Just News from Center X – July 1, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Reproductive Justice and Our Classrooms

The editors of Rethinking Schools

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, with its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This will trigger abortion bans in roughly half the country. The impact is dangerous, devastating, and unequal. Already-marginalized groups — women of color, nonbinary and transgender people — will suffer disproportionately.  Educators must be part of an all-hands-on-deck response to ensure abortion for those who want and need it, and to defend those who are criminalized for accessing care or performing abortions. We should donate to abortion funds and independent clinics, volunteer with support organizations (who help abortion seekers with travel, childcare, and other logistics), and join defense campaigns as the legal harassment of abortion seekers ramps up. (Efforts to support people unjustly criminalized have been prominent in many social movements — think about the organizing to save the Scottsboro Boys or to free Leonard Peltier.)

Supreme Court school prayer ruling stirs debate over how far religion will seep into campus

James Rainey, Mackenzie Mays, Hannah Fry, Luca Evans, Los Angeles Times

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to permit a high school football coach to pray on the field after games is expected to reopen a vigorous and probably tense debate among parents, educators and others over how far religion can enter public school grounds, California education and legal experts said Monday. Conservatives and some Christian leaders praised the court’s action, saying it allowed for the personal religious expression of the coach and those who voluntarily followed him, a reasonable accommodation to religious and free speech rights. But civil libertarians and many educators said allowing a coach or any other school authority figure to lead a prayer amounted to the kind of establishment of religion that the Constitution forbids.

Student Reflections: Looking Back on School during COVID

Cal Matters

California’s public schools started the 2021-22 school year committed to in-person instruction. Students tried to return to normal — studying for tests, making friends, going to dances. But their experience was far from normal, especially in the beginning of the year. Students and teachers were required to wear masks for much of the school year. The polarization around masks and vaccine mandates tore apart friendships and led to harassment on campus and social media.

Language, Culture, and Power

How restorative justice transformed this Oakland school [AUDIO]

Education Beat Podcast

Five years ago, Fremont High in Oakland had some of the highest discipline rates and lowest attendance in the city. Only 1 in 4 graduates were qualified to attend public college in California. One in 3 dropped out entirely. Today, with a newly rebuilt campus and an intensive focus on improving campus climate, Fremont has seen its enrollment jump, and the number of students who qualify for college admission has nearly tripled.

Citing Anti-Gay Discrimination, a Teacher of the Year Leaves the Classroom

Valarie Honeycutt-Spears, Education Week

Kentucky’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, who is gay, says he is leaving the K-12 classroom “to make the most difference, and the discrimination and lack of support prevent me from making that difference.” After 17 years being a public school teacher, Willie Carver Jr. said he decided to leave the classroom and take a position at the University of Kentucky in student support services.

California to boost number of bilingual teachers in Asian languages

Zaidee Stavely, EdSource

It’s about to get easier to become a bilingual teacher in Vietnamese, Korean, Mandarin and other Asian languages in California. School districts in California struggle to hire bilingual teachers in all languages, including Spanish, but the shortage is more severe for teachers who are fluent in Asian languages. Many districts want to start or expand dual immersion programs in Asian languages but do not have enough teachers with bilingual authorizations in these languages to do so.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Supporting students: What’s next for mental health

Chelsea Sheasley, Hechinger Report

Toyin Anderson is a mom looking for solutions to what she sees as a crisis of youth crying out for help with their mental health. “Our kids are still struggling. From the pandemic, the lack of being able to socialize, from losses of family members due to COVID or to violence in the community, that stuff has not been addressed,” says Ms. Anderson, who advocates for hiring more mental health professionals in her Rochester, New York, school district. People across the country are searching for ways to support many of America’s children and young adults, who say they’re facing stress, anxiety, and depression. Remote school, shuttered activities, and family job losses during the pandemic often changed their lives – and their sense of well-being.

School Shootings Hit Highest Level on Record, Federal Data Shows

Lauren Camera, US News and World Report

More school shootings with casualties occurred during the 2020-21 school year than in any other year since data collection began, according to a new federal report on school crime and safety. The report, published Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, a research arm of the Education Department, showed a total of 93 school shootings with casualties at public and private elementary and secondary schools during the last school year, increasing from 11 a decade ago. Forty-three of those shootings resulted in deaths.

Students chronicle their troubled world

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

In the vitriolic national debate about what can and can’t be taught in public schools, parents’ rights and public funding of religious education, it’s easy to forget that many students at many schools across the country routinely do amazing work. One way to see that is to look at high school student newspapers and magazines, some of which are exceptional in their writing, art and design. You can see some of the best high school newspapers here, finalists for the National Scholastic Press Association’s annual Pacemaker awards.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

Building a Well-Qualified Transitional Kindergarten Workforce in California: Needs and Opportunities

Hanna Melnick, Emma García, Melanie Leung-Gagné, Learning Policy Institute

In 2021, California made major new investments to advance its commitment to early childhood education through universal preschool. One important investment was extending state funding for transitional kindergarten (TK), previously just for older 4-year-olds, to all 4-year-olds by 2025–26. To ensure the quality of new preschool investments, California must recruit and prepare a sufficient number of qualified teachers in TK and other early childhood programs—a challenge in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, when school districts and early childhood programs are facing significant staffing shortages. This report provides estimates for how many TK teachers California will need through 2025–26 and discusses potential pathways to support a diverse, well-prepared workforce, both in TK and in other early childhood programs.

