School Climate & Safety
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:
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.
Kate Zernike, The New York Times’ national education reporter, discusses what’s ahead on the beat in 2017. How will President-elect Donald Trump translate his slim set of campaign promises on education into a larger and more detailed agenda? What do we know about the direction Trump’s nominee for U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, will seek to take federal policy if she’s confirmed? Zernike also offers story ideas and suggestions for local and regional education reporters to consider in the new year.
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.
What will education in California look like under President Trump? Nan Austin of The Modesto Bee offers her take, noting the ”stability built in by state law and sheer size.”
In this story on tall tales during exam week, one Indiana University professor tells Michael Reschke of The Herald-Times that this ”can be an especially dangerous time of year for grandmothers, grandfathers and pets,” who all seem to fall suddenly ill.
Teachers in Fresno, California, and Des Moines, Iowa, have come out against their districts’ efforts to reform how students are disciplined. Teachers in Indianapolis and New York City registered similar complaints earlier this year. Teachers are arguing that efforts to change student-disciplinary practices—largely in an attempt to address big racial disparities in who gets suspended and expelled—are making their classrooms harder to manage.
Los Angeles schools shouldn’t only be places where students go to learn; they should also be community centers, after-school gathering spots and hubs for social services.
That principle is better known nationally as the “community schools” model — and it’s about to get the endorsement of a newly-formed, powerhouse coalition of labor unions, faith-based groups and social justice organizations who see it as a new organizing principle for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
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.
Who is Betsy DeVos? Dale Mezzacappa, Greg Windle and Darryl Murphy of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook team up for a closer look at the Michigan billionaire who is poised to become the next U.S. secretary of education.
A state senator’s bid to expand parental rights to information about their students is drawing spirited criticism from educators and LGBT activists who argue it does not protect students at risk of abuse if teachers or school officials out them to their families.
In the two weeks since Republican Donald Trump won the presidency on a platform touting stricter immigration laws and mass deportations, Los Angeles leaders have taken steps to assure the immigrants within their borders that the city supports them.
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.
North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district has taken big — and somewhat controversial — steps toward diversifying its schools, Ann Doss Helms reports for The Charlotte Observer.
I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen headlines this election season about polarizing campaign rhetoric being used to bully and harass Latino students.
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.
A Virginia school district wants to ban a transgender teen from using the boys’ bathroom. NPR’s David Greene speaks to attorneys Kyle Duncan and Josh Block, central players in what could be a landmark case.
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.
Black students are routinely punished more harshly in school than white counterparts. However, new research shows there may be a relatively simple fix for this disparity: more black teachers.
At the St. Paul School Board meeting earlier this week, a number of parents, educators and community members showed up to weigh in on an issue the district has grappled with for years and suddenly seems poised to act on: whether to shift to later start times for most middle and high school students.
Those in favor of adopting later start times for secondary students cited the academic and health benefits that are supported by a large body of research.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, is pitching a $500 million program to help states and schools combat bullying. At the same time, her campaign has a new ad framing her opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump, as a schoolyard bully.
Funding for the “Better Than Bullying” initiative would go to states to develop plans to combat bullying. Under the plan, states would be eligible for $4 in federal matching funds for every $1 of their own money they put into anti-bullying efforts.
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.
FALMOUTH, Maine — Rigged elections. Vigilante observers. Angry voters. The claims, threats and passions surrounding the presidential race have led communities around the U.S. to move polling places out of schools or cancel classes on Election Day.
The fear is that the ugly rhetoric of the campaign could escalate into confrontations and even violence in school hallways, endangering students.
The black student, a sophomore football player at Stone High School in Wiggins, Miss., was in a locker room on Oct. 13 when as many as four white students tossed a rope around his neck and pulled it tight, Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a news conference Monday.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
The seventh-grader’s sext was meant to impress him. Then he shared it. It nearly destroyed her.
When Maureen’s parents were in middle school, if a girl wanted to show a boy her body in the middle of the night, she would have to sneak out of her house, find a way to get to his, evade his parents and yank up her shirt. For their daughter, all it took was a few clicks.
Black and Latino students in Boston increasingly are enrolled in a free program that offers test prep services for students seeking entry into the district’s three prestigious exam schools — one of which is under federal investigation for alleged racial discrimination and harassment, The Boston Globe
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.
Recent news stories once again have shined a spotlight on the troubling issue of teacher misconduct. Consider these headlines:
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.
Many people might think corporal punishment in U.S. schools is practically nonexistent in the modern era, but an Education Week analysis found more than 109,000 students were paddled, swatted, or otherwise physically punished at school in 2013-14, Sarah D. Sparks and Alex Harwin report.
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.
Who oversees a sexual assault charge on college campuses? There’s no set rule, and in some cases sports boosters adjudicate cases concerning student-athletes, reports Jake New for Inside Higher Ed.
After their son died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, this couple began asking questions about the cancer risk students who play on artificial turf face. The culprit may be the shredded tire bits deposited between the turf’s fake blades of grass, writes Debbie Cafazzo for The News Tribune.
