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Waco Texas Schools Build a Comprehensive Response to Low Achievement

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The Waco Independent School District (Waco ISD), like many urban school districts serving low-income students, is under great pressure from state education officials to dramatically improve outcomes. Based on the district's poor showing on state achievement tests in the last five years, the district has an end-of-school-year deadline to demonstrate progress or face a forced major restructuring of how education is provided within this Texas city. In reaction, school district leadership is trying to finalize a partnership with a community-based nonprofit to implement an all natural approach to their educational challenge.

School district leaders notice that student performance is impacted by forces that go well beyond what happens just within each school's walls. In an October community meeting held included in the planning process, the district's superintendent, A. Marcus Nelson, told a packed audience, \”That's why we push our kids so difficult. We have very little charge of the things they go home to. I know kids in Waco ISD at this time the biggest problem they've is, are they likely to go to Texas Tech or are they likely to Texas A&M? But sitting right alongside that student is a student who has no home support. They go home, and they are the oldest in their family and have to take care of their siblings. With that kid, you have to level the playing field and also have to visualize personal responsibility, this kid needs more support and help.\”

The actions being threatened by Texas education officials are similar to those that have been tried in struggling districts across the nation. The district can be instructed to relinquish charge of five of the lowest performing schools, with programs that provide about 16 percent of their student population, and switch them over to independent charter school managers. More drastically, the state could disband the board and assume direct control of some or all of Waco's public school system, creating what has become known in Louisiana like a \”recovery school district.\” In the two cases, local charge of schools is diminished to acquire solutions that have not proved successful in other locations.

In response, the district is partnering with Prosper Waco to create a comprehensive community school approach. According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, the arrangement allows Prosper Waco to do what it really does best and \”coordinate services for college students, while leaving the majority of the management to Waco ISD.-The arrangement would involve an increased focus on the needs, both in and out of the classroom.\”

Unlike other communities where schools happen to be turned over to personal organizations (nonprofit or for-profit) to operate as independent charter schools, the Waco idea seeks to draw around the unique strengths of the nonprofit organization to boost the present operation of the school. Matthew Polk, Waco ISD's executive director, shared with the Tribune-Herald his vision of the emerging partnership:

This is something educators discuss all the time. They talk about a holistic approach to education. Educators who're teaching and serving in Waco ISD be aware of impact of poverty on the kids they serve and their academic performance-It's an excessive amount of to inquire about educators who are running a school, who're preparing lessons every day and teaching kids, also to be social workers, also to try to figure out this complete maze of organizations and programs in the community that will help their kids.

Prosper Waco brings assets to the table. Formed in 2021 \”to build an atmosphere in which all members of our Waco community are able to measurably improve their education, health, and financial security,\” PW sees itself as organizing its community partners to do what no single organization can do alone. Prosper Waco spokeswoman Christina Helmick told the Tribune-Herald that \”We don't have to go outside to look for other things we need to generate. We have everything we want right here in Waco. It is simply we need to take it all together in a coordinated way.\”

The WISD-Progress Waco partnership can comprehensively address the needs of the children they serve and mitigate the negative impact of poverty, homelessness, and bias while retaining local charge of schools. It will work when the resources are sufficient to satisfy the promise and the community remains an active part of the equation. Martin Blank, president of the Institute for Educational Leadership, emphasized in the Huffington Post that \”community schools do concentrate on organizing health insurance and social supports, but family and community engagement, along with a robust curriculum with expanded learning opportunities during and past the school day will also be part the equation.\” As currently envisioned, Waco students may benefit from this comprehensive vision staying at the core of the reinvigorated schools.

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Public Schools

In Idaho, House Committee Seeks to Limit Teaching of Global warming

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Raging fires are consuming California, South Africa is nearly out of water, Indonesia is increasingly under water, and Antarctica and the North Pole are melting, but in Idaho, what's there to worry about? Surely not preparing the state's children to join the worldwide effort to find methods to climate change.

Livia Albeck-Ripka, writing for that New York Times, says, \”Now, it is a battle.\” Idaho has joined national leaders, the EPA and some other states in a battle over reality. It's as though the Scopes Monkey Trial were being fought all over again.

