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Latest Education News

A collection of the most recent education journalism, curated by EWA staff. 

A collection of the most recent education journalism, curated by EWA staff. 

Member Stories

July 21 – 27
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

As AP test scores fall, Diana Lambert and Phillip Reese of the Sacramento Bee ask the question: are students ready for college-level coursework? 

 
 

Suzanne Pekow and the APM Reports team are back with a new episode of the Educate podcast, outlining the current school trend back towards segregation.


 

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When The Worst Elementary School In Dallas Closes, What Happens To The Kids?

R’reanna Wooten’s dad was murdered five years ago. Her mom is mostly absent. The 11-year-old lives in public housing in the city’s poorest neighborhood; her grandmother is afraid to let her play outside and worries about stray bullets.

No wonder that in the mornings before R’reanna headed to the worst elementary school in Dallas, her grandmother prayed: No fights with other kids. No trouble with teachers. None of the frustration that sometimes sent the fourth-grader surging out of her classroom to roam the halls of George Washington Carver elementary.

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Trump Administration Advances School Vouchers Despite Scant Evidence

The concept of vouchers originated with economist Milton Friedman. In 1955 he argued that the government should not run schools but instead offer parents educational stipends.

Vouchers are the centerpiece of the Department of Education’s school reform plan. Until now, Washington, D.C., has been home to the only federally funded voucher program in the U.S.

A handful of other cities and states have experimented with small programs. Studies have found mixed to negative results in reading and math but higher high school graduation rates.

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The Challenge Of Reaching Hungry Kids When School Is Out

For American children, summer is supposed to be a time of fun and games, but, for many, it is also a time of true need.

During the school year, roughly 22 million children in this country get free and reduced-price lunch. In the summer, those numbers drop dramatically. Just under four million have access to subsidized meals.

There are 50,000 locations providing summer meals, but reaching those who need the food can be a challenge.

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Who Is Betsy DeVos?

Betsy DeVos used to have more friends. Way back in 2016, a coalition of reputable, fair-minded education reformers — some of them Democrats — got together to vouch for her. Sure, she was inexperienced in the policy realm. Also, an outsider to Washington. Also, naïve to the demands of living under the internet’s ever-watchful eye. Still, it seemed to these surrogates that in choosing a secretary of Education, the president-elect might have done a lot worse. DeVos, a Michigan billionaire and Republican stalwart, had been pouring her energies and her fortune into education for years.

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A Teacher’s Solution To Buy School Supplies For Her Classroom: Panhandling

As a public school third-grade teacher, Teresa Danks has grown accustomed to getting creative when it comes to providing supplies for her classroom.

She hits up yard sales all summer. Weekends are devoted to thrift stores. Almost daily, she scrolls through online sales and secondhand websites.

So when Danks’s husband joked over breakfast last Tuesday about how she could resort to begging — as she was venting her frustration over recent cuts to Oklahoma’s education budget — she didn’t immediately brush him off.

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He Called The School Board Racist. Now, He’s Joined It.

DECATUR, Ill. — Back when he was a member of a notorious street gang, Courtney Carson was as loyal as they come. When he heard that a confidant had flipped from the Black Stones to the rival Gangster Disciples, he rounded up some friends and confronted the defector at a high school football game.

The warring sides stomped up the stadium’s concrete bleachers, taunting each other. Then someone threw a punch. In no time, fists and feet were flying and the crowd was running for cover.

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A Warning, a Crusade, and a Public Reckoning at the U. of Florida

Huntley Johnson, a local attorney known for representing University of Florida athletes who get into trouble, sent the university some demands. He requested changes in how sexual-assault cases are handled, including how accused students are treated during an investigation. He also wanted the university to pay nearly $400,000 of the legal fees of the football player. If those conditions weren’t met, Mr. Johnson wrote, there would be consequences. A month later, the university hadn’t complied.

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Teachers Gear Up For A New Kind Of Ninth Grade

Furr High School is gearing up to launch a new kind of ninth grade. It’s part of how Furr, which used to have a reputation for drop-outs and gang violence, is trying to transform high school, with the help of a $10 million grant. At one recent workshop, half a dozen ninth grade instructors brainstormed for the new ninth grade, thinking about how to give students more ownership in the curriculum and testing.

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Former Top Official In Obama’s Education Dept. Is Named President Of ACE


Ted Mitchell, a top U.S. Department of Education official during the Obama administration and an architect of several of the college and student-loan accountability regulations the Trump administration is now trying to dismantle, was named on Thursday as the new president of the American Council on Education.

