Most Teens Won’t Have Jobs This Summer, Study Finds

Most Teens Won’t Have Jobs This Summer, Study Finds

By Sarafina Wright, Washington Informer Staff Writer

The proportion of teenagers in the U.S. summer labor force declined for two decades while the number of legal and illegal immigrants holding a job has more than doubled, a new report from Center for Immigration Studies states.

As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business associations lobby Congress for increases in legal immigration, seasonal workers in particular, the study found the decline in summer employment has affected teenagers from every segment of society.

“The evidence indicates that immigration has likely accounted for a significant share of the decline in teen labor force participation,” wrote Steven Camarota, the center’s director of research. “The decline in teen work is worrisome because research shows that those who do not hold jobs as teenagers often fail to develop the work habits necessary to function in the labor market, creating significant negative consequences for them later in life.”

In the summer of 2017, 41 percent of U.S.-born teenagers counted in the labor force, but just 35 percent held a job, according to the report.

“In 2018, we project only a slight improvement to 42 percent in the labor force and 36 percent actually working — both levels well below what they used to be,” the center said. “Immigrants and teenagers often do the same kind of work. In the summer of 2017, in the 25 occupations employing the most U.S.-born teenagers, more than one in five workers was an immigrant.”

The report stated that over time in 10 states where immigrants increased as the large share of workers, labor force participation of U.S.-born teenagers declined by 26 percentage points.

“The most likely reason immigrants displace U.S.-born teenagers is that the vast majority of immigrants are skilled adults — relatively few people migrate before age 20,” the center said. “This gives immigrants a significant advantage over U.S.-born teenagers who typically have much less work experience.”

This article originally appeared in The Washington Informer.

Grosso Sponsors Bill to Help DC Student Loan Borrowers

Grosso Sponsors Bill to Help DC Student Loan Borrowers

By David Grosso, Special to The Afro

In May, many undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in the District of Columbia received their degrees. If they haven’t already, many are also waiting for  something else – a bill for their student loans.

Many District graduates and working professionals are grappling with student loan debt and it has become a barrier for the purchase of a home and automobile. D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) is aware of this crisis and authored legislation “The Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Act of 2017“, that is designed to deal with exploding student debt.

Grosso is the chairman of the Committee on Education and held a hearing on this bill June 25. “Student loan debt is unavoidable for many people,” the Council member said. “When I was in school, I financed my education through work-study programs and other education partners.”

PRNewswire published a story in its June 26 edition that 10 percent of student loan borrowers in the District owe more than $100,000, the highest in the nation. The article said that 25 percent of the District’s population has an advanced degree (master’s and professional).

Grosso’s legislation would empower an office of the ombudsman to help borrowers and set guidelines for District residents to relieve their student loan debt. The bill has the support of D.C. Council members Trayon White (D-Ward 8), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7).

Dr. Eddy Ameen, a District career psychologist, testified at the hearing that financial stress is a factor for students in the higher education realm. “While survey data can tell you how important it is, I receive frequent phone calls and visits from members that are riddled with debt,” he said. “That’s all they can do to succumb to it.”

Ameen said many of his patients wish they had alternatives to student loans for financing education and wish there was an active program that suited them to forgive their debt. He said the majority or nearly half of the people in his field have delayed saving for the future, retirement planning, buying a house, and having children because of student loan debt.

Ameen said he likes Grosso’s bill and encouraged him to, among other things, encourage student loan debt from federal institutions and not private concerns and requested that the bill include District public workers who graduated before 2016. He also said that while $75,000 is a great deal of money in other parts of the country, in the District it is almost an average salary and adjustments must be made to take that into account.

In addition, Ameen wants the public service loan forgiveness program to be more active in the District.

Shana Young, chief of staff for the District’s Office of State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), told Grosso that establishing an ombudsman could be problematic because many District residents would have to be helped by this program and that could be overwhelming. “We appreciate the bill’s sponsors attempting to address student loan debt, which is a significant concern for many District residents,” Young said.

Grosso said the bill “is a work in progress” and offered his opinions. “Perhaps borrowers should be required to take financial literacy classes before they take on these loans,” he said.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

How Washington D.C.’s public schools went from success story to cautionary tale

How Washington D.C.’s public schools went from success story to cautionary tale

WASHINGTON — As recently as a year ago, the public school system in the nation’s capital was being hailed as a shining example of successful urban education reform and a template for districts across the country.

Now the situation in the District of Columbia could not be more different. After a series of rapid-fire scandals, including one about rigged graduation rates, Washington’s school system has gone from a point of pride to perhaps the largest public embarrassment of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s tenure.

