Just News from Center X – January 27, 2023

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Scared, Anxious, Worried: States’ New Restrictions Have Teachers on Edge

Madeline Will, Education Week

Many teachers, even those not teaching social studies, are walking on eggshells in the wake of restrictions on classroom conversations about race and gender, a new RAND Corp. survey shows. Experts have long warned that those state policies would lead to a chilling effect in the classroom, with teachers opting out of discussing present-day or historic racism because they don’t want to risk getting in trouble. The RAND survey seems to validate some of those concerns, revealing widespread uncertainty and confusion among teachers about whether they’re even subject to such restrictions.

UN chief calls for worldwide commitment to transforming education

United Nations

Commitments made last year at a landmark UN conference to transform education globally must be translated into action, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday in his message to mark the International Day of Education. He called for countries to deliver education systems “that can support equal societies, dynamic economies and the limitless dreams of every learner in the world.”

Lawmakers denounce activist’s comments about ‘destroying public education’

Lindsay Aerts, KSL News Radio

Multiple state lawmakers disavowed comments made in a recording that circulated online Monday, by a prominent backer of the school choice bill saying she wanted to “destroy public education.” The recording is of Allison Sorensen, the executive director of Education Opportunity 4 Every Child, a major player in the push for school vouchers. She apologized late Monday, calling her comments “thoughtless and inappropriate.” Sorensen is registered as a lobbyist for the state of Utah. “She’s the executive director of the group promoting the voucher program,” said Sen. Mike McKell. In the recording Sorensen can be heard saying that she wants to “destroy public education” and insinuates that lawmakers do too. “I can’t say this is a recall of the public education even though I want to destroy public education, the legislators can’t say that because they’ll just be reamed over the coals,” she said.

Language, Culture, and Power

Canada Settles $2 Billion Suit Over ‘Cultural Genocide’ at Residential Schools

Ian Austen, New York Times

Canada said on Saturday that it had agreed to pay 2.8 billion Canadian dollars, about $2 billion, to settle the latest in a series of lawsuits seeking reparations for the harm done to Indigenous people through a system of mandatory residential schools that a national commission called “cultural genocide.” The new settlement, which must still be approved by a court, resolves a class action brought in 2012 by 325 First Nations that sought compensation for the erosion of their cultures and languages.

Witnessing Whiteness [AUDIO]

Shelly Irwin, WGVU

Shelly Tochluk joins us to discuss her book, ‘Witnessing Whiteness: The Journey into Racial Awareness and Antiracist Action.’ Shelly examines the white psyche in this detailed look at people’s relationship to whiteness.

University professors on Artificial Intelligence chatbot, ChatGPT (Video)

Alan Neal, CBC

University of Ottawa professors Tasha Ausman and Joel Westheimer tell us about how ChatGPT could change education.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Parenting in America Today

Rachel Minkin and Juliana Menasce, Pew Research

in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and amid reports of a growing youth mental health crisis, four-in-ten U.S. parents with children younger than 18 say they are extremely or very worried that their children might struggle with anxiety or depression at some point. In fact, mental health concerns top the list of parental worries, followed by 35% who are similarly concerned about their children being bullied, according to a new Pew Research Center survey

Are Relationships the Key to Solving America’s School Absenteeism Crisis?

Daniel Mollenkamp, EdSurge

The number of students who’ve gone missing from the classroom has only climbed since the pandemic. These days, 16 million students may be “chronically absent,” according to Hedy Chang, executive director of the nonprofit Attendance Works. That means those students are missing 10 percent of a school year—or more. Why kids don’t show up to school is a thorny problem, Chang says. But it’s something that states will have to confront if they want to beat back the tide of “learning loss” and inequality catalyzed by the pandemic.

Solidarity as Social and Emotional Safety

Billy Drake, Learning for Justice

“When you think of harm in our community, your life, what comes to your mind first?” Staci Harrison, a white second grade teacher, asked. As her students—the majority of whom are Black children and have experienced harm because of racism and economic deprivation—shared their responses, the conversation became more specific. “Jail,” a student stated resolutely. “That’s the scariest one,” another child agreed. “I hate jail,” a third commented. And a low hum of “uh-huh” and “yes” grew among the children. “OK, do others have a connection to that?” Staci asked, looking around at nodding students.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

‘Sesame Street’ co-creator Lloyd Morrisett dies at 93

Kaitlyn Radde, NPR

Lloyd Morrisett, the co-creator of the beloved children’s TV program Sesame Street, has died at 93, Sesame Workshop announced on Monday. “Without Lloyd Morrisett, there would be no Sesame Street,” co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney wrote in Sesame Workshop’s announcement. “It was he who first came up with the notion of using television to teach preschoolers basic skills, such as letters and numbers. He was a trusted partner and loyal friend to me for over fifty years, and he will be sorely missed.”

College enrollment gaps: How academic preparation influences opportunity

Sarah Reber and Ember Smith, Brookings

College graduates earn more, are healthier, and have more stable employment and marriages. Although young adults today are twice as likely to have a bachelor’s degree as they were fifty years ago, there are still sizable differences in enrollment by gender, race, and socioeconomic status. In our latest paper, we report new data on college enrollment gaps and explore how they relate to students’ high school academic preparation.