And those fighting to keep children from researching global warming are winning many battles. Albeck-Ripka notes that simply yesterday the Idaho House Education Committee approved a revised group of standards. The committee-approved language would allow for some discussion of climate change. \”But,\” adds Albeck-Ripka, \”the committee cut a section on the environmental impact of nonrenewable causes of energy and removed supporting content for standards that contained multiple references to human-driven warming.\”

The House committee's vote isn't final, however, as Idaho's Senate Education Committee can also get to weigh in. Ultimately, standards must be approved by both houses and signed into law through the governor.

The stakes are high, however, because the earth's vital signs are shaky. Despite the agendas of climate change deniers, the science stressing global warming is sound, and also the implications from the data are frightening and wish an educated public. Change is occurring faster than predicted by even the most pessimistic objective observers. And we've only seen relatively slight changes towards the climate up to now.

The sound and fury of politicians makes them ill-equipped to imagine or understand fundamental change happening all around them.

The political fight over climatic change has extended to science education in recent years as several states have attempted to weaken or block new teaching standards that included details about climate science. But only in Idaho has the state legislature stripped all mentions of human-caused climate change from statewide science guidelines while leaving all of those other standards intact.

The Idaho House Education Committee's 12-4 vote yesterday to approve new standards which include only a minor mention of the global warming but exclude details about the environmental impact of non-renewable fuels and human-driven reasons for global warming is disturbing. Other breaking news includes EPA leader Scott Pruitt wondering if global warming isn't actually a good thing for the people:

\”We know humans have most flourished during times of what, warming trends,\” Pruitt said Tuesday during an interview on KSNV, an NBC affiliate in Vegas. \”So, I think there's assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is really a very bad thing. Do we find out what the ideal surface temperature should be around 2100, in the year 2021? That's fairly arrogant for us to consider that we know exactly what it should be in 2100.\”

Also yesterday, with a party-line vote of 11-10, the united states Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved Andrew Wheeler to be the EPA deputy administrator. Wheeler is really a former coal lobbyist who raised money for the senators who just approved his nomination. The White House's Office of Science Policy still remains with no nominee, but exactly what does science matter?

As Albeck-Ripka reports, in Idaho the controversy over K-12 science standards began in earnest in 2021.

Lawmakers rejected a brand new set of standards, that have been closely modeled after national guidelines developed by a consortium of states and science organizations and included information on global warming, saying more input in the public was needed.

Last year, the home education committee accepted the new standards, only after scrubbing five sections related to global warming. The passages about climate change were \”surgically removed,\” said Glenn Branch, deputy director from the National Center for Science Education, which monitors anti-science legislation.

And there has been more back and forth since. Yesterday's vote by the House Education Committee to once again water down standards effectively repeats the action it took last year-and you will find apt to be further twists and turns within the battle ahead. No matter state standards, Idaho teachers can continue to decide to include global warming within their individual lesson plans, but that may be a career decision for many teachers.

Even in Boise, \”When you teach environmental science, you're constantly being discredited,\” said Erin Stutzman, a science teacher at Timberline Senior high school within the capital, which, along with other schools nationally, continues to be mailed anti-science materials from the Heartland Institute, an organization that denies the reality of human-induced climate change.

Albeck-Ripka reports that a student leading a petition to include global warming within the state's science standards testified in a hearing before the Idaho education committee. Before the committee chairwoman cut her off, a student could say, \”It really puts the scholars in a disadvantage once the teachers have fear.\”

The concerted effort to discredit the scientific consensus over climate change continues to be ongoing for more than two decades in the usa and shows no manifestation of weakening, especially because of the stance from the Trump administration. Just as with the twenty-year effort to pass the Paris Agreement, it still is primarily for civil society to protect and implement exactly what the American government perversely rejects.

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Public Schools

Another Silicon Valley Incursion in to the Schools, Another Parent Protest

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With little data to demonstrate the effectiveness of an online learning system, the Kansas Department of Education selected two rural school systems as pilots for the Summit Learning platform. It's not going well.

Summit is one of the newer educational reform experiments to be backed with a billionaire and resisted by public school parents, who are often viewed as recalcitrant blockades to bright ideas from on high. Mark Zuckerberg started to support Summit in 2021, devoting five Facebook engineers to the project, and since 2021, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has committed just below $100 million to the project.

In Kansas, where schools are struggling under Republican tax and education policies, implementing state-of-the-art, web-based, student-directed, student-paced curriculum seemed to be precisely what the towns of Wellington and McPherson required to raise their test scores and enhance their schools.

