Just News from Center X – March 3, 2023

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Outside Supreme Court, Students Rally for Loan Forgiveness

The New York Times

Hundreds of protesters, many college students from across the country, rallied outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, carrying signs and posters urging the justices to back President Biden’s effort to cancel some $400 billion in student loan debt. Democratic lawmakers like Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Robert Menendez and Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Judy Chu addressed supporters of the plan from the steps of the Supreme Court.

Ms. Warren criticized the Supreme Court for “playing politics,” urging listeners to not let “an extremist court take away an opportunity for millions of Americans to have a little racial justice, a little economic justice, a little opportunity to build more secure futures going forward.”

Two Years Later: How COVID-19 Has Shaped the Teacher Workforce

Andrew Bacher-Hicks, Olivia L. Chi, and Alexis Orellana, Educational Researcher

The unprecedented challenges of teaching during COVID-19 prompted fears of a mass exodus from the profession. We examine the extent to which these fears were realized using administrative records of Massachusetts teachers between 2015–2016 and 2021–2022. Relative to prepandemic levels, average turnover rates were similar going into the fall of 2020 but increased by 17% (from 15.0% to 17.5%) going into the fall of 2021. The fall 2021 increases were particularly high among newly hired teachers (31% increase) but were lower among Black and Hispanic/Latinx teachers (5% increases among both groups). Gaps in turnover rates between schools serving higher and lower concentrations of economically disadvantaged students narrowed during the first 18 months of the pandemic. The same holds true for gaps in turnover between schools serving higher and lower shares of Black and Hispanic/Latinx students. Together, these findings highlight important differences in teachers’ responses to the pandemic across subgroups and the need to improve early-career retention to ensure long-term stability within the teacher workforce.

State, districts and schools all have a role to play in supporting Black students, panel says [VIDEO]

Kate Sequeira, Ed Source

Progress has been too slow in building a path to success for Black students, Education Trust–West Executive Director Christopher Nellum said Tuesday at an EdSource roundtable. Much still lies ahead, he added. “More than any other community, Black families value education. Folks risk their lives for it,” he said. Nellum joined other educators, advocates and a student on EdSource’s latest panel to discuss what schools, along with the state, should be doing to support California’s Black students who for decades have scored the lowest on state standardized tests among the state’s ethnic and racial groups.

Language, Culture, and Power

Racialization and Educational Inequality [Audio]

Janelle Scott, Monisha Bajaj, and Will Brehm, FreshEd

Today we explore the concepts of racialization and educational inequality in the field of comparative and international education. My guests are Janelle Scott and Monisha Bajaj who have recently co-edited the latest edition of the World Yearbook of Education.

TDSB makes Indigenous authors course mandatory for Grade 11 English credit

CBC News

Canada’s largest school board will make a course on Indigenous texts its compulsory Grade 11 English credit in a bid to ensure students graduate with a greater understanding of Indigenous culture and history. Trustees with the Toronto District School Board voted 18 to 3 Wednesday to replace its current mandatory Grade 11 course with one titled Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Metis and Inuit Voices. “This will give students a sense of Indigenous voices, of Indigenous authors, of the Indigenous experience in Canada, which is part of our responsibility in fulfilling the calls to action in truth and reconciliation, but also a great opportunity for students to have that learning that the vast majority of Canadians never had growing up,” TDSB chair Rachel Chernos Lin said in an interview with CBC Toronto.

Few speak Ojibwe as a first language. This ‘nest’ is teaching kids to in Cloquet

Robyn Katona, MPR News

Persia Erdrich’s son had just turned 2 years old when he spoke his first sentence in Ojibwe.

The pair were visiting the Minnesota Zoo as part of a group of babies, toddlers, parents and elders in a program to teach Ojibwe to young children and their parents. Erdrich, whose Ojibwe name is Netaa-niimid, said it happened when her son Patrick Linehan, whose Ojibwe name is Ogimaagaabaw, pointed at a bear in an enclosure. “Makwa nibaa,” he said. The bear is sleeping.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Young People Need Solutions-Oriented Climate Education

Sage Lenier, The Progressive

When I was sixteen, I left my Advanced Placement Environmental Science class having a full-on panic attack. In a lecture on topsoil collapse, my teacher had told us that the world had 100 years of agricultural soil left (which is not exactly true). When I asked him what we could possibly do about that, he replied that real change would require international cooperation in a way that has never happened before. There are many impediments to transformative climate policies, and I was unwittingly experiencing one of them. It turns out that the problem-focused, panic-inducing AP Environmental Science class I took is the only standardized curriculum on that subject offered in the United States’ public school system, and only to high school students at select schools.

