Michigan’s Charter Experiment and Bias in Special Education | Last Week’s Best Articles

We’re back with Last Week’s Best Articles In Education!

Our team is always seeking the latest news in the field of education. As advocates for a quality education for ALL students, we know we have to stay up-to-date on everything that’s going on in the education spheres of our nation…from the White House to the local public school district, from new legislation to the small acts of bravery and kindness made by a single teacher, from the milestones and celebrations to the hazardous injustices affecting many of our nations students.

Here are the best stories we came across last week…because we believe you should stay up-to-date, too!


The Weighted Task of Pre-K Teaching via The Atlantic

There is a big debate raging about the educational needs of little children, one that is entangled with larger questions about poverty and equity. The debate doesn’t center on whether the United States should support disadvantaged children to get ready for school, but how.

Do children at risk of falling on the losing end of achievement gaps need a strict focus on the basics, or do they need the more holistic, learn-to-love-learning approach that middle-class parents tend to clamor for? It’s a thorny question, and parents and teachers sometimes fall on surprising sides of the spectrum.


Certification rules and tests are keeping would-be teachers of color out of America’s classrooms. Here’s how. via Chalkbeat

Becoming a certified teacher in America usually means navigating a maze of university classes and certification tests — and paying for them. The goal is a high-quality teaching force, and an array of powerful advocates have been pushing to “raise the bar” further. But the rules likely come with a hefty cost: a less diverse profession.

A Chalkbeat analysis has found that virtually every step in the common teacher certification process risks disproportionately excluding prospective teachers of color. The requirements for entering schools of education, passing teacher-prep exams, and a host of other factors each hit black and Hispanic prospective teachers hardest.


Tracking Bias in Special Education via Education Week

In 1997, Congress required states to start monitoring districts for significant disproportionality in how minority students were identified as having disabilities and where they were more likely than peers to spend time in self-contained classrooms or separate schools. In 2004, that policy was given more teeth, through the set-aside requirement.

Ensuring that all states are using the same process helps to close “opportunity gaps” for minority students, the U.S. Department of Education said when the new rule was made final this past December. Educational equity was a major part of My Brother’s Keeper, launched in 2014 to improve educational and career opportunities for boys and young men of color.


One thing to read this week…

Michigan Gambled on Charter Schools. Its Children Lost. via The New York Times Magazine

Michigan’s aggressively free-market approach to schools has resulted in one of the most deregulated educational environments in the country, a laboratory in which consumer choice and a shifting landscape of supply and demand (and profit motive, in the case of many charters) were pitched as ways to improve life in the classroom for the state’s 1.5 million public-school students.

But a Brookings Institution analysis done this year of national test scores ranked Michigan last among all states when it came to improvements in student proficiency. And a 2016 analysis by the Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education policy and research organization, found that 70 percent of Michigan charters were in the bottom half of the state’s rankings. Michigan has the most for-profit charter schools in the country and some of the least state oversight. Even staunch charter advocates have blanched at the Michigan model.


Did any of these articles particularly speak to you? We would love to know your thoughts! Let us know in the comments below:

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