last ranking possible.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

As Feds Turn Focus on English-Language Learners, Teachers Struggle to Find Quality Materials

Craig Brock teaches high school science in Amarillo, Texas, where his freshman biology students are currently learning about the parts of a cell. But since many of them are refugee children who have only recently arrived in the U.S. and speak little or no English, Brock often has to get creative.

Usually that means creating PowerPoint presentations full of pictures and “just kind of pulling from here and there,” he said — the Internet, a third grade textbook or a preschool homeschool curriculum from Sam’s Club, for example.

Latest News

Teachers Get Schooled on Talking Race

Here’s the scenario: a teenage boy and girl are arguing about the presidential election in their school cafeteria. The boy tells the girl he’s supporting Trump because he’ll build a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants. The girl says she’s of Mexican descent and that she considers the boy’s remarks racist. A teacher overhearing this lunchroom conversation should:

A) Get the kids to calm down, tell them they’re each entitled to their opinion and change the topic.

B) Offer a history lesson on how Texas actually used to be part of Mexico.

Latest News

A Once Nearly All-White School District Has a New Largest Group: Hispanic Students

Hispanic students for the first time outnumber their peers in other racial and ethnic groups in Montgomery County’s public schools, a milestone for diversity in a suburb long regarded as largely white and affluent. The school district in 2016-2017 is 30 percent Hispanic, 29 percent white, 22 percent black and 14 percent Asian, according to school district data, a student body that would have been difficult to imagine five decades ago, when Montgomery’s enrollment was 94 percent white.

Latest News

Denied: Disabled Kids Forced Out to Meet Special Ed Target

Some schools across Texas have ousted children with disabilities from needed services in order to comply with an agency decree that no more than 8.5 percent of students should obtain specialized education. School districts seeking to meet the arbitrary benchmark have not only made services harder to get into but have resorted to removing hundreds and hundreds of kids.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Will Californians Vote to Overturn Ban on Bilingual Education?

The fate of the U.S. presidency isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance on Election Day 2016.

Come Nov. 8, dual-language education could either get strengthened or further suppressed in the state with the highest percentage of English-language learners, as voters in California face a decision about overturning the state’s longstanding ban on a bilingual approach to educating these students.

Latest News

When is a Student ‘Gifted’ or ‘Disabled’? A New Study Shows Racial Bias Plays a Role in Deciding

Racial bias among educators may play a larger role than previously understood in deciding whether students are referred for special education or gifted programs, according to new research from NYU.

The study, the first of its kind to show a direct link between teacher bias and referrals for special services, found stark differences in how teachers classify students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds showing identical signs of disability or giftedness.

Member Stories

October 13-20
Some of our favorite stories by EWA members this week

Who will win the U.S. presidential election? Just ask America’s schoolchildren, who have accurately predicted the last 13 presidential elections, Greg Toppo of USA TODAY reports. This year’s nationwide mock election showed a landslide victory for Hillary Clinton.

 

Chicago could become the first U.S. city to cap its number of charter schools using a union contract, Lauren FitzPatrick writes for the Chicago Sun-Times.

 

Key Coverage

From the Reservation to College

President Obama wants more American Indian students to graduate from college. But look at the challenges these high schoolers face, and it becomes clear why that is a tall order.

Read more from an occasional series of articles on the transition to college for students at Browning High School on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana.

Key Coverage

Higher Ground: KIPP Strives To Lift New Orleans Grads Past Their Struggles

Eleven years ago, as Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters receded, experts promised to transform the city by upending its schools, fixing poverty and crime by and through degrees. …

Far more students graduate from New Orleans public high schools now: 75 percent, up from 54 percent before the storm …

But the real test is what happens after high school. The new New Orleans won’t materialize if beaming teenagers walk off the graduation dais as if it were a gangplank.

Member Stories

October 6 – October 13
Here's what we're reading by EWA members

Learn about Finland’s transition toward a school schedule that merges multiple subjects into extended learning blocks, a move that could be the exception to the adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Education Week’s Madeline Will has the story.

