Just News from Center X – April 15, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Pencil Cases and Air-Raid Sirens: School at War for Ukraine’s Children

Megan Specia & Maria Varenikova, New York Times

Across Ukraine, kindergartens have been bombed, elementary schools have been converted into shelters and in some cities like Mariupol, their grounds have even become makeshift graveyards. As the war tears at the social institutions of the country, education has been one of the major casualties. Parents, teachers and school administrators are scrambling to provide classes for the 5.5 million school-age children who remain in the country, as well as for thousands of others who have fled to other countries.

School librarians speak out against book bannings and censorship [AUDIO]


School librarians have tough jobs. And in 2021, an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books made it even tougher, according to the American Library Association. Most of these targeted books were by or about Black or LGBTQ people. Host Anthony Brooks speaks with Jennisen Lucas, the district librarian for public schools in Cody, Wyoming, and president of the American Association of School Librarians.

What Chicago schools got right about parent outreach amid the pandemic

Mila Koumpilova, Chicago Chalkbeat

In Chicago and beyond, the pandemic strained the ties between schools and families like never before: Some students tuned out virtual instruction, disengaging from learning completely. Once students were back in the classroom, parents craved information and reassurance about how schools were keeping their children safe amid surge after COVID surge. But the upheaval also forced schools to rethink how they reach out and engage with families, in some cases inspiring new ways of keeping them in the loop. A new study by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research zeroes in on what worked well in school-family communication during the outbreak — strategies worth sticking with even after COVID’s disruptions recede.

Language, Culture, and Power

UC considers imposing criteria for California’s high school ethnic studies classes

John Fensterwald, EdSource

An influential committee of University of California faculty that oversees academic admissions requirements is proposing that UC set criteria and content for high school ethnic studies courses similar to what the State Board of Education rejected two years ago as divisive.  If adopted, the requirements would circumvent both a state law and the ethnic studies model curriculum that the state board adopted in March 2021. Both give local districts the authority to decide what should be taught in ethnic studies. Instead, one of many course goals that UC would require would be to prepare students to “address and dismantle systems of oppression and dehumanization in the many forms in which they appear.” Another would be to prepare students to “recognize and interrogate power and oppression at ideological, institutional, interpersonal, and internalized levels.”

A Chinese student Americanized her name to fit in. It took more to feel she belonged [AUDIO]

Sequoia Carrillo & Anya Steinberd, NPR

Aria Young didn’t become Aria Young until she was 16 years old. She was moving to Lancaster, Pa., from her home in Shanghai for high school. Her Chinese name, 杨沁悦, or Yáng Qìn Yuè, was “too hard for the English tongue to pronounce,” Young explains in “What’s in a Name,” her entry for NPR’s College Podcast Challenge. Judges selected Young’s audio story as the grand-prize winner from 10 finalists.

‘When You Learn, You Don’t Return’: How Education in Prison Reduces Recidivism

Christopher Blackwell and Nick Hacheney, The Progressive

It was in the ninth grade when I, Chris, decided to call it quits. I felt dumb in class never seemed to be able to follow what the teacher was saying. To cover up how behind I was, I’d crack jokes, usually at the teacher’s expense. This would usually wind me up in the principal’s office on my way to another suspension. One day, I got tired of the theatrics and left. It wasn’t long before the juvenile detention center was my second home; and soon after that, the penitentiary. When I was sentenced to forty-five years in prison for taking another person’s life, I never thought I’d earn a college degree or be successful in any way. I thought all I would ever be is a prisoner whom no one cared about.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Tight labor market hits after school

Ariel Gilreath, Hechinger Report

The last bell of the school day is when the work truly begins for staff at the Wisconsin Youth Company. But in the last few months, that work has been complicated by staffing challenges.

Kids in about two dozen elementary schools across Dane County and Waukesha County in Wisconsin empty out of classrooms at the end of the day and make their way to gyms, cafeterias or media centers. For the next few hours, they are in school but they are also done learning for the day. Unlike some after-school programs, Wisconsin Youth Company does not focus on academic tutoring or instruction. Instead, children can relax, play, finish homework, or listen to music.

Congressional Testimony on SEL and Whole Child Education

Linda Darling-Hammond, Learning Policy Institute

The emerging science of learning and development makes it clear that a whole child approach to education is essential to support students’ academic achievement and healthy development. On Wednesday, April 6, Linda Darling-Hammond joined others in addressing the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies to discuss the federal role in supporting supporting social-emotional learning and whole child approaches to education.

A One-Woman Rescue Squad for Homeless Students

Jason DeParle, New York Times

By the time she reached school on a recent Monday morning, Norma Mercado had already driven four homeless children to class, one from 30 miles away, having spent the weekend taking a group of homeless students on a college tour and two homeless siblings to buy clothes.

Inside her office, a student was waiting, boiling with rage. Louisa Perez’s ex-best friend was insulting her on Facebook, and Ms. Perez, 17, who until recently had been living in a car, considered the betrayal the latest in a life of violated trust. “That’s why I feel like I can’t be close to nobody — because this always happens!” she sobbed. Friends were urging her to fight.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

The American Rescue Plan’s Child Care Test Run

Bryce Covert, American Prospect

For Julie Clark, who runs the CAST Preschool and Childcare Center in Woodbury, Connecticut, the pandemic has “been an expensive time.” The center serves 150 children from ages six weeks to five years, as well as 50 before- and after-school students. Clark’s program closed for four months in early 2020, and when omicron hit this winter, she had to close down classrooms as children and staff got sick. She decided not to charge parents during the closures but still paid her teachers to keep everyone happy. “It was not good for my finances,” she said.

Student Loans are a Burden for Black Educators. Cancel Them.

