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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice
Coshandra Dillard, Learning For Justice
In 1920, Black residents in Ocoee, Florida, attempted to break through white supremacist barriers and invoke true democracy. They intended to vote in the general election, but local Ku Klux Klan members—and others who wanted to maintain a white power structure—threatened them with violence. On Election Day, white supremacists acted on those threats. Although Black people were turned away at polling locations, a white mob still set out to murder those who attempted to exercise their constitutional right, including prominent businessman and labor leader July Perry. They lynched Perry after the mob went to his house searching for Moses Norman—another businessman determined to vote. The white mob continued the rampage by setting fire to homes and buildings and shooting Black people. There is no accurate count of loss of life, but the death toll estimate ranges from three to 60. Nearly all of the remaining Black people who lived in Ocoee, Florida, at the time fled, and the rampage became known as the Ocoee Massacre.
John Nichols, The Progressive
Not to be alarmist, but the November 8 midterm elections could be the last in which the United States operates as a functional democracy. President Joe Biden hinted at this when he declared on September 1 that America is at “an inflection point—one of those moments that determine the shape of everything that’s to come after.” Yet the President stopped short of stating the obvious: The 2022 competition pits his own relatively hapless Democratic Party against an authoritarian Republican Party that seeks power in order to rig the electoral process to its permanent advantage.
Winston Choi-Schagrin, New York Times
In mid-October, just two weeks after Hurricane Ian struck her state, Bertha Vazquez asked her class of seventh graders to go online and search for information about climate change. Specifically, she tasked them to find sites that cast doubt on its human causes and who paid for them. It was a sophisticated exercise for the 12-year-olds, Ms. Vazquez said, teaching them to discern climate facts from a mass of online disinformation. But she also thought it an important capstone to the end of two weeks she dedicates to teaching her Miami students about climate change, possible solutions and the barriers to progress. “I’m really passionate about this issue,” she said. “I have to find a way to sneak it in.”
Language, Culture, and Power
Walter Edwards, The Conversation
I grew up in the poorest section of the poorest section of Georgetown, Guyana, the nation’s capital. I grew up speaking what is called conservative Guyanese creole, a stigmatized language variety that was and is considered broken English by most Guyanese and which was not what the teachers wanted when I went to school. Guyana was a former British colony, and English was the official language, and so kids in school weren’t allowed to speak Creole, or what we call Creolese. It was banned. So, of course, it was very difficult for people like me to succeed in school and elsewhere in the society that required English. But some of us did, and managed to learn standard English enough to pass exams and to get scholarships to go to college. I studied linguistics and English while I was a student at the University of Guyana, where I met professor Derek Bickerton, who had a keen understanding of Guyanese Creole and its linguistic systems. His work made me realize that my native vernacular was worthy of study and was a real language. So I did a master’s degree in linguistics in England and went back to Guyana to teach linguistics at the University of Guyana.
Nataliya Braginsky, Rethinking Schools
My students are safer in classrooms without cops. The latest mass school shooting only makes that clearer. For educators like myself, no matter how far we teach from Uvalde, Texas, the mass shooting at Robb Elementary, like so many before it, is still palpable in our classrooms — among students and teachers alike. Two days after the massacre, Toni Wright, one of my students in New Haven, Connecticut, stood in our high school’s hallway crying. “I couldn’t even make it to school yesterday,” they told me. “I got on the bus, I made it down the street, but I had to get off and tell my mom to come get me. I was so upset that it was physically hurting me to try to go to school.”
Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado
Bennett High senior Elisabeth Rodriguez delivered two important messages to counselors recently about getting students into college. She reminded them that counselors should foster students’ dreams of higher education as freshmen rather than when they’re leaving high school. And she called on them to support students in attaining their aspirations. The dual message is important because many Hispanic students like Rodriguez never make it to college, and never realized in high school that they could get there.