Melinda D. Anderson explains in The Atlantic how the “stress of racial discrimination may partly explain the persistent gaps in academic performance between some nonwhite students, mainly black and Latino youth, and their white counterparts.”

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Programs Providing ‘Excelencia’ in Latino Education

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Excelencia in Education has released its annual list of college programs and community groups that are effectively supporting the educational advancement of Latino students in higher education, or “Examples of ¡Excelencia!“ 

Here’s a look at this year’s honorees.

Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program, Northern Virginia Community College

Member Stories

September 29-October 6
What we're reading by EWA members this week

In the first story of a new series for The Hechinger Report, Lynell Hancock writes about Greenville, Mississippi, whose school district was the first in the state to “defy the governor and voluntarily offer real choice for white and black children to enroll in each other’s schools.”

 

One year after the deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, the unity and solidarity of the surrounding community hasn’t waned, Andrew Theen reports for The Oregonian.

Member Stories

September 23 – September 29
What we're reading by EWA members this week

Melissa Sanchez does some digging for The Chicago Reporter to learn that undocumented students represented roughly a quarter of all the learners who benefited from the city’s free community-college tuition program. Undocumented residents are barred from receiving federal aid for college.

Member Stories

September 15-22
What we're reading by EWA members this week

In an article for Harper’s Magazine, “Held Back: Battling for the Fate of a School District,” Alexandria Neason digs into the financial and racial turmoil facing Detroit’s public schools.

 

As the University of West Florida seeks a new president, students want to know whether their next leader will support the Black Lives Matter movement, Jessica Bakeman writes for Politico.

 

Key Coverage

Held Back: Battling For The Fate Of A School District

The Detroit public-school system was contending with an operating debt of more than $500 million, and the Citizens Research Council of Michigan had estimated that the total debt topped $3.5 billion. For years, money intended for students has instead been paying off old loans, and academic achievement has consistently ranked among the worst in American cities.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

In Texas, Latinos Run the Largest City School Districts

Source: Flickr/ via Tim Patterson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The school districts in Texas’ eight largest cities all have Latino superintendents at the helm, as do half of the top 20, Dallas-based KERA News reported Tuesday. The story comes after the recent hire of Richard A. Carranza as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, the largest in the state and seventh largest in the country. 

Member Stories

September 8 – September 15
Highlighting some of our favorite stories by EWA members this week

Melinda Anderson for The Atlantic: “The study suggests that as the portion of students of color in the school increased, so did the odds that the school would rely on more intense surveillance methods.”

Key Coverage

Why Appalachian Colleges Are Recruiting Hispanics

More of the teenagers graduating from high schools in Appalachia look like Janeth Barrera Cantu, and fewer look like the middle- and upper-class whites from which local colleges and universities have historically drawn their enrollments. So Lenoir-Rhyne and other schools in the region have started trying to recruit Hispanics, who—like Barrera Cantu—increasingly want college educations.

EWA Radio

Bright Lights, Big City: Covering NYC’s Schools
EWA Radio: Episode 89

(Unsplash/Pedro Lastra)

Today’s assignment: Reporting on the nation’s largest school district, with 1.1 million students and an operating budget of $25 billion. Patrick Wall of Chalkbeat New York has dug deep into the city’s special education programs, investigated whether school choice programs are contributing to student segregation rather than reducing it, and penned a three-part series on on one high school’s effort to reinvent itself. He talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about his work, and offers tips for making the most of student interviews, getting access to campuses, and balancing bigger investigations with daily coverage. A first-prize winner for beat reporting in this year’s EWA Awards, Wall is spending the current academic year at Columbia University’s School of Journalism as a Spencer Fellow.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Crossing Borders Means Repeated Grades, Denied Enrollment for Some Mexican-American Students

Source: Bigstock

There are hundreds of thousands of students who cross borders to attend schools in both the U.S. and Mexico during their elementary, middle and high school years, but poor communication between the two nations often results in significant obstacles for their academic advancement, researchers said at a binational symposium in Mexico this week.

Member Stories

September 2-September 8
Highlighting some of our favorite stories by EWA members this week

What does it mean to be ready for colleges and careers? How can a state measure its schools’ progress in keeping students on pace to do well after high school? California officials are trying to answer these questions with the state’s forthcoming College and Career Readiness Indicator, reports Fermin Leal for EdSource.

