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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
Schools scared to death.
The truth is, one education under desks,
Stooped low from bullets;
That plunge when we ask
Where our children
Jack Healy and Edgar Sandoval, New York Times
Xavier Lopez, 10, made the honor roll on the day he was killed. He was eager to share the news with his three brothers, but Xavier’s grandparents said he decided to stay at Robb Elementary School following an end-of-year ceremony to watch a movie and eat popcorn with another family he cherished: his fourth-grade classmates. Xavier’s classroom, where a nightmare erupted when a gunman burst in and killed 19 children and two teachers, reflected the close-knit character of Uvalde, a Mexican American ranching town in southern Texas where lives are braided together by generations of friendships and marriage.
Bless and support every teacher in every classroom today and all days. It is a frontline in our struggle to save the American experiment, as embodied in the public school.
Language, Culture, and Power
Katherine Schaeffer, Pew Research
Guns are deeply ingrained in American society and the nation’s political debates. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms, and about a third of U.S. adults say they personally own a gun. At the same time, President Joe Biden and other policymakers earlier this year proposed new restrictions on firearm access in an effort to address gun violence ranging from rising murder rates in some major cities to mass shootings. Here are some key findings about Americans’ attitudes about gun violence, gun policy and other subjects, drawn from recent surveys by Pew Research Center and Gallup.
Fadel Allassan, Axios
March for Our Lives, the student-led gun control advocacy group, is planning nationwide protests in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, according to its website. Driving the news: The protests will take place some four years after the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, during which a gunman killed 17 people. That shooting led to the group’s founding and preceded the organization holding one of the largest demonstrations in U.S. history.
Details: The organization is planning a march in D.C. for June 11, with other actions planned in cities around the country.
Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian
Pap Ndiaye, the renowned Black French historian and expert on US minority rights, has been appointed education minister for the start of Emmanuel Macron’s second term, as the country faces persistent social inequalities in the school system. “I’m a pure product of republican meritocracy,” Ndiaye said, referencing his mother who taught science at a middle school outside Paris. He said he was also “a symbol of diversity” which gave him a sense of “duty and responsibility” to the young people of France. Ndiaye, an expert on colonialism and the history of race relations on both sides of the Atlantic, was head of France’s Museum of Immigration and is seen as on the left.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Amika George, Washington Post
Everything changed one morning in April 2017. Eating cereal at my breakfast table before school, I spotted a news article on my phone about “period poverty” in the U.K. The term was entirely alien to me, I’d never even considered what I might do if my family hadn’t been able to afford period products. A quick Google search unleashed numerous reports of girls in Britain missing up to one week of school every month, or using horrific alternatives like toilet paper, socks, or newspaper, instead of pads or tampons. I couldn’t believe it. Period poverty was hitting the very poorest families in the U.K., who had to choose between eating and staying warm. Menstrual care was simply not a priority.
Drew Harwell, Washington Post
Millions of children had their online behaviors and personal information tracked by the apps and websites they used for school during the pandemic, according to an international investigation that raises concerns about the impact remote learning had on children’s privacy online. The educational tools were recommended by school districts and offered interactive math and reading lessons to children as young as prekindergarten. But many of them also collected students’ information and shared it with marketers and data brokers, who could then build data profiles used to target the children with ads that follow them around the Web.
Justin Lai, Knee Deep Times
Take a drive from the Oakland Airport to the now sans-Raiders Coliseum, and it’s impossible not to feel the consequences of urban decay. It’s a bumpy ride, literally: Hegenberger Road is rife with potholes, not to mention issues with litter, heat, and air quality. After decades of racial segregation and historical divestment – its population is disproportionately Black and Latinx, with a 26% poverty rate and $41,000 median income – the Hegenberger corridor is a felt reminder that Oakland’s economic disparity comes with steep environmental costs. Luckily, a trio of high school sophomores from the Oakland Unified School District have some novel ideas to help revitalize the area.
Access, Assessment, Advancement
Bryce Covert, The Nation
On the bright, clear morning of May 9, over a dozen child care providers, nearly all women of color, gathered on the steps of New York City’s City Hall speaking a mix of English and Spanish. They held signs saying, “Can’t work without childcare” and wearing buttons declaring, “I work in childcare so you can go to work.” It was a Monday morning, when they would normally be receiving young children from their parents’ arms. Instead, they were among the hundreds of providers across 27 states who protested that day by shutting their doors and walking out. They did it to make a point: that the economy can’t function without the underpaid, undervalued work that they do.
John Frederick Bell, Black Perspectives
This July 7th will mark the 181st anniversary of the formation of the first Black student organization in American higher education. In the summer of 1841, John Mifflin Brown, Charles Henry Langston, and George Boyer Vashon, three African Americans studying at the predominantly white Oberlin Collegiate Institute, declared themselves the “Committee in behalf of Colored Students.” Their purpose in convening was to issue a statement about Oberlin to British abolitionists who had recently saved the college from bankruptcy. Rather than simply praise their school and its donors, however, these Black collegians seized the opportunity to share the full truth. In words that echo in the present, their “Expression of Sentiments” critiqued the college as well as commended it.
