So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Bills in California Legislature aim to address school discipline

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California State Assembly.

Several bills are being heard by the state Legislature in Sacramento this week that aim to address problems with school discipline.

These include AB 2242, which seeks to reduce out-of-school suspensions for students under the category of "willful defiance," an often very subjective classification that includes behavior such as failing to bring materials to class, not paying attention or talking back. The bill would limit the use of such suspensions and instead have students sent to an in-school supervised suspension classroom.

More than 40 percent of suspensions in California are given out for "willful defiance," said Laura Faer, education rights director for the nonprofit Public Counsel. And because it is so subjective, it often has a much greater impact on students of color. A report released today by UCLA's The Civil Rights Project found that a black male student with disabilities was most likely to be suspended from the classroom in California compared to other students.

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Minority students face harsher discipline, less access and inexperienced teachers

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Educational Inequality

African-American students are more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers, according to data released today from a national survey by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

Their data shows that minority students face harsher discipline, have less access to more rigorous school courses, and are more often taught by less experienced and lower-paid teachers. The national survey included more than 72,000 schools serving 85 percent of students.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement that the findings are "a wake-up call to educators at every level and issued a broad challenge to work together to address educational inequities."

Findings from the department's release include:

  • African-American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers.  Black students make up 18 percent of the students in the CRDC sample, but 35 percent of the students suspended once, and 39 percent of the students expelled.
  • Students learning English (ELL) were 6 percent of the CRDC high school enrollment, but made up 12 percent of students retained.
  • Only 29 percent of high-minority high schools offered Calculus, compared to 55 percent of schools with the lowest black and Hispanic enrollment.
  • Teachers in high-minority schools were paid $2,251 less per year than their colleagues in teaching in low-minority schools in the same district.

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New study: LAUSD's poor, Black and Latino students get the worst teachers

Students test-taking.

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Students taking a test.

There are lot of studies coming out these days that look at the impact of a teacher on their students, including one recently released by Harvard and Columbia economists.

This week an Oakland, Calif.-based organization added to the mix, The Education Trust — West published findings of a two-year long study examining the nation's second-largest school system: Los Angeles Unified School District. The organization took the district's raw teacher data and created their own value-added model using experts to analyze how teachers affect students and how they are currently dispersed among schools.

Its findings have been the talk of multiple briefings over at LAUSD headquarters, said board president Monica Garcia today.

Some key findings from the 17-page report include:

  • The top 25 percent of teachers can dramatically accelerate student learning — an English-Language Arts teacher gives the average student an extra six months of learning and a math teacher an extra four months — compared to the bottom quarter of teachers.

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