Des Moines schools are venturing beyond the standard lunch fare of chicken nuggets to appeal to an increasingly diverse student body, reports Mackenzie Ryan for the Des Moines Register.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Where Students Miss the Most Class, and Why That’s a Problem

By woodleywonderworks [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

The precocious teen who’s too cool for school – earning high marks despite skipping class – is a pop-culture standard, the idealized version of an effortless youth for whom success comes easy.

Too bad it’s largely a work of fiction that belies a much harsher reality: Missing just two days a month of school for any reason exposes kids to a cascade of academic setbacks, from lower reading and math scores in the third grade to higher risks of dropping out of high school, research suggests.

Member Stories

August 25-September 1
Highlighting some of our favorite stories by EWA members this week

A tribal school in Puyallup, Washington, is no longer accepting students who are not registered with a Native American tribe, meaning many children who intended to return to the K-12 campus this school year will have to seek an education elsewhere, Debbie Cafazzo of The News Tribune reports.

 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Crossing International Borders for a Better Education

Public Domain

Crossing an international border can be a hassle. But some parents in Mexico do it every day in pursuit of a better education for their children. 

San Antonio-based KENS 5 recently aired a story of a father who walks his two young children across the Mexico-Texas border daily so they can attend school in the U.S. The trek is worth it, he says.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Growing Segregation of Latinos in Public Schools Poses Challenge for Academic Success

Source: Leland Francisco/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

More than six decades since the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision declared that segregated schools are “inherently unequal,” Latino students from low-income backgrounds are becoming increasingly isolated in public schools across the country.

The most-segregated schools Latinos attend often have fewer resources, including less access to Advanced Placement courses and Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs, compared with schools with high populations of affluent and white students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.

See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.

Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.

Key Coverage

The Most Economically Segregated School Districts

The most economically segregated school districts in the country have childhood poverty rates that differ from neighboring school districts by more than 40 percentage points, highlighting the stark contrast among K-12 schools located just miles apart from each other.

The finding, included in an analysis released Tuesday from EdBuild, a nonprofit focused on education funding inequality, is just the latest in mounting pile of research focused onschool funding inequality.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Where Are the Latino Teachers?

Source: Flickr/ Mundial Perspectives (CC BY 2.0)

When Edgar Ríos was one of 126 students in the first class of a new charter school in Chicago in 1999, almost all of his teachers were white.

They were good teachers, he says. His favorite, though, was a teacher “who could speak Spanish with my mother and father, so I didn’t have to translate.”

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Latinos, Standardized Tests and the Opt-Out Movement

Karen Falla of Univisión Dallas, left, moderated a discussion on standardized testing and the opt-out movement with panelists Peggy McLeod of National Council of La Raza, José Palma of the University of Minnesota, and Ruth Rodriguez of United Opt Out National (not pictured). Source: Leticia Espinosa/ Hoy

While the number of parents who opt out of having their kids take their states’ standardized tests has grown nationally, much of this movement appears to be made up of white, wealthier families. Latinos and other minorities seem to be less inclined to avoid standardized testing.

That should not be the case, said Ruth Rodriguez, an administrator with United Opt Out National.

EWA Radio

Revisiting “Savage Inequalities” of School Funding
EWA Radio: Episode 85

HarperPerennial

For more than two decades, “Savage Inequalities” — a close look at school funding disparities nationwide — has been required reading at many colleges and universities. And with a growing number of states facing legal challenges to how they fund their local schools, author Jonathan Kozol’s work has fresh relevance. Education journalists Lauren Camera (US News & World Report) and Christine Sampson (East Hampton Star) talk with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about how Kozol’s book has influenced their own reporting.

Member Stories

August 4-11
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

EdSource’s Theresa Harrington writes about a Common Core-aligned curriculum created by educators in California that includes shearing sheep and designing board games.

