Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
All the ways the coronavirus will make this school year harder than the last, even if campuses reopen
Valerie Strauss, Washington Post
School communities desperate for normalcy are hoping that the new school year will be more stable than the last, when the coronavirus forced schools to close and launch remote learning overnight. But that seems like wishful thinking, as 2020-2021 is shaping up to be even more problematic. School districts are embarking on novel experiments in learning, unveiling plans to reopen with new procedures for just about everything. But none of them are set in stone because the unknowns about how things will work far outweigh the knowns. That heralds confusion and potentially repeated learning disruptions that could harm children, especially the most vulnerable, who are already suffering from the loss of learning and special education services.
Tara Kinney, Learning Policy Institute
We’re hearing a lot of conflicting scenarios and projections related to the teacher workforce come fall. On the one hand, there is fear of massive layoffs precipitated by the COVID-19 recession and state budget cuts. On the other, there are projections of staffing shortages, as districts prepare to reopen schools safely with sufficient social distancing in place, while facing retirements and resignations of teachers who do not want to teach under current conditions. Furthermore, shortages of qualified teachers in fields like math, science, and special education were already widespread before the pandemic closed schools this spring.
Elizabeth Heubeck, Education Week
Angel Castillo Pineda immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala five years ago. Navigating a new environment and language at East Boston High School, he thought little of future career ambitions—until he met Wensess Raphael, head of Boston Public Schools’ High School to Teacher Program (HSTT). Raphael encouraged the then-high school junior to apply to the program, which supports participants from high school through college in exploring and completing teaching degrees. Angel graduated this spring with plans to become a teacher and a full tuition scholarship from Regis College’s Diverse Educators Program.
Language, Culture, and Power
Ron Kroichick, San Francisco Chronicle
Fifty-one years ago, San Francisco State became the first university in the country to establish a College of Ethnic Studies. Seven years ago, SFSU graduate student Alicia Garza co-founded Black Lives Matter. Now, amid nationwide protests against racial inequality and police brutality — and a mainstream awakening to the Black Lives Matter message — ethnic studies programs at colleges and universities hold fresh optimism for increased student interest and engagement.
Misha Valencia, New York Times
When Brittany Brockenbrough’s transgender son lost his in-school counseling and the ability to have meet-ups with other L.G.B.T.Q. youth during the pandemic, his mental health suffered. “He began to feel depressed and was withdrawn,” said Ms. Brockenbrough, a mother of two in Virginia. She was later able to get her son teletherapy and in-home support from a local mental health agency and to find ways for him to stay in touch with others in his community through such activities as weekly Zoom meetings and online game nights.
Miguel Casar Rodriguez, InMotion Magazine
Days before, we were all sitting together at an independent study high school in East Los Angeles, wondering what would become of what felt like a troubling and uncertain reality. Now, we were all seeing each other through a screen, becoming familiar with what would become a large and strange part of our lives: Zoom. We started class by checking in to hear how everyone was feeling and what their thoughts were on the burgeoning “crisis”. Their responses were sobering, honest, and filled with wisdom that I have learned to appreciate as I have spent time with them for the last couple of years.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Michael Burke, EdSource
Los Angeles Unified will cut $25 million from its school police, reducing the department’s budget by more than one-third following several weeks of protests from Black students and activists who have called on the district to reform its police force. The district’s school board voted 4-3 late Tuesday to make the cuts, which will take effect immediately in L.A. Unified’s 2020-21 budget and result in the layoffs of 65 officers, in addition to eliminating overtime pay and about 40 vacant positions that the department intended to fill. There are currently 410 sworn officers and another 101 non-sworn officers in the force, according to the department.
Rowaida Abdelaziz, Huffington Post
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to pivot to remote learning, Nawar Almadani and her family weren’t sure what they’d do. Her three kids were enrolled in middle and elementary school; she was working toward her GED They didn’t own a laptop, and even when they got two from school ― one from the city for the kids, the other from Almadani’s program ― they had to share. Beyond the struggles all families are facing with remote learning, the Almadani family is dealing with additional stress: They fled Syria as refugees, and moved to Chicago through RefugeeOne, a local resettlement agency, in 2016. They, like many refugee families in the U.S., face a litany of additional obstacles to remote learning, including language barriers and access to technology. And although many refugee families are doing their best, they risk falling behind without the special resources and support provided by schools.
This document is intended to provide considerations on the appropriate use of testing and does not dictate the determination of payment decisions or insurance coverage of such testing, except as may be otherwise referenced (or prescribed) by another entity or federal or state agency. CDC is a non-regulatory agency; therefore, the information in this document is meant to assist K-12 schools in making decisions rather than establishing regulatory requirements.
