Just News from Center X – March 13, 2020

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Key messages and actions for COVID-19 prevention and control in schools

WHO, UNICEF, The Red Cross
The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and the virus has now spread to many countries and territories. While a lot is still unknown about the virus that causes COVID-19, we do know that it is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing) Individuals can also be infected from touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and touching their face (e.g., eyes, nose, mouth). While COVID-19 continues to spread it is important that communities take action to prevent further transmission, reduce the impacts of the outbreak and support control measures. The protection of children and educational facilities is particularly important. Precautions are necessary to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 in school settings; however, care must also be taken to avoid stigmatizing students and staff who may have been exposed to the virus. It is important to remember that COVID-19 does not differentiate between borders, ethnicities, disability status, age or gender. Education settings should continue to be welcoming, respectful, inclusive, and supportive environments to all. Measures taken by schools can prevent the entry and spread of COVID-19 by students and staff who may have been exposed to the virus, while minimizing disruption and protecting students and staff from discrimination

Senators press Betsy DeVos on Education Department’s coronavirus response

Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post
A group of Democratic senators are pressing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to answer some key questions about her agency’s response to the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, especially about how it plans to help vulnerable students. More than 20 senators sent a letter late Tuesday urging answers from the secretary about what the department is doing to help students affected by the outbreak of the virus. They asked 14 questions, to be answered by March 24, including about how the department plans to ensure that all students who are asked to study at home because they are sick or their schools have closed have the resources they need to continue learning.

When should schools close for coronavirus?

Cory Turner and Anya Kamenetz, NPR
The spread of coronavirus has compelled hundreds of K-12 schools in the U.S. to close, affecting more than 850,000 students, according to an analysis by Education Week.  And those numbers are certain to increase in the coming days, as concerned parents call for more school closures. The growing health crisis presents school leaders with a painful choice. Closing schools — as has been done, so far, in China, Japan, Italy, and elsewhere — is a proven measure that has been shown to slow the spread of disease and, in turn, save lives. But it also causes huge economic and social disruption, especially for children, millions of whom depend on the free and reduced-cost meals they get at school.

How LAUSD is responding to coronavirus worries

Carla Javier, LAist
How is the nation’s second-largest school district preparing for a possible further spread of the coronavirus? That’s what the district officials wanted to address at Tuesday’s school board meetings.
In the immediate: the board voted unanimously to approve an emergency declaration and give Supt. Austin Beutner broad authority to “to take any and all actions necessary” to keep the nation’s second-largest school system running during the coronavirus outbreak.
“Our usual manner of procurement, usual manner of deliberation, while appropriate in much circumstance, will not allow us to make sure we have paper towels and soap in all of our schools tomorrow,” Beutner told the board before the vote. “We have to do things differently and recognize that the time is not something we can control.”

What students are saying about the Coronavirus

The Learning Network, The New York Times
Over the last few weeks, conversation (and speculation) surrounding the coronavirus has ramped up, as the disease has spread to more than 80 countries and sickened nearly 100,000 people worldwide. There is still much about the virus, how it spreads and its fatality rate that scientists don’t know. Ever-changing information has led to fear, apathy and everything in between. A recent Times piece offered advice for adults on how to talk to teens and tweens about the virus. But we wanted to ask them directly: How concerned are you about the coronavirus outbreak?

Language, Culture, and Power

College students create scholarship to protest Palantir

Lauren Kaori Gurley, Vice
Students at Carnegie Mellon University have made a scholarship fund for underrepresented students in STEM to protest the university for allowing the data mining firm Palantir to offer scholarships on campus. In recent years, Palantir, the $26 billion Silicon Valley data-mining company has raked in tens of millions of dollars from contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)— recently sparking activist backlash on more than 30 college campuses around the country, including UC Berkeley, Brown, Duke, Stanford, and Georgia Tech, united under the banner #NoTechForIce.

