The Weekly Connect 3/20/17

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

President Trump’s budget calls for a 13.5 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Education. But there would be an additional $1.4 billion to promote school choice.

Compared to 12 years ago, kindergarteners are entering school with more math and literacy skills.

Another story explores the impact that incarcerating parents has on children.

Efforts to close the achievement gap between ELL-Hispanic and white students appear to be working.

And some schools are reluctant to call snow days because they want students to have access to the free breakfast and lunch programs.

To read more, click on the following links.

Policy

Trump Education Dept. Releases New ESSA Guidelines
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released a new application for states to use in developing their accountability plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act. It is shorter and includes fewer requirements than an earlier application released by the Obama administration in November. The biggest difference seems to be in the requirements for outreach to various groups of educators and advocates. See related article: Associated Press “DeVos promotes school choice, local control.”

Trump’s Budget Blueprint Pinches Pennies for Education
NPR: President Trump released a proposed 2018 budget that calls for a $9 billion, or 13.5 percent, cut for the U.S. Department of Education. The document released today is only an initial sketch — a proposal, really — one that must compete with Congress’ own ideas. It indicates how Trump plans to make good on his pledge to dramatically reduce parts of the federal government while increasing military spending. See related article: Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog “New Trump Executive Order Could Lead to a Smaller Education Department.” 

School Choice a Big Winner in President Trump’s Budget
Ed Week Charters & Choice Blog: President Donald Trump is calling for $1.4 billion in new federal investments in school choice, including vouchers for private schools, charter schools, and Title I funding that would follow students to the public schools of their choice.

Research

Kindergartners Enter More Ready in Math and Literacy, Researchers Say
Education Week: Kindergarten students in 2010 started school with more math and literacy skills than kindergartners did just 12 years earlier. Researchers also found that the growth occurred among white, black, and Hispanic students, but the improved skills were more pronounced among black students in both math and literacy. 

Mass incarceration of African Americans affects the racial achievement gap
The Washington Post Answer Sheet: On any given school day, approximately 10% of African American schoolchildren have a parent who is in jail or prison. The comparable share for white children is 4%. These are findings from a new report released by the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute that says the “evidence is overwhelming that the unjustified incarceration of African American is an important cause of the lowered performance of their children” and of the racial achievement gap. 

How Boosting Education Research Could Revolutionize US Schooling
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Under ESSA, states must take an evidence-based approach to turning around the bottom five percent of schools, and work with local districts to craft and execute evidence-backed interventions. By linking the use of evidence-based practice to the mandatory reform of low-performing schools, ESSA also aims to address one of the biggest challenges to the emerging evidence-based movement in education: Evidence only matters if we use it to change practice. Until now, schools and school districts have had little incentive to discover the evidence base and how it can address their needs.

Around the Nation

Helping Immigrant Students Catch Up, Fast — It Takes a Whole School
NPR: According to a recent Stanford study, the achievement gap between ELL-Hispanic and white students is the largest in the context of race and ethnicity. In 1985, the Internationals Network For Public Schools opened its first school to address that long-standing disparity. Since then, it has grown to 27 schools in seven states. And it seems to be working. Last year, ELLs who attended the network’s high schools in New York City (the nation’s largest school district) graduated at a rate that was 16 percentage points higher than ELL students in the city’s public schools.

Public Schools’ Infrastructure Gets Near Failing Grade from Civil Engineers
Ed Week District Dossier Blog: The American Society of Civil Engineers gave public schools a D-plus in its report card on the nation’s infrastructure. A D grade means that buildings are in fair to poor condition, with many elements nearing the end of their useful life and showing significant deterioration, according to the report.

The heartbreaking reason some schools never seem to grant snow days
The Washington Post: When school districts decide to stay open during inclement weather, many parents assume that it relates to the roads. But there’s another reason schools are reluctant to grant snow days: Their students may have little to eat at home. According to the Agriculture Department, 20 million students receive free lunch, and 11.7 million receive free breakfast, at school.

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