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In this week's “Just Talk ,” UCLA distinguished Professor of Education, Pedro Noguera discusses the Trump presidency and the need for a broader and bolder vision of public education in Los Angeles.

January 27, 2017

Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today delivered his State of the State address, departing with the traditional practice of listing every issue and restating every priority to focus on the “broader context of our country and its challenges.” In his remarks the Governor vowed to "defend everybody - every man, woman and child - who has come here...and has contributed to the well-being of our state" and committed to protecting the state's gains on immigration, health care and climate change, guided by the principles that make California "the Great Exception" - truth, civility and perseverance.


Sonali Kohli, Los Angeles Times

As President Trump signed executive orders to strengthen immigration enforcement and deny funding to “sanctuary cities,” L.A.’s mayor and school officials gathered to celebrate a $30-million federal grant to help students in eight schools with large Latino populations and reaffirmed their commitment to protecting immigrant students and their families. The nonprofit Youth Policy Institute was awarded a $30-million “Promise Neighborhood” grant from the U.S. Department of Education under the Obama administration to provide academic, health and legal services to about 4,000 students attending eight public and charter schools in Pico-Union and Hollywood. The money is supposed to be parceled out over five years, starting in 2017. The organization received a similar grant in 2013 for 18 schools in Hollywood and Pacoima.


Fabian Romero, LA School Report

Thousands of undocumented students and educators received a respite from uncertainty Wednesday when the DACA program survived President Donald Trump’s first executive order on immigration. Earlier this week his spokesman stated that ending the program is not among the administration’s immediate priorities. Still, for some parents, promises made by LA Unified officials that schools in LA are “safe zones” remain insufficient. Parents would like to be assured that both district and charter schools have enough school counselors, ready and prepared to assist DACA students at this critical time.



Language, Culture, and Power


Howard Blume, Joy Resmovits, and Sonali Kohli, Los Angeles Times

The day before Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, union members, students and community activists in Los Angeles demonstrated to put an exclamation point on their fears and anger. There was no single massive assembly, and cool, sometimes rainy weather dampened some gatherings on Thursday. Protests were peaceful, with no shutdowns or damage to the city. They were part of a national effort in several hundred cities across the country. “I am here to defend every immigrant and every person who has been hurt and scared by Trump,” said Valerie Rivera, an 18-year-old senior who took part in an early morning protest in front of Arleta High School. “It’s terrifying to think what will happen with him in charge of our country.”


Anna North, The New York Times

When Alandes Powell arrived at her son’s high school on Sunday, she saw a swastika and the word “Trump” spray-painted on a building. On benches and a sign at the school’s new baseball field, she saw more graffiti, including racist and homophobic slurs. A friend had alerted Ms. Powell to the vandalism at Withrow University High School in Cincinnati, where her son is a senior and football player. Her first reaction was anger. “You want education to be a safe place,” she said. “These kids are just growing into who they want to be.” She wondered if the school, which serves a predominantly African-American student body in a white neighborhood, had been targeted because football players, including her son, Julian, took a knee during the national anthem before games in the fall to protest police killings of African American people.


Jane Meredith Adams, EdSource

The “Redskins” are finished, sort of, at the last four high schools in California that used the term as a team name, mascot or nickname. But to the surprise of some, the Jan. 1 first-in-the nation law banning the word has left intact school logos depicting stoic male Indians in profile, football fans tomahawk-chopping in the stands, students yelling war whoops and a Tulare Union High School teenage girl wearing a fake war bonnet. The on-campus prohibition has prompted off-campus sales of “Redskin 4 Life” T-shirts by the Calaveras High School football team and “Chowchilla Redskin Way” signs affixed to street signs for 15 blocks near Chowchilla High School, a move unanimously approved by the Chowchilla City Council. This was not the outcome that the American Indian community had wanted. “It says to me that if you really want to keep racism alive, you will find a way around laws,” said Cindy La Marr, a member of the Pit River/Paiute tribe and executive director of Capitol Area Indian Resources, an advocacy group. “And they have.”



