Just News from Center X – June 12, 2020


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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Students should expect masks, temperature checks and a lot of hand washing under California guidance

Diana Lambert, EdSource
California schools will look different when they reopen next year, according to new statewide guidance. Students should expect to wash their hands and have their temperature taken often. They will likely wear masks and only attend classes a few days a week with a small group of classmates. Signs and taped marks on the floor will tell them which direction to walk and where to stand in hallways and in the cafeteria. A 55-page guidance document, “Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California’s Public Schools,” released Monday morning by the California Department of Education offers sweeping recommendations about everything from keeping students and staff safe while at school to the types of instructional models that school districts should consider to maintain social distancing.

Resources to teach the history of policing in America that you won’t find in textbooks

Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post
A new Washington Post-Schar School poll reports that a big majority of Americans support the protests that have been held across the country since the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody — and they say that police forces need to do more to treat blacks equally with whites. Eight-one percent said police need to reform to ensure equal treatment for whites and blacks, the poll said. Other findings include: 87 percent of Democrats said they support the protests, as do 76 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans.

LAUSD wants to sell its headquarters. Good

The Times Editorial Board, The Los Angeles Times
It looks like Beaudry might go on the market. And while that’s a good thing, it’s just a first step toward bringing the Los Angeles Unified School District closer to the people it serves. For anyone remotely familiar with L.A. Unified, saying anything beyond “Beaudry” is unnecessary. For the rest: It’s the behemoth building that looks like a giant air conditioner at 333 S. Beaudry Ave. in downtown Los Angeles. The district purchased it almost 20 years ago to serve as its headquarters, and as much as the edifice might have made sense at the time, its era is past. Few people would mourn its loss. When it was acquired for $75 million (with tens of millions of dollars more spent on renovation), the district was nearing its 2002-03 peak of close to 750,000 students. Administrative offices were scattered among several buildings; the land under those buildings was needed to build new schools. The district was so crowded then that teachers had to move themselves and their supplies from one classroom to another. There weren’t enough classrooms for each of them.

Amid protests, districts re-examine police contracts, policies

Naaz Modan, Education Dive
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, school boards and superintendents nationwide are re-examining their policies around police in schools. The moves also follow years of discussions around the school-to-prison pipeline and complaints of discriminatory discipline policies, as well as weeks of civil rights protests prompted by Floyd’s death. Following Minneapolis Public Schools’ decision last week to end its relationship with the city’s police department, other districts have announced they are discussing their contracts with agencies that provide school resource officers.

Language, Culture, and Power

Ethnic studies could dismantle systemic racism in our schools

Ari Robin McKenna, The South Seattle Emerald
As fresh droves of people grapple more seriously with the slippery concept of systemic racism, now is the time to support the efforts of educators working to mainstream antiracist education. Three years ago, the future of ethnic studies in Seattle Public Schools (SPS) looked assured, after the school board unanimously approved a resolution in support of it. Yet the district now seems to be reversing course, and there is a closed hearing today, June 8, about the removal of SPS ethnic studies program manager, Tracy Castro-Gill, a former regional teacher of the year whose integrity and ability to cooperate are being questioned. As a massive cultural uprising marches forward seeking to address systemic racism nationwide, apparently a few folks high up in SPS’s district office seem to think it makes sense to defund ethnic studies and head in the opposite direction.

‘Weight back on my shoulders:’ Young DACA doctor awaits Supreme Court ruling

Farida Jhabvala Romero, KQED
Oscar Hernandez grew up undocumented in a trailer park in San Diego. He was the first in his family to attend college, and he worked long shifts selling tacos to pay for tuition. But his goal of becoming a doctor motivated him to push through many challenging years. Last Saturday, he graduated from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. “That was my dream ever since I can remember,” Hernandez, 31, said. “Finally getting on that little podium to graduate as a doctor, that was a really great moment for me.” Because of social distancing rules, it was a drive-through celebration at the school’s parking lot. A giant screen broadcast images of the 92 graduates as they took turns stepping out of their cars and onto a stage to be hooded. Loved ones, who were told to remain in their vehicles with the windows rolled up, honked from afar.