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.
Black and Hispanic children experience mental health problems at a similar rate than their white peers, yet are less likely to receive treatment, a new study of nationally representative data shows.
Why is an organization known as the Satanic Temple launching a national push to add after-school clubs in public elementary schools? And what does the group hope to accomplish when it comes to challenging perceived violations to the separation between church and state? Journalist Katherine Stewart, a contributing writer to The Washington Post, discusses her reporting on the controversy, which developed in response to the “Good News Clubs” — backed by a fundamentalist Christian organization — that have sprung up in thousands of elementary schools nationwide.
Stewart and EWA public editor Emily Richmond also discuss ideas for local reporters covering First Amendment and religious freedom issues in their own communities.
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.
Veteran education writer Paul Jablow and multimedia journalist Dorian Geiger discuss their documentary of a young man who escaped the drugs and violence of his West Philadelphia neighborhood thanks to the intensive interventions of a network of support, including his mother, teachers, and social workers. Glen Casey is now a successful student at the University of Pennsylvania and plans on a teaching career. But how unusual is his story, particularly in a public school system of ever-dwindling resources?
For education reporters, coming up with fresh ideas for back-to-school stories is an annual ritual. And if you’re balancing the K-12 and higher education beats, it can be an even bigger challenge.
EWA Express Talks: Equity, Poverty, and Education
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar
This special, morning-long session features a series of speakers aiming to illuminate under-recognized or under-reported facets of the challenges of providing equitable opportunities for all students. Topics examined include social mobility, cultural questions, combatting trauma, and solutions focusing on equity.
Chalkbeat, the Indianapolis Star and WFYI are teaming up for a joint project to examine why inequality and segregation continue in Indianapolis 60 years after the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education outlawed “separate but equal” schools — and solutions that could lead to change.
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.
The grim subject of violent attacks in schools seems unlikely to go away. While the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School appeared to be a watershed moment in the national conversation about how to keep schools and students safe, school shootings have continued and little has changed in how the issue is covered in the news media.
Most stories about school security center tend to focus on extreme events or threats.
All of which brings me back to the question of how to help children develop those mysterious noncognitive capacities. If we want students to act in ways that will maximize their future opportunities—to persevere through challenges, to delay gratification, to control their impulses—we need to consider what might motivate them to take those difficult steps.
As Casey McDermott reports for New Hampshire Public Radio, teachers in the Granite State are increasingly functioning as de facto case managers for vulnerable students. She talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about the issues facing youth and their families, ranging from homelessness to food insecurity to substance abuse. The focus on vulnerable students is part of NHPR’s new “State of Democracy” project, examining the real-world implications of policy decisions.
The K-12 investigative reporting track offers a how-to session on digging into public documents that help reporters examine special education policies, highlights journalists’ work on how teachers charged with abusing students are staying in the classroom, and explores how five elementary schools were allowed to become “failure factories.”
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.
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.
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
A new federal directive intended to protect the rights of transgender students is causing waves for states and school districts.
Evie Blad of Education Week discusses the fallout from North Carolina’s new law — the first of its kind in the nation — setting limits on bathroom access for public school students who identify as transgender. She and EWA public editor Emily Richmond also discuss what might happen if states ignore the White House’s guidance, and how education journalists can approach their reporting on these issues with cultural sensitivity.
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.
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.
A principal served four years and two months in prison for attempted murder. Another pleaded guilty to embezzling $73,033 in electronics from his school. One teacher struck a student, and several others were accused of misconduct involving students.
All of these individuals surrendered or lost their teaching license, and each of them was later reinstated by Mississippi’s commission responsible for disciplining educators.
The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on Our Nation’s Schools
Southern Poverty Law Center
Every four years, teachers in the United States use the presidential election to impart valuable lessons to students about the electoral process, democracy, government and the responsibilities of citizenship.
But, for students and teachers alike, this year’s primary season is starkly different from any in recent memory. The results of an online survey conducted by Teaching Tolerance suggest that the campaign is having a profoundly negative effect on children and classrooms.
Is “school choice” a misnomer in Detroit, where options for students hinge heavily on their ability to find their own transportation?
Steve Reilly, an investigative reporter and data specialist for USA Today, talks with EWA public editor about his newspaper’s groundbreaking year-long project examining shortfalls in how states track, and share information, about teacher discipline and licensing issues.
In the Windy City, one out of every 10 high schoolers is enrolled at a campus in the Noble Network of Charter Schools. And while Noble students typically perform well, the network is facing some growing pains in the nation’s third-largest school district. Among the challenges: An increasingly diverse student population, competition for enrollment from traditional Chicago Public Schools campuses seeking to reinvent themselves, and concerns about Noble’s strict discipline policies and emphasis on preparing for the ACT college entrance exam.
Two powerful new stories — one from China, the other set in Oakland, California — explore how educators are addressing perceived shortfalls in boys’ education: namely, bestowing them with the qualities needed for “manhood.”
It’s been a terrific year for our scrappy little podcast, and we’re thrilled to report an equally stellar lineup coming to EWA Radio in 2016.
