Just News from Center X – April 22, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

‘Disrespected’ and ‘Dissatisfied’: 7 Takeaways From a New Survey of Teachers

Madeline Will, Education Week

It’s not an easy time to be a teacher. In fact, teachers’ job satisfaction levels are at an all-time low, they’re working long hours for what they consider to be inadequate pay, and nearly half of the workforce is considering quitting. Those are some of the stark new findings from the Merrimack College Teacher Survey, a nationally representative poll of more than 1,300 teachers that was conducted by the EdWeek Research Center and commissioned by the Winston School of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack College. The survey, which was conducted between Jan. 9 and Feb. 23, was designed to replace the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, which ran for more than 25 years and ended in 2012. The results paint a picture of a disillusioned, exhausted workforce. Teachers say they’re under pressure with little support and increasingly high expectations.

History class is under the microscope. This National Teacher of the Year is diving into lessons of race and oppression.

Kalyn Belsha, Chalkbeat

Kurt Russell’s path to teaching was forged in his eighth grade math class. It was there he met Larry Thomas, an energetic and tenacious educator who was also Russell’s first Black male teacher. Russell liked that Thomas worked to connect with him over shared experiences, such as the fact that both of their families had migrated to Ohio from Alabama. He also admired how Thomas made math class relatable, like asking students to calculate an average using a famous basketball player’s performance statistics.

With positivity and dedication, principal aims to bring joy to school

Eliza Gray, Washington Post

After her interview with a reporter, Principal Amy Schott followed up with an email — punctuated with all-caps words, positive affirmations and smiley face emoji. “You were asking about the rhythm of the day and I totally forgot to tell you about my FAVORITE part of the day,” she wrote. “We start the day with a happy and fun song. Some days the music contains inspirational messages, other times it’s just to make everyone smile and dance.” Schott’s email revealed the positivity she brings to her work as principal of Henderson Elementary School in Prince William County, Va., an all-consuming job even before the coronavirus pandemic added to her never-ending list of tasks.

Language, Culture, and Power

To find more bilingual teachers, California needs to cast a wider net

Zaidee Stavely, Ed Source

After years of prioritizing English-only classes for students who spoke other languages at home, California is now pushing to expand bilingual programs for all students. But the state has a huge hurdle: It needs more bilingual teachers. In part, the low number of bilingual teachers is a lingering legacy of Proposition 227, which voters passed in 1998 and then repealed in 2016. Proposition 227 required English learners to be taught in English-only classrooms unless their parents signed a waiver. “As soon as Prop. 227 passed, a lot of higher education programs stopped offering bilingual credentials, especially in public institutions,” said Magaly Lavadenz, professor of English learner research and executive director of the Center for Equity for English Learners at Loyola Marymount University.

“Learning America: One Woman’s Fight for Educational Justice for Refugee Children” [Audio]

Public Radio Tulsa

Our guest is Luma Mufleh, founder of Fugees Family Schools, which is an organization with schools in both Georgia and Ohio — and with an expanding educational footprint. Her work aims to bring learning and schooling equity to refugee resettlement communities across America, and her new memoir describes this work in detail. The memoir is “Learning America: One Woman’s Fight for Educational Justice for Refugee Children.” Per a starred review in Publishers Weekly: “Mufleh…chronicles in this magnificent debut how a pickup soccer game transformed her life…. Most inspiring, though, is the powerful conviction with which [she] writes about supporting those, who, like her, are still fighting for their American dream.”

Dismantling medical racism starts in the classroom [Audio]

Nicholas St. Fleur, Stat News

Medical education is in the midst of a revolution. Students and educators, fueled by the same calls for justice that ignited the country’s racial reckoning in 2020, are demanding change from their institutions. They want their education ingrained in antiracism and hope that by acknowledging and teaching about bias and systemic discrimination in the medical field, the next generation of doctors will be better equipped to dismantle racism within health care.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

UCLA Center X Researchers Publish Graphic Novel, “Power On!”