This stunning reversal has left school administrators and city officials scrambling for answers and pledging to regain the public’s trust.

A decade after a restructuring that stripped the decision-making powers of the board of education and placed the system under mayoral control, city schools in 2017 were boasting rising test scores and a record graduation rate for high schools of 73 percent, compared with 53 percent in 2011. Glowing news articles cited examples such as Ballou High School, a campus in a low-income neighborhood where the entire 2017 graduating class applied for college.

Then everything unraveled…

An investigation by WAMU, the local NPR station, revealed that about half of those Ballou graduates had missed more than three months of school and should not have graduated due to chronic truancy. A subsequent inquiry revealed a systemwide culture that pressured teachers to favor graduation rates over all else — with salaries and job security tied to specific metrics.

The internal investigation concluded that more than one-third of the 2017 graduating class should not have received diplomas due to truancy or improper steps taken by teachers or administrators to cover the absences. In one egregious example, investigators found that attendance records at Dunbar High School had been altered 4,000 times to mark absent students as present. The school system is now being investigated by both the FBI and the U.S. Education Department, while the D.C. Council has repeatedly called for answers and accountability.

“We’ve seen a lot of dishonesty and a lot of people fudging the numbers,” said Council member David Grosso, head of the education committee, during a hearing last week. “Was it completely make-believe last year?”

Read the full article here.

The Takeaway | SBOE Education Updates

The Takeaway | SBOE Education Updates

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Equity Statement Adopted

During our May Public Meeting, the SBOE adopted the following equity statement:

The DC State Board of Education defines equity in education as ensuring that every student, inclusive of race, religion, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic standing, immigration status, and disability status, has the supports and resources to be successful in school. We believe these supports and resources must be child-centered, evidenced-based, and reflective of the social-emotional and academic needs of the student.

Progressing toward the goal of success for every student and reducing disparities will include monitoring student progress on standardized assessments and relevant academic and non-academic measures included in the ESSA STAR Framework and Report Cards.

By pursuing multiple measures of accountability, this system will hold all schools, school leaders, and staff to the same high expectations for progress and success for all students.

The desired outcome will be that all DC students will graduate from high school fully prepared for college and career opportunities, as engaged and active residents who are prepared to thoughtfully participate in society.

SBOE Adopts #DCGradReqs Recommendations

Task force members at the final meeting

This month, the State Board unanimously adopted the recommendations of its High School Graduation Requirements Task Force. The Board approved a resolution which sent the recommendations to OSSE for consideration. OSSE will review the recommendations expressed in the report and will continue to work with the Board on policy changes that may stem from those recommendations.

Task force members reached consensus on the following recommendations for the consideration of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to put forward into regulatory policy:

  • Provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate they have mastered course content for world language and mathematics in lieu of taking the course.
  • Reduce the number of required community service hours from 100 to 50.
  • Create a personalized learning plan for each public school student in the District, and revisit this plan in elementary, middle, and high school to ensure the student is on track to graduate.

Read the Resolution

Student Advisory Committee Report

Members of the 2017-18 Student Advisory Committee.

Members of the 2017-18 Student Advisory Committee.

At this month’s public meeting, Student Representatives Tallya Rhodes (H.D. Woodson High School) and Tatiana Robinson (Frank W. Ballou High School) along with members of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) presented a final report to the Board for consideration. The SAC met eight times over the course of the 2017-18 school year and selected two key topics that the SAC feels can be changed or improved in the District’s public schools. The proposals submitted by the SAC focused on college readiness and equal access to educational opportunity in the District. Working in two teams, SAC members developed a peer-to-peer mentoring program for District students and built a resource website for students looking for guidance and insight into college and career opportunities.

Read the Report

ESSA Task Force Continues Work on Report Card Design

Earlier this month, the ESSA Task Force met for its tenth meeting since August 2017. Representatives from OSSE updated task force members on the design of the new citywide school report card. To design a report card tool that’s helpful for parents and families, we need your help! Help spread the word to your networks by hosting an in-person session. All of the materials you need to host a successful session are available online at this engagement site. The report card is an important part of DC’s responsibilities under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and will debut in December 2018.

The Task Force will meet again on Tuesday, June 5.

