Just News from Center X – July 15, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Public education funding in the U.S. needs an overhaul

Sylvia Allegretto, Emma García, and Elaine Weiss, Economic Policy Institute

Education funding in the United States relies primarily on state and local resources, with just a tiny share of total revenues allotted by the federal government. Most analyses of the primary school finance metrics—equity, adequacy, effort, and sufficiency—raise serious questions about whether the existing system is living up to the ideal of providing a sound education equitably to all children at all times. Districts in high-poverty areas, which serve larger shares of students of color, get less funding per student than districts in low-poverty areas, which predominantly serve white students, highlighting the system’s inequity. School districts in general—but especially those in high-poverty areas—are not spending enough to achieve national average test scores, which is an established benchmark for assessing adequacy. Efforts states make to invest in education vary significantly. And the system is ill-prepared to adapt to unexpected emergencies.

We don’t need no education: Now Arizona says teachers don’t require college degrees

Kathryn Joyce, Salon

Last week, just days after the Arizona legislature passed the most expansive school voucher law anywhere in the nation, Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law another education measure decreeing that public school teachers are no longer required to have a college degree of any kind before being hired. Arizona teachers will only have to be enrolled in college in order to begin teaching the state’s public school students. The law, SB 1159, was pushed by conservatives on the grounds that Arizona has faced a severe teacher shortage for the last six years, which, by this winter, left 26% of teacher vacancies unfilled and nearly 2,000 classrooms without an official teacher of record. That shortage has led supporters of the bill, including business interests such as the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, to claim that loosening teacher credential requirements will help fill those staffing gaps. Opponents of the bill, however, point to the fact that Arizona has the lowest teacher salaries in the country, even while boasting a budget surplus of more than $5 billion.


Suneal Kolluri, Twitter

Just finished teaching a three-week, four-hour-per-day summer school history class. I don’t know if tenure-track professors do that very often. I learned a lot, so thought I’d share some of my learnings with you all here. An #edchat thread. 1. Holy shit teaching high schoolers is hard. Way harder than professoring. Compared to teachers, professors are sloths. Huge shout out to teachers. You deserve the world. 2. I did well. Every kid who regularly attended passed, and almost all did great work. Got a lot of positive feedback from students. I had the freedom to design super-relevant curriculum. We focused on mass violence in American history and I worked hard to build relationships. 3. That said, I had 5 kids of 25 just stop showing up, and they never earned the credits. We professors shout at teachers to “build relationships!” “teach culturally sustaining, critical pedagogy!” “be asset oriented!” I did all that shit. It’s important, but doesn’t always work.

Language, Culture, and Power

Study: Pandemic-era remote learning hit English-language learners especially hard

Astrid Galvan, Axios

The abrupt transition to online learning at the beginning of the pandemic was especially harmful to English-language learners in U.S. schools, a new report finds. Driving the news: The report, released Monday by UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization, found that the COVID-19 pandemic had a disproportionate impact on most Latino students, but especially on those learning English. The big picture: Latinos have made massive gains in education over the past few decades, data shows. But advocates say the setbacks students experienced when the pandemic forced classrooms to go remote are threatening those gains.

Young LGBTQ People Aren’t Waiting for Democrats to Protect Them

Zurie Pope, The Nation

After an extended hiatus, in-person Pride returned to Cincinnati this year. Once a cornerstone of the city’s queer community, the event was canceled in both 2020 and 2021 due to Covid. For most of the pandemic, the state’s largest pride marches were confined to private, socially distanced gatherings. After two years of waiting, Pride in 2022 has been especially grandiose, with 100,000 people from Cincinnati and the greater metropolitan area in attendance. But the day’s proceedings were lent a surreal quality by the wider social context. On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ignoring half a century of precedent and threatening the bodily autonomy of millions of people. But the court didn’t stop at abortion. In the majority opinion, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that SCOTUS should reconsider “substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” the cases that protected contraception, ended the enforcement of sodomy laws, and legalized same-sex marriage.

Native Americans tell Haaland their stories of being forced into boarding schools [AUDIO]

Ayesha Rascoe, NPR

Ayesha Rascoe speaks with Ramona Klein, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, about a listening tour among Native Americans by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

What Are ‘Community Schools’? And Why Is California Betting Big That They’ll Remake Public Education?