Schools struggle with lead in water while awaiting federal relief

Katheryn Houghton, Chalkbeat

On a recent day in this 19th-century mining town turned tourist hot spot, students made their way into the Granite High School lobby and past a new filtered water bottle fill station. Water samples taken from the drinking fountain the station replaced had a lead concentration of 10 parts per billion — twice Montana’s legal limit for schools of 5 parts per billion for the toxic metal.

Who’s Looking Out for the Mental Health of Infants and Toddlers?

Emily Tate Sullivan, EdSurge

The last few years have been a strain on nearly everyone, with routines disrupted, social interactions curtailed, and stress and anxiety running high. There’s been much written and discussed about how those challenges have impacted students in K-12 schools and colleges — how they’re suffering in the wake of the pandemic and experiencing alarmingly high rates of mental health concerns. But what about kids who are even younger — infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children who also lived through the pandemic and are not immune to the stressors that it caused?

Access, Assessment, Advancement

Sonia Sotomayor Just Nailed the Problem With the Student Debt Cancellation Challenge

Hannah Levintova, Mother Jones

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in two separate cases that challenge President Biden’s plan to wipe out more than $400 billion in student debt for approximately 40 million Americans. The two highly watched cases are both quite technical. But in the first argument of the day, Justice Sonia Sotomayor managed to cut through the legal complexity to handily summarize the problems with the case: It ignores the vast advantages of generational wealth when it comes to paying for education and the hardship that borrowers without financial help will face if Biden’s program is cancelled—and, to top it off, cancellation’s opponents are asking the high court to engage in judicial overreach to shut off a program that they simply don’t like.

Financial aid access has worsened for California’s undocumented students

Ashley A. Smith, Ed Source

Fewer than a third of undocumented students who apply for state financial aid in California for college enroll and receive the help, according to a new report from the California Student Aid Commission. Only 14% of the state’s more than 94,000 undocumented college students receive financial aid, the 2020-21 data show. “This is alarming because undocumented students pursuing a college education have lower incomes and would otherwise be eligible for financial aid,” according to the commission.

University of California Under Fire for Blackstone Investment

Luke Goldstein, The American Prospect

At the beginning of the year, the University of California (UC) delivered a windfall to Blackstone’s real estate trust (BREIT), at a time when the fund faced a wave of redemptions from investors. The investment arm of the university system first poured over $4 billion into the fund, and then doubled down recently with another $500 million. The university’s unions oppose the deal on the grounds that corporate landlords such as Blackstone inflame California’s housing crisis by driving up rents and eviction rates. Union leaders have announced upcoming actions to urge the university to divest from Blackstone.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

The Taliban ended college for women. Here’s how Afghan women are defying the ban

Ruchi Kumar, NPR

She’s a young student in Afghanistan who graduated high school 3 years early at age 15. For years, she’s dreamed of becoming an engineer, both to rebuild her country and to prove that women could work in what’s often seen there as a male field. M.H., who requested anonymity fearing Taliban reprisal for speaking to the press and criticizing their policy, was inches from reaching her goal this past December. But days after she completed requirements for a civil engineering degree, the Taliban banned women from universities. Her gender torpedoed her dream.

Iran’s president orders probe of poisoning at girls’ schools

AP News

Iran’s president on Wednesday ordered authorities to investigate a series of incidents in which noxious fumes have sickened students at girls’ schools, which some officials suspect are attacks targeting women’s education. Hundreds of girls at around 30 schools have been sickened since November, with some winding up in hospital beds. Officials initially dismissed the incidents, only acknowledging the scope of the crisis in recent days. Children have complained about headaches, heart palpitations, feeling lethargic or otherwise unable to move. Some described smelling tangerines, chlorine or cleaning agents. Unlike neighboring Afghanistan, Iran has no history of religious extremists targeting girls’ education. Women and girls continued attending school even at the height of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled Iran’s Western-backed monarchy.