Mr. Mitchell said countering the “narrative that college doesn’t matter anymore for individuals and society” would be among his highest priorities for the organization, which represents about 1,800 college presidents on national policy issues.

Member Stories

July 14 – 20
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Bracey Harris of The Clarion-Ledger has the latest on the federal investigation into allegations that a school district discriminated against Hispanic students by retroactively changing their transcripts and schedules in a bid to make the students ineligible for state exams.

 
 

From the Virginia GazetteAmanda Williams discusses the concerns that led to the signing of a bill mandating schools test their water for unsafe levels of lead.


 

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A’s On The Rise In U.S. Report Cards, But Sat Scores Founder

The good news on America’s report cards: More high school teachers are handing out A’s. But the bad news is that students aren’t necessarily learning more.

Recent findings show that the proportion of high school seniors graduating with an A average — that includes an A-minus or A-plus — has grown sharply over the past generation, even as average SAT scores have fallen.

In 1998, it was 38.9%. By last year, it had grown to 47%.

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Teacher Groups Frustrated With California ESSA Plan’s ‘Loose’ Definition Of Ineffective Teachers

Teacher advocacy groups are concerned that California’s definition of an ineffective teacher is too loose and won’t be bolstered before the state has to turn in its federal accountability plan in two months.

Each state must submit its plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act by Sept. 18, and one accountability measure is ensuring that low-income and minority students are not disproportionately taught by inexperienced or incompetent teachers.

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Ruling Could Expand Special Education Services To More Iowa Students

A legal judgment could force Iowa schools to change how they determine which students qualify for special education, potentially allowing thousands of more children to qualify for services, advocates say.

Administrative Law Judge Christie J. Scase issued a ruling that requires the Iowa Department of Education to reimburse an Urbandale family for private tutoring costs incurred after their child was denied access to special education programming at school. 

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One University President’s Candid Take On The Future Of Higher Ed

Mitch Daniels went from running the state of Indiana, as its two-term Republican governor, to running its top flight public university, Purdue University, based in West Lafayette.

Since Daniels began his tenure in 2013, Purdue has made plenty of headlines. First, the school partnered with Gallup on an ambitious project touted as “the largest representative study of college graduates in U.S. history.” The goal? To find out what graduates really value about their educations. The takeaway: Fancy degrees don’t mean much for people’s well-being.

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House Republicans At Odds With Trump’s Proposed Higher Education Cuts

House Republicans issued a 2018 budget bill Tuesday afternoon that rejects several higher education cuts proposed by President Trump but upholds plans to pull billions of dollars in reserves out of the Pell Grant program for needy college students.

Ahead of a markup slated for Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee released the full funding report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies that provides money for programs placed on the chopping block in the White House budget.

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What Happens To Local News When There Is No Local Media To Cover It?

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. — Lots of newsworthy things happen in this city of nearly 30,000, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. It’s just that many of them don’t make the local news.

Last fall, for example, voters went to the polls to elect a new city council and to weigh in on three ballot measures, including two that would raise local taxes. The issues were “critical” to the city’s immediate future, Mayor Larry Moody said. But without even a weekly newspaper in town, it was hard to find out.

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The Open Access Dilemma

Reynold Essor was sure of two things when he got his high-school diploma last spring: he wanted to get out of Brooklyn, and he wanted to go to college. Earning a degree, his counselors told him, “can help get more money in your pocket.”

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Some D.C. High Schools Are Reporting Only A Fraction Of Suspensions

D.C. Public Schools has reported a dramatic decline in suspensions at a time when school systems around the country have been under pressure to take a less punitive approach to discipline. But a Washington Post analysis shows that at least seven of the city’s 18 high schools have kicked students out of school for misbehaving without calling it a suspension and in some cases even marked them present.

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High-stakes testing may push struggling teachers to younger grades, hurting students

Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade are often free of the high-stakes testing common in later grades — but those years are still high-stakes for students’ learning and development. That means it’s a big problem when schools encourage their least effective teachers to work with their youngest students. And a new study says that the pressure of school accountability systems may be encouraging exactly that.

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(Opinion) The Trouble With Trade School

Vocational education, done right, helps workers find jobs when they are young. But as they age — and job requirements change — workers are often not well prepared for the changes, according to the study, published in The Journal of Human Resources. Rather than retraining workers, many companies decide to let them go and hire other workers.

