Education Week - May 16, 2018 - 4
NEWS IN BRIEF
Proposed Change Would Reduce Data
On Crimes Against LGBT Teenagers
Mike Mccleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP
The U.S. Department of Justice has proposed
changing an ongoing federal crime study to bar questions about sexuality for minors.
The Justice Department wants to revise the National Crime Victimization Survey to raise the
minimum age at which participants would be asked
questions about their gender identity and sexual orientation to 18, "due to concerns about the potential
sensitivity of these questions for adolescents," according to an April Federal Register notice.
The survey has asked 16- and 17-year-olds about
their sexuality and gender identity since 2016, so
there is little more than a baseline in the data. It
does not ask specifically about school-based crimes.
By contrast, in 2015-16, the U.S. Department of Education's civil rights data collection began to track
school-based harassment based on a student's real or
perceived sexual orientation; those accounted for 16
percent of all reported bullying incidents.
Some advocates have raised concerns about the
Justice Department change, citing the need for data,
for instance, to learn how the criminal-justice system
responds to young LGBT victims.
-SARAH D. SPARKS
Democrats Slam Plan to Shut Down
Hundreds of Schools in Puerto Rico
More than 30 congressional Democrats are calling
on Puerto Rico's governor to put the brakes on plans
to close some 280 public schools on the island.
In a letter last week to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, the
lawmakers say that closing those schools in the
wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria would hurt
66,000 students and teachers and have a "disastrous
impact" on student learning. They also decry concurrent plans to open charter schools on the island and
The governor and Puerto Rico Secretary of Education Julia Keleher have said the school closures
will help the island get on its feet financially, and
that many of the schools have significantly fewer
students attending than their actual capacity in the
wake of last year's severe storms.
The U.S. territory closed 179 schools last summer
because of declining enrollment and crippling financial woes.
The Democrats say Puerto Rico should first call
a halt to its school closure plan, and then conduct a
"needs assessment" to properly determine priorities
for the island's students.
Sixth grader Dawson
Schon jokes with
Century High School
during a United Sounds
group rehearsal at
Horizon Middle School
in Bismarck, N.D. The
musical group is an
pairing studentmentors with students
YEARS OF REQUIRED SCHOOLING ON THE RISE
While many states increased their mandatory school attendance ages in
recent years, the laws governing how many years students must attend
school remain a hodgepodge. For example, students in Virginia must
attend school for 13 years, four more than in nearby North Carolina.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education State Education Reforms
4 | EDUCATION WEEK | May 16, 2018 | www.edweek.org
Many Environmental Hazards Found
In Philadelphia Elementary Schools
More than half of Philadelphia's public elementary schools have serious environmental hazards, a
newspaper investigation has found.
The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia
Daily News reviewed years of district records and
worked with school staffers to conduct some of their
own environmental detective work.
District records identified more than 9,000 environmental problems across the district since September 2015. Eighty of the city's 148 elementary
schools had at least 50 reports of environmental
hazards such as flaking lead paint, mouse droppings, mold or other asthma triggers, lead-tainted
water, or frayed asbestos, their review found.
The newspapers enlisted staffers at 19 of the
city's most rundown schools to take samples according to testing guidelines. A nationally accredited lab
analyzed the samples.
School district officials questioned the testing
methods used. They also said they are streamlining their record-tracking system to get a more upto-date picture of problems that need to be fixed.
In Late-Night Deal, Colo. Lawmakers
Pass Pension Reform Measure
In the 11th hour of their legislative session, Colorado lawmakers last week passed a compromise
deal to change the state's underfunded pension
system for teachers and other public employees.
The final version of the bill, which the governor
was expected to sign, would increase employees'
contributions to the retirement fund, raise the
minimum retirement age for new teachers from 58
to 64, calculate retired employees' earnings from
five years of their highest average pay-up from
three-and reduce the cost-of-living adjustment
from 2 percent to 1.5 percent. Retirees would also
"Databurst: Strategic Teacher Compensation"
"Maternal Homework Assistance and Children's
Task-Persistent Behavior in Elementary School"
States should be doing more to make sure
teachers are "meaningfully compensated" for
exemplary teaching, according to a new policy
brief by the National Council on Teacher Quality,
a Washington-based think tank.
Typically, decisions about teacher pay are left
up to individual school districts, the report found
in an analysis of state policies. Most districts
have a "step and lane" salary schedule-teachers
earn a "step" increase in pay for each additional
year of experience, and can earn a "lane" increase
by having more education. Only a handful of
states have a statewide salary schedule that establishes a minimum salary for teachers. Just
nine states require districts to consider performance in their teacher compensation-and only
three states require districts to consider new
teachers' relevant, nonteaching work experience
when determining starting salaries. -MADELINE WILL
Parent support can help keep students on
track academically, but a new study suggests a
light touch can be more helpful.
Researchers from the University of Eastern
Finland and the University of Jyväskylä tracked
365 students who were participating in the longitudinal First Steps study, which followed 1,800
students born in 2000 through elementary and
secondary school. The researchers analyzed children's and their mothers' interactions around
homework in relation to the children's academic
progress from grades 2 to 4.
They found children whose mothers provided
homework help when asked-but also gave students opportunities to work independently-persisted at tasks longer and did better in school
over time. By contrast, moms who gave very
concrete help-for example, sitting down every