Kyle Stokes, LAist

It’s easy to walk around UCLA Community School and lose yourself in the question: why don’t all schools look like this? The school — on a bright, modern campus in Koreatown, part of the L.A. Unified School District — features bilingual programs in Spanish and Korean, mirroring the languages most students speak at home. There’s an on-campus immigration law clinic, which represents students and parents seeking visas, or even asylum. “I’ve come to know the school as my second home, because it’s like a family, really,” said Eduardo Galindo, a recent UCLA Community School graduate who attended the school from the date it opened in 2009. (The campus serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade.) California leaders want hundreds more schools across the state to look like this one.

Why This Principal Won’t Carry a Gun in School, Even Though She Could

Catherine Gewertz, Education Week

I grew up outside of New Albany [Ohio] on a horse farm, so I grew up around guns. My extended family hunted deer, hunted turkey, they shot shotguns, bow and arrows, all of that. I also come from a law enforcement family. I have two uncles very deeply ingrained in the law enforcement community. One was a detective with the Columbus police department. The other was a prosecuting attorney, and he also taught police academy students. I am also a survivor of domestic violence.

After Highland Park shooting, local schools became healing centers to help grieving community

Mauricio Pena, Chalkbeat Chicago

Stephanie Diaz was at a debate camp, three hours away from her hometown of Highland Park, Illinois, when she got a text from her boyfriend: “You might be seeing something on the news in a bit, but we’re safe. I’ll get more details later, but everyone is safe.” “Wait, what’s happening,” she responded. “There might’ve been a shooting in Downtown, at the parade we were just at.”

Access, Assessment, Advancement

Why ‘test-optional’ admissions are not a game-changer for equity after all

Awilda Rodriguqez and Sayil Camacho, Hechinger Report

In response to the pandemic, many selective colleges and universities across the nation temporarily dropped testing requirements for admission. Such a drastic and quick shift in admissions practices demonstrates an unprecedented nimbleness by colleges that have largely subsisted on supposed notions of merit. But despite its promises, test-optional admission has not been the game changer for racial and class-based equity that many hoped it would be. And, as colleges and universities prepare for a new academic year, the hourglass on test-optional admissions policies is running out.

Teachers go to the ‘dumbest colleges’ — who said it and why it matters

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

Larry Arnn is president of a small but influential Christian college in Michigan who has become a key education adviser to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R). Last week, at an invitation-only reception, Arnn repeatedly denigrated teachers, saying, among other things that they “are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country,” and that “anyone” can teach. Lee offered no pushback. WTVF NewsChannel5 in Nashville obtained video of the event, and now both men have come under criticism.

How one district used Covid funds to send kids to camp — on a college campus

Carolyn Jones, EdSource

Summer can be pretty slow in Lodi if you’re a teenager. There’s the pool, there’s pizza night at the teen center, and there’s TV. But 240 high school students from Lodi Unified escaped boredom this summer when they spent two weeks at University of the Pacific, living in the dorms, socializing and taking classes on topics like music production, filmmaking, business investing and 3-D animation — all paid for with Covid relief funds from Lodi Unified.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

How Prop 13 widened the wealth and education gap in California [AUDIO]

María Echaveste and John Fensterwald, Education Beat Podcast

California voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978 in response to rising property taxes. A new analysis concludes that Prop 13 has contributed to a widening wealth gap, a severe housing shortage and — for decades — inadequate funding for public schools. On this episode, we discuss the legacy of Prop 13 and possible paths forward.

Georgia Tech, MIT researchers develop tool for increasing racial integration in schools

Peter Biello, Georgia Public Broadcasting

Researchers at MIT and Georgia Tech have developed a tool that redraws school attendance boundaries to both reduce racial segregation and travel times.  Researchers surveyed parents’ preferences on class size and school travel time. Overall, when looking at elementary school districts across the country, researchers found they could achieve a 12% decrease in segregation by moving one in five students to a new school and also reduce overall travel time. Nabeel Gillani led the project at MIT. He said results vary by district. “Certainly there’s the technology piece here, but we know fundamentally this is not a technology problem: It’s a social problem, it’s a political problem,” he said. “So we wanted to see if we could use technology now in ways to get more people involved, get more voices involved in the mix, and share more of what they think of these boundaries.”