I’d like to take a moment to thank the many journalists and education experts who made time to join us for lively conversations, and to all of you who have offered suggestions for stories and guests to feature. Please keep the feedback coming!
Here’s a quick rundown of the 10 most popular episodes of the year:
As the Washington Post rightly pointed out, working during the holiday weeks can feel like being stranded in a dead zone. I did manage to conduct a (highly unscientific!) survey of EWA’s journalist members and ask them to name a few of their favorite stories by their peers in the past year.
Chung-Te Wang had never seen a calculator in school before traveling to the U.S. this year as an exchange student.
“We always calculate with our brain. No offense,” said the 16-year-old from Taiwan, spurring laughter in a room full of reporters at the Education Writers Association’s recent seminar on covering U.S. education in a global context.
Sixty black and Latino boys spoke to Boston school officials last week about issues they feel might be holding them back at school. Segregation, high suspension rates and teacher diversity were at the top of their list.
For years, common experience and studies have prescribed that humans learn best in their earliest years of life – when the brain is developing at its fastest. Recently, though, research has suggested that the period of optimal learning extends well into adolescence.
Such harrowing stories are among the real-world lessons in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, which continues to serve a diverse and growing refugee population amid a recent wave of anti-refugee sentiment in America. Some students are from Syria, and school officials say they’re more committed than ever to serving their share of the hundreds of thousands of people being displaced by war in Syria.
Students in Syracuse, New York who fear a trip to the principal’s office might haunt them later in life no longer need to worry about it affecting their chances of getting into college. The Syracuse City School District has decided it intends to stop sharing student disciplinary records with colleges.
The first time I heard a preschooler explaining a classmate’s disruptive behavior, I was surprised at how adult her four-year-old voice sounded.
Her classmate “doesn’t know how to sit still and listen,” she said to me, while I sat at the snack table with them. He couldn’t learn because he couldn’t follow directions, she explained, as if she had recently completed a behavioral assessment on him.
Flash forward 46 more years. The network of schools for Native American children run by an obscure agency of the Interior Department remains arguably the worst school system in the United States, a disgrace the government has known about for eight decades and never successfully reformed. Earlier this fall, POLITICO asked President Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan, about perhaps the federal government’s longest-running problem: “It’s just the epitome of broken,” he said. “Just utterly bankrupt.” The epitome of broken looks like Crystal Boarding School.
Hispanic students in Sioux City, Iowa, say they’ve been bullied since Donald Trump made controversial comments about illegal Mexican immigrants during his presidential campaign announcement speech, prompting hundreds of students, parents and other residents to protest the Republican candidate’s appearance at
When a group of Harvard educators surveyed ninth-grade teachers and their students during a recent experiment, they found students who had common interests with their teachers started to perform better academically. The improvements were especially remarkable among black and Latino students.
With a single tweet, Motoko Rich of The New Times managed to encapsulate one of the most striking aspects of last week’s campus shooting:
Discipline practices thought to disproportionately affect students of color have been at the center of debates across the country. And with a growing body of research showing the negative long-term effects of zero-discipline policies, especially on minority youth, many school districts have moved to abandon them.
The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.
Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.
For the first time, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging education policymakers to start middle and high school classes later in the morning to improve the odds of adolescents getting sufficient sleep to thrive both physically and academically.
While it may seem that every back-to-school story has been written, the well is far from dry. Are you following the blogs teachers in your district write? Have you amassed the data sets you’ll need to write that deep dive explaining why so many local high school graduates land in remedial classes when they first enter college?
No? It’s OK. You’re not alone.
Conversations about classroom discipline typically focus on ways to teach kids there are consequences to their actions as a means of controlling future behavior. But a new approach gaining ground removes the sliding scale of punishment from the equation.
Clinical psychologist Ross Greene — whose books are well known to parents of so-called “problem kids,” is rewriting the rules for how some schools respond to challenging students.
When discussing the movie theater shooting Thursday in Lafayette, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal recounted his conversation with one of two teachers who was in the audience when the gunfire broke out:
“Her friend literally jumped over her,” Jindal said from the scene. “If her friend hadn’t done that, she believed the bullet would have hit her in the head.”
Schools often say they suspend misbehaving students to restore order and keep others safe. But a recent study questions the link between suspensions and school safety. This session flips the script, as a researcher moderates a panel of reporters who have explored alternatives to the usual diet of suspensions and expulsions.
Five years ago, Nicholas Senn High School on the Near North Side of Chicago was one some educators felt lucky to avoid. While student discipline might have been an issue elsewhere, “you would say, at least it’s not Senn,” Principal Susan Lofton said.
As school districts across the country work to address racial inequities in discipline, some campuses are trying alternative approaches to keeping students out of trouble and in the classroom.
Among the approaches gaining in popularity: positive behavior support programs, which reward students for good behavior, and restorative justice programs, in which students are brought into the process of identifying solutions, rather than simply punished.
