Just News from Center X – Aug 16, 2019

Just News

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

‘This is not going to be easy’: El Paso students start school in shooting’s aftermath

Elissa Nadworny, NPR
On Monday, nearly 60,000 public school students in El Paso, Texas, will start the school year amid an air of mourning, fear and resilience. The first day of school in El Paso’s largest district comes more than a week after a mass shooting at a local Walmart left 22 people dead. According to a police affidavit, the suspect charged in the attack later said he had intentionally targeted “Mexicans.” “It’s not at all, in any way, a typical start of school,” says Juan Cabrera, the superintendent of the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD). “This is not going to be easy. This is going to be difficult and we are really taking this very seriously.”

When ‘Back to School’ Means Back to Mass-Shooting Fears

Alia Wong, The Atlantic
Phyllis Fagell, a counselor at the private K–8 Sheridan School in Washington, D.C., got an email from a colleague on Sunday that’s been on her mind ever since. The email itself didn’t contain any distressing information. It didn’t tell of a sick relative or a friend in need. It was a promotion for a new active-shooter training course at a nearby gym. What struck Fagell was in large part the email’s timing: The message arrived at the end of a particularly deadly weekend that included two high-profile shootings—and just a few weeks ahead of the new school year. “There’s something wrong,” Fagel said, “when I’m getting an email offering a free course … learning how to pack wounds and apply a tourniquet.”

Trump: Kids scared of going to school because of gun violence ‘have nothing to fear’

Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post
“They have nothing to fear.” That’s what President Trump said Friday when asked if he had any advice for students who are returning to class for the 2019-2020 school year and are afraid because of recent gun violence.

Language, Culture, and Power

Schools worry over new Trump rule on immigrants and federal benefits

Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week
A new Trump administration rule regarding immigrants’ use of federal benefits could have an indirect but significant impact on schools if it deters families from seeking assistance under certain programs, education advocates warn. The administration has released its final rule for what’s known as “public charge.” This is the process by which the U.S. government determines if an immigrant seeking to become a permanent resident or extend a visa is likely to become “primarily dependent” on federal benefits—such a determination can lead the government to deny permanent residency or the visa

When children at the border got compassion

Eric Fanning, The Atlantic
In the spring of 2014, a sudden surge of unaccompanied children began crossing the southern border from Mexico into the United States. I was the undersecretary of the Air Force at the time, and the Pentagon had been tasked with finding facilities and funds so that the Department of Health and Human Services could shelter children until they were reunited with family. It was my job to review the housing that the Air Force would provide. So, with a few others from the Pentagon, I flew down to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, to see for myself that these children were being cared for and protected.

‘Our parents are not criminals’: Children cautiously march in Canton after ICE raids

Sarah Fowler, Mississippi Clarion Ledger
One by one, little feet marched around the Madison County courthouse on the town square in Canton Sunday afternoon. The children of mostly Latino immigrants, about 50 in all, also held signs: “I will not sit in silence while my parents are taken away” and “I need my Mom and Dad…please!” At the urging of the children, Canton resident Mary Hicks, who teaches Sunday School at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton, said she organized the event. It came only days after Wednesday’s raids at seven poultry processing plants in six Mississippi towns, including Canton.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Four states now require schools to teach LGBT history

Sarah Schwartz, Education Week
Starting next school year, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history will be part of the curriculum in Illinois public schools. Democratic Governor J. B. Pritzker signed House Bill 246 into law Aug. 9, making Illinois the fourth state to mandate teaching LGBT history, after California, New Jersey, and Colorado. The Illinois legislation takes effect in July 2020.

New ethnic studies curriculum is getting backlash for being too PC. How should the course be taught? [AUDIO]

Stephanie Gregson, Jesse Gabriel, Bill Evers and Gaye Theresa Johnson, KPCC Airtalk
Last year, California Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside) introduced a bill that would mandate high school students to take ethnic studies as a requirement for graduation. That bill was vetoed under former Gov. Jerry brown, but a new draft is on its way to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk and the State Board of Education has issued an “Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum” to pair. The model curriculum, which was drafted by an advisory committee of teachers, academics and bureaucrats, is getting backlash for being too “PC.” The LA Times and Wall Street Journal were quick to write opinions expressing that although they feel ethnic studies to be an important course, the proposed curriculum is extremely left-leaning and filled with cumbersome jargon that would become a vehicle to argue politics rather than critical thinking about race, ethnicity and indigeneity.

Children receive free vaccines before new school year

Marc Cota-Robles, ABC7
The Saban Community Clinic has opened its doors Monday for a free vaccination drive before Los Angeles Unified School District schools begin a new school year next week. The clinic at the Hollywood Health Center offered everything from flu shots to vaccines for whooping cough. Responding to the debated health risk associated with vaccinations, Dr. Yanina Queen says it’s more dangerous not to do it.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

A new ranking system for L.A. schools? Board to consider 1-to-5 scale

Howard Blume, The Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Unified is considering its first-ever plan to provide a rating scale for public schools and privately run charters, a move aimed at giving parents and educators simple and accessible analysis of campus performance, documents reviewed by The Times show.
If it moves forward, the effort to rate schools on a scale of 1 to 5 would allow for a direct comparison of academic programs in a way that would benefit some schools and present others in an unflattering light. The proposal is already raising red flags among critics who say such simplified ratings would be unfair to some schools. “Schools are not restaurants and should NOT be rated!” said Juan Flecha, president of the school administrators union, in an email. “I think this is demoralizing and a slap to all of the dedicated employees of schools receiving one, two, and three stars.” The system, which could roll out as soon as October, appears to have lukewarm support from Supt. Austin Beutner and mixed support from Board of Education members.

