Just News from Center X – March 6, 2020

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

California schools brace for a coronavirus disruption

Ricardo Cano, Felicia Mello, and Elizabeth Aguilera, Cal Matters
Early reports indicate children infected by the coronavirus experience a milder response than older adults. But as it arrives in Northern California, school and college officials are preparing for a growing likelihood that the highly contagious virus will disrupt learning and spark panic in young people and their naturally protective caretakers. As dorms are being disinfected and exposed students are forced into quarantine, administrators are considering adding more cleaning staff while eyeing remote learning and independent study options to keep everyone from kindergartners to college seniors from veering off their academic schedules.

California university fired 54 grad students who were striking for higher pay

Nicole Chavez, CNN
Fifty-four teaching assistants at the University of California, Santa Cruz were fired after they refused to turn in final fall grades as part of an ongoing strike for higher wages. “It is extremely disappointing to us that we have to take such a drastic step, but we ultimately cannot retain graduate students as teaching assistants who will not fulfill their responsibilities,” Lori G. Kletzer, the school’s interim campus provost and executive vice chancellor, wrote in a letter to students and staff on Friday. About 200 graduate students at the northern California campus starting withholding grades in December, demanding an increase in wages of $1,412 that would help them cover rent near the school. Earlier this month, the students started holding protests on campus and many stopped teaching, holding office hours and conducting research.

From Teacher Pay to Free College, What 41 Governors’ State of the State Addresses Reveal About the Nation’s Top 2020 Education Issues

Phyllis W. Jordan and Brooke Lepage, The 74
Governors’ annual State of the State addresses are windows into what’s likely to be at the top of state education agendas in the coming year — and what’s not. It’s clear from this year’s speeches that school reform, a state priority for years, has fallen out of favor.
FutureEd’s analysis of the 41 gubernatorial speeches delivered so far this year found that while every state leader highlighted the importance of education, they talked a lot more about expanding educational opportunities than improving the performance of the nation’s schools and colleges.

Language, Culture, and Power

In 1969, a white principal barred protesting black students from graduation. They are finally being honored.

John Woodrow Cox, The Washington Post
Diane Contee had to make a choice. The girl was in a typing class that morning in 1969 and could hear the footsteps of students already rushing through the hallway. She knew where they were headed. Word had spread around La Plata High School that, at 10 a.m., a sit-in would be held in the cafeteria. At the time, the reason for their demonstration — to protest the selection of only one black girl to the school’s cheerleading team — might have seemed trivial. But Contee, a senior, knew it was about more than majorettes. The school had integrated just a few years earlier, and the discrimination never relented.

Oxnard seeks new school name as Haydock’s racist past comes to light

Wendy Leung, Ventura County Star
Oxnard schools are named after figures that shine in history books — farmworker organizer Cesar Chavez, astronaut Christa McAuliffe and anti-segregationist Juan Soria. But who was Richard B. Haydock, the namesake of an arts and sciences academy? That’s what Kimberli Oregel wondered out loud to her sixth-grade teacher before school. The name is invoked every day but Lauren Mendez didn’t know much about Haydock and wasn’t sure how to answer her student. Mendez did some internet research and by the time the nutrition break rolled around, she printed portions of an e-book for Kimberli to read. With a highlighter in hand, the Haydock student marked up the notable passages in “Strategies of Segregation: Race, Residence, and the Struggle for Educational Equality” by David G. García. The pages were pretty marked up by the time Kimberli was through.

Years before Brown v. Board Of Education, there was a lawsuit for ‘equalization’ [AUDIO]

Robbie Harris, NPR
Few remember a Virginia case in which an African American principal started a petition for equal school facilities and teacher pay in Pulaski, Va.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Elementary school principal bonds with students during haircuts

Steve Inskeep, NPR Morning Edition
There is a special relationship between a barber and a client. Principal Terrance Newton tries to create that same bond with his students at Warner Elementary School in Wilmington, Delaware. You could almost think of the principal at a school in Wilmington, Del., as having a side hustle cutting hair. It’s not truly a side hustle, though, since Terrance Newton is not doing this for the money. He’s doing it for the kids. About 15 years ago, he says, when he was a teacher, he had trouble connecting with a kid in class.

