Let's start the week off right with a healthy dose of education news, shall we? Sarah Sparks at Ed Week takes a look at which students experience high rates of mobility, and what effect the movement has on their learning:
In K-12 education, “student mobility,” also called “churn” or “transience,” can include any time a student changes schools for reasons other than grade promotion, but in general it refers to students changing schools during a school year. It may be voluntary—such as a student changing schools to participate in a new program—or involuntary, such as being expelled or escaping from bullying. Student mobility is often related to residential mobility, such as when a family becomes homeless or moves due to changes in a parent’s job ... In a report on student mobility by the National Academy of Sciences, Chester Hartman, the research director for the Poverty and Race Research Action Council in Washington, noted that high-poverty urban schools can have more than half of their students turn over within a single school year.
High rates of mobility have implications for data sharing, accountability, instruction, and almost every other facet of schooling. Mobility is one of those issues that, because of high concentrations of poverty in some neighborhoods, has a marginal impact on most schools and a huge impact on a large subset of schools. It's hard to understand the complications of concentrated poverty without understanding that student turnover happens at a large scale in many schools.
Sharif El-Mekki looks at the NAACP's call for a moratorium on charter schools through the same lens, in that the need for charters is most pronounced in the communities that have fewest options:
Where is the moratorium on unfair funding practices that create inequities in our communities in need? Where is the moratorium on the inherent inequities created by criteria-based public schools and magnet programs that cream from the top (as charter are routinely accused of)? Where is the moratorium on unfair union contracts that make it almost impossible to exit consistently under-performing teachers? If a moratorium on school choice for Black and Latino families will address the questions above, then we should talk. If not, it is a distraction from delivering on what families in charters and on charter wait lists are asking for. Just like traditional district schools, charters have much room to grow. But the call for a moratorium reeks of the type of privilege associated with Black flight post Brown vs. the Board of Education.
El-Mekki is not mincing words here, and this pushback is part of a growing chorus of leaders of color who are saying that the NAACP does not speak for their interests on the topic of public charter schools. I guess reality is slightly more complicated than the notion that the Black community is a monolithic entity with one set of opinions.
Sarcasm aside, security officers are turning to stun guns more often when dealing with school security issues. Rebecca Klein at the Hechinger Report looks at the troubling trend:
[The example in the lede of this article] is one of at least 84 incidents of children being Tasered or shot with a stun gun by a school police officer since September 2011, according to media reports tracked by The Huffington Post. The number is a gross underestimation because not every incident is reported, and no state or federal organization track how often children are zapped at schools. The children, who were all hit by a Taser or stun gun by school-based police officers, also called school resource officers, were 12 to 19 years old when the incidents occurred. They were shocked by a Taser or stun gun for mouthing off to a police officer. For trying to run from the principal’s office. For, at the age of 12,getting into a fight with another girl.
Oh wow. Cut to live footage of me reading this article:
This makes me so mad, I don't even know where to start. First of all, in a culture wherein law enforcement officials already experience a huge breach in their relationship with communities of color, there are few things I could think of that could worsen the relationship, and this is one of them. Second, we should have fewer security officials in schools, period. There are ways to establish a positive culture without armed guards roaming halls, and the trend toward greater uniformed law enforcement presence in schools has had no meaningful effect on discipline, but it has had the adverse consequence of making schools feel like occupied territory. Finally, and I can't believe I have to say this, but school is where you TEACH kids not TASE them. I remember visiting a troubled elementary school many years ago, and I saw police taking a ten-year-old into custody for writing on a locker. That's insane. The correct response was for an educator to talk to that child. Kids do annoying things because they're kids, not because they're criminals.
While I recover in the corner, you can read Alex Zimmerman's new piece in The Atlantic about teacher preparation. I'll talk to you tomorrow:
[A new] program, Harvard Teacher Fellows, is an attempt to reshape the way young teachers are trained to enter high-needs schools, and to avoid the pitfalls associated with asking inexperienced teachers to quickly take on the responsibilities of seasoned educators. While there are similar teacher-preparation models around the country that offer individualized support as new teachers learn the ropes—often called residencies —the fellowship’s leaders hope it could be replicated across the country, potentially offering education schools a way to reinvent themselves as enrollment slides ... The fellowship is different from university models that include some student teaching, and programs like Teach For America (TFA), largely because fellows are eased into the profession and given significant mentorship and support as they acclimate to the classroom, according to Shed.