Just News from Center X – October 23, 2020

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Trump’s And Biden’s Plans For Education

Elena Moore, NPR

Key priorities–Joe Biden: Make public colleges, historically Black colleges and universities, and minority-serving institutions tuition-free for families making less than $125,000. Make two years of community college and training programs tuition-free. Cancel $10,000 of every American’s student debt and revise the current loan repayment system. Establish universal prekindergarten.
Donald Trump: Strengthen school choice policy and expand accessibility to charter schools. Promote “patriotic education” curriculum in schools.

Policy solutions to deal with the nation’s teacher shortage—a crisis made worse by COVID-19

Emma García and Elaine Weiss, Economic Policy Institute

Some estimates have put the shortage of teachers relative to the number of new vacancies in classrooms across the country that go unfilled at more than 100,000—a crisis exacerbated by the pandemic. But policy changes can go a long way in addressing this shortfall. We lay out those policy solutions in our just-released paper, A Policy Agenda to Address the Teacher Shortage in U.S. Public Schools: The Sixth and Final Report in the ‘Perfect Storm in the Teacher Labor Market’ Series. It is part of an EPI two-year long project documenting the teacher shortage faced by U.S. public schools over the last few years and explaining the multiple factors that have contributed to it.

5 Ways Principals Can Establish a Strong School Climate

Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week

Perhaps more than any other part of schooling, making a school feel safe, welcoming, and uplifting to students really hinges on the principal. It’s the principal, after all, who sets the tone for a school’s culture by his or her everyday actions and interactions with teachers, families, and students, and who sets into motion the core elements of school climate work: Social-emotional learning, youth voice and leadership programs, and restorative practices. Now principals face the added challenge of doing that across remote and hybrid learning systems, not just for in-person learning.

Language, Culture, and Power

One Question Down, A Whole System of Educational Injustice to Go

Jacqueline S. Chea, Harvard Crimson

The Common Application’s most inane question is finally history. No longer will students have to self-report high-school disciplinary infractions, including suspensions. And though it may seem small, that’s an important step, if only an early one, toward racial justice and equitable access in education. The decision came after the Common App found that Black applicants reported disciplinary infractions at twice the rate of their peers and counteract the fact that many students with disciplinary records forgo the application process entirely. The sad reality is that school disciplinary systems often have long-term and disproportionate consequences for those it punishes.

Shanker Blog: Co-Teaching for Emerging Bilingual Learners: Theory and Practice

Lauren Schneider, NEPC

Co-teaching is an education buzzword frequently used in the context of instruction for students with special needs or English Language Learners (ELLs). When implemented thoughtfully and intentionally, co-teaching can be highly effective at meeting the unique needs of all learners. In this post, I will focus on co-teaching for English Language Learners, to whom I will refer to as “Emerging Bilingual Learners (EBLs), a more accurate label that highlights the assets these learners bring to the classroom. My argument, which is supported by research and my own professional experience, is that co-teaching is a particularly effective method for EBLs when one teacher is trained to meet the language needs of EBLs (and all learners) and the other focuses on grade level standards. Using co-teaching models, language is not the end goal, but rather a vehicle that enables EBLs to gain understanding of grade level content.

Ethnic Studies: Being Filled with Love [Audio]

Young Whan Choi, The Young and the Woke

This episode features Ozzy Johnson, a student in the ninth grade in OUSD. He is one of more than 1500 ninth graders taking Ethnic Studies this year. As someone who has spent close to a decade organizing for Ethnic Studies, developing curriculum, and supporting Ethnic Studies teachers in OUSD, I really wanted to hear what students had to say about the class. In this episode, Ozzy gives his take on Ethnic Studies, politics in general, and the upcoming presidential election.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

First-Time Voters Want to Have a Say in Our Country’s Future

Laila Annmarie Stevens, The Nation

It’s been a rough few years to be a young person in America. For those of us who were too young to vote in 2016, we’ve had to live through the administration of a president that none of us chose as it inflamed racial tensions, backed out of climate accords, and undid protections for queer and trans people. For the millions of first-time voters this year, this election is about more than picking the next president; it’s about staking a claim on the future of this country. I know this story well, because it’s my own: I was 11 years old when Trayvon Martin was murdered in 2012, and his death and its aftermath, more than anything else, taught what it means to be Black in America. Almost a decade later, I am now in college but I am still witnessing the very same prejudices leading to the murders of black people.