Whole Children and Strong Communities


Deepa Fernandes, KPCC

Soleil Simone Haight loves saying all three of her names, running them together with sheer glee in her voice. She also proudly declares that she is five years old, that she has curly hair like her mommy, and that she is from Africa. But when she announces that she's from Africa, she often encounters a momentary look of confusion from listeners that might have something to do with her blonde hair and fair skin. Dealing with that confused look is one small part of what it means to be a young mixed race child.


John Wilkens, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Among those watching Donald Trump’s inauguration as America’s 45th president Friday will be 62 students from La Jolla Country Day School. This is the third time in a row the private college prep school has sent a group to Washington, D.C., for the event — and the first time that some of the teens weren’t sure they wanted to go. Talk about teachable moments. The students signed up months in advance, including one who requested a spot all the way back in the spring of 2015, well before Trump was viewed as a viable candidate for the Republican nomination, let alone a possible winner in the general election.


Deangelo McDaniel, Decatur Daily

About 50 students in anatomy and physiology classes at Austin High School got what some called the experience of a lifetime. The University of Chicago — in partnership with the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry — allowed students to remotely witness and talk with doctors and nurses as they were performing heart bypass surgery and aortic valve replacement on a patient. “It’s just amazing to get to experience something like this,” senior Shamya Simpson said as she watched physicians harvest veins from the patient’s leg. For almost three hours Wednesday, Austin students and three other schools across the country were connected via video conference to the surgical unit at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois.


Access, Assessment, and Advancement


Larry Gordon, EdSource

In planning for the future, California’s colleges and universities are trying to predict their enrollments five, 10 and even 20 years from now. But there is much uncertainty and disagreement over which factors should be weighed most heavily. A pair of recent influential reports about potential college populations are helping to fuel the debate about whether campuses will need to expand to provide enough access to students. The state Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) projects modest growth at California’s two sprawling public university systems over the next seven years and says that UC and CSU won’t need to build new campuses. Another, a state-by-state national survey, agrees in general with that short-term prediction but then sees a subsequent, significant decline in California’s high school graduates into the early 2030s.


Marc Tucker, Education Week

Years ago, the best students were encouraged to take two or three Advanced Placement (AP) courses.  Now they are told that they don't stand a chance of getting into a really selective college unless they start taking AP courses in their sophomore year and then pretty much fill their schedules with them in their junior and senior years.  To get into the best colleges, students have to take and do very well on a full slate of AP courses and, if they are required to submit them, their ACT or SAT scores need to be very high.  To be fully competitive, they also need to have a solid record as a leader in their school and a contributor to their community. This, of course, suggests that the standard for being "college-ready" at the elite colleges has been moving steadily up in recent years, to the point that only superb achievers need apply unless their parents are prepared to become multi-million dollar contributors to these schools' endowments. But regular readers of this column will remember me telling you about a study that NCEE did a few years ago of what it takes to be prepared for the first year of the typical two-year college in the United States. We found that the most often required first-year mathematics course for most students, regardless of major, is a course called College Mathematics or College Algebra.  But, notwithstanding its name, it is really Algebra I with a bit of geometry or statistics—content that is supposed to be taken in middle school.  Most high school graduates, however, are not ready to succeed in that course. 


Julie Flapan and Jane Margolis

Contrary to popular belief, people aren't taking jobs away—technology is. The 2016 election rubbed raw the divisions between those with the skills for the future and those without. As we look ahead to the Trump presidency, instead of scapegoating, we need significant investments in a sustainable education strategy that prepares youths to effectively participate in the world of tomorrow. Scapegoating, or blaming an individual or group of people for something for which they are not responsible, is a misguided explanation for declining job opportunities. When a manufacturing plant shuts down in the Rust Belt, automation is the likely culprit, thereby requiring workers with different skill sets. In the near future, when a truck driver loses a job to a driverless car, technology will likely be the cause, not someone doing the same job for less pay.



Inequality, Poverty, Segregation


Evie Blad and Alex Harwin, Education Week

In 43 states and the District of Columbia, black students are arrested at school at disproportionately high levels, an analysis of federal data by the Education Week Research Center finds. And one reason may be that black students are more likely than students in any other racial or ethnic group to attend schools with police, according to the analysis of 2013-14 civil rights data, the most recent collected by the U.S. Department of Education. In most of the jurisdictions with disproportionate arrests of black students, the disparities are significant. In 28 states, the share of arrested students who are black is at least 10 percentage points higher than their share of enrollment in schools with at least one arrest. In 10 of those states, that gap is at least 20 percentage points. No other student racial or ethnic groups face such disparities in as many states.


