Just News from Center X – March 29, 2024

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

The Chicago Teachers Union Wants to End Student Homelessness at the Bargaining Table

Sarah Lazare, The Nation

At the high school where Kevin Moore has taught social studies for seven years, there is no way to separate Chicago’s housing crisis from teachers’ working conditions—or students’ learning conditions. Of the roughly 1,500 students at George Washington High School, on the far southeast side of the city, about 60 students are housing insecure, he said. But that number is expected to rise this year, with an increasing number of migrant newcomers temporarily staying with family or friends, deprived permanent residence, a status referred to as “doubling up.” “If you’re a child and you don’t know what your living situation is going to be by the end of the week, much less by the end of the day, school is not going to be your top priority,” Moore, 45, said of the high school, which is 88 percent Latino. “We want to give our students the most joyful day possible,” he said, adding that it’s “difficult to do our jobs when a child is struggling, when their attention is elsewhere.”

High school teacher and students sue over Arkansas’ ban on critical race theory

Andrew Demillo, AP News

A high school teacher and two students sued Arkansas on Monday over the state’s ban on critical race theory and “indoctrination” in public schools, asking a federal judge to strike down the restrictions as unconstitutional. The lawsuit by the teacher and students from Little Rock Central High School, site of the historic 1957 racial desegregation crisis, stems from the state’s decision last year that an Advanced Placement course on African American Studies would not count toward state credit. The lawsuit argues the restrictions, which were among a number of education changes that Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed into law last year, violate free speech protections under the First Amendment and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

What would Donald Trump do in the realm of K-12 if voters return the former president to the White House?

Matthew Stone, Education Week

What would Donald Trump do in the realm of K-12 if voters return the former president to the White House? He and his campaign haven’t outlined many specifics, but a recently published document that details conservative plans to completely remake the executive branch offers some possibilities. Among them:Title I, the $18 billion federal fund that supports low-income students, would disappear in a decade. Federal special education funds would flow to school districts as block grants with no strings attached, or even to savings accounts for parents to use on private school or other education expenses. The U.S. Department of Education would be eliminated. The federal government’s ability to enforce civil rights laws in schools would be scaled back. The proposals are contained in comprehensive policy agenda that’s part of a Heritage Foundation-led initiative called Project 2025: Presidential Transition Project, which includes nearly 900 pages of detailed plans for virtually every corner of the federal government and a database of potential staffers for a conservative administration. It will also feature a playbook for the first 180 days of a new term.

Language, Culture, and Power

Amid book bans, DEI cuts and ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws, 7 states will mandate LGBTQ-inclusive curricula

Matt Lavietes, NBC News

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signed a law last week that includes a mandate for the state’s public schools to teach LGBTQ history, as red and blue states continue to diverge on whether schools should expose kids to gay and transgender identities.The new law, Senate Bill 5462, mandates that the state’s school districts adopt curricula that is as “culturally and experientially diverse as possible,” including the histories of LGBTQ people, people of color and people with disabilities. Schools will be required to institute the inclusive curricula by the 2025-26 school year. “The governor was happy to sign legislation that aims to ensure students of all races and identities feel safe and welcome at school,” Mike Faulk, a spokesperson for Inslee, said in an email Monday.

Cops in Schools: Tracking Nationwide Changes after George Floyd

Anna Bryant, Chicago Justice

During the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd, calls for police reform echoed across the country, including around the issue of cops in schools. Activists called for change in the use of school police, also known as School Resource Officers. Concerns about the school-to-prison pipeline and its racially disparate impact on black and brown youth sparked a national conversation on the role of policing in America’s schools. As more than three years have passed since the heightened calls for police reform began in 2020, it is important to examine how these movements have impacted policing in schools. The goal of the present report is to understand the movements for reform and policy changes around cops in schools that emerged following the Black Lives Matter movement in Chicago and other major U.S. cities.

‘How you lead indigenous education is … everything’s personal.’

Alex Red Corn, NEA.org

If I were able to achieve the things that I dream about, our kids would be able to go to school, learn their language, be taught by native teachers, and have all those people leading in different type of learning environment that isn’t just putting culture into a scope and sequence curriculum. I hope they can graduate schools and be fluent in tribal governments, tribal language, tribal history, tribal art, and they can confidently move into the future knowing that they’re not a stereotype. That’s what I hope happens eventually for future generations. I started my career as a social studies teacher in a high school in the Kansas City area. I started to realize that my professional and my personal lives of being connected with the Osage community and the Osage Nation … were disconnected. American Indians like me, a lot of American Indians are from multiracial families. I could be named, raised in ceremonies, but then suddenly, I got kids teasing me. They’re like, ‘You’re not really Indian.’ So, I started doing advocacy work for indigenous education and directing all my studies and energy towards studying and really coming to understand indigenous versions of education.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Why Spain is trusting trans teens on their gender, rather than restricting them

Dominique Soguel, Christian Science Monitor

Dictator Gen. Francisco Franco’s rule was a grim era for Spain’s transgender community.