Proponents from the Summit Learning system argue it provides students more control over the content, as they can determine the speed at which they learn so when they think comfortable taking tests. Teachers while using system do not have to administer or grade quizzes and tests, leaving them more time for private interaction with students. The Summit Learning software provides teachers having a broad range of data about student performance, and also the curriculum is consistently updated.

The realities of web-centric learning appeared soon after the program's implementation. As Nellie Bowles's article within the New York Times notes, \”Students started coming home with headaches and hand cramps. Some said they felt more anxious-another inspired to bring her dad's hunting earmuffs to class to block out classmates because work was now done largely alone.\”

Web-based learning forces children to invest hours each day on computers, a requirement that dramatically exceeds the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines (AAP) for Electronics for School-Age Children. Obesity and sleep disturbances are the most benign of the potential issues children with too much screen-time face, based on the AAP. And screen-time's not the only issue that concerns parents. The software collects a large amount of personal student data, building a digital apply for the duration of the student's participation within the program. Many parents are involved the privacy language contains too many loopholes that may eventually permit the data to be removed or misused. Privacy concerns were a principal driver for schools in Cheshire, Connecticut, to suspend this program in 2021. (We expressed our concerns about Summit in 2021.)

In fact, Bowles writes, the program continues to be invited to leave more than one community:

The resistance in Kansas is part of mounting nationwide opposition to Summit, which began trials of their system in public schools four years ago and is now in around 380 schools and utilized by 74,000 students. In Brooklyn, students walked out in November after their school started using Summit's platform. In Indiana, Pennsylvania, following a survey by Indiana University of Pennsylvania found 70 percent of students wanted Summit dropped or made optional, the college board scaled it back and then voted this month to terminate it. And in Cheshire, Connecticut, this program was cut after protests in 2021.

Summit's CEO, Diane Tavenner, started developing the software in use by the company inside a number of charter schools she founded starting in 2003. Her view would be that the resistance is fueled by nostalgia. \”There's people who do not want change. That they like the colleges how they are,\” she says. \”The same individuals who don't like Summit happen to be the sort of vocal opposition to change through the process.\”

But the fact is that, once more, the communities in Kansas resisting this change might not want to have their kids be harmed by a process that is unproven.

Summit chose not to be part of a study after paying the Harvard Center for Education Policy Research to design one out of 2021. Tom Kane, the Harvard professor preparing that assessment, said he was cautious about speaking out against Summit because many education projects receive funding from Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan's philanthropic organization, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

What's more, the curriculum itself originates under fire since it links to items some parents find questionable. One Kansas father was displeased to locate that the unit on Roman history associated with an internet site a few clicks from sexually explicit art. Parents in Kentucky objected towards the presentation of content about Islam as contrasted with this on Christianity. States like Kentucky have school district-based curriculum assessment where the public, teachers, and administrators review and approve materials, and lots of parents are not thinking about having that power curtailed by someone \”on the web.\”

John Pane of the RAND Corporation studies personalized learning and the use of digital tools. He believes electronic teaching is within its infancy and \”there is not enough research.\” Apparently some parents in Kansas would agree.

Corrections: This article continues to be altered from its initial form due to new and updated information. A student whose seizures increased like a reaction to increased web-based screen-time wasn't while using Summit platform.

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Public Schools

Detroit Shows How to Make a Sanctuary School

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After US Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested almost 700 immigrants on Mississippi's first day's school, the Detroit Public Schools Community District has vowed to do all they can to protect immigrant families with students under their watch. The colleges they oversee, they have declared, are a sanctuary.

The district has committed to not collect information about immigration status, and Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti contends, \”I'll be the first to put myself in front door to say [to federal customs agents], 'You're not entering our schools.'\”

The policy, long advocated by community leaders, was formally and loudly voted in through the school board last week. Following the vote, the policy was quickly made usable with a group of legal protocols that instruct various school personnel on how to handle situations that may arise.

\”We want our students to come to school and concentrate on teaching and learning, and never on whether the federal government, or any type of authority, will rip them out of their schools,\” Dr. Vitti believed to an audience of stakeholders who offer the policy. \”We have drawn a line within the sand to state that whenever children enter into our schools, their safety.\”

The nearby Hamtramck School District includes a similar policy, as do school districts in other cities, including Miami, Ny, Des Moines, and Chicago.

Chalkbeat reports that many in Michigan worry about the result from the toxic environment on immigrant students' capability to learn and on community cohesion more generally:

The Detroit district isn't the only local agency changing its policies. Earlier this year, pressurized from community groups, the city of Dearborn ended a cooperative agreement with immigration authorities. In the state capital, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, recently announced her support for a measure that would allow undocumented individuals to obtain driver's licenses.

