Just News from Center X – October 21, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Democrats see opening to neutralize GOP education messaging

Juan Perez Jr. and Zach Montellaro, Politico

A year after Republicans rode a wave of discontent about education to flip Virginia, Democrats see an opening. Competitive governors’ races have already attracted tens of millions of dollars in campaign ads from both parties focused on everything from school shootings, education funding and accusations of hypersexualized and overtly political curriculum. Some Democrats have now seized on GOP polling and previously unreported voter research that suggests the conservative rush to attack history lessons and library books is failing to connect with a majority of likely general election voters — and may even be alienating some persuadable moderates and independents.

After O.C. school district bans critical race theory, it faces Cal State Fullerton backlash

Debbie Truong and Gabriel San Ramon, Los Angeles Times

Months after an Orange County school district banned teaching critical race theory, Cal State Fullerton has told school officials it is pausing placement of its student teachers in the system’s K-12 classrooms, citing concerns that district policies conflict with university goals that promote equity and inclusion in education. Leaders in the university’s College of Education — among the biggest providers of teachers into the county’s public schools — told officials in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District that they did not believe the district would be able to support its student teachers whose training is rooted in diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice and tenets of critical race theory, according to a statement from the college.

Teachers Expect More of Asian American Students. Is Bias the Reason?

Ileana Najarro, Education Week

Researchers have in the past examined whether teacher bias of Black and Latino students’ lower academic abilities manifests in less rigorous coursework for these students. Now, a new study finds that bias seems to color teachers’ perceptions of Asian American students, too. Only in this case, the bias goes the other way: When it comes to Asian American students, teachers tend to hold higher academic expectations. The new findings confirm what some researchers have known anecdotally for years, and supports longstanding concerns about a “model minority” stereotype.

Language, Culture, and Power

The urgency of transforming refugee education: 4 opportunities to enable inclusion

Maysa Jalbout and Katy Bullard, Brookings

At a roundtable on the sidelines of the Transforming Education Summit and the September 2022 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), refugee representatives, donors, UN agencies, and international organizations affirmed that refugee education must be at the heart of the transforming education and humanitarian agendas. The Center for Universal Education organized the roundtable to discuss a forthcoming paper outlining the persistent tensions stalling refugee education and the difficult but necessary steps all concerned parties must work together to address.

Parents want more school security, but student activists push back. Inside the debate

Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

As a parent in South Los Angeles, Prentis Hill has no doubt where he stands in the debate over school police and whether to eliminate them. He wants more security in schools — citing an incident of a student allegedly bringing a gun onto his son’s middle school campus last year. Maria Agueda, the parent of a student at the Bernstein High School campus in Hollywood, would go even further. In the wake of a 15-year-old student’s overdose death in September, she said she supports police bringing in canines and conducting random drug searches.

Student protests prompted schools to remove police. Now some districts are bringing them back

Neal Morton, Hechinger Report

Ruth Taddesse, now a senior at Richard Montgomery High School in Montgomery County, Maryland, celebrated the March 2021 announcement that her school district would be the first in the state to pull police from its schools. She’d watched as school districts around the country removed officers from campuses after student-led protests for racial justice following the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But the celebration was short-lived: Just over a year after the county’s no-police-in-schools declaration, the school district and local police department reached a new agreement that restored armed officers — now known as “community engagement officers” — to schools. While the officers wouldn’t be permanently stationed on campuses, they would have an office inside each high school and would participate in events like career days, school assemblies and study circles.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

About a third of K-12 parents are very or extremely worried a shooting could happen at their children’s school

Kiley Hurst, Pew Research Center

School shootings have hit close to home for many U.S. parents. In a new Pew Research Center survey, roughly a third (32%) of parents of children in K-12 schools say they are very or extremely worried about a shooting ever happening at their children’s school. The survey was conducted Sept. 20-Oct. 2 among 3,757 U.S. parents with at least one child younger than 18 (including 3,251 who have a child in a K-12 school). It follows the fatal shooting of 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in May.

LGBTQ+ students report less access to positive curricular resources or supportive staff

Naaz Modan, K-12 Dive

Access to LGTBQ+ related books and resources in schools decreased in 2021 compared to 2019, when access was the highest, according to a new report on LGBTQ+ student experiences in public schools released Tuesday by GLSEN. The organization, which advocates for inclusive public schools for LGBTQ+ students, surveyed students between April and August 2021. Students also reported seeing fewer instances of positive LGBTQ+ material in classroom lessons in 2021 than in 2019,  even though these curricular supports were already uncommon.

