Just News from Center X – June 5, 2020


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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

‘A turning point’: California education leaders speak out about racism and police brutality

Carolyn Jones, EdSource
After George Floyd, an African-American man, died last week in Minneapolis after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white police officer, protests and rage erupted throughout the U.S. On Monday, education leaders across California spoke out about systemic inequities and current crises facing young people. Here’s a summary:

‘Teachers cannot be silent’: How educators are showing up for black students following protests

Madeline Will and Sarah Schwartz, Education Week
Protests against police brutality have erupted across the country over the past three days, leading to tough classroom conversations about race, racism, and police violence. Teachers, already struggling to reach students during the coronavirus pandemic, are now searching for ways to help them work through their feelings about the protests and the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other unarmed black men and women—without being with their students in person. The death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was shot while jogging by two white men in Georgia earlier this month, has also inflamed national tensions. It’s a daunting conversation to have through a screen, many teachers said.

‘Teaching for Black Lives’ — a handbook to fight America’s ferocious racism in (virtual or face-to-face) classrooms

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post
On July 10, 2018, I wrote about a book that had just been published titled “Teaching for Black Lives,” a collection of writings that helps educators humanize blacks in curriculum, teaching and policy and connect lessons to young people’s lives. At that time, President Trump was busy normalizing racism with repeated comments in which he disparaged people of color. Now, with the country in turmoil after the death of yet another unarmed black man at the hands of police, let’s take a new look at the book.

Language, Culture, and Power

Minneapolis public school board votes to terminate its contract with police

Lois Beckett, The Guardian
Minneapolis public schools are terminating their contract with the city’s police department following the death of George Floyd. The city’s public school board unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday night that will end the district’s contract with the Minneapolis police department to use officers to provide school security. The Minneapolis superintendent said he would begin work on an alternative plan to keep the district’s more than 35,000 students safe in the coming school year.

Protests, donations, lesson plans: How the education world is responding to George Floyd’s killing

Matt Barnum and Kalyn Belsha, Chalkbeat
As the country convulses after the latest incident of police violence against a black American — and the protests and unrest that have followed — schools and education organizations are responding. Teachers are hosting classroom discussions as school district leaders denounce racism and activists renew calls for schools to cut ties with police. Here’s what we’ve seen.

She’s 19, a community college student and a fast food worker. And she’s not done protesting.

Ariella Plachta, The Los Angeles Daily News
When 19-year-old Alaysia Lyons was arrested in an alley by LAPD officers in the chaotic aftermath of a Black Lives Matter protest in the Fairfax District on Saturday, she was sobbing. It was the Mission College student’s first time participating in a protest, and she feared her father’s wrath over putting herself in danger. She decided to take a $30 Uber alone to Pan Pacific Park — on her day off from work at McDonald’s — out of anger over the video of George Floyd’s death in police custody. Three days and several protests later, the Mission College student from Sylmar was making a passionate speech in front of more than 1,000 peaceful demonstrators at Cal State Northridge, telling them the San Fernando Valley is not immune to police racism.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Why principals worry about how mobile devices affect students’ social skills, attention spans

Alyson Klein, Education Week
One thing was very clear when schools made a massive pivot to remote learning this spring: Students, who already spent huge amounts of time staring at cellphone and computer screens, would be on them even more. The impact that the increased screen time will likely have on K-12 students’ development and social skills is yet to be seen. But the potentially negative effects were already a big concern among educators and child-development experts well before the pandemic. Now, those concerns are heightened and will likely rise if the pandemic forces schools to continue systemwide virtual learning programs.

How indigenous, black and POC educators envision a better school experience

Kara Newhouse, KQED
When most of the nation’s schools closed in March due to COVID-19, educators turned to whatever methods they could to keep learning going — from online classes to phone calls to drive-by packet pick-ups. Still, many students were unreachable, and as teachers navigated those challenges, they turned up the volume on discussion about educational inequities. Much of focus has been on computer and internet access, but there’s more to equity than technology, according to Tricia Ebarvia, a high school English teacher in Pennsylvania. “We have to think about the ways in which we are recreating the systems and structures that have resulted in racial inequities in in-person education, but now in an online environment. And actually exacerbating them,” Ebarvia said.