The district continues to be pressurized for a long time to publicly reassure undocumented Detroiters that they could be safe on school grounds. Soon after Trump took office, teachers unions and others within the district rallied behind a sanctuary policy.

Education Dive provides other examples of policies schools have adopted to reply to the needs and fears of immigrant families, even just in cases when state policies do not encourage or prohibit declaring sanctuary, and the National Immigration Law Center provides additional guidance and resources here. These types of resources are specifically important when local conditions differ.

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Public Schools

Fighting for the Right to become Educated-A Youth Based Lawsuit Against Detroit Schools

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Do our kids have a to an excellent education? Does it stand alongside another core principles from the Constitution? Those are the questions raised by lawyers representing an organization current and former Detroit students when they recently appeared in a federal appeals court. They're saying that right, and they want the appellate justices to reinstate their case following a district court rejected their claim.

When the lawsuit was filed in 2021, Detroit's schools were in total disarray. They were under the charge of a state-appointed emergency manager for more than a decade and continued to struggle. The elected school board had been disenfranchised. After many years of insufficient funding, it was in serious bankruptcy. Buildings were in a condition of disrepair that motivated teachers to a \”sick-out,\” pleading for public attention. As NPQ reported on at the time, the \”seriously deficient conditions of Detroit's school buildings-[included] mold, leaky ceilings, busted windows, rodents, roaches, lack of heat and standing water.\”

The students' argument is easy: Education is a civil liberty. Students have a to an education which will equip these to be functioning citizens. When that right isn't honored, they argue, they leave school handicapped by their deficiencies and unable to fulfill their potential. Attorney Mark Rosenbaum told Chalkbeat, \”Where state officials- deny use of literacy to children of color from low-income families, they perpetuate probably the most pernicious type of racial inequality that government can inflict on its most vulnerable and deserving population.\”

Martha Minow, an old dean of Harvard school and also the author of the book concerning the legacy of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Top court decision, sees the disparity between your education of kids like those in the Detroit schools and people in other more affluent districts as validating the suit. She told NBC, \”[when] many people are becoming instruction and folks are not-that's discrimination. It may be a different world if we were built with a state that didn't offer education to anybody, but there are people in the suburbs who are obtaining a excellent education, so they’re creating a second-class caste system, a group of students who've no chance of getting entree to good jobs and to be effective citizens and also to have the ability to govern their lives.\”

The impact of the failed school product is, for the plaintiffs, very personal. Jamarria Hall, a 19-year-old who finished Detroit's Osborn Senior high school, was recently featured in an NBC news report. Jamarria called school a \”waste of your time,\” explaining that his high school classes were taught from books meant for elementary students. \”It feels like I've lost an opportunity or lost four years of my life,\” he said, noting the school's thorough lack of resources. \”It's really despicable for me to live in America and also to have a chance at the American dream and also to have the ability to reside in a society where everybody should have the same opportunity and also to know that it isn't happening for me personally.\” Although he graduated at the top of his class, lucrative is can not pass classes in the community college program he is pursuing.

The attorneys representing mich and Detroit schools don't argue that the weather is good or the way they should be. They simply reject the premise that education is really a right, because it is not specifically identified as one by the US Constitution. (We may refer them to the ninth amendment about this point.) The conditions faced by students might be deplorable, officials say, the quality of education they are able to achieve with limited resources may hamper them for their entire lives, but no constitutional requirement has been breached.

Mark Rosenbaum, among the attorneys for the Detroit students, is hopeful that they will come out with a victory. \”The Top court has said affirmatively that you cannot compel people to make a move and then not deliver on which you said you can deliver on,\” he explained. \”You can't put children in class for six or seven hours a day on compulsory education laws after which not deliver instruction anymore than place a patient inside a mental hospital and then not provide treatment.\”

The Detroit students' suit adds their voices towards the ongoing debate about how to improve our schools. It focuses the discussion on issues of equity instead of on choice and charters. If they're successful, it may push policy makers to deal with the underlying problems with race and poverty that are considered to be strong forces in determining educational success. Facing disparity of funding and also the inherent racial bias in our culture will, despite their political difficulty, need to be more directly addressed if Rosenbaum is correct.