Students voice concerns to Santa Barbara Unified School board 

Edhat Staff, Edhat
Local students voice their support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) demands during Tuesday’s Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) Board Meeting. High school students gathered thousands of people around SBUSD offices on Sunday during a peaceful protest where a list of demands was presented to administrators. The demands echoed those of the local Black Lives Matter movement geared more specifically towards the school system. They include: adopt a resolution declaring racism a public health emergency and allocate resources to implement restorative justice practices to deal with hate crimes, allocate funds to rehabilitation and mental health services for at-risk youth as an alternative to probation and/or juvenile hall, implement equitable hiring practices and recruit culturally competent teaches or color to teach ethnic studies courses, publicly condemn the school to prison pipeline, Ethnic Studies classes with culturally relevant curriculum, and defund any contracts with Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office and Santa Barbara Police Department.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

School nutrition group to USDA: Provide free meals for all students in 2020-21

Linda Jacobson, Education Dive
Two more waivers allowing schools’ grab-and-go meal sites to operate are set to expire at the end of this month unless the U.S. Department of Agriculture extends them. Meanwhile, the School Nutrition Association is asking the USDA to extend 11 school meal waivers through the 2020-21 school year and provide all students with free meals. “Schools are considering vastly different learning models for the upcoming school year and urgently need answers now to plan modified school meal service based on what will be permissible under USDA regulations,” according to a Thursday letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Educators must address the trauma students have endured these past weeks

Debra Duardo, Ed Source
Nothing would come as a greater relief than to welcome back more than 2 million students to Los Angeles County schools in coming months. That’s where they belong. But when schools reopen, they will not look the same as they did before the pandemic-required shelter-in-place. Our country was a different place three months ago. Today: Protests over racial injustice have rocked the nation. Interaction with friends, neighbors and family has changed as the pandemic has shuttered gathering places — schools, churches and businesses. It’s essential that we, as educators and administrators, consider the experiences endured by our students since campuses closed in early March as preparations get underway for a new school year. Everyone will need to adopt a new mindset to protect the physical and mental health of our young people.

County-level coordination provides infrastructure, funding for community schools initiative

Anna Meier, Learning Policy Institute
When Pasadena High School closed its doors in March due to COVID-19, community school coordinator John Lynch quickly developed a “hyperlocal” resource guide to connect students and families with area nonprofits providing services to meet immediate needs, such as food distribution. The guide was posted on the Pasadena Unified School District website so it was available to all families in the district, which serves more than 17,000 students in Los Angeles County. John then worked with his counterpart in the neighboring Duarte Unified School District, Nathalie Umana, to adapt a template she had developed for tracking communication with every student and family at her school, including information about service referrals, internet access, and follow-up from school staff.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

California (finally) considers a way to measure student growth 

Linda Jacobson, Education Dive
Almost two years ago, the California Department of Education revised its accountability system — called the California Dashboard — but opted not to address some of the biggest concerns about the model among district leaders and parent advocates. The current system is a color-coded gauge in which the needle ranges from red for the lowest-performing schools, or student subgroups, to blue for the highest-performing. It includes how many points above or below the grade-level “standard” students scored on statewide exams. And it shows whether that school’s scores were higher or lower than the year before.

Gov. Newsom won’t bend on directing billions to low-income students’ learning loss

John Fensterwald, EdSource
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday he would not compromise with the Legislature on focusing more than $4 billion in federal coronavirus aid to address the learning loss that low-income students have experienced disproportionately during school closures caused by the pandemic. Newsom’s method of distributing the bulk of the money exclusively to districts with large concentrations of “high-needs students” — English learners, low-income, foster and homeless students — has become a point of contention. Senate and Assembly leaders jointly proposed spreading the money widely among more districts in their alternate version of the state budget that they released Wednesday.

Research shows students falling months behind during virus disruptions

Dana Goldstein, The New York Times
While a nation of burned-out, involuntary home schoolers slogs to the finish line of a disrupted academic year, a picture is emerging of the extent of the learning loss among children in America, and the size of the gaps schools will be asked to fill when they reopen. It is not pretty. New research suggests that by September, most students will have fallen behind where they would have been if they had stayed in classrooms, with some losing the equivalent of a full school year’s worth of academic gains. Racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps will most likely widen because of disparities in access to computers, home internet connections and direct instruction from teachers.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

The real threats to America’s cities

Ronald Brownstein, The Atlantic
After years of revival and resurgence, the nation’s largest metropolitan areas are now being squeezed by external threats and an internal eruption along their deepest fault line—one that could fracture their political influence in the years to come. America’s cities have already faced almost four years of persistent hostility from President Donald Trump, who has reviled them as dirty, chaotic, and dangerous and pursued many policies contrary to their interests. Then this winter, the COVID-19 pandemic hit hardest within dense population centers, including not only central cities, but also their inner suburbs. Now the nationwide protests and disorder following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have clearly exposed the crack in the foundation of cities’ new prosperity: the persistence of racial inequality and segregation amid that economic revival.