 

Parents in Florida are suing the state for a “13-year-old practice of holding back third graders who score poorly on the state’s spring reading test, arguing that more factors should come into play when deciding the children’s academic fate,” Jeffrey Solochek reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

 

Member Stories

July 28 – August 4
What we're reading by EWA members this past week

“At USC, the Warrior-Scholar Project aims to help veterans … hone academic and social skills that may be lacking or forgotten, dissuading many from considering a top-tier school,” writes Rosanna Xia of the Los Angeles Times

“Over 1 in 5 of California’s charter schools have restrictive admissions requirements or other exclusionary practices that keep out many students with the greatest academic needs,” reports Louis Freedberg of EdSource.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Dual-Language Programs on the Rise Across the U.S.

Graduates in white and purple robes exited the auditorium, their newly turned tassels bouncing as they sang and danced to a recording of the popular Latin salsa tune, “Vivir Mi Vida.”

They had just graduated from the Margarita Muñiz Academy in Boston — many with more than a high school diploma. Forty-six of the 51 new alumni of the dual-language school had also earned a Seal of Biliteracy, an official recognition of their academic proficiency in both English and Spanish.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

D.C.-Area Latino Youth Programs Get Financial Boost

Source: Flickr via ||read|| (CC BY 2.0)

A community program working to reduce violence through soccer and an after-school robotics class serving Latino youth in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region have each received up to $50,000 in grants to aid their efforts from the Inter-American Development Bank.

Reporter Armando Trull provides insight into these two programs in a story for WAMU. 

Key Coverage

The Question of Tech Equity

The red-brick building of Ashburn Community Elementary School sits on a quiet street of bungalows, two blocks from the commuter rail line that cuts through the city’s Far Southwest Side.

The principal, Jewel Diaz, is a veteran who’s led Ashburn since 2003, the year after it opened. Nearly all of her students are low-income children of color, and a survey the school conducted last year showed that dozens of them don’t have internet access at home. To make up for this, Diaz has tried to compensate at school.

Member Stories

July 21-28
Some of our favorite stories by EWA members this week

Anne Holton, wife of vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, is “a power in her own right,” Louis Llovio of the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes of Virginia’s secretary of education. 

 

Lauren Camera of U.S. News & World Report takes a closer look at segregation in schools at a time when racial tensions — fueled by recent police killings of black men – are high across the country. 

 

Multimedia

Getting High-Quality Teachers to Disadvantaged Students
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Getting High-Quality Teachers to Disadvantaged Students

Low-income and minority students are less likely to have experienced, high-quality teachers, research shows. What steps can school districts and educators put in place to improve these statistics? Panelists share some strategies.

  • James Cole, U.S. Department of Education
  • Sonja Santelises, Education Trust
  • Dyan Smiley, American Federation of Teachers
  • Jeffrey Solochek, Tampa Bay Times (moderator)
Multimedia

Getting in Deep: Immersing Yourself in a Difficult Education Story
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Getting in Deep: Immersing Yourself in a Difficult Education Story

Award-winning Boston Globe journalist Meghan Irons shares lessons from her reporting on two complex stories about students and race: one on equity and campus climate at Boston Latin, the nation’s oldest public school; and another that looked closely at school desegregation 40 years after the tumultuous debut of court-ordered busing in Boston.

  • Meghan Irons, The Boston Globe
  • Denise Amos, The Florida Times-Union (moderator)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Complexity of Covering School Segregation

Panelists at EWA"s National Seminar "deep dive" on school segregation, from left to right: R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy; Nikole Hannah-Jones; Richard Kahlenberg; and Chris Stewart. (Lilli Boxer for EWA)

The complexity around covering issues of segregation was in high gear in June when investigative writer Nikole Hannah-Jones documented in the New York Times magazine her family’s tough decision on where to enroll daughter Najya.

The article came a month after she discussed the deliberate and structural segregation she sees in communities around the country during the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar. Hannah-Jones urged journalists to hold accountable public officials and communities that allow this to happen.

Report

No More Free Lunch for Education Policymakers and Researchers
Brookings Institution

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), like No Child Left Behind before it, requires states to report information on the academic achievement of students in each of their schools, both overall and for various subgroups of students. A subgroup of particular interest to policymakers and researchers is economically disadvantaged students, who, on average, score much lower on standardized tests than their higher-income peers.