It’s About Time: Inequality in Time Spent Waiting [Audio]

Stephen Holt, InsideHigherEd

Waiting in line is no one’s idea of a good use of time. In today’s Academic Minute, part of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy Week, Stephen B. Holt examines why some groups wait more than others for routine appointments. Holt is an assistant professor of public management at Rockefeller, part of the University at Albany of the State University of New York.

Democracy and the Public Interest

How young people can build power through school board elections for 501(C)(3) organizations

The Center for Popular Democracy

In the era of COVID-19 and following the 2020 wave of nationwide uprisings contesting white supremacy, United States politics have grown increasingly polarized at every level of government. Communities across the country are waging battles along partisan and ideological lines, from debates over public health measures, such as mask-wearing and vaccines, to whether to teach young people the truth about this country’s legacy of enduring systemic racism or “critical race theory” and the need for police free schools. While there are limited opportunities for engagement on these issues at the national level, many community members have sought opportunities to engage in local politics. As a result, school boards – the most local and easily accessible form of government – have become sites of intense political and cultural debate.

Why intergroup dialogue should be part of every K-12 school

Kiana Foxx & Ashton Pemberton, EdSource

As our country seems increasingly polarized, a new study from University of California Berkeley suggests that just getting people from opposite sides to talk to one another is not enough to bridge the gulfs between us. That’s because one-off conversations are not enough. What we need is sustained, intergroup dialogue that begins early in every child’s education.

Tennessee can begin rolling out private school voucher program, court rules, ending 2-year block

Marta W. Aldrich, Chalkbeat

Tennessee can resume work on its mothballed private school voucher program after a judicial panel lifted a 2-year-old order blocking it. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel cleared the way for Gov. Bill Lee’s education savings account program to proceed in Memphis and Nashville based on last month’s Tennessee Supreme Court ruling upholding the 2019 voucher law. Now the question is how quickly the state can roll out vouchers to provide eligible families with taxpayer money to  attend private schools or to pay for private education services.

Other News of Note

Mary McLeod Bethune becomes first Black American honored in U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall [Video]

Judy Woodruff, PBS Newshour

A new statue unveiled Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol marks a historic first. Civil rights pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune is the first Black American to represent a state in Statuary Hall. Florida lawmakers voted to remove a statue representing a confederate general and replace it with one of Bethune. Her granddaughter, Evelyn Bethune, joins Lisa Desjardins to discuss.

Webb’s Record-Breaking First Image Shows Why We Build Telescopes

Grant Tremblay, Scientific American

Children are scientists in a primordial world. In those first years they’ll learn the laws of gravity, the shapeless flow of time, the first principles of love. Everything must be discovered, from peanut butter to rainstorms, and all things may as well be magic. And then, as children age, magic is stolen from them. It’s slow for some, and faster for many who feel the weight placed on the color of skin or the balance of a bank account. The vibrant world desaturates. The tooth fairy was a lie, days are long but life is short, and dreams are harder to achieve than advertised. We grow unimpressed and disappointed. We disconnect from life on Earth to inhabit small rectangles of glass, the screen our new horizon. That magical world fades away.

Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Nation’s Largest Teachers’ Union Calls for Curbs on School Policing                                      Madeline Will, Education Week

The nation’s largest teachers’ union adopted a new policy statement calling for an end to the “criminalization and policing of students”—but stopped short of urging the removal of armed officers on school campuses. Last year, National Education Association delegates established a task force to explore the role of law enforcement in education. The task force—which included teachers and at least one school security guard—has since developed a policy statement on how to achieve “safe, just, and equitable schools” and published a 73-page report outlining the group’s analysis and rationale.

Biden offers help for schools to use American Rescue Plan funds on learning recovery

Ali Tadayon, EdSource

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called on school districts and states to invest American Rescue Plan funds in programs to make up for lost learning time, and announced federal initiatives to help them do so. During his 2022 State of the Union address, Biden called on Americans to volunteer as tutors and mentors to help address the impact of missed instruction during the pandemic. To facilitate that, the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday launched the National Partnership for Student Success — a program that seeks to recruit 250,000 adult volunteers over the next three years to serve as tutors and mentors in schools.

High school on fire: violent protests by kids rock Chile

Natalia A. Ramos Miranda, Reuters

As Chilean school kids start winter vacation, they leave behind a semester marked by violence. Several high schools around Santiago were taken over by students; one was set on fire while hooded youths clashed with police and burned city buses. In June, the prestigious Internado Nacional Barros Arana (INBA) high school in Santiago was temporarily shut over “severe” violence, including the principal’s office being set ablaze. In a country that has seen rapid but uneven development in recent decades, angry protests by students over expensive and poor-quality school and university education have become more frequent.

