Just News from Center X – December 2, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Schools are becoming hotbeds of political conflict – especially in purple districts

Alia Wong, USA Today

Perhaps it’s no surprise that partisan politics have trickled into education, nor that the past couple of years have seen a wave of legislation and outcry targeting lessons and books about racism, sexual orientation and gender identity. Until now, though, it’s been difficult to grasp how the phenomenon has affected what’s happening within school buildings. A new study, based on a survey of nearly 700 nationally representative high school principals, helps complete the picture. The culture wars have taken an immense toll on many schools, the study by University of California researchers finds, leading to increased rates of hostility and harassment among teens and adults alike.

Striking Univ. of California Grad Students Speak Out on Nation’s Largest-Ever Higher Education Strike [Video]

Amy Goodman and Nelson Lichtenstein, Democracy Now

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González, as we turn now to look at the largest higher education strike in U.S. history. Some 48,000 graduate student workers at 10 University of California campuses have entered their third week on strike in an effort to secure a livable wage, more child care benefits, expanded family leave and other demands. On Tuesday, the University of California announced a tentative deal with postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers, but the deal doesn’t cover graduate student workers who make up the vast majority of those on strike. Still with us, labor historian and University of California professor Nelson Lichtenstein, who directs the school’s Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy at UC Santa Barbara. He recently wrote an article for Dissent titled “The Largest Strike in the History of American Higher Ed.”

Berlin teachers speak out against war, austerity and the spread of COVID

Gregor Link, World Socialist Web

On Friday, some 2,500 salaried teachers, social pedagogues and school psychologists in Berlin took part in a day-long warning strike called by the Education and Science Union. The strikers demanded smaller classes and spoke out against the cuts policies of the Social Democratic -Left Party-Green Senate (state executive), whose parties have been slashing education and social budgets for decades and have put profits before lives in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Language, Culture, and Power

What teachers need to support English learners [Audio]

Elvira Armas, Laura Barbosa, Marina Berry, Natalie Tran, Education Beat

Two out of five students in California schools speak a language other than English at home. Teachers need more training to bring all of those students to proficiency in English and help them succeed in other subjects. What makes professional development for teachers of English learners effective? We hear from teachers, parents and professors about workshops that gave them tools to work with students who are learning English, and about what their own childhood experiences as English learners taught them.

Latino Communities Rally To Help Stranded Migrants

Jacqueline Cardenas, Nadia Carolina Hernandez, Stephania Rodriguez, Chicago Reporter

Yumary Briseño looked at her 12-year-old daughter. Her tender eyes gazing up at her, filled with worry. “Mom, I’m hungry.” Briseño gave her daughter the only food she had in her home—a few flour arepas and a can of tomato sauce. “Mom, that’s not food.” Holding back tears, Briseño realized it was time to flee Venezuela. Briseño said she did not want to come to the United States, but with the rising economic crisis in her home country, she left in hopes to provide a better life for her daughter and mother. Her restaurant business in Venezuela was declining and had no success finding another job that paid her enough to support her family.

Native American Heritage [Op Art]

Andrea Arroyo, The Nation

Acknowledge real history, and honor Indigenous peoples past and present, every day.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Teen school board member in Idaho wants to expand climate change curriculum [Audio]

Yale Climate Connections

Shiva Rajbhandari is a high school senior in Boise, Idaho. And in September, he was elected to the Boise Board of Education. “Students are the primary stakeholders in our education,” Rajbhandari says. So he says young people’s perspectives on their education matter. And one of the topics he and other students want to learn more about is climate change. He says he was introduced to climate change in his seventh-grade science class. That’s more than students get in many other schools, but he says it’s not enough. Rajbhandari wants to see the topic taught at all grade levels — starting in kindergarten, where teachers can establish basic concepts about caring for the Earth. And he says it should appear across the curriculum. “Climate change doesn’t just apply to science, so why are we only teaching it in science, right?” he says. “Climate change has connections with English, with social studies, with history, with humanities.”

How much can public schools control what students wear?

Brian Boggs, The Conversation

School dress codes can be harmful to LGBTQ students and students of color, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. These codes can lead school officials to punish these two groups for simply who they are or for expressing themselves.

However, it has long been held by the Supreme Court that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” as a 1969 ruling put it. But that’s not carte blanche for students to go wild and wear just anything. As a professor of education policy who studies students’ constitutional rights – such as their expressions through clothing – I believe it’s important for students, parents and school staff to know what the law says about how much control a school can have over the kinds of clothes a student may decide to wear.

Screening for adverse childhood experiences is increasing, but are patients getting treatment?

Elizabeth Aguilera, CalMatters

In 2020 the state launched the adverse childhood experiences initiative, with the goal of cutting the number of those experiences in half within one generation. Today the number of doctors screening patients for adverse experiences is growing, but the state is failing to track whether patients receive the follow-up services or support they might need. State officials say they are working on identifying this information about patients from state medical databases, but it could be a few years off. More than 6 in 10 Californians have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience, and 1 in 6 have experienced four or more, according to a state report.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

Young kids who breathe polluted air can fall behind in school, study finds

Amudalat Ajasa, Washington Post

Young children living in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty are more likely to be exposed to many different air pollutants, and that can harm their development during early childhood, according to a study published Wednesday. The children’s increased exposure to air toxins during infancy can reduce reading and math abilities and cause them to fall behind — for some, the effect is equivalent to losing an entire month of elementary school.