Report

Drop Out, Push Out, & School-to-Prison Pipeline
GLSEN

Educational Exclusion: Drop Out, Push Out, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline among LGBTQ Youth provides an in-depth look at the conditions that effectively push LGBTQ youth out of school and potentially into the criminal justice system. The report provides specific, real world guidance to address the hostile school climates and damaging policies and practices that contribute to pushing LGBTQ youth out of their schools.

Read the report.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Educating Immigrant Students: A Story in Every Community

Experts discuss the education of immigrant students during a recent panel at an Education Writers Association seminar in Boston.

I spent an academic year as an embedded reporter inside a Memphis high school that enrolled hundreds of children of Mexican immigrants. Many of the young people I met that year had lived most of their lives in the United States, and in some cases were born here. Most spoke fluent English.

As I followed these English-speaking students around the school, I paid much less attention to another group of young people: kids who had recently arrived from other countries and spoke little English.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Covering Education With Cultural Sensitivity

(Bigstock)

Most education journalists probably remember last year’s viral video depicting members of the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity singing a racist chant.

“I thought it was a really isolated, terrible incident,” recalled Kimberly Hefling, then an education reporter for The Associated Press. But her colleague, Jesse Holland, didn’t see it as a major news event at all.

Key Coverage

Scholar: After Fisher, Schools Should Reassess Diversity Policies

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the use of race in college admissions, colleges and universities should assess their policies in a way that takes a more nuanced look at diversity, a higher education scholar said Tuesday.

Liliana M. Garces, assistant professor of higher education at Pennsylvania State University, said the court’s majority opinion in the case — known as Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin — “reflects a robust understanding of diversity.”

Multimedia

Interviewing DREAMers
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Interviewing DREAMers

Undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children are often known as “DREAMers,” for the failed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. In the face of instability, many DREAMers have turned to advocacy. DREAMers share their immigration stories and discuss the media’s approach to reporting on the undocumented.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

A Family Affair: Engaging Parents of Color

Parents attend "Back to School Night" at Barrett Elementary in Arlington, Va. Many districts are targeting  families of color to boost their involvement school activities and their children's learning. (Flickr/K.W. Barrett)

Students of color represent more than half of the United States’ public school population, but their parents are the most underrepresented group of stakeholders in local and national conversations about whether policies and reforms are working for their students.

A panel of experts who engage parents of color on local and national levels shared these and other observations with education reporters in Boston at the Education Writers Association annual national conference. And their message was clear: No longer can these voices be ignored.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Can Schools Bridge the Digital Divide?

Students work in a computer lab at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a public school in the District of Columbia. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Education)

As education becomes increasingly digital, it creates a world of opportunities for students, who can now visit world-famous museums or collaborate with other students without ever leaving the classroom.

But it also creates potential barriers for families lacking access to adequate devices or high-speed internet and can lead to a growing opportunity gap.

EWA Radio

Students of Color Are the New Majority: Can Teachers, Schools Keep Up?
EWA Radio: Episode 76

Flickr/K.W. Barrett

For the first time in the nation’s history, students of color outnumber their white peers in public school classrooms. In a new 12-part series for Slate, The Teacher Project at Columbia University explores what that means for students, teachers, schools, and broader communities stretching from Boston to Hawaii.

Sarah Carr, editor of The Teacher Project, talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about why terminology matters when reporting on school diversity, the challenge of preparing a largely white, female teacher workforce for working with diverse student populations, and how de facto school segregation continues to influence opportunities and outcomes for kids of color.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

School Segregation: What Does It Mean Today?

From left: Farah Stockman, Cara Fitzpatrick and Lisa Gartner talk with reporters at EWA's National Seminar in Boston on May 3, 2016. (Lily Boxer for EWA)

After an unarmed Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones watched events unfold from afar. But she was struck when the 18-year-old’s mother, standing at the edge of the crime scene where her son’s dead body lay, asked if the authorities knew how hard it is to get a black boy to graduate from high school.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

What the Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action Could Mean for College Admissions

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Fisher v. University of Texas case challenging the state university system's admissions policies. (Flickr/David)

The issue of race and diversity in college admissions once again is front and center, as the U.S. Supreme Court will rule soon on the high-profile affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas.

