Just News from Center X – August 14, 2020

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Growing number of voters oppose Trump demand to fully reopen schools

Nicole Gaudiano, Politico
A growing majority of voters oppose the Trump administration’s demand that schools and colleges fully open for in-person instruction, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. In the survey of nearly 2,000 registered voters, 59 percent said they oppose fully reopening K-12 schools for the beginning of the academic year. Those numbers are up from polling last month that showed 53 percent opposed.

Opening Schools Safely in Light of COVID-19 | UCLA Experts in Conversation [Video]

Howard Blume, Georgia Lazo, Tyrone Howard, Nava Yeganeh, YouTube
The collective expertise of education and health professionals was offered in a webinar on “Opening Schools in Light of COVID-19,” presented by the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies on Wednesday, Aug. 5. The inaugural event of the webinar series was moderated by L.A. Times education reporter Howard Blume, the panel included Georgia Lazo, principal, UCLA Lab School; Tyrone Howard, UCLA professor of education and director of the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families; and Dr. Nava Yeganeh, specialist in pediatrics and infectious disease, UCLA Health.

Practical Advice on Addressing Racial Justice in K-12 Schools: A Q&A with Gloria Ladson-Billings

National Education Policy Center
This summer’s racial justice protests were historic in scope and many involved were organizedby young people. The protests and the incident that sparked them (the brutal, filmed killing of an unarmed Black man named George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police) shifted public opinion dramatically and brought issues of race to the forefront of public discourse. In addition, evidence has continued to accumulate about racial disparities in COVID-19 con-traction, hospitalization and death rates. Regardless of whether schools resume in person or online this fall, issues of race and racial justice will almost certainly be of interest to many students. How, then, should teachers ef-fectively and appropriately address such concerns, especially as they pertain the systemic and historic nature of racial discrimination and stratification in our country? This summer’s protests, after all, were not a sudden and unprecedented occurrence but rather the latest chapter in a long history of discrimination and resistance. In the Q&A below, National Education Policy Center Fellow Gloria Ladson-Billings offers practical advice on ways in which the nation’s teachers—the vast majority of whom are White—can we effectively and appropriately address this summer’s protests and other timely issues related to race.

Language, Culture, and Power

Tom Cotton Wants to Stop Kids From Learning About American Racism

Rann Miller, The Progressive
In the middle of a global pandemic and a racial reckoning—with schools removing the names of racist namesakes, baseball players taking a knee to protest police brutality, and federal agents kidnapping protesters in Portland—Tom Cotton, a U.S. Senator from Arkansas, has decided to take up the cause of preventing The New York Times’ 1619 Project from being taught in America’s schools. The critically acclaimed 1619 Project, spearheaded by Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, is a compilation of essays that detail how slavery served as the economic, social, and political foundation on which the United States was built, and how that foundation continues to negatively impact Black people in the present.

About One-in-Four U.S. Hispanics Have Heard of Latinx, but Just 3% Use It

Luis Noe-Bustamante, Lauren Mora, and Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew Research Center
Pan-ethnic labels describing the U.S. population of people tracing their roots to Latin America and Spain have been introduced over the decades, rising and falling in popularity. Today, the two dominant labels in use are Hispanic and Latino, with origins in the 1970s and 1990s respectively. A chart showing most Latino adults have not heard of the term Latinx; few use it
More recently, a new, gender-neutral, pan-ethnic label, Latinx, has emerged as an alternative that is used by some news and entertainment outlets, corporations, local governments and universities to describe the nation’s Hispanic population.

‘Dear Racist’: How Rage-Writing Turned To Rage-Drawing For An Artist Who’s Fed Up With Anti-Asian Hate

Tracy Park, LAist
Most people of color in America recall their first encounter with a racist. I’m not sure my daughters will, seeing as one of them was still too young in late February of 2020 to consume solids. But I will remember it for them — playing in our local pocket park, the usual chaos of preparing the kids to leave, and then the parting shot by a young man hanging out with a couple friends by the park entrance that made me turn my head, wondering if I’d heard him correctly.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Children in foster care face deeper jeopardy during the coronavirus pandemic

Lenette Azzi-Lessing, The Conversation
The stress and isolation caused by job losses, school closings and limited social interactions, along with the sharp economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, have made life harder for everyone – especially people who already faced economic hardship. But the roughly 435,000 U.S. children in foster care have been hit especially hard. The nation’s foster care system, established to provide short-term care for kids whose families can’t safely meet their needs, has struggled to fulfill its mission.

Teaching Voting Rights in the Time of Coronavirus

Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, Rethinking Schools
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which promised “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Given the dizzying array of disruptions to our lives in this moment of pandemic, one could be forgiven for failing to register this anniversary. But the fight for voting rights enshrined in the 15th Amendment is still very much alive, and more critical now than ever — and needs to be taught to every student in this country. The coronavirus pandemic makes in-person voting dangerous, literally a potential death sentence. Indeed, when Wisconsin failed to postpone in-person voting in early April, infected people voted and likely infected others. And the people most vulnerable to coronavirus are also the most likely to already face disproportionate obstacles to voting: Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, the elderly, the poor, the incarcerated. Voting rights activists are calling for immediate implementation of measures that are basic, long overdue, and which will protect the health of all voters: extension of early voting, online registration options, universal mail-in-ballots. But Republican legislatures across the country balk, citing logistical barriers and the dangers of “voter fraud.” Voter fraud, as all recent reputable studies agree, is very, very rare in the United States.