Need a state or national statistic? There’s likely a federal data set for that. From fairly intuitive and interactive widgets to dense spreadsheets — and hundreds of data summaries in between — the U.S. Department of Education’s various research programs are a gold mine for reporters on the hunt for facts and figures.
Back in December, reporter Lauren Foreman of the Bakersfield Californian sent an email titled “Banned from classrooms” to a group of education journalists.
“One of my district’s assistant supes told me today reporters aren’t allowed to observe classroom instruction, and parents aren’t even allowed to freely do that,” she wrote. Foreman wanted to know what policies were in other districts and how she ought to respond.
EWA’s 68th National Seminar kicks off today in Chicago, and it’s going to be a fantastic three days of discussions, workshops, and site visits. The theme this year is Costs and Benefits: The Economics of Education. Be sure to keep tabs on all the action via the #EWA15 hashtag on Twitter.
Huguenot High School in Richmond, Va. recently made local headlines when leaders issued a long-overdue apology for luring Latino students to the cafeteria in 2013, searching their bags and threatening deportation if they didn’t comply.
But that’s in the past — though perhaps not quite forgiven and forgotten – and school leaders are trying to move on.
The superintendent of Richmond Public Schools in Virginia issued a public apology Monday for a two-year-old incident in which Latino students were searched and threatened with deportation.
A petition addressed to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña is asking the administration to end the use of metal detectors in schools, claiming the added security measures unnecessarily treat black and Latino students like criminals.
When Schools Close: Effects on Displaced Students in Chicago Public Schools
University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research
This report reveals that eight in 10 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students displaced by school closings transferred to schools ranking in the bottom half of system schools on standardized tests. However, because most displaced students transferred from one low-performing school to another, the move did not, on average, significantly affect student achievement.
The report demonstrates that the success of a school closing policy hinges on the quality of the receiving schools that accept the displaced students.
When you write a blog, the end of the year seems to require looking back and looking ahead. Today I’m going to tackle the former with a sampling of some of the year’s top stories from the K-12 and higher education beats. I’ll save the latter for early next week when the final sluggish clouds of 2014 have been swept away, and a bright new sky awaits us in 2015. (Yes, I’m an optimist.)
If tough school discipline measures are meant to maintain stability in the classroom, then a new definition of stable might be in order: A new study argues high use of suspensions and expulsions brings down all students – even the ones who behave well.
A researcher with the Albert Shanker Institute flagged the study, which was published this month in the American Sociological Review. Here’s more on the paper from the Shanker Institute scholar Esther Quintero:
IT’S ABOUT TIME draws on a statewide survey to examine how learning time is distributed across California high schools. The survey, conducted by UCLA IDEA during the 2013-2014 school year, included a representative sample of nearly 800 teachers. Survey findings highlight inequalities in the amount of time available for learning across low and high poverty High Schools. Community stressors and chronic problems with school conditions lead to far higher levels of lost instructional time in high poverty high schools.
As millions of immigrants waited for President Barack Obama to shed light on their future Thursday, educators, too, had a stake in the conversation.
Ever since my second week living in the District of Columbia, when I found myself alone on a commuter train the conductor had apparently deemed malfunctioning while I was lost in my music, I like to keep all five senses focused on my surroundings.
But on Monday, I decided to give the headphones another try. I’d heard good things about the podcast “This American Life” and decided to download the latest episode from Oct. 17 – “Is This Working?”
In the fall of 2009, as the Las Vegas Sun’s education reporter, I wrote about the Clark County School District experiencing its first drop in enrollment in a quarter century.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that Clark County – the nation’s fifth-largest school district – is once again bursting at its proverbial seams.
Follow-Up Friday: Adopting New Rules for School Discipline, Embracing Hispanic Heritage Helps Students
Earlier this week, my EWA colleague Mikhail Zinshteyn looked at California’s recent revisions to campus discipline policy, as state lawmakers voted to prohibit K-12 schools from using “willful defiance” as a device for meting out suspensions and expulsions of students.
California has limited schools’ ability to suspend or expel students for “willful defiance,” passing a law over the weekend that curbed the practice.
Approved by Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown, the measure is considered the first statewide law in the nation to apply limits on a school’s ability to punish a student for “willful defiance” – a catch-all term that many social justice advocates say disproportionately targets minority students for allegedly disobeying school officials.
There’s a section in the new Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll out this week that hasn’t gotten much attention: what parents think about schools and student health. (You can read my overview of the full poll, which focuses heavily on questions about teacher quality and preparation, here.)
Prompted by the controversy over the type of equipment the Ferguson police department used during protests over the death of Michael Brown, news organizations across the country started requesting information about a U.S. Department of Defense program that provided police departments with defense equipment.
Why should education reporters care?
Some of those police departments happen to belong to school districts, colleges and universities.
In a new report, researchers say they found a link between higher rates of student absenteeism and lower scores in reading and mathematics on a nationwide exam. It’s a finding that isn’t likely to surprise many people, least of all educators in America’s public schools.
In a month dominated by news reports of racial tension, a significant milepost in American race relations garnered less attention: For the first time in this country’s history, white students will this year no longer comprise a majority of the nation’s schoolchildren.