Task force members during this month’s meeting

Task force members during this month’s meeting

Learn More

SBOE Honors John Stone III & Eastern Health and Medical Sciences Academy

This month, the SBOE recognized John Stone III on his recent retirement. Our Ward 6 representative, Joe Weedon, introduced the ceremonial resolution honoring Mr. Stone’s outstanding contributions to preparing District students for careers as skilled healthcare professionals. Mr. Stone worked with students at the Eastern High School Health and Medical Sciences Academy through their Business Advisory Council for over two decades, including the past ten years as the organization’s treasurer.

Mr. Stone and members of the Eastern High School Health and Medical Sciences Academy Honored at May Public Meeting

Mr. Stone and members of the Eastern High School Health and Medical Sciences Academy Honored at May Public Meeting

Read the Resolution

SBOE in the Community

In May, SBOE members criss-crossed the District visiting DCPS and charter schools, attending community events, and participating in important policy summits.

  • Karen (Ward 7 / President) lauded District teachers for their exceptional contributions at the Gold Standard of Excellence Awards.
  • Jack (Ward 2 / Vice President) honored parents, families, and the LGBTQ community at the PFLAG 45th Anniversary Reception.
  • Ruth (Ward 3) attended #FirstFridays at Rocketship Rise Academy and visited the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum.
  • Ashley (At-Large) and Joe (Ward 6) were up early to join District students at the Bike to School Day event.
  • Markus (Ward 8) joined Councilmember Trayon White and members of the community to help along safe passage routes near Ballou High School.
  • Ruth (Ward 3) and Joe (Ward 6) joined SBOE staff during May school visits to School Without Walls and Center City Shaw.
  • Laura (Ward 1) participated in the citywide PAVE Parent Policy Summit on education.
  • Joe (Ward 6) joined students, District employers, and partners at Eastern High School’s College and Career Day.

The State Board looks forward to continuing our engagement with the community throughout the month of June!

At-Large Representative Ashley Carter, Policy Fellows Kit Faiella and Abby Ragan, Administrative Support Specialist Dyvor Gibson, and Ward 6 Representative Joe Weedon at Bike to School Day 2018

At-Large Representative Ashley Carter, Policy Fellows Kit Faiella and Abby Ragan, Administrative Support Specialist Dyvor Gibson, and Ward 6 Representative Joe Weedon at Bike to School Day 2018

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Texas 8th-Grader Karthik Nemmani Wins 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Texas 8th-Grader Karthik Nemmani Wins 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Karthik Nemmani of McKinney, Texas, has been declared winner of the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Although Karthik, 14, didn’t win his regional spelling bee nor his county bee, he withstood the pressure of 18 rounds of back-to-back spelling in Thursday night’s finals at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md., where he correctly spelled “koinonia” (Christian fellowship or communion, with God or, more commonly, with fellow Christians).

“I knew how to spell it the moment I heard it,” Karthik exclaimed shortly after winning the competition.

The soft-spoken Karthik, who entered the competition through a newly-instituted “wild card” program, snared the first-place $40,000 cash prize from Scripps, as well as other perks including a $2,500 prize from Merriam-Webster and a trip to New York City to appear on ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”

Second-place honors went to Naysa Modi,12, of Dallas, who learned that just one letter made the difference in her being awarded the grand prize. Instead, she took home a $30,000 cash prize after misspelling “Bewusstseinslage” — a German-derived word meaning “a state of consciousness or a feeling devoid of sensory components” — for which she left out the second “s.”

Karthik, an 8th-grader who admitted not knowing about nine words in the finals, was complimentary of his final-round foe, calling Naysa “a really, really good speller.”

Jah'Quane Graham

[/media-credit] Jah’Quane Graham, an 11-year-old student from the U.S Virgin Islands, seen here with parents Warren and Jamina Graham, fell short of the final round of the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“She deserved the trophy as much as I did,” he said. “I got lucky.”

He added that having friends like Naysa in the competition helped.

“I guess [they] gave me a little more confidence,” Karthik said.

The field for this year’s bee, with 516 spellers ages 8 to 15 from the United States and several countries, was the largest in its 91-year history.

Washington Informer-sponsored spellers Noah Dooley, Robert Foster and Simon Kirschenbaum didn’t make it to the finals and neither were immediately available for comment.

However, as a first-time Scripps participant, 11-year-old Jah’Quane Graham from St. Croix, U.S Virgin Islands, also missed out competing in Thursday and Friday’s rounds. Yet, he smiled good-naturedly, saying he still enjoyed the participation.

“I was glad I got the chance to be in the national bee,” he said. “I practiced spelling a lot of words but didn’t get in the final rounds [Wednesday] which disqualified me from further participation. But I plan to keep entering until I can’t be in it anymore. Best of all, I got a free trip to Washington, D.C., and I can’t wait to see the White House.”