Language, Culture, and Power

‘They saw me as calculating, not a child’: how adultification leads to black children being treated as criminals

Aamna Mohdin, The Guardian

Ahmed has a recurring nightmare. The specifics change, but the script stays the same: he is in terrible danger, he tries to call the police, but no one responds. He is alone. In the latest version, bullets were shot through his window, but the line was dead when he picked up a phone to call the police. It is not hard to see why Ahmed (not his real name) can’t shake such dreams. When he was 12, he was sitting in class when he was called into the headteacher’s office. Two police officers were waiting for him, with his headteacher. They told him a man had handed himself into the police for the rape of a minor he had met on a dating app and that the number he had given for the child matched Ahmed’s. Ahmed says he asked for his parents to be called, so they could be with him during his questioning, but he was ignored.

Legal settlement requires Chicago to offer translation services to parents of students with disabilities

Eileen Pomeroy, Chalkbeat Chicago

It took Maggie Przytulinski seven years to get her younger brother, Mark, the help he needed in school.  Przytulinski said Mark, who has autism, Down syndrome, and is non-verbal, had an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, a legally binding document that outlines the services for students with disabilities. It requires multiple meetings every year and a significant amount of legal paperwork. Adding to the complexity? Przytulinski’s Polish-speaking mother knows only basic English.

How Latin American Film and other college classes changed my high school experience

Yuleisy Aguirre De Jesus, Chalkbeat

It was the start of 11th grade. The first quarter was approaching an end, and I was finishing up the first big essay of the year. A sense of hope, accomplishment, and confidence completely overwhelmed me. That entire week, I was glowing and radiating optimism. I felt a lot different than the stereotypical teenager in school who just wants to get out of their version of “prison” every day. The most amazing thing was how different I felt from just a year earlier.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Nearly 70% of adults support permanent extension of universal school meals

Anna Merod, K-12 Dive

A majority of adults — nearly 70% — back a permanent universal school meal policy, according to a new report by the Urban Institute with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For the past two years, pandemic-era meal waivers granted by Congress have allowed all students to eat for free in schools, regardless of their family’s income. However, that policy will come to a close this fall as the universal school meal waiver is set to expire today.

Districts discover benefits of hiring students to address staff shortages                                    Anna Merod, K-12 Dive

Like many districts nationwide, the Northwest R-I School District in Missouri faced a surge of COVID-19 cases in fall 2021 that worsened an already growing labor shortage. As few people were applying for open positions, an idea emerged to hold a job fair to gauge interest and hire high school juniors and seniors for custodial and aide positions, said Mark Catalana, the district’s chief human resources officer. Initially, the district hired nine students, a number that eventually resulted from the fair. That has since expanded to nearly 20, he said.


High School Students Say They Learn The Most Important Skills Outside of School [AUDIO]

Jeffrey R. Young, EdSurge Podcast

If you ask middle school and high school students these days the most important skills they’re learning, they’re likely to name something they picked up on their own, outside of normal school hours. That’s according to Julie Evans, CEO of the nonprofit Project Tomorrow, who has been doing focus groups with students for years—both before and after the pandemic—and whose organization conducts an annual survey of middle and high school students about their learning.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

An Inconvenient Truth About the New Jim Crow of Education [Video]

Amy Stuart Wells, AERA

In this year’s Presidential Address, “An Inconvenient Truth About the New Jim Crow of Education,” 2019 AERA President Amy Stuart Wells (Teachers College, Columbia University) scrutinized testing policies in education, suggesting that standardized testing, with its perpetuation of an unequal education system for students of color, is the new “Jim Crow” of education.

What does the T.M. Landry scandal say about American education?

Stephen Marcantel, The Current

Late one evening,  students at T.M. Landry College Prep  surround Michael Landry as he begins one of his sermon-like speeches. “Come on y’all, we in Breaux Bridge. Nobody expects you to do anything. And for you to leave your mark, you’re going to have to do something that other people say cannot be accomplished,” Landry says.  The 2018 scene, depicted in the documentary Accepted, culminates with the school’s rallying cry. He asks students to say, ‘I love you,’ in various languages and, finally, in his own language. How do you say I love you in “Mike-anese?” One word: kneel.