30 years after Americans with Disability Act, college students with disabilities say law is not enough

Safia Samee Ali, NBC News
Kyle Cox was on his way to class during an ice storm in January 2019 when an outdoor wheelchair elevator at Texas A&M University malfunctioned. For 30 minutes, Cox, a graduate student, was trapped outside with sleet pelting him on an unseasonably frigid day in College Station. Building staff draped him in blankets and coats while they worked to free him from the handicap accessible lift designed to help disabled students access the building with ease. By the time he had cleaned up and composed himself, class was over.

Ban traumatic ‘shooter drills’ in US schools, urge teachers

Rob Walker, The Guardian
“Shooter drills”, in which masked men carrying assault rifles burst into classrooms and simulate real-life gun attacks, are traumatising children and should be banned, America’s two biggest teachers’ unions have warned. The drills came in after the Columbine shooting in 1999, where 13 students were killed, but they have surged in American schools since the attack at Sandy Hook school in 2012, when a gunman shot dead 26, mostly children in kindergarten. “You have kids wetting their pants, you have kids crying, you have teachers crying and you have everyone saying, ‘this is it – I’m going to die’,” said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. “And when it’s over, it’s like – just kidding!”

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

Conservative faculty appear to influence their students more than liberal professors do

Alyssa N. Rockenbach, Matthew J. Mayhew, Kevin Singer, and Laura S. Dahl, The Washington Post
Recently, at the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf argued that “conservatives face a hostile campus,” a position he and others have promoted for several years. Is it true? We are uniquely positioned to answer that, having just completed a four-year study of religious, spiritual and nonreligious diversity on more than 100 college campuses called “IDEALS.” Our research teams from Ohio State University and North Carolina State University, in partnership with Interfaith Youth Core, examined students’ experiences with fellow students who hold different beliefs as well as how these experiences are affecting them. We also looked at politics in the classroom and whether students felt that faculty instructors pressured them to align with the instructors’ political beliefs. Here’s what we found.

Bridging digital divides between schools and communities

Nicol Turner Lee, Brookings Institute
Schools have historically been the beneficiaries of public and private sector investments in digital infrastructure, programs, and other resources. Funding has been primarily directed at in-school internet connectivity, after school programs and a wide range of related activities, including teacher professional development, e-books, and on-site computer labs. One of the largest sources of technology funding is the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-rate program, which invests in internet access and infrastructure in schools, including Wi-Fi. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which was created in 1994 through a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also supports technology education for students during non-school hours. Combined, these federal programs have allocated nearly $86 billion in the last 23 years that can be added to numerous investments from philanthropic organizations and corporations.

Finally, a school data system emerging

Dan Walters, Cal Matters
California has a very fragmented approach to education — a collection of institutional silos that only occasionally communicate with each other and often are more competitive than cooperative. That fragmentation is very visible in the perpetual conflicts between traditional K-12 schools and parent-directed charter schools, and in the battles among the three systems of public higher education over academic turf. Disunity’s victims are students seeking educations to prepare them for careers and places in society, who struggle to know what high school classes they must take to apply for college, or which community college courses are transferable to four-year institutions. One aspect of fragmentation is that California has been a laggard in collecting meaningful information about how well its educational systems are functioning. It’s one of the very few states that lack what’s called a “longitudinal data system” to track students from pre-kindergarten through high school and college and into the workforce.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Education Department changing eligibility for hundreds of rural school districts receiving aid: report

J. Edward Moreno, The Hill
More than 800 schools receiving federal funds under the Rural and Low-Income School Program could become ineligible due to a sudden change in bookkeeping, The New York Times reported Friday. The funding helps sustain schools in geographically isolated areas with fewer local funding opportunities. The change was reportedly announced through letters to education leaders from the Education Department. According to the Times, the letter said an audit of the program showed that districts had “erroneously” received funding when they had not met eligibility requirements outlined in the federal education law since 2002.

