Education Week - February 15, 2017 - 5
| OBITUARY |
calling the incident a product of a
"noxious environment" caused by
the Republican president and his
executive order calling for a temporary ban on entry to the United
States by citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Botana also announced student rallies would be held promoting diversity, which the GOP said amounts to
forcing students and teachers to use
school time to engage in his "partisan agenda."
Texas Likely to Keep Lessons
The Texas board of education has
moved closer to tweaking-but still
preserving-high school science curriculum requirements that teachers
and academics say cast doubt on the
theory of evolution.
After debating the issue this
month, the Republican-controlled
board dropped language that asked
biology students to consider "all
sides" of scientific theory. Experts
critical of that wording said it allowed
religious belief to trump science.
But the board inserted similar
requirements on scrutinizing scientific conclusions. It kept lessons on
the origin of life and gaps in the fossil record. Critics say the standards
still challenge evolution. The board
votes again in April.
Mass. Teacher Starts
'Uber for Substitutes'
A veteran teacher, frustrated
with the amount of movies and
busywork she saw in classes with
substitute teachers, has come up
with a solution that Harvard Ed.
Magazine refers to as "Uber for
Under the startup, Parachute
Teachers, professionals in the
community-a computer scientist,
a chef, a musician, and so on-
"parachute" into the classroom and
teach something they're passionate about. The idea, founder Sarah
Cherry Rice says, is to promote authentic learning in classrooms.
Parachute Teachers has been an
option for the Boston public schools
since last school year, said Cherry
Rice, who is pursuing her doctoral
degree at the Harvard Graduate
School of Education. Parachute
finds prospective substitutes, handles the background checks, and
offers about three hours of basic
training on common issues like
classroom management and lesson
Richard DuFour, a renowned education consultant and author who
advocated collaborative teaching environments, died Feb. 8. He
DuFour was a leading voice in the movement to improve schools through professional
learning communities, in which teachers come
together to analyze and improve classroom
His 1998 best-selling book, Professional
Learning Communities at Work: Best Practices for Enhancing Student Achievement,
co-written with former education school dean
Robert Eaker, includes collaborative strategies
for teachers and principals. DuFour held that
principals should have a "loose-tight" leadership style that allows
teachers some autonomy in decisionmaking, but protects the
school's shared vision and values.
A former teacher, DuFour spent 19 years as a principal and a
superintendent in Lincolnshire, Ill. Under his leadership, Adlai E.
Stevenson High School was one of only three schools to win the
U.S. Department of Education's Blue Ribbon Award four times.
DuFour is survived by his wife, Rebecca DuFour, a former teacher
and principal who later became his business partner, writing,
consulting, and lecturing with him across the United States.
"A Randomized Experiment Using Absenteeism
Information to 'Nudge' Attendance"
A little effort can go a long way to reducing student
absenteeism, finds a federal study: Even a single
postcard can get students back to school.
Researchers from the Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic randomly sent parents in Philadelphia one of two attendance messages on a postcard; one generally encouraged parents to improve
their student's attendance, while the other added
specific details about each student's attendance history. Both postcards were equally effective, boosting
student attendance in grades 1-8 and 9-12 by 2.4 percent, compared with students whose parents did not
receive the messages.
-SARAH D. SPARKS
"Addressing California's Growing Teacher Shortage:
District responses to content-area teacher shortages could hamstring learning for low-income and
minority students in special education, math, science,
and bilingual education, according to a report by the
Learning Policy Institute.
The California-based think tank analyzed state
data, finding districts have responded to contentarea teacher shortages by hiring teachers on emergency credentials, relying on substitute teachers, and
assigning teachers out of their fields of preparation.
Teachers hired with so-called "substandard credentials" are twice as likely to teach in high-poverty
than in low-poverty schools and three times more
likely to teach in high-minority than in low-minority
schools, the study found.
"Barriers to Success: Latino Kindergartners
Are Already Behind in Math"
Achievement gaps in math between Latino students
and their white counterparts set in before kindergarten,
says a new report by Child Trends' Hispanic Institute.
The study analyzed data from a longitudinal study
by the National Center for Education Statistics that
tracked nearly 10,400 students' progress from kindergarten through 5th grade starting in 2010, among
other sources. At the beginning of kindergarten, Latino students' math skills already trail behind those
of white students by the equivalent of three months
of learning. This early gap sets students up to remain
behind in math in the spring of their kindergarten
year-which can affect future learning and success.
Latino children were more than twice as likely
as white children to live in poverty, and those who
began school with lower math skills also were less
likely to attend center-based child care. But those
students who attended full-day kindergarten showed
more progress in math than those who only attended
for a half day.
GROWTH IN CHARTER
An annual study of charter
schools finds a steady rise in the
number of students attending
charter schools in the last
"Targeting Parenting in Early Childhood: A Public
Health Approach to Improve Outcomes for Children
Living in Poverty"
Early-childhood programs that focus on building
low-income parents' social supports and making
their interactions with their children more positive
can improve the long-term outcomes for children in
poverty, according to an online-first report out this
month in the journal Child Development.
The authors, led by Oklahoma State University researcher Amanda Morris, analyzed early-childhood
health programs that incorporate home visits by
health professionals to work with families, including
Family Check-Up, and the Positive Parenting Program. The researchers found programs that help parents build up their own skills and social networks can
help mitigate stress from poverty in children. -S.D.S.
"Characterization and Utilization of Preferred Interests"
Adults with autism spectrum disorders often leverage
strong interests into careers and ways of calming themselves, but many teachers discourage strong interests as
limiting, according to a study published online Jan. 31
in the journal Occupational Therapy in Mental Health.
The study, led by Kristie Patten Koenig, an occupational therapist at New York University, builds
on prior research showing that many students with
autism develop "preferred interests"-deep, intensive
knowledge about a particular subject, from the mechanics of trains to the history of animation. Historically, some teachers have seen these as "obsessive"
and tried to discourage them, Koenig found.
However, based on in-depth surveys of adults with
autism, the researchers found that 86 percent used
those strong childhood interests in their current careers. More than half reported parents supporting
those interests, but only 1 in 10 reported teachers
supporting strong interests.
Source: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
"Estimated Charter Public School Enrollment, 2016-17"
For the first time, the number of students enrolled in charter
schools has surpassed 3 million nationwide, finds the latest annual
report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
The group, which advocates for charter schools at the federal and
state levels, finds there are now more than 6,900 charter schools
nationally, with around 3.1 million students attending them. That
would mean that charter enrollment has nearly tripled in the last
10 years. However, it still makes up a small fraction of overall K-12
public school enrollment nationally-around 5 percent.
The report comes as the U.S. Senate has confirmed as Secretary
of Education Betsy DeVos, a strong supporter of expanding charter
schools. As part of its report, the charter group surveyed a national
sample of 1,000 parents of school-age children. It found 78 percent
of parents with charter schools in their community and 73 percent
of parents without charter schools favor opening one in their community. One in 10 of the parents said a charter would be their first
choice of school.
Although more than 300 new charter schools opened in the fall
of 2016, there were also 211 closures. The report says schools were
closed for a number of reasons, including low enrollment, financial
issues, and low academic performance.
So far this year, the states with the most charter school closures
were California and Texas at 30, followed by Florida with 25, Ohio at
22, and Georgia with 17. Texas, California, and Florida also saw the
EDUCATION WEEK | February 15, 2017 | www.edweek.org | 5