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Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…


As Public Schools Grow More Diverse, School Board Elections Are Largely Determined by White Voters

Link:  Annenberg Study – The Democratic Deficit in U.S. Education

Quote from Article:

It’s well known that America’s teachers don’t look much like the country’s students. It turns out that the voters who elect America’s school boards don’t, either.

new study appears to be the first of its kind to quantify the demographic mismatch, and it’s sizable. Across four states, including California, researchers estimate that school board voters are much whiter and more affluent than the public school student body.

In districts serving mostly students of color, like San Diego and San Francisco, the disparities are particularly striking, nearly 50 percentage points.

“These voters do not resemble the students who attend the public schools,” wrote researchers Vladimir Kogan, Stéphane Lavertu, and Zachary Peskowitz. “At least two-thirds of the majority nonwhite districts in our sample are nevertheless governed by school boards chosen by majority-white electorates.”


The researchers examined who voted in school board elections between 2008 and 2016 in California, Illinois, Ohio, and Oklahoma.

In each state, there was a sharp demographic divide: the share of voters that were white was consistently much higher than the share of white students. Voters also tended to be more affluent.


Across all four states, the biggest gaps tended to be in districts where 10 to 40% of students were white. In those districts, voters in school board elections were usually 40 to 50 percentage points whiter than the student bodies.

In San Diego, for instance, only a quarters of voters were non-white but nearly three quarters of students were.


Why does this matter? For one, the researchers also found a relationship between voter gaps and test score gaps between white students and students of color.

“School districts that face the largest ‘achievement gap’ … also tend to be the districts where the electorate looks least like the students,” said Kogan, one of the researchers and a professor at Ohio State University.

The study can’t show whether the skewed electorate directly caused relatively worse outcomes for students of color, but the researchers say the relationship is concerning.

The fact that most school board voters are white may have direct consequences, too, since school boards choose the district’s leadership and how resources are allocated in most of the country.


One may be whether members of color win seats: An Ohio study found that board members are more likely to live in higher-income areas with fewer black and Hispanic residents.

Another may be whose concerns are critical enough to shift elections. One paper in California found that school board members were influenced by white students’ test scores, but not black students’.

Meanwhile, research that Kogan and colleagues have in progress shows that an election that swings the school board to majority members of color leads to test-score gains.

“It matters that people are represented,” said Morel. “But what we also know is it translates into substantive policies.”


Kogan says one way to reduce the representation gap in school board races is to align their elections with high-turnout presidential races. He has found that the share of voters of color increases by several percentage points during presidential elections.

Adjusting that timing may not be easy, politically, as low-turnout, off-year races can favor incumbents. Some research has found that teachers unions in particular benefit from off-cycle races.

For its part, California passed a law in 2015 pushing school districts to align their elections with presidential elections. Los Angeles, the largest district in the country governed by an elected board, recently made the shift: This year, for the first time, voters will choose school board members at the same time as they vote in the presidential primary and general election.

District Deeds Synopsis:

This article and study hit directly at the key problem that has created the educational disaster under totally incompetent  Elementary School Superintendent (ESS) Cindy Marten and her white race dominated (3 out of 5 Trustees) Board of Education led by sellout Richard “Tricky Dick” Barrera who pushed her into the Superintendent role in violation of the Brown Act.

The key phrase for our San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Stakeholders:

In San Diego, for instance, only a quarter of voters were non-white but nearly three quarters of students were.

The only way to truly have positive change in the SDUSD for our majority of “non-white” Students is to get rid of ALL the incumbent Trustee Pretenders – 2 out of touch old white men, 2 community sellouts and a person under scrutiny for his personal behavior along with ESS Cindy Marten and her “White Woman Mafia”.

To accomplish this positive change we need 3 things:

  1.  Highy qualified School Board Candidates that fully represent the culture and spirit of the communities they represent and are willing to fight special interest groups that want to buy the Board of Education seat for their own self serving agendas.
  2. GET OUT THE VOTE for ALL SDUSD STAKEHOLDERS …we need to urge ALL of our SDUSD Stakeholders – Parents, Teachers, Volunteers, Staff – to vote out ALL the incumbents and choose the best possible candidate that reflects the communities they represent.
  3. GET OUT THE VOTE for ALL San Diego Citizens …we need to urge ALL of our fellow citizens who are NOT active SDUSD Stakeholders to vote out ALL the incumbents and choose the best possible candidate that reflects the communities they represent.

We can make a change if we ALL work together to get rid of the cancerous SDUSD leadership that is damaging our children every single day.