John McDonald, UCLA School of Education and Information Studies

Computers and technology and our interactions with them impact almost all aspects of our lives. But often, these interactions take place on a playing field that is not neutral or objective and often biased.   To address the challenge, Jean Ryoo and Jane Margolis, long-time collaborators and UCLA Center X researchers, along with artist Charis JB, have teamed up to produce “Power On!” a groundbreaking graphic novel that shines a bright and innovative light on the issues of representation and participation in computer science and technology. Their work confronts a growing problem with significant consequences.  As the organization Public Citizen said in a 2021 report, “Algorithms systematically and disproportionately harm Black and Brown communities by restricting opportunity and access.”

Beyond recycled art projects: Why you should teach about climate change this Earth Day

Rebecca Woodard, Chalkbeat

When I taught fourth grade in New York City, I always assigned a classic Earth Day project, asking students to use recyclable items like empty toilet paper rolls and tin cans to create art. Children made bird feeders and wind chimes, and we planted seeds and took nature walks around our neighborhood. My goals were for students to learn about the importance of recycling and to develop an appreciation for nature. Now, as a parent of a kindergartener and second grader in Chicago Public Schools, I’ve worked on countless of these projects with my own children.

More Pandemic Fallout: The Chronically Absent Student

Jacey Forten, New York Times

After the coronavirus pandemic pushed his classes online in the spring of 2020, Isaac Mosley, now 18, got used to spending his time outside of school. Isaac, a public school student in Waco, Texas, finished his sophomore year remotely. During his junior year, he worked at a lumber company, where he discovered that he could still be counted as present at school if he carved out some time to check in online. When he became a senior last fall, his high school fully resumed in-person learning. But Isaac kept working, earning money to support himself and his family while racking up dozens of missed school days and hundreds of missed classes.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

White House seeks to expand early intervention for young children

Kara Arundel, K12 Dive

Increased access to early intervention services for infants and toddlers at-risk of developing delays and disabilities would help the Part C program under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act better serve underrepresented populations, according to a FY 2023 budget proposal justification from the White House. The request comes at a time when Part C enrollment has fallen, likely due to fewer well-child pediatrician visits during the first year of the pandemic. Experts in early childhood development, however, expect Part C enrollment over the next few years to rise to — or even exceed — pre-pandemic levels.

100 homeless L.A. community college students to get shelter, food and Wi-Fi

Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Community College District will fund a $1.5-million pilot program to provide housing for more than 100 students who are homeless or housing insecure. As the pandemic continues to exacerbate students’ basic food and housing needs, many have prioritized jobs over education, prompting the Board of Trustees to vote last week to green light the yearlong housing program for students in the nation’s largest community college district. State funds earmarked for student needs will pay for the initiative.

Debt-free college: California’s on the verge of spending over a half-billion dollars to help 360,000 students

Mikhail Zinshteyn, CalMatters

California is on track to remove any reason for its public university students to take out student loans. Known as Middle Class Scholarship 2.0, the “debt-free” program is slated to receive its first infusion of money this summer: a cool $632 million that lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom promised in last year’s state budget that they said they’d fund this year. If that money appears in the state’s budget this June, an anticipated 246,000 California State University students and 114,000 University of California students will receive this aid to help finance their educations starting this fall. Students at other California campuses, including community colleges, are ineligible.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Family Background Has As Much Impact On Education Now As It Did 100 Years Ago

Nick Morrison, Forbes

The influence of family background on children’s educational success is as big now as it was 100 years ago. And the gap between children from impoverished families and their more affluent peers has remained stagnant, according to a major new study. The findings suggest that a century of efforts to give all children an equal start and overcome disadvantages of birth have proved fruitless. The effect of family background on educational achievements ensures that inequalities persist through the generations, say researchers at York University, who analyzed data on 92,000 U.K. children born between 1921 and 2011 for the study.

