Just News from Center X – July 22, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Backlash, Hostility, and Safety Fears: What It’s Like to Be a Chief Equity Officer in the Anti-CRT Era

Eesha Pendharkar, Education Week

When Dena Keeling started her job as chief equity officer at Orange County Schools in North Carolina in 2019, she felt like there was a wave of enthusiasm for addressing inequities in schools. Even with the disruptions brought on by COVID-19, Keeling was able to offer diversity training for staff and partner with organizations focused on racial equity work. But in spring 2021, when the national outrage against “critical race theory” surfaced in her district, she felt like her work started unraveling.

Teachers Demand Answers From Social Media Companies: ‘What’s It Going to Do to Our Kids?’

Alyson Klein, Education Week

Bullying emanating on social media from a device that many kids keep right by their bedsides. “Challenges” that encourage the destruction of school property. Violent threats to commit a massacre at an elementary school. Social media has transformed childhood, and given the adults who work with or care for kids a litany of concerns that previous generations of educators and parents could never have imagined. Now, many educators want to know how Meta, the company that owns some of the oldest and most popular social media platforms—Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp—plans to help schools handle those challenges, or even acknowledge their own role in creating them.

Teacher shortage: ‘The worst I’ve ever seen’: AFT president

Rebecca Chen, Yahoo News

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) found that 79% of preK-12 grade educators are dissatisfied with their jobs. Randi Weingarten, AFT president, joined Yahoo Finance Live (video above) to discuss a teacher shortage situation she referred to as “the worst I’ve ever seen.” The AFT research result collected by an independent third party found that teachers’ sentiments toward education were worsened by pandemic challenges and increasing political wars in the last two years. Weingarten shared that teachers did their best to power through the pandemic but were met with frustrations and lack of assistance from the system: “The pandemic teachers were amazing,” Weingarten said. “They moved to remote [sic] with many of them not having really good platforms. You could hear they engaged kids. Parents were very, very grateful. But what has happened is that the politics and politicians have really polluted what goes on with teachers right now.”

Language, Culture, and Power

‘Jane the Virgin’ writer: From undocumented English learner to Hollywood

Anne Vasquez, EdSource

The plight of undocumented students often gets told through the pursuits and failings of policy that can feel like alphabet soup – DACA, Prop 187, AB 540.Putting a face to those stories is important for us to be able to understand, in human terms, why California and the nation must chart a path forward for thousands of students who face uncertain futures.

“Parental Rights in Education” laws are a form of child abuse

Warren J. Blumenfeld, LGBTQ Nation

Tuesday, June 7, a large van from the Broward County Florida public school department drove up in front of the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Fort Lauderdale. In the van, Broward County school officials had filled boxes of children’s books on LGBTQ themes taken from county classrooms and school libraries for donation to the museum. While county officials claimed the donations were the result of their attempts to clear shelves and office space for the accumulation of other subject matter, it is no mere coincidence that Florida’s so-called “Parental Rights in Education” law, called by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, was to take effect weeks later on July 1.

Censorship By Omission: How Systemic Racism is Downplayed and Dismissed in the Classroom

Jared Del Rosso, Literary Hub

In late-May, Florida’s Board of Education issued guidance prohibiting teaching materials in social studies courses from mentioning critical race theory. A month prior, similar policies led Florida’s Board of Education to ban 54 math textbooks for not “aligning” with the state’s policies on critical race theory. (Over forty of those books were subsequently unbanned after, the state said, their publishers removed “woke content.” At least one publisher contests this, saying they made no changes to their textbooks.). That these policies now apply to social studies courses is unsurprising. In courses on U.S. history, government, and sociology, America’s students learn to recognize or deny, as Florida would have it, the realities of racism and inequality in the country. Florida’s policies, in other words, were always meant for the social sciences. The banning of math textbooks was merely a rehearsal for the more contentious and consequential “review” of social studies textbooks.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Oregon teachers, students lead push for sweeping expansion of climate change curriculum

