Just News from Center X – March 27, 2020

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

LAUSD schools to stay closed until May 1; District will invest $100 million toward online learning [VIDEO]

CBS Local
Schools in Los Angeles will remain closed until May 1 in the ongoing effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, Superintendent Austin Beutner said Monday. Los Angeles Unified School District schools were originally scheduled to remain closed through the end of March. “I wish I could tell you it will all be back to normal sometime soon but it does not look like that will be the case,” Beutner wrote in a tweet.

Coping with stress of coronavirus crisis a challenge for California’s students

Patrick Hoge, EdSource
The mental toll of the coronavirus pandemic is unfolding inside homes throughout California, as students, parents and teachers learn to deal with a new normal of social distancing and remote learning. All of California’s four-year public universities and community colleges have shifted most in-person classes online, and nearly all of the state’s K-12 school districts have closed, teachers across the state scramble to learn how to provide instruction remotely. Already-stressed parents overnight have become homeschool teachers. Students, meanwhile, are coping with missing major milestones like commencements and SATs while those in college are preparing to postpone plans for the future.

Brooklyn high school principal, 36, dies from coronavirus

Corey Kilgannon, New York Times
Dez-Ann Romain, principal of the Brooklyn Democracy Academy, a public high school, always kept her office neat and freshened with new flowers, and kept the school decorated with inspirational quotes. “She was one of the most innovative school leaders I’ve ever worked with — her students just adored her,” said Courtney Winkfield, a New York City schools official who mentored Ms. Romain. Ms. Romain died Monday from complications of the coronavirus — the first known death of a New York City public school staff member from the virus.

Language, Culture, and Power

Education Dept. says disability laws shouldn’t get in the way of online learning

Elissa Nadworny and Anya Kamanetz, NPR
The vast majority of states have closed public schools in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and many districts are now faced with a dilemma: how to provide remote learning to students without running afoul of civil rights and disability laws. “Some of our students have incredibly diverse needs in the special education category,” Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Joel Carstarphen told Weekend Edition. “Some of our students have one-to-one support when they’re in school, so imagine if you don’t have that at home. It becomes virtually impossible for us to do that. We’re seeing that there’s still a lot of constraints on a school district to kind of do things the old way when we’re in unprecedented times.”

These kids are in the crosshairs of covid-19

Sara Luterman, The Nation
Despite dire warnings from public health experts, President Donald Trump has been insisting that America reopen businesses and get back to work. “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” he said on Tuesday. Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has emphasized that only some people are at risk. “We see less severity in children, and so that should be reassuring to the moms and dads out there,” she said during Monday’s White House press briefing. “The majority of the mortality [have] three or more preexisting conditions. I think this is reassuring to all of us, but it doesn’t change the need to continue to protect the elderly.”

Activism through narrative: Elevating the stories of America’s undocumented immigrants

Jessica Pliska, Forbes
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio might consider herself first and foremost an activist, advocating on behalf of undocumented immigrants across the U.S. It just so happens she does it as an acclaimed journalist. Drawing on her family’s personal experience, including her own as one of the first undocumented students at Harvard, and that of many hundreds of undocumented immigrants whose stories and voices she elevates in her reporting, her new book, Undocumented Americans, is unlike any other book you’ve read on the topic.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Schools race to feed students amid coronavirus closures

Cory Turner and Anya Kamanetz, NPR
Nearly 30 million children in the U.S. count on schools for free or low-cost breakfast, lunch, snacks and sometimes dinner — but most of those children are now at home. At least 114,000 public and private schools have been closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, affecting the vast majority of the nation’s K-12 students, according to an ongoing tally by Education Week. The school lunch program is the second-biggest anti-hunger initiative in the country, after SNAP, or food stamps. And while classes may be cancelled, school leaders are working hard to make sure kids have food to eat.

The coronavirus pandemic could shut down schools for months, leaving some students hungry and far behind their peers

Nicole Chavez, CNN
Classrooms will be empty from coast to coast in the coming weeks as the novel coronavirus spreads and officials say indefinite closures are a real possibility. If schools were to shut down long term, one of the greatest challenges for teachers, officials and school administrators would come down to ensuring all students have equal education opportunities and that their food and housing security is not put in jeopardy.

