Just News from Center X – June 10, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Ukraine Points Up the Threat to Education During War

Jerome Marston and Marika Tsolakis, ReliefWeb

Conflict has taken a horrific toll on civilians in Ukraine over the past three months with many families struggling to meet even their most basic needs, including education. Over 1,800 schools and universities have been damaged or destroyed since Russia’s invasion on February 24, according to Ukraine’s Education Ministry. Russian forces have shelled and bombed numerous schools. Both sides have used schools as military bases or for storing weapons. In just one example, a Russian airstrike reportedly hit a school on May 8 in Luhansk, on the front lines in eastern Ukraine, injuring or killing dozens of civilians who had sheltered there. Education is fundamental for students during war. Beyond teaching, schools and universities can provide a safe space, give students routine, and connect them to life-saving resources such as meals and mental health services.

A Call to Expand the International Right to Education

Human Rights Watch

Education is a fundamental human right and one of the most powerful tools for improving children’s lives. Education improves children’s health, their standard of living, protects them from exploitation and abuse, and expands their future opportunities and participation in civic life. It lifts children out of poverty, reduces inequality, and helps build strong, sustainable societies.

Existing international law guarantees the right to education for all but does not explicitly guarantee children’s right to free pre-primary or free secondary education. While an estimated 85 percent of children worldwide complete primary school, only half of the world’s children are enrolled in pre-primary education or complete secondary school. [1] Children from families living in poverty are the least likely to attend, with cost remaining a significant barrier for many.

Student voices on Uvalde: Our leaders ‘are just not going to protect us’

Gabrielle Birkner, Chalkbeat

Today’s high school students were born after the mass shooting at Columbine and were in elementary school when a gunman murdered 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook. These teens are old enough to remember the massacre in Parkland, but most of them were too young to join the protests that followed. They grew up with routine active shooter drills at school and with the perfunctory “thoughts and prayers” politicians offered when tragedy struck.

Language, Culture, and Power

In the Wake of Uvalde, a Teacher’s Plea for Police-Free Schools

Nataliya Braginsky, In These Times.

For educators like myself, no matter how far we teach from Uvalde, Texas, the recent mass shooting at Robb Elementary, like so many before it, is still palpable in our classrooms — among students and teachers alike. Two days after the massacre, Toni Wright, one of my students in New Haven, Conn., stood in our high school’s hallway crying. ​“I couldn’t even make it to school yesterday,” they told me. ​“I got on the bus, I made it down the street, but I had to get off and tell my mom to come get me. I was so upset that it was physically hurting me to try to go to school.”

New York Let Residences for Kids With Serious Mental Health Problems Vanish. Desperate Families Call the Cops Instead

Abigail Kramer, ProPublica

Sara Taylor felt the knot in her stomach pull tighter even before she answered the phone. The call was from the hospital taking care of her 11-year-old, Amari. And she knew what they were going to say: Amari was being discharged. Come pick her up right away. Taylor was sure that Amari — that’s her middle name — wasn’t ready to come home. Less than two weeks earlier, in March 2020, she threatened to stab her babysitter with a knife and then she ran into the street. Panicked, the babysitter called 911. Police arrived, restraining Amari and packing her into an ambulance, which rushed her to the mental health emergency room at Strong Memorial Hospital, not far from her home in Rochester, New York.

Teaching the climate crisis [Audio]

Will Brehm and Audrey Bryan, FreshEd

Today we discuss the climate crisis, why it’s a difficult knowledge for humans to grasp, and how art can help us transform approaches to teaching about it. My guest is Audrey Bryan. Audrey Bryan is an associate professor of Sociology in the School of Human Development at Dublin City University. Her new article is Pedagogy of the Implicated: advancing a social ecology of responsibility framework to promote deeper understanding of the climate crisis, which was published in Pedagogy, Culture & Society.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

How community schools help kids thrive [AUDIO]

Education Beat Podcast

California recently approved the first round of grants to convert potentially thousands of schools into full-service “community schools”. Community schools provide all kinds of services for kids and families – health care, mental health therapy, housing assistance, fresh fruit and vegetables – in an effort to help kids thrive in school. A reporter discusses what he saw at a local community school and a community school coordinator shares how her school has been transformed with this program.

