Welcome to Essential Education, our daily look at education in California and beyond. Here's the latest:
- Applications for college financial aid through the California Dream Act are much lower than they were last year, and officials think the biggest reason is fear.
- The Trump administration is rolling back Obama-era protections for transgender students, but California's schools chief has promised to uphold students’ rights.
An unprecedented number of Americans have called, emailed and faxed their lawmakers to share their thoughts about the U.S. Secretary of Education since she was confirmed last week. We'd love to know what you think about Betsy DeVos and her new job. Tell us.
Orange Coast College is investigating after Black History Month student artwork was torn down in the campus Art Center on Tuesday.
The art project includes 18 names of people killed by police listed on nine black vinyl banners with the words "Promise that you will sing about me" at the top, referring to a Kendrick Lamar track. A multicolored flag signifying the LGBT community adorns the bottom, along with "#SayTheirName" and "BlackLivesMatter."
Jameis Winston was brought in to a Florida elementary school Wednesday to deliver a positive message to the students.
And he did that for most of the time. But for some reason during his 40-minute speech, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback also told the girls in the room they should be “silent, polite, gentle” while informing the boys they’re “supposed to be strong.”
The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it is dropping federal protections for transgender students , causing concern among LGBT advocates and students throughout the country.
Here’s a Q&A; on the consequences of the new White House policy for local schools.
As we wait to see exactly how President Trump will try to fulfill his campaign promise to create a nationwide school voucher program , Kevin Carey has provided some key context in a piece in the New York Times.
Carey, who directs the education policy program at the think tank New America, writes that the origins of school vouchers can be traced to a single 1955 essay by economist Milton Friedman. Friedman suggested the idea of offering vouchers to help pay for private schools, as long as those schools that got public money met "certain minimum standards."
Most programs, Carey says, have relied on standardized testing to show that they do.
But several recent studies, based on test scores, of how students fare in voucher programs have "found that vouchers hurt student learning," Carey says.
The Trump administration has yet to release a plan for building new school voucher programs, but some think it could come in the form of a tax credit .
Fears about heightened enforcement of federal immigration laws combined with confusion and anti-immigrant rhetoric might be causing thousands of California students who came to the United States without legal papers to forgo valuable college aid.
In and around Los Angeles:
- The Trump administration rescinded Obama-era guidance on transgender students, despite reports that Betsy DeVos disagrees.
- The College Board is beefing up its security — and administering fewer international tests — after reports of cheating on the SAT.
Under the guidelines, schools had been required to treat transgender students according to their stated gender identity, and either allow access to restrooms and locker rooms for the gender they identify with or provide private facilities if requested.
With news that the Trump administration is rolling back former President Obama's guidance on protecting transgender students, State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is reminding California students of their rights .
"California students will continue to have their civil rights protected," he said in a statement Wednesday. "California will continue to work to provide that environment for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students regardless of any misguided directives by the federal government and the Trump administration."
This post was updated to include news of the guidance.
University of California President Janet Napolitano blasted the Trump administration's immigration crackdown on Wednesday, calling it a step backward that would make communities less safe.
Napolitano, who served as U.S. Homeland Security secretary under President Obama, said the vast expansion of deportation priorities announced by the White House this week would not work in the long run.
"The new guidance essentially makes all undocumented immigrants in the United States priorities for enforcement," she said in a statement given to The Times. "When everyone is a priority, there are essentially no priorities — and my experience as secretary of Homeland Security and governor of Arizona showed clearly that the lack of priorities undermines effective immigrant enforcement and makes our communities less safe.
"I’m also deeply concerned that such broad, ill-defined parameters will stoke fear and anxiety in immigrant communities across the nation, making immigrants — whether here legally or undocumented — much less likely to work with local law enforcement to help keep our communities safe.
"This approach is a step backward from the progress the Obama administration made to establish a more just, humane immigration system and it also fails to comprehensively address the many areas of our immigration system that need to be addressed," she said.
The Trump administration did not say what it would do with so-called Dreamers — young people brought to the country illegally as children and given protection under Obama. Napolitano said UC would continue to protect and defend such students, who number about 3,700 on its campuses.
As President Trump prepares to roll back federal protections for transgender students, it may be a good time to revisit a guide we published in 2016 about the rights that transgender students are afforded in California and L.A.
While California state law strongly protects transgender students, losing federal protection could negatively affect transgender rights in the state. Lawyers and advocates relied on the Obama administration, rather than on California's state government, to enforce student rights in a number of cases .
What rights do transgender students have in California?
State law specifies that students cannot be discriminated against based on gender identity or gender expression. School districts are responsible for keeping students safe, preventing violations of students’ rights and addressing problems.
The Trump administration is preparing to rescind the Obama administration's protections for transgender students in public schools — but U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos initially opposed the move, the New York Times reports.
Trump, according to the Times, sided with Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions.
In order for the new regulations to move forward, both the Education and Justice departments needed to sign off.
