January 25, 2019 - Volume 39 Issue 3



In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal (1/23, Subscription Publication) argues that the six-day Los Angeles teachers’ strike may have ended with a new contract, but the promises made by the school to the teachers will not benefit teachers, students or schools in the long-term. The Journal laments how the strike only lead to an agreement for pay raises and additional support staff, which the district already offered before the strike began.

In commentary for The Hill (1/23) Atalaya Sergi, vice president of strategic partnerships & programming at Jumpstart, writes that teachers across the country “have walked out of classrooms to demand improved wages, smaller class sizes, and less standardized testing, among other needs” in the past two years. “These legitimate problems contribute to another larger one that could paralyze education: our nationwide teacher shortage. As we move forward, we need to explore not only how we keep teachers in the classroom, but how we get more teachers in the door to begin with.”

The Washington Post (1/23, Strauss, Parmenter) featured an opinion article from Waddell Language Academy seventh-grade teacher Justin Parmenter. Parmenter commented on the “frantic pace” of a curriculum dictated by standardized test prep, and shared the results of an “experiment” in which he “eliminated test prep from my curriculum, instead focusing on building strong relationships” with students. According to Parmenter, students of his that had passed North Carolina’s End of Grade reading test “increased by nearly 12 percent. ... From a testing standpoint, it was the best result my students have achieved in the 23 years I’ve been in the classroom.”

The New York Post (1/24, Algar) reports New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza “warned charter networks to shut up about traditional public schools at a parental meeting alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday night. Carranza told parents they had the right to make school choices for their kids, but said charters shouldn’t beckon parents by bashing regular public schools.” The piece quotes Carranza saying, “Do what you got to do. Do your enrollment thing. But don’t talk about our schools. Because our schools belong to the community and we’re going to do what we need to do to support our schools.”

The Washington Post (1/24, Strauss) reports, “Nearly two percent of high school students in the United States identify as transgender, according to data published Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The data were derived from the “2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 10 states and nine large urban school districts.” The Post says the new report comes amid criticisms of the Trump Administration’s policies regarding transgender people, noting that “in 2017, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s first major policy act was to support Trump’s decision to rescind the guidance protecting the right of transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.” The Advocate (1/24) similarly mentions DeVos’ actions in its coverage.

Reuters (1/24, Wulfhorst) reports the CDC data indicate that over one third of students who identify as trandgender “say they attempted suicide in the previous year. ... Those transgender students are the frequent victims of violence and bullying, threatened at school and on their way to and from home, said the study.” The study is “the first released by the government health agency delving into transgender-related questions among a large number of students.”

The Hechinger Report (1/24, Moneau) writes that the key to diversifying the engineering field, which is currently “dominated by white men,” is beginning to introduce the subject as early as possible. The article highlights the nonprofit Museum of Science’s Engineering is Elementary program, which “is aimed at attracting potential engineers before they get distracted by whether or not they fit the stereotype.” According to the program’s founding director Christine Cunningham, teacher development is a “critical part” of the curriculum, since almost half of elementary school teachers feel they are underprepared to teach science.

Grant Opportunities

The National PTA is accepting entries of original works of artacross arts disciplines from students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade for this annual award program. Students can submit artwork through their local Reflections program, with selected winners receiving the opportunity to exhibit their artwork. The deadline to register to participate is Feb. 1.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries initiative seeks to support these libraries, as well as archives and related organizations, in their work through grants of up to $50,000. IMLS will award grants across three categories, including Transforming School Library Practice. Deadline to apply: Feb. 25. 

In a Bloomberg View(9/4) piece, Andrea Gabor, Bloomberg chair of business journalism at CUNY’s Baruch College, writes, “For two decades, the prevailing wisdom among education philanthropists and policymakers has been that the U.S. school system needs the guiding hand of centralized standard-setting to discipline ineffective teachers and bureaucrats. Much of that direction was guided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has spent billions since 2000 to influence both schools and education policy.” However, “top-down national initiatives based on standardized testing and curricular uniformity” have waned in popularity, and now groups including Gates are moving toward a more local approach. Gates’ “K-12 philanthropy will concentrate on supporting what it calls ‘locally driven solutions’ that originate among networks of 20 to 40 schools.”