Important Questions to Ask about Education Research
There's a great deal of information - from peer-reviewed research papers to news articles to shared posts on social media sites - about teaching and learning available to educators. While every teacher wants to provide their students with the very best instruction, the sheer amount of information (and the reality that the information is sometimes conflicting) can make it overwhelming to make decisions about classroom strategies. Dr. Timothy Shanahan, Dr. Jan Hasbrouck, and Dr. Doug Fisher created this guide to help educators navigate the complex task of bridging research and practice.
California sets reading goal for third graders
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has announced a new initiative that will get all third-grade students reading by 2026. “This is a strategy about helping children learn to read, but also about putting them on a path that can create success,” said Mr. Thurmond, speaking at West Contra Costa USD's West County Mandarin School. Accountability measurements for the initiative will be determined by a task force of educators, parents and education experts; it will also focus on school readiness, professional learning, reducing chronic absenteeism, bilingual education and support that will offset some social and economic impacts that can become a barrier to students. Assemblywoman Mia Bonta (D-Alameda) will author a bill for the upcoming legislative cycle that will address and fund the group's recommendations.
LAUSD teachers union members set to table vote on Israeli-Palestinian resolution
A vote on a controversial resolution expressing support for Palestine and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel will likely be shelved during a meeting this week of members of the union representing Los Angeles USD teachers. A substitute motion is expected to be introduced during Thursday’s meeting that calls for the original motion to be postponed indefinitely and for voluntary forums about the conflict in the Middle East to be held instead. The original proposal was brought forth in May by some UTLA members amid 11 days of deadly fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory. Supporters of the original resolution have accused the Israeli government of committing apartheid and genocide against Palestinians. Critics, meanwhile, called that resolution anti-Semitic and one-sided, saying that Hamas also fired thousands of rockets at Israel during the May fighting and noting allegations that the group used civilians as human shields. Others questioned why a local teachers union would take a position on a conflict occurring across the globe when, they felt, the focus should be on helping students closer to home recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Los Angeles Daily News
West Contra Costa teachers file complaint over COVID safety rules
West Contra Costa USD teachers have filed a complaint with the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, alleging that the district policies on COVID testing and outbreaks are inconsistent and that teachers are told they cannot send home students who exhibit symptoms. It lays out examples of schools not holding regular COVID testing for students, failing to sanitize classrooms after positive cases are reported, or not notifying staff who may have been exposed to the virus. Principals at two district elementary schools sent students who exhibited COVID symptoms back to class, after teachers tried to dismiss them, the email said. It also cited a high school where students were claiming to be vaccinated without proof, and an instance in which the district failed to provide adequate contact tracing, teachers say, for an employee who tested positive and visited multiple facilities while infectious.
San Francisco Chronicle
How the pandemic has exacerbated special education challenges
While the pandemic made it harder for teachers everywhere to do their jobs, special education teachers in particular experienced a lack of training, support, and collaboration with their general education counterparts, according to a new study from the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE). This spring and summer, researchers interviewed more than 60 special education directors and teachers, school leaders, and general education teachers working at 15 schools across the country to ask them about their experiences with special education during the pandemic. It identified a number of difficulties, including a lack of opportunities to collaborate with general education teachers, and districts not factoring in students with disabilities into their reopening plans. The CRPE report advises administrators to encourage general and special education teachers to be jointly responsible for students with disabilities by explaining what shared responsibility looks like for lesson planning, classroom instruction, family communication, and supporting students outside the classroom. It also says that leaders should help educators meet these new standards by scheduling dedicated time for collaboration and training for general educators about special education students’ needs.