The reported plan is to get rid of the directive Obama released in May.
The New York Times reported that DeVos had little choice but to go along.
Obama's guidance on Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law, said that public schools must let transgender students use the locker rooms and bathrooms of their choice.
The guidance was not legally binding, but advocates say it helped transgender students. Opponents soon called the move federal overreach, with some saying it violated the rights of students who are not transgender.
Thirteen states sued the federal government over the requirements, and in August, a federal judge in Texas put the order on temporary hold nationwide. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said at the time that the state would rather give up federal funding than comply with the directive.
In a recent briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the bathroom question an issue for states. "The president has maintained for a long time that this is a states-rights issue," he said.
The order the Trump administration plans to issue has not yet been released, but an early draft says people are confused by the meaning of the protections. Reuters posted a copy of that draft here .
Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington who spearheaded the fight against DeVos' confirmation, issued a statement about DeVos' reported resistance.
"I am glad to see reports that Sec. DeVos agrees with me and so many people across the country that rolling back this guidance on protecting transgender students would be absolutely wrong and should not be done," Murray said.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals also criticized Trump's reported plans. "If the guidance is withdrawn, principals will continue their efforts to support transgender and all other students in the face of new opposition and, sadly, with the knowledge that their president might not share their concern for the needs of each student," Bob Farrace, the organization's director of public affairs, said in a statement.
The Supreme Court is slated to take up the question of transgender students' rights next month.
This story was updated to include a link to a draft of the guidance and additional context.
The firm that owns the SAT college entrance exam is boosting security around the world following test-stealing and other cheating incidents in recent years.
The College Board told the Associated Press it's reducing the number of international testing dates from six per year to four for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. It says the move will reduce opportunities for test content to be stolen.
To celebrate, there were speeches. And refreshments. And a deejay. Also, an understandable sense of accomplishment on the part of the Black Student Union, which has spent years pushing the university to establish the center, named for the great civil rights activist.
I had trouble believing that 18 students, without adult guidance, decided all they wanted to do was attack a single candidate rather than extol the virtues of other candidates. And that one candidate, incumbent Steve Zimmer, is a target of charter school proponents, which is where the million dollars came from, with former Mayor Dick Riordan as sugar daddy.
Political consultant John Shallman told me he pitched the idea of recruiting students to the folks at the California Charter Schools Assn., then assigned one of his staffers to run L.A. Students for Change. Smart move on his part. More than $3 million in independent committee spending alone has been sunk into school board races, and campaign records show that Shallman should have invested in an armored car for all his trips to the bank.
In and around Los Angeles:
- Following an FBI investigation into L.A. Unified's iPad plan, the U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday it will not file charges against the district.
- An investigation finds that school districts direct their lowest performers to alternative schools in an effort to inflate scores and graduation rates.
- The Trump administration is preparing to roll back Obama-era protections for transgender students.
- A school prayer bill is advancing in Indiana.
The U.S. attorney has decided not to file charges following a lengthy FBI investigation into the bidding process that won Apple a contract to provide an iPad to every student, teacher and administrator in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The decision, announced Tuesday, brings to a close an infamous and far-reaching chapter in the history of the nation’s second-largest school system. The iPad project, approved in June 2013, was a flagship effort of then-Supt. John Deasy, who saw the devices as a way to help the district’s low-income families offset advantages enjoyed by more prosperous families and by school systems that served wealthier neighborhoods.
In the end, problems related to the $1.3-billion project contributed to Deasy’s resignation under pressure in October 2014. In December of that year, FBI agents raided district headquarters, carting away 20 boxes of documents.
University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Tuesday that she has selected Gary May, a Georgia Tech dean and UC Berkeley alumnus, as her choice to become the seventh chancellor of UC Davis .
May, who has long supported promoting minorities in higher education, will replace Linda Katehi, who resigned last year after a UC investigation into her alleged conflicts of interest found she violated multiple university policies and misled her superiors, the public and the media.
In a statement, Napolitano praised May as a “dynamic leader and an accomplished scholar and engineer with a passion for helping others succeed.”The UC Board of Regents will vote on the appointment during a special meeting at UCLA on Feb. 23.
In and around Los Angeles:
- It turns out the big election spending in L.A . is in the school board races.
- Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, 86, marries the head of admissions at Harvard-Westlake.
- A principal gives a first-grader who lost his mom something to smile about.
- California sent a message to states with anti-LGBT laws — and it has changed the plans of college scholars and athletes.
- A malfunctioning lithium battery in a teenager's backpack may have caused a small fire at a school.
Across the nation:
- When Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said D.C. teachers she met were in "receive mode," they had something to say.
- For-profit colleges look forward to changes under President Trump.
- National student loan debt hits $1.31 trillion.
Outstanding student loan debt continues to increase and reached $1.31 trillion by the end of last year – more than what the nation owes for credit cards, according to new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
About 11% of that debt was either in default or 90 or more days delinquent in the fourth quarter of 2016.