Just News from Center X – November 6, 2020

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Young Voters Preferred Biden — With 1 Exception

Elizabeth Redden, Inside HigherEd

Voters under age 30 leaned heavily Democratic, favoring Joe Biden over President Donald Trump by a wide margin (61 versus 36 percent) in the still-to-be-decided presidential election, but there were key differences among young voters across gender, racial and state lines, according to an analysis of exit polling data from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University in Massachusetts. In estimates that were revised Wednesday, CIRCLE’s analysis found that young white men supported Trump by a six-point margin (51 versus 45 percent), while young white women favored former vice president Biden by 13 percentage points (55 to 42 percent).

Election Uncertainty and Anxious Students: Inside 4 Social Studies Classrooms

Sarah Schwartz and Madeline Will, Education Week

The morning after a long election night that yielded no clear winner, teachers headed into their virtual and physical classrooms to help their students make sense of it all. Many had already struggled with how to teach a rancorous, norm-breaking race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in a hyper-polarized political climate—a feat made even more difficult with many classes still meeting remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, teachers will have the daunting task over the next few days of bringing clarity to a confusing electoral landscape and trying to soothe their students’ anxieties as race results—and other developments like legal challenges—continue to roll in.

What school looks like now — in striking pictures from around the world

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

The hope last spring was that the massive disruption to schooling around the world caused by the coronavirus pandemic would not last long — and by fall 2020 classrooms would be packed with children again, like they have been in the past. That didn’t happen. Virtually nowhere are things back to normal, meaning before covid-19. The pandemic has persisted, and, so in the United States and around the globe, students are going to school in ways they never did before until this year — in their homes; outside; in classrooms wearing masks or not wearing masks, and sitting apart from each other or very close; and sometimes behind plexiglass barriers.

Language, Culture, and Power

Affirmative action ballot measure fails, but these students are still fighting to diversify their universities [Audio]

Kayleen Carter, Cal Matters

When Ayo Banjo arrived at the University of California, Santa Cruz for his freshman year, he was surprised to find that only a small fraction, about 4%, of the campus population was Black. It was “stressful,” he recalls, to not see other people who looked like him on campus. “Where’s the outreach?” Banjo, now a senior, remembers asking himself. “We’re supposed to be this diverse campus…but as a Black student, I didn’t feel that representation.” So Banjo got to work creating the community he was searching for. He started an NAACP chapter on campus and ran for student body president, becoming the first Black man to be elected to the position.

Alabama A&M incentivizes future male minority teachers with 2 years tuition

Caroline Klapp, WAFF

Diversity in the classroom matters. Alabama A&M is spending money to support that statement.
If you’re a man, identify as a minority race and want to be a teacher, you could get two years of your tuition paid for. The program is called the Males for Alabama Education initiative. It’s all possible thanks to a grant from the state. “Close your eyes and think about If you had a black male teacher or African American male teacher, and if the answer is no, that is not uncommon,” program director for the Males for Alabama initiative, Samantha Strachan said. Two percent: that’s the amount of teachers in the U.S. who are African American males. Keon Thomas is trying to change that.

Working for Racial Justice as a White Teacher

Kristina Rizga, The Atlantic

One of this year’s largest youth-led Black Lives Matter protests took place on June 3 in front of Mission High School in San Francisco, where Robert Roth taught U.S. History and Ethnic Studies from 2005 until he retired in 2018. Roth was in the crowd, listening to teenage speakers who were urging white people like himself—including white educators, who make up 79 percent of the U.S. teaching force—to step up as allies in the fight for racial justice. It was a message that Roth has been attuned to for a long time. In 1964, when Roth was himself a teenager, he joined what became the nation’s largest anti-school-segregation boycott in New York City. As a student at Columbia University in 1968, he was a key part of one of the largest college anti-war and anti-racist protests of that era.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

International day against violence and bullying at school including cyberbullying

UNESCO Member States declared the first Thursday of November, the International Day against Violence and Bullying at School Including Cyberbullying, recognizing that school-related violence in all its forms is an infringement of children and adolescents’ rights to education and to health and well-being. It calls upon Member States, UN partners, other relevant international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations, individuals and other stakeholders to help promote, celebrate and facilitate the international day.
Almost one in three students has been bullied by their peers at school at least once in the last month and a similar proportion were affected by physical violence. School violence and bullying is mostly perpetrated by peers but, in some cases, by teachers and other school staff. Corporal punishment is still allowed in schools in 67 countries.

