Just News from Center X – Nov 22, 2019


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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Applauding his record of standing up to ‘charter billionaires,’ United Teachers Los Angeles endorses Bernie Sanders

Jake Johnson, Common Dreams
The 35,000-member United Teachers Los Angeles overwhelmingly voted Thursday to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, citing the need for an “unapologetic, longstanding ally of progressive policies to make public education a priority in the White House.” UTLA, the second-largest teachers union local in the nation, said in a statement announcing the endorsement that 80 percent of its elected leadership voted in favor of supporting Sanders.

High school students are unprepared to judge the credibility of information on the internet, according to Stanford researchers

Carrie Spector, Stanford News
Despite mounting attention to the threat of “fake news” on the internet and efforts nationwide to improve digital media literacy, high school students still have difficulty discerning fact from fiction online, according to new research from scholars at Stanford Graduate School of Education. New research shows that despite efforts to improve digital literacy, prospective young voters still have difficulty telling fact from fiction online. The report, released today by the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), provides sobering evidence that prospective young voters lack the skills to judge the reliability of information online, the researchers said.

How can students self-assess when teachers do all the grading and work? 

Ki Sung, KQED
Among the many things students are expected to do, self-assessing their learning is part of the suite of metacognitive tools that are valued in today’s society. This skill enables the student to think about their thinking, identify what they’re doing well and what needs improvement. Self-assessment takes practice, and when it comes to schoolwork, students are not given enough opportunities. “I would argue in most classrooms, it’s the teacher doing the lion’s share of the work,” said Catlin Tucker, a high school English teacher and consultant at the fall CUE conference of educators. “And the person doing the work in the classroom is the person doing the learning. So why would we rob our students of the opportunity to learn?”

Language, Culture, and Power

Native American students feel invisible. A new SoCal college hopes to change that

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, LAist
Education advocates in California say one of the biggest problems facing Native American college students is that they feel invisible. Savana Saubel is one of those students. A member of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians from Palm Springs, she found her experience at College of the Desert isolating. “What was missing was just that camaraderie, having someone you know” and who knows Native culture, she said. With a few exceptions — she attended a tribal high school for two years — Saubel didn’t have any Native American instructors or classmates in public school or at her community college, which she quit after two years, in part because she didn’t feel like campus staff cared about issues that were important to her.

The Quinceañera, redefined

Walter Thompson-Hernández, The New York Times
Jayla Sheffield, 15, looked to her left and right. She and six friends, all wearing black shorts, white Nikes and T-shirts with the words “Jayla’s Quince,” paused, ready to kick off a night of festivities with a dance routine they had practiced for months. The occasion, which brought over 100 people together in Pomona, Calif., was what Jayla and her mother, Miranda Sheffield, were calling a “quincenegra” — a term they adopted to honor Jayla’s Afro-Latina background as well as the traditional coming-of-age customs of a classic quinceañera.

Experiential learning about race

Young Whan Choi, Next Generation Learning Challenges
I still remember my first and only time dunking a basketball. We were in the high school gym and one of the high school players looked at our class of 2nd graders and asked who the strongest kid was. Suddenly, all eyes were on me. In the next moment, I’m on this guy’s shoulders hoisting the ball over my head and then SLAM!…the ball ricocheted off the rim. On my second take, it’s a dunk. I never became a basketball star. What’s most memorable about my slam dunk is that the other kids in my class, most of whom were white, thought that I, one of the few Asian American boys, was strong. My later experience of my race in middle and high school perpetuated a different set of beliefs. I wasn’t strong; I was alien, invisible, and weak.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

School district leaders want to keep cops off campus

Laura Waxmann, The SF Examiner
San Francisco school district leaders are reconsidering their relationship with police as they debate a contract guiding officer interactions with students. The current five-year memorandum of understanding between the San Francisco Unified School District and the San Francisco Police Department expired last January. A new contract with revisions including stronger language intended to decriminalize youth was presented to the school board this week, but some board members said they would prefer to keep police officers out of schools altogether.