Howard S. Stevenson,

“My oldest son and I lived at the W.E.B. DuBois college house at the University of Pennsylvania for eight years. It’s located at 3900 Walnut Street. My office is at 37th and Walnut Street. Because I’m busy often, I’m often late. And because I hate to walk, I usually run places. A Black man running down a city street is kind of scary to some people. Who knew? As I watched people being scared of me I thought maybe I should make them feel at ease by wearing a sign with my resume on it. But people who wear signs usually prophesize the end of the world.”


George Joseph, The Atlantic

The confirmation hearing of Betsy DeVos, packed with reporters, surrogates, and congressional staff, was more heated than any Department of Education hearing in recent memory. DeVos made headlines for her evasive answers about political contributions made by her family’s foundation, her failures to denounce gun bans in schools (citing the threat of “potential grizzly bears”), and her shaky grasp of federal education in general. But one topic never came up: American schools’ deeply entrenched racial segregation. This lack of discussion of civil-rights issues at the hearing was glaring, but it may be in line with DeVos’s advocacy of school vouchers and other school-choice programs in her home state of Michigan. As Kimberly Quick, a policy associate at the Century Foundation, notes, “Both historically and currently, voucher programs have served as a means for wealthier and white families to flee an increasingly diverse public school system, moving into largely unaccountable private schools that can exclude students based on a number of factors.”



Public Schools and Private $


Anna M. Phillips, Howard Blume, and Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times

Federal agents raided the offices of a network of Los Angeles charter schools Wednesday as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of fraud and fiscal mismanagement. The charter organization, Celerity Educational Group, opened its first L.A. school more than a decade ago, but it has recently drawn the scrutiny of the inspector general of the Los Angeles Unified School District and the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. It currently manages seven schools in Southern California, and has ties to four more in Louisiana, all of which are publicly funded but privately operated and exempt from many of the regulations that govern traditional schools.


Take Two, KPCC

KPCC has confirmed that federal agents raided the offices of an L.A. based organization, which runs a network of charter schools, Wednesday night. Celerity Educational Group manages seven schools in Southern California, it has ties to four more in Louisiana. The warrants for the raid are under seal which means federal officials have not explicitly informed Celerity representatives of the nature of their inquiry. But we do know that this is not the first time a charter school has come under fire. In fall 2016, the principal of a charter high school in Woodland Hills resigned after concerns were raised about his use of an employee credit card. For a look at the evolution of charter schools here and the delicate relationship they maintain with the school district, Alex Cohen spoke to UCLA professor of education John Rogers.


Lydia Wheeler and Mallory Shelbourne, The Hill

Liberal groups have sought to jam Republican phones lines with protests of President Trump's nomination of Betsy DeVos as Education secretary. Credo Action’s vice president and political director, Murshed Zaheed, said its members made 18,000 calls to members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on DeVos, targeting committee Democrats and key Republicans, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) has received more than 50,000 emails and letters opposing DeVos, according to his spokesman, John Rizzo.



Other News of Note


Zeba Blay, The Huffington Post

Young immigration activist Sophie Cruz amazed a crowd of hundreds of thousands with her rousing speech of hope and love at the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday. Joined on stage by her parents and younger sister, 6-year-old Cruz told the crowd that she had joined the demonstration to make “a chain of love to protect our families.” “Let us fight with love, faith and courage so that our families will not be destroyed,” Cruz said. “I also want to tell the children not to be afraid, because we are not alone. There are still many people that have their hearts filled with love. Let’s keep together and fight for the rights. God is with us.” Cruz made headlines in 2015 when on behalf of her undocumented parents, she bravely asked the Pope to support the protection of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents). 



Britt Ellis, UPROXX Reports

We are in Downtown Los Angeles at the women’s march, one of many worldwide, to hear what people have to say.


Just News from Center X is produced weekly by Leah Bueso, Anthony Berryman, Beth Happel, and John Rogers. Generous support from the Stuart Foundation allows Center X to provide this service free to the general public.

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