Preschool at retirement complex promotes intergenerational learning [Video]

Adriana Diaz and Camille Knox, CBS

At Kindness Creators Intergenerational Preschool, age is nothing but a number. “We like to say we’re helping fight ageism, one little baby at a time,” Pam Lawrence, who helped create the school in Oak Park, Illinois, told CBS News’ Adriana Diaz. The idea is simple: At the school, which is located inside of a retirement complex called Oak Park Arms, the kids visit seniors down the hall, and the seniors can come to the preschool to help teach.  The goal that Lawrence and her best friend, Jamie Moran, had in mind was to help kids becoming more accepting of older people, and for older people to be more accepting of kids. “Anytime you sit with kids,” said Oak Park Arms resident Nancy Thornton, “it makes your day.”

‘Beyond anything I could have imagined’: graduate students speak out about racism

Chris Woolston, Nature

Science is often portrayed as a meritocracy in which one’s ideas and abilities matter more than anything else. But Nature’s 2022 survey of PhD and master’s students points to an unpleasant reality: those who identify as members of minority ethnic groups face a greater share of discrimination and indignities than do students who aren’t in those groups. The survey drew 3,253 self-selected responses from around the world (see ‘Nature’s graduate student survey’). Twenty-one per cent of respondents identify as members of minority racial or ethnic groups in the countries where they currently live. Through survey responses and free-text comments, they describe mistreatment and struggles that go beyond the typical challenges of graduate school — from structural racism in institutions to microaggressions committed by peers.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Schools Are Resegregating. There’s a Push for the Supreme Court to Consider That

Mark Walsh, Education Week

When the U.S. Supreme Court heard nearly five hours of arguments about the consideration of race in higher education on Oct. 31, much of the focus was understandably about the details of undergraduate admissions at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. They are the two institutions whose practices are being challenged by opponents of affirmative action in the cases. But in a handful of briefs filed with the court, and in some of the comments during the lengthy arguments, there were reminders that racial diversity among student enrollments remains a delicately pursued but often elusive goal in K-12 schools as well. “If you’re Black, you’re more likely to be in an underresourced [K-12] school,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said to a lawyer challenging race-conscious admissions at the University of North Carolina. “You’re more likely to be taught by teachers who are not as qualified as others. You’re more likely to be viewed as … having less academic potential.”

Honduras organization aims to bolster education by bringing books to schools [Audio]

Karyn Miller-Medzon, Here and Now

Chispa Project defies poverty, gangs and expectations to bring kids’ books into Honduras’ schools for the first time.

Why promoting female teachers’ social-emotional learning matters

Bhawana Shrestha, Brookings

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, existing structural and socio-economic inequities in Nepal excluded most adolescent girls from schooling. More than 80 percent of girls who have left school did not find the support needed for systemic issues like forced marriage, excessive household work, menstruation, harassment, and trafficking. As gender remains the single strongest determinant of school participation among adolescents, it is important to understand the social-emotional needs of adolescent girls and how can they be addressed.

Democracy and the Public Interest

Cynical MAGA censors are damaging public education

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

MAGA culture warriors have heightened their threats against teachers and school administrators. Our public education system is now paying the price. That’s the takeaway from an alarming study from a group of researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of California at Riverside. They found that the “virulent stream of hyperpartisan political conflict” has had “a chilling effect on high school education.” Teachers are seeking to avoid controversy by “pulling back on teaching lessons in civics, politics, and the history and experiences of America’s minority communities”; incidents of verbal harassment of LGBTQ students are on the rise; and many teachers and administrators are planning to leave their jobs.

“Fascism never disappears because people come to their senses.”

Robin D. G. Kelley and Deborah Chasman, Boston Review

Deborah Chasman: While a handful of races still haven’t been called and the Georgia Senate race is going to a run-off, the prediction of a “red wave” turned out to be wrong. After Trump’s victory in 2016 you wrote of “the rewhitening of America,” channeling Cedric Robinson. But you were also very clear that this condition isn’t inevitable. Racial regimes are fragile, products of class power; they can be fought. Are we seeing hints of Trumpism’s fragility in these election results?  Robin Kelley: Every racial regime in the United States is an expression of class power. Trumpism has always been fragile because its ideological foundations are based on the deceptions Cedric identified in Forgeries of Memory and Meaning : the myths of white patrimony, patriotism, nationalism, non-white inferiority, shored up by exploited and oppressed white people who believe they will one day get a larger share of the pie. This is the basis of the real “fake news” that drove millions to the polls to vote for J. D. Vance, Ron Johnson, Kari Lake, and Herschel Walker.

Libraries: Where Abortion Access and Book Bans Collide

Barbara Alvarez, The Progressive

Abortion restrictions are not only a reproductive health issue, but also an information access concern. When people can’t access credible health information, they can’t make the best decisions for their mental and physical wellbeing. That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) includes information access as one of its three cornerstones for comprehensive abortion care. And yet in Wisconsin—and across the United States—we are at a dangerous juncture of both book bans and the criminalization of abortion. Librarians are at the frontlines of this crisis.

Between January 1 and August 31 of this year, the American Library Association (ALA) documented 681 attempts to ban or restrict library resources. In 2021 the ALA recorded 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services—which led to more than 1,597 book challenges or removals. Past ALA president Patricia “Patty” Wong stated that this was “the highest number of attempted book bans since [the ALA] began compiling these lists twenty years ago.”

Other News of Note

Woman, Life, Freedom: Iran Webinar / Teach-In for Families, K-12 Teachers, and Higher Ed Faculty [Video]

Shahrzad Mojab, Catherine Sameh, Roozbeh Shirazi, Shirin Vossoughi, Sara Mokhtari-Fox, Youtube

This webinar teach-in is for families, K-12 teachers, and higher education faculty to support young people’s learning on current social movements in Iran. The event was organized by faculty at the University of Minnesota’s Comparative and International Development Education program in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development and the Northwestern University Colloquium for Global Iran Studies and held on November 20, 2022.