Our Vision of School Safety Must Include Mental Health

Ashana Bigard, The Progressive

Our collective hearts are breaking for the families and community members of Uvalde, Texas. Most of us would give almost anything to turn back time to create safe schools and communities throughout the country. We can’t change the past, but going forward, how can we create that alternative future now? What would it take to address these issues in the midst of the current mental health crisis among young people?  Not by returning to the wild, wild West, that’s for sure.  A popular solution proposed by many pro-gun politicians and decision-makers is to put more guns in schools. I may not be a trained psychiatrist, but I’ve never heard of children being healed from trauma by adding even more guns and bullets to their classrooms. This scenario really sounds like a scene from a badly written old-fashion Western: give them guns, and if that doesn’t work, send more.

Changes are coming to school meals nationwide – an expert in food policy explains

Marlene Schwartz, The Conversation

School food plays an important role, particularly since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was passed in 2010, improved the National School Lunch Program. About 30 million children a day participate in the National School Lunch Program. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act required the USDA to update not just the rules about what was served for the reimbursable lunch, but also the rules for things like snacks and beverages that are sold in vending machines or other places in the school. Research has shown that the meals served now are better, that the meals children are eating are better, and, in fact, some data suggests that the trajectory of childhood obesity that has been such a concern has been attenuated because of the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

In two places, researchers find problems with expansion of free pre-K

Jill Barshay, Hechinger Report

Advocates sold free preschool as a way to improve the lives of people in poverty and help level the playing field. Oft-cited research from a high quality preschool in Ypsilanti, Michigan concluded that 58 low-income kids who attended in the 1960s were more likely to hold a job, earn more money, own a home and less likely to commit a crime than similar kids who didn’t go to preschool. It not only seems fair, but a wise use of public dollars to give poor children the same early childhood education that wealthier children enjoy. In practice, as communities around the country offer free preschool to more and more tiny Americans, the results are uneven. Tennessee vastly expanded its free preschool programs in 2005 but a study released in January 2022 showed that the programs can be so low quality that some kids are worse off. They might have done better without preschool. In New York City, which expanded free pre-K to all four-year olds in 2014, the quality is better. But researchers from the University of California, Berkeley found that lower income kids are learning in notably lower quality classrooms than higher income kids.

Latina mothers, daughters and the pursuit of higher education — together

Melissa Gomez, Los Angeles Times

Cindy R. Escobedo’s college years have been, in many ways, shaped by her mother’s.

When Cindy completed an undergraduate degree in political science at UCLA in 2015, she followed her mother, Cecilia, who had earned her bachelor’s degree at Azusa Pacific University a year earlier. In 2016 Cindy graduated with a master’s degree in education. Her mother caught up one year later, obtaining her master’s in nursing. And in 2021, the same year Cecilia’s doctorate in nursing practice was conferred, Cindy successfully defended her own dissertation and her degree was also conferred. On June 11, Cindy will walk at UCLA’s graduation in full doctoral regalia, and her novel dissertation — born of her own story — captures what it took to reach this milestone. Cindy chronicled the aspirations, challenges and joys of Latina mothers and daughters who pursued college degrees together.

Who’s really in a student debt crisis? [Audio]

Fenaba R. Addo, No Jargon

More and more Americans are facing massive student debt and daunting payment plans once the federal pause on loan payments runs out. But this burden is not spread evenly, and neither are the challenges of paying it off. In this episode, we spoke to Associate Professor of Public Policy Fenaba Addo about who is really facing a student debt crisis, what contributes to student debt accumulation, and how race and family wealth factor into it all.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Across the country, educational equity was in vogue. Then it wasn’t.

Laura Meckler, Washington Post

A racial equity program that began with widespread support and was propelled by George Floyd’s murder all but died on a chilly Wednesday evening in a near-empty school board meeting room. During a budget debate, a pair of liberal board members were no match for the newly elected majority. The conservatives had taken office after a campaign focused on race and allegations that critical race theory had invaded the local schools, the most diverse in El Paso County. Their victory last November had already resulted in the superintendent’s departure. Now the equity program he championed was on its way out, too. “Our hope is the board would see the value of the work of supporting every child,” said school board member Julie Ott in what she knew was a losing case.

