Education Week - June 10, 2015 - (Page 9)

FROM TOP: Children play in an alley in Mendota, Calif., one of many farming communities in the San Joaquin Valley that is suffering from the effects of a multiyear drought. An irrigation canal near Corcoran, Calif., is just one visible sign of the state's most severe drought on record. Workers harvest asparagus near the town of Firebaugh in California's San Joaquin Valley. Some school districts in the state's farm belt are coping with multiple impacts of the drought: declining enrollment, dry wells, and the anxiety of families searching for work. PHOTO GALLERY: See more of photographer Matt Black's work documenting the impact of the California drought. http://fullframe. home to about 25,000 residents. Families were buying and building homes. Last year, the district opened a new football stadium in one of its high schools. The drought, however, has put the brakes on much of that progress. In Reedley alone, about four fruit-packing houses have closed and farmers are pulling out their crops or planting almond and pistachio trees which require fewer farm laborers. Plans to build three more schools have been shelved. The district is projecting the loss of another 100 students in the 2015-16 school year. Miriam Cardenas, the district's health center specialist, said this summer's picking season would be pivotal. If there isn't enough work, even more families might be forced to leave the area. "I think that there's a level of fear growing in parents because the reason why they came here was in hopes of a better life for their children," she said. "Farm labor is what they getting the family and moving seems like the better option." Meanwhile, Kings Canyon Unified has tapped its reserves and frozen unfilled nonteaching positions to try to absorb the $1 million shortfall. Mr. Garza said the district is applying for a waiver from the state to recoup some of those lost funds. The district's newest high school, Orange Cove, exemplifies both the future the district is striv- ing toward and the challenges brought by the drought. Orange Cove High School serves about 650 students, which is less than half of the college campus-like school's capacity. The school is in the city of Orange Cove, one of the state's poorest communities with nearly half of its 10,000 residents living below the poverty line. Despite the drought, teachers and staff at Orange Cove are trying to keep students' lives as normal as possible. Students can pay for the prom in installments. Physicals, which are mandatory to participate in extracurricular athletics, are provided for free. "[The drought] should be our concern, not the students' concern," Assistant Principal Gloria Valencia said. But Orange Cove senior Candelaria Solorzano admits the drought worries her. Her parents are farmworkers. She sees that there's little water in the irrigation canals near her home. The 18-yearold is all smiles, however, as she discusses plans to attend a local community college in the fall, rather than California State University, Fresno, so she can save money to buy a car. "I want to start working in agriculture," she says. "It's hard work but I feel like with that experience, I'll appreciate my money more." BLOGS English-Language Learners Head To the Top of the Class in Houston | LEARNING THE LANGUAGE | Twenty-five former English-language learners in Houston are graduating at the top of their classes this year, the most in district history, according to the Houston Chronicle. The district also will graduate 14 salutatorians who began their schooling as English-learners. The 215,000-student school system has 47 high school campuses. In the past three years, the number of dual-language campuses in the Houston system has nearly quadrupled, and district leaders have plans to add 10 to 15 more per year, the newspaper reports. Despite the gains, problems still persist in the district. English-learners in Houston often still lag behind their fellow students on state standardized tests. The district has also struggled to meet its overall graduation-rate targets. The latest data show that about 55 percent of ells graduate within four years of entering high school. The district's overall graduation rate is nearly 80 percent. -COREY MITCHELL Baltimore Takes Top Honors For Its Community Schools | TIME AND LEARNING | Community schools in Baltimore, which helped respond to the needs of local residents during the city's recent civil unrest, have received four of seven top honors from the Coalition for Community Schools. The other recipients of the National Community Schools Award for Excellence are in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City. The Washington-based coalition making the awards is composed of national, state, and local organizations that advocate for and help connect schools with resources for disadvantaged students. Community schools are neighborhood hubs. They bring together a broad array of government agencies, social services, and local youth- and family-development groups to provide everything from academic and economic support to health care and enrichment activities for students and families living in some of the nation's poorest neighborhoods. The Family League of Baltimore, which manages, coordinates, and supports a network of 45 community schools in partnership with the Baltimore school district and the mayor's office, won along with three individual schools in the league's system. They were credited with improving attendance, raising academic achievement, reducing the teenage-pregnancy rate, and increasing the number of students attending after-school enrichment and tutoring programs. The 22,000 students enrolled in those schools live in the city's most underresourced neighborhoods. Julia Baez, the senior director of initiatives for the Family League, said community schools were also some of the first to respond when protests erupted in Baltimore over the death of a black man, Freddie Gray, while he was in police custody. "On the day that was happening, our schools were making sure that kids had a safe place; our community schools became food hubs in neighborhoods all over west Baltimore because all of the grocery stores and corner stores had been shut down," Baez said. -KATHRYN BARON Mexico Suspends Teacher Evaluations In the Midst of Protests and Strikes | TEACHER BEAT | Members of a radical wing of Mexico's national teachers' union went on an indefinite strike last week in an attempt to block President Enrique Peña Nieto's education overhaul package, according to news reports. The strike disrupted classes for millions of students as the country headed toward national midterm elections on June 7, which the dissident teachers' group-known as the National Coordination of Educational Workers, or cnte-has called on voters to boycott. Members of the group have reportedly vandalized and blockaded electoral offices in the southern part of the country, most visibly in the state of Oaxaca. Thousands of teachers have also participated in protest marches in Mexico City. Apparently bowing to pressure from the group, Mexico's government announced that it would suspend plans to implement teacher evaluations, a key part of Peña Nieto's education plan. According to the Associated Press, the cnte, which has its strongest representation in the country's poorest states, has argued that the competitive teaching tests used for the evaluations do not effectively measure instructional skills, especially in the "special knowledge needed to teach in Indian and rural areas." The union vowed to continue its protests until the rest of the overhaul package is scrapped. In addition to teacher evaluations, the education law includes provisions for teacher performance pay and promotion, tests for new teachers, and greater government oversight of schools. -ANTHONY REBORA EDUCATION WEEK | June 10, 2015 | | 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - June 10, 2015

Education Week - June 10, 2015
Cleveland Embraces Social- Emotional Learning
Challenge of Co-Teaching A Special Education Issue
As Federal Grants Taper Off, Two N.C. Districts Tally Impact
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: N.Y. ‘Open’ Content Going Nationwide
School Choice Supercharged In Nev. Statute
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Debate Persists Around Kindergarten Reading Standards
New York Expanding Dual Language to Help Its English- Learners
Schools, Students Hit Hard by California’s Historic Drought
Blogs of the Week
Massachusetts School Transforms Renovation Into Teachable Moment
Magnet Schools Found to Boost Diversity—But Only a Bit
Survey: Students Need More Than Academic Prowess
Education Policy Issues In Arizona Crossfire
Congress Appears Poised to Tackle Higher Education Issues
SIG Money Gives Principal Tools For Turnaround
Federal Aid Fuels Multi-Tiered Instruction
Additional Entrants Join Presidential Race
High Court Rules in Online Threat, Religious Rights Cases
A Movement Gains Momentum
What Teachers Are Saying
Parents Have a Civil Right To Question Testing’s Goal
Parents See Testing’s ‘Distorting Impact’
What Are the Policy Implications of the Opt-Out Movement?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
An Early Opt-Out

Education Week - June 10, 2015