‘This isn’t just about a pronoun.’ Teachers and trans students are clashing over whose rights come first

Katie Reilly, Time
Aidyn Sucec remembers how much better he felt toward the end of eighth grade when, after years of struggling with his identity, he told his family he was transgender. It was the spring of 2017, and Aidyn’s anxiety and depression began to lift as people embraced the teenager as “him.” “My family and friends began to recognize me as who I am,” Aidyn, who’s now 16, said in court documents. Before Aidyn, who was designated female at birth, started at Brownsburg High School in Brownsburg, Indiana that fall, his mother, Laura Sucec, worked with school officials to make sure his new name and gender would be logged into Brownsburg’s database. She wanted to be sure teachers knew him as Aidyn and didn’t use his former name—his “dead name”—when addressing him.

Schools keep hiring counselors, but students’ stress levels are only growing

Carolyn Jones, EdSource
California schools have beefed up their counseling staffs dramatically in the past few years, but the need for student mental health services — to address trauma related to fires, shootings and social media — has far outpaced counselors’ ability to keep pace with student needs. Students at Saugus High School in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita last week were evacuated after a student opened fire, killing two classmates and himself and wounding three others. It was the 11th school shooting in the United States this year, according to the New York Times.

Access, Assessment, and Advancement

Students talk through math in this California school. Now test scores are rising.

Sydney Johnson, EdSource
California school districts have long struggled with a persistent gap in math test scores between racial and ethnic groups. But at one small rural school district, the gap between Latino and white students has narrowed more than it has at most districts in the state. At Winship-Robbins Elementary School District, a single-school district in south Sutter County, the percentage of Latino students meeting or exceeding standards on the Smarter Balanced math test more than doubled over the last five years. And although their scores still slightly trail those of their white peers, the gap between them has narrowed by nearly 16 percentage points during that time.

Less than 25% of LAUSD seniors last year took the type of math/quantitative reasoning class California State University wants to make a requirement

Taylor Swaak, LA School Report
As the country’s largest four-year public university considers adding a fourth-year math/quantitative reasoning requirement to its admissions standards, new data obtained by The 74 shows less than a quarter of L.A. Unified seniors last year took such a class. About 23.5 percent of seniors — or 8,472 of 36,124 — were enrolled in a fourth-year math/quantitative reasoning course during the 2018-19 school year, according to the district’s Office of General Counsel. The California State University system, which spans 23 campuses and serves some 481,000 students, will decide in the coming weeks whether to tack on this type of elective class to its admissions requirements for prospective freshmen, starting in fall 2027 when current fifth-graders enter college.

College behind bars

Shannon Ross, Boston Review
At 3:00 a.m. on October 2, 2003, while my University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee classmates rested for the next day of their sophomore year, I was on my way to prison, sentenced to seventeen years for shooting a fellow teen who had robbed me in a drug deal. Fifteen years and eight schools later, I completed my bachelor’s in business administration. Along the way, I experienced the incompetence, indifference, intimidation, and lack of financial assistance incarcerated students face. It was not always difficult to receive an education while imprisoned. In fact, not long before I went to prison, it was encouraged. During the late nineteenth century, spurred by a pioneering program at the Elmira Reformatory in New York, education came to occupy a key position in the prison reform movement. By the 1930s, almost every prison in the country offered some type of education, with the idea that edification and discipline would reduce recidivism. In 1967 President Lyndon Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice called for a substantial boost in training and staffing for academic programs in prisons nationwide; what came to be called Pell Grants were made available to incarcerated students and quickly fostered hundreds of new college programs taught inside prisons.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

From sunrise to sunset: The long school days of homeless students

Eliza Shapiro, The New York Times
My reporting does not often begin before dawn. But on a couple of chilly mornings last month, I set out around 5 a.m. through mostly deserted streets into the far reaches of Queens and Brooklyn to meet two children who I hoped would bring the story of an enormous student homelessness crisis to life. I cover the New York City school system and have been reporting on student homelessness for years. The number of school-aged children in temporary housing has ballooned by more than 70 percent over the past decade. I knew that the best way for readers to understand this tragedy playing out in plain sight would be to introduce them to children who are living through it.