Photos from pandemic prom: High school seniors show us their style

Tyrone Turner, La Johnson, and Nicole Werbeck, NPR
Prom portraits are often windows into the past, capturing a moment in time with a special person, or friends you’ve lost touch with. It’s a celebration of hard work; a well-earned break from studying and stress. Frozen in time — often to the delight and amusement, decades later, of future generations — are cultural trends in fashion and hair: Why did you pick that dress? Sneakers with a suit — really? Yet for the class of 2020, that whole experience has been taken away. Ending their educational careers with schools shut down amid a global pandemic wasn’t how they imagined marking this milestone in their young lives, or beginning the transition to whatever comes next.

Even young children notice what’s happening in the world right now. Here’s what you can do to help them understand

Mariana Dale, LAist
At the start of the coronavirus we offered advice on how to talk to your littlest kids about the pandemic. Now there are more crises to discuss — and it would be totally ridiculous if I told you there’s an easy way to explain to your kids what’s happening in the world right now.
But there are thoughtful people who have something to say about how parents might acknowledge and discuss the topics underlying this week’s nationwide protests — such as racism and social justice — while continuing to create joyful moments within their families.
Thea Monyeé is an artist, healer and licensed marriage and family therapist. She also hosts the podcast Dem Black Mamas. Tunette Powell is the director of the UCLA Parent Empowerment Project. Amber Coleman-Mortley is the director of social engagement at iCivics, a non-profit that promotes civic engagement among children and educators and blogs at MomOfAllCapes. “I think parents put a lot of pressure on themselves to have all the answers. And we don’t,” Monyeé says. “This is a situation that we’re going to have to co-create our way through with our children.”

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

Decolonizing the university

Lorgia Garcia-Pena and Mordecai Lyon, Boston Review
The United States is burning—a collective restlessness can be felt in every city in the country. With the exception of tenant unions petitioning for rent moratoriums and fringe groups protesting state health guidelines, a major consequence of COVID-19 had been the suspension of all in-person political organizing. But when feeds began showing the video of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, nothing could keep the people inside. This was just weeks after the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and the news of Louisville police breaking into Breonna Taylor’s home and killing her.

SAT plans for at-home tests suspended; some students may not have access to exams

Teresa Watanabe, The Los Angeles Times
SAT tests may not be available this fall to all students who want to take the college admissions exam as the coronavirus crisis has limited the availability of testing sites and efforts to develop an at-home exam have run into roadblocks, the College Board announced Tuesday. The testing organization is calling on universities and colleges to take these circumstances into account and extend deadlines for test score submissions. The testing company also is asking college admissions officers to equally evaluate students who were unable to take the test with those who can and to consider that many students will not be able to take the exam more than once, which often yields higher scores.

Why so few students transfer from community colleges to four-year universities

Jill Barshay, The Hechinger Report
Students are often advised to start college at a public community college as a way to save thousands of dollars on a bachelor’s degree. According to the most recent federal data in 2017-18, the average tuition and fees at a community college was $3,200, which compares favorably with $9,000 at a public four-year school. When they first arrive, about 80 percent of community college students say they want to earn a bachelor’s degree. But the path to the B.A. is fraught. Only 13 percent of the students who start at a community college manage to get a bachelor’s degree six years later, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. One part of the problem is that only 30 percent of community college students succeed in transferring to a four-year institution.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Office hours with Allen, Noguera, Howard, and Harper [AUDIO]

Walter Allen, Pedro Noguera, Tyrone Howard, Shaun Harper, and Jaleel Howard
This session discusses the effects of COVID-19 on education.

