Just News from Center X – August 20, 2021

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Biden says his administration will take on GOP governors blocking masks in schools [Video]

Shannon Pettypiece, Lauren Egan and Monica Alba, NBC News

President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he was directing the Education Department to use its legal authority against Republican governors who are trying to block local school officials from requiring students to wear masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Speaking at the White House, Biden said some politicians are trying to turn public safety measures into “political disputes for their own political gain” and warned that they are “setting a dangerous tone.” Biden said he had directed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to wield his oversight authority and take legal action “if appropriate.” “We’re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children,” Biden said.

Culver City Unified mandates Covid vaccine for students, possibly a first for California

Diana Lambert and Ali Tadayon, Ed Source

Culver City Unified in west Los Angeles County may be the first school district in California to require all eligible students to be vaccinated against Covid-19, along with teachers and staff. Students and teachers also must be tested for the virus once a week. Culver City Unified joins the state of California and a growing number of cities, public universities and private companies that are requiring their employees to be vaccinated, but it seems to be the only district to require that students also get vaccinated. District officials took into consideration that the University of California is requiring all of its students to be vaccinated, many of whom aren’t much older than high school students, Culver City Unified Superintendent Quoc Tran said.

He Taught a Ta-Nehisi Coates Essay. Then He Was Fired.

Emma Green, The Atlantic

The first time Matt Hawn suspected that he might run into trouble for what he was teaching was last August. His contemporary-issues class was discussing the events in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where protesters had taken to the streets after a police officer was filmed shooting 29-year-old Jacob Blake in the back. Hawn showed his students a picture of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old accused of killing two people and injuring another during the protests, to demonstrate the concept of white privilege. “What are we going to do about racism in the U.S.?” he asked his students.

Language, Culture, and Power

Why Do Native People Disappear From Textbooks After the 1890s?

Joshua Ward Jeffrey, Education Week

The current manufactured controversy over critical race theory in American schools that has been roiling parts of the nation this summer has exposed two truths: Most K-12 teachers do not teach CRT, but they absolutely should. And while anti-education conservatives claim that CRT teaches things like “race essentialism” and that all white people are racist, the academic framework does nothing of the sort. What it does is demand that we compare our ideals about law, justice, and the way government works with the lived experience of racial and ethnic minorities within those systems.CRT, then, examines how America actually is in comparison with how we think it ought to be.

Rapid City Area Schools launch its program to immerse Lakota language and culture into classrooms

Gillian Trudeau, KOTA  ABC News

The Program will integrate Lakota language and culture into the classroom, including only teaching in Lakota and emphasizing Lakota heritage and values. The program is the first of its kind in the Rapid City Area School district and has 21 kindergarten students enrolled. Plus, multiple older students have transferred to Canyon Lake to be a part of other cultural integrating aspects the school provides such as a Lakota language and culture teacher, and an introduction to the First People of South Dakota culture which will be taught through art, history and other classes. ”So we’re looking to add a classroom each year so our kindergarteners will have a first grade to go to, and then the second grade, and the year after that. And so, each year we’ll add a classroom to the program until it becomes a K-12 system that our students can be a part of,” said Dr. David Swank, principal at Canyon Lake Elementary School.

African languages to get more bespoke scientific terms

Sarah Wild, Nature

There’s no original isiZulu word for dinosaur. Germs are called amagciwane, but there are no separate words for viruses or bacteria. A quark is ikhwakhi (pronounced kwa-ki); there is no term for red shift. And researchers and science communicators using the language, which is spoken by more than 14 million people in southern Africa, struggle to agree on words for evolution. IsiZulu is one of approximately 2,000 languages spoken in Africa. Modern science has ignored the overwhelming majority of these languages, but now a team of researchers from Africa wants to change that. A research project called Decolonise Science plans to translate 180 scientific papers from the AfricArXiv preprint server into 6 African languages: isiZulu and Northern Sotho from southern Africa; Hausa and Yoruba from West Africa; and Luganda and Amharic from East Africa.



Whole Children and Strong Communities

Back To School: Can Special Education Make Up For Lost Time?[AUDIO]


The shift to remote learning has meant unexpected challenges for schools around the country. For students who receive special education, those challenges have been especially acute. Many students who gravitate toward hands-on experiential learning have fallen behind in a virtual environment. And students’ access to paraprofessionals, such as occupational therapists or speech therapists, has been pared down in the transition away from in-person learning.