Women’s History Month | 10 Books To Add to the Collection and Share with Readers

Library Journal

Women’s history is not confined by borders or dates. It is unfolding in the headlines every day, around the globe. It is in the pages of these 10 books too, which range across time and continents while considering the varied lives and histories of women.

Democracy and the Public Interest

U-Turn: Charter Schools Go Private [Audio]

Jennifer Berkshire, Jack Schneider, Bruce Baker and Preston Green, Have you heard?

Are charter schools public or private? A case speeding towards the Supreme Court is likely to settle this age-old dispute once and for all by declaring charters as “non-state actors.” Peltier vs. Charter Day School Inc. is nominally about dress codes, chivalry and “fragile vessels.” But as special guests Bruce Baker and Preston Green explain, the real question here is whether students attending charter schools have the same civil rights and Constitutional protections as their public school peers. Among our most alarming episodes to date

‘We say gay!’ Hundreds of students across Iowa walk out of class to protest LGBTQ bills

Samantha Hernandez, Chris Higgins, Francesca Block, Phillip Sitter, George Shillcock, and Stephen Gruber-Miller, Des Moines Register

From Ames to Waterloo, students slipped out of classrooms by the hundreds Wednesday afternoon in an organized “We Say Gay” walkout to protest a slew of legislative bills that target LGBTQ youth. Organizers estimated students at 47 schools across Iowa walked out in protest Wednesday, as Republican lawmakers pushed forward with legislation aimed at tightening school policies and state law regarding gender identity, sexual orientation, gender-affirming care and equity, diversity and inclusion. Student organizers worry about the repercussions of those bills, which would, among other things, prohibit teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation to students through sixth grade and ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender and nonbinary youth under 18.

Colombia teachers march to call for improvements in public education

La Prensa Latina

Hundreds of Colombian teachers marched in Bogota on Tuesday at the behest of the Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode) to call for nationwide improvements in public education. The president of the union, Carlos Rivas, told EFE that the mobilization was called to demand that the nation’s “government of change” make a number of changes in the education sector, namely providing teachers with “the treatment that we … deserve, that public education deserves and that Colombian democracy deserves.” Rivas also referred to the firing of Alejandro Gaviria from his post as education minister, a move that was announced by President Gustavo Petro on Monday, saying that the minister had not provided teachers with the opportunity “to have a synergy to be able to develop proposals in favor of public education.”

Other News of Note

“Alone and Exploited”: NYT Exposé Shows Migrant Kids in U.S. Forced into Brutal Jobs for Major Brands [Video]

Amy Goodman and Hannah Drier, Democracy Now!

We speak with the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Hannah Dreier, who revealed in a major New York Times investigation the widespread exploitation of migrant children in some of the most dangerous jobs in the country. In response, the Biden administration on Monday announced it would carry out a broad crackdown on the use of migrant child labor in the United States, vowing stricter enforcement of labor standards and better support for migrant children. “These kids are just on their own in these situations, with very little resources and very few ways out,” says Dreier. We are also joined by Gregory Chen, senior director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, who says migrant children need better protection from unscrupulous employers and others who would seek to exploit them. “Children don’t have any knowledge or understanding of what their legal rights are,” says Chen.

Schools for Black American children predated the Revolution

Grant Stanton, Washington Post

This year’s Black History Month has witnessed unrelenting attacks on education and, in particular, the teaching of African American history, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) leading the charge. Such battles are not merely academic. Vast inequality in the nation’s educational systems endures and has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. This has only compounded long-standing difficulties that school districts have faced recruiting Black teachers, whose numbers are historically low. Fortunately, new initiatives are helping address these challenges. For example, the Philadelphia Freedom Schools project and other efforts are training and inspiring a robust pipeline of Black teachers and engaging young Black students. These programs stand at the forefront of a long history of struggle to guarantee robust educational opportunities for America’s Black children.