UD day: Impending evictions and homelessness in Los Angeles

Gary Blasi, UCLA Institute on Inequality and Democracy
This study focuses on the precarious state of housing for workers in Los Angeles County who are unemployed and have no replacement income. This paper is part of a larger project by researchers at UCLA working in collaboration with other researchers and with housing justice movements and community organizations to warn policy makers and the public of the impending humanitarian, social, and political disaster that Los Angeles County now faces and what can be done to mitigate the damage to Angelenos. That disaster becomes visible when the current freeze on most residential evictions is lifted and thousands of Los Angeles County tenants—both individuals and families—face imminent eviction and homelessness because they are unable to pay rent as it then becomes due. Those impending waves of evictions and homelessness will arrive in a community the with second highest percentage of renters in the United States and that was already facing an unprecedented crisis in the availability and cost of rental housing, especially for those with least to spend.

Inclusion of transgender student athletes violates Title IX, Trump administration says

Michael Levenson and Neil Vigdor, New York Times
A high school sports policy in Connecticut that allows transgender students to participate in athletics based on their gender identity violates federal law and could cost the state federal education funding, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has found. The finding came after the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization, filed complaints against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and the Glastonbury school board on behalf of three high school student-athletes. It was issued on May 15 but did not become public until Thursday. The policy is also being challenged in court. The students contended that the policy gave transgender students an unfair advantage in athletic competition and in the race for public recognition that is critical to college recruiting and scholarship opportunities.

Public Schools and Private $

California sues Education Secretary DeVos, saying she has failed to implement student loan forgiveness program

Lauren Hirsch and Annie Nova, CNBC
California is suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education for what the state alleges is a failure to implement its student loan forgiveness program for people who took on public-service jobs. “Today’s lawsuit reminds Secretary DeVos that she is not above the law,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement Wednesday. “She is accountable to these college graduates who followed the rules and deserve better, especially amidst an economic crisis of historic proportions.”

Dept. Of Education discloses illegal seizure of $2.2 billion from student loan borrowers

Adam S. Minsky, Forbes
In response to a class action lawsuit filed by student loan borrowers, the U.S. Department of Education disclosed that it had intercepted and seized over $2.2 billion in tax refunds owed to a million student loan borrowers, in violation of the CARES Act. The CARES Act suspended all collections on defaulted federally-held student loans from March 13, 2020 until September 30, 2020. The Act mandates that involuntary collections efforts by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Treasury — including the interception and seizure of tax refunds — are to be suspended.

Virtual charter schools and online learning during COVID-19

Brian Fitzpatrick, Mark Berends, Joseph J. Ferrare, and R. Joseph Waddington, Brookings Institute
With the onset of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, nearly all K-12 students in the United States have experienced an unprecedented interruption to their formal schooling. Students and parents with lack of access to technological devices, high-speed internet, and information to navigate online learning are among the most likely to face growing inequalities. This includes many low-income and rural families. As Susan Dynarski described in her recent New York Times article, “[COVID-19] has exposed and intensified enormous gaps in schools’ and families’ capacity to support children’s learning.” We agree that the circumstances are dire. The current situation is without precedent, so researchers and parents alike are scrambling to find out the effect of near-universal online instruction. To this end, one case worth considering is a relatively new learning environment with a set of schools that uniquely deliver instruction in an online mode: virtual charter schools. While some insights can be gained, we recommend caution when comparing the two cases.

Other News of Note

What black children will learn from George Floyd’s death

Peniel Joseph, CNN
As a 47-year-old African American, I received news of George Floyd’s tragic death as a painful reminder of my own personal vulnerability. When I was a black child growing up in New York City during the 1980s and 1990s, racial divisions were a prominent part of the social, political and cultural landscape that shaped my early life and my generation. We were told vivid stories by schoolteachers, via television documentaries and politicians of the way in which the civil rights movement transformed America by ending racial segregation, securing black voting rights and moving the nation closer to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a “beloved community.”

How Oakland students got 15,000 people to march against police violence on Monday

Darwin BondGraham, Berkeleyside
It started with a phone call last week between two childhood friends who grew up together in Oakland. Reeling from the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Xavier Brown and Akil Riley, both 19, said they felt compelled to “disrupt the peace”—a peace in which they feel Black lives are seen as expendable. Back home in Oakland for summer break from college — Brown just finished his freshman year at UCLA, Riley his first year at Howard University in Washington D.C.—they decided to organize a protest. “I just had an idea one day and called Xavier,” said Riley. “We put out a call and it spread around.”