Education Week - February 17, 2016 - (Page 22)

Poor High School Standards at Issue, Not the NCAA's Demands To the Editor: James Lytle's Commentary "The NCAA's Chokehold on Secondary Schooling" (Jan. 20, 2016) misrepresents the important role that the National Collegiate Athletic Association plays in maintaining quality in American secondary schools. I know, how could the NCAA do such a thing, right? But it's true. Lytle's "obvious" conclusion that "the NCAA's member colleges and universities do not trust each other" as the animating motive for NCAA course monitoring is false. Rather, for good reason, these institutions don't trust America's high schools to meet high standards. This is because high schools routinely offer subpar courses, especially those delivered online. Such courses mask student-athletes' frequent lack of college readiness, which leaves these young people high and dry when their grade point averages fall below collegiate eligibility. Rather than pointing the finger at the NCAA for suppressing instructional innovation-a farfetched claim, but one that a school could easily remedy by working with the NCAA eligibility office-we should bemoan declining high school standards and the clear need for the NCAA's admittedly bizarre, but necessary, quality-control mechanism. David C. Bloomfield Professor of Education Leadership, Law, and Policy Brooklyn College The CUNY Graduate Center New York, N.Y. ESSA Will Leave Children From Poorest Communities Behind To the Editor: No Child Left Behind bombed. The law was based on the audacious concept that 100 percent of America's students would be performing at grade level by the 2013-14 school year. Now, we have the new and improved Every Student Succeeds Act ("Inside ESSA: The New Federal K-12 Law," special section, Jan. 6, 2016). This latest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act assumes that shifting the balance of power in education back to the states will provide our neediest youngsters with the educational boosts they didn't receive under NCLB. I would argue that everyone-the powersthat-be in Washington, states, local school districts, and teachers-knows what it takes for children to succeed: high-quality teaching and good parenting. Even if the most qualified teachers go to the areas with the mostdisadvantaged populations, they alone cannot make up for the hours a child spends in a poorquality environment at home. This is where it's unlikely that ESSA will stack up any better than No Child Left Behind. In addition to high-quality teaching and parental follow-up at home, students, especially the disadvantaged, need supplemental services, like high-quality preschools, summer and afterschool programs, health and social services, and more. All these things require tax dollars, and ESSA does not authorize robust funding for such services ("ESEA Reauthorization: The Every Student Succeeds Act Explained," Politics K-12 blog, Nov. 30, 2015). Money for our schools comes primarily from CONTINUED FROM PAGE 21 gender-responsive books. Despite these and other efforts, accurate and dignifying portrayals of the experiences and history of people of color remain an ongoing challenge in children's literature. Last month, for instance, a high-profile controversy over the depiction of slaves in a Scholastic children's book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington, led the publisher to stop its distribution. As publishers increase the number of children's books that feature nonwhite children, they must be careful to include diverse representations of the people and groups they seek to highlight. Otherwise, they run the risk of reinforcing stereotypes and propagating racist ideology. In response to recent debates over the lack of positive representations of nonwhite characters in children's books, far too many people echo the U.S. Supreme Court's 1896 majority opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson, which asserted that if "separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority ... it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it." Are we to believe that stereotypical, degrading, and dehumanizing representations of nonwhite people in children's books do not communicate messages about good and bad, significance and irrelevance, superiority and inferiority? How educators use children's books also significantly shapes students' selfperceptions and their perceptions of others. Relegating books with nonwhite main characters to diversity/ethnic book lists or social studies units created for Black History Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, or Native American Heritage Month creates a form of implicit and de facto segregation. As children's book author and illustrator Christopher Dean Meyers noted of children's literature in a 2014 New York Times op-ed essay, "characters of color are limited to the townships of occasional historical books that concern themselves with the legacies of civil Vicky Schippers New York, N.Y. Don't 'Scapegoat' Charters For Failing Students With Disabilities To the Editor: After presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stated in a town-hall meeting in South Carolina that "most charter schools ... don't take the hardest-to-teach kids. Or if they do, they don't keep them," there was a media flurry regarding whether charters enroll and retain such hardto-teach students, including students with disabilities ("Would Hillary Clinton Be an AntiCharter-School President?," Charters and Choice blog,, Nov. 9, 2015). Consider the irony of this narrative, that charters are a scourge because they underserve students with disabilities as part of those hardto-teach groups. This assumes that traditional public schools are consistently providing a quality education to students with disabilities, which