Just News from Center X – February 2, 2024

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Hate Crimes Reported in Schools Nearly Doubled Between 2018 and 2022

Dana Goldstein, New York Times

The number of reported hate crimes in schools and colleges nearly doubled between 2018 and 2022, according to data released Monday by the F.B.I. About 1,300 hate crimes were reported in elementary schools, secondary schools and colleges in 2022, up from 700 in 2018 — an increase of about 90 percent, according to the report, the first on the subject to be issued by the federal government. Black Americans were the most frequent victims, with a total of 1,690 hate crime offenses against them reported over the five-year period, followed by L.G.B.T.Q. people with 900 offenses; Jewish Americans were third, with 745 reported offenses.

Angry Republicans are going to protest against a “Hate has no home here” flag in a classroom

Alex Bollinger, LGBTQ Nation

A Republican organization in Florida is demanding a school teacher take down a flag that says, “Hate has no home here.” “The issue at hand is that the district needs to get out of having any type of political influence on our children,” said Lee County Republican Executive Committee chair Michael Thompson as his group announced that they would be protesting an upcoming Lee County School Board meeting.

Students at civic engagement high school take control, change bus schedules

David N. Young, News Enterprise

It was not a school bus but an Orange County Transportation Agency bus that was now arriving on a schedule suitable to students. Following a successful civic engagement project, the students of Gilbert High School, an alternative school focused on civic engagement, successfully petitioned, then worked with the staff of the Orange County Transportation Authority, to change its schedule to accommodate students. Students and government officials waited at Bus Stop 46 outside the school on Ball Road as right on time, the honorary bus pulled into the station. Students expressed satisfaction that this small change will make a big difference in many of their lives.

Language, Culture, and Power

Our History Has Always Been Contraband: In Defense of Black Studies [Video]

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Robin D.G. Kelley, Youtube

Since its founding as a discipline, Black Studies has been under relentless attack by social and political forces seeking to discredit and neutralize it. Most recently, legislatures across the country have moved to ban Black Studies from curricula, while the right mobilizes outrage against librarians and educators. These attacks come in the context of a backlash against the popular 2020 uprising against racism and police violence, and are being amplified in the halls of power from Congress to the Supreme Court. Join Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Robin D.G. Kelley, co-editors with Colin Kaepernick of the new book Our History Has Always Been Contraband: In Defense of Black Studies, for a wide-ranging conversation about perspectives for fighting back against racism today, from the classroom to the streets.

Bilingual students miss out on advanced classes and gifted education. This teacher fights for change.

Anne Schimke, Chalkbeat Colorado

In second grade, Carlota Loya Hernández spent a lot of time coloring at her desk. She didn’t speak English and her teacher didn’t speak Spanish, so crayons and paper were her go-to activity at school in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. By middle school, things had changed. Loya Hernández was taking advanced math and headed for even more advanced coursework in high school. Eventually, she earned her college degree and became a teacher in the Boulder Valley School District.

How My Voice As an Asian American Teacher Goes Unheard — and Why I Can’t Speak Up

Michael Paul Ida, EdSurge

“Okay! Let’s wrap up our conversations and get back together!” As the small group discussion portion of the PD session I was attending ended, an overwhelming feeling of relief came over me. Had I stayed in the session any longer, I might’ve had to slip out of the meeting room and find a hidden spot to cry; not tears of joy, per se, but frustration — frustration I often feel when squeezed out of conversations. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say or don’t have the words, but I’m selective in how and when I speak, and that doesn’t always conform to the group environment. While many might find it incomprehensible that a small group discussion between teachers evokes anything other than fun, fellowship and camaraderie, I find these spaces to be extremely isolating when I am the only Asian educator.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

This cannot wait: We need concrete solutions to fight school shootings right now

Michelle Kefford, Hechinger Report

I’m principal of a high school with a well-known name, only because it’s the site of one of the most devastating school shootings in recent American history: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I’m also a mother, a neighbor and a witness to the enduring scars left by gun violence in our schools. As a member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ Recovery Network, I participated in a congressional roundtable on gun violence following October’s deadly massacre in Lewiston, Maine. I offered my assistance and my plea for something that is desperately needed in our country: concrete solutions to fight school shootings. Urgent, comprehensive action must be taken to prevent such tragedies and adequately support those who have already suffered through them.