California schools expel and suspend Native American students at alarming rates. Districts can’t dismiss the data just because their populations are small, advocates say

Mikhail Zinshteyn, LA School Report
In one incident, a teacher grew frustrated with a student because he wouldn’t respond to her, not realizing that in the student’s Native American tribe, exhibiting silence is a sign of respect to an authority figure. As punishment, the student was denied recess. In another instance, a Native American student was accused of consuming drugs, interrogated by the police and subject to random searches for weeks after returning from a tribal ceremony that included the burning of sage. These stories and others detail the limited awareness school officials can show about the cultures of Native American students, a group that’s likelier to be expelled in California, according to September figures tallied by researchers at San Diego State University and the Sacramento Native American Higher Education Collaborative (SNAHEC), which also collected the students’ stories. In fact, Native American boys are expelled at rates higher than any other student group in the state, the report finds.

Letters Urge Betsy DeVos To Erase Student Loans For Borrowers With Disabilities

Cory Turner, NPR
The U.S. Department of Education must act to help thousands of student loan borrowers who have severe disabilities; that’s the message of two letters sent Tuesday to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Because of their disabilities, these borrowers qualify to have their federal student loans erased. But one letter, signed by more than 30 advocacy groups, says the department has made the application process so burdensome that most borrowers never get the help they’re entitled to.

Public Schools and Private $

Curmudgucation: What charter advocates want from states

Peter Greene, NEPC
What exactly would charter proponents like to see in state charter regulations? As it turns out, we don’t have to guess, because the National Alliance of Public [sic] Charter Schools regularly publishes a ranking of the states based on the “strength” of their charter laws. This year’s edition is the 11th, and its available right nowWoot! If you are concerned about the rankings, I can give you some highlights. Indiana, Colorado and Washington come in at spots 1, 2 and 3. Florida (State motto: “Making sure there is no public school system for Certain People’s grandchildren”) is down at 7. Maryland, Kansas, and Alaska are at the bottom. Five states are not on the list at all–no charter laws. There are some other surprises, like Ohio at a measly 23.

On Super Tuesday, the LA Teachers’ Strike paid off again

Sammy Feldblum, In These Times
Last January’s Los Angeles teachers’ strike saw some 30,000 educators walk out of the classroom in the nation’s second-largest school district and return six days later with a new contract. The teachers fought not only for wage increases but broadened their demands to include schooling conditions for the district’s more than 500,000 students. They called for caps on class sizes and extra support staff, including a full-time nurse in every school and a librarian for all middle and high schools. They pushed for greater oversight of charter schools and against their further expansion. The community overwhelmingly supported the teachers, and, by and large, the teachers won.

Future of OC charter schools at stake in county education board election

Nick Gerda, Voice of OC
Elections for the Orange County Board of Education have been a sleepy affair in the past. But this year, the board – which oversees school district finances and can approve or reject charter schools – is hotly contested. Republicans have long held a majority on the five-member board, and this time around Democrats are seeking to take the majority – with charter school approvals a key issue in the campaigns.

Other News of Note

March 6 is the anniversary of the notorious U.S. Supreme Court decision, Dred Scott v. Sanford.

Professor Martha Jones: On birthright citizens [Video] 

Martha Jones, Youtube
Professor Martha S. Jones offers insight on her upcoming book, Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America, which explores the activism of free African Americans in the period before the U.S. Civil War and the impact that their argument for birthright citizenship had on passage of the Fourteenth Amendment. The book is due out in 2016. Jones is a member of the Law School’s Affiliated LS&A Faculty and codirector of the Michigan Law Program in Race, Law & History. She is also an associate professor of history and associate chair of U-M’s Department of Afroamerican and African Studies.