Just News from Center X – April 17, 2020

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Social distancing in a classroom? Newsom suggests major changes when schools reopen 

Howard Blume and Sonali Kohli, Los Angeles Times.
Although campuses are likely to reopen in the fall, the school day may unfold in starkly different ways, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday, suggesting staggered start times, “reconfigured” classrooms that allow for social distancing and some continuance of online learning. The governor said that physical distancing and other precautions against transmission of the coronavirus could remain in place for a lengthy period at schools after stay-at-home orders are lifted and California begins to gradually reopen.

What coronavirus and the CARES Act mean for school budgets

Rick Hess, Education Week
Nora Gordon, an economist at Georgetown University, is one of the nation’s leading scholars of federal education spending. She is also a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, nonresident fellow at the Urban Institute, and associate editor of Education Finance and Policy. I recently had the chance to talk with Nora about what the coronavirus and the CARES Act will mean for school budgets. Here’s what she had to say.

Pedagogy during a pandemic [PODCAST]

Armand Doucet with Will Brehm, FreshEd
Most children are now out of school because of the pandemic. How should we think about teaching and learning during the crisis? How can we ensure the basic needs of students continue to be met out of school? And can digital learning teach the whole child?

Language, Culture, and Power

Harvard PhD students track anti-Asian aggression on crowdsourced map

Diti Kohli, The Boston Globe
A woman screamed “Chinese Virus” in Kendall Square. A man in Cambridge pointed to the dirt splayed on his shoe bottom and taunted “China, China” at a masked passerby. An Uber driver canceled a ride after seeing that the customers waiting on the curb were of Asian descent. These are just three of dozens of anti-Asian harassment complaints pinned on a new crowdsourced Google “My Map.” Created recently by two Harvard University PhD students, the map displays more than 40 markers, each representing a complaint of verbal or physical aggression in Boston or New York City.

‘Why do I want digital experiences for my kids if it looks like this?’ — Experts fear parent backlash against online learning

Tim Newcomb, LA School Report
School districts countrywide are learning their own lessons right now, all about distance learning. A fluid situation for most, messy for some, nonexistent for others — no matter what each district learns right now, it will have a lasting impact on the future of online education. “It is certainly complex,” says Michael Horn, a co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. “When families need to be served at home, it can be incredibly difficult, but it can be incredibly important. Students and families are relying on these resources, frankly not just for their learning, but so they can get by on a day-to-day basis.”

Justice in America: School to prison pipeline (PODCAST)

Judith Browne Dianis with Josie Duffy Rice and Derecka Purnell
What is the school to prison pipeline, and how is it affecting children across America? On this episode of Justice in America, Josie and her co-host, Derecka Purnell, talk to Judith Browne Dianis, the executive director of the Advancement Project. They’ll discuss the forms that the school to prison pipeline takes, and the effects it has on poor, black, and brown kids in particular.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

School meals: Court strikes down Trump rollback of nutrition standards

Evie Blad, Education Week
The Trump administration violated federal rules when it rolled back heavily debated nutrition standards for school meals programs in 2018, a federal court ruled Monday. The U.S. District Court in Maryland vacated the rule changes and sided with plaintiffs, children’s health advocacy groups that had argued the U.S. Department of Agriculture violated the Administrative Procedures Act, which agencies must follow in changing federal regulations. That’s because the final rule the USDA issued—which allowed higher sodium levels in school meals and eliminated a requirement for more whole-grain items—differed too signficantly from the version it put out for public comment. That earlier draft would have delayed those regulations and allowed some exemptions, rather than eliminating the standards altogether.

What teachers need to make remote schooling work

Kristina Rizga, The Atlantic
San Francisco’s Mission High School is one of the most diverse in the nation. Its roughly 1,100 students hold at least 47 different passports; more than 60 percent of students are considered low income. Even before the coronavirus threw the nation into an economic crisis, most of Mission High’s students already struggled with access to basic needs—health care, housing, food, or access to the internet or computers—in a city among the nation’s wealthiest. Pirette McKamey, an English teacher of 27 years and Mission’s first-year principal, estimates—based on two weeks of calls and emails to Mission High families after San Francisco’s public schools shut down on March 16—that close to 30 percent of students don’t have a computer at home or access to high-quality internet.

One California district’s guide for teachers and students in the world of distance learning

Ali Tadayon, EdSource
School districts across California are working out agreements with teachers unions about distance learning, as the state moves to remote classwork amid the coronavirus pandemic. The agreement between the West Contra Costa Unified School District in Richmond and its teachers’ union offers a look into how districts will be carrying out distance learning for the rest of the school year, although there are expected to be significant variations from district to district. The agreement underscores the complexity and challenges of providing online learning to an extent never attempted before in California.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

No L.A. Unified student will get an ‘F’ on spring report card

Howard Blume and Nina Agrawal, The Los Angeles Times
No students will receive failing grades on their spring report cards, Los Angeles school officials announced Monday, taking an assertive step on student assessment decisions confronting school systems across California. The bold move is the latest decision to reshape education in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered California schools and forced distance learning for about 6.2 million students. Actions have included canceling “mandatory” standardized tests, relaxing college admission requirements and turning Advanced Placement tests into take-home exams.