As new school year begins, a focus on social and emotional health

Ali Tadayon, Ed Source

Distance learning and the coronavirus have taken an undeniable toll on students who have suffered from isolation, learning loss and trauma during the past year and a half. Some parents say their children have developed different personalities during the pandemic and have become disengaged, according to West Contra Costa Unified Superintendent Kenneth “Chris” Hurst. Other students have “almost given up,” he said. Prompted by similar concerns, West Contra Costa Unified and many districts across California are planning a “restorative restart” for the first few weeks of school. In general, the idea is to focus on students’ social and emotional health and build back connections with teachers as an important part of returning to the classroom.

Universal lunch may help NYC students view their schools as safer places, a report finds

Pooja Salhotra, Chalkbeat NY

Universal free lunch doesn’t just provide meals for children. New York City’s school food program improves students’ perceptions of bullying, fighting, and safety at their schools, according to a new study. The report, from Washington D.C.-based think tank Urban Institute, used New York City students’ responses to annual surveys as well as school meal participation data from the city’s education department to investigate the impact of free school lunches. While previous research has found that free lunch boosts academic performance, this study was the first of its kind to look at its impact on school climate, or students’ perceptions of their learning environment. Researchers found that all students, regardless of poverty status, reported improved perceptions of bullying, fighting and safety outside of school after free lunch was implemented.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

250 preschool kids get suspended or expelled each day – 5 questions answered

Kate Zinsser, The Conversation

When parents think of a child getting kicked out of school, they might imagine drugs found stashed in a locker, a classroom that’s been vandalized, or some kind of sexual or other violent assault. But the fact is that it’s not uncommon for students to be suspended or expelled for much less egregious behavior before they even enter kindergarten. In 2014, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education provided recommendations to states to severely limit and ultimately eliminate early childhood suspensions and expulsions.

What the ‘Educational Underground’ Says About the Future of Learning and Work [AUDIO]

Jeffrey R. Young, EdSurge

The typical way to think of higher education is as a straight line—one that leads from high school, to a college then to a job. But for so many college students, what actually happens is far messier and sporadic. Life happens. Studies get interrupted by important life events, like the birth of a child or a parent falling ill. Other workers might not go directly to college but might receive some training on the job, or maybe through a short program somewhere along the line. And maybe people get back to a campus or online program, or maybe they find some other way to get the learning they need.

Education, Labor Departments Partner to Help Unemployed Get Postsecondary Education

Rebecca Kelliher, Diverse Issues in Higher Education

The U.S. Department of Education is teaming up with the Department of Labor on an initiative to connect millions of unemployed Americans to postsecondary education, particularly for people whose employment has been displaced in the pandemic. The two Departments will notify higher education institutions and state workforce agencies on ways to help unemployment insurance (UI) beneficiaries get access to a postsecondary education.  In some states, UI recipients can still get benefits while attending school or training.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

U.S. neighborhoods are more segregated than a generation ago, perpetuating racial inequity

Stephen Menendian, NBC News

There’s an adage among housing justice advocates: “Tell me your zip code and I’ll tell you how long you’ll live.” In fact, we can also estimate how much money you earn, the quality of your education and even the likelihood you’ll go to jail. As a society, there’s a growing awareness of the role that race plays in shaping life outcomes, from maternal mortality rates to the chance of incarceration. Yet we often overlook one of the root causes in staggering disparities in health, income and incarceration — where we live.  Racial residential segregation in the United States is the mechanism by which people are sorted into neighborhoods and communities that offer opportunity and deny it. Your residence determines the schools your children are zoned for, the amenities in your neighborhood, the safety of your streets and air and drinking water, your proximity to jobs, the strength of your municipal tax base and local economy and the degree of police surveillance and harassment you may endure.

With The Taliban’s Return To Power, Will Afghan Girls Keep Going To School?[AUDIO]

Morning Edition, NPR

What will happen to the gains made by women and girls in Afghanistan over the past 20 years? The last time the Taliban were in power, Afghan girls were forbidden from attending school, and women were nearly erased from civic life. They were confined to their homes and only allowed to leave in the company of male relatives. Pashtana Durrani is the founder and executive director of LEARN. That’s a charity focused on education in Afghanistan. When we talked earlier today, she asked that we not disclose where she is because she is very concerned for her safety. Thank you for being with us today. We really appreciate it.