The aftermath of Brown vs The Board of Education in ‘Jim Crow’s Pink Slip’ [Audio]

Michel Martin, NPR

Leslie Fenwick is a nationally-known education policy and leadership studies scholar at Howard University. In her new book, Jim Crow’s Pink Slip: The Untold Story of Black Principal and Teacher Leadership, Fenwick argues that the landmark Brown Versus the Board of Education decision ending legal segregation in American schools also resulted in the mass firing, or demotion, of Black principals and teachers. Fenwick told Michel Martin on All Things Considered that we’re still living with the repercussions today, but that by acknowledging that we can help efforts to diversify the educational system.

How my grandmother’s response to her school’s racism has shaped my work

Andrew Ujifusa, Chalkbeat

In a small Colorado town in the late 1930s, Mary Okugawa earned the right to be called valedictorian. The child of Japanese immigrants, my grandmother worked hard in school — two schools, in fact, since she also attended nihongo gakko (Japanese language school). But when local school board members discussed who would publicly receive the academic honor, they declared that no “Jap” would get to call herself the valedictorian. Nor would a “Jap” speak at “our” graduation. No recourse was forthcoming.

Democracy and the Public Interest

Public education, democracy, and the future of America

Peter Grier & Chelsea Sheasley, The Christian Science Monitor

From the beginning of the American republic, some Founding Fathers pushed for the establishment of an institution they thought crucial to the success of democracy: public education. Self-government would require informed citizens, they felt. Important decisions would be in the hands of farmers and tradesmen, not courts and kings. That meant the nation’s youth – the citizens of tomorrow – needed to learn the history and operation of republics. They needed practice disagreeing, debating, and then moving forward together, whether their views won or lost.

Oakland Unified orders protesters to end sit-in at closed K-8 school

Carolyn Jones, EdSource

A dozen or so protesters who’ve occupied a shuttered K-8 school in East Oakland must leave the property immediately due to health and safety hazards, Oakland Unified officials said this week. “The district has serious safety concerns about what these individuals are doing on the closed campus — especially as it relates to children,” district spokesperson John Sasaki said. “We request that they find a different and safer means of expressing their disagreement (with the school closure).” Parker K-8 school is one of a dozen or so schools Oakland Unified decided earlier this year to close due to declining enrollment.

Fifteen Minutes of Feminism: Reflecting on the Legacy of the Mother of Title IX

Michelle Goodwin and Wendy Mink, Ms. Magazine

Welcome to Fifteen Minutes of Feminism, part of our “On the Issues with Michele Goodwin” platform at Ms. Magazine and Ms. Studios. As you know on all of our shows, we report, rebel, and we tell it just like it is. We dive right in, and we do it in feminist terms, that’s how we count.

Today I’m joined by Professor Wendy Mink, author of Fierce and Fearless: Patsy Takemoto Mink, First Woman of Color in Congress. Now, Professor Mink who joins me today grew up in Hawaii and on the East Coast where she was able to watch up close her mother, Patsy Takemoto Mink, as she defied all odds in many ways, being the first woman of color in Congress, and shepherding through in the 1960s some of the most pivotal civil liberties and civil rights legislation that would affect the entirety of our nation.

Other News of Note

March for Our Lives heads to Washington, D.C., again

Haben Kelati, Washington Post

In 2018, the March for Our Lives (MOFL), a youth-led gun-violence-prevention organization, staged the biggest gun violence protest in history. The group plans to do it again Saturday in Washington, D.C. The march will begin at the Washington Monument at noon. The route has not been announced. Confirmed speakers include MOFL co-founders and school shooting survivors David Hogg and X González. There will also be more than 450 sister marches across the country.

Four years ago, the protest — and the organization itself — was a response to a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which claimed the lives of 14 students and three staff members. An estimated 1.4 million to 2.2 million people marched at 763 locations, according to a Washington Post analysis.