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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
Carter Evans, CBS News
The U.S. Department of Education says enrollment in public schools during the pandemic has dropped by more than 1.5 million students. Some have switched to private schools or at-home learning. Others have just vanished from the system. At Tate Elementary in Las Vegas, counselors are working the phones. They’re looking for children still missing from class, weeks after the school year began. George Gomez, 7, was one of them. The nervous second grader has not been inside a classroom since kindergarten — after more than a year of remote learning. His mom finally decided to enroll him after a doctor convinced her.
One Year Ago, One Year Later: Teachers Talk About Challenges, Progress and Commitment Amid the Pandemic
John McDonald, UCLA Ed&IS Magazine
On March 13, 2020, school campuses across Los Angeles shut down to protect the health of students and their families, as well as educators and the larger community in the beginning of what was then a little-understood but rapidly escalating coronavirus pandemic. Teachers and students had little notice, with some only getting word that morning that students would be sent home and that campuses would close at the end of the day. Campuses may have been closed, but school was still in session. Teaching and learning continued, albeit remotely. Teachers and schools struggled at times to find and engage students; providing access to technology devices and internet service was a difficult challenge for many students and their families, especially in the first weeks after campuses shuttered. Teachers had to make changes in how they teach and to quickly learn new skills.
Adrienne Dixon, NEPC
In recent months, more than two dozen states have introduced legislation or taken other steps to limit instruction related to racism and race. These prohibitions have been adopted – through state board action or legislation – in 12 states. Advocates of these bans have focused on a body of academic scholarship called Critical Race Theory (CRT), to which they attached a variety of ideas and approaches.Once the realm of academics and scholarly journals, CRT has now become a household name as Republican lawmakers, including former President Trump, have denounced it as “divisive,” “twisted,” “dangerous and flat-out wrong.” Unfortunately, much of the public debate around the topic is based on misunderstandings and misinterpretations of CRT. In the Q&A below, National Education Policy Center Fellow Adrienne Dixson, a professor of education policy, organization, and leadership at the University of Illinois College of Education in Urbana Champaign, succinctly explains what Critical Race Theory is – and also what it is not. Professor Dixson is an expert on CRT who has published extensively on the topic.
Language, Culture, and Power
Zaidee Stavely, EdSource
As students return to in-person classes, some California teachers are focused on giving English learners lots of time to talk and write about their feelings. In order to learn to speak, read and write fluently in English, those students need many opportunities to practice interacting with their peers in the language. A lot of English learners didn’t get enough of that practice during distance learning. During the pandemic many school districts lacked adequate plans to support English learners, according to a report by Californians Together, a nonprofit focused on educational equity for students who are learning English as a second language.
Kevin Cook, Jacob Jackson, PPIC
In 2001, Assembly Bill (AB) 540 created a more affordable college pathway for undocumented high school students, who are not eligible for federal grants or loans of any kind. Over the past two decades, tens of thousands of students have benefited from the legislation, but a sharp decline in California Dream Act applications during the pandemic may make college less affordable for some students—or even lead to a decline in enrollment. AB 540 waived the nonresident portion of tuition for undocumented students who met eligibility requirements, which include three or more years of enrollment in a California K–12 school and a pledge to legalize their immigration status when they were eligible. Subsequent bills allowed students to receive state aid—such as Cal Grants—and institutional financial assistance via the California Dream Act application.
Shaun Griswold, New Mexico In Depth
On an afternoon in June, neighbors walked the grass loop of Albuquerque’s 4-H park as kids chased underneath a metal sculpture and stepped on a marker that hints of the unmarked grave site below for students at the old Albuquerque Indian School who died more than 100 years ago.