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Teachers With Student Debt: the Struggle, the Causes and What Comes Next

Teachers are paid significantly less than many other highly educated professionals. NPR decided to take a look at student debt among teachers specifically, seeing it as a crossroads of several big trends: chronic concerns over teacher pay amid calls to improve teacher quality; the rising cost of higher ed; the increasing reliance on loans to pay for it; and changing policies from the Trump administration.

Latest News

Trump Wants to Spend Millions More on School Vouchers. But What’s Happened to the Millions Already Spent?

Congress dedicates $15 million a year to a program that helps low-income D.C. students pay tuition at private schools, but it’s impossible for taxpayers to find out where their money goes: The administrator of the D.C. voucher program refuses to say how many students attend each school or how many public dollars they receive.

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Race and Ethnicity Is Top Diversity Issue for Education Journalists – Education and the Media

Education journalists rank racial and ethnic diversity as the highest priority among a range of diversity goals for their profession, according to a survey released Monday by the Education Writers Association. Nearly half of the 170 survey respondents ranked racial/ethnic diversity as the top priority, while 27 percent chose economic class diversity and 13 percent picked language diversity. The other diversity choices receiving lower rankings were gender, generational, physical ability, and sexual orientation. 

Latest News

Alabama Schools Struggle With Teacher Diversity

While evidence shows a diverse teacher workforce can benefit all students, researchers are finding just how important it is for black students to have black teachers.

But that’s not always easy to accomplish in Alabama. Ten school systems in North Alabama have no black classroom teachers.

Though 33 percent of public school students are black, only 19 percent of Alabama’s teachers are, and while 55 percent of students are white, nearly 79 percent of teachers are white.

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This Teen Mom And Her Newborn Rode A City Bus To A School For Delinquents. Here’s Why

Every morning just before 5 a.m., 17-year-old Judy Sinpraseuth would quietly pack books, diapers and formula, trying not to wake her newborn son as she prepared him for the ride on the city bus.

Before the sun rose, Sinpraseuth would push Antwone in his stroller nearly two miles from their west Fresno home down a dark dirt road to the nearest bus stop. Together, they would ride to Cambridge Continuation High School – a 10-mile trip that took about an hour each way. When class was over, the pair would do it all over again.

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Where D.C. Has Failed On Adult Education, Charter Schools Fill The Void

In 1985, ninth grader Todd Campbell dropped out D.C.’s Cardozo High School to take care of his sick father. Though he planned to return later for his diploma, life kept getting in the way. Campbell’s first daughter was born when he was just 18, and he needed to find work to support her. After taking up trucking for more than a decade, he eventually started his own garbage collection business in 2001, which he managed for seven years until the recession hit. The price of fuel skyrocketed, and Campbell’s Curbside Disposal was forced into bankruptcy.

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Small Schools May Be Exempt From Accountability Under Essa Plan

Up to 16 percent of Idaho high schools may be exempt from certain accountability provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

With just weeks remaining before a major federal deadline, state education officials are debating data reporting requirements that are likely to affect which schools get flagged for improvement — and become eligible for an increase in federal funding.

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Ed. Dept. Official Apologizes For ‘90%’ Remark On Campus Rape. What’s The Research?


Candice E. Jackson, acting assistant secretary for civil rights in the Department of Education, made a bombshell comment to The New York Times stating that 90 percent of campus sexual-assault complaints “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk’” and involve a regretful female student.

Campus investigations have not been fair to students who are accused of sexual misconduct, Ms. Jackson told the Times. She added that, in most cases, there’s “not even an accusation that these accused students overrode the will of a young woman.”

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On Education, The States Ask: Now What?

The new federal education law is supposed to return to the states greater control over their public schools.

But judging from the mood recently at the annual conference of the Education Commission of the States, the states are anything but optimistic about the future, or about the new law.

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More Students Are Graduating From District Schools, But Are They Ready For College?

Graduation rates at D.C. schools have rapidly improved in the past five years, but other measures indicate students are not gaining the skills needed to be successful in college.

Education experts are concerned that low scores on exams meant to gauge college preparedness and low college graduation rates for D.C. students indicate District schools are handing out diplomas to students who are not ready for postsecondary opportunities.

Member Stories

July 7 – 13
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Kevin Richert reports for Idaho Ed News that barely 12 percent of Idaho’s class of 2016 graduated high school with AP college credits in hand — lagging well below the national average.

 
 

Jennifer Palmer writes for Oklahoma Watch about how some districts are now raising a long-held cap on the number of students in pre-K classrooms, a move that could dilute the state’s most admired and arguably successful educational initiative.

