K-12 Recent News Roundup: September 28, 2018

With so many stories in the news every day, it’s easy to miss developments that are relevant to you and your district, school, or classroom. We’ve gathered a variety of highlights in education news so you can stay up to date on issues that matter to you.

N.C. Principal Supports Community in Wake of Tropical Storm Florence

North Carolina communities are still reeling after Tropical Storm Florence, as more than 60,000 students were unable to return to school this past week, according to National Public Radio. Some evacuated before the storm, while others remain in the community but couldn’t attend class due to damaged school grounds.

One Wilmington principal, Krista Holland, visited a storm shelter in Chapel Hill, speaking with families from her community, NPR reported. It’s unclear when her school, Anderson Elementary, will reopen, and she worries for her students, telling the news organization, “The lack of a sense of normalcy for the kids, I think that's where my heart aches the most."

Holland is doing everything she can for families, sending out a phone recording for parents and donating toys for kids at the Chapel Hill shelter. Service learning is an important part of Anderson Elementary culture, she said in an intervie with NPR. Students and staff fundraised and collected supplies for other communities after Hurricanes Matthew and Harvey.

"And now we are going to be on the receiving end of help and support," Holland told NPR. "I think for our kids there will be valuable lessons to see that sometimes you give and you help other people,” and sometimes you get help back.

From Classrooms to Public Office, More Teachers Will Be on Election Ballots this Fall

In our July 20 News Roundup, we covered the rise in teachers running for public office after nationwide strikes earlier this year. The story continues to draw attention as more teachers enter the race. U.S. News & World Report recently reported that about 550 educators will be on public ballots this fall, with many motivated by a lack of attention paid to educational issues, like compensation, growing class sizes, and teacher shortages.

Fourth-grade teacher Carri Hicks is running for state Senate in Oklahoma, partly due to frustrating meetings with public officials, according to U.S. News. One state lawmaker accused her of lying when she mentioned her class size of 28, not realizing that reported averages of 16 students per class did not represent her reality, she told the news outlet. Jahana Hayes, who is running for Congress in Connecticut, also said she made the switch to politics when she realized that no one else could speak for her students with the same knowledge and experience.

The change in career is not easy for many educators. Campaigning takes up a lot of time, leaving working teachers at a disadvantage. Plus, political success requires building a reputation and network, and many educators are unknown in the wider community. Groups like the National Education Association and the Center for American Women and Politics out of Rutgers University help teachers build the skills necessary for their new political careers, U.S. News reported.

Study: Wealthy Students Receive Inflated Grades More Often Than Peers

According to U.S. News, a new study sheds light on another disparity between rich students and their less affluent peers: grade inflation.

The report examined Algebra 1 grades from all public-school students in North Carolina between 2005 to 2016 and compared these scores with their end-of-year exam results. Generally, only 21 percent of A-students and 3 percent of B-students earned the highest level of proficiency on their exams. Thirty-six percent of B-students did not even score “proficient,” revealing a high degree of grade inflation, the report states. The study found that schools with wealthier students allotted A’s and B’s more often than schools with poorer students.

The author of the report explained how frequently inflating grades in affluent schools reinforces the college gap. Students in these schools have higher GPAs, and therefore apply and get into rigorous universities more often than their less affluent peers. Inflated grades also give students self-confidence that may not reflect reality. Students can miss out on much-needed tutoring opportunities and graduate with an inaccurate understanding of their own college and career readiness.

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HMH publishes a news roundup every other Friday. Check out the next one on October 12.