Just News from Center X – October 28, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Parents Differ Sharply by Party Over What Their K-12 Children Should Learn in School

Juliana Menasce Horowitz, Pew Research

As the midterm election approaches, issues related to K-12 schools have become deeply polarized. Republican and Democratic parents of K-12 students have widely different views on what their children should learn at school about gender identity, slavery and other topics, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. They also offer different assessments of the influence parents, local school boards and other key players have on what public K-12 schools in their area are teaching. Republican parents with children in K-12 schools are about twice as likely as Democratic parents to say parents don’t have enough influence (44% vs. 23%, including those who lean to each party). And Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say school boards have too much influence (30% vs. 17%). These parents also differ over the amount of input they personally have when it comes to what their own children are learning in school.

For LGBTQ teachers, academic freedom means the freedom to exist

Karen Graves & Margaret A. Nash, Washington Post

Last month Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration revised school policies adopted in 2020 to protect trans students. Under the modified rules, students are required to use school facilities for the sex they were assigned at birth, school personnel must defer to parents regarding students’ names and pronoun usage, and they are required to keep parents “fully informed” regarding students’ gender identity even when students wish to keep the information private. Nationwide, there has been a surge in adopting laws that censure references to LGBTQ people or issues in the classroom since Florida passed its legislation early this year. 

How to diversify America’s teaching corps

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

For many years, there have been calls for more diversity in the teaching corps of America’s public schools. Public school teachers across the United States are far more likely to be White than their students, even though data shows that the majority of students in public schools are not White. And research is clear that Black and White students benefit from having a diversity of teachers. A new handbook on this subject has just been published by the American Educational Research Association that explains trends in research, policy and practice. It was written and edited by Conra D. Gist and Travis J. Bristol, who have written the following post. Gist is an associate professor of teaching and teacher education at the University of Houston’s College of Education. Bristol is an associate professor of teacher education and education policy at the School of Education at the University of California at Berkeley.

Language, Culture, and Power

Teaching and Learning in a Time of Pandemic

Eduardo F. Lopez

As  a  teacher  educator  at  a  large public  university  in  Los  Angeles,  I  find Antonia Darder’sarticle “Reflections on Cultural Democracy and Schooling” timely and important. Significant in her opening is a discussion of the uneven impact of the pandemic in the United States and the globe. Preparing teachers to meet the social, academic, and emotional needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of color (BIPOC) students within this context has not been easy. The pandemic acted like kerosene being  dumped  into  the  middle  of  a  wildfire and  causing  major  disruptions,  pain, trauma, and anxiety in poor, immigrant, and working-class communities. Intertwined with the pandemic, a number of social, cultural, and economic issues collided with each other and exasperated the efforts of critical educators to create nurturing and humanizing spaces for their students.

It’s a Big Fat Deal

Katy Alexander, Rethinking Schools

“Why don’t you try losing some weight?” whispered my 7th-grade student. Even though it was a whisper, it sliced through the air, and tried to cut me down. Those words tried to take me out of myself, out of my adult teacher self, and tried to put me back in the place of a sad and scared fat 12-year-old kid in the lunchroom. Thankfully, I’m strong and thick, so while I was shocked, I stayed standing. I will never escape people attacking my fat body. I will never be old enough, accomplished enough, or ever have enough authority where my soft, fat, round body won’t be a point of vulnerability and attack. Even in the position of teacher, I’m still a fat teacher. You probably already know this, but America hates fat people. America hates fat people. Hating fat people is a national pastime. It’s in our movies, our shows, our books. It’s in our jokes, our attitudes, our stares, our judgments. It’s in our fashions and our foods. It’s in our values, our religions, and our spiritualities. And it’s also in our schools.

Schools in Great Britain warned not to ban minority pupils’ hair styles

Sally Weale, The Guardian

Schools are being warned not to penalise or exclude pupils for wearing their hair in natural afro styles, as well as braids, cornrows and plaits, in new guidance intended to prevent hair discrimination. Britain’s equality watchdog has said school uniform and appearance policies that ban certain hairstyles without allowing for exceptions on racial and religious grounds are likely to be unlawful.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Arts education is a right, not a privilege

Matthew Garcia-Ramirez, Ed Source

Without art, I wouldn’t be where I am today. During distance learning, two of my grandparents passed away within a week. As a result, I fell into a depression that felt never-ending. What got me out of the dark was connecting to the California State Summer School for the Arts. For the first time in months, I was feeling creative; I started the rigorous application and was accepted that summer. Before this opportunity, college was not an option. However, I am attending UC Irvine thanks to the Summer School for the Arts and a scholarship from the Herb Alpert Foundation. I am proof that even the smallest space for art in students’ lives can have a monumental impact.