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Public Schools

State Control Is No Silver Bullet for college Reform

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Like those who work in many Rust Belt communities, Detroit's schools struggled to cope with the outcome of declining population, falling property values, and insufficient state funding. In 1993, poor academic results along with a deficit-plagued budget induced the state of Michigan's white, Republican leadership to part of and take control of the city's schools, which served a predominantly black community. It was part of a larger trend of state officials in Michigan seizing control from local governments. At some point in this past decade, about 50 % of the state's black population was under emergency management and therefore denied the right to elect their very own local government.

The state's so-called solution ignored the larger systemic problems that plague many urban school districts. The Michigan state formula for making things better was firmly in line with the allegedly ability of state leaders to create to deal with managerial and educational competence beyond the capacity for local leaders.

The same thinking, by the way, was at play when an urgent situation manager was sent into Flint. That manager made the fateful decision to source the city's water from the Flint River, causing result in attack the system. Actually, that manager, Darnell Earley, had also been the emergency manager for Detroit's schools after his stint in Flint. Within the newswire we wrote then, we observed that the state tended to make use of the emergency manager law in poor communities, leading to an abrogation of voting rights.

After decades of responsibility within the education of Detroit's children, in 2021, Michigan started to take a step back and return charge of the district to some local school board. The newly elected board quickly commissioned a study of the unique circumstances. Earlier this year, that report was received, and that we now know how badly their state did and just how ineffective its method of educational improvement was. State control left the district with decaying facilities, a still limited budget, with no educational gains.

According to Chalkbeat, the study's findings depicted the present situation in ominous terms: \”The legacy of emergency management coupled with the continuing effect of inequitable educational funding, will inevitably make the district to hit a ceiling and impede its current progress toward a complete turnaround of traditional public education in Detroit.\”

Additionally, the report produced by the Allen Law Group found little proof of effective management. Rather, they found the district have been left with the results of numerous avoidable, costly errors, which included \”the acquisition of overpriced real estate without proper due diligence\” and \”inattention to aging building maintenance.\”

Perhaps most surprising is that the cadre of state-appointed leaders didn't even accomplish their purported primary task of addressing [Detroit Public Schools'] fiscal challenges. Rather than benefiting from their relative isolation in the political pressures that supposedly hindered the ability of previous elected school boards, state-appointed leaders seemingly didn't result in the hard decisions necessary to right-size DPS inside a responsible and transparent fashion. Under state-appointed leadership, DPS engaged in questionable financial tactics and implemented temporary fixes, which allowed its debt to grow and ultimately led to the decline of DPS.

The educational failings are as dire. According to the report, \”countless students throughout the city of Detroit who were likely not afforded the educational opportunities they needed and deserved.\” As NPQ recently reported, the situation is so bad that students thought it was necessary to go to court demanding their to an excellent education be honored. One of the plaintiffs in the suit \”called school a 'waste of your time,' explaining that his high school classes were taught from books intended for elementary students.\”

When state houses manage local school districts, the public rationale, a minimum of, should be to benefit children and hold schools accountable for their performance. Just listen to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner because he proposed to consider over Chicago's schools: \”I want to protect the schoolchildren as well as their parents; that's my first duty.\” Or Ohio governor John Kasich describing his takeover of Youngstown's schools: \”If you're a school district that's failed year after year after year, someone's likely to come riding to the rescue of youngsters.\” But beneath that, it is actually about race, politics, and ideology. The assumption that state leaders, who are predominantly white, know much better than local black leadership is inherently biased.

The refusal of those who desire to wipe aside local control of school districts to confront the big, systemic problems of poverty and race dooms their efforts to failure. The belief that good management techniques, even if the state were able to provide them, are sufficient is also mistaken. Tom Watkins, who had been state superintendent from 2001 to 2005, told Chalkbeat there was \”little hope of improving the district's financial situation simply through effective management-not without solving underlying difficulties with declining enrollment and Michigan's school funding structure. 'It's like trying to bail out a sinking yacht with a thimble.'\”

Detroit reminds us from the inherent dangers of states managing local districts. It should be no real surprise that supposed solutions imposed externally often fall short. It's an old lesson, but it's worth repeating here: a lot more often these days, community members themselves are the very best architects to design the resolution to the challenges they face.

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Public Schools

School Segregation? Not a Problem, Says DeVos

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NPQ continues to be closely following the re-segregation of America's schools. A lot more than Half a century after the historic Top court ruling which asserted that separate schools can't ever equate, early gains from integration within the 1950s and 1960s have increasingly been reversed. Disturbingly, it seems this is not just the result of integration being very difficult to get right; rather, it appears to be the failure of the from the federal government to stand strongly behind what the law states from the land making integration important.