WASHINGTON, DC: Final Update on Report Card Design at ESSA Task Force Meeting

WASHINGTON, DC: Final Update on Report Card Design at ESSA Task Force Meeting

Friday, June 1, 2018
Student Advocate Presents Q3 Report at Working Session

Washington, DC – On Tuesday, June 5, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) will hold its next Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Task Force meeting at 6:00 p.m. in Room 1117 at 441 4th St NW. Representatives from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) will provide a final update on the proposed design of the new citywide school report card. Task force members will then break out into committee work related to leadership, academic rigor, school resources and funding equity, and school environment.

Members of the public may attend and observe all task force meetings, but are not permitted to speak or participate during these sessions. Individuals and representatives of organizations may submit written testimony or information for consideration by the task force by emailing The task force meeting will be streamed live via Periscope for those community members who are unable to attend in person.

On Wednesday, June 6, the SBOE will hold its monthly working session at 5:00 p.m. in Room 1114 at 441 4th Street NW. During this working session, the Office of the Student Advocate will provide a quarterly report on their progress assisting District families. Board members will also review proposed draft regulations for credit recovery from OSSE.

The Chief Student Advocate and her team help District families navigate the complex public education system. By supporting and empowering District residents, the Office of the Student Advocate strives to bring equal access to public education. In a continuation of its work with the Board on statewide credit recovery regulations, OSSE will present draft regulations for review. These regulations will be issued for public comment in the coming months.

Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe this working session. However, individuals and representatives of organizations may not speak or participate during the working session. Individuals and representatives of organizations may submit written testimony for consideration by the SBOE. Written testimony may also be submitted by email at

The draft agenda for the working session is below. Please note that the agenda may be altered, modified or updated without notice.

I.     Call to Order
II.    Announcement of a Quorum
III.   Student Advocate Quarter 3 Report
IV.   Credit Recovery Regulations
V.    Committee Updates
VI.   Other Discussion
VII.  Ombudsman Report
VIII. Executive Director’s Report
IX.   Adjournment

More information about the SBOE can be found at

Parents of Students with Intellectual Disabilities Fight for Inclusion

Parents of Students with Intellectual Disabilities Fight for Inclusion

By Frank Kineavy, Special to The Informer via DiversityInc

“Given the legal mandate, it is surprising that such a large proportion of students are consistently placed in restrictive settings,” said Matthew Brock, an assistant professor of special education at The Ohio State University who worked on the study. Brock’s study will be published in the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

During the ’90s and the first decade of the 21st century the education world has pushed for school districts to integrate students with intellectual disabilities into mainstream or regular education settings. By 2010, 18 percent of students with intellectual disabilities were spending at least 80 percent of their day in general education classes, but that has leveled off. In his report, Brock admitted that it is not realistic to have all students with disabilities be exclusively in general education classes, but he thinks “we need to find opportunities for all kids to spend some time with peers who don’t have disabilities if we are going to follow the spirit and letter of the law.”

Liza Long, a mental health advocate and author of “The Price of Silence: A Mom’s Perspective on Mental Illness,” in an op-ed compared fighting for the rights of children to being in a war. As tragic mass shootings in schools gained more prevalence in the American media, parents of neuro-typical students have been wary of their children being in the same classroom as students with both intellectual disabilities and behavioral disorders. But this practice only attaches an even greater stigma to students with intellectual disabilities.

According to Long, “What is the logical consequence of taking 100 students with behavioral and emotional symptoms between the ages of 12 to 21, 95% of whom are male, and putting them together in a program that will not allow them to earn a high school diploma or to learn to interact with neurotypical peers?

“In our society, too often the consequence is prison.”

So what is the answer? Schools must fight against the disorder by equipping themselves with proper treatment plans and early prevention strategies which could change the trajectory of a student’s future from a life of uncertainty and despair to becoming a productive member of society.

DeVos Gives Green Light for Schools to Blow Whistle on Immigrants

DeVos Gives Green Light for Schools to Blow Whistle on Immigrants

There is no sanctuary for children in President Donald Trump’s racist world, and now schools can be a tool for deporting children and parents.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Tuesday before the House Education and Workforce Committee that schools and local communities decide whether to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if they suspect their students are undocumented.

With reports presented at the hearing of parents being arrested by ICE outside their children’s schools, DeVos gave the same blanket response to every question:

“I would just say we are both a nation of laws and we are a compassionate people,” she said. “And I think it’s important that we follow the laws of the land, and if it’s important that laws be changed I encourage this body to do so.”