Draped on a solitary tree nearby were orange tapestries, part of a community-built memorial dedicated to the gravesite near the former site of the Albuquerque Indian School. It went up after someone noticed a plaque missing that commemorated the cemetery for Zuni, Navajo and Apache students buried there between 1882 and 1933. How the plaque went missing is a mystery, and its absence might have escaped notice a few years ago.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Lauren Camera, US News and World Report
Gibsonton Elementary School, which serves 560 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade – nearly all of whom qualify for free lunch – is tucked away along the Alafia River, which spills into Hillsborough Bay just south of Tampa, Florida. For years, an unusually large number of children arrived late to school every day, and no one knew why. “We were asking families, ‘What’s one reason why your child is late or may not be coming to school,’” Catherine Gilmore, says of the conversations she had during the 2019-20 school year, the first year Gibsonton operated as a community school and hired her as its community school coordinator. “Our walkers said, ‘Well, it’s too dark, I wait until the sun comes up.’ Well why is it too dark? They said, ‘Well there are no streetlights and my kid walks on the road because there are no sidewalks.’”
Kavitha Cardoza, Hechinger Report
When 12-year-old Jayla heard a friend had died by suicide during the pandemic, she was terribly upset. The loss was bad enough, but Jayla carried an extra weight. “He told me he was having a bad day earlier that week and I didn’t ask him why. I told myself it was my fault because if I wasn’t so fixated on myself and if I would have called him to check up on him, he would still be here,” she said. She was in a “bad place.” While no one person or factor causes suicide, guilt is a common reaction among family and friends, experts say. After her friend’s death, Jayla began having anxiety attacks andfoundher thoughts spiraling out of control. And she couldn’t really turn to anyone at home. “My mom works a lot and my dad really isn’t around, so I really don’t have somebody to talk to. And I don’t want to stress my grandma, she’s too old to worry about what I’m doing.
Annie Waldman and Bianca Fortis, ProPublica
When the coronavirus first swept across Florida last year, Angela Gambrel did everything she could to lock down her home in Sumter County, northeast of Tampa. Her 10-year-old grandson Jayden has a rare brain disease that disrupts his immune system and impairs his memory, making it harder for him to process complex tasks. His doctors urged her to take every possible precaution against the virus. No more supermarket runs. No more football scrimmages with his Special Olympics team. Jayden’s school, like others across the state, halted in-person instruction, distributing worksheets to students to complete at home. The only time Jayden was around other people was when he had bloodwork done or underwent his monthly treatment about an hour away at Tampa General Hospital.
Access, Assessment, Advancement
Allison Arguezo, In These Times
Every time I walk out the door, two words jump into my mind: “Chinese virus.” Beyond the fear of catching Covid-19, I’ve had to navigate the fear of being violently targeted because of my heritage. Asian Americans have learned to lean on one another—but it is not the place of students and community leaders to fill in the gaps Northwestern and the federal government have left. I avoid people outside, noticing the looks they give me. I still don’t dare cough or sneeze in public. I grip my pepper spray, never knowing if I will need it. These words have followed me even to places I never thought they could reach me, like my college campus. In April 2020, “Chinese virus” was graffitied over a rock originally decorated with Chinese characters at Northwestern University’s Lakefill area, which hugs the shore of Lake Michigan.
Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Washington Post
The Education Department is gathering data from a recent experiment that lets high school students enrolled in college courses pay for them using federal grants, but higher education experts worry that unresolved design flaws could undermine the initiative. This month, the department informed more than two dozen colleges participating in the experiment that it will wrap up at the close of the 2021-2022 financial aid cycle on June 30, 2022. The federal agency plans to evaluate the long-term outcomes of students in the program and develop policy recommendations. The decision comes five years after the Obama administration offered about $20 million in Pell grants to as many as 10,000 high school students taking dual-enrollment courses. The administration wanted to give students from low-income households, who are underrepresented in early college programs, a chance to earn credits toward a degree and save money on higher education.