You Can Now Access 1.4 Million Books for Free Thanks to the Internet Archive

Maddie Bender, Vice
Students, teachers, and readers can now access over 1.4 million books for free as part of the National Emergency Library, a project launched on Tuesday by the Internet Archive to aid remote learning efforts. Covid-19 has pushed millions of students’ classes online and temporarily shuttered public libraries. The Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization known for creating the Wayback Machine, has previously digitized more than one million books donated by educational institutions and libraries. The books in the National Emergency Library are titles from Open Library, another Internet Archive project, that have had their waitlists removed. Unlike a typical lending library, multiple users can access a single digital copy of a book at the same time.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

An argumentative-writing unit for students doing remote learning

Michael Gonchar and Katherine Schulten, The New York Times
Whether you’re here because your school has switched to remote learning or because you just want to sharpen your argumentative skills, welcome to our first “unit” written directly to students. Of course, we know this isn’t a full unit like one you might work on over several weeks in school, under the direction of a teacher. Instead, it’s a streamlined version of the many resources our site offers on this topic, written in a way we hope teenagers can follow, at least in part, on their own.

Coronavirus education upheaval: Shorter online versions of Advanced Placement exams replace regular AP tests

Nick Anderson, The Washington Post
The organization that oversees the Advanced Placement program announced Friday that traditional, face-to-face AP testing will be canceled this year because of the coronavirus crisis and replaced by shorter online versions of the exams that can be taken in 45 minutes at home.

The College Board’s announcement reflected a moment of extraordinary upheaval in education, with schools across the country closing in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. AP tests ordinarily occur in May. But disruptions in classes are occurring in many states, with no end in sight, posing unprecedented obstacles for teachers and students.

A new Great Depression for higher education?

Richard Vedder, Forbes
Moody’s Investor Services and Fitch have proclaimed that the financial outlook for American higher education looks bad. Moody’s has given the sector negative ratings for most recent years, predicting low albeit positive tuition revenue growth. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, is the undoing of colleges, as it reeks havoc on many other businesses, families, and institutions as well. I am not an expert on university cash reserve positions, but I know that for many schools it is very modest. Unanticipated sharp declines in revenue will force many universities into substantial deficit spending this year, in some cases completely wiping out cash balances. For universities with an already mediocre revenue trajectory (e.g, enrollment declines over the past decade), this could perhaps force them into bankruptcy or possibly a merger with somewhat stronger neighboring institutions. COVID-19 will accelerate much needed creative destruction of some American universities, reducing collegiate over-investment.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

During coronavirus school closures, distance learning may only exacerbate academic inequities

Ariella Plachta, Los Angeles Daily News
When LAUSD parent Brande Huntamer LaHaye heard about the remote instruction schedule during campus closures spurred by the coronavirus pandemic for her best friend’s daughter, a student at Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, she couldn’t help but compare notes. The private school student reports to her online classroom by 8:30 a.m. and works through the afternoon, even scheduling bathroom breaks. Huntamer LaHaye’s children at Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, meanwhile, are struggling to complete math worksheets without accompanying lessons.

US students are being asked to work remotely. But 22% of homes don’t have internet

Dana Floberg, The Guardian
It started with a text from an old friend: “I regret to inform you that Bothell High is literally closed for coronavirus today.” My high school alma mater was one of the first schools to close, mere days before a man in the neighboring city of Kirkland, Washington, became the first US patient to pass away due to Covid-19. Then the entire Northshore School District announced it would close its doors for up to two weeks, planning to transition schoolwork “from classroom to cloud” for online learning.

Closing universities is creating a housing crisis for students [VIDEO]

Vice News, IGTV
Universities across America are closing due to rapid spread of the coronavirus, forcing students to go home. But what happens when you’re a student who doesn’t really have a home?

Other News of Note

Coronavirus – racial justice concerns

Rashad Robinson, LA Progressive
The COVID-19 pandemic has reached pandemic proportions in the United States because of a lack of corporate and government accountability and decades of inequality that magnify its effects on our communities. These failings put Black lives at unnecessary, higher risk. “Color Of Change was founded in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when no one cared about disappointing Black people, with morbid consequences. Now, faced with the prospect of Trump’s Katrina, Color Of Change is launching a series of campaigns that will mobilize Black people across America to ensure racial justice in Coronavirus response. There is still time for us to get this right. Together, we will hold corporate and government decision-makers accountable and ensure that Black and marginalized communities are not denied the care, protection and support that all communities deserve. Together we will demand an end to the systemic injustices that continue to deny us freedom and make us vulnerable.

‘We live paycheck to paycheck’: Undocumented workers struggle as economy grinds to a halt

Jacqueline Garcia, CalMatters
More than 2 million undocumented workers, who do not quality for many state and federal benefits, are among the hardest hit Californians as the economy is battered by the coronavirus pandemic.Congress is working to provide an emergency relief fund that could benefit U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents. However, undocumented workers are not included.
Also, undocumented workers do not qualify for unemployment insurance, or for the California Earned Income Tax Credit, a cash back credit that puts money into the pockets of workers.