Mind the Achievement Gap: California’s Disparities in Education, Explained

Quote from Article:


Few goals in education have been as frustrating and urgent as the effort to fix the deep, generational disparity in achievement between the haves and the have-nots in California schools.

It is an article of faith in the K-12 school system that every student — regardless of race, creed, wealth or color — can and should be academically successful. But in measures from standardized tests to dropout rates to college completion, the achievement gap has persisted in cities, rural communities and suburbs, a sign that opportunity is not yet equal for many children in California classrooms.

But by the late 1990s, as court orders to desegregate were lifted, schools quietly re-segregated, and test scores and metrics began showing diminishing progress. As the 21st century began, education researchers were baffled. When the “No Child Left Behind Act” was signed in 2001 by President George W. Bush, closing the achievement gap was its explicit aim — it was even in the title of the law.

The act focused states on the gap, but neither it nor subsequent bipartisan reform attempts have had much success in moving the needle. President Barack Obama in 2010 tried “Race to the Top” financial incentives, states including California have initiated more rigorous Common Core standards, and Congress combined a number of approaches in 2015 with the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” but progress has been slow.  


What’s the California picture?

In 2019, about 51% of students who took the exam — administered to high-school juniors and students in grades 3-8 — had mastered the state’s reading standards. In math, about 40% of students who took the exam earned a passing score.


California’s gap demographics

UCLA researchers recently found that California was the most segregated state for Latinos, “where 58% attend intensely segregated schools,” exacerbating inequities in educational opportunities. More than half of the state’s black students are concentrated in just 25 of the state’s 1,000 school districts. Of the students enrolled in K-12 public schools in California, less than 30% are white, the researchers found.

Black and Latino students significantly trail white and Asian American students in meeting the state’s reading and math standards. In some instances — say, performance in reading and math between white and black students — the difference in achievement is more than two-fold.


Poverty plus segregation

A recent study by Stanford researchers found student achievement gaps are mainly driven by school poverty — not a school’s racial composition. “Racial segregation appears to be harmful because it concentrates minority students in high-poverty schools, which are, on average, less effective than lower-poverty schools,” the study found.


Would different teachers help?

California, like other states, is experiencing a persistent shortage of qualified teachers. This disproportionately affects students who are black, Latino, economically disadvantaged or who have special needs.

Research demonstrates the influence teachers of color have in lifting up academic achievement for students of color, and the effort has been a state focus over the last year. But while America’s teaching corps has become more diverse, recruiting and retaining qualified teachers of color has remained a challenge in California.


The transparency debate

There’s another issue with the school funding formula: Following the money is hard. A recent state audit found it was nearly impossible to determine whether school districts are spending their supplemental and concentration dollars on services for the disadvantaged students for whom they’re intended. It reignited calls for transparency.

Supporters of stronger oversight say it’s necessary if the state is to effectively close achievement gaps. The audit also noted a loophole: Funding targeted for students in need loses its designation if it goes unspent in the year for which it’s earmarked, so that special needs money can actually be used for district-wide expenses if it rolls over into the following school year.  

Lawmakers have introduced a pair of proposals that would take up two recommendations from the audit to track spending and require schools to report unspent supplemental and concentration funds. The State Board of Education, meanwhile, has made changes intended to make school accountability documents easier to read for parents, and the state Department of Education is studying transparency.

District Deeds Synopsis:

We have only posted parts of 6 of the 15 sections of this exceptional study from Cal Matters author Richard Cano but we strongly urge our readers to click on the link to read the full article.   This is an excellent “up to date” primer on the state of education in the State of California.  Virtually all of the findings can be applied to what we see in the SDUSD every single day

The article also highlights items that we have exposed in our blog including the improved fake qraduation rates improperly manipulated by Marten and “Poverty plus Segregation” promoted actively by sellout Tricky Dick Barrera and ESS Marten through limiting School Chice by reducing the enrollment window and slashing busing to the bone.

Well worth your time to review the whole article.

How Strengthening Relationships with Boys Can Help Them Learn

Quote from Article:

Years ago, when Michael Reichert’s oldest son was born, he and his wife made a commitment to shield him from the “toxic pressures and cultural norms that we believed would try to steal our son’s humanity from him.” 

But it turns out that parents can’t build a wall around their children, says Reichert, a clinical psychologist and author of “How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men.” What parents and teachers can do is strengthen boys’ resilience to be themselves.

Reichert is hopeful that a new space is opening up in how we think about boys and boyhood. For generations, he says, “we have rationalized a wide range of losses and casualties” by repeating intractable myths: “Oh, that’s just the nature of boys, or boys just don’t do as well in classrooms, or boys don’t do well with emotional intimacy.” 