Recently, Chalkbeat examined the fate of the very most recent federal make an effort to right this wrong. Near the end of his tenure, President Obama's secretary of education, John King, helped launch a little program for desegregation. $12 million, a paltry sum, was invested in help local districts research and develop their approaches to increasing the integration of the schools. (It may be important to note that there are a lot more than 50 million public school students in the United States). This followed earlier Obama administration guidance to college leaders stressing the necessity to target the ills of racial and economic segregation that plague a number of our schools. The time might have been meager, but at least there was a modicum of support for local leaders.

Thirty districts, big and small, answered the RFP, seeking financial aid for his or her efforts to construct districts by which all schools reflected an area's overall population. But the change of administration stopped the effort in its tracks. Under President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, this program was cancelled.

US DoE spokesperson Angela Morabito explained her department's rationale to Chalkbeat: \”The program was an unwise use of tax dollars, and the funds could be used better for other purposes.\” For Secretary Betsy DeVos, integration was no longer an objective to aid even modestly.

The new administration also rolled back guidance letters which in fact had supported local schools affirmatively trying to increase equality. The signals were clear to former Education Secretary John King Jr. He told EdWeek :

[These actions send] the incorrect message in a moment once the nation’s schools-are becoming increasingly diverse. More than 60 years later, our nation still has not fulfilled the commitment of Brown v. Board of Education. Research shows the advantages of diversity for those students; and innovative practices in schools, on campuses, as well as in communities to succeed diversity might help protect the near future prosperity of our nation and the long-term health of our economy.

The loss of $12 million from the a lot more than $700 billion spent annually on K-12 education was insignificant; losing moral leadership that it conveyed was not. \”It is tough, otherwise impossible, to support this very hypothetical statement that the ending of the program prevented school districts from moving forward using their school integration plans,\” Morabito said in a statement. But by ending the program and changing the message of integration as a priority, the federal government gave a powerful signal that integration was no longer important. It left local leaders by themselves to take on the political winds that have long made

integration difficult.Austin, Texas was among the districts that had looked to federal funding to assist create an integration pathway. Their district is ethnically and economically diverse, but individual schools are highly segregated. Within their application for funding they asked for $1.5 million to develop an agenda because \”this community includes a compelling need to turn back legacy of exclusion, and Austin will leverage this grant to attempt to alter the historic trend.\”

Without the fiscal and moral support of the authorities, moving forward in Austin proved way too hard. Former school board member Edmund T. Gordon, who teaches African and African diaspora studies at the University of Texas, told Chalkbeat, \”if they'd gotten the money, maybe they would happen to be more serious about it-as soon as they needed to pay it off, and as soon because there are other priorities,\” the resolve for integration faltered. Local leadership was left alone to face strong opposition from white upper- and middle-class residents who fear change.

Across the nation, with little support from federal leaders and often little support in the state level, local school leaders remain to defend myself against building integrated and equal systems when confronted with opposition. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as noted by NPQ, recently checked out New York City's highly segregated school system and asked: \”Why isn't every public school in Nyc a Brooklyn Tech-caliber school? Everybody ought to be.\”

The answer is that people do not have the will to construct the training system we want, to meet both the legal dependence on Brown v. Board of Education and also the moral imperative of treating every child equally. And, sadly, we've not strong federal voice calling us to do the right thing, without which we continue to slip to 1954.

 

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Public Schools

How Public Should Our Public Schools Be?

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The way forward for public education was on the mind of numerous voters on Tuesday. Candidates for national, state, and native offices take their education programs in the forefront because they appealed for voter support. Statewide and native contests for education-related offices drew campaign donors well outside their direct constituencies. This higher level of attention may be the result of the ongoing debate about the way forward for public education, including the way it should be organized and governed.

Years of struggle and vast amounts of dollars have been invested. The differences are not solely about educational strategy, the nature of curriculum or teaching philosophy. A larger struggle takes place concerning the core purpose of public education and it is societal role.

For some, improvement will result from \”creatively destroying\” the standard type of public education and replacing it with one that maximizes parental choice within an open education marketplace where private interests predominate. They see education as a very individual process, measured by each child's progress. For others, the near future should be created to honor the public's shared interest in education, viewing schools and academic organizations as more than buildings for that delivery of educational services. They see education like a communal project that builds and supports the nation's democratic ideals because they teach the ABC's. Education's relationship to the public, and how education is governed, are in stake.