But one of those laws is a ruling from 1982’s Plyer v. Doe that guarantees the right to education for all immigrant children. And ICE was discouraged from entering schools previously by Homeland Security, but there are exceptions. Some schools have protected students assuring them that without legal pressure, they will not out the children and families.

DeVos’ remarks put no support behind communities trying to provide sanctuary.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) President Thomas Saenz said in a statement, “Her testimony … stems either from an astounding ignorance of the law or from an insupportable unwillingness to accurately advise local school districts. Either of these indicates a severe dereliction of duty.”

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who confronted DeVos with the issue at the hearing, released a statement saying: “Sec. Betsy DeVos is unqualified to lead the U.S. Department of Education, and her reckless statements regarding undocumented youth, not only conflict with the law, but will lead to fear and intimidation among immigrant students across the country.”

Betsy DeVos Approves ESSA Plans for Alaska and Iowa

Betsy DeVos Approves ESSA Plans for Alaska and Iowa

Education Week logoU.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has given the thumbs up to two more state Every Student Succeeds Act plans: Alaska and Iowa.

That brings the total number of states with approved plans to 44, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Still waiting for the OK: California, Florida, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah.

Alaska is working local interim tests into its accountability system, as a measure of school quality or student success for elementary schools. The state will also consider chronic absenteeism and literacy by 3rd grade. High schools will be measured on chronic absenteeism, “on track” freshmen, and how many students are eligible for “Alaska Performance Scholarships,” which are based on GPA, completion of a certain curriculum, and achieving a certain score on tests such as the ACT. The state also makes it clear it can’t ‘”coerce” a parent to make a child take standardized tests…

Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.

Source: Education Week Politics K-12

Banneker Students Finish Second in NASA Competition

Banneker Students Finish Second in NASA Competition

Banneker High School students Bria Snell, India Skinner and Mikayla Sharrieff of “S3 Trio,” finalists in the national NASA competition (Courtesy of In3)

After weeks of waiting for NASA to release the results of a youth competition, the national space agency has announced that the girls from Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in D.C. have come in at second place.

Mikayla Sharrieff, India Skinner and Bria Snell, who took part in the competition through D.C.’s recently launched Inclusive Innovation Incubator (In3) project, were the runners-up in the high school category of NASA’s Glog OPSPARC Challenge with their submission from H2NO to H2O. Their idea takes NASA technology designed for water purification and incorporates it into school water systems to remove impurities.

Banneker High School students Bria Snell, India Skinner and Mikayla Sharrieff of "S3 Trio," finalists in the national NASA competition (Courtesy of In3)Banneker High School students Bria Snell, India Skinner and Mikayla Sharrieff of “S3 Trio,” finalists in the national NASA competition (Courtesy of In3)

The eight national finalists for the youth competition were announced in April. The Banneker girls, who calls themselves “S3 Trio,” was the only all-female, all-Black team among the finalists.

But their achievement was not without controversy. Once public voting was opened, the NASA website was bombarded with racist comments against the girls after it was hacked by 4Chan, a well-known hacking group that uses negative language and tampering to assault web activity.

Nevertheless, the final decision on which team would be the winner was based on NASA’s scientific rubric. The winning team, from Cormnando High School in Henderson, Nevada, won a $4,000 stipend to visit NASA Goddard for a workshop and awards ceremony in their honor.

For its part, In3 says it respects the process and the outcome. The incubator hopes that participation of the Banneker team in the challenge has sparked interest for other non-traditional groups to enter future challenges.

The Banneker team and the In3 staff see a bright side from the results.

“We are elated that the In3 Team, India, Bria & Mikayla placed second in the NASA OPSPARC challenge,” said Aaron Saunders, CEO of In3. “As first-time participants, this is an amazing accomplishment. We salute NASA for their outreach to students interested in STEM education.”

When the hacking incident was uncovered, the work of S3 Trio received national and local attention. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that she would give the Banneker team $4,000 to continue work on their project. A GoFundMe campaign was launched to support funding a college education for the three 11th-graders.

So far, the campaign has raised nearly $25,000 of its $30,000 goal, with renowned television executive Shonda Rhimes donating $14,500.

Saunders said the team of Bria, India and Mikayla shows what In3 can do.

“Their accomplishments are the result of access, support and innovation to the community,” he said. “India, Bria and Mikayla are always winners in my eyes. Their future is written in CODE!”