Can a high school climate literacy seal help connect students to green jobs?

Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat

Colorado lawmakers hope to pass legislation this year that will help students show they have an understanding of climate literacy when they graduate high school. Senate Bill 14 would allow Colorado districts to provide a seal of climate literacy when awarding a high school diploma if students study or gain skills related to the environment. Proponents say it would fill a growing demand to learn about the climate and help graduates show they have the skills for green jobs or a background in managing Colorado’s natural resources. For students to earn the seal, they would need to complete coursework or demonstrate certain skills determined by districts and complete a project.

HHS, Ed Dept announce $50M for school-based Medicaid services

Kara Arundel, K-12 Dive

The federal government has announced it will award $50 million in grants to states to implement, enhance and expand Medicaid school-based services, with particular attention to be paid to rural and underserved areas. HHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to award 20 state grants of up to $2.5 million each over 3 years for improvements to Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program school-based services, according to a Wednesday letter to governors from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Education.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

A new FAFSA setback means many college financial aid offers won’t come until April

Cory Turner, NPR

Families and students will have to wait even longer for financial aid offers from colleges and universities. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education announced yet another delay in the already-turbulent FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) timeline: The department says it won’t be sending students’ FAFSA data to schools until the first half of March. Previously, it had said it would start sending that data in late January. For more than 17 million students, the FAFSA is the key to unlocking government dollars to help cover the cost of college, including federal student loans, work-study and Pell Grants for low-income students.

California Universities Are Required To Offer Students Abortion Pills. A Lot Just Don’t Mention It

Jackie Fortiér  and Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, LAist

When Deanna Gomez found out she was pregnant in September 2023, it turned her world on end. She was a college senior in San Bernardino and didn’t feel ready to have a baby. She was working two jobs, doing well in her classes, and she was on track to graduate in December. She used birth control. Motherhood was not in the plan. Not yet. She decided her best option was a medication abortion. It’s a two-step process: One pill, taken at a doctor’s office; another pill a day later to induce cramping and bleeding and empty her uterus.

Sacramento State to open Black Honors College this fall

Diana Lambert, EdSource

Sacramento State will establish a Black Honors College at the university this fall. President Luke Wood made the announcement Sunday on X, formerly known as Twitter. The honors college will support Black students at the university, and will be the first of its kind in the nation, Wood said. “What most people don’t know is that we actually have the highest population of Black and African American students in the entire Cal State system and, not only that, more than all of the UCs except for UCLA,” Wood said. “So, when you think of ground zero for serving Black students and also historically failing them it has been Sacramento State.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

School Spending Is Unfair. Here’s Why.


As the new year begins, an annual analysis of K-12 education funding suggests that large shares of American students are attending inadequately or inequitably funded schools.

Produced by NEPC Fellows Bruce Baker of the University of Miami and Mark Weber of Rutgers, and by Matthew Di Carlo of the Albert Shanker Institute, the report evaluates K-12 education funding by each state on the basis of effort (the share of the state’s economy devoted to K-12 education funding), adequacy (whether or not spending is sufficient to help students reach the national average in reading and in math), and equity.

How Trauma Impacts the Well-Being of Black Women Educators

Sarah Wright & Mi Aniefuna, EdSurge

Navigating school spaces is a journey and students’ needs are ever changing. While educators are leaving the field at unprecedented rates, many districts are scrambling to meet the needs of all their students. As a parent, I felt the impact of the departures when I had to guide my then seventh-grader through math without a consistent teacher after a mid-year exit. School districts, colleges and government-sponsored programs are dedicating time and resources to diversifying their faculty and staff pipeline, but are we spending enough time focused on policies and programming that aid in retaining quality faculty and staff? Are we getting to the root of the departures and career pivots?