“At the time, a trans person could be taken from the streets to prison, without any chance to consult a lawyer, and be kept there for as long as a judge saw fit,” recalls Mar Cambrollé, who has been fighting for trans rights since General Franco died in 1975, and now is president of the transgender rights association Federación Plataforma Trans. A Franco mindset no longer shapes Spain’s view of gender identity. Just in the last 20 years, the country has undergone a radical shift in how it perceives its transgender community, particularly trans youth. Last year, the country adopted legislation allowing anyone age 12 or over to change their legal status to match their gender identity (though those under 17 would need judicial or parental consent, depending on their age).

Combatting Chronic Absenteeism through Family Engagement [Audio]

Eyal Bergman, The Harvard EdCast

Family engagement plays a pivotal role in combatting chronic absenteeism.

The number of students who are chronically absent – missing 10% or more of the school year – has skyrocketed since the pandemic. Eyal Bergman, senior vice president at Learning Heroes, studied this issue and was surprised to discover how schools with robust family engagement had significantly lower rates of chronic absenteeism. “It shows that the strength of a school’s family engagement is actually more predictive of a school’s chronic absenteeism than their rates of poverty,” he says. But fostering strong home-school partnerships has been a challenge for many school districts. “What we find is that schools often, despite really good intentions, have not really been designed to promote really strong partnerships with families,” he says. “This is why families are often treated as spectators to the work of schools. This is why their cultural wisdom and their expertise about their children aren’t necessarily woven into the fabric of schooling. It’s why we see that schools often apply assimilationist practices.”

Intensive tutoring is great for academics. Now there’s evidence it can boost attendance.

Kalyn Belsha, Chalkbeat

Twelve-year-old Ethen likes spending time with his math tutors — and not always for reasons related to math. They crack jokes and play chess with him when he finishes his work early. He likes meeting with them in the library, where it’s easier to ask questions without being talked over. And when he’s had a rough day, he can count on his tutors to cheer him up. “That’s something good for me because I get to finally see someone that’s happy to see me,” said Ethen, a sixth grader at Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, D.C. “Their smile makes me smile.” Lots of research has shown that intensive tutoring is one of the best ways to help students improve academically. And it’s become a go-to strategy to help kids who missed a lot of instruction during the pandemic. But a new study suggests high-dosage tutoring can boost something else, too: attendance.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

Child care gets a boost in the new federal spending law, but advocates say it isn’t enough [Audio]

Kimberly Adams, Marketplace

The child care crisis in America just got a bit of relief. In the latest government funding bill just approved by the White House, there’s a $1 billion increase for programs focused on child care and early childhood learning. This new funding includes an additional $275 million for the Head Start program and $725 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. That’s roughly a 30% increase in the funds, which states choose how to spend. “One way that states might choose to use this increased funding is to increase subsidy eligibility thresholds,” said Susan Gale Perry, CEO of the nonprofit Child Care Aware of America. “Which means more families would have access to help paying for child care. It may also be used for things like improving the rates that states pay for child care providers so that they can, in turn, attract and retain qualified staff and increase the quality of their programs.” The increase brings the program totals to about $21 billion. Child care advocates say that reflects bipartisan support for early childhood education.

School counselors can’t undo the FAFSA mess on their own. We need a national movement right now

Angel Perez, Hechinger Report

As of today, we are over 30 percent behind last year in FAFSA filings. If we do not mobilize as a college access community, we are at risk of losing thousands of students from the pipeline to higher education. The culprit? The difficult revised FAFSA process. Many public school counselors have told me that their students are frustrated and waiting until next year to apply. News coverage of the disastrous new FAFSA rollout and the Education Department’s unprecedented delays in sending FAFSA data to institutions has detailed everything that went wrong. What hasn’t been covered is the potential impact this could have on the nation, what we can do to mitigate some of the unintended consequences or what we all must do right now to help.

Attacks on Diversity in Higher Education Threaten Democracy

Abby Ferber, Scientific American

If a time traveler left the U.S. in the summer of 2020, and returned today, they well might conclude they had accidentally gone back in time, so drastically different is today’s national conversation about racism. The murder of George Floyd and the increased visibility of the Black Lives Matter movement had led to corporate and university commitments to “diversity, equity and inclusion.” More white people suddenly publicly recognized white privilege and structural racism. More took to the streets than previous Civil Rights demonstrations. More read and studied systemic racism and white privilege, while learning from diverse writers and educators. More corporations issued statements against racism and pledged to do better.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

How the Practices of Schools of Opportunity Illustrate Recent Research on Learning

Adam York and Kate Somerville, NEPC

The Schools of Opportunity Project recognized schools that close opportunity gaps for students. The uneven distribution of resources in education systems drives opportunity gaps, limiting the educational experience of some students and frequently resulting in inequitable outcomes. This policy memo shares examples of schools excelling in two criteria of the Schools of Opportunity project, to demonstrate the positive connections between those school practices and recent research on human learning. One of these criteria involves the restrictive impact of tracking on school culture, and the need to create a supportive learning culture by closely examining and revising practices that may have been long-standing in tracked courses. The other criterion focuses on the benefits that emerge from developing a challenging, culturally relevant curriculum. This policy memo shows how school leaders and policymakers can look to recognized Schools of Opportunity as guides for how to proactively reframe learning goals and outcome measures.

