Education Week - July 19, 2017 - 1
VOL. 36, NO. 37 * JULY 19, 2017
AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2017 Editorial Projects in Education * $ 5
BRE AKING NEWS DAILY
New York's P.S.
188, greets a
health and social
families, part of a
growing trend of
Organizing Slow, Uncertain
In the Sector's Schools
Mark Abramson for Education Week
By Liana Loewus
More Schools Battle Poverty, But Should They?
By Denisa R. Superville
P.S. 123, a K-8 school in Harlem, had been a
chaotic place when Melitina Hernandez arrived
as principal in 2013.
Students would often run out of class to get
attention. Staff members sometimes dodged
confrontational parents. The school had old
computers and tattered textbooks.
So Hernandez and her staff set out to make
big changes with a $4 million grant from the
state. They started with upgrading technology and other classroom amenities. Then they
turned their attention to the needs of the
school's large population of homeless children.
Then, in 2014, their efforts kicked into higher
gear when P.S. 123 became part of New York
City's broad efforts to turn around dozens of
low-performing schools by injecting them with
health, social-emotional, and academic support
services for students and their families.
Nearly three years later, the results at
P.S. 123, with its 530 students, offer a small
window into what the city's larger initiative
is seeing: an increase in student attendance
and family participation in school activities, a
drop in chronic absenteeism, but uneven academic progress.
Just 17 percent of P.S. 123's students in
grades 3-8 were proficient on the state's English/language arts exam in 2016, but in 2015, it
had been even lower at 7 percent.
"That's not a big thing to anyone else, but, in
actuality, that's huge when you work with the demographics that we work with," Hernandez said.
Flooding impoverished schools with a range
of services and resources is not new, and there's
still lively debate in education circles about
whether it's something schools should take on.
Commonly referred to as "community schools"
or "whole child" initiatives, the approach has
been used in districts from Vancouver, Wash.,
to Cincinnati for several years.
But the movement has picked up steam more
recently amid a backlash against single-measure, test-based accountability and as an alternative to closing long-struggling schools. It's
gotten robust support from the nation's teachers' unions. And some states are looking to
PAGE 14 >
Interest in forming teachers' unions
is bubbling up at charter schools in
big cities, and the national unions are
pitching in to help-but that doesn't
mean they've shed their wariness
about the charter movement as a
The organizing landscape is still
relatively small and diffuse, but union
advocates say even more charter
teachers are starting to view organizing as an option.
"There's a real appetite" for this
work, said Randi Weingarten, the
president of the American Federation
of Teachers. "What you're seeing is
charters where people have decided to
make these schools their homes, and
they want a voice."
A Washington charter school in
June became the first in that city to
successfully organize a union. Another
New Orleans charter school organized
PAGE 12 >
'NO PHOTO OP': NEA president speaks out on
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. PAGE 12
Thousands of ELLs
Fall Short on Test
Of Language Skills
By Corey Mitchell
Debate rages over why
employers can't fill
millions of jobs. Page 8
What are the major issues
at stake for K-12 educators,
and how do two GOP bills
differ from the law now
in effect? Page 19
of deaf children are hashing out the findings
on social media and comparing them to their
Hendi Crosby Kowal, whose daughter
Grace, 15, is among the children studied
for the Pediatrics report, communicates with
her daughter almost entirely through spoken
PAGE 16 >
PAGE 16 >
Clash Over Study Involving Sign Language
By Christina A. Samuels
New research is stirring fierce debate over
the use of sign language among young deaf
children who use surgical implants that
create a sense of sound.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, suggests that the long-term use of sign
language holds back the speech and reading
skills of children who use devices known as
cochlear implants. These implants bypass
damaged parts of the ear and send electrical
impulses directly to a user's auditory nerve.
Supporters of sign language, on the other
hand, say that a visual language is an essential foundation of literacy for deaf children,
even for those who use cochlear implants.
Pediatrics has published a flurry of critical
responses to the study since it was published
in June. The lead author has added her own
lengthy counter-response, addressing what
critics say were the weaknesses of the study's
design. Outside of the research realm, parents
Erin Irwin/Education Week
Is There Really a 'Skills Gap'?
A change to how a widely used English-proficiency test is scored has led to
thousands of students being retained in
English-language-learner classes and
created budgeting and staffing challenges for some school districts.
The change has rattled educators
in states with an established Englishlearner student body, such as Nevada;
those with fast-growing populations,
such as Tennessee; and even states,
such as Maine, that have a relatively
small percentage of students who don't
yet communicate fluently in English.
Those three states and more than
30 others belong to the WIDA, or the
World-Class Instructional Design and
Assessment consortium, and use a test
it designed to assess students' English
The scoring adjustment to the test
known as ACCESS 2.0 raises the bar
for English-language proficiency and
took effect in the 2016-17 school year.
With the change, English-learners
must demonstrate more sophisticated
Grace Kowal, 15, right, with her mother, Hendi
Crosby Kowal, is part of a controversial study on