Panelists during a discussion at the Education Writers Association’s national conference in May offered mixed predictions about how the court will rule on whether the use of race in admissions is constitutional and how far the effects of the ruling could reach.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

NYC Schools Initiative Aims to Improve Student Diversity

Source: Flickr/ via Mikel Ortega (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Schools in New York City are being asked to consider voluntary diversity plans in an effort to combat widespread segregation in the city’s schools. 

According to its online call for proposals under the Diversity in Admissions Initiative, the city’s education department ”seeks to empower schools to strengthen diversity among their students through targeted efforts to change their admissions process.” 

EWA Radio

Are ‘No Second Chances’ Discipline Policies Hurting Florida’s Students?
EWA Radio: Episode 74

Infinity Moreland, now a senior at North Port High School, was expelled in the fall of 2014 for a fight she did not start. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune/Rachel S. O'Hara used with permission)

Education journalist Shelby Webb of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune spent six months digging into student suspensions and expulsions in Florida, and her findings took the local school board by surprise: Sarasota County has the second-highest rate of expulsions in the Sunshine State. But the district’s process for expulsions was certainly built for volume: as many as 14 students have been expelled with a single “yes” vote by school board members, some of whom haven’t even read the background on the individual students’ cases. The Herald-Tribune’s project also examines questions of equity of school discipline policies across Florida where — echoing a nationwide trend — many students of color face more severe punishments than their white peers.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Getting High-Quality Teachers to Disadvantaged Students

Teacher Lisa Jones leads a lesson at Watkins Elementary School in Washington D.C. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Education)

How do you get the best teachers in front of the students who need them the most? It’s an issue getting increased attention, but a tough problem to solve.

An Obama administration official said he’s encouraged by state plans developed to “ensure equitable access to excellent educators,” as required in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Education.

EWA Radio

Palo Alto’s Student Suicides
EWA Radio: Episode 73

(Pixabay/kaleido-dp)

What’s behind a cluster of student suicides in the heart of ultra-competitive Silicon Valley?

In a cover story for The Atlantic, journalist Hanna Rosin investigated a disturbing cycle stretching back more than a decade for Palo Alto and Gunn high schools. She spoke with EWA public editor Emily Richmond: How are local educators, parents, and students are responding to the crisis? What’s next for the investigation by federal health officials? And how can reporters improve their own coverage of these kinds of challenging issues? Rosin’s story, “The Silicon Valley Suicides” won 1st Prize for magazine feature writing in the EWA National Awards for Education Reporting.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Student Protests Spread in Oregon After Latest ‘Build a Wall’ Clash

This election season, it has become common to read about candidates’ anti-immigrant rhetoric trickling down into schools and, in many cases, being used to insult Latino students. Over the past several days, the polarizing phrase “build a wall” — presumed to be inspired by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s immigration plan to curb illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border — has been making headlines in Oregon, as it has inspired hundreds of studen

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Proposed Mexican-American Studies Textbook in Texas Called Racist, Inaccurate

This image appears on the cover of a newly proposed textbook for Mexican-American studies in Texas. The image itself is controversial, and the text in the book has ignited cries of racism and factual inaccuracies. Source: Flickr/ via Jorge Gonzalez (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Texas advocates of ethnic studies in public schools celebrated two years ago when the State Board of Education voted to create instructional materials for classes like Mexican-American and African-American studies that school districts could choose to offer as electives in the state. The decision wasn’t exactly what proponents of Mexican-American studies had asked for — to establish a statewide curriculum — but it was something. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Why Do Massachusetts Public Schools Lead the Nation?