Las Manos Jóvenes Que Nos Alimentan Las Manos

Karen Coates and Valerie Fernández, Pacific Standard

Es el último día de marzo de 2018, el día antes de Pascua, el comienzo de la temporada de la cosecha de las cebollas. Para media mañana, Berenise, de 16 años, ya había llenado algunos baldes. Al hacer su trabajo usaba unas tijeras afiladas y oxidadas que exigían precisión cuidadosa; un error de cálculo, y podría perder un dedo. A unos pasos de distancia de sus padres, Berenise trabajaba junto a su hermano Salvador, de 10 años. La luz del sol brillaba sobre kilómetros y kilómetros de campos verdes y llanos, interrumpidos solo por unos pocos caminos de terracería. Cuando llega el momento de la cosecha, las familias multigeneracionales, desde niños pequeños hasta abuelos, se agrupan entre los surcos. La tierra está salpicada de cubetas de plástico, cajas de embalaje y algunos baños portátiles azules. Las cebollas cubren el suelo, hasta donde alcanza la vista; el aire huele dulce y penetrante. Las espaldas de los trabajadores están encorvadas por el hábito; sus cabezas cubiertas con sombreros y capuchas, y sus pantalones y dedos manchados con clorofila y barro.

Democracy and the Public Interest

The School Culture Wars: ‘You Have Brought Division to Us’

Sarah Mervosh and Giulia Heyward, New York Times

July and August are supposed to be the quietest months of the school year. But not this time. In Williamson County, Tenn., protesters outside a packed, hourslong school board meeting last week shouted, “No more masks, no more masks.” In Loudoun County, Va., a debate over transgender rights brought raucous crowds to school board meetings this summer, culminating last week with dueling parking lot rallies. The board approved a policy that allows transgender students to join sports teams that match their gender identity and requires teachers to use transgender students’ pronouns. And, in a particular low point for school board-parental relations, a woman railed against critical race theory during a meeting in the Philadelphia area, yelling, “You have brought division to us.” After the allotted time, the school board president walked off the stage, into the audience, and took the microphone away. She was escorted from the lectern by security.

Anchorage’s School Board debates: Modeling civic behavior in challenging times

Tam Agosti-Gisler, Jackie Cason, Kynnedi Grady, Tamar Ben-Yosef, Jennifer Hazen, Anchorage Daily News

It’s been a year of steady challenges in public health, education and business as we grapple with a global pandemic. We are encouraged by the efforts so many have made to advocate for the lives and livelihoods of others. At the same time, we’re concerned about the erosion of good will and the uptick in belligerent behavior. We all want to see students back in school, learning and thriving; but the potential threats to their health and the health of their families raises many questions and yields no easy answers. As educators, parents and students, we routinely engage rather than avoid challenging topics. Controversial topics surface through the characters and actions in fiction and in the telling of past and current events in history books and newspapers. How we think through conflict and solve problems, both real and imaginary, tests and reveals our own character. Hindsight is an advantage we seldom have.

Peters extends civics education to Department of Juvenile Justice

Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus

Young adults in Department of Juvenile Justice custody will soon be able to receive civics education as they near their release under a new law sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago). “Generations of people have fought and died to secure our rights, and one of the cornerstones of our society is that someone who is in prison doesn’t lose those rights once they’re released,” Peters said. “Knowing what your rights are and how they can be used can be confusing, especially for kids in DJJ who have likely never exercised them before.” Senate Bill 2116 is an extension of a previous Peters-sponsored law. The Re-Entering Civics Education Act, passed in 2019, requires the Department of Corrections to offer civics education to incarcerated people who are due to re-enter society upon the completion of their prison sentences within the next 12 months. That law is now extended to include the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Other News of Note

In memoriam, Mike Rose, 77, UCLA professor who chronicled the power of learning

John McDonald, UCLA School of Education and Information Studies

Mike Rose, an esteemed and beloved education research professor at the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies, died August 15 after falling ill last week. He was 77. “The contributions that Professor Rose made to our school, to our university and to the larger academic community are immeasurable, his loss immense,” said Christina Christie, Wasserman Dean of the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies. “His kindness and intellect not only shaped an academic life that offered meaningful insight into learning, intelligence and the challenges facing education, but made him a wonderful colleague who added so greatly to our community at UCLA and across academia.” Rose taught for more than 40 years in a wide range of educational settings, from elementary school to adult literacy and job training programs, to graduate level courses, touching the lives of students and educators across the spectrum. He was hired as a professor at UCLA in July of 1994.

In remembrance of our dear friend and colleague, we share links below to interviews with Mike Rose about a few of his books.  You can find Mike’s recent writing here and links to his books here.

1990 interview with Bill Moyers about Lives on the Boundary [Video]

1996 interview with Studs Terkel about Possible Lives [Audio]

2009 interview with John Rogers about Why School: Reclaiming Education for All of Us 

2010 interview with Krista Tippett about The Mind at Work [Audio]

2011 interview with Scott Simon about Back to School [Audio]