Whole Children and Strong Communities
Joseph Kosciw, Caitlin Clark, Leesh Menard, GLSEN
For more than 30 years, GLSEN has worked to ensure that schools are safe and affirming spaces for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. As part of this mission, the GLSEN Research Institute conducts research on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender identity issues in K–12 education to raise awareness among policymakers, educators, advocates, and the general public. In 1999, GLSEN began conducting the GLSEN National School Climate Survey (NSCS), a national biennial survey of secondary school students who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, and as identities change over time, later surveys included those who identify as other non-cisgender and non-heterosexual identities, including pansexual, queer, transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, and two-spirit (All aforementioned identities are referred to as “LGBTQ+” in this report.) The NSCS explores the experiences of U.S. LGBTQ+ middle and high school students, reports on the prevalence of anti-LGBTQ+ language, discrimination, and victimization, and documents the impact that these experiences have on LGBTQ+ students’ educational outcomes and well-being.
Rachel Martin, NPR
In Grand Island, Neb., the school district eliminated a high school journalism program after students published an issue of the school paper with op-eds about LGBTQ rights. Now the ACLU is involved.
Austin Fisher Source New Mexico
In its endorsement of the Republican candidate for New Mexico governor, the state’s largest newspaper wrote that “learning loss” was an inevitable outcome as “prolonged remote learning made a bad situation worse.” At a news conference in Albuquerque in September, Mark Ronchetti set the tone when he accused Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of failing public school students “consistently.” “Where was the plan to catch them up?” Ronchetti asked. If elected, Mark Ronchetti said his education plan would send $1,500 each year to every student to receive outside tutoring for three years. Later that month, the Republican Governors Association blamed learning loss on Lujan Grisham’s “COVID lockdowns.” The political rhetoric and uncritical coverage accelerated in late October, when the 2022 “Nation’s Report Card” was published by the National Assessment of Educational Progress and ranked New Mexico last in reading in math among the states.
Access, Assessment, Advancement
Elizabeth Aguilera, Cal Matters
Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a $2.7 billion initiative to expand transitional kindergarten to all 4-year-olds. The state gave school districts only 13 months to prepare for the first wave of the expansion, which began this school year. That’s not much time, especially during a pandemic and in the midst of a dire teacher shortage. School districts had to make plans for implementing the new grade, hire teachers and aides and find classrooms for the new students. By far, staffing has been the largest challenge for districts. Statewide, districts need thousands of teachers and aides to staff transitional kindergarten classes throughout the four-year rollout of the expansion.
In the 1920s, states avoided providing funding to Black mothers. By refusing to establish programs in communities with large Black populations, and by claiming Black mothers had failed to establish “suitable homes” for their children, these mothers were denied newly approved pensions supporting early education and other needs.In the 1940s, states conducted “man in the house” searches—often in the middle of the night—that sought to deny the support to mothers already receiving financial support from a man. These searches disproportionately targeted Black families, leading them to be more likely to lose early childhood education (ECE) supports.
Evie Blad, Education Week
For college students with disabilities, even small changes to college-classroom procedures—like taking a test in a small, quiet room rather than a echoing lecture hall—can be make or break for academic success, but advocates say securing access to such accommodations can be confusing, costly, and time-consuming. A group of student advocates and national disability-rights organizations are seeking legislation to streamline the process by requiring colleges and universities to accept students’ individualized education programs, or IEPs, and evaluations from K-12 schools as proof of the need for accommodations and supports.