Want to teach kids about nature? Insects can help

Akito Y. Kawahara, Megan Ennes, and Amanda Markee, The Conversation

Insects are everywhere – in backyards, balconies and the park down the street. In fact, numerically speaking, insects dominate the Earth with more than 5.5 million species. An estimated 10 quintillion – or 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 – individual insects are alive at any given moment. Because insects are small and readily available and can easily be kept in the classroom or at home, as insect researchers we believe they are ideal for teaching children about nature – which can in turn get them excited about science. So we conducted a survey to learn more about how public schools use insects.

Most Parents of K-12 Students Learning Online Worry About Them Falling Behind

Juliana Menasce Horowitz and Ruth Igielnik, Pew Research

As school districts across the United States continue to grapple with the best way to provide instruction amid the coronavirus outbreak, most parents of students in K-12 schools express concern about their children falling behind in school because of disruptions caused by the pandemic. There are large divides between parents whose children are going to school fully in-person and those whose children are engaged in online learning when it comes to their assessments of and concerns about the education their kids are currently receiving, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

NEPC Review: Student Assessment During COVID-19 (Center for American Progress, September 2020)

Gene V Glass, William J. Mathis, and David C. Berliner, NEPC

School closings and the ever-increasing number of deaths provide the backdrop for a proposal by the Center for American Progress (CAP) to deny waivers of the federally mandated administration of standardized tests in spring 2021. Further, the federal government proposes to add to those assessments in ways that CAP argues would make the test results more useful. In its recent report, CAP sides with the Department of Education’s policy of denying such requests for waivers, and it calls for additional assessments that “capture multiple aspects of student well-being, including social-emotional needs, engagement, and conditions for learning” as well as supplementary gathering of student information. The reviewers find the CAP proposal to be ill-timed, unrealistic, and inappropriate for dealing with the exigencies arising from the pandemic.

Teacher in a Strange Land: It’s the Right Time to Stop the Overdose of Standardized Testing

Nancy Flanagan, NEPC

A bit of personal history: I live in the first state to launch statewide standardized assessments, back in 1969-70.Every single one of the 32+ years I taught, in every school, at least some of my Michigan students were taking state-sponsored standardized tests. Honestly, I didn’t think about it much. In the 1970s, we had the MEAP test for 4th, 7th and 10th grades—two to three days’ worth of testing blocks, in the fall. Teachers understood they were tests of basic skills, and the best strategy was simply reviewing traditional concepts. A couple of times, one of the elementary schools in the district where I taught had a 100% pass rate. Because, on the MEAPs, students either did well enough to meet the grade-level benchmark, or they didn’t.

Community Colleges and the Path Toward Racial Healing

Mark Dennis, Inside HigherEd

“In America, nearly all of us — regardless of our background or skin color — carry trauma in our bodies around the myth of race,” writes trauma therapist Resmaa Menakem in My Grandmother’s Hands. While the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the shooting of Jacob Blake, have started a centuries-overdue conversation about systemic racism and the trauma that it causes, these conversations are just the starting point for the reforms that must follow. As a community college educator, and a former marriage and family therapist, I believe that community colleges are distinctly situated to become spaces for the growth, healing and restructuring that this society needs, especially in the areas of police reform and race relations. We are open access, low cost and can quickly develop new programs and degrees.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

The Segregation Pandemic: Brown as treatment or placebo? [Video]

William F Tate IV, AERA

A pandemic is an epidemic occurring on a scale that crosses the globe. A condition is not a pandemic merely because it exists in different regions of the world or results in the death of many people; it must also be infectious. In this lecture, Tate will argue that, over the past 500 years by way of mutually reinforcing regimes consisting of politicians, intellectuals, religious supporters, business leaders, and others, an ideology of racial biology “infected” the world, causing a disease to spread in global fashion. The disease fed on a rhetoric that assigned biological superiority to certain races. A pandemic of segregation resulted. In the United States, the Brown decision offered hope as a therapeutic. The lecture examines Brown through the lens of a medical model, while exploring its various pervasive effects on society and education.