School districts continue to struggle with staff shortages
All across the country, school districts are posting in towns and on social media with urgent requests for applicants to fill crucial job openings. Interviews with economists, administrators, and employees reveal a complex array of factors causing the school hiring headaches: Fears over health and safety, frustrations over longstanding pay gaps and inequities, and political disagreements over masks and vaccines. Some of these shortages are far more severe than usual, while others existed long before the pandemic. “When I was a principal, we had tremendous turnover among our bus drivers and the folks who staffed our cafeterias,” said Stefan Lallinger, a former teacher and administrator at a charter school in Louisiana who now serves as fellow and director of the Century Foundation’s Bridges Collaborative, which advocates for school integration and other progressive policies. “Even before the pandemic, whether we talk about bus drivers, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, [they] were dramatically underpaid and undercompensated for the work that they did,” he said. “By and large people in the general population have often taken these positions for granted.” Districts and states are trying to find creative ways to respond to the needs of their current and prospective employees, including hosting job fairs, dangling bonuses, hiring internationally. This week, the governor of New York announced new steps to tackle the bus driver shortage including opening new testing sites for commercial drivers trying to get their licenses, and reaching out to law enforcement, military and fire departments to try to find already-qualified drivers who can pitch in.
HEALTH & WELLBEING
Twenty percent of parents say their kids are eating more fast food
While half of surveyed parents reported their family has eaten home-cooked meals more often since the pandemic started, 20% of parents said their family has had fast food more often, according to a new poll published Monday. More than 2,000 parents participated in the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, which surveyed parents with at least one child between the ages 3 and 18. Reports of kids consuming fast food at least twice weekly were more common among parents who had lower incomes (less than $50,000 annually) and those who thought their child was overweight. Parents with lower incomes were more likely than those with higher incomes (more than $100,000 yearly) to say their child is overweight. "There is convincing data that regular consumption of fast food predisposes children to gaining unwanted weight," said Dr. Maya Adam, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Stanford University in California, who wasn't involved in the report, via email. "Parents love their kids, so they are often the first to notice potential health issues." For these parents, "the demands and stress of daily life required compromises," the report's authors wrote.
New research digs into districts' pandemic pivots
A new study from Next Generation Learning Challenges examines what school districts did to successfully pivot due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finding those that did so most effectively had existing practices in place prior to closures, and that many attributed positive school cultures and strong relationships to their success. Of the 70 schools and districts that participated in the research, 84% reported an emphasis on healthiness of culture, strong relationships between adults and students, and the ability to adapt. Leadership was cited as an important factor by 79% of the respondents, and 74% emphasized a focus on student-centered learning. The research highlights schools like Urban Assembly Maker Academy in New York, which chose to focus primarily on a few key standards. This strategy allowed teachers to narrow their scope of planning and figure out how to deliver core subjects. The schools’ history of mastery-based learning also meant students were already aware of academic expectations and accustomed to independent learning.
Kanye West eyes land for new private school
Kanye West is targeting a four-acre plot on Tierra Lehada Road, an unincorporated area between Moorpark and Simi Valley, for his first private school. Earlier this month, West announced plans for the Donda Academy, a school that honors his deceased mother. Donda West died in 2007. “Donda” is also the name of West’s latest album. According to an August 30 permit report issued by the Ventura County Building and Safety Department, Donda Academy Inc. has requested a change in occupancy of the former Simi Valley Stone Ridge Preparatory School on 1625 Tierra Lehada Road. The campus will host a tuition-free private school that serves 60 students from kindergarten to high school.
California News Times
Burbank middle school renamed for Dolores Huerta
The Burbank Board of Education has renamed a middle school after civil rights leader Dolores Huerta. The school was originally named after David Starr Jordan, a scientist who was a leader and driving force of the eugenics movement, who believe in racial segregation and racial purity. “I think when the Spanish-speaking children, they see somebody that looks like them or somebody that bears their name, and to have a school named after a Latino person, that definitely gives them that kind of self-confidence that they need, that makes them know that they belong and that they can feel very, very proud of who they are,” Huerta said. “And I think it’s very important.” She added that children and students, “know how important they are when they see people that look like them can have positions as teachers, lawyers, doctors, airplane pilots."
The Fresno Bee