Just News from Center X – September 2, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Public school teachers in New Jersey add climate change to curriculum [AUDIO]

Dave Gura, NPR

David Gura speaks with New Jersey teacher Christa Delaney about teaching climate change in the classroom now that the state has officially included the subject in its curriculum.

I Don’t Want to Choose Between Job Security and Teaching the Truth

Jay Wamsted, Education Week

Last year, before my home state of Georgia passed its law restricting the teaching of “divisive concepts,” I had an interesting conversation with my middle school students about race. I was roaming the aisles of my pre-algebra classroom during that sweet spot in the middle of the period where almost everyone was working. Suddenly, amidst the swirl of variables and equations filling the room, I overheard several of my students discussing the Trail of Tears. I stopped to listen.

What if Americans Sour on Public Education?

Jon Valant, Brookings Institution

This has been quite a time for U.S. public schools, from pandemic-induced shutdowns to clashes across the country over one issue after the next. In this context, it’s fair to wonder—and maybe worry about—how Americans’ attitudes toward public education might be changing. Last week, Education Next released its 16th-annual survey of public opinion.

Language, Culture, and Power

The First A.P. African American Studies Class Is Coming This Fall

Anemona Hartocollis, New York Times

The College Board is jumping into the fray over how to teach the history of race in the United States with a new Advanced Placement course and exam on African American studies that will be tried out in about 60 high schools this fall. The course is multidisciplinary, addressing not just history but civil rights, politics, literature, the arts, even geography. If the pilot program pans out, it will be the first course in African American studies for high school students that is considered rigorous enough to allow students to receive credit and advanced placement at many colleges across the country. The plan for an Advanced Placement course is a significant step in acknowledging the field of African American studies, more than 50 years after what has been credited as the first Black studies department was started after a student strike at San Francisco State College in 1968, said Henry Louis Gates Jr., a former chair of Harvard’s department of African and African American studies and director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

Give every student access to bilingual education

Editorial Board, Seattle Times

The benefits of bilingualism extend far beyond being able to communicate in a second language. That’s why State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal’s proposal to make dual-language education available in every public school district by 2040 is a worthy goal. State lawmakers should consider Reykdal’s proposal. Educational research shows that people who speak two or more languages have an easier time understanding math concepts, using logic, focusing and developing strong mental habits like critical thinking. But most Washington school districts don’t begin offering world language courses until students reach upper grades. Dual language programs accelerate language-learning by incorporating language instruction throughout the school day. This approach gives younger students opportunities to build fluency and reap the add-on benefits of multilingualism even as they learn math, science and other subjects.

Dual-immersion programs show promise in fighting enrollment declines

Zaidee Stavely, EdSource

When 6-year-old Mia Truong started reading and writing in Vietnamese in addition to English, her parents knew they had made the right decision for kindergarten. Mia’s family lives in San Jose, within the Mt. Pleasant Elementary School District. But her parents decided to send her to a different school district, Franklin-McKinley, so that she could attend a Vietnamese dual-immersion program.


Whole Children and Strong Communities

Teachers’ Strategies for Supporting Transgender and/or Gender-Expansive Elementary School Students

Melinda M. Mangin, Educational Researcher

This qualitative study examines elementary teachers’ strategies for supporting trans and/or gender-expansive elementary students. The findings come from observations and interviews with a purposive sample of 31 teachers from five elementary schools with principals whom parents characterized as supporting their transgender and/or gender-expansive children. Findings indicate that elementary teachers used three broad strategies to support transgender and/or gender-expansive students. Teachers decreased gendered practices, increased discussions about gender, and affirmed children’s gender identity and expression. The consistency of teachers’ efforts to support trans and/or gender-expansive students was challenged by entrenched habits and their beliefs about the relevance of supportive practices. The study results contribute to the nascent knowledge base on educational practices that may improve the conditions for transgender and/or gender-expansive elementary school students.

Why sex education doesn’t have to be awkward

Sophia Smith Galer, BBC

I never got the opportunity to do something that’s almost a rite of passage among British teens – spend a sex education class peeling a condom out of its stiff foil packet and rolling it down a banana. It wasn’t until I was 27 years old that I would finally get to do it, but in a very different capacity. I wasn’t learning how to put a condom on. I was learning how I’d teach somebody else to put it on. About 15 newly trained sex educators and I sat in front of our computers, condommed-bananas in hand.

Creating Identity-Safe Schools and Classrooms

Laura Hernández and Linda Darling-Hammond, LPI

Neuroscience and research on learning make it clear that social, emotional, and cognitive experiences are intertwined and influence how we learn. Having trusting relationships and experiencing positive emotions, such as interest and excitement, open the mind to learning. Negative emotions, such as anxiety or self-doubt, reduce the brain’s capacity to learn when left unmitigated. A young person’s performance under conditions of high support and low threat differs substantially from how they perform without such support or when feeling threatened.