Why Lowell isn’t the SFUSD school with the highest UC admissions rate

Danielle Echeverria, San Francisco Chronicle

Lowell High School is often seen as the crown jewel of San Francisco’s public high schools, an academically intense place that sends students to the best colleges and universities. And while it’s true that Lowell graduates go on to some of the nation’s top institutions of higher learning, a different San Francisco high school actually sees the highest admissions rate to a University of California campus among the city’s public schools. That honor goes to Mission High, where 90% of seniors who applied to a UC — the top of California’s three-tier public university system – were admitted to at least one, according to a Chronicle data analysis.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

DeSantis’ CRT obsession ignores Florida’s education inequities

Ivory Toldson and David Johns, Newsweek

In a move that educators have widely (and rightfully) criticized, civil rights activists and students, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration recently rejected an Advanced Placement (AP) course on African American studies. This decision was based on the state’s claims that it violates state law and “lacks educational value.” The College Board announced plans to offer an African American studies course for the first time last year. The course is being piloted in 60 schools across the country during the 2022-23 school year to make the course available to all schools in the 2024-25 school year.


Students threaten to sue DeSantis over rejection of AP course on African American studies

Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News

Several Florida students say they plan to sue the state and Gov. Ron DeSantis over the state’s rejection of the Advanced Placement African American studies course in state schools. “If he does not negotiate with the College Board to allow AP African American studies to be taught in classrooms across the state of Florida, that these three young people will be the lead plaintiffs,” said civil rights attorney Ben Crump at a Wednesday press conference. The lawsuit is backed by Crump and attorney Craig Whisenhunt, who will be representing three AP honors high school students.

School funding proposal aims to achieve equity, but does it go far enough?

Joe Hong, Cal Matters

Black students’ standardized test scores and graduation rates have long trailed those of their white and Asian peers. For decades, educators and legislators have tried to close that achievement gap, and a school funding proposal in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new budget illustrates just how difficult it is to do . The idea for the proposed funding began as a bill authored last year by Assemblymember Akilah Weber, a Democrat from La Mesa, that would have provided more money for Black K-12 students. The bill made it through both the Assembly and Senate with unanimous support. While Newsom never vetoed the bill, he ultimately refused to sign it. Weber agreed to drop the bill when the governor promised to include the funding in his proposed budget for the next fiscal year.  But after Newsom released his budget earlier this month, some advocates who supported Weber’s bill say the governor’s proposal falls short. Driven by concerns the bill would violate state and federal laws banning preferential treatment of specific racial or ethnic groups, the governor’s office directed the funding to high-poverty schools rather than Black students specifically.

Democracy and the Public Interest

Nikole Hannah-Jones retells ‘The 1619 Project’ amid race education pushback

The project sparked controversy for its analysis of American history.

Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News

The new Hulu docuseries, “The 1619 Project,” is giving hope to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. “There’s a great deal of hope in knowing that all of the inequality we see has been constructed,” Hannah-Jones said in an interview with ABC News. “That means it’s not natural. It’s not innate. It doesn’t have to be that way.” The show, based on the award-winning New York Times long-form multimedia project developed by Hannah-Jones in 2019, looks at American history through the legacy of slavery and how it still impacts the country to this day, centering on the contributions of Black Americans. The first enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Va., in 1619, the namesake of the project: “No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed,” the NYT project reads.

Parents’ push ended 3 diversity programs at Rockwood

Nassim Benchaabane, St. Louis Post Dispatch

One night last fall, during a meeting otherwise routine, a Rockwood School Board member leaned into the microphone and asked to pull three contracts out for a board vote. The contracts totaled $86,100 this school year. They were for programs primarily serving Black students in the majority white district, many of whom are St. Louis kids voluntarily bused to Rockwood, the largest area district and one of the highest-rated and most affluent. “I don’t feel like they serve all of our students,” newly elected board member Izzy Imig said that night. “I agree,” said board member Tamara Jo Rhomberg. There was no more discussion. The vote broke 4-3, to applause from some in the crowd. The events of that night, Oct. 6, were a culmination of years of discontent among a contingent of parents in the west St. Louis County school district. It began with opposition to COVID-19 health orders and grew, in Rockwood and across the country, to include challenges to diversity and equity initiatives and library book content.

The solution to fighting misinformation might start in schools. This state wants to find out.

Khaya Himmelman, Grid News

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, videos about how to perform at-home abortions using herbs like pennyroyal and mugwort went viral on TikTok. Doctors grew concerned, warning that herbal abortions are actually quite dangerous, despite what TikTok videos claimed. But the videos continued to spread — so much so, they were viewed over 18 million times, per a report from NewsGuard.

What’s even more alarming: TikTok is where about 40 percent of young people get their information, including news. And according to NewsGuard, around 20 percent of TikTok videos on popular news searches contained misinformation.

Other News of Note

Young Black Kansas Citians start an activist coalition to ensure ‘kids getting seats at the table’

Lawrence Brooks IV, KCUR

Instead of partying or relaxing over his recent winter break, James McGee II spent much of his time organizing other young people and their families, and reviving a wide-ranging service organization called the Black Archives Youth Coalition Network, or BAYCON. Earlier this month, the group held a public relaunch event, and announced a series of cross-generational conversations to identify and address Kansas City’s needs through the lens of young people.

“Leaders will say (they’re) trying to get the youth perspective, but then they have one kid out of a hundred people in the room,” McGee told a crowd of current and prospective members. “That doesn’t make sense to me and it’s why we started this coalition.” The meeting was the first of the group’s new quarterly programs. “It’s about kids getting seats at the table to talk about the issues,” McGee said, “to talk about why certain things are the way they are, and why do we continue to let them be that way.”