Fighting fentanyl: Schools tackle opioid crisis head-on

Kara Arundel , Shaun Lucas and Jasmine Ye Han, K-12 Dive

When two 8th grade students died within days of each other in 2016 after using synthetic opioids, the Park City School District in Utah went into full crisis response mode.  Grief counselors came to the students’ middle school. Parents were asked to search their children’s possessions. Area emergency room doctors were warned to look for signs of drug abuse or attempted suicide in teen patients. District and school staff were asked to comfort each other through their grief.

Navigating nuance is key to improving computer science education

Julie Flapan, Ed Source

Nearly three years into Covid, we’re adjusting to this prolonged liminal state of neither fully in the pandemic nor completely free from it. This gray area is difficult to navigate, but this in-between reality offers some useful lessons from an unlikely source: computer science. As a computer science equity advocate, I understand how “ones” and “zeros” are the underpinning of computer languages. While binary thinking may be a useful tool to simplify computing data and create code, our polarized society shows either/or thinking has limited value “IRL” (in real life). Relying only on two opposing extremes leaves us ill-equipped to tolerate ambiguity and embrace complexity as we work to build a more equitable future.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

Federal aid helped child care providers stay open. Now the help is wearing off

Alia Wong, USA Today

Enrollment at Good Shepherd Christian Academy, a child care center in Fort Worth, Texas, plummeted almost as soon as the pandemic hit, from 84 kids to just 10. It’s been one thing after another since, said Ontara Nickerson, the center’s director. The paltry number of children meant shortened workdays: Many of the center’s hourly workers couldn’t make do with reduced pay and quit in search of better wages.  Yet Nickerson and her team have managed to stick it out, largely thanks to federal relief dollars that started flowing into child care centers last year. Good Shepherd Christian Academy was one of more than 200,000 providers nationwide that received aid through the American Rescue Plan, according to data shared exclusively with USA TODAY by the White House, money that helped the vast majority of recipients avoid closures despite unrelenting economic and public health pressures.

Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action in admissions could affect California private colleges

Emma Gallegos, EdSource

Next Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about whether considering race as a factor during the admission process is lawful — a decision that could have a big impact on the admissions practices of private colleges in California and the institutions outside the state that many Californians attend. California banned affirmative action in its public universities in 1996 through Proposition 209, but there are high stakes for Californians in the Supreme Court case, said Michele Siqueiros, president of The Campaign for College Opportunity.


The history of anti-Black discrimination in higher education and the myth of a color-blind Constitution

Danielle R. Holley, SCOTUS Blog

Leaders of historically Black colleges and universities filed an amicus brief in support of UNC and Harvard in the SFFA v. UNC and SFFA v. Harvard cases. As an HBCU leader who spearheaded this amicus brief effort, I felt it was important for the justices and the public studying this case to understand the position of historically black colleges and universities. I believe this perspective is important, because SFFA has argued that, if the Supreme Court strikes down race-conscious admissions, Black students will still be able to have access to higher education, and they suggest that HBCUs would be a place for Black students to essentially retreat to if PWIs (predominately white institutions) begin to exclude Black students. Justice Antonin Scalia also (in)famously echoed this argument in the oral argument of the Fisher case, where he suggested that Black students may be better off at “lesser schools.”

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

‘Unsafe, unwelcoming’: LGBTQ students report facing hostility at school

Patrick Wall, Chalkbeat

Patricia Reeves and her husband have tried to make school safe for their child. They pushed administrators at one school to stop students from bullying Milo, who is nonbinary, and withdrew Milo from a different school after a teacher refused to use the correct pronouns. Inside their West Texas home, the parents do their best to replenish their child’s self esteem and resilience — to “build up our little soldier,” as Reeves put it.