Gentrification’s impact on school demographics: A study of 3 California cities

Jennifer B. Ayscue, Kfir Mordechay, and David Mickey-Pabello, Brookings

During the last several decades, gentrification has reshaped neighborhoods across the United States. Although the term “gentrification” has been defined in different ways, there is general consensus that gentrification typically refers to an increase in the affluence of a neighborhood and is accompanied by increased housing values. Gentrification is also often accompanied by changes in the demographic composition of a neighborhood, ushering higher-income residents into historically lower-income neighborhoods; this process may also include racial change, with more white residents moving into neighborhoods that were historically communities of color.

Families slip back into poverty after pandemic-era child tax credit expires [Video]

Amna Nawaz, PBS Newshour

We now continue our series America’s Safety Net about the government programs that help Americans in need. Tonight, we look at the pandemic, when lawmakers, dramatically, but temporarily, expanded the social safety net, including more money for families with children.

Amna Nawaz and producer Sam Lane report on how the impacts of those changes are still being felt and debated to this day.

Democracy and the Public Interest

Reclaiming inclusion in an age of indignation

Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley, Phi Delta Kappan

As educators have pushed for inclusion of all marginalized students of different identities, we’ve seen a backlash of political and parental indignation. Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley suggest that while it’s sometimes clear who is right and who is wrong in these disputes, some issues aren’t so clear, and people’s multiple identities can come in conflict. They suggest that better representation, drawing upon our capacity for sympathy, not giving up on the power of learning, seeking out what serves the common good, and conducting disagreements with consideration for each other’s rights, are some of the best ways to define and defend the inclusive school and get through the storms of outrage and indignation.

West Virginia governor signs vague law allowing teachers to answer questions about origin of life

Leah Willingham, AP News

West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed a law Friday that supporters say promotes the free exchange of ideas in science classrooms, despite objections from opponents who said the vaguely worded measure could allow for the incursion of religion into public schools. The legislation allows public school teachers to answer student questions “about scientific theories of how the universe and/or life came to exist.” It was proposed after Republican Senate Education Chair Amy Grady, a public school teacher, said fellow educators have told her they don’t feel comfortable answering questions about theories outside evolution because they don’t know if doing so is permissible. Speaking to the bill on the Senate floor in January, Grady said the bill is meant to clarify how teachers can approach these situations.

Many Houston charter schools are violating state transparency laws. Here’s why it’s an issue

Miranda Dunlap, Houston Landing

Many Houston-area charter schools are violating state transparency laws designed to make school governance and financial decisions open to the public, a pattern that has drawn minimal scrutiny from state officials. Nearly 85 percent of the 39 charter school networks based in Harris County did not have all their up-to-date transparency records posted online as required by state law, the Houston Landing found this month after reviewing their sites. The missing records include board meeting notices, agendas and minutes, which would allow the public to monitor the board’s governance, as well as annual budgets and year-end financial reports. In recent years, the types of records missing from many school sites have helped expose questionable financial deals and lax oversight of charter schools, prompting calls for state lawmakers to increase oversight.

Many Houston charter schools are violating state transparency laws. Here’s why it’s an issue

Other News of Note

How to engage young people on climate change? Try screening a doc on environmental racism, says prof

Desmond Brown, CBC News

Young people will need to be persistent if they want to make change in the world, says a Canadian author and researcher on environmental racism. That’s the message McMaster University professor Ingrid Waldron hopes students receive as they hear from three women on Thursday who have been leading fights against industrial impacts on Black and Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia. The women were featured in the 2019 documentary, There’s Something in the Water, which screens on Thursday on campus before the panel discussion with the three women. The film was co-produced by Waldron, Canadian actor Elliot Page and Ian Daniel and is named after Waldron’s book by the same name. “What they will get out of this [screening and discussion] is that these are three women who have been organizing around environmental justice issues for over a decade and they haven’t given up,” Waldron told CBC Hamilton ahead of the event.

Youths raise voices in climate crisis for people of color like themselves

Rosanne Skirble, Maryland Matters

Every Tuesday evening, Hannah Choi jumps online to join two-dozen high school students for lessons in advocacy. They are all interns with BIPOC [biracial, indigenous, people of color] Montgomery County Green New Deal, a program created by the nonprofit National Institute for Peer Support, which organizes the weekly training workshops. It’s here where Choi and her peers learn to strategize to advance the environmental and social change they want to see. “Overall, it has inspired me to become more politically active in my community, and more aware of what’s going on, that I can make change with my actions,” she said. Jim Driscoll is president of the non-profit and a veteran climate activist who began the internship program in 2021 and serves as its coordinator. “As a first step we decided to hire a group of interns from local high schools to educate them about the climate crisis and to help build our relationships within and across our BIPOC priority communities,” he said.