COVID-19 Pandemic Pinches Finances of America’s Lower- and Middle-Income Families

Rakesh Kochar and Stella Sechopoulos, Pew Research

The financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 recession in the U.S. were endured mostly by lower- and middle-income families. From 2019 to 2020, the median income of lower-income households decreased by 3.0% and the median income of middle-income households fell by 2.1%. In contrast, the median income of upper-income households in 2020 was about the same as it was in 2019, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. Nearly one-in-five middle-income families report receiving unemployment benefits in 2020

Reconsidering the benefits of desegregation

Jill Barshay, Hechinger Report

Nearly 68 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that separate schools for white and Black students were “inherently unequal,” setting in motion more than 800 school desegregation court orders around the country. Most of these orders have since expired or are no longer enforced, but scholars, such as Berkeley economist Rucker Johnson, have argued that these lapsed efforts were enormously successful in improving the education and livelihoods of Black people who attended integrated schools. This scholarship and the journalism of Nikole Hannah-Jones have been powerful in reviving the argument for racial integration in schools, and they have inspired new desegregation efforts, such as those currently underway in New York City, where I live.

Democracy and the Public Interest

Four Ways School Choice Worsens Segregation


Done right, school choice can help desegregate schools, breaking the link between often-seg-regated  housing  and  school  enrollment.  But  this  will  not  happen  if  the  value  of  choice  is  placed above the goal of desegregation; the two goals need to work together. Increased op-tions must be combined with constraints that further student integration.However, this approach, known as “controlled choice,” is the exception, not the rule, in the United States. Most choice programs in our country do not take desegregation into account. In a recent brief published by the National Coalition on School Diversity, NEPC Fellow Casey Cobb of the University of Connecticut uses research to answer the question of whether school choice programs resegregate American schools. The answer, he finds, is a resounding “yes.”  But this can change.

Florida rejects 54 math books, claiming critical race theory appeared in some

Ayana Archie, NPR

The Florida education department has rejected 54 mathematics textbooks for its K-12 curriculum, citing reasons spanning the inclusion of critical race theory to Common Core learning concepts. The rejected books make up a record 41% of the 132 books submitted for review, the Florida Department of Education said in a statement. Of them, 28 were rejected because they “incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including [critical race theory],” the statement said.

Banning books and ideas in the classroom

Carol Jago, Journal of Oak Park

Powerful forces are gathering to demand control over what is taught, what students read, and what can and cannot be spoken. A recent report from PEN America called “Banned in the USA” reports an astonishing 1,586 book bans in 86 school districts and 26 states. Illinois is not one of these states. Yet. Overwhelmingly, the majority of books being targeted explore issues of race, racism, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Other News of Note

Abolition Democracy’s Forgotten Founder

Robin D. G. Kelley, Boston Review

Nearly every activist I encounter these days identifies as an abolitionist. To be sure, movements to abolish prisons and police have been around for decades, popularizing the idea that caging and terrorizing people makes us unsafe. However, the Black Spring rebellions revealed that the obscene costs of state violence can and should be reallocated for things that do keep us safe: housing, universal healthcare, living wage jobs, universal basic income, green energy, and a system of restorative justice. As abolition recently became the new watchword, everyone scrambled to understand its historical roots. Reading groups popped up everywhere to discuss W. E. B. Du Bois’s classic, Black Reconstruction in America (1935), since he was the one to coin the phrase “abolition democracy,” which Angela Y. Davis revived for her indispensable book of the same title.

Seoul Metro’s Long, Open, Ugly War Against Disabled Protesters

S.Y. Lee, (S)ubstack – Bahn

On any given day this past winter, Seoul Metro’s busiest stations have turned into a battleground. Protesters, spearheaded by the disability rights organization Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination (SADD), pack a Seoul Metro station platform on their choosing during a busy rush hour. Many are in wheelchairs, usually in the frontlines of the protests. In the more combative protests, some deliberately hold a train from moving to disrupt Metro service by either placing their wheelchair in the gap between the platform screen doors and the train door; at least one protester even have chained themselves to the train door.