The Uber Rich Are Funding “National School Choice Week” to Attack Public Schools

Alyssa Bowen , Ansev Demirhan , Lisa Graves , TRUTHOUT

The last week of every January, right-wing groups like Charles Koch’s Americans for Prosperity promote “National School Choice Week” (NSCW). Unlike other commemorative national weeks or months — such as Black History Month or Pride Month — NSCW did not emerge from an organic grassroots movement. Though touting a misleading notion of equal access to education, its billionaire-backed policy agenda pulls money away from universal public schools. National School Choice Week is the pet project of a superrich family, the Gleasons, whose fortune dates back to 1865 when William Gleason created a machine shop to make gears in Rochester, New York. By 1999, the business was valued at $332 million. As of March 2022, a 501(c)(3) private foundation funded by that industrial fortune, the Gleason Family Foundation, had net assets of nearly $140 million on hand. Its primary activity is promoting National School Choice Week.

Democracy and the Public Interest

Private Schools, Public Money: School Leaders Are Pushing Parents to Exploit Voucher Programs

Alec MacGillis, ProPublica

Tara Polansky and her husband were torn about where to enroll their daughter when they moved back to Columbus, Ohio, a year and a half ago. The couple, who work for a nonprofit organization and a foundation, respectively, were concerned about the quality of the city’s public schools and finally decided to send her to Columbus Jewish Day School. It was a long drive out to the suburbs every day, but they admired the school for its liberal-minded outlook. So Polansky was startled when, in September, the school wrote to families telling them to apply for taxpayer-funded vouchers to cover part of the $18,000 tuition. In June, the Republican-controlled state government had expanded the state’s private-school voucher program to increase the value of the vouchers — to a maximum of $8,407 a year for high school students and $6,165 for those in lower grades — and, crucially, to make them available to all families.

Young voters focus more on issues than candidates in 2024 presidential election [Audio]

Claire Murashima and Leila Fadel, Morning Edition

Voters under 30 tend to lean left of center overall and could make a major difference for Democratic candidates. But it’s unclear if they will turn out in strong enough numbers to help President Biden win reelection, according to Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, which has conducted in-depth research on what’s driving young voters.

‘My confidence grew’: LAUSD student board member works to elevate Latino, student voices

Mallika Seshadri, EdSource

After hours of test taking last May, Karen Ramirez perked up when she saw a district leader and a camera crew walking onto her high school campus. She had a hunch good news awaited. Her instincts were right — then-17-year-old Ramirez was about to learn she had been elected as LAUSD’s student board member.  “I turned around, and I was like, ‘Wait, I think this means something happened,’” Ramirez, a senior at the Girls Academic Leadership Academy, said. “Eventually, I walked into my classroom because they brought cameras to film my reaction, and that’s when it hit. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I think I got it!’”

Other News of Note

The Promise and Pitfalls of the 15th Amendment Over 150 Years

Alex Cohen and Wilfred Codrington

February 3, 2020 marked the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which was adopted to give Black people access to the ballot after the Civil War. The amendment has retained its promise but, unfortunately, the robust democracy that it envisioned remains just out of reach. Today, we should honor the life of the momentous amendment by remembering that the fight to keep it continues. Case in point: the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA). Authorized by the 15th Amendment, the VRA is one of the most consequential laws ever enacted. It dismantled Jim Crow practices that severely restricted African-American access to the ballot, such as poll taxes and literacy tests. For some 50 years, it helped ensure that democracy reflected the country’s diversity.

The U.S. Lacks What Every Democracy Needs

Richard L. Hasen, New York Times

The history of voting in the United States shows the high cost of living with an old Constitution, unevenly enforced by a reluctant Supreme Court. Unlike the constitutions of many other advanced democracies, the U.S. Constitution contains no affirmative right to vote. We have nothing like Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, providing that “every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein,” or like Article 38 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, which provides that when it comes to election of the Bundestag, “any person who has attained the age of 18 shall be entitled to vote.” As we enter yet another fraught election season, it’s easy to miss that many problems we have with voting and elections in the United States can be traced to this fundamental constitutional defect. Our problems are only going to get worse until we get constitutional change.