Black and Latina Women Hold the Most Student Debt

Liann Herder, Diverse Issues in Education

In just two months, the pause on federal student loan repayment will come to an end. Many borrowers are not financially prepared to resume payments due to the lingering effects of the pandemic, particularly women, who disproportionately shoulder two thirds of the $1.7 trillion of federal student loan debt. That’s according to a new report released by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), a research and policy group focusing on consumer lending.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Computer scientists create tool that can desegregate schools – and shorten bus routes

Jill Barshay, Hechinger Report

One out of every six white school children in the United States – nearly four million white students  –  attend schools that are 90 percent or more white, according to the most recent federal data from 2019. A similar share of Hispanic children, totaling two million students, attend schools that are all or nearly all Hispanic. This degree of racial isolation is slightly less common among Black children. One out of eight Black children or almost one million attend schools that are 90 percent or more Black. More common are schools filled with both Black and Hispanic children learning together but with almost no white students among them. Two out of every five Black and Hispanic students – almost nine million children – attend schools where fewer than 10 percent of the students are white. One out of five Asian American students – roughly 500,000 – attend schools like this with very few or no white students.

UCLA will expand its worker justice programs thanks to a new annual state budget increase

UCLA Newsroom

Scholars at UCLA who are dedicated to studying working conditions, eliminating unfair labor practices that disproportionately affect workers of color and educating the next generation of labor and social justice leaders will be able to increase the scope of their work as they share in California’s single largest budget increase for the University of California’s labor centers. The funding from the state legislature will go toward three UCLA units: The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, the Labor Center and the Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program. This breakthrough comes at a crucial time for working people across the state, as class and racial disparities have intensified amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “At a time when billionaires are making massive profits during the pandemic, essential workers on the frontlines face poverty wages,” said Kent Wong, director at the UCLA Labor Center. “The expansion of labor centers and labor studies within the University of California will advance research, education and policies that serve working people and promote economic and racial justice.”

Nearly 1 out of 5 classes in California taught by underprepared teachers

Diana Lambert, Daniel J. Willis, & Yuxuan Xie, EdSource

Most California teachers have the appropriate credentials and training to teach the subjects and students in their classes, but many do not, according to new statewide data on teacher assignments released Thursday. While 83% of K-12 classes in the 2020-21 school year were taught by teachers credentialed to teach that course, 17% were taught by teachers who were not.

Democracy and the Public Interest

Three high schoolers join Seattle School Board

Monica Velez, Seattle Times

This fall, the community can expect three new members to join the Seattle School Board during public meetings, all much younger than the average board member. In fact, they have yet to graduate from high school. For the first time, Seattle Public Schools will have students sitting on the board as nonvoting members beginning in September. It’s part of an ongoing effort to include student voices in the decision-making process. The three high schoolers were introduced to the board in late June, and they’ll serve during the next school year. Although student board members won’t be able to vote, they can ask questions of the staff and share their ideas on agenda items.

What the Biden administration’s new rules for charter schools say

Valerie Strauss and Carol Burris, Washington Post

The Biden administration is moving to overhaul the federal Charter School Program with new rules finalized last week that make it harder for for-profit organizations to win taxpayer money and require greater transparency and accountability for grant applicants. The program has awarded billions of dollars in grants over the past several decades for the expansion or opening of charters, which are publicly funded but privately operated, often with little or no public oversight. President Biden said during the 2020 election campaign that he wanted to end federal funding for for-profit charter schools, but the final regulations don’t go that far.

In trainings, Florida tells teachers that religion belongs in public life

Lori Rozsa, Washington Post

New civics training for Florida public school teachers comes with a dose of Christian dogma, some teachers say, and they worry that it also sanitizes history and promotes inaccuracies. Included in the training is the statement that it is a “misconception” that “the Founders desired strict separation of church and state.” Other materials included fragments of statements that were “cherry-picked” to present a more conservative view of American history, some attendees said.

Other News of Note

How the Mexican revolution of 1910 helped shape U.S. border policy [Audio]

Tonya Mosley, Fresh Air

Not many Americans know much about the Mexican Revolution of 1910. The impact of that revolution on the U.S. is the subject of the new book “Bad Mexicans” by our guest, historian Kelly Lytle Hernandez. She spoke with our guest interviewer, Tonya Mosley, host of the podcast “Truth Be Told.” Here’s Tonya with more.