New data: Even within the same district some wealthy schools get millions more than poor ones

Tara Garcia Mathewson, Hechinger Report

At Ronald D. O’Neal Elementary School, in Elgin, Illinois, none of the third graders could read and write at grade level according to state tests in 2019. Nearly 90 percent of the school population is considered low-income and nearly three-quarters are labeled English learners, meaning that the state language arts test assesses their reading and writing ability in a language they’re still trying to learn. Just nine miles away sits Centennial Elementary School, where 73 percent of third graders met grade-level standards on that same test. A fifth of Centennial’s student body is considered low-income, and 17 percent get extra supports as they learn English.

Moral policy = good economics

Josh Bivens, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, and Shailly Gupta Barnes, Economic Policy Institute

Seven months into a global pandemic, U.S. families are suffering: 225,000 lives have been lost, 30 million workers have lost either jobs or significant hours of work, nearly every state is facing sharp drops in revenue that will threaten even more cuts to essential social programs and jobs, and the U.S. economy remains deeply depressed, and a reentry into outright recession in coming months is highly possible. There is no mystery about what has brought us to this point. The immediate cause of the economic crisis we face is the fallout of the pandemic and the Trump administration’s failed response.

Public Schools and Private Dollars

DeVos’ security detail cost taxpayers $24M over 4 years

Nicole Gaudiano, Politico

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ security detail has cost taxpayers more than $24 million over the past four years and is projected to cost another $3 million through mid-February, a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service told POLITICO on Tuesday. That level of security detail is highly unusual. The past four education secretaries have been protected by the Education Department’s own small security force. “No other cabinet secretaries during the Trump administration has or had this agreement with the USMS,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

For DeVos, the Pandemic Is Another Opportunity for Profit

Jasmine Banks, The Nation

Every day, another state offers its best guess for what the safest path to schooling will be for the coming year. Between anxious kids eager to see their friends, parents torn between work obligations and fear for their children’s health, and teachers caught in the middle of it all, nobody is winning. Even worse, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, along with the president of the United States, has made it crystal clear that funding will depend upon schools reopening in person, regardless of health and safety concerns shared by experts. Parents, students, and teachers are being forced to decide between education or health, while those in charge continue to serve only themselves.

One incumbent, one newcomer on track to win pivotal school board races in Los Angeles

Michael Burke, Ed Source

Newcomer Tanya Ortiz Franklin and incumbent Scott Schmerelson are on track to win two pivotal Los Angeles Unified school board races that could shape the future of California’s largest school district. Franklin, a former teacher, has earned about 58% of the vote as of Wednesday morning in her race against labor organizer Patricia Castellanos. Castellanos and Franklin are vying to replace school board president Richard Vladovic, who is termed out in District 7, which stretches from South L.A. to the L.A. Harbor. In District 3, which covers much of the west San Fernando Valley, Schmerelson was winning 54% of the vote, leading challenger Marilyn Koziatek, a staffer at Granada Hills Charter High School. It’s unclear how many votes are left to be counted, but Los Angeles County Clerk Dean Logan called the results “semi-official.”

Other News of Note

“Vote” [Video]

Nikki Giovanni, Democracy Now

Acclaimed poet and activist Nikki Giovanni has a new collection of poems called “Make Me Rain,” a celebration of her Black heritage, as well as an exploration of racism and white nationalism. In the poem “Vote,” Giovanni offers her thoughts on the importance of voting. It was filmed by The Meteor, a feminist collective of activists, journalists and creators, part of a daily Instagram series focusing on voting rights.

Trump is standing in our way

Harry Belafonte, New York Times

Four years ago, when Donald Trump first ran for president, he urged Black people to support him, asking us, “What have you got to lose?” Four years later, we know exactly what we had to lose. Our lives, as we died in disproportionate numbers from the pandemic he has let flourish among us. Our wealth, as we have suffered disproportionately from the worst economic drop America has seen in 90 years. Our safety, as this president has stood behind those police who kill us in the streets and by the armies of white supremacy who march by night and scheme in the light of day.

In Defense of Politics

Michael Gecan, Boston Review

If timing is everything, I’m in trouble. As a lifelong organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation, I made a habit of instigating trouble for those who tried to exploit the leaders in the communities I worked with, but rarely made trouble for myself. Yet now I am choosing to write a piece defending politics a few days before a national election roils the nation and troubles the world. This is a moment when the words ‘politics’ and ‘politicians’ are usually spoken as curses, smears, charges, indictments, not as descriptions, much less as constructive activities and urgent titles.