Paige Oamek, In These Times

On April 5, the White House announced it is extending the pandemic-era pause on federal student loan payments through August 31. (It had been set to expire on May 2.) The development followed escalating calls for debt cancellation from teachers, students and advocates, including an April 4 protest put on by the Debt Collective, the first union of debtors. The Biden administration’s decision to extend relief was welcomed by advocates but fell short of meeting the demand for permanent loan forgiveness. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), for example, passed a resolution in March calling on President Biden to use his executive power to cancel student debt and ​“increase spending in our local community.”

10 facts about today’s college graduates

Katherine Schaeffer, Pew Research

Having a bachelor’s degree remains an important advantage in many sectors of the U.S. labor market. College graduates generally out-earn those who have not attended college, and they are more likely to be employed in the first place. At the same time, many Americans say they cannot afford to get a four-year degree – or that they just don’t want to. Here are key facts about American college graduates.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Has federal crisis spending for K-12 schools served its intended objectives?

Kenneth Shores & Matthew Steinberg, Brookings

In the space of just over a decade, the federal government has twice provided emergency fiscal stimulus to the public K-12 education system at a cost of nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars. First, in the wake of the Great Recession, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 distributed nearly $50 billion to schools via State Fiscal Stabilization funds. Second, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, $190 billion has been provided to schools via three legislative acts collectively referred to as Elementary and Secondary Schooling Emergency Relief funds.

How Ending Legacy Admissions Can Help Achieve Greater Education Equity

Carlos Moreno, ACLU

Higher education should be accessible to everyone — regardless of background or socioeconomic status — but unfortunately, that’s not the reality for all students. For many first generation, low-income, Black, Latinx, and other students of color, the road to college is filled with roadblocks that are deeply rooted in our country’s history of systemic inequity. This path for many of these students begins with poorly funded urban schools, high rates of poverty, inadequate test preparation, unaffordable tuition, and a general lack of guidance available to students applying for financial aid — just to name a few. But the barriers to admission don’t end there.

Segregated schools: A lingering effect of slavery and an argument for reparations

Jesse Holland, MSNBC

In the heady days after the Civil War, Black Californians came together in Sacramento to debate their state’s refusal to allow African Americans, whether formerly enslaved or born free, to testify in court. But equally important as the right to be seen and believed by the courts, they said, was the right to have their children educated, a right that state officials in California had been actively fighting against. “By the present unjust and partial laws, many of our children are growing up in ignorance, deprived of all advantages of education,” the attendees at the California State Convention of Colored Citizens said in statement to Californians.

Democracy and the Public Interest

Why is the Charter Lobby So Upset About Biden’s Proposed Regulations?

Kevin G. Welner, NEPC

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been observing the conspicuous hand-wringing among prom-inent  charter  school  advocates.  They’re  expressing  outrage  that  the  Biden  Administration  is trying to rein in some past abuses and problems within the charter sector. This aggrieved reaction might make sense if the regulations were designed to harm the sector, but the proposals are in fact quite modest and will even help charters thrive in the future.Understanding the outrage is difficult. This is in part because the Biden Administration already sided with charter advocates by resisting calls to eliminate the federal Charter School Program or decrease its funding. I will not here rehash the arguments against char-ter  sector  expansion,  but  those  arguments  tend  to  focus  on  segregation, fraud  and  waste, self-dealing  and  private  enrichment, harm  to  local  public  school  districts, exaggerated claims about performance, under-enrollment of students with special needs, and other access and push-out issues. Issues.

Inglewood shuts down school, parents say admin isn’t thinking it all the way through [Audio]

Megan Jamerson, KCRW

Taj Powell bought a house in Morningside Park in Inglewood partly, he says, because it was right down the street from Warren Lane Elementary School, where his 5-year-old son could start kindergarten in the fall. But now his family faces an uncertain future because the school is set to close permanently in August. “My child literally could walk to this school, it’s the ideal scenario,” says Powell. “I have family in the neighborhood and it’s a community. Not having a school in it, it’s hard to imagine.” Warren Lane Elementary was built in 1948, not long after the development of well-kept bungalows that surround it in this predominantly middle-class Black neighborhood.

‘Educators are afraid,’ says teacher attacked for ‘Romeo and Juliet’ unit

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

Book banning in public schools is, according to new reports, at an all-time high as right-wing groups and Republican-led legislatures target works that address race, racism, gender, sexuality and other issues they don’t want students to discuss in classrooms. It isn’t the first time the country has gone through book banning, but, according to the American Library Association’s annual report on book censorship and a PEN America analysis members of the book banning movement have waged in recent months more challenges to books in schools than ever before.

Other News of Note

As a seventh-grade LAUSD student, his dream took flight, all the way to JPL and to Mars

Steve Lopez, LA Times

You may have seen the story about the Psyche mission, in which NASA is preparing to launch a spacecraft that will travel to an asteroid in search of information that might unlock some of the mysteries of the universe. But I’m going to tell you the story of a different journey. It’s about how Luis Dominguez, the son of immigrants from Mexico and Honduras, traveled from South Los Angeles to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he helped build the Psyche spacecraft.

Scientists Risk Arrest to Demand Climate Action

Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American

Rose Abramoff drove from her home in Knoxville, Tenn., to the nation’s capital last week to chain herself to the White House fence. The climate scientist was among seven demonstrators arrested on April 6 (and later released). Their motivation: the dire warning that time is swiftly running out to meet the world’s climate goals, as detailed in a major report last week from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Two days later, Abramoff was back — this time marching with a group of climate activists down I-395 at rush hour. The group was arrested again, but not before they’d stalled traffic on one of Washington’s busiest highways.