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris assert that \”public governance in our schools matters for the health of our democracy. The general public school was designed to serve and promote the common good; it's paid for by the public, and it belongs to the public, not entrepreneurs.\”

From their perspective, the at-times messy work of elected school boards is a necessary component of schools remaining integral to the communities they serve. They cite Amy Lueck, who, inside a consider the historic role of the public high school recently published in the Atlantic, is concerned that \”as Americans face a new era of educational reform and broad societal change, they might do well to heed a lesson from the first two centuries of public education: As an institution, the fate of the senior high school can't be detached in the community which it's a part. Like several educational institutions, it's inextricably ended using the goals and values from the town, city, and nation in which it is located, reflecting and perpetuating them.\”

From this perspective, public schools do more than educate each child individually; they assist build vibrant communities and underpin the nation's task of making a shared future. The vista from the other side sees the community-based and governed type of education as less important, even harmful, towards the school's sole purpose of educating each child. The type of public governance and accountability is inefficient and too susceptible to a fickle public which could and will vote in new leadership and disrupt plans and programs.

Four years ago, Valerie Strauss described for the Post the way the social-entrepreneurial view of public education looks to a different method of governing public education as answer to its vision of the future. In a speech to the California School Boards Association, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, an advocate of market-based reform, said, \”The fundamental problem with school districts isn't their fault. The fundamental issue is that they do not get to control their boards, and also the importance of the charter school movement is to evolve America from the system where governance is continually changing and you can't do long-term planning to a method of large nonprofits.-The most important thing is they constantly improve every year; they're getting better simply because they have stable governance-they do not have an elected school board.\” Operating public education more like a private corporate concern than the usual public organization, they say, will allow these wise leaders to produce quality public education.

This debate isn't limited to public education. Nonprofit organizations face exactly the same challenge of balancing the of broad stakeholder involvement against the \”messiness\” of democracy. Chao Guo asserts that \”wider constituent participation in nonprofit governance will not only help citizens develop civic skills and democratic values but additionally boost the capacity of nonprofit organizations to work better using their constituents and also the larger community.\” If this is true, we have to be very careful our desire to improve education doesn't take away the public from our nation's educational system.

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Public Schools

Another Mega-Funder having a Solution for Educational Excellence

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The state of Rhode Island and XQ, a nonprofit formed and supported by mega-philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple cofounder Jobs, have partnered in an effort to transform the state's public high schools. Their bond brings five from the state's schools grants of $500,000 and XQ's ongoing technical assistance. In exchange, this gives the nonprofit an opportunity to implement its method of \”reimagine senior high school education in the United States\” and \”transform high school so every student succeeds.\”

In a statement announcing the agreement, Governor Gina Raimondo said,

Rhode Island schools are doing some truly exciting work, with a record number of students benefiting from advanced coursework, early college, and hands-on learning opportunities. XQ chose to do its first-ever statewide partnership with Rhode Island simply because they see tremendous potential here, with their support and experience, we will be able to scale up best practices to ensure that we are able to make senior high school more challenging, engaging, and relevant than ever before.

XQ was launched in 2021 as an extension of Jobs' Emerson Project LLC to reply to a conclusion Jobs and her team had reached about the nation's secondary schools: High schools are seen as failing their students, as measured by standardized test scores, simply because they \”haven't changed significantly-while the earth has. Our education product is still nested in that century-old idea while students are shepherded through similar courses, preparing them for some time for many years passed.\”

Led with a former person in the Obama-era Department of Education team, XQ began by issuing an open call to \”rethink and redesign the American senior high school.\”

More than 10,000 people from all 50 states answered our call with unique ideas for innovative, student-centered high schools that prepare young people for tomorrow's world. XQ has pledged more than $130 million to produce Super Schools that make those visions a real possibility.

Subsequently, XQ began making grants to individual schools to support their efforts to become model \”super-schools.\” Their bond with RI is XQ's first attempt at transforming an entire state's education system.

While seemingly collaborative, XQ's approach is based upon seeking solutions for a problem they have defined toward a finish result they also have defined. But what if their premises are wrong? Jack Schneider, assistant professor of education in the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and the director of research for that Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment raised this concern in comments reported through the Washington Post back in 2021.