Shadow schools? Class is in session — at the YMCA and roller rink

Katy Murphy, Politico
A roller rink. The YMCA. Houses of worship. All are creating makeshift classrooms this fall as school campuses remain closed around the country because of the pandemic. For working parents, it brings much-needed relief to the exhausting months since coronavirus began. But it also raises public health questions: If it’s not safe to open schools this fall, why would learning hubs be any different? The prolonged crisis has forced American communities into a late-summer frenzy to replace what schools provided on the ground, especially for children who don’t have a safe or quiet place to learn at home. While affluent parents are forming multi-family “pods” with nannies and educators helping their children at home, cities, nonprofits and businesses are racing to fill the void with programs that can look like parallel schools — without teachers.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

Students in Special Education, English-Learners May Go Back to Class First. Here’s Why

Corey Mitchell, Education Week
With COVID-19 cases spiking in states across the nation, the prospect of school in buildings is becoming unlikely for many more students. Yet some schools are prioritizing students with special education needs, such as students with disabilities and English-language learners, ushering them to the front of the line for in-person learning.

Numbers! [Audio]

Will Brehm, FreshEd
Today we take a critical look at numbers. Think about it: numbers are everywhere in education, from grades to impact scores to rankings. My guests today, Nelli Piattoeva and Rebecca Boden, have recently co-edited a special issue for the journal International Studies in Sociology of Education that looks at the “ambiguities of the governance of education through data” (read their open access introduction!).

Why Kamala Harris chose Howard University — and what she did on weekends there

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post
Kamala D. Harris, the California senator tapped by Joe Biden on Tuesday to join him on the Democratic presidential ticket, attended schools with majority-White populations from elementary school through high school. But when it came time to go to college, she was determined to have a different experience: She wanted to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). So in the early 1980s, she chose Howard University in Washington, D.C., then seen as the most prestigious HBCU, once called the “Black Harvard.”

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Introducing “Nice White Parents” [Audio]

Chana Joffe-Walt, Serial Productions and New York Times
We know American public schools do not guarantee each child an equal education. Two decades of school reform initiatives have not changed that. But when Chana Joffe-Walt, a reporter, looked at inequality in education, she saw that most reforms focused on who schools were failing: Black and brown kids. But what about who the schools are serving? In this five-part series, she turns her attention to what is arguably the most powerful force in our schools: White parents.

Amid Pandemic, Young Kids With Special Needs Missing Out On Services   

Claudia Boyd-Barrett, California Health Report
LOS ANGELES — Three-year-old Gavin Alcala was supposed to start preschool the day the Los Angeles Unified School District closed down. Gavin has a rare genetic disorder that has caused partial blindness, epilepsy and developmental delays. Before he turned 3, the toddler, who cannot walk or talk, attended a special day care and received therapy through the East Los Angeles Regional Center. But under California’s special education system, responsibility for serving children with disabilities typically switches to local school districts the day children turn 3.

Regional: Special Ed Funding Will Be More Equitable Under New State Law

Carolyn Jones, SF Gate
California’s method of funding special education will become streamlined and a little more equitable, thanks to a provision in the recently passed state budget. The 2020-21 budget fixes a decades-old quirk in the funding formula that had left vast differences between school districts in how much money schools received to educate special education students.

Public Schools and Private Dollars

Los Angeles is ground zero for the interpretation of California’s new charter schools law

Michael Burke, Edsource
With the upcoming school year already upended by the coronavirus pandemic, charter schools in Los Angeles are facing more uncertainty as they comply with a new state law. California’s new law imposing greater restrictions on charter schools, which took effect last month, faces pushback from charter schools in the district that’s home to the largest number of charter schools in the state.

OC School Reopening Reignites Debate Over Alternative Education, Charter Schools 

Brandon Pho, Voice of OC
Waving signs and American flags, demonstrators turned out earlier this week to the Santa Ana offices of the California Teachers Association on the heels of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision last month to restrict classrooms to largely virtual, distance learning settings. Many of the demonstrators who showed up to the teacher’s union building on Tuesday described themselves as parents who feel they’ve been left out of the decision making process around in-person versus virtual learning — a process they see as more responsive to bureaucratic and union interests than their kids.

Education Secretary Betsy Devos Noticeably Absent As Decisions On Reopening Schools Loom

Derek Major, Black Enterprise
While public schools discuss reopenings amid the coronavirus pandemic, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is sitting at home in Michigan. According to NBC News, DeVos owns a sprawling waterfront estate with an around-the-clock security detail paid for by taxpayers. At the same time, DeVos has been a hardline advocate of President Trump’s demand that schools reopen in full and in person, which could put millions of teachers and students at risk of infection. Many education advocates are looking at the education secretary to offer guidelines to public schools as they struggle with the immense challenges of reopening during a pandemic. However, DeVos told the Washington Examiner in June she’s been working remotely from home with a public schedule that has been mostly empty for the past several weeks, including no events on her public schedule for this week.

Other News of Note

‘It was empowering’: teen BLM activists on learning the ropes at school climate strikes

Jessica Murray and Aamna Mohdin, The Guardian
For 14-year-old Eleanor Woolstencroft, it was last year’s school climate strikes that empowered her to throw herself into the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in recent weeks. “[Without the climate strikes], I would have been a lot less confident, I wouldn’t have known how protests worked,” she said, adding that the strikes helped open her eyes to societal inequality. “There have been so many speakers at the climate strikes talking about racial injustice and how the climate emergency is going to affect immigrants and people in refugee camps first.” Woolstencroft is one of many BLM protesters who said they were first introduced to activism through environmental movements like the Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests and school climate strikes, which swelled to enormous size in 2019.