For years, students attending the Los Angeles Unified School District could earn citations from police officers for behaviors such as fighting.
The criminalization of routine offenses committed by students now appears to be coming to an end. The school system announced this week that it would stop giving citations for such offenses, and would instead focus on programs for students who misbehave.
In the wake of confrontations following the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., local schools are shuttered this week. In addition to concerns about lost learning time, educators have a more urgent worry: making sure students who typically rely on school meals don’t go hungry.
In Texas, a state known for its zero-tolerance approach to school discipline, 80 percent of its prisoners are high school dropouts. And as more research finds a link between suspensions and quitting school early, the evidence is mounting that keeping kids from learning for behavioral reasons hurts their academic outcomes. Against this backdrop is White Middle School in central Texas.
A year-long investigation into Michigan’s charter schools by the Detroit Free Press uncovered wasteful spending, cozy contracts, and missed opportunities to shut down long-struggling campuses, according to the newspaper.
More students are walking into classrooms with high stress levels than in previous generations, but a few innovative schools are helping kids cope with these challenges and succeed academically.
For students who have experienced trauma at home, nothing replaces a caring adult at school, said Bill Bond, the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ specialist for school safety. And teachers the most likely to provide counseling at school, said Bond during an EWA National Seminar panel discussion on student mental health.
An organization of Latino parents and youth has released a new report praising Colorado for progress the state has made in the discipline of Latino students.
The group has been critical of how strict disciplinary policies can contribute to a “school-to-prison pipeline,” reports Fox News Latino. The organization previously accused Colorado schools of using zero tolerance policies that swept students of color into the legal system.
This week, Emily Richmond sits down with the Oregonian’s Betsy Hammond to talk about her exhaustive investigation into Oregon’s chronic absentee problem.
Research suggests that suspensions, expulsions, and other disciplinary actions that remove youth from their classrooms put students at greater risk for poor academic and behavioral outcomes. These students are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out of school, receive future disciplinary actions, or become involved in the juvenile justice system. Youth of color, English Language Learners (ELLs), LGBT youth, and those with identified special education needs tend to experience exclusionary discipline actions at higher rates than their peers.
I’m in Atlanta right now, where schools took every precaution to avoid a repeat of the logistical nightmare that unfolded two weeks ago when two inches of snow paralyzed the city. And with the roadways iced over and the precipitation piling up, it looks like education officials made the right decision.
Former New York CIty Mayor Michael Bloomberg viewed breaking up large failing high schools and creating smaller ones as one potential remedy to closing the achievement gap.
Now his successor, newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio will have the opportunity to reverse the program.
In a commentary piece for Education Week, University of California, Berkeley education professor Bruce Fuller writes that many of the smaller campuses just furthered segregation by race and class. Small schools sometimes have just 200 students.
As more school districts share data with parents and teachers, privacy advocates warn that they run the risk of violating students’ privacy.
In the aftermath of Columbine in 1999, law enforcement began to rethink its response to mass shootings. Instead of presuming a quick entry into the scene by the first responders might do more harm than good, a new line of thought emerged: Stopping the “active shooter” had to be the top priority.
It’s too soon to know whether the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School a year ago will prompt long-term changes in the best practices of emergency response, but experts and educators believe another such tipping point may be upon us.
Dropout prevention is one of the holy grails in U.S. education policy, and for good reason. Stick around long enough to earn a diploma, and you’re instantly more likely to have a job, rely less on government subsistence and even make the leap to postsecondary learning.
With the release of audio recordings of the Sandy Hook 911 calls, media outlets are weighing the news value of using them against the inevitable criticism that to do so is macabre exploitation.
In the battle to conquer chronic absenteeism, students who already have a track record of skipping class can be a particularly tough crowd to sway. But a new report out of New York City — where one out of every five students missed a month or more of school last year — suggests an intensive community-wide initiative is gaining ground.
The New York Times Magazine’s annual education issue is out, and as always there’s a healthy mix of policy, practice, real-world realities for schools and students, deep dives, and memorable profiles.I imagine Carlo Rotella’s lead story on No Child Left Untableted will get generate quite a bit of response in the classroom technology debate.But I was just as interested in Jennifer Kahn’s piece on the attempt to cultivate
With most schools back in session for the new academic year, it seemed like a good time to catch up on one of the most popular sessions from EWA’s 66th National Seminar, held in May at Stanford University. Today’s guest blogger is Maura Walz of EdNews Colorado. Stream sessions from National Seminar in your browser, or subscribe via RSS or iTunes.Form
A conservative think tank is offering an online quiz to help parents identify their educational priorities – and to demonstrate that diverse groups have more in common in their expectations for schools and students than many people might think.
Justin Pope of the Associated Press talks about how he approached the timely and difficult topic of how universities are applying the Title IX gender discrimination law to sexual assault cases. Pope’s coverage won a special citation in Single-Topic News, Series or Feature in a Large Newsroom in EWA’s 2012 National Awards for Education Reporting.