Elizabeth Miller, Oregon Public Broadcasting

Student activism around climate change has been ramping up in recent years, with students across Oregon and the country leading walkouts and protests. Students see climate change discussions on social media and they talk about it with their friends. “For our generation, this is something that everyone is talking about, because we understand how pressing this issue is,” said Bend Senior High School junior Olive Nye. “And it really feels like an emergency to us.” Students see and experience the effects of climate change firsthand in places like the Klamath Basin. Klamath Union High School rising senior Kate Rodriguez grew up in Klamath and feels connected to the outdoors and nature there. Seeing the increase in significant environmental problems in her backyard pushed her to get involved in climate organizations. “The more that I see wildfires and drought, I wanted to do something even if it wasn’t related to my school,” Rodriguez said.

Groups step up to prevent student homelessness during academic breaks

Betty Marquez Rosales, Ed Source

Without her full-ride scholarship to Cal State San Bernardino, third-year sociology student Syerra Gardner may have been unable to pursue higher education altogether. “I knew that I had to graduate high school, but I just didn’t know what I wanted to do after,” said Gardner, who learned about the scholarship from a high school counselor while living in a homeless shelter. “She was just explaining all these great things that I’m able to apply for to be able to make a life for myself, and I took the opportunity and I ran with it, you could say.” But Gardner could have faced homelessness again if it wasn’t for programs and scholarships that make it possible for her to stay in the dorms over winter and summer breaks.

School Safety Requires Deep Investment Not More Police

Jamie T. Koppel and Cierra Kaler-Jones, Newsone

In the wake of one mass shooting after another, many people rightly wonder what can be done to ensure an end to the violence. As many applaud the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, we offer caution and frustration that this legislation increases funding for police in schools, threat assessments and school hardening. However, research shows that students are more likely to come forward with information that could curb violence when they can trust school staff members – harmful surveillance technologies and the presence of police actually undermine students’ trust in school staff. If there is one thing we want people to know, it is this: students and staff are safest when they are in learning environments that prioritize trust-building and wellness. Police in schools will never be a substitute.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

New pathway to a diploma opens doors for students with disabilities

Carolyn Jones, EdSource

Megan Glynn’s son, Liam, started playing piano at age 4. With perfect pitch, he sails through Mozart and Vivaldi, can play anything he hears on the radio and shines when performing with the school orchestra. But because he has a significant developmental disability, he cannot earn a high school diploma, and therefore his dream of becoming a classroom music aide is just that — a dream.

University of Central Florida Removes Statements Condemning Racism from Department Websites

Arrman Kyaw, Diverse Issues in Higher Education

The University of Central Florida (UCF) has removed statements condemning racism from multiple academic departments’ websites, leaving some faculty worried that the school was self-censoring due to a new state law limiting teaching of race and identity, the Washington Post reported.Ucf What Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the “Stop WOKE Act” went into effect Jul. 1. On Jul. 13, some links on UCF department sites — including for the anthropology, philosophy and physics departments — appeared to be broken or removed.

Still Underpaid and Unequal

Rebecca Ullrich, Katie Hamm, Rachel Herzfeldt-Kamprath, Center for American Progress

Formal child care and early education environments are a significant part of many young children’s development. Around two-thirds of children younger than age 6 in the United States have all available parents in the labor force, making care arrangements a prominent aspect of families’ daily lives. While not all families use licensed child care, a prior Center for American Progress analysis of census data found that more than 7.3 million children were in a licensed child care arrangement. The people who work with children in these environments are the main factor in the quality of early care and education. But, despite the integral role that early childhood educators play, they are compensated with low to poverty wages for their work. Child care workers remain nearly at the bottom of all U.S. occupations when ranked by annual pay, and they struggle to make ends meet—frequently relying upon public income support programs.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Ed Dept urges discipline bias protections for students with disabilities

Kara Arundel, K-12 Dive

To prevent discriminatory discipline practices, schools need to provide individualized services and supports to students with disability-related behavior challenges as required by federal laws, per guidance released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education. The guidance emphasizes schools’ responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to provide behavioral services and supports to students with disabilities.