Inequality, Poverty, Segregation
Amy Howe, SCOTUS Blog
In 2003, a divided Supreme Court ruled in Grutter v. Bollinger that the University of Michigan Law School could consider race in its admissions process as part of its efforts to assemble a diverse student body. In her opinion for the majority, now-retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor suggested that, in 25 years, “the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.” But during nearly five hours of oral arguments on Monday, the court’s conservative majority signaled that it could be ready now, 19 years after Grutter, to end the use of race in college admissions. The lawsuits at the center of the dispute before the court on Monday were filed in 2014 against Harvard College and the University of North Carolina by a group called Students for Fair Admissions. The group maintains that Harvard violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which bars entities that receive federal funding from discriminating based on race, because Asian American applicants are less likely to be admitted than similarly qualified white, Black, or Hispanic applicants. The University of North Carolina, the group argues, violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, which bars racial discrimination by government entities, by considering race in its admissions process when the university does not need to do so to achieve a diverse student body. Federal courts in Boston and North Carolina rejected the group’s arguments and upheld the universities’ admissions policies, prompting the Supreme Court to take up the cases.
Michael Burke, Ed Source
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to soon decide whether race-based programs in admissions are lawful. California, where voters banned affirmative action in 1996, has already been down that road, and University of California officials have asked the court to allow race-conscious admissions policies elsewhere. The proof of their need, officials and college access advocates say, is in UC’s series of failed efforts to increase diversity without affirmative action. The system’s latest attempt to make admissions more equitable was its high-profile decision to eliminate standardized test scores, but that too has so far had little impact in improving racial diversity.
Sakshi Venkatraman, NBC News
As the Supreme Court begins deliberating the future of affirmative action, a growing coalition of Asian American students is trying to get across a message. While a small faction of their peers are speaking out to end race-conscious admissions, they are marching, rallying and educating their peers on why diversity in schools matters. “We’ve all experienced racism, and we know what it’s like to feel isolated in our hometowns and in our classrooms,” said Sarah Zhang, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the founder of the school’s first pro-affirmative action organization.
Democracy and the Public Interest
Ruby Belle Booth, Alberto Medina, CIRCLE
With one week to go until the 2022 midterm elections, there are 6% more young people ages 18-24 registered to vote in the United States than there were in November 2018—based on the 41 states for which data is available. This new analysis of youth voter registration heading into Election Day is based on voter file data aggregated by Catalist and analyzed by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. This data includes major increases in electoral battlegrounds where CIRCLE research suggests young people could influence election results. However, among young people who have newly aged into the electorate (ages 18-19), the number of registered youth is down 5% and most states lag far behind their 2018 numbers.
Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, K-12 Dive
Bills designed to prohibit classroom discussion of certain topics like race and LGBTQ culture often target K-12 schools and may dissuade prospective teachers from joining the profession, according to a new report. The research, from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, outlines patterns in these bills, including how teachers can be subject to fines or other penalties for violations.
In the lead up to the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), 400 young activists from over 60 countries gathered in Nabuel, Tunisia at the Climate Justice Camp (CJC). The camp provided a space for climate activists to gather, connect and learn from each other with the goal of finding equitable and sustainable ways to address the climate crisis. COP27 will be held from November 6th-18th in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. While many were excited by the upcoming meeting, it was evident that many climate activists felt a growing sense of frustration with the lack of progress towards the high level ambitions from state parties in the lead up to the meeting. Many activists also expressed that they felt a sense of responsibility to push for systemic, grassroots solutions to the climate crisis, with respect for the principles of equity and human rights. Joining the camp as a human rights educator was an invaluable experience to listen and learn and to share knowledge on how the climate crisis is impacting human rights.
Other News of Note
Isabela Choat, The Guardian
Jamila Afghani was settling into her new home in Kitchener, Ontario, when she found out that the Taliban had raided her office back in Afghanistan. Uniformed officers had barged into a counselling service for women in Kabul, accused the staff of running “a ministry of women” and taken one of the employees away for questioning. Afghani had chosen the premises in the capital in part because of its proximity to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, where she had good contacts who supported her work championing the rights of women and girls. When the Taliban replaced the women’s ministry with the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, Afghani’s organisation found itself working under the nose of the morality police. Last month’s incident was a chilling reminder of the daily humiliations women face as the Taliban obliterates them from public life.