Access, Assessment, Advancement
Erica Pandey, Axios
With coronavirus cases spiking and no end in sight, schools and day care centers may not fully reopen in the fall, triggering a massive child care crisis for millions of American workers. The big picture: For months, America’s parents have been juggling work, homeschooling and child care — doing whatever they can until the post-pandemic return to normalcy. But now, what seemed like a temporary predicament is turning into an ongoing ordeal. What’s happening: Schools and school districts are starting to release their plans for the fall, and, to ensure safety, many — including those in Seattle, Omaha and Fairfax County — have come up with hybrid online and in-person schedules.
Betty Marquez Rosales, EdSource
With reduced work hours and a baby on the way, Maraya Bermudez stocks up on groceries for the week at the food pantry on her community college campus. She frequented the Fullerton College food pantry sparingly during the school year, but she now goes every week to pick up bags that often include rice, beans, vegetables, fruits, milk and snacks. A former foster youth, she has also been eligible for debit cards from her college that she can use for groceries and gas. Bermudez, 20, was laid off in March when the pandemic shut down the restaurant where she was working as a waitress. Her only income comes from her clerical job for the campus foster youth office and what her boyfriend earns from a delivery company.
Lorie Konish, CNBC
A bill in Congress seeks to give stimulus checks to one group previously shut out: low-income college students. Many college students are still claimed by their parents as dependents. But because they’re often age 17 or over, they’re not eligible to receive stimulus payments based on eligibility requirements in the CARES Act.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
Mary Retta, The Nation
Ivanka Brutus, a fifth-grade student in a Black and low-income county in Miami, Fla., struggled to complete her coursework when school moved online. Her Internet connection is extremely spotty—the beginning of Tropical Storm Arthur brought flood levels to the county that haven’t been seen in 20 years. And as hurricane season continues, it’s only expected to get worse. “I have experienced many tough things while learning online,” Brutus told The Nation. “I still don’t have access to my own computer, and our power can cut off at any time.”
American Educational Research Association
Scholars have warned that the framing of racial “achievement gaps” in tests scores, grades, and other education outcomes may perpetuate racial stereotypes and encourage people to explain the gaps as the failure of students and their families rather than as resulting from structural racism. A new study finds that TV news reporting about racial achievement gaps led viewers to report exaggerated stereotypes of Black Americans as lacking education and may have increased implicit stereotyping of Black students as less competent than White students. However, news reporting did not affect the explanations people gave for achievement gaps or the extent to which people ranked closing the gap as a national priority.
Jill Barshay, The Hechinger Report
Americans like to believe that education can be a great equalizer, allowing even the poorest child who studies hard to enter the middle class. But when I looked at what academic researchers and federal data reports have said about the great educational divide between the rich and poor in our country, that belief turns out to be a myth. Basic education, from kindergarten through high school, only expands the disparities. In 2015, during the Obama administration, the federal education department issued a report that showed how the funding gap between rich and poor schools grew 44 percent over a decade between 2001-2 and 2011-12. That meant that the richest 25 percent of school districts spent $1,500 more per student, on average, than the poorest 25 percent of school districts.
Public Schools and Private Dollars
Richard Wolf, USA Today
The Supreme Court delivered a major victory Tuesday to parents seeking state aid for their children’s religious school education. The court’s conservative majority ruled 5-4 that states offering scholarships to students in private schools cannot exclude religious schools from such programs. The decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who has joined the liberal justices in three other major rulings this month. The court stopped short of requiring states to fund religious education, ruling only that programs cannot differentiate between religious and secular private schools. “A state need not subsidize private education. But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious,” Roberts said.
Roger Sollenberger, Salon
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 split along ideological lines, ruled Tuesday that states cannot bar religious organizations from accessing government money available to others, a decision that Justice Sonya Sotomayor described as “perverse” but was cheered by conservatives and school choice advocates such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a conservative majority he has recently spurned in other decisions, said that the Montana Supreme Court had discriminated against religion when it scrapped a new state program for private school scholarships.
Other News of Note
Thurgood Marshall, The Liberty Medal Speech (July 4, 1992)
It is a pleasure to speak here on the anniversary of our Nation’s independence. As someone who relishes the ability to do and say whatever I please, independence is a concept near and dear to my heart! Because you were kind enough to invite me here, I’m not going to bore you with a speech. I’m not even going to tell you I’m not going to bore you with a speech and then proceed to talk for 30 minutes. What I’d like to do is to share a few stories, a few anecdotes, of people who have understood the meaning of liberty and struggled against the odds to become free. I think of these people because of the risks they have taken and the courage they have displayed. I value them not only because of the kind of people they were, but because of the kind of Nation they insisted that we become. I respect them not because of the influence they wielded but because of the power they seized.
Frederick Douglass, (July 5, 1852)
In a Fourth of July holiday special, we hear the words of Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery around 1818, Douglass became a key leader of the abolitionist movement. On July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York, he gave one of his most famous speeches, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” He was addressing the Rochester Ladies Antislavery Society. This is actor James Earl Jones reading the speech during a performance of historian Howard Zinn’s acclaimed book, “Voices of a People’s History of the United States.” He was introduced by Zinn.