‘I cooked it!’: meet the schools where pupils grow, pick and cook their own lunch

Amelia Hill, The Guardian

Six-year-old Zuriel stood in the school lunch queue and looked at the vegetable noodles, steaming on the counter. “I don’t want to eat that,” he murmured. “There are things in it I’ve never tasted before.” Seven-year-old Ali, standing nearby, overheard. Bursting with pride and eager to reassure, he exclaimed: “But I cooked it this morning. The vegetables are really fun and exciting. It’s delicious.” He looked into Zuriel’s eyes. “Honestly.” Zuriel gazed at the older boy and turned back to the vegetable noodles. “Oh. OK. I’ll try it then,” he said and whispered, “Thank you.”

Access, Assessment, Advancement

All Children Have a Right to Pre-Primary Education

Bede Sheppard, Human Rights Watch

The “time has come” for countries to align their international human rights obligations with their political commitments on early childhood education, said the outgoing United Nations special rapporteur on the right to education, Koumba Boly Barry, in her final report. Presenting the report to the UN General Assembly yesterday, her successor, Farida Shaheed, stressed the importance of early childhood education being free: “If it’s not free, if it’s not available for everyone, then it’s going to increase the inequalities that already exist.” Early childhood education brings “substantial developmental, educational, social, cultural and economic benefits,” Boly Barry says. Yet the cost of education remains a barrier for millions of children around the world, and half of the world’s children miss out on pre-primary education.

North Carolina is home to five promising models for eliminating preschool suspensions, expulsions, and exclusions

Katie Dukes, EdNC

Preschool students who are suspended, expelled, or otherwise excluded from their early care and education settings miss out on crucial developmental opportunities that can affect the course of their lives. A new project aims to address that by eliminating suspensions, expulsions, and exclusions in North Carolina’s preschool settings. Valerie Jarvis McMillan, an associate professor at NC A&T State University, told attendees at the 51st annual conference of the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) in Washington, D.C., this month about the origins of the project, its three-year goals, and five promising models funded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation.

How college in prison is leading professors to rethink how they teach

Mneesha Gellman, The Conversation

When it comes to education in prison, policy and research often focus on how it benefits society or improves the life circumstances of those who are serving time. But as I point out in my new edited volume, “Education Behind the Wall: Why and How We Teach College in Prison,” education in prison is doing more than changing the lives of those who have been locked up as punishment for crimes – it is also changing the lives of those doing the teaching. As director of a college program in prisons and as a researcher and professor who teaches in both colleges and prisons, I know that the experience of teaching in a correctional facility makes educators question and reexamine much of what we do.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Raj Chetty on Inequalities in the U.S.

Paul Basken, Times Higher Education

The United States’ innovation rate would quadruple if universities could deliver societywide equity in education, Harvard University economist Raj Chetty has calculated. Chetty, a professor of public economics at Harvard known for his data-driven examinations of societal inequity, opened the Times Higher Education World Academic Summit with a look at how the sector is contributing to the problem. Examples covered by his presentation included a variety of ways that societal advantages—in wealth, race and gender—still play out in career success in the U.S., such as students being more than twice as likely to become a patent-holding inventor if their family was in the top fifth of incomes than if it was not.

CEO pay has skyrocketed 1,460% since 1978

Josh Bivens and Jori Kandra, Economic Policy Institute

Corporate boards running America’s largest public firms are giving top executives outsize compensation packages that have grown much faster than the stock market and the pay of typical workers, college graduates, and even the top 0.1%. In 2021, we project that a CEO at one of the top 350 firms in the U.S. was paid $27.8 million on average (using a “realized” measure of CEO pay that counts stock awards when vested and stock options when cashed in and ownership is taken). This 11.1% increase from 2020 occurred because of rapid growth in vested stock awards. Using a different “granted” measure of CEO pay (which counts the value of stock awards and options when announced (or “granted” rather than realized), average top CEO compensation was $15.6 million in 2021, up 9.8% since 2020. In 2021, the ratio of CEO-to-typical-worker compensation was 399-to-1 under the realized measure of CEO pay; that is up from 366-to-1 in 2020 and a big increase from 20-to-1 in 1965 and 59-to-1 in 1989.