These persistent stereotypes have influenced how we interacted with boys from infancy, says Reichert, and infiltrated our classrooms and playing fields. For example, he points to a long-term study of boys between ages 4 and 6. Researchers found that boys dramatically changed how they related to others during these years as they “absorbed norms for how they were supposed to act as boys.” They traveled from “presence to pretense,” says Reichert—from being emotionally honest in relationships with peers to using posturing and bravado as they adhered to group norms about how boys “should” behave. In molding their behavior to this standard, “it cost them their authenticity, exuberance, and confidence.”  


Boys Are Relational Learners

There are troubling statistics about boys in K-12 schools. They are more likely to drop out of school than their female peers, and according to data from the Department of Education, boys account for approximately 70% of all suspensions and expulsions, a rate that is disproportionately higher for boys of color. 

To support boys in our classrooms, Reichert points to one robust, consistent finding from his 30 years of research: boys are relational learners. They learn best in the context of strong, supportive relationships. 


Healing Relationship Breakdowns

If relationships are central to engaging boys in academics, then teachers need tools for healing inevitable “relational breakdowns.” 

“Every teacher in every classroom has some students who they have a hard time working with,” says Reichert. And in any relationship, there is a natural cycle of connection, disconnection, and then reconnection.  But this process does not always go smoothly. After teachers have tried multiple strategies for reaching a student, they can enter “defensive, self-protective mode,” says Reichert, thinking, “I’ve done everything I can, so the next step is his” or “That boy’s learning issues or behavior or family issues are just too much.”  

Reichert’s research found that, for boys, these relational breakdowns with teachers were highly consequential, causing them to construct self-concepts around failure and to turn off from certain subjects or school altogether.

“Here’s the rub,” says Reichert.  “In our research, we have heard about every kind of problem, and we have also heard from boys who were being reached and transformed” despite those problems. “Every boy, theoretically, can be reached by a teacher or a coach,” he says, and adults need to hold out hope that “if they find the right relational approach, they will be able to reach the boy they are having a hard time with.” 


Creating a System of Support

If schools want to reach boys, strengthen their emotional resilience, and help them stay engaged in school, school leaders need to focus on “relational learning” from the top down. Take a look at mission statements, professional development, schedules, and class sizes. Do these basic structures support transformative relationships between teachers and students?

Teachers and coaches also benefit from peer networks that can help them “reset their own thinking about a relationship that has gone south.” Reichert suggests structuring small groups where teachers can safely present a case about a boy they have been struggling with — describing what’s happening, what’s been done, and how they feel. “It breaks teachers’ hearts when they can’t make it work with a student,” says Reichert. These peer networks normalize the struggle and provide an opportunity to receive emotional support and practical, strategic feedback.

Parenting Emotionally Resilient Boys

The most basic way to support boys’ emotional and character development is also the simplest: listen to them. “Listening is the most important tool parents have for building boys’ resilience,” says Reichert. “I haven’t found a boy who doesn’t have a story he wants to tell. Boys are simply not getting the opportunity to be listened to deeply.”

Both boys and girls have rich emotional lives, but the expression of these feelings may differ because of cultural expectations. “We tell girls not to show anger, to be nice,” says Reichert. “And we tell boys not to show vulnerability or fear, to suck it up or man up.” 

When parents open up space for boys to talk, they can nurture a healthier range of emotional expression. “Establish with your son that you are interested in him,” says Reichert. “Yesterday, for what duration did you listen to your son? Not correcting him, listening. Often we are simply not very good at it because no one listened to us much.” 

District Deeds Synopsis:

Desoite having raised two boys ourselves, this article hit close to home.  We were aware of many of the issues reviewed were not aware of the full ramification of how we both communicated with and advocated for our sons.

One of the most enlightening passages was the Parenting Emotionally Resilient Boys section.

When parents open up space for boys to talk, they can nurture a healthier range of emotional expression. “Establish with your son that you are interested in him,” says Reichert. “Yesterday, for what duration did you listen to your son? Not correcting him, listening. Often we are simply not very good at it because no one listened to us much.” 

We realized after reading this passage that despite being in the middle of rushing between running a business, paying bills, delivering and picking up my kids, making meals, cleaning the house and raising my kids as a single parent there were many ways, if we had been more aware of this need, that we could have taken more time to really listen to my sons.

We haven’t yet read the book that prompted this article but it is definitely on our reading list!

Now for our Quote of the Week:

“So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

Have a great week!!!



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