Students find new ways to get out the vote amid pandemic

Bella Ross, Cal Matters

First-time voter Fernando Villarreal is looking forward to participating in the upcoming presidential election. “I think it’s a really important election for democracy and I think young people have a lot at stake when it comes to education, healthcare and a lot of other issues,” said the Palomar College freshman. But that doesn’t mean the process is straightforward for Villarreal, who registered to vote just a few months ago while applying for a business license for an apparel company he recently launched. Since then, he hasn’t crossed paths with any voter outreach efforts, but he did have a few questions: What should he do with his mail-in ballot once he fills it out? And how to make sense of the state’s propositions, which he called “confusing”?

Janitors, Bus Drivers On Returning To Schools: Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t

Sarah Ruiz-Grossman, Huffington Post

As many schools return to in-person classes even as coronavirus cases are mounting nationwide, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers and janitors are left in an impossible bind: worried about being exposed to COVID-19 but also terrified they’ll lose their jobs if schools stay shut. “We’re back at work. We don’t get the choice of virtual or brick-and-mortar. We’re behind the wheel, five days a week,” said Rhonda Miller, 54, a school bus driver in Florida’s Palm Beach County. “How can you social distance on a bus? It’s impossible,” Miller said.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

The invisible toll of mass incarceration on childhood development

Dana Suskind, Hechinger Report

Every Sunday morning for five years, K. packed up her son, M., filled a bag with books and snacks, and took the bus to 26th Street and California Avenue. Infamous to Chicagoans, the intersection is home to the Cook County Jail. Mother and son entered the facility, sent their belongings — even M.’s milk — through a metal detector, clapped their shoes together for the guards, and sat in the waiting room. Eventually, they would be granted what they’d come for: a 15-minute visit with M.K., M.’s dad and K.’s partner. (The family is being referred to by their initials in order to protect their privacy.) The visits, though, were far from ideal. M. often fell asleep in the waiting room and woke up cranky when his father appeared. The rules governing the visit felt punitive: no toys, no candy, no touching. K. often left feeling as if she and M. were the ones waiting for trial.

California schools see big jump in number of homeless students

Carolyn Jones, Ed Source

California’s escalating cost of living has led to a 48% surge in the state’s homeless student population over the past decade, according to new research released today by researchers at UCLA. Almost 270,000 students in K-12 schools lacked stable housing in 2018-19, numbers that almost certainly have grown since the pandemic and economic downturn began last spring, researchers said. “We knew the numbers would be up, but we were surprised at the scope and severity of the crisis,” said Joseph Bishop, director of UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools, which compiled the report.

California Community Colleges receive $100 million donation to help students facing financial hardships

Ashley Smith, Ed Source

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has triggered financial hardship for many California’s community college students to cover the costs of housing, food and other living expenses. And on Tuesday, the Jay Pritzker Foundation made an unprecedented donation – the largest ever to a community college system in the country – a $20-year, $100 million pledge to provide scholarships to California students facing unexpected financial hardships. “This unparalleled level of support for our students will be life-changing,” said Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the 116 community college system. “I hope this will challenge other donors throughout the country to rethink higher education giving and re-examine the focus on selective, four-year institutions. This gift will go directly to support some of the most talented and under-resourced students in America.”

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Is it time to stop segregating kids by ability in middle school math?

Steven Yoder, Washington Post

On a frigid Thursday in February, math teacher Marietta Gibb was warming up her sixth-graders at DeWitt Middle School with some algebraic expressions. She showed the students a video to review the math, and then sent them scattering to different tables to practice the exercises they had found challenging. “We don’t want anything too easy, because if you go to the gym and you pick up two pounds, what purpose is that?” Gibb said as she encouraged her students to select math problems at their individual levels. “[And] we don’t want to pick up the weight that’s way too much for us, because we’ll end up hurting ourselves.” At a table in back, two girls matched bright blue cutouts of unsolved equations with their solved counterparts. Two boys worked on riddles that tested them on combining like terms. A student practiced distributing negative numbers on a whiteboard.

Sharpening the Divide: How California’s Teacher Shortages Expand Inequality

Desiree Carver-Thomas, Tara Kini, Dion Burns, Learning Policy Institute

When California students returned to school in fall 2019, hundreds of thousands returned to classrooms staffed by substitutes and teachers who were not fully prepared to teach. In recent years, California has experienced widespread shortages of elementary and secondary teachers as districts and schools seek to restore class sizes and course offerings cut during the Great Recession. Schools experiencing shortages of fully certified teachers often respond by cutting courses, increasing class sizes, and hiring substitutes and teachers on substandard credentials. Although statewide data reveal a deepening shortage across the state, teacher supply and demand factors vary across districts, and as a result, there can be stark disparities in shortages both among and within districts.