Jill Barshay, Hechinger Report
Ron Floyd dropped out of New Jersey’s Seton Hall University after his junior year more than 20 years ago. His father, the family’s primary breadwinner, had just been laid off from work. Floyd said he lost interest in his studies, was doing poorly in his classes and didn’t want to burden the family with tuition bills. He returned home to East Windsor, Connecticut, to get a job. Like many dropouts, Floyd always intended to finish his college education. His father was a college-educated aerospace engineer. But as the years went by, his student debt prevented him from even re-applying to college to resume his studies. Yet through good fortune, hard work and savings, Floyd was able to get back.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
Tere Flores and Carl Pinkston, EdSource
Ushering in a new trajectory for public education, California’s State Board of Education recently announced the grantees of a historic program aimed at creating racially equitable schools through sharing decision-making power with students, families, educators and community partners. We’ve seen lots of initiatives come and go in our decades of advocacy to improve schools for California’s students of color. Too often, initiatives fail because of top-down implementation that’s disconnected from what students and families need and want.
One of the most shocking impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has nothing to do with infections or health. It is that school closures have damaged the education of some 1.6 billion children around the world. Two years into the pandemic, schools had been completely closed for an average of more than 4.5 months across countries. One in ten countries had closed schools for more than nine months, according to the United Nations cultural organization UNESCO, and millions of children around the world had not gone back at all. Data are still coming in, but they are starting to confirm what everyone feared: that the children facing the biggest setbacks in learning are those who are poor or otherwise disadvantaged. And it is well established that learning losses leave lifelong scars, so it is likely that this will lead to lost opportunities and lower incomes for decades to come.
Laura Mogulescu, History News Network
What do you know about Title IX? The average person might say something about girls and sports or sexual harassment on college campuses. Depending on their politics, perhaps they might describe it as legislation that once served a purpose, but is no longer needed. Yet, as the New-York Historical Society’s new exhibition, Title IX: Activism On and Off the Field—on view at the New-York Historical Society’s Center for Women’s History through September 4, 2022— reveals, this couldn’t be further from the case. In the 50 years since its passage, Title IX has played a hand in ushering women into higher levels of education and professional careers, opening doors to new areas of employment from corporate offices to athletic arenas, and remaking school curricula and classroom materials to discard outdated gender stereotypes. These societal shifts relied on this 37-word piece of legislation and on the crucial role of activists who understood the impact that expanding educational access could have for women.
Democracy and the Public Interest
Viktoria Hallikaar, Spectrum News
When the violence hit home in Buffalo on May 14, there were calls for change. Now those calls are being heard through the words of the children of the Queen City’s P.S. 30.“They understand those big words: Discrimination. Segregation,” said Selena Borek, a fifth-grade bilingual education teacher at the Frank A. Sedita Academy. “They get it. They’ve seen it. They faced it.”
The Monday after the mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson Avenue, there was a heaviness in the air in Borek’s classroom. “Some were crying,” she said. “Some were angry. Some didn’t want to talk at all.” She took those emotions and funneled them into letters to President Joe Biden. “It’s usually not their favorite class, but they stayed writing for about two and a half hours,” she laughed. After President Biden visited the area last week, they wanted to see him do more. “If we send him these letters that say we’re from Buffalo, maybe he will read them,” Borek said. “Maybe he will see that there’s kids asking for help from the community he just visited.”
William Tobin, School Library Connection
For over fifteen years I’ve been teaching students and educators to undertake original social science research. This past year I directed an inter-district community research project, Tools for Change, Rye Town, with high school students from three small contiguous school districts in Westchester County, New York. In this piece, I’ll describe what I learned about my students and myself as we tried to bring back to the community knowledge gained through community research. I will discuss what can happen when you rather mindlessly follow what might be called, “the community research best practices handbook”—then describe the learning that occurred when my students forced me to throw out the handbook. I’ll also share how my experiences might help other teachers engaged in this work.
Senate District 20
Highlighting the need to get more students involved in government and their community by prioritizing student opportunities for civic learning and engagement, the California State Senate approved Senate Bill 955 by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) requiring middle and high school students (6th – 12th grade) to be allowed one excused school-day length absence to participate in a civic activity such as public commenting, permitted protesting, candidate speeches, political or civic forums, and town halls. “SB 955 prioritizes civic learning and engagement for students, including outside the classroom and in the community,” Senator Leyva said. “Our democracy depends on the ability of our future leaders to become more civically engaged today, as they can gain a better understanding of how their involvement can help to change the world around them. It is vital that young people learn the importance of the civic and democratic process while they are still school, so that they are able to build on that knowledge when they finish their schooling and begin their lives in communities across our state and nation. I thank the two sponsors of SB 955—California Student Board Member Association and GENup—for their leadership and commitment to empowering young people by strengthening and uplifting student voices.”
Other News of Note
Alfredo R Santos, Ibero Aztlan
During the heyday of the Chicano Movement (1962-1978), school walkouts were organized to disrupt what MAYO (Mexican American Youth Organization) activists called “the ongoing mis-education of Chicano students.” From Los Angeles, California to the Rio Grande Valley, in deep South Texas, public schools exploded with protest activity as students poured out of classes to call attention to the particularly poor classroom situations in which they found themselves. Armando Navarro, in his book, Mexican American Youth Organization Avant-Garde of the Chicano Movement in Texas, states there were at least 39 school walkouts during the Chicano Movement. Some lasted one day, some lasted one week. In the case of Uvalde, Texas, where I was a student in 1970, the school walkout lasted six weeks and was quite possibly the second longest school boycott in history. The longest school disruption took place in San Angelo, Texas where parents kept their children out of classes for almost four years. The year? 1910. In almost every school blowout, the underlying issues had to do with the segregation and discrimination which students and their parents felt compelled to act upon.