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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
Kassie Bracken, Mark Boyer, Jacey Fortin, Rebecca Lieberman and Noah Throop, New York Times
Schools across the country have been caught up in spirited debates over what students should learn about United States history. We talked to social studies teachers about how they run their classrooms, what they teach and why.
Sylvia Allegretto, Economic Policy Institute
Over the last 18 years, EPI has closely tracked trends in teacher pay. Over these nearly two decades, a picture of increasingly alarming trends has emerged. Simply put, teachers are paid less (in weekly wages and total compensation) than their nonteacher college-educated counterparts, and the situation has worsened considerably over time. Prior to the pandemic, the long-trending erosion in the relative wages and total compensation of teachers was already a serious concern. The financial penalty that teachers face discourages college students from entering the teaching profession and makes it difficult for school districts to keep current teachers in the classroom. Trends in teacher pay coupled with pandemic challenges may exacerbate annual shortages of regular and substitute teachers.
Lauren Camera, US News and World Report
One out of two school leaders say their stress level is so high that they are considering a career change or retirement, a new survey of principals shows – the latest damning statistic to bolster the projected exodus from the K-12 space as a third year of pandemic learning gets underway.
According to the survey, released by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, 38% of middle and high school principals are planning to leave in the next three years, 24% are planning to leave in the next two to three years and 14% are planning to leave within a year.
Language, Culture, and Power
Lisa A. Monroe, Black Perspectives
“Just what is critical race theory and what’s it doing in a nice field like education?” is a question on the minds of many Americans this year as they observed the spectacle of its excoriation in local school boards and exploitation in a heated gubernatorial campaign in 2021. Some might be surprised to learn that education researcher Gloria Ladson-Billings asked the question years ago and has answered it in academic articles and lectures throughout the course of her twenty-six-year career as a researcher and teacher-educator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Judging by the slate of pundits chosen to talk about critical race theory (CRT) in the media, none seems interested in asking experts like Ladson-Billings, who not incidentally is considered one of the pioneers of CRT in education.
Edna Bonhomme, The Nation
February marked the 10th anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death. Since the killing of the 17-year-old, the raw outpouring of public grief and rage in Black communities has created new—and at times discordant—social movements targeting racial discrimination. But there has also been a backlash in the struggle over how the US public should learn and remember its violent history.
Ileana Najarro, Education Week
Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, will be demolished. The school of nearly 600 mostly Hispanic students in 2nd through 4th grades is now known internationally as the site of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. But long before that, the school was a symbol of civic pride for Mexican American families. Before the 21 funerals, the headlines, investigations, marches, tears, and never-ending grief—it represented a legacy of activism for Mexican Americans’ access to quality education.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Jocelyn Gecker and Dylan Lovan, AP
For fourth-grader Leah Rainey, the school day now begins with what her teacher calls an “emotional check-in.” “It’s great to see you. How are you feeling?” chirps a cheery voice on her laptop screen. It asks her to click an emoji matching her state of mind: Happy. Sad. Worried. Angry. Frustrated. Calm. Silly. Tired. Depending on the answer, Leah, 9, gets advice from a cartoon avatar on managing her mood and a few more questions: Have you eaten breakfast? Are you hurt or sick? Is everything OK at home? Is someone at school being unkind? Today, Leah chooses “silly,” but says she struggled with sadness during online learning.
Ali Tadayon, EdSource
Egg white breakfast wraps, vegetarian ramen, gumbo, glazed carrots and organic cheeseburgers aren’t just trendy restaurant offerings — they’re on some of the breakfast and lunch menus at California schools. With an influx of state and federal funding aimed at expanding access to school meals, California districts are ramping up food production, upgrading menus and using more fresh, healthy ingredients than before.
Amy Zimmer, Chalkbeat New York
A serendipitous subway ride about 20 years ago led Michael Pantone from his acting career to teaching theater at a Brooklyn public school serving children with disabilities. On the No. 2 train, Pantone had run into an actor friend as she headed to direct an after-school theater program for middle school students. She invited Pantone, who was between acting gigs, to check it out. He went the next day and ended up assisting her.
Access, Assessment, Advancement
Meghan Brink, Inside Higher Ed
Picture this: you are a student parent attending a public college. You come from a low-income family, making less than $30,000 a year. Between attending class, studying and parenting duties, you manage to work 10 hours a week making minimum wage. Think you can still afford both tuition and childcare? According to a new report from the Education Trust and Generation Hope released today, across the U.S., a student parent from a low-income background (a household making less than $30,000 a year) who works 10 hours a week at minimum wage still cannot afford both childcare and college tuition at a public university in any state in the U.S.
Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect
For months, Biden has delayed making a decision. The back-from-the-dead negotiations with Joe Manchin deferred presidential action another few weeks while the White House did not want to rile deficit hawks. Now, an order on debt cancellation is imminent. It is likely to be capped at $10,000 per debtor, with income limits. The naysayers argue that even $10,000 is too much. They are wrong. One contention is that debt relief is a form of stimulus that the overheated economy doesn’t need. But there is currently a temporary moratorium on debt payments that cancellation will simply make permanent. So in terms of putting additional spendable money in the pockets of debtors, there’s no change (though at some point, temporary pauses would have to end).
Sequoia Carrillo, NPR
When he was 21, Stanley Andrisse hit rock bottom. “I was sitting in a courtroom facing 20 years to life and had this prosecutor telling me that I had no hope for changing,” Andrisse says. He was convicted on three felony counts and spent the next few years in a Missouri prison. He says his 21-year-old self could never have imagined his life today: Andrisse is now an endocrinologist, scientist and professor at Howard University’s College of Medicine. He has a Ph.D., an MBA, and a lab full of students who affectionately call him Dr. Stan.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
Sally Weale, The Guardian
The attainment gap between poorer pupils and their better-off class mates is just as large now as it was 20 years ago, according to a damning new report which says the coronavirus pandemic is likely to have increased the inequalities in education. The landmark study, based on research carried out for the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, found that disadvantaged pupils start school behind their better-off peers, and those inequalities persist through their school years and beyond – eventually having an impact on earnings.
Zach Hirsch, NPR
School districts across the country are trying to make classrooms more inclusive. But misinformation, sometimes spread by top elected officials, is fueling fears of a hidden agenda.
Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, LA Times
The Victor Valley Union High School District disciplined Black students more harshly than others and has agreed to rectify its history of discriminatory practices, the U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday. The report by the department’s Office for Civil Rights revealed one principal in the Inland Empire district told investigators that Black students are disciplined more because they are “loud” and it’s their “culture.”
Democracy and the Public Interest
Jonathan Zimmerman, Washington Post
In 1996, Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed urged his conservative legions to take over America’s public schools. “I would rather have a thousand school board members than a single president,” declared Reed, whose organization sought to bring America “back to God” via school prayer, Bible reading and bans on evolution instruction. Last year, former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon likewise called on right-wing Americans to capture the schools. “The path to save the nation is very simple — it’s going to go through school boards,” Bannon proclaimed. But Bannon made no mention of God or religion; instead, he warned about critical race theory and the 1619 Project. That’s the most significant change in our school wars over the past two decades: They’ve become secular. Conservatives have attacked public education for as long as it has existed. But they used to lambaste schools for eroding God and country, as the saying went. Now, they’re leaving God out of the equation, focusing their ire on the ways that schools teach about American history and identity.
Matt Barnum, Chalkbeat
Nearly two-thirds of parents say that their child’s school places an appropriate emphasis on slavery, racism, and discrimination against Black people, according to a new poll. But one group stands out as least likely to approve of schools’ approach: Black parents, half of whom wanted more emphasis on these topics. The data suggests that Republican-led efforts to limit schools’ focus on race and racism — despite being done under the banner of parental rights — may represent the views of a minority of parents.
Anna Merod, K-12 Dive
In 2022, 36 states introduced 137 bills seeking to restrict instruction on topics like race, gender, sexuality and U.S. history in K-12 and higher education, according to a report released Wednesday by PEN America, a nonprofit that has been tracking this type of state legislation described as “educational gag orders.” That’s a 250% increase from 2021, when 22 states introduced 54 similar bills.
Other News of Note
Commonwealth Club of California, YouTube
In the early 1970s, a 20-year-old Korean immigrant named Chol Soo Lee was convicted of a Chinatown gang murder. Sentenced to life, he spent years fighting to survive, until investigative journalist K.W. Lee took a special interest in his case, igniting an unprecedented social justice movement that would unite Asian Americans and inspire a new generation of activists. Nearly five decades later, the new documentary Free Chol Soo Lee examines this largely unknown yet important history, presenting an intimate portrait of the complex man at its center and serving as an urgent reminder of his legacy.