Happy spring break! While you’re relaxing, or catching up on errands, or chasing the kids around, we have our weekly roundup of education news articles from Oakland and around the state and nation to help you stay up-to-date with what’s going on. It’s The Oakland Ed Week in Review, a Dirk favorite and one of the last blogs he published for Great School Voices. Not much happening in Oakland with folks on spring break, but we still found interesting commentary on school closures, and news from around the state (enrollment continues to crater) and the nation (Biden’s transgender sports proposal is making waves); plus more news from around The Town, the state and the nation. What did we miss? Hit us up in the comments below.
As enrollments decline, state leaders should help districts mitigate school closure pressures
To address the resulting budget shortfalls, many districts have already consolidated or shuttered schools or are contemplating doing so. Over the past year, school officials have recommended closures or consolidations in, among other places, Oakland Unified, Lodi Unified, Alameda Unified, Auburn Unified, Sonoma Valley Unified. More are sure to follow.
While decisions about school closures ultimately lie with individual districts, state legislators, California Department of Education officials and county office of education leaders have an important role to play, too.
Read the opinion piece by Carrie Hahnel and Francis A. Pearman in EdSource
The State of California
Bay Area school enrollment plummets for the sixth year in a row
Though California’s public school population dropped by just .67% from this year to last, the average number of students in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara fell by 1.2% within the same time period, resulting in 9,727 fewer students.
Of the Bay Area counties, Santa Clara recorded the sharpest decline since the 2018-19 school year, with nearly 5,000 fewer students last year alone — a 2% drop. San Mateo and Alameda had the next-highest declines, with 1.8% and 1.2% drops respectively.
Read the article by Elissa Miolene of The East Bay Times
California public school enrollment continues decline, still reeling from pandemic plunge
The latest numbers show that “student enrollment is beginning to stabilize with increased enrollment in kindergarten and grades seven and eleven,” according to a statement from the California Department of Education. But for nine of the 13 grade levels, enrollment was lower than last year.
“I know the state frame is: Enrollment has stabilized. But at some level, that’s missing the point, which is that these kids aren’t coming back,” said Thomas Dee, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education. “We haven’t seen — and are unlikely to see anytime in the near future — a bounce back from the substantial loss in public school enrollment that occurred over the pandemic.”
Read the article by Howard Blume of the Los Angeles Times
Hidden expulsions? Schools are removing students, but vague data can mask the reason
Transfers like Ricky’s represent a large yet hidden share of California’s exclusionary discipline, blocking students from attending their schools and pushing them onto new campuses or into smaller, alternative schools, according to an investigation by the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit education newsroom.
While some educators defend transfers as a gentler alternative to expulsion, critics say these moves have limited or no due process protections and can carry the same problems associated with expulsion by disrupting a child’s education.
Read the article by Tara Garcia Mathewson of the Los Angeles Times
K-12 enrollment: Does the increase in homeless students indicate a worsening trend?
According to updated data released today by the California Department of Education, there are about 5.9 million students enrolled in public schools this school year, close to 40,000 fewer students than last year or a .7% drop. But the number of students experiencing homelessness increased by 9%, about 16,000, to a total of approximately 187,000 kids.
The overarching cause of homelessness among all Californians is the perennial shortage of affordable housing in the state, according to Angela James, a researcher at UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools.
Read the article by Joe Hong and Erica Yee of Cal Matters
California school district investigating teacher’s use of racial slur in exchange with student
Fontana Unified School District officials are investigating an incident captured on video of a teacher at Sequoia Middle School repeatedly using a racial slur in an exchange with a student.
District officials have not released the name of the teacher nor whether she has been disciplined.
Read the article by Brian Whitehead of The East Bay Times
California school district to pay $13 million to family of teen shot to death by school resource officer
Attorneys for a woman whose 18-year-old daughter was shot to death by a Long Beach Unified School District security officer two years ago say they are settling their lawsuit against the district.
Read the article by Elissa Miolene of The East Bay Times
An Inglewood charter school looks to literacy to build success among its Black students
Wilder’s Preparatory Academy in Inglewood is showing unusual success in teaching literacy and math. The K-8 school enrolls a student population that is more than 85% Black and boasts test score results that reflect performance far above that of the state average for all schools regardless of racial composition.
In fact, the scores make it the top performing school among predominantly Black schools in the state. It’s also a bright contrast to the performance levels reflected among the rest of the state’s Black student population, which is ranked lowest in performance levels among all of California’s racial and ethnic groups.
Read the article by Kate Sequeria of EdSource
California is about to require ethnic studies in high school. Should teachers get special training to teach it?
California needs more ethnic studies teachers, quickly. Under the new law, passed in 2021, high schools must begin offering ethnic studies courses in the 2025–26 school year, and students in the class of 2030 will be the first ones subject to the graduation requirement. As many high schools expand their course offerings ahead of schedule, universities are grappling with how best to prepare the next generation of teachers.
Across The Nation
Schools could limit transgender students’ sports participation under Biden admin proposal
In a long-awaited proposal, federal education officials said that K-12 schools and colleges cannot establish across-the-board bans on transgender students participating on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity — a direct challenge to laws in several states. But the proposal would allow schools to keep transgender students off certain teams in the interest of “ensuring fairness in competition or preventing sports-related injury,” according to an education department fact sheet.
Read the article by Kalyn Belsha and Patrick Wall of Chalkbeat
Thousands participate in national school walkout after Nashville shooting, urge gun control
“We want to be safe in our schools and we want them to take action to protect our lives, not the gun industry’s profits,” Collins said.
USA TODAY confirmed thousands of students walked out of classes through local media reports, estimates from school districts and USA TODAY Network reporters on the scene.
Read the article by Grace Hauk of USA Today
Schools routinely search students for weapons under safety plans. Should they?
The March 22 shooting at a Denver high school by a student during his daily patdown for guns has focused new attention on “safety plans.” Those are individualized agreements that can involve school personnel routinely searching students who have previously broken laws or school rules for weapons, drugs, or other contraband.
Read the article by Mark Walsh of Education Week