From suffragists to sports, Women’s History Month offers lessons in civics, social impact and beyond

Lauren Barack, Education Dive
While much is made of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment this year, historian Johanna Neuman notes that women have been fighting for the right to vote more than a century earlier. The scholar in residents at American University nods, as one example, to Abigail Adams and the sharp suggestion she wrote to her husband “to remember the ladies” in 1776, when he set off to the Continental Congress. “She warned in her famous letters that if they are not included, they will foment a rebellion,” Neuman said to Education Dive. That rebellion may have taken some time, but the role of women in landmark events across the United States, from civil rights to sports, has been present throughout the nation’s history. Alongside men, women broke new ground, not just for the country but also for each other, acting as pioneers for the women who followed. Historians are eager for these women to be better known, eager to breathe new life — and new points of view — into history that many students, and their teachers, may not know today.

I’m a superintendent. my students’ activism is key to their academic success

Michael Matsuda, Education Week
Democracy isn’t something we’re born with. It’s not in the air that we breathe or the water that we drink. There is no magic shield that protects American democracy or its citizens’ inalienable rights. The truth is: American democracy is an experiment that was codified almost 250 years ago on paper. And now, on the eve of a presidential election, it’s in a fight for its life. Today’s national discourse on nearly every important issue is mired in confusion and endless information (and misinformation), where ignorance, scapegoating, and name-calling are normalized. There are a growing number of historians who believe that America is on a similar path to Germany’s Weimar Republic and its ultimate march toward fascism. And we all know where that led. If our faith in democracy is going to be restored, our young people represent the best hope for getting us there. It is on us as educators to ensure that our students are civically engaged and understand how our government works. They should know what civil rights are, and why they are so critical for the future health of the nation. We must remind our young people that the promise of this country was forged by people who had the audacity to believe in an aspirational vision and encourage them to have one, too.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Schools can no longer use electric shock devices on students, says the FDA

Russ Choma, Mother Jones
The Food and Drug Administration formally banned the controversial use of electric shock devices on students being treated for behavioral issues this week, putting an end to a method that many experts—and victims—called cruel and ineffective. The practice, which was detailed in an exposé by Mother Jones in 2007, was no longer practiced widely around the country. But one institution still favored it: Officials at the Judge Rotenberg Education Center, a residential school for people with mental disabilities in Canton, Mass., continued to use the treatment.

At this high-poverty high school, college comes early to students

Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post
In Denver, there is a high-poverty high school that not only provides wraparound support for its students — including an on-site medical clinic — but also helps them get ready for college in a very specific way. At Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College School in Denver, students can earn college credits early, and that’s one of the reasons it is an honoree in the latest round of an annual project called “Schools of Opportunity,” which recognizes publicly funded high schools that work to create learning environments to reach every student and close achievement and opportunity gaps that harm students from historically disadvantaged groups.

Ask the expert: What is inclusive education? A beneficial way to teach students of all abilities side-by-side, says Assistant Professor Jamie Pearson

Janine Bowen, NC State University College of Education News
Inclusive education is beneficial for students of all learning abilities, but parents and educators need to be on the same page to make sure it is implemented successfully, says Jamie Pearson, Ph.D., an assistant professor of special education at the NC State College of Education. Pearson says that inclusive education means that students with and without disabilities learn alongside one another, in the same classroom setting, with lessons that are accessible for all.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

Underrepresented college students benefit more from ‘active learning’ techniques in STEM courses

James Urton, University of Washington News
Students from different backgrounds in the United States enter college with equal interest in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But that equal interest does not result in equal outcomes. Six years after starting an undergraduate STEM degree, roughly twice as many white students finished it compared to African American students. A new study by researchers at the University of Washington shows that teaching techniques in undergraduate STEM courses can significantly narrow gaps in course performance between students who are overrepresented and underrepresented in STEM. In a paper published March 9 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team reports that switching from passive techniques, such as traditional lectures, to inquiry-based “active learning” methods has a disproportionate benefit for underrepresented students, a term that encompasses low-income students and Latinx, African American, Native American, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students.

