Just News from Center X – June 4, 2021

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice


“There Are Many Others”: 215 Bodies Found at Canadian Residential School for Indigenous [VIDEO]

Amy Goodman and Cindy Blackstock, Democracy Now

The Canadian government is facing pressure to declare a national day of mourning after the bodies of 215 children were found in British Columbia on the grounds of a school where Indigenous children were sent after being forcibly separated from their families by the Canadian government. The bodies were discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, which opened in 1890 and closed in the late 1970s. The Catholic Church ran the school up until 1969.

Over a span of a century, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were sent away from their families as part of an effort by the government and church to rid them of their Native cultures and languages. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded that the residential schools were, quote, “an integral part of a conscious policy of cultural genocide against Canada’s First Nations population.” The commission estimated 4,100 children died while attending residential schools across Canada. The commission’s findings prompted a new search for unmarked graves at residential schools.

A shoe policy almost kept a high school senior from walking at his graduation. Then a teacher stepped in.  

Sudiksha Koshi, USA Today

One high school senior almost missed walking at his own graduation because he was told a school policy did not allow his type of shoes in the ceremony. When Daverius Peters, a senior at Hahnville High School in Boutte, Louisiana,arrived at the convention center where his graduation was being held on May 19, a school representative blocked him from entering. “She just stopped me saying I couldn’t wear my shoes,” Peters said. “Another kid had the exact same shoes, so I was confused.”The school’s graduation dress code policy states male students must wear dark dress shoes and tennis shoes are not allowed. Peters was wearing Alexander McQueen black leather sneakers with white rubber soles, but still had on his white dress shirt, tie and black pants which also were a part of the school policy.


Male teachers wear skirts to school in protest

Anagha Srikanth, The Hill

On the fourth day of every month since last October, thousands of students and teachers have worn skirts to school in protest of one Spanish student’s punishment for daring to do the same. After Mikel Gómez was kicked out of school and taken to a psychologist, the Spanish student did what many of his peers would do: he took his story to social media. The video went viral, raising awareness of the stigma and discrimination that results from challenging gender norms. In response, math teacher Jose Pinas shared his own experiences with sexuality-based discrimination and a picture of himself wearing a skirt in front of a chalkboard on Twitter, accompanied by the hashtag “#LaRopaNoTieneGenero,” meaning “the clothes have no gender.”


Language, Culture, and Power

How these 3 teachers bring anti-racist education to their elementary school classes

Jessica Wong, CBC News

The murder of George Floyd last year and renewed Black Lives Matter protests that followed underlined the need to tackle anti-Black racism, including in Canadian classrooms. But how does this work with young learners? Three teachers share their approaches and why it’s important work for all educators to tackle.  Each morning, Curtis Dardaine opens his class by playing a bit of reggae or soca music. It brings smiles to faces, invokes singalongs and gets students — his special education class includes kids from grades 1 to 3 — moving, he says. Sometimes the Toronto District School Board educator, who’s teaching virtually this year, might catch a parent or sibling joining along in the background, too. “It just really brings joy into the classroom, that readiness for learning and [that knowledge] their learning environment is a special place and is reflective of their lived experiences,” said Dardaine, whose Caribbean heritage echoes that of some of his students.

Philadelphia board and superintendent vow to combat racist practices in school

Dale Mezzacappa, WHYY

Superintendent William Hite told the Board of Education Thursday that embedded racist practices in schools are holding back Black and Latino students. Black and Latino students are far less likely to qualify for admission to the district’s most selective schools and far more likely to be suspended for disciplinary infractions, Hite told the board. In the district’s most racially and economically segregated schools, far fewer students of all backgrounds meet special admissions standards. “The district does not provide equitable opportunities for students to access academic rigor in the early grades and be prepared for secondary and postsecondary success,” Hite said in a presentation to the board as part of its effort to focus its attention on the quality of its academics, called “goals and guardrails.” The meeting focused on the fourth guardrail, “addressing racist practices,” and looked at two areas: the admissions process for magnet schools and disciplinary practices.

Illinois legislators vote to dramatically limit use of seclusion and facedown restraints in schools

Jennifer Smith Richards & Jodi S. Cohen, Chicago Tribune

Illinois lawmakers took sweeping action Sunday to limit the use of seclusion and restraint in schools, following through on promises made after a 2019 Tribune-ProPublica investigation revealed that school workers had regularly misused the practices to punish students. The House voted unanimously to pass legislation barring school workers from locking children alone in seclusion spaces and limiting the use of any type of isolated timeout or physical restraint to when there’s “imminent danger of physical harm.” The legislation requires schools that receive state funding to make a plan to reduce — and eventually eliminate — the practices over the next three years. Schools that develop plans more quickly can receive priority for new grant funding for staff training.