Massachusetts, a strong performer on both national and international educational rankings, is home to Boston Latin, the nation's oldest public school. (Wikimedia Commons/Daderot)

When it comes to the story of Massachusetts’ public schools, the takeaway, according to the state’s former education secretary, Paul Reville, is that “doing well isn’t good enough.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond ‘Free Lunch’: Mining School Data on Poverty

Reporters can find a wealth of story ideas on schools and poverty that are deeper than just statistics on how many students sign up for free and reduced-price meals. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture)

For education journalists, writing about poverty poses many challenges. But one of the most overlooked is that it’s often difficult to know much about the socioeconomic background of students in a given school. Reporters often rely on two things: anecdotal evidence and the percentage of students who receive a free or reduced-price lunch.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

A New 2016 “Common Core,” With Social-and-Emotional Muscle

By BMRR (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

At the age of nine, Amalio Nieves saw his father die from gun violence in Chicago. And as a child, Nieves himself was robbed at gunpoint. Now he’s always thinking about his young niece Jordan and the year 2100 – when Jordan will be the parent of a child that leads America into a new, unknown century.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Missing Class: Using Data to Track Chronic Absenteeism

Fickr/dcJohn (CC BY 2.0)

For every savant who’s skilled enough to ditch class and still ace the course, many more who miss school fall way behind, increasing their odds of dropping out or performing poorly.

The implications are major: If a school has a high number of students repeatedly absent, there’s a good chance other troubles are afoot. Feeling uninspired in the classroom, poor family outreach, or struggles at students’ homes are just some of the root causes of absenteeism, experts say.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education Secretary John King Talks Integration, Diversity at EWA National Seminar

Greg Toppo of USA Today, left, facilitates a keynote by U.S. Secretary of Education John King at EWA's 69th National Seminar Monday, May 2. (Photo by Katherine Taylor for EWA)

Racial diversity and the socioeconomic integration of schools can be powerful tools to help improve educational opportunities for students, but much depends on whether states and local communities prioritize them, Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. stressed in remarks here on Monday.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Angela Duckworth: Raising Test Scores Is Not a Sign of Grit

In the dozen years that Angela Duckworth has researched the concept of grit, she’s found new ways to test its validity, identified examples of it in popular culture, and worked to bust myths about its application in schools. But she hasn’t developed a just-add-water curriculum package that interested schools can use to develop the character trait in their students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Behind the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Failure Factories Series

Kindergartner Tyree Parker sits at the front doors of Maximo Elementary as he waits for school to open. (Tampa Bay Times/Dirk Shadd)

Cara Fitzpatrick was in labor when her husband – and colleague at the Tampa Bay Times – asked her “So what can you tell me about segregation in Pinellas County?”

The paper had just decided to do a large-scale investigation into the district’s schools that were serving predominately low-income, black students. Two years later, Fitzpatrick’s son is walking and talking and she and the rest of the team have earned a Pulitzer Prize for their series Failure Factories.  

Key Coverage

Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares

We’ve long known of the persistent and troublesome academic gap between white students and their black and Hispanic peers in public schools.

We’ve long understood the primary reason, too: A higher proportion of black and Hispanic children come from poor families. A new analysis of reading and math test score data from across the country confirms just how much socioeconomic conditions matter.

Children in the school districts with the highest concentrations of poverty score an average of more than four grade levels below children in the richest districts.

EWA Radio

Inside Tampa Bay Times’ Pulitzer Prize-Winning ‘Failure Factories’
EWA Radio: Episode 70

Kindergartner Tyree Parker sits at the front doors of Maximo Elementary as he waits for school to open. (Tampa Bay Times/Dirk Shadd)

Update: On May 2, “Failure Factories” won the $10,000 Hechinger Grand Prize in the EWA National Awards for Education Reporting.

The Pulitzer Prize for local reporting this year went to the Tampa Bay Times for an exhaustive investigation into how a handful of elementary schools in Pinellas County wound up deeply segregated by race, poverty, and opportunity.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Identifying ‘Gifted’ English-Language Learners

Source: Flickr/ via U.S. Department of Education (CC BY 2.0)

When students don’t speak English well, it can be easy for their outstanding academic abilities to get overlooked. 

In a recent NPR story for All Things Considered, Claudio Sanchez tells listeners about a program in Arizona’s Paradise Valley Unified School District that has figured out a way to identify the talents of gifted students  – even as they’re still learning the English language.