Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 1
VOL. 37, NO. 28 * APRIL 25, 2018
AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2018 Editorial Projects in Education * $ 5
BRE AKING NEWS DAILY
On Front Lines
SCHOOLS & THE FUTURE OF WORK
Kentucky Fight Over Benefits
Underlines Stakes for Other States
Pat McDonogh for Education Week
By Daarel Burnette II
& Madeline Will
Johnny Rivera discusses an algebra problem with classmates at iLEAD Academy, a career-focused high school in rural Kentucky.
Facing Hard Facts on College and Career
By Catherine Gewertz
At this small, rural school in Northern
Kentucky, five women are trying to lift the
arc of young people's lives with the wonkiest of weapons: labor-market data.
The staff of the iLEAD Academy knows
which jobs are in demand statewide and in the
five-county region their students call home and
which ones will still be hot a decade from now.
They've bookmarked the websites that list the
salaries of those jobs for each tier of certification
or degree earned. And they're talking about
this stuff with students. All the time.
As a result, most of the teenagers here understand the nuts and bolts of the regional job
market. They know which communities are
clamoring for registered nurses and which
ones want licensed practical nurses. They can
tell you how much they'll make as an entrylevel robotics technician and whether the pay
differential between an associate degree and
a bachelor's degree in that field justifies a fouryear-college investment.
That kind of knowledge marks iLEAD
and its students as a rarity. Policymakers
are putting increasing pressure on schools
to prepare students for the world of work,
but few teachers or administrators know
how to find-and use-labor-market information that could help them shape their
programs and the way they guide students.
Nationally, counselors handle the lion's
share of career planning, but few are trained
to incorporate workforce trends into their advising. And their caseloads are so heavy that
they typically lack the time to dive deeply into
Across the country, teachers are walking
out of their classrooms to fight for higher
But in Kentucky, where teachers' pension benefits take the place of Social Security, educators are more anxious about the
future of the state's underfunded pension
system-and furious at elected officials for
letting it get to this point.
"What concerns me is not being able to
eat when I'm 80," said Lisa Proulx, a 4th
grade teacher in Jefferson County, Ky. "I'm
not eligible for my husband's Social Security. ... If I retire and there's a problem
with the pension system-that's scary."
The political meltdown this year over
efforts to address Kentucky's pension crisis-which has sparked teacher walkouts,
lawsuits, and raucous protests-could
serve as a warning sign for other states
facing the politically volatile issue of what
to do about teacher retirement costs.
Across the nation, states' pension obligations for public employees are accelerating, spurred on by investment losses
during the Great Recession, a wave of
Baby Boomers' retirements, and years of
fiscal mismanagement. That has huge imPAGE 20>
School Choice Proves
Scarce in ESSA Plans
By Alyson Klein
After a Shooting in Her Classroom,
Teacher Re-evaluates School Safety
By Evie Blad
While big, rampage-style school
shootings get most of the attention
in school safety debates, smaller incidents of gun violence in school can
also traumatize students and staff
and upend their sense of safety.
Los Angeles teacher Sherry Zelsdorf learned that firsthand .
In February, a 12-year-old girl
fired a handgun in her science class
at Salvador Castro Middle School,
the bullet striking two students. It
happened quickly, so quickly that
Zelsdorf wasn't sure what she was
feeling when a piece of shrapnel
struck her in the forehead.
The incident briefly dominated
cable news coverage as helicopters
captured images of students evacuating the school in single-file lines
with their hands held over their
heads. But after Los Angeles police
said they suspected the student
fired the gun unintentionally, much
of that attention faded away.
Zelsdorf took some time off work
to recover. When she returned
to her classroom on Feb. 14, she
made Valentines with her students to ease back into the routine. Later that day, a former student shot and killed 17 people in a
Parkland, Fla., high school, setting
off school safety debates that have
already sparked policy changes at
the state and federal level.
"It was barely in the news," Zelsdorf said of the incident in her
classroom. "I had never feared for
my safety at school, and I didn't
think that kids did either. It's supposed to be like their safe space."
While much of the focus since the
Los Angeles students
sent a poster to teacher
Sherry Zelsdorf after
she was hurt when a gun
brought to school by a
7th grader went off in
School choice is having a big moment in
K-12 policy. But you'd never know it from
reading states' plans to implement the Every
Student Succeeds Act.
States around the country are increasingly
adopting tax-credit scholarships and education savings accounts, expanding charters,
and embracing other choice programs. And
the issue is getting a lot of attention, both
positive and negative, thanks to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a longtime
cheerleader on the topic.
But an Education Week review of all state
plans shows that few are taking advantage
of the handful of opportunities ESSA offers
to expand, lay the groundwork for, or take
advantage of existing choice programs. Those
include using choice or charters as a school
improvement tactic, setting aside federal
money for such initiatives as dual enrollment and tutoring, and offering public school
choice to students in struggling schools.
"There were a lot of possibilities of how
states could use choice really creatively,"