A Playbook for Getting Millions of Unconnected Households Online

Emily Tate Sullivan, EdSurge

Schools are reopened, and students have resumed in-person learning. But some relics of the pandemic are still holding strong, including dependency on digital technology to aid learning. Many teachers, flush with devices and education software from the remote school days of yore, continue to assign homework that must be completed online, after hours. Yet millions of students live in households without an internet connection.

Why Aren’t Democrats Talking About the Real Cause of Inflation?

Robert Reich, In These Times

Despite the Federal Reserve’s most aggressive campaign in generations to slow the economy and bring price increases under control, prices continued to climb at a brutally rapid pace in September — with a key inflation index increasing at the fastest rate in 40 years. Even though the Fed has quickly raised interest rates from near zero to a range of 3 to 3.25 percent, overall inflation — 8.2 percent over the year through September — continues to roar. Worse, it’s headed in the wrong direction. After stripping out volatile fuel and food, inflation increased. No wonder investors expect the Fed to announce another rate increase at the end of its next meeting, on Nov. 2.

Democracy and the Public Interest

Conservatives aim to take control of school boards

Zaidee Stavely, Diana Lambert, John Rogers, Education Beat

The California Republican Party, churches and conservative organizations have recruited and trained dozens of candidates to run for school board across California. Some of their goals include fighting against teaching about racism and racial equity and the acceptance of different gender identities. What’s at stake in school board elections?

American Turning Point: Politics In Public Education [VIDEO]

FiveThirtyEight Podcast, ABC News

With questions about gender identity and critical race theory being taught in schools, school board races have grown more political. In Sarasota County, Florida, two candidates faced off on the issues. This is the first episode of American Turning Point, a series from ABC News and FiveThirtyEight.

‘Maybe Gen Z Is Just Kinder’: How America’s Youngest Voters Are Shaping Politics [Audio]

Jane Coasten, The Argument

A new generation of voters is heading to the polls this year. Members of Gen Z are under 26. They’ve come of age during the Trump presidency, a pandemic, protests over police violence. For them, school-shooting drills were normal. They’re also more progressive than their parents or grandparents, even if they identify as Republicans, which is why Democrats are hoping they’ll turn out this election. It’s clear that the Biden administration wants their vote. See cancelation of some student loan debt. But what’s actually going to drive them to the polls? And more importantly, once they’re there, what matters to them most?

Other News of Note

Mike Davis: 1946–2022

Jon Wiener, The Nation

Mike Davis, author and activist, radical hero and family man, died October 25 after a long struggle with esophageal cancer; he was 76. He’s best known for his 1990 book about Los Angeles, City of Quartz. Marshall Berman, reviewing it for The Nation, said it combined “the radical citizen who wants to grasp the totality of his city’s life, and the urban guerrilla aching to see the whole damned thing blow.” And the whole thing did blow, two years after the book was published. When the Rodney King riots broke out in LA in 1992, frightened white people rushed home, locked the doors, and turned on the TV news. Mike, however, was driving in the opposite direction, with his old friend Ron Schneck at his side. They parked, got out, and started talking with the people in the streets about what was going on. Then he went home and wrote about it.

theLAnd Interview:  Mike Davis

Jeff Weiss and Mike Davis, theLAnd

History didn’t just absolve Mike Davis, it affirmed his clairvoyance. In 1990, his dystopian L.A. touchstone, “City of Quartz,” anticipated the uprising that followed two years later. Its unofficial sequel, Ecology of Fear, stated the case for letting Malibu burn, which induced hemorrhaging in real estate tycoons but now reads like a harbinger for the infernal ravages of each fire season. Meanwhile the 2005 tocsin, The Monster at Our Door, interpreted the Avian Bird Flu as an omen of the pandemic that pillaged the globe this year.

Mike Davis (Video, 2009)

Bill Moyers Journal

Mike Davis not shy about his political allegiance — he calls himself “an old-school socialist.” Known to many for his best-selling histories of Los Angeles and Southern California, CITY OF QUARTZ and ECOLOGY OF FEAR, Davis is a former meat cutter and long haul truck driver who now teaches creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. With the media buzzing over socialism within the Beltway, Bill Moyers talked with Davis about the government’s response to the economic crisis and the role of radicalism in American history.