Who Is Losing Ground with Distance Learning in California?

Niu Gao, Julien Lafortune, Laura Hill, Public Policy Institute of California

The resurgence of COVID-19 over the summer and the predicted fall increase in cases means that many districts will continue some form of distance learning for months to come. To help districts refine remote instruction, we explore key issues California families experienced around distance learning this spring. Using data from the Census Household Pulse Survey, a weekly survey conducted in 2020, we document how the pandemic altered Californian households. Our findings show that distance learning has widened gaps for children of color, children in low-income families, and children of less-educated parents.

Public Schools and Private Dollars

Public Schools Are Starting to Charge “Fees” for “Childcare”

Liza Featherstone, Jacobin

Here’s a sign of a collapsing state: across the country, public school districts are charging parents money for “childcare” in school buildings. (Otherwise known as “school.”) Many schools are closed because of the ongoing pandemic. This has left many working parents needing childcare. During the peak of the pandemic, New York City offered free childcare to children of essential workers, and later, to anyone who needed it. The program was a success — largely safe and widely appreciated by the families that used it. But this business of charging parents for childcare in public buildings when school is supposed to be in session is manifestly unjust and underscores how badly at risk our public institutions are in this intertwined crisis of recession and pandemic. We are going to have to fight hard to restore public trust in them, and to get them back.

DeVos Says School Choice Is Coming, Like It Or Not

Lauren Camera, US News and World Report

“Many in Washington think that because of their power there, they can make decisions for parents everywhere,” DeVos said Monday at Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian school in Michigan. “In that troubling scenario, the school building replaces the home, the child becomes a pawn, and the state replaces the family.” In what was one of the most political speeches of her tenure, DeVos focused on the philosophy and life of Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch pastor and politician who is largely responsible for allowing public dollars to fund parochial schools in Holland, where the secretary traces her ancestry.

Judge blasts DeVos’ sweeping denials of student loan relief claims as ‘disturbingly Kafkaesque’

Michael Stratford, Politico

A federal judge scrapped a settlement Tuesday over the Trump administration’s slow processing of loan forgiveness for borrowers who have accused their colleges of fraud, ruling that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos undermined the deal. U.S. District Judge William Alsup said in a sharply worded decision that DeVos undercut the settlement by denying large swaths of the claims without sufficient explanation. The class-action settlement, which was reached earlier this year and received preliminary approval from the court, was meant to force the Education Department to move faster on final decisions for roughly 160,000 of the backlogged requests for loan forgiveness, known as “borrower defense” claims. Some of the claims have languished at the department for years.

Other News of Note

City Rising: Youth & Democracy [Video]


“City Rising: Youth & Democracy” follows the stories of youth leaders, allies and organizations as they challenge institutional and systemic issues through civic engagement. This third season of the “City Rising” series will demystify the role and work of youth organizations in California, demonstrating how young people are organizing their communities to participate in public policy and make lasting change in pursuit of a more just and equitable future for themselves and the world they live in. Sociologists, economists and experts like Dr. Veronica Terríquez, Dr. Manuel Pastor, and Ben Kirshner explore the history of youth participating in the civic arena and its impact today.

Meet The Trans Teen Behind ‘Jude’s Law’ | Out In Front: Queer Youth Changing The World [Video]

It get’s better project, Youtube

Jude knew her identity from a very early age. At just 9 years old, she made her first appearance at the Colorado state capitol, testifying in support of House Bill 19-1039, which would make it easier for trans people to change the name and gender designation on their birth certificate. Today, that very law has passed, now with a new name – Jude’s Law.

Toward a Global History of White Supremacy

Daniel Geary, Camilla Schofield, Jennifer Sutton, Boston Review

From promulgating the racist birther conspiracy theory to exhorting vigilante Proud Boys to “stand by,” Donald Trump has amplified white nationalist ideas in the United States. But neither Trump’s emergence nor his impact can be understood fully by looking at the United States in isolation. Rather, Trump must be understood for his place in a long line of Anglophone leaders who claimed to speak for besieged whites, with precedents including Ian Smith, the leader of the white minoritarian regime of Rhodesia, and Enoch Powell, the British MP who infamously warned of “rivers of blood” if Britain did not halt non-white immigration. Moreover, white nationalism is global not only in its history but in its present manifestations: white nationalists worldwide have hailed Trump’s actions and would be emboldened by his reelection.