Police don’t make most black students feel safer, survey shows

Claire Bryan, Chalkbeat
White students feel safer in the presence of police than black students, according to a recent survey of New Orleans students. The survey, conducted by Tulane University during the 2018-19 school year, showed that 69% of white students said they felt safer in the presence of police, while only 40% of black students said the same. The recent killing of George Floyd, a black man killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, is fueling nationwide protests and prompting school districts across the country to reexamine the role of police in their schools. Tulane conducted the survey last school year before the pandemic, but released it today.

Rich schools get richer

Jill Barshay, Hechinger Report
In his 2013 book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” French economist Thomas Pikkety made a provocative argument about rising income inequality and the growing importance of disparities in wealth. He suggested that the world was returning to a sort of 19th century dynastic capitalism where the rich, with their inherited wealth, and the poor masses were growing ever farther apart. Pikkety’s follow-up book, “Capital and Ideology,” published in English in March 2020, argued that inequality trends are turbocharged in our current period of “hypercapitalism.” There are consequences for education, too. A new analysis of school funding by a Pennsylvania State University researcher finds that the highest spending school districts are investing even more in their public schools, from kindergarten through high school.

Public Schools and Private $

Millions of taxpayer dollars are going to schools that push conversion therapy

Rebecca Klein, Huffington Post
Megan Mishkin was drawing a still-life in art class when she heard her name called over the loudspeaker. She packed up her belongings and headed to the main office, where the school secretary was waiting for her. “Everything is going to be OK, sweetie,” the secretary told the 16-year-old high school sophomore when she walked in. Mishkin, a student at Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the time, tried to remain calm and brace for bad news. The secretary directed her to a room where school leaders waited. The group made about five excruciating minutes of small talk before staff members got down to business.

Scammed borrowers sue Betsy DeVos, alleging she illegally limited student-loan cancellation

Jillian Berman, Market Watch
Students who’ve been scammed by their schools are being illegally cheated again — this time out of the loan cancellation that they’re entitled to, a new lawsuit alleges.
A group of student-loan borrowers filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday accusing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her department of illegally limiting the amount of relief student-loan borrowers who were misled by their schools receive. At issue are former students’ claims under the “borrower defense rule,” a law that allows borrowers who were defrauded by their colleges to have their federal student loans cancelled. The Department of Education implemented a version of the rule last year, which uses earnings data to determine the amount of harm a borrower experienced and provide relief accordingly.

Our future: New Mexico shows how public ed can thrive after COVID-19

Jeff Bryant, NEPC
“I think we’re all going to be different after this,” Mary Parr-Sanchez told me in a phone call, “but I don’t know how.” Parr-Sanchez is the current president of NEA-New Mexico, the National Education Association’s affiliate in the Land of Enchantment, and “this” of course is the profound trauma of schooling amidst COVID-19. All public schools in her state and nearly all nationwide are closed for the rest of the academic year due to the pandemic, and teachers and school support staff are approaching the final weeks of a remote learning stopgap effort.

Other News of Note

Riseup4justice [VIDEO]

Othering and Belonging Institute

George Floyd’s murder by four Minneapolis policemen ignited a firestorm of protest in major cities and small towns throughout the US and globally. A Black-led movement demanding police accountability and justice has galvanized multi-racial anger and frustration over the repeated killings of Black men and women. We are witnessing a pivotal uprising that will reshape our relationship with Black lives, and will have profound implications for our collective future. Join us for a live-streamed event featuring organizers on the frontlines in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and other cities, along with Professor john a. powell (Othering and Belonging Institute), Linda Sarsour (Until Freedom), and Rev. Michael McBride (Live Free USA and Faith in Action). We will examine the history and impact of police violence and inequality on the Black community, the current context of white supremacy and Black resistance, and the possibilities and strategies for a racial justice future.