Much shorter Advanced Placement tests welcomed by some students, criticized by others

Larry Gordon, EdSource
Brandon Tran, a senior at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, has been preparing all school year to take four Advanced Placement exams this spring. His goal was to get scores high enough to earn a semester’s worth of college credits, finish college early and save on tuition money that he could then apply to graduate school. But his plans, like those of an estimated 2.8 million students across the country in AP classes, now have to adapt to significant changes in the AP testing program due to the Coronavirus crisis.

DeVos backs down, agrees to process student loan forgiveness applications

Adam S. Minsky, Forbes
In a victory for student loan borrowers, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has agreed to process long-stalled applications for student loan forgiveness. Student loan borrowers had submitted nearly 170,000 applications for student loan forgiveness pursuant to the Borrower Defense to Repayment program. The program was established by the Obama administration to provide relief to students who were defrauded by predatory schools. When DeVos took over the U.S. Department of Education in 2017, however, she tried to rewrite the rules governing the program, substantially weakening it in the process. Student loan borrowers fought back with multiple lawsuits.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Lower-income parents most concerned about their children falling behind amid COVID-19 school closures

Juiliana Manasce Horowitz, Pew Research Center
With K-12 schools now closed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia because of the coronavirus outbreak, most parents with children in elementary, middle or high school who say their children’s school is currently closed (83%) say they are at least somewhat satisfied with the way their children’s school has been handling instruction during the closures. Still, roughly two-thirds (64%) express at least some concern about their children falling behind in school, with 28% saying they are very concerned, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Lower-income parents express more concern than those in higher-income groups about their children potentially falling behind.

How coronavirus school closures could cause ‘historic academic regression’

Erin Richards, USA Today
At 8:40 a.m., a mindfulness coach at a private preschool in Miami used Zoom to greet toddlers lounging on carpets, beds and couches at home. Their faces lit up when she sang and said she loved them. At 8 a.m. in Nashville, Tennessee, charter school teachers met via Zoom while their principal beamed them onto Facebook Live. He reminded students to fill out the daily online survey about their well-being. “Do you feel safe at home?” is a question teachers monitor closely. At 8:30 a.m. in a Milwaukee suburb, high school students logged on for their first practice day of remote learning. They wouldn’t be expected to be online every day and working through new material until this week.

‘There’s a huge disparity’: What teaching looks like during coronavirus [AUDIO]

Cory Turner, Diane Adame and Elissa Nadworny, NPR
They thought they’d have more time, teachers say. Many couldn’t even say goodbye. “Everything happened so quickly,” remembers Hannah Klumpe, who teaches seventh grade social studies in Greenville, S.C. “Friday I was at school, talking to my students, and they’re like, ‘Do you think they’re going to close school?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, not right now!’” That weekend, South Carolina’s governor announced the state’s schools would close immediately, including Klumpe’s Berea Middle School, and she hasn’t seen her students in-person since. Her story is not uncommon.

Public Schools and Private $

DeVos makes new charter school grants from troubled fund

Peter Greene, Forbes
The Charter Schools Program (CSP) is a long-running federal grant program aimed at helping the charter school industry with new start-ups and expansions. It has had some serious problems with waste and fraud in the past, but Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Friday that CSP will be awarding$65 million in grants to thirteen charter management organizations—some of which have had problems of their own.

Protect Our Public Schools Condemns DeVos-Funded Group’s Dangerous Protest in Lansing, Michigan

PRN Newswire
Protect our Public Schools strongly condemned financial support from U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her family for one of two groups that organized today’s “Operation Gridlock.” The event was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the DeVos-backed Michigan Freedom Fund to defy and protest prudent stay-at-home, public health orders from Governor Gretchen Whitmer. According to organizers and supporters of both groups, it was deliberately designed to gridlock streets around the Governor’s residence. However, the protest took place within a mile of a hospital treating patients of coronavirus, which has sickened 30,000 and killed more than 1,700 in Michigan alone.

Other News of Note

At 90, Dolores Huerta is not done inspiring labor activists

Nicole Froio, Zora Medium
Dolores Huerta turns 90 today and has been engaging in all kinds of activism since 1962. Born in Dawson, a mining town in New Mexico, Huerta was the second child of Juán Fernandez, a farmworker, miner, and first-generation immigrant, and Alicia Chávez, who owned a small hotel. After her parents divorced, Huerta grew up in Stockton, California, where she watched her mother generously give to the community by providing free or affordable housing to low-wage workers and engaging in community affairs. After training to be a teacher, Huerta was drawn to labor activism because she witnessed economic inequality in her elementary school classroom. Huerta believed she could do more for farmworkers by organizing a union to fix income inequality than teaching the farmworkers’ children.