Ira Harkavy and Rita A. Hodges, Nonprofit Quarterly
US democratic institutions, always profoundly imperfect, are clearly in crisis. The chasm-like inequities laid bare by COVID-19, the visible and ongoing killing of Black Americans, and the violent insurrection at the Capitol encouraged by an outgoing president are powerful recent indicators. These developments are also signs of deep and chronic problems, including: Increasing economic, political, social, educational, and health inequalities; Increasing racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia; Increasing attacks on science, knowledge, and democracy itself
Declining trust in nearly all major institutions. Many things, obviously, contribute to the current situation. Among the most significant is neoliberal capitalism, with its emphasis on privatization and deregulation. Government, business, foundations, schools, hospitals, and large nonprofits have not effectively countered it.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
Edwin Rios, Mother Jones
Just five minutes away from Debra Furr-Holden’s cluttered home office in Flint is the house she lived in as a teenager, on Pontiac Street, in a zip code that now has among the lowest life expectancies in the city: 73 years. I learned that last bit from Furr-Holden herself. She cited the figure the way you or I might describe a neighborhood by mentioning a famous building or some movie scene that was shot there. Furr-Holden is the associate dean for public health integration at Michigan State’s College of Human Medicine, and she sees the world through an epidemiologist’s eyes. Life and death are bound up in the particular conditions of place—in what Furr-Holden and her colleagues would call the social determinants of health. “Zip code,” as she put it, “is a stronger predictor of how long you can expect to live and the quality of life you can expect to live than even your genetic code.”
Report: Homeless students are undercounted and underserved in Detroit. Schools struggle to find them.
Lori Higgins & Jena Brooker, Chalkbeat Detroit
Detroit schools for years have severely undercounted the number of homeless students in the city, leaving thousands of children without the crucial services they’re entitled to and need to succeed. The pandemic has made the undercount even worse. The undercounting is highlighted in a new report released Monday by the University of Michigan Poverty Solutions initiative.District and charter schools in Detroit identified 1,785 students, or about 2% of the student population, as homeless in 2017. But the researchers said the number is much higher — between 7,000 and 14,000, according to the report.
Samantha Kummerer, ABC 11
Nearly six times more students are enrolled in charter schools across North Carolina than 17 years ago. As the number of students and schools increases rapidly, the alternative schooling option has received strong criticism over the impact the schools have had on the state’s public education systems and the students they serve. Charter schools have been labeled as vessels for ‘white flight’ and called out for their role in segregating the schooling system. Under state law, charter schools in the state are supposed to make efforts to mirror the demographics of students of the nearby school district but the ABC11 I-Team found this isn’t always happening.
Democracy and the Public Interest
Farah Yousry, NPR
School boards and superintendents are facing backlash over mask and vaccination policies. What were once non-partisan public service jobs have now become more political –- and dangerous.
Local school boards across the country have had to deal with the wrath of parents angry about mask requirements. That’s because in many states, local officials and health departments are leaving that decision up to school board members. As WFYI’s Farah Yousry reports, that is adding stress for people who joined the school board out of a sense of civic duty.
Susan Carpenter, Spectrum News One
Having lived through the cancellation of high school proms and graduation ceremonies and changed their college and work plans because of California’s pandemic-induced shutdown orders, the state’s youngest voters have been hugely affected by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus response. The question is whether they will be motivated to cast their ballots next month to keep the governor in office or replace him. “A challenge with the recall election is that while it is viewed as a referendum, it is only a referendum by those who actually vote because there are so many challenges to making people aware,” said Carolyn DeWitt, president of the nonprofit youth voter advocacy organization, Rock the Vote.
A century after the Battle of Blair Mountain, protecting workers’ right to organize has never been more important
Dave Kemper, Economic Policy Institute
Thousands are expected this week in the forested hills of southern West Virginia to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain—a key conflict in labor history. In the late summer of 1921, at least 7,000 coal miners affiliated with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) fought for their rights and their livelihoods in a weeklong fight against a private army that was raised by the coal companies and supported by the National Guard and the U.S. Army Air Force. The battle was the climax of two decades of low-intensity warfare across the coalfields of Appalachia, and it remains the largest battle on U.S. soil since the end of the Civil War.
Other News of Note
Ashish Valentine, NPR
James Loewen, a renowned sociologist, public educator and racial justice activist, died on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. He was the author of several books, including the best-seller Lies My Teacher Told Me. He was 79. His death was confirmed by Stephen A. Berrey, a friend and professor of American culture and history at the University of Michigan. He says Loewen had been diagnosed with bladder cancer about two years ago. Loewen was born Feb. 6, 1942, in Decatur, Ill., and based his career on dispelling commonly held myths about racial progress in American history.