Answer Sheet: Virtual Charter Schools See Enrollments Rise

Valerie Strauss and Carol C. Burris

Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are operated outside publicly overseen school districts, sometimes by for-profit companies. Charter advocates say these schools offer choices to families that want alternatives to troubled neighborhood schools. But charter schools have become increasingly controversial in recent years, with critics saying that in many places, they take money from district schools that educate the vast majority of American children and do not on average have better student outcomes than traditional public schools. Charter schools experienced a jump in enrollment during the coronavirus pandemic, but as this post shows, much of that jump was in virtual charter schools, which have long been the worst-performing schools in the charter sector. This past spring, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a concerning report about virtual charters.

Democracy and the Public Interest

An explosion of culture-war laws is changing schools. Here’s how.

Hannah Natanson, Clara Ence Morse, Anu Narayanswamy & Christina Brause, Washington Post

A wave of new state laws meant to alter how students learn and the rights they have at school has taken effect across nearly half the country, a Washington Post analysis has found, as part of the rising battle over cultural values in American education. Over the past three academic years, legislators in 45 states proposed 283 laws that either sought to restrict what teachers can say about race, racism and American history; to change how instructors can teach about gender identity, sexuality and LGBTQ issues; to boost parents’ rights over their children’s education; to limit students’ access to school libraries and books; to circumscribe the rights of transgender students; and/or to promote what legislators defined as a “patriotic” education.

New Hampshire’s Locally Controlled Schools Are Under Threat

Jacob Goodwin, The Progressive

New Hampshire has a proud tradition of public schools, one that, in some towns, dates back to single-room school houses of early America when students would take horse-drawn sleighs to school in the winter. Our schools—and towns, for that matter—are known for operating largely under “local control,” meaning that school boards are made up of parents and community members and are designed to act as sentinels of democracy, tasked with uplifting the highest civic ideals and aspirations.  Historically, the state has had a limited role in determining how schools are run. Consequently, New Hampshire has provided a minimal amount of school funding. While the concept of local control can be both empowering and a burden of responsibility, students and teachers cannot carry out their important work without adequate funding.

Democracy v. The People

Alberto Polimeni, Boston Review

For some, late 2020 brought with it an air of optimism regarding the fate of right-wing populism. In the United Kingdom, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party faded into obscurity, and the populist right’s GB News experiment foundered. In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro’s disastrous response to COVID-19 seemed to hemorrhage his support and threaten his reelection chances. Greece’s fascist Golden Dawn party was legally disbanded, Germany’s AfD started slowly losing popularity and parliamentary seats, and Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden. The picture looks different today. Trump continues to claim election fraud, Bolsonaro may win reelection later this month, and far-right parties have advanced in Sweden and Italy. But with the apparent respite came a flurry of political analysis seeking to draw key lessons from it—about strategies used to defeat the populist right and structural reforms that could codify these victories.

Other News of Note

Why Access to Education Is Key to Dismantling Mass Incarceration

Syrita Steib, Non Profit Quarterly

It wasn’t until I was about halfway through serving a 10-year prison sentence for a crime I committed when I was 19 that I began taking college classes. In the prisons where I was held before, access to higher education was limited to people with shorter sentences—under five years—supposedly because such people would be better positioned to make use of that education on the outside. I often say that I could have had a doctorate by the time I was released if my access had been different. When I was released from prison in 2009, I applied to the University of New Orleans. I checked the box asking if I had a conviction. I was denied admission even though I had excellent grades and test scores. A couple years later, I decided to do it differently: I filled out the application again, same as before, but this time I didn’t check the box. I was admitted, received scholarships, and eventually graduated cum laude from Louisiana State University Health Science Sciences Center New Orleans with a degree in clinical laboratory science. I then became a medical technologist with plans to go to medical school.

The passionate 16-year-old activist changing Welsh LGBT+ lives for the better

Joseph Ali, WalesOnline

Ellis Peares is determined to make a positive change for young people like him all across the country. The 16-year-old from Cardiff is well into his A-levels in sixth form at Ysgol Bro Edern but has a unique and impressive extracurricular interest. Politics. Ellis currently holds the position of Youth Parliamentary Member for Cardiff central. In his role so far, Ellis has sat with senior members of the Welsh Government advising them on the future introduction of LGBT+ specific policies implemented in schools. Coming out as a proud gay person in year nine, he was annoyed with the lack of education and knowledge within school surrounding Welsh LGBT+ issues and history. “I was really annoyed with how things were around the community with the lack of knowledge in school,” Ellis said.