Whole Children and Strong Communities


A daughter’s journey to reclaim her heritage language [AUDIO] 

Emily Kwong, Michael Zamora, & Anjuli Sastry, NPR

NPR Short Wave host and reporter Emily Kwong is a third generation Chinese American, but she’s never spoken her family’s language. Until now. At age 30, she’s trying to learn the language for the first time, and unpacking why she never learned it in the first place.

California bilingual programs ready to grow after slowing during pandemic

Zaydee Stavely & Betty Marquez Rosales, Lake County Record-Bee


The pandemic slowed down many California school districts’ expansion of bilingual education programs, putting some new bilingual programs on hold. But now, several school districts are resuming their plans and enrolling students in new bilingual immersion programs in the fall. After years of English-only education in California, the state is now pushing to multiply the number of bilingual programs after a law that limited bilingual education in California was repealed by voters in 2016. Under the California Department of Education’s Global California 2030 Initiative, the state now has a goal of enrolling half of all K-12 students in “programs that lead to proficiency in two or more languages” by 2030. The initiative aims to have 3 out of 4 students proficient in two or more languages by 2040.

Teachers in South Central LA who had personal ties to the neighborhood made better connections with students

Julio Angel Alicea, The Conversation

One way to examine a teacher’s personal connection to their students’ community is to ask them to create a hand-drawn map, based on memory, of the neighborhood where they teach. My study found that teachers whose maps represented personal ties to the community, including local businesses or cultural spaces, were observed to be more skilled at making connections to the everyday experiences of their students. This supports previous research that shows the more connected teachers are to their students’ neighborhoods, the more authentically they can incorporate local resources, history and concerns into their classroom teaching. For example, they might incorporate interviews with students’ families into an English unit on immigration stories, or have geometry students design a ramp for elders with wheelchairs.


Access, Assessment, Advancement

The racist roots of campus policing

Eddie Cole, Washington Post

Last spring, the police killing of George Floyd, on the heels of officers shooting and killing Breonna Taylor and so many other Black people, spurred a summer of protests across the United States and abroad. In response, numerous university presidents and chancellors, as well as elected officials and corporate executives, publicly acknowledged the realities of police violence aimed at Black Americans. Some academic leaders even said, “Black Lives Matter,” a phrase that college administrators had typically avoided in the years before Floyd’s killing. But then what? In the past year, many of these same academic leaders have been less quick to implement operational changes to make anti-racism and Black liberation on campuses a reality. This has particularly been the case with campus police, whose departments have continuously received increased funding from administrators. For instance, in 2018-2019, the 10-campus University of California system spent approximately $138 million on policing. Yet despite concern about coronavirus-related budget cuts, most UC campus police department budgets were projected to increase in 2020-2021.

The lessons teen moms can teach colleges [AUDIO]

Rebecca Koenig, EdSurge

In 1999, a teenager named Nicole arrived at college ready to study literature and make her mark in creative writing. But she discovered that her campus was not ready for what she brought with her: a baby daughter. Despite child care and financial setbacks—and some unsympathetic professors—Nicole persevered and graduated. Now, she runs a nonprofit that supports teen parents pursuing higher education. And she just published a memoir, called “Pregnant Girl,” about her own experience trying to earn her degree. For this week’s EdSurge Podcast, we spoke with author Nicole Lynn Lewis about what teen parents need to thrive at college.

What an admissions fight at America’s ‘best’ high school says about educational equity [AUDIO]

Jeffrey R. Young, EdSurge

Every year, around the country, high school students get their hands dirty with science projects—chemistry labs, robotics, that model of a volcano. But one school just outside of Washington, D.C., Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, was the first where students designed a satellite that was actually launched into space. And that’s just one example of how extraordinary this school is. After all, it holds the top spot on the U.S. News and World Report ranking of public high schools. If you’re wondering, yeah, it’s a public school, not one of those private schools with tuition as high as a college. And as a public school, it should be open to all the students in the district.


Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

In wealthy Loudoun County, Virginia, parents face threats in battle over equity in schools

Tyler Kingkade, NBC News

On March 12, members of the private Facebook group “Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County” began to compile names. The group’s members in Loudoun County, Virginia — one of the last school districts in the United States to desegregate, where white students now make up less than half of total enrollment — were concerned about growing opposition to diversity and equity programs in the local public schools. They believed other parents were spreading false claims about these initiatives, and so a handful of members started a list of these opponents as a way of tracking the claims and countering them. One member of the anti-racist group suggested infiltrating or hacking the websites of groups opposed to diversity programs. Screenshots leaked almost immediately.

Make good on California’s commitment to equity — fund computer science classrooms

Julie Flapan and Allison Scott, Ed Source

This past year, we have focused on supporting remote learning, keeping students safe and providing access to the broadband and devices necessary to participate in schooling. As in-person instruction returns, however, let’s imagine a future where students are no longer just downloading apps, but learning to design them. We need to invest in teachers so that we can equip them with the tools, curricula and resources to provide quality and equitable computer science education to all California students. The pandemic has severely affected our education system — lack of access to broadband and high-quality instruction further widened systemic inequality, impairing students’ academic growth and sense of well-being. These challenges disproportionately have affected students of color and low-income students.

Nation earns a ‘C’ on school finance, reflecting inconsistency in K-12 funding and equity

Sterling C. Lloyd & Alex Harwin, Education Week

As states and school districts wrestle with how to spend an unprecedented flood of federal pandemic aid, a look in the rearview mirror shows long-term potholes in their existing K-12 spending patterns, including the effort they put into equitable funding. The EdWeek Research Center’s latest school finance analysis—based on 2018 federal data, the most recent available—captures widespread inconsistencies by state and by region in how the public dollar gets used to educate more than 50 million students.


Democracy and the Public Interest

Statement of Concern: The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards

New America

We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm. Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk. When democracy breaks down, it typically takes many years, often decades, to reverse the downward spiral. In the process, violence and corruption typically flourish, and talent and wealth flee to more stable countries, undermining national prosperity. It is not just our venerated institutions and norms that are at risk—it is our future national standing, strength, and ability to compete globally.

Disputing racism’s reach, Republicans rattle American schools

Trip Gabriel & Dana Goldstein, New York Times

In Loudoun County, Va., a group of parents led by a former Trump appointee are pushing to recall school board members after the school district called for mandatory teacher training in “systemic oppression and implicit bias.” In Washington, 39 Republican senators called history education that focuses on systemic racism a form of “activist indoctrination.”And across the country, Republican-led legislatures have passed bills recently to ban or limit schools from teaching that racism is infused in American institutions. After Oklahoma’s GOP governor signed his state’s version in early May, he was ousted from the centennial commission for the 1921 Race Massacre in Tulsa, which President Biden visited on Tuesday to memorialize one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history.

What’s the Problem, the Vision, and the Next Step Forward? [Audio]

Ash-Lee Woodard-Henderson, Under the Tree with Bill Ayers

We’re excited to be joined in conversation with Ash-Lee Woodard-Henderson, an activist and organizer, extraordinarily innovative educator, an intensely forward thinker and a powerful doer, and for several years now, co-executive director of the Highlander Research and Education Center, one of the most storied social justice and activist centers in the country. The pedagogy employed at Highlander is the classic Freedom School approach: problem-posing and question-asking, from the people and to the people.

Other News of Note

The Women Who Preserved the Story of the Tulsa Race Massacre

Victor Luckerson, New Yorker

After teaching an evening typewriting class, Mary E. Jones Parrish was losing herself in a good book when her daughter Florence Mary noticed something strange outside. “Mother,” Florence said, “I see men with guns.” It was May 31, 1921, in Tulsa. A large group of armed Black men had congregated below Parrish’s apartment, situated in the city’s thriving Black business district, known as Greenwood. Stepping outside, Parrish learned that a Black teen-ager named Dick Rowland had been arrested on a false allegation of attempted rape, and that her neighbors were planning to march to the courthouse to try to protect him.

Tulsa isn’t the only race massacre you were never taught in school. Here are others.

Gillian Brockell, The Washington Post

With President Biden commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre Tuesday, many Americans are learning for the first time about the nation’s long history of racist rampages, particularly during (but not limited to) the period from the 1870s to the 1920s — considered by many a nadir in the fight for Black civil rights. This new awareness has prompted calls from many, including musician and activist Common, to learn more about these incidents. On Monday he posted to social media a map of part of the United States with locations and dates of other massacres against Black people. “Pick a massacre and research it!” it read.