Weekend Reads: The ‘no excuses’ discipline debate flares up in Boston

PHOTO: Nicholas Garcia
A teacher at DSST Cole High in Denver meets her students for the first time in the fall of 2014.
  • San Francisco is overhauling its curriculum to make sure it serves the city’s many students with incarcerated parents. (S.F. Examiner)
  • A Boston charter school that suspended students 325 times last year is a flashpoint in the debate over “no excuses” discipline. (WBUR)
  • Those suspensions took place in the context of a challenging turnaround effort, the school’s CEO wrote in a public letter. (UP Education)
  • ICYMI: Here’s basically everything you need to know about the discipline debate. (Chalkbeat)
  • How one white, veteran teacher improved his connection with his South Los Angeles students after they called him out for not being relatable. (Washington Post)
  • San Antonio has 15 independent school districts. More than half are participating in a shared pre-K program. (The Atlantic)
  • Thirty Newark schools shut off their water fountains after testing found high levels of lead. (Brick City Live)
  • Los Angeles is at a “point of crisis” in the way it serves students with disabilities, according to a report that was never supposed to be made public. (L.A. Times)
  • Like many places, Seattle is supposed to “fully fund” education. What that means is complicated. (Seattle Times)
  • Detroit officials say their schools will run out of money in April without additional aid from the state. (Free Press)
  • And Chicago teachers are headed for a strike April 1 after the city asked them to take three unpaid days off. (DNAInfo)
  • Here’s what people were talking about at this year’s SXSWedu, the innovation-focused education conference. (Hechinger Report)
  • The Republicans running for president seem not to have mastered the Common Core standards. (The Upshot)

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

reading list

Weekend Reads: ‘Love and love hard,’ a KIPP Tulsa teacher tells us all

PHOTO: Caroline Bauman
  • New Haven’s schools chief has fallen out of favor after seven years there, and now he’s looking to leave. (N.H. Independent)
  • The KIPP charter network urged its schools to act after Terence Crutcher, a KIPP dad, was killed by police in Tulsa. (Chalkbeat)
  • What that action looked like at KIPP Tulsa College Prep, where at least 10 students are related to Crutcher. (Tulsa World)
  • A teacher at the school went viral after sharing her experiences talking to students — and her advice to “love and love hard.” (Facebook)
  • Great teachers are experts at having hard conversations. Here’s their advice to America. (Chalkbeat)
  • One of Nevada’s wealthiest women is also the state’s glamorous board of education president. (Pacific Standard)
  • Two seasoned education policy wonks are leading Donald Trump’s education transition planning. (Politics K-12)
  • Why is Tennessee’s first single-sex charter school thriving? Not for the reason you might think. (The Atlantic)
  • Efforts are underway to improve black students’ experience at a diverse school where they still come out behind. (Bloomberg)