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Campus Rape Policies Get a New Look as the Accused Get DeVos’s Ear

WASHINGTON — The letters have come in to her office by the hundreds, heartfelt missives from college students, mostly men, who had been accused of rape or sexual assault. Some had lost scholarships. Some had been expelled. A mother stumbled upon her son trying to take his own life, recalled Candice E. Jackson, the top civil rights official at the Department of Education.

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How One State Changed Its ESSA Plan In Response To The Trump Team

You might have heard a lot by now about The Feedback That Shook the World—also known as the official comments from the U.S. Department of Education about states’ Every Student Succeeds Act plans. But how have states actually responded to what U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ agency has said? We now have an interesting response from at least one state. 

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Personalized Learning: Modest Gains, Big Challenges, RAND Study Finds

There’s new evidence to suggest that customizing instruction for every student can generate modest gains in math and reading scores, according to a report released today by the RAND Corp.

Despite the promising signs, though, the researchers behind the most comprehensive ongoing study to date of personalized learning describe their latest findings as a “cautionary tale” about a trend whose popularity—and backing from philanthropists, venture capitalists, and the ed-tech industry—far outpaces its evidence base.

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Education Department Derided, Praised For Student Loan Protection ‘Pause’

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education drew both scorn and praise Monday at a public hearing on its plans to revamp two Obama-era rules meant to protect students from shady schools that leave them saddled with debt and no viable way to pay it off.

Barmak Nassirian is director of federal policy for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

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Five Big Tasks For Betsy DeVos

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos may not have much time for the beach this summer. She and her skeletal political staff will be spending the summer implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, looking for regulations to cut, and more.

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Deep Partisan Divide On Higher Education

Republicans have soured on higher education, with more than half now saying that colleges have a negative impact on the United States.

An annual survey by the Pew Research Center on Americans’ views of national institutions, released this week, found a dramatic attitude shift on higher education among Republicans and people who lean Republican, with the change occurring across most demographic and ideological groups.

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When States Pay For The SAT or ACT, More Poor Students Go To College

New research finds a simple strategy can modestly boost the share of poor students who go on to college: requiring, and paying for, all students to take the ACT or SAT.

And while the impact isn’t huge, the policy is relatively cheap — just $34 per student increases four-year college attendance by about 1 percentage point for low-income students.

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Closure of Clayton Early Learning Center in Far Northeast Denver Exposes Pain Points In Early Childhood Care

When the news broke last week that Clayton Early Learning planned to shutter its child care center in Denver’s Green Valley Ranch neighborhood, dozens of parents voiced anger and surprise as they scrambled to line up new child care arrangements. Behind the scenes, local and national early childhood advocates also took note. Suddenly, one of the most well-respected names in early childhood education was downsizing.

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Support Builds for Expanding Pell Eligibility to Short-term Certificates

Under current law, the major federal grants for low-income students cannot be used to pay for academic programs that are shorter than 600 clock hours or 15 weeks in length. But a bill introduced in January by Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, and Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, would expand Pell eligibility to shorter job-training programs, with a minimum cutoff of 150 clock hours of instruction time over a period of at least eight weeks.

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Just 20 Percent of K-12 Students Are Learning a Foreign Language

Arguing that the inability to communicate in any language but English constitutes a threat to the nation’s economic and military security, two recent studies have painted a grim picture of foreign-language education in the nation’s K-12 schools. The reports from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and American Councils for International Education found that public schools and state departments of education are struggling to find qualified world language instructors and unequipped to track local and national trends on language learning.

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‘Megyn Kelly’ Show Features First Network Interview With Betsy DeVos – Education and the Media

“The first network TV news interview with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.” Every TV news network and show has probably been hankering to make that boast, given the controversy surrounding DeVos. The winner of the contest for a sit-down with the secretary is … “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly,” the NBC News magazine show starring the former Fox News Channel anchor.

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San Diego-Area High School Tries Personalized Education

A $10 million prize from the national nonprofit XQ Super School Project is already overhauling Vista High, encouraging more cross-disciplinary, independent projects; enhanced access to technology; and close attention to social and emotional skills. The changes support a contention of high-school reformers nationally and some educators here: “The way we’re teaching students, it’s not working,” the Vista science teacher Allison Whitman said during a recent weekday before school ended for the summer.

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School Bulletin: Betsy DeVos Speaks (Very Briefly) to a Reporter!

It took nearly three months before DeVos brought on a full-time spokesman. Before then, “many reporters’ queries were simply going unanswered,” says Greg Toppo. Then there is DeVos’ general lack of availability. She has yet to sit down with reporters at department headquarters and “I believe you can count her on-the-record interviews on one hand.”