The U.S. student population is more diverse, but schools are still highly segregated [Audio]

Sequoia Carrillo and Pooja Salhotra, NPR

The U.S. student body is more diverse than ever before. Nevertheless, public schools remain highly segregated along racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines. That’s according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). More than a third of students (about 18.5 million of them) attended a predominantly same-race/ethnicity school during the 2020-21 school year, the report finds. And 14% of students attended schools where almost all of the student body was of a single race/ethnicity.

Can universal child allowance help lift children out of poverty?

Bincheng Mao, World Economic Forum

At this very moment, nearly one billion children worldwide are experiencing the pains of hunger and illness due to poverty. They cannot afford the bare necessities of life, such as clean water, heat or shelter, and they often have no access to education, limiting their chances of upward mobility. According to a joint analysis by UNICEF and the World Bank, approximately 356 million children worldwide live under the extreme poverty line, surviving on less than $1.90 a day. Reducing child poverty is vital for protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable. Children who grow up in extreme poverty often see their life expectancy shortened and equal dignity deprived. Children living in poverty are also more at risk of violence and exploitation, impacting their physical and mental health.

Democracy and the Public Interest

More young voters could come out to vote in November, sparked by abortion and other hot political issues

Abby Kiesa, The Conversation

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion has far-reaching personal and political implications and may help decide the midterm elections in November 2022. That influence extends to young people’s election participation. People ages 18 to 29 have historically been less likely to vote than older adults. But in recent years, they have been spurred to organize and vote by major national controversies, like school shootings and police violence against Black people. As a researcher with more than 20 years of experience tracking youth voting and examining young people’s political views and engagement, I believe that the fight over abortion rights now taking place in states has strong potential to motivate and mobilize young voters on both sides of the issue – and that their participation could be decisive in key races around the country.

The CRT Summer School is Back: Here’s Why It’s More Important Than Ever

Alexandra Jane, The Root

While many believe themselves to be familiar with the terms intersectionality and Critical Race Theory, as well as the #SayHerName and Black Girls Matter campaigns, few people are aware that they are each a byproduct of the same think tank turned non-profit, the African American Policy Forum. Officially founded in 1994 by deputy director Luke Harris and legal scholar and executive director Kimberlé Crenshaw, the AAPF has connected academics, activists and policy-makers for nearly thirty years in an effort to dismantle structural inequality. Over the last few years however, as the nation struggled against the “twin pandemics” of racial injustice and COVID, organization leaders found that it was not enough to “speak truth to power,” they would have to teach it, too.

Michigan’s Hillsdale College set to expand far-right charter schools

Genevieve Leigh, World Socialist Web

Hillsdale College, a private Christian liberal arts school in southern Michigan, has emerged as an ideological think tank for the far right, playing an outsized role in national government policy. The tiny, rural-based school enrolls only about 1,400 students a year. Behind the school’s small numbers lie powerful ultra-right-wing interests and politicians. January 6 coup plotter Ginni Thomas was the associate director of Hillsdale’s Washington D.C. Operations between 2008 and 2009. Her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was a featured graduation speaker, as were a litany of ruling class figures and right-wing ideologues, including former CIA director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and far-right Canadian academic Jordan Peterson.

Other News of Note

Indigenous and Japanese American Activists Unite to Fight the Power

Ed Rampell, The Progressive

Ann Kaneko’s hard-hitting documentary Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust tells the stories of Indigenous and Japanese American communities in the internment camp of Manzanar in California, the environmental disaster that unites them, and their ongoing resistance against human rights abuses and environmental racism. Kaneko combines archival footage and photos, much of it in black and white, with original interviews in color. The first interview subject is Kathy Jefferson-Bancroft, the tribal historic preservation officer for the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation. Bancroft and other Indigenous sources discuss what is now known as the Owens Valley in California’s Eastern Sierra, located between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the White and Inyo Mountains. Indigenous people, or Nüümü, called this lush region Payahuunadü, which translates to “Land of the Flowing Water.” Native Americans reportedly flourished in the fertile valley, but by 1859, miners, farmers, and ranchers arrived with herds of cattle.

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.