School Discipline Reform and Lessons from a Charter School Closure | Last Week’s Best Articles

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!

America’s Schools Are ‘Profoundly Unequal,’ Says U.S. Civil Rights Commission
via NPR

“The federal government must take bold action to address inequitable funding in our nation’s public schools.”

So begins a list of recommendations released Thursday by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan agency created by Congress in 1957 to investigate civil rights complaints. Thursday’s report comes after a lengthy investigation into how America’s schools are funded and why so many that serve poor and minority students aren’t getting the resources they say they need.

“This report excavates the enduring truism that American public schooling is, and has been, profoundly unequal in the opportunity delivered to students, the dollars spent to educate students, and the determinations of which students are educated together,” writes the commission’s chair, Catherine Lhamon.

Special education caps were the Texas Legislature’s idea, educators say via Texas Tribune

After a federal report blasted Texas for failing kids with disabilities, educators and public education advocates are pointing the finger directly at state legislators who, they argue, first suggested capping special education to keep costs low.

Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement soon after that criticized local school districts for their “dereliction of duty” in failing to serve students — which touched a nerve for educators.

“We weren’t derelict: The state of Texas was derelict, the Texas Education Agency was derelict,” said HD Chambers, superintendent of Alief ISD and president of the Texas School Alliance, an advocacy group. “We were following what they put in place.”

Is School-Discipline Reform Moving Too Fast? via The Atlantic

During the 1990s, amid rising fears of youth violence, many districts adopted zero-tolerance policies mandating suspensions for certain offenses, including relatively minor infractions such as shoving other students or cursing. Suspension rates nearly doubled between 1973 and 2006. Racial disparities in school discipline, meanwhile, are stark: Black students are roughly four times as likely to be suspended as white students, according to 2014 data from the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

The pendulum started to swing back in 2014 when the Obama administration issued a 7,500-word letter warning schools against racial discrimination in discipline. While some districts were already working to reduce suspensions, the federal push spurred more schools to revamp their disciplinary procedures.

One thing to read this week…

What we can learn from closure of charter school that DeVos praised as ‘shining example’ via The Conversation

When Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and first lady Melania Trump visited Excel Academy Public Charter School last spring, DeVos praised the school as a “shining example of a school meeting the needs of its students, parents, and community.”

Unfortunately, we now know the praise the school got during its brief time on the world stage did not match its poor performance. On Jan. 11, the DC Public Charter School Board voted unanimously, 6-0, to shut down the Pre-K-8, all-girls school at the end of the current school year.

The closure of Excel represents a prime opportunity to focus on what we know about school choice and to move the discussion beyond ideological and partisan debates.

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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