Nationwide project provides free science materials to meet California’s new standards

Sydney Johnson, EdSource
While California students began taking a new statewide science test this past spring, school districts were still struggling to get teaching materials aligned to the state’s new science standards into classrooms. A new nationwide effort is trying to speed up that process by offering free, open source science materials to teachers and schools.

A rose in Oakland’s concrete [Audio]

Young Whan Choi, The Young and the Woke
In this episode, we meet Midori Butler – a student at Fremont High School in Oakland, California. She helps us contemplate the importance of teaching in the lives of students, particularly those who have faced many challenges in their lives. Midori has overcome a lot in her life to get to where she is. She’s put herself on a fast track to graduation by taking a college class this summer, which allowed her to skip her junior year of high school. But getting to this point in high school wasn’t a walk in the park. For much of her life, Midori was on her own and raising herself. Her experiences have given her a critical perspective on what qualities are important in a teacher, particularly those who work with students who have faced a lot of trauma in their lives. Through Oakland Unified’s summer internship program, Midori worked with the Talent Division to develop a teacher candidate screening form that reflects her perspective as a student on what makes a good teacher. Take a listen to Midori’s story – A Rose in Oakland’s Concrete.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Fighting school segregation, not in the American South, but in Sausalito

The Times Editorial Board, The Los Angeles Times
Charter schools in California tend to enroll large numbers of low-income black and Latino students. That’s not surprising; from the start, that was their main mission — to provide excellent educational options to students who had been let down by unambitious and poorly run district public schools. But in the tiny Sausalito Marin City School District, which enrolls students through eighth grade, something entirely different happened. A charter school called Willow Creek Academy in the Sausalito part of the district was allowed to enroll the vast majority of the district’s white students while another K-8 school was set up at an existing campus in less-affluent Marin City with a much larger percentage of low-income and minority students.

School segregation isn’t a big issue in L.A. — but it should be. N.Y. and Chicago are working to integrate their schools, and L.A. should, too. Gonez’s proposal is a good first step

Richard Kahlenberg, LA School Report
In the first Democratic presidential debate, the dispute between Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris over school desegregation pivoted to California. On the defensive for his past opposition to mandatory busing, Biden noted that as California’s attorney general, Harris did nothing to desegregate the state’s schools. The same could be said of most California school officials, including those in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Indeed, Superintendent Austin Beutner’s recent 15-page plan for improving schools makes no mention whatsoever of confronting the district’s high levels of racial and socioeconomic segregation.

Pediatricians group warns that racism is harmful to the health of children [AUDIO]

Michel Martin, NPR
Many people are still trying to come to grips with the violence that took place last weekend, in the case of El Paso, violence that was directed towards certain people because of their race or ethnicity. And even as adults are trying to come to grips with their own feelings, it can’t be overlooked that children are also taking all of this in – perhaps overhearing news about the shootings, perhaps listening to disparaging comments from the White House about certain people or groups, perhaps hearing friends or neighbors or members of their own families echoing those comments. And that’s got public health experts concerned.

Public Schools and Private $

Is that private school denying access to LGBTQ students?

Jeffrey Solochek, Tampa Bay Times
To continue receiving public money from Florida’s large and growing scholarship and voucher programs, private schools would have to disavow any policies barring gay, lesbian and transgender students and children with disabilities from enrolling, under a proposal filed by two Democratic state lawmakers. Two bills in the Legislature (SB 56 / HB 45) would add disability, sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of criteria a private school seeking voucher funding may not use in determining enrollment. The proposals land amid reports that some private schools receiving state dollars had rules saying they reserved the right to deny admission to certain students.

Inspire charter schools spread across California as critics warn of performance, financial concerns

Kristen Taketa, The San Diego Union Tribune
The Inspire network of 12 home charter schools is quickly spreading its reach across California as some are calling into question its educational, organizational and financial practices. At the heart of the Inspire network is a corporation whose CEO makes about $380,000 a year and who helped create the Inspire schools, which now pay his corporation 15 percent of the taxpayer funds they collect. Inspire has grown in part by advertising that parents can decide how to spend $2,600 or more a year toward their child’s education, with a teacher’s approval. Inspire operates on the idea that parents should have freedom to decide how their children are educated.

Behind UC’s ‘admission by exception’ side door: sports, money, diversity — and secrecy

Felicia Mello, CalMatters
Each November, tens of thousands of high school students file their applications to the University of California and an army of admissions staffers begins deciding who will be accepted to the nation’s most prestigious public university. Now, the Varsity Blues scandal has cast a spotlight on a once-obscure part of that admissions process. Known as “admissions by exception,” it gives campuses flexibility to admit up to 6% of each entering class from applicants who don’t meet UC’s minimum standards, but have a special talent or come from a disadvantaged background.

Other News of Note

Growing voters: Engaging youth before they reach voting age to strengthen democracy

Abby Kiesa, CIRCLE
The 2018 midterm election year was a historic high point in youth engagement. There was an immense amount of peer-to-peer organizing (like coordinating an event, helping peer register or talking to them about the election), particularly for a midterm cycle, which tends to have lower participation than a presidential election. There was also substantial activism like marches and school walkouts. As a result of all this political engagement, the national youth turnout rate doubled compared to the previous midterm in 2014, and youth turnout increased in every state for which data is available. However, like in many previous years, the turnout rate among 18- and 19-year-olds trailed that of their slightly older (ages 20-29) peers: we estimate that youth turnout in the 2018 elections was 28% nationally among all 18 to 29-year-olds, and 22% among 18 to 19-year-olds.1 It’s worth noting that, while we don’t know how many youth aged 18-19 voted in 2014 and therefore can’t say how much their turnout increased in detail, it’s likely to have jumped substantially given the increase in youth turnout (ages 18-29) overall: 13% in 2014 to 28% in 2018.