UC to consider a new type of tuition hikes over next five years

Larry Gordon, EdSource
A radically new model of tuition increases, encompassing five hikes over the next five years, is set to be considered by the University of California Board of Regents next week. Officials say that more than half of UC’s undergraduates will be shielded from the extra costs because of automatic raises in financial aid. The plan – called cohort tuition– would freeze tuition for students already at one of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses while raising it for the freshmen class entering in fall 2020 by $606, or 4.8 percent, to $13,176 for California residents. That new group would then have its tuition unchanged for up to six years. Then each subsequent entering class would see further increases of between 3.3 percent and 4.7 percent when they enter UC and have their own six-year freezes.

Women with access to higher education changed America—but now they’re bearing the brunt of the student debt crisis

Suzanne Kahn, Time
Higher education policy has taken center stage in the 2020 Democratic Presidential primary, with candidates proposing big ideas including free college and student debt cancellation. Candidates’ focus on this issue stems from a very real change in the experience of paying for college. One in five U.S. households was burdened by student loan debt, as of 2012, compared to one in 10 in 1989. In a generation, outstanding student debt levels have reached $1.6 trillion. Amidst the primary debate chatter, you have probably heard arguments that the student debt crisis is undermining the higher education system’s ability to fuel economic mobility. But this Women’s History Month, it’s worth noting that the debt crisis is also undermining one of the most historically unique elements of American higher education: its role as a force for gender equity.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Poverty, wealth, fairness: Where should students go to school?

Donna St. George, The Washington Post
In a Maryland school system touted as one of the nation’s largest and most diverse, Janelle Wong’s daughter goes to an elementary school that is mostly white, in a prosperous suburb, with few students affected by poverty. To its northeast, other schools in Montgomery County are far different — more crowded, with a majority of children of color, from families that struggle, in neighborhoods that are more strapped. The often-stark contrast from school to school has set off a heated debate — about race, income, busing, home values, fairness — as well-regarded Montgomery takes on a third rail of school board politics: boundaries.

Black students say they are being penalized for their hair, and experts say every student is worse off because of it

Leah Asmelash, CNN
High school senior Asia Simo loves being a cheerleader. In her final year, she even gave up soccer — another sport she played — to focus solely on what mattered to her the most: cheering. But with just eight games left in this year’s season, the 17-year-old was suddenly kicked off the team after three years at Captain Shreve High School in Louisiana. The reason? Her hair, her family says, which was too thick for the “half up, half down” standard the team required for a number of games. Asia accumulated demerits for having her hair out of uniform, which led to her eventual dismissal, despite not being an issue in previous years, her mother Rosalind Calloway told CNN. Asia’s story is part of a larger trend across the US, where more and more black students say they are being penalized for their hair.

The psychology behind inequality

Joseph Heffner and Oriel FeldmanHall, Psychology Today
Economic inequality is at an all-time high in the United States. Some claim that decades of systematic legislation have resulted in the wealthiest three families owning more wealth than the bottom half of the country. This trend is not reflected in other countries with developed economies: Out of all 36 countries with comparable economics, the US ranks last in equal income distribution.  As a result, we have returned to Great Depression levels of income inequality, and for the first time in American history, the working class pay a higher effective tax rate than billionaires.

Other News of Note

Louise Erdrich on her personal connection to Native Peoples’ ‘fight for survival’

Dave Davies, Fresh Air (NPR)
Our guest today is author Louise Erdrich. In a career going back to the 1970s, she’s published 17 novels and more than 30 books in all, including children’s literature, poetry and nonfiction. She won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction twice.
Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and much of her writing is centered on the experience of Native Americans. Her new novel is set in 1953 and is inspired by her grandfather’s role in resisting a congressional effort to withdraw federal recognition from her family’s tribe. The book is called “The Night Watchman.”