Jenny Brundin of Colorado Public Radio talks about following a group of teachers, administrators and students going through a turnaround effort at a failing school in Denver. “Trevista” was awarded first prize, Single-Topic News, Series or Feature in Broadcast in EWA’s 2012 National Awards for Education Reporting. Recorded at EWA’s 66th National Seminar, May 4, 2013, at Stanford University.
*Please note: Due to technical difficulties during recording, the audio in the first half of this video is distorted. There is nothing wrong with your speakers.
Much attention has focused on achievement gaps among children from different demographic groups, and on teacher effectiveness as the chief in-school influence on student performance. But what about factors that carry more weight than teachers? And how can society close opportunity gaps often associated with widely decried achievement gaps in school? Sarah Garland, The Hechinger Report (moderator); Prudence Carter, Stanford Graduate School of Education; Michael Petrilli, Thomas B.
In the wake of several high-profile cases involving students who took their own lives, states are focusing heavily on making bullying prevention programs mandatory in public schools. But how much of the responsibility really rests with educators, and what steps should the broader community be taking to help students make smarter choices about their own behavior on campus, after school, and online?
The first of some 20 federal investigations into racial disparity in school district discipline practices closed today, yielding a long-term, prescriptive plan for change in the Oakland public schools, a district in which black students made up 32 percent of enrollments last school year but accounted for 63 percent of all suspensions.
Repeated studies have shown that when recess is delayed, children pay less and less attention. They are more focusedon days when they have recess. A major study in Pediatrics found that children with more than 15 minutes of recess a day were far better behaved in class than children who had shorter recess breaks or none at all.
In many communities, campus violence and student discipline issues are ever-present concerns for educators struggling to make schools safe places to work and learn. Members of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team from The Philadelphia Inquirer and others discuss the newspaper’s year-long project on school violence and its impact on the community.
From Maine to California, school districts are reporting significant increases in the number of homeless students. Our webinar takes a closer look at the underlying issues, and also gives participants a blueprint for localizing this important story. Our presenters will include Barbara Duffield, policy director of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children; Pamela Hosmer, Program Manager for the San Diego Unified School District’s Children and Youth in Transition program; and Dr.
The author of There Are No Children Here talks with Wall Street Journal education reporter and EWA President Stephanie Banchero about The Interrupters, a documentary he made with director Steve James. The film, which follows a group of anti-violence activists working in inner-city Chicago, airs on the PBS series Frontline Feb. 14, 2012.
For more information: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/interrupters
Recorded at EWA’s 64th National Seminar, held in April 2011 in New Orleans.
The author of There Are No Children Here and producer of the new film The Interrupters talks with the Wall Street Journal’s Stephanie Banchero about the impo…
The Agriculture Department said Thursday that for the first time it will make sure that all foods sold in the nation’s 100,000 schools are healthier by expanding fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits to almost everything sold during the school day.
That includes snacks sold around the school and foods on the “a la carte” line in cafeterias, which never have been regulated before. The new rules, proposed in February and made final this week, also would allow states to regulate student bake sales.
President Obama: It Gets Better is part of a national campaign started in 2010 to reassure gay and lesbian teens—who face disproportionate bullying and commit suicide at higher than average rates—that they could overcome the abuse and other struggles. (The text of this post was written by the White House deputy director of public engagement.)
The National School Safety Center “identifies and promotes strategies, promising practices and programs that support safe schools for all students as part of the total academic mission.” The NSSC worked with the U.S. Justice Department to create campus safety guidelines and practices for institutions following the shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University. The organization also works heavily with K-12 schools.
National School Safety and Security Services is a consulting service that frequently works with schools to improve their campus safety, and crisis and emergency practices.
The National School Climate Center, headquartered in New York City, focuses on the issue of creating a “positive and sustained school climate: a safe, supportive environment that nurtures social and emotional, ethical, and academic skills.” The center originally was founded in 1996 as part of the Teachers College, Columbia University.
The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network “strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.” In addition to researching and compiling data regarding the school lives of LGBT students, the network also advocates actively on their behalf.
The Cyberbullying Research Center “serves as a clearinghouse of information concerning the ways adolescents use and misuse technology.” Since it went online in 2005, the website—founded by two criminal justice professors—has been gathering news and other resources that could assist reporters covering the topic of digital bullying.
This shortfall in mathematical preparation for college-bound students has existed for a long time, but it is being exacerbated by the increased use of technology. College-level math classes almost never use graphing calculators, while high-school classes invariably do. College professors want their students to understand abstract concepts; technology advocates claim their products help teach students such abstractions, but in practice they simply don’t.
As the first generation of overparented kids continues to graduate into the world, a slew of studies now show that youngsters whose parents intervene inappropriately — offering advice, removing obstacles and solving problems that kids should tackle themselves — actually wind up as anxious, narcissistic young adults who have trouble coping with the demands of life.
Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson can move forward with plans to close 15 D.C. schools, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, rejecting activists’ claims that the closures violate the civil rights of city children.
Los Angeles Unified has become the first school district in the state to ban defiance as grounds for suspension.
