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BEST OF THE WEEK

The Wall Street Journal’s New Districts Reignite School Segregation Debate is probably the most interesting story of the week other than the affirmative action coverage (discussed below).

Reported by Arian Campo-Flores, the story describes how a mostly white Alabama city of Gardendale wants its own education system, separate from Jefferson County, highlighting a growing national trend in states including California, Georgia and Wisconsin.

“Around Memphis, Tenn., six predominantly white and more-affluent suburbs pulled out of the Shelby County school system and formed their own separate districts in 2014. In Louisiana, three communities successfully separated from the East Baton Rouge Parish system in the past decade, and a fourth—the mostly white town of St. George—has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to follow suit.”

I suppose there will be a time when we will tire of these district secession stories, wishing for a new angle (on solutions, other approaches, or bigger problems). But for now, they remain fascinating (by which I mean horrifying) and extremely concrete. Who knew that EdBuild could get so much mileage from its work?

Another strong WSJ piece from this past weekUrban Colleges Move Into K-12 Schools to Help Kids and Themselves, which describes the handful of instances (UCLA, Johns Hopkins, USC) where universities have gotten directly involved in running district or charter schools.

Strangely missing from the story, however, is the University of Chicago, which has opened and operated a number of charter schools. (On twitter, reporter Melissa Korn explained she was focusing on more recent efforts.)

HONORABLE MENTIONS

NYT: Developmentally Disabled, and Going to College http://ow.ly/UWVv30eaQVW

Washington Post: He went to ICE to tell agents he had gotten into college. Now he and his brother have been deported. https://t.co/Vj3qC1tUjC

Chalkbeat: Do charter schools hurt their neighboring schools? A new study of New York City schools says no — they help. https://t.co/kO2PQz4NEM

BBC News:  How Canada became an education superpower https://t.co/k8oHp5pad4

NPR: Tens Of Thousands More Women And Minorities Are Taking Computer Science https://t.co/fDtEW6z6rx

Seattle Times: Washington has more homeless students than most states, and their numbers keep growing https://t.co/qk4jAFCzuS

The 74: Last In, First Out No Longer the Rule for Teacher Layoffs https://t.co/VSOxGNjrBp

Baltimore Sun: ‘Step’ tells the inspirational story of Baltimore teens’ triumph against the odds http://bsun.md/2v5CarN

FROM “THE GRADE”

Front page of New York Times describing Trump effort to combat “antiwhite bias.”

This week’s column was a roundup of best and worst stories from the month of July. The best story of the month was probably Alvin Chang’s Vox piece about how segregation efforts have evolved and mutated over time. The worst story of the month was probably the Washington Post’s look at principal turnover, which overstated the level of turmoil at some schools and downplayed the progress being made over all.  One of the big questions addressed in the column include some preliminary thoughts on where Emerson’s acquisition of The Atlantic is going to help or hurt its education coverage?

Meantime, national education journalists had a tough time with this week’s ever-changing affirmative action story.

First, the NYT’s Charlie Savage broke the story that the Trump administration was becoming active on affirmative action. claiming based on the documents it had obtained that the focus would be on discrimination against white students.

The piece “set the higher education and civil rights worlds ablaze,” noted Politico.

But the White House denied that there was anything to the NYT’s story, and the USDE was frustratingly silent. Finally, the DOJ weighed in, claiming that the moves being made were in support of a single claim against Harvard for discriminating against Asian-Americans. On Thursday afternoon, NPR aired a recap/roundup of the story. For other versions, see BuzzFeed & the LA Times.

Opinions vary on whether the Administration’s claim (to be focusing on discrimination against Asian-Americans) is for real, in part because it seems unlikely that the Trump folks would push for policy changes that would disadvantage white applicants to places like Harvard, and also because there’s lots of evidence that the Trump administration would be interested in attacking affirmative action more broadly.

Others like Fordham’s Mike Petrilli think that the Times jumped to conclusions and should correct its initial story, which was (as if anyone reads the paper anymore) front page and above the fold.

The Times says it stands by its initial story, pointing to a follow-up (Asian-Americans’ Complaint Prompted Justice Inquiry of College Admissions) that cites this Washington Post story in support of its case that the Trump administration is focused on discrimination against white candidates.

My feeling is that stronger evidence of a broader push against affirmative action on behalf of white candidates will emerge, but until and unless it shows up the Times should correct its story.

PEOPLE, PLACES, & THINGS


#EDgif from Dana Goldstein’s story on teaching writing

Coming this weekend is a Jay Mathews Washington Post piece on how the new immigration limits suggested in that Senate bill would likely have kept famed LAUSD teacher Jaime Escalante from ever getting into the US.

Also coming soon: NPR’s Anya Kamenetz is going to be talking with Anna Sales of Death, Sex & Money about student debt, including teachers’ debts.

EdWeek has announced the Gregory M. Chronister Journalism Fellowship, featuring “an annual award of up to $10,000 a year to support enterprise or investigative reporting on pre-K-12 education.” See online application.

JOBS OPEN & FILLED

With the departure of Alejandra Matos, the Washington Post is looking for its sixth DC education reporter in the last few years. Who will the lucky person be?

Speaking of the Washington Post, why doesn’t anyone want to be an education editor there (or anywhere else)? There are jobs open at Politico, the New York Times, and (at least for another few moments) the Washington Post.

In case you missed it (as I did), DC-area NPR affiliate WAMU hired Kate McGee starting in May, replacing Kavitha Cardoza (who left for EdWeek). Previously, McGee covered education for KUT, the NPR affiliate in Austin. You can find her at @mcgeereports.

Starting Monday, contact Wilborn Nobles for education stories at The Times-Picayune. (Danielle Dreilinger is heading off for her fancy Knight-Wallace fellowship.)

BRIGHT’s most recent editor, Andrea Gurwitt, has announced her departure and the relaunch of the outlet in a new location (Kenya!) In case you didn’t catch it BRIGHT was a solutions-oriented education outlet.

MERROW’S EVOLUTION

Asked about how his role in education journalism has evolved over the years from traditional observer to sharp-tongued commentator, longtime PBS NewsHour correspondent John Merrow (now retired) said in a recent interview that “I think what happened is that I spent a lot of years watching good people trying to change schools and really not succeeding…I just started getting more skeptical.” Merrow’s work and views turned critical of reform efforts nearly a decade ago. His latest book, Addicted to Reform, is out August 15th.

KICKERS

Chalkbeat: An unexpected effect of the Common Core: facilitating Jared Kushner’s political awakening  https://t.co/GsJXHjY7A7

Washington Post: NBA player Kyrie Irving is a flat-Earth believer, and now he’s the bane of middle-school teachers  https://t.co/I4wsXJF7aO [See also NPR]

AJ+: These Ohio schoolteachers are arming themselves against school shootings. https://twitter.com/ajplus/status/892254590342647808

Washington Post: Court documents: Teacher befriended bar patrons, lured them to armed robbery  https://t.co/LY9qyIupvT

SD Union-Tribune: San Diego teacher refuses to answer Border Patrol questions at checkpoint  https://t.co/rWBt82wvvo

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