is hardly the situation. We are 25 years into the evolution of charters, and they are growing for a reason: Parents want options. Not all charters have embraced their responsibilities to students with disabilities, and data also demonstrate that many regular public schools are also failing these students. However, wide variability in these data tell us that we can do better. There are good and bad schools in both sectors. The variability in student outcomes is the problem that we need to address, not whether charters accept hard-to-teach students. Advocates committed to students with disabilities can't afford to pass up opportunities to innovate. The autonomy extended by state charter laws is just that, an opportunity. Politics can oversimplify complicated issues. But students with disabilities seeking a quality education don't benefit from the scapegoating of charters. Rather than exploiting incidents of discrimination as a weapon to rally opponents against charters, I urge those concerned about students with disabilities to focus on developing thoughtful policies and practices that will ensure equal access and quality programs-two constructs that are intricately connected, regardless of educational setting. Gross generalizations about school quality may play well for politics, but they fail to advance the important dialogue about promoting excellence and equity for all students. Lauren Morando Rhim Executive Director and Co-Founder National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools New York, N.Y. COMMENTARY POLICY Education Week takes no editorial positions, but publishes opinion essays and letters from outside contributors in its Commentary section. For information about submitting an essay or letter for review, visit 22 | EDUCATION WEEK | February 17, 2016 | iStockphoto LETTERS to the EDITOR Diverse Books sales, income, and property taxes. A well-off community provides state-of-the-art buildings and equipment, excellent teachers, and that extra ingredient-parents who actively advocate for these things. In our poorest communities, where ESSA will put control back at the local level, the opposite is true. Public schools, even the best, cannot by themselves help the poor climb from poverty. To accomplish that, wraparound support services are needed, the kind of things middle- and upperclass children claim as their birthright. ESSA makes no provision for these and unfortunately, under ESSA, many children will remain behind. rights and slavery but are never given a pass card to traverse the lands of adventure, curiosity, imagination, or personal growth." No child's introduction to AfricanAmericans in children's literature should be limited to slavery, the civil rights movement, or the countless other oppression narratives that so often characterize books about the African-American experience. Negative and misleading depictions of nonwhite people in children's books, often under the guise of diversity or celebration, interfere with students' right to an equitable and humane education. According to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress results, 85 percent of black male 4th graders in the United States read below "proficient." Low literacy of this proportion is not merely a matter of deficient reading skills. The reading struggles of many nonwhite children, especially those living in poverty, reflect a revolt against reading experiences that omit or misrepresent their interests and culture and, in effect, diminish their self-worth. The persistence of disproportionately low reading scores among black boys and other underserved student populations reveals a systematic failure by American society and our education system. The societal indifference toward the struggles and disenfranchisement of nonwhite citizens didn't begin in adulthood at a voting booth, but on the colorful rugs of early-childhood classrooms during read-alouds. Children's literature, read-alouds, and the resulting discussions will continue to shape children's perceptions. The extent to which all children, especially white children, are exposed to books with diverse characters in diverse settings across diverse topics will determine, at least in part, if future generations of Americans gain a genuine appreciation of difference or languish in bigotry, racism, and white supremacy. Publishers must publish more diverse children's books, and teacher-preparation programs must better equip educators to create engaging year-round learning experiences using diverse titles. In sum, I advocate for diversity in children's literature that affirms the humanity and culture of all children. n

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - February 17, 2016

Education Week - February 17, 2016
Preservice Programs Seek To Head Off Teacher Biases
Black Male Teachers a Rarity
Consolidation Fight Erupts In Vermont
In Cities With Choice, Single- Enrollment Systems Hit Hurdles
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Letting Students Work From Home Adds Policy Twist
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Q&A: Principals Urged To ‘Shadow’ Students
Study: Showing Standout Work To Students Can Backfire
U.S. Manages to Reduce Share Of Low PISA Scores— in Science
Blogs of the Week
Lawmakers Pledging to Keep Close Eye on ESSA Implementation
Obama Budget Doubles As Policy Document
Blogs of the Week
Five-State Study Examines Teaching Shifts Under Core
Kansas High Court Strikes Down Stopgap Aid Formula
State of the States
Increased Accountability of Teacher Prep Gives Equity the Back Seat
Self-Care Is the Educator’s Core Standard
Beware the Racist Subtext Of Children’s Books
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Dispatch From Flint, Mich.: Our Water Crisis Is a Crisis of Trust

Education Week - February 17, 2016