Improving Community College Transfer Pathways Could Help With Teacher Shortages

Daniel Sparks, Inside Higher Education

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated concerns over teacher labor shortages. In extreme instances, states have even called in the National Guard to staff classrooms or fill other roles in schools. While teacher shortages are a nationwide issue, they are of particular concern in Michigan, where enrollment in teacher preparation programs has dropped by 70 percent over the past eight years. In a recent survey conducted by the Michigan Education Association of 2,600 educators across the state, more than 90 percent expressed concern over teacher and staff shortages, and more than 40 percent anticipated leaving their school within the next two to three years.

The Other Cancel Culture: How a Public University Is Bowing to a Conservative Crusade

Daniel Golden and Kirsten Berg, ProPublica

In August 2020, Boise State University chose a doctoral student in public policy, Melanie Fillmore, to deliver what is called a “land acknowledgment” speech at a convocation for incoming freshmen. Fillmore, who is part Indigenous, would recognize the tribes that lived in the Boise Valley before they were banished to reservations to make way for white settlers. Fillmore considered it an honor. She was devoted to Boise State, where she had earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, taught undergraduate courses and served on job search committees. She also admired Marlene Tromp, a feminist literary scholar who came from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2019 to become Boise State’s first female president. Tromp had been hired with a mandate to promote diversity, and including an Indigenous speaker in the ceremony marking the start of students’ higher education would advance that agenda.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

American School Financing Is a Disaster [Audio]

The American Prospect

In this episode, the hosts interview Professor David I. Backer of West Chester University. They discuss just how incredibly broken our system of school financing is, what that means for the health, safety and educational success of American students, and what might be done about it.

GAO: BIE schools continue to be at ‘high risk’

Naaz Modan, K-12 Dive

A 15-page report released by the Government Accountability Office this week continues to classify 183 schools under the Bureau of Indian Education as “high risk.” Schools serving 46,000 Native American students have been flagged since 2017 as vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement.  A report in 2017 issued 65 recommendations for improving BIE operations and performance, but as of December 2020, 22 of those recommendations remained open, according to Rep. Burgess Owens of Ohio.

How malls and freeways helped segregate America

Philip Drost, CBC

Hopping into a Chevy Bel Air and commuting from the ‘burbs to a city job or pulling up to the nearest mall to do some shopping or hang with friends at the food court — these were concepts sold as part of the American dream when they were introduced in the U.S. in the 1950s. But some architects and design critics say these innovations were actually vehicles of segregation that destroyed communities of colour in the U.S. and further separated them from white America. Adam Paul Susaneck is a New York City-based architect and creator of the project Segregation by Design, which looks at urban renewal, the construction of freeways, and redlining — a discriminatory practice that he says involved “grading each neighbourhood for investment value, based on race.”

Democracy and the Public Interest

Responding to Intolerance: Leadership for a Multiracial Democracy

John Rogers and Joseph Kahne, ASCD

Michelle Kenup is a principal of a racially diverse high school in a politically conservative community in the southeastern United States. One of her chief goals is to prepare young people to be respectful and thoughtful community members. This isn’t a platitude for her. She wants her students to be able to wrestle with local and national political issues and to teach them, in her words, “how to have that dialogue and that disagreement without it turning violent or angry or so aggressive.” Unfortunately, like many leaders, Kenup has found that the national political environment as well as local political and racial divisions, is making that goal more difficult.

Teachers alarmed by state’s infusing religion, downplaying race in civics training

Ana Ceballos and Commer Brugal, Miami Herald

Several South Florida high school educators are alarmed that a new state civics initiative designed to prepare students to be “virtuous citizens” is infused with a Christian and conservative ideology after a three-day training session in Broward County last week. Teachers who spoke to the Herald/Times said they don’t object to the state’s new standards for civics, but they do take issue with how the state wants them to be taught. “It was very skewed,” said Barbara Segal, a 12th-grade government teacher at Fort Lauderdale High School. “There was a very strong Christian fundamentalist way toward analyzing different quotes and different documents. That was concerning.”

Chicago voters cast ballots with the help of local students

Eileen Pomeroy, Chalkbeat Chicago

Here’s a summer job high schoolers don’t typically have on their resume: election judge. For Aidan Keefe, 17, it’s the best kind of gig. Not only does it pay well – $230 for the day – but he’s excited about it. “I’m passionate about it and I think when someone brings passion into something, you know, it’s contagious,” Keefe said, adding that he thought his passion would make voters more excited about exercising their civic duty.

Other News of Note

Frederick Douglass’s, “What To the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” [Video]

Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was a former slave who became a nationally recognized abolitionist orator during the antebellum period. During the Civil War he worked tirelessly for the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and during the decades following the war, he was arguably the most influential African American leader in the nation. What is now known as the “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech was delivered on July 5, 1852 as an address to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, New York. Before you read the speech you can follow these links to learn more about Douglass’s life and the evolution of his thought in this period.