\”Americans still offer the broader reason for education,\” Schneider said. \”That's why students have always done much more in school than train for work.-Our students don't spend their days building cars and designing phones. Instead, they're developing their full human potential, across a wide range of activities.\”

And America's schools have changed significantly in the last decades. As Schneider noted, \”Encouraging such tinkering is really a fine utilization of philanthropic dollars. But that isn't what the XQ project is rolling out. Instead, it is publicizing a historically uninformed message that today's technologies demand something new of us as people which our unchanging high schools are failing at the task.\”

XQ's resources let it proceed on this shaky foundation. Accountable only to their very own judgment, XQ can dangle large grants as inducements for individual schools, as well as entire states, to follow their game plan. While they may strike gold, they might also strike out.

NPQ has followed how other mega-philanthropists used their great wealth to impose their desired approaches toward fixing the nation's education systems. An excellent example are available in the Gates Foundation's several efforts to resolve the nation's educational problems. Each was well financed, each proved unsuccessful, and every left the funder unscathed-but not so the colleges and students who had been their guinea pigs.

Hopefully, XQ's work will prove more fruitful and also the schools in RI will see just the benefit of this partnership. But with control kept by the funder, will support visit those solutions that schools may know they need that do not fit XQ's meaning of the issue? Or will the answers be shaped through the power Big Money? The test of how well a nonprofit like XQ meets its obligation to the public good lies in the way they will face that challenge.

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Public Schools

New York City's Segregated School System Starts to Shift

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Earlier this season, NPQ looked in the recommendations that emerged in the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG) appointed by New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio. Because integration has shown so desperately to attain, we wondered if the report would be “presented with great fanfare [but] never to be learned about again? Or will it become the spark for real and sustained change?”

At the time, we said we’d think back each year and see the results, but according to a recent New York Times report, signs of significant change might be evident much sooner: “Several schools in districts in Manhattan and Brooklyn will be more racially and socioeconomically diverse around the first day of school this fall compared to what they are today as a result of these new measures.”

Unlike other efforts, these changes did not come from top-down, citywide processes. In fact, the mayor and also the school board played a restricted role. Based on the Times, “Parents who have been frustrated with the segregated state of their local schools—and with the city’s desire not to adopt measures to integrate the system as a whole—took matters into their own hands this past year by drafting proposals that City Hall eventually approved.” These proposals included “setting new enrollment rules and eliminating using academic screens to sort students for admission.”

For years, the district used an aggressive admissions process that ranked students based on test scores and attendance rates, giving rise to segregated schools even just in a racially and socioeconomically mixed district.

The new rules for school assignment happen to be projected to offer significant results.

  • “Some local middle schools which have consistently shouldered the biggest quantity of vulnerable students will have more diverse student populations starting this fall: 91 percent of students admitted to I.S. 136 in Sunset Park last year were poor, homeless or learning English. This year, that number will drop to 67 percent.”
  • “At M.S. 51 in Park Slope, the most popular junior high school where Mayor Bill de Blasio sent his two children, the proportion of students who're poor, learning English or homeless will jump from 33 percent to 57 percent this fall.”

The success from the plan beyond this fall will rest on the ability of the newly integrated schools to satisfy families’ educational aspirations and overcome the fears of white affluent parents that their children are affected. As one parent put it in a meeting discussing the new enrollment system, “You’re referring to telling an 11-year-old, ‘You worked your butt off and also you didn’t get that, that which you needed and wanted.’ You’re telling them ‘You’re going to go to a school that is not likely to educate you in the same way that you’ve been educated. Life sucks!’ Is the fact that what the [Department of Education] really wants to say?”

Research shows that better integrated schools will benefit a lot of students. A hundred years Foundation overview of the study literature found that “on average, students in socioeconomically and racially diverse schools—regardless of a student’s own economic status—have stronger academic outcomes than students in schools with concentrated poverty.”

  • “Students in integrated schools have higher average test scores.”
  • “Students in integrated schools may enroll in college.”
  • “Students in integrated schools are less likely to decrease out.”
  • “Integrated schools help to reduce racial achievement gaps.”

One from the parents involved in developing the program, recognizing the necessity to bear out these research findings, told the Times, “The jobs are not done. We know it’s not only about admissions, it’s concerning the students’ experience of the schools.”

The secret ingredients with this plan’s promise to be fulfilled are some time and courage. The city’s political leadership will need the bravery to pass through the growing pains and resist answering squeaky wheels.

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