Since the early 1990s, thousands of districts, often with federal subsidies, have paid local police agencies to provide armed “school resource officers” for high schools, middle schools and sometimes even elementary schools. Hundreds of additional districts, including those in Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, have created police forces of their own, employing thousands of sworn officers.
These rates reflect a marked rise over the last decade and could fuel growing concern among many doctors that the A.D.H.D. diagnosis and its medication are overused in American children.
South Dakota became the first state in the nation to enact a law explicitly authorizing school employees to carry guns on the job, under a measure signed into law on Friday by Gov. Dennis Daugaard
A new study explores what happens to students who aren’t allowed to suffer through setbacks.
School districts in L.A., New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Orlando, Fla., plan to announce Thursday efforts to use their collective clout — 2.5 million daily meals served and $530 million annually spent — to make wholesome food a national standard. The districts are also aiming for more eco-friendly practices — replacing polystyrene and plasticwith biodegradable trays and flatware, for instance.
Behind a locked classroom door, a Los Angeles third-grade teacher purportedly committed lewd acts against students. The charges spurred demands for classrooms to remain open during the school day. But after the shooting deaths of 20 first-graders in Connecticut last month, calls were made to keep classrooms locked. The intent of both efforts is to keep students safe. But as school districts nationwide examine their security measures following the Newtown, Conn., massacre, the question of locked versus unlocked classroom doors is in debate.
Should teachers and administrators use their secured doors as a shield from an outside danger?
These issues are at the heart of the 2013 edition of Education Week’s Quality Counts report: Code of Conduct: Safety, Discipline, and School Climate. A collaboration between the Education Week newsroom and the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, Quality Counts 2013 investigates the impact of a school’s social and disciplinary environment on students’ ability to learn and on the teachers and administrators tasked with guiding them.
The report’s journalism takes an in-depth look at a range of school-climate factors—including strong and positive peer interactions, a sense of safety and security, and school disciplinary policies and practices—that help to lay the groundwork for student achievement.
Until recently, it seemed a foregone conclusion that body armor, like guns and knives, had no place in schools. Five years ago, there was no such thing as a bulletproof backpack, Uy said, and bulletproof vests were merely precautions for kids who hunted with their parents. But reinforced backpacks have become more popular since the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 and the gradual rise of the “prepper” movement, a subculture obsessed with preparations for the end of the world.
This is an EdMedia Commons summary and story portal concerning the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Accounts and takeaways by Education Week, ABC News, CBS News, USA Today, among others, are featured.
A Hechinger Report analysis of private school demographics (using data compiled on the National Center for Education Statistics website) found that more than 35 such academies survive in Mississippi, many of them in rural Delta communities like Indianola. Each of the schools was founded between 1964 and 1972 in response to anticipated or actual desegregation orders, and all of them enroll fewer than two percent black students.
John Jay Science and Engineering Academy started making students carry “smart ID” badges implanted with microchips this fall to ensure they are counted as present, since some state funding is tied to student attendance. But Andrea Hernandez, a 15-year old sophomore at the magnet school for exceptional students, filed a federal-court petition on Nov. 30 seeking to be excluded from the program.
Evidence is still limited—but growing—that some chemicals can boost attention, memory, concentration, and other abilities related to academic performance. Researchers at the Society of Neuroscience conference here questioned whether it is safe and fair to allow healthy people to boost their brain function chemically, or use drugs to correct environmental factors like poverty or bad instruction that can lead to brain deficits similar to those that characterize medical conditions like attention-deficit disorders.
The share of kindergartners whose parents opted out of state immunization requirements more than doubled in the decade that ended in 2008, peaking at 7.6 percent in the 2008-9 school year, according to the state’s Health Department, raising alarm among public health experts. But last year, the Legislature adopted a law that makes it harder for parents to avoid getting their children vaccinated, by requiring them to get a doctor’s signature if they wish to do so. Since then, the opt-out rate has fallen fast, by a quarter, setting an example for other states with easy policies.
Fuentes’ pre-kindergarten son sits down to lunch in New Orleans at 9:45 a.m. and her first-grade daughter eats at 10:20 a.m. Similarly, at a school in Florida’s Seminole County, lunch starts as early as 9 a.m. and a middle school in Queens, N.Y., recently announced it will be serving students lunch at 9:45 a.m. On this month’s early morning menu: mozzarella sticks, penne pasta and roasted chicken.
The attendance push has been particularly strong in California, New York, Texas and other states where schools funding is based on how many children are in their seats each day, rather than enrollment. Several California districts have made a back-to-school ritual of reminding parents that schools lose money whenever kids are out.
Some have asked families with children who missed school for avoidable reasons such as family trips to reimburse schools the $30-$50 a day the absence cost in lost funding, or at least consider having a child with the sniffles or a stomach ache show up for the first part of the day so he or she can be counted before going home sick.
But a new partnership among Los Angeles city, police and school officials aims to support — rather than punish — students like Garcia before it’s too late. In a decisive step away from the zero tolerance policies of the 1990s, Los Angeles school police have agreed to stop issuing citations to truant students and instead refer them to city youth centers for educational counseling and other services to help address their academic struggles.