What jobs are affected by AI? Better-paid, better-educated workers face the most exposure

Mark Muro, Jacob Whiton, and Robert Maxim, Brookings
Artificial intelligence (AI) has generated increasing interest in “future of work” discussions in recent years as the technology has achieved superhuman performance in a range of valuable tasks, ranging from manufacturing to radiology to legal contracts. With that said, though, it has been difficult to get a specific read on AI’s implications on the labor market. In part because the technologies have not yet been widely adopted, previous analyses have had to rely either on case studies or subjective assessments by experts to determine which occupations might be susceptible to a takeover by AI algorithms. What’s more, most research has concentrated on an undifferentiated array of “automation” technologies including robotics, software, and AI all at once. The result has been a lot of discussion—but not a lot of clarity—about AI, with prognostications that range from the utopian to the apocalyptic.

We asked the 2020 contenders how they plan to tackle inequality

Sam Pizzigati, The Nation
Is America’s political discourse on inequality finally getting real? In the early going of the 2020 presidential campaign, this has become a question worth asking. White House hopefuls have been condemning the maldistribution of America’s income and wealth with an intensity—and a specificity—that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. And the rich are squirming. They see candidates proposing unprecedented taxes on their assets and even questioning their right to exist. Perhaps most worrying, this time moderates aren’t exactly rushing to their defense.

Public Schools and Private $

California Democratic Party says charter schools should have publicly elected boards

Louis Freedberg, EdSource
Taking aim at the majority of charter schools in the state, the California Democratic Party has included language in its platform declaring that these schools should be overseen by publicly elected boards, in contrast to the self-appointed boards that run most of them. The new language, adopted at the state party’s annual convention in Long Beach over the weekend, was promoted by the 120,000-member California Federation of Teachers, and strengthens an already strongly worded section of the California Democratic Party’s platform on charter schools.

Deep Dive: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren on charter schools

Education Week
Perhaps no education issue has been as divisive among Democrats in recent years as charter schools. Support for charters in the national Democratic Party has diminished in recent years, although many Democratic voters still support them.
And in the 2020 campaign, no two candidates for president have criticized charters as sharply as front-runners Sens. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts.
Their stated plans would cause a dramatic upheaval in the charter school community, which includes more than 7,000 schools and roughly 3.2 million students. But how many of their aggressive goals are realistic, and do they accurately describe what happens in charter schools today?

Is philanthropy undemocratic?

Michelle Celarier, Worth
Ten years ago, when Stanford political science professor Rob Reich sent his first-born son off to kindergarten in Palo Alto, Calif., he was shocked to receive a note from the public school on the first day of his son’s enrollment. “Our expected, but voluntary, contribution to support the finances of the school is $2,000 per child,” the note read. That experience so disturbed and intrigued the political scientist that he began to look into the data about private fundraising for public schools. “It showed exactly what you’d predict. It didn’t happen in poorer neighborhoods,” Reich says.

Other News of Note

Artists, activists commemorate legacy of Tamir Rice at Cleveland Museum of Art

Robin Goist, Cleveland.com
Two days shy of the five-year anniversary of Cleveland police fatally shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice, the Cleveland Museum of Art is set to host an event Wednesday evening dedicated to art and activism inspired by Tamir. “Art, Activism and the Legacy of Tamir Rice” will begin at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The event will include music, dance, film and visual art. Guests and speakers include artist Theaster Gates, journalist and activist Bakari Kitwana, and Opal Tometi, co-founder of Black Lives Matter. Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, and architect Sandra Madison are set to unveil plans for a new Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center, which will include artistic, educational and civic programs for youth that will celebrate the history and culture of people of African descent.