Education Week - March 6, 2019 - 1


Education Week
VOL. 38, NO. 24 * MARCH 6, 2019

AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2019 Editorial Projects in Education * $ 6 


How Teacher
Strikes Are
By Madeline Will
When West Virginia teachers walked
out of their classrooms last month and
swarmed the state Capitol in protest, it almost felt like déjà vu.
The two-day statewide strike was nearly
a year to the day after teachers from the
Mountain State staged their initial walkout
over low pay-and lit the match for what
became a wildfire of teacher activism.
But this time, teachers' demands were
different, a reflection of the changing flavor
of strikes nationwide.
While last year's
teacher walkouts
were focused primarSchool
leaders face a
ily on stagnant wages
host of challenges
and crumbling classwhen their teachers
rooms, the strike dewalk out. How can
mands now are more
districts help?
far-reaching. TeachPAGE 8
ers are pushing back
against education
reform policies such
as charter schools and performance-based
pay. They're also fighting for social-justice
initiatives like sanctuary protections for
undocumented students.
Although some experts say there's a risk
of losing public support as teachers become
more political in their demands, the strikes
so far have retained community involvement and have all been relatively successful. Even as the protests move from red
states to blue cities, there is still a coherent
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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Elementary school teachers gather at a rally that drew thousands of protesters to downtown Los Angeles. l Picket
signs are shown at a protest held at the Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall in Oakland, Calif. l A student holds up a sign while marching
with parents, teachers, and others outside of Manzanita Community School in Oakland.
Credits: Damian Dovarganes/AP, Jeff Chiu/AP, Jeff Chiu/AP

Tech Billionaire Takes New Path With K-12 Giving
By Benjamin Herold

Don't look now, but another tech billionaire
is using his vast fortune to make a mark on
K-12 education.
The Ballmer Group, created by former
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife
Connie, has quietly committed more than a
quarter-billion dollars to K-12-related organizations and projects over the last two years,
according to an Education Week analysis.

The flow of money includes more than
$100 million granted to organizations working to improve opportunities for children and
families in poverty, as well as a $59 million
investment in a for-profit software company
seeking to ease the flow of student data between K-12 school districts and nonprofits.
"These grants place the Ballmer Group
among the larger funders in K-12 education,"
said Sarah Reckhow, an assistant professor of
political science at Michigan State University

who tracks philanthropic giving in education.
They also reflect an approach to K-12 education that diverges in significant ways from those
of other high-profile education funders from the
technology sector, including Microsoft founder
Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Yes, the Ballmers have given more than
$10 million to Teach For America, plus millions
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A focus on 'whole learners.' PAGE 7

Third Grade Retention of ELLs: New Research Sparks Furor
By Corey Mitchell
New research that suggests struggling English-learners could benefit from repeating 3rd
grade has drawn a strong rebuke from leading
scholars-and rekindled the national debate
over so-called "literacy laws" that require retaining students if they fail to achieve a target
score on reading tests.
While studies have questioned the effectiveness of holding back students to reach that

goal, a pair of researchers have concluded that
English-learners in Florida benefited from the
extra year of and exposure to the language.
Led by David Figlio, an education economist
and the dean of the School of Education and
Social Policy at Northwestern University, and
Umut Ozek, a senior researcher at the American Institutes for Research, a study of 40,000
English-learners in Florida found that students who repeated 3rd grade learned English
faster and took more advanced classes in mid-

dle and high school than their peers, who also
struggled to learn the language, but moved on
to 4th grade. Figlio and Ozek published the research in January in a working paper for the
National Bureau of Economic Research.
Their study, however, has attracted a group
of high-profile critics, who are concerned that
their work could have ramifications well beyond academia.
In a scathing critique, members of the WorkPAGE 13 >

Middle School
Science Series Fall
Short in Review
By Stephen Sawchuk
Just one of six new middle school science series is a good match to a set of national science standards, according to a
review conducted by the nonprofit EdReports, which uses teams of teachers to vet
learning materials.
Amplify's Amplify Science was the sole
curriculum to get top marks from the
group. Reviewers also judged Houghton
Mifflin Harcourt's Science Dimensions to
be partially aligned. But four other sets of
learning materials did not meet expectations-and the publishers of those series
are already claiming a faulty review process.
In all, the review indicates that agreement over what materials truly embody
the Next Generation Science Standards
continues to be contested nearly six years
after the expectations were unveiled---
and as teachers face growing pressure to
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