The attendance push has been particularly strong in California, New York, Texas and other states where schools funding is based on how many children are in their seats each day, rather than enrollment. Several California districts have made a back-to-school ritual of reminding parents that schools lose money whenever kids are out.
To make friends, it turns out, children need to be able to carry out sophisticated social maneuvers, screening potential pals for certain positive qualities and making careful assessments about how much common ground they share. And in order to be a good friend—the kind that inspires loyalty and dedication—even a very young child must be not only fun to spend time with, but capable of being emotionally mature in ways that can be difficult even for grown-ups.
“A new analysis of Census data by the real-estate services company Trulia Inc. shows that the quality of schools remains a crucial factor in where parents choose to buy homes. Of course, schools have always been closely tied to real-estate sales, but Trulia’s findings indicate that despite the collapse of the housing market, education is sometimes even more important than factors such as price, commute time and nearby amenities.”
Eight years after California settled a landmark lawsuit promising hundreds of millions of dollars to repair shoddy school facilities, more than 700 schools still are waiting for their share of funds as students take classes on dilapidated campuses with health and safety hazards. California has funded less than half of the $800 million required by the Emergency Repair Program, which grew out of a class-action lawsuit against the state that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed to settle.
Research brief from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network offers recommendations for how schools can make their climate more supportive for LGBT students. It states that “By including LGBT-related content in their curriculum, educators can send a message that they are a source of support for LGBT students.
This webpage compiles links to EdWeek’s coverage of bullying.
After Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge, anti-bullying advocates and others were quick to attribute his death to cyberbullying from his roommate Dharun Ravi, who used a webcam to spy on Clementi with a guest in their room. This exhaustively reported article shows that—in this case and others—the blame perhaps is not so easy to place.
This article offers an unflinching look at how brutal bullying can be for LGBT students, focusing in particular in a “suicide cluster” in the Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota. As the debate in the story’s comments sections makes clear, allegations of bullying within mid-sized or smaller towns can be controversial and hard to resolve.
This report examines what sorts of policies states use to address bullying. It found that “from 1999 to 2010, more than 120 bills were enacted by state legislatures nationally that have either introduced or amended education or criminal justice statutes to address bullying and related behaviors in schools.
EWA 2012 National Reporting Contest winner. Many articles explore the effect poverty has on student academic outcomes. This investigative report went further and explored a community of homeless students, telling the stories of youth dealing with a welter of issues beyond academics.
The Philadelphia Inquirer education team won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of violence in the city’s schools. Their interactive site offers school-by-school databases for incidents of violence in addition to stories that includes an analysis of how even kindergarteners can be the perpetrators and victims of severe campus violence. The articles also are available as printable PDFs. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
During a conference to examine ways that schools and communities could work to prevent bullying, both the president and first lady offered personal remarks. “No child should feel that alone,” President Obama said. “We’ve got to make sure our young people know that if they’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help and young adults that can help; that even if they’re having a tough time, they’re going to get through it, and there’s a whole world full of possibility waiting for them.
This report is a comprehensive and wide-ranging compendium of statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. Its “Key Findings” section is a go-to source for quick summaries of the numbers of different types of crimes reported during the school year.
This letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali was issued to advise school administrators on how bullying could be addressed under existing federal laws. The letter notes that “by limiting its response to a specific application of its anti‐bullying disciplinary policy, a school may fail to properly consider whether the student misconduct also results in discriminatory harassment.
In the summer of 2010, several U.S. Cabinet departments held a summit to discuss ways they could collaborate to help the federal government to stem what was seen as a rising tide of bullying in the nation’s schools. Education Secretary Duncan spoke with the group, stating “bullying is doubly dangerous because if left unattended it can rapidly escalate into even more serious violence and abuse. Just as you have gateway drugs, bullying is gateway behavior.
EWA 2010 National Reporting Contest winner. Studies increasingly show chronic truancy is a telltale sign that a student is on the road to dropping out of school. So what can schools do about it? This feature examines the sleight of hand students come up with to play hooky, and the steps schools could take to combat the high rates of ditching class.
The 2009 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Youth in Our Schools
This report offers detailed statistics on the types of harassment and abuse that LGBT students reported experiencing in school. “Schools nationwide are hostile environments for a distressing number of LGBT students — almost all of whom commonly hear homophobic remarks and face verbal and physical harassment and even physical assault because of their sexual orientation or gender expression,” notes the report as a key finding.
This web page from the Education Writers Association offers links to resources and news coverage on various aspects of bullying, from attacks on LGBT students to cyberbullying.
This report considers the educational consequences of the considerable racial segregation that remains in schools today and the potential of controlled choice to address them. It begins with an extensive review of research regarding the effects of school integration. Previous research provides relatively strong evidence that desegregation helps minority students reach higher academic achievement and better long-term outcomes such as college attendance and employment.
For an overview of school climate as an issue, see the Best Practice Brief on the topic by University-Community Partnerships at Michigan State University.