Unfortunately, schools are not emotionally or psychologically safe for many students. For example, one in five students between the ages of 12 and 18 report having been bullied, often as a function of their background characteristics, ranging from racial or ethnic group membership to gender identity, appearance, or disability status. Researchers have also long found that some teachers hold inaccurate characterizations of students based on race and ethnicity, have lower expectations of Black and Latinx students, and interact with them less positively.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

Student Debt Relief Is Undermining the Military’s Predatory Recruiting Practices

Jordan Uhl, Jacobin

Amid a brutal year for military recruiting, conservative war hawks are openly fretting that President Joe Biden’s announcement last week of a one-time means-tested student debt cancellation will undercut the military’s ability to prey on desperate young Americans. “Student loan forgiveness undermines one of our military’s greatest recruitment tools at a time of dangerously low enlistments,” Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) tweeted shortly after the announcement.

Socioeconomic roots of academic faculty

Allison C. Morgan, Nicholas LaBerge, Daniel B. Larremore, Mirta Galesic, Jennie E. Brand & Aaron Clauset, Nature

Professors play a unique role in the knowledge economy: they both train the next generation of thinkers and generate new scholarship, which informs national policy and advances scientific discoveries. But the professoriate has never represented the sociodemographic characteristics of the population it serves. While the diversity of the educational pipeline has been extensively studied in terms of race and ethnicity and the links between parental income and occupational status, and their children’s educational attainment are well documented there exist comparatively few systematic studies on the socioeconomic roots of professors or how their socioeconomic origins interact with institutional prestige. Analyses of the socioeconomic backgrounds of faculty will both improve our understanding of the social reproduction of the highest levels of academic attainment and scientific influence, and provide a quantitative basis for studies of how representational diversity influences which and what kind of discoveries are made.

How to Keep Returning College Students on Track [AUDIO]

Jeffrey R. Young, EdSurge Podcast

Returning to college after years away from formal education can feel like a new beginning, as well as a daunting challenge. What sparks students to return? Once they’re back, how can colleges help them stay on track? And what informal networks and resources do students create on their own?

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

US students are becoming more diverse. So why does segregation persist?

Tiffany Cusaac-Smith, USA Today

The student population in U.S. public schools has grown significantly more diverse, but segregation remains a persistent concern, a recent federal government study found. The Government Accountability Office found that in the 2020-21 school year, more than a third of K-12 students  attended schools where 75% or more of students were of the same race or ethnicity. About 15% of students went to schools where 90% or more of the students were of a single race or ethnicity, the study said.

The expanded child tax credit kept 4 million kids out of poverty. Can it come back?

Rachel M. Cohen, Vox

As the ink dries on the Inflation Reduction Act — the landmark federal law that tackles climate change, drug pricing, health insurance, and tax enforcement — advocates for the expanded child tax credit have been quietly mourning their loss. The expansion, passed as part of President Joe Biden’s pandemic relief program, delivered hundreds of dollars into parents’ bank accounts every month in 2021, ultimately helping 65 million children and keeping 3.7 million of them out of poverty. A year ago, the expanded CTC was heralded as one of the most significant policy achievements of the Biden era, so important to the broader Build Back Better negotiations that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described its upcoming expiration as “really important leverage” for getting the rest of their agenda through.

‘Kahlief loved hard’: A Philadelphia student’s killing resonates as the new school year begins

Johann Calhoun, Chalkbeat Philadelphia

When Philadelphia teacher Jane Fitzgerald learned about the death of her student Kahlief Myrick eighteen months ago, she performed a ritual that has grown far too familiar.Fitzgerald took out a pen and  added his name to a list of South Philadelphia High School students killed by gun violence or stabbed to death. At the age of 16, Kahlief joined about 50 other names on the list covering Fitzgerald’s two decades at the school, an expanding memorial to the crisis in the city.

Democracy and the Public Interest

‘Nurseries of democracy’: Northwest student journalism elimination a ‘Saga’

Jessica Votipka, Grand Island Independent

Northwest Public Schools administrators eliminated its journalism program in June in what some former students and press freedom advocates call an act of censorship. While working on the school year-ending issue of the Saga newspaper, staffers had little idea its student-written content would mark a 54-year-old publication’s abrupt end. The edition included student editorials on LGBTQ topics, along with a news article titled, “Pride and prejudice: LGBTQIA+” on the origins of Pride Month (June) and the history of homophobia. Other articles explained registering for classes, highlighted achievements by the Future Business Leaders of America chapter and told the story of a group of siblings’ adoption.

College students have been voting at record rates. Why?

Maricruz Ariana Osorio and Melissa R. Michelson, Washington Post

In the 2020 election, 66 percent of college students who were registered to vote cast their ballots — an increase of 14 percentage points over the 2016 presidential election. Similarly, in the 2018 midterms, college student voter turnout doubled from 19 percent in 2014 to 40 percent. What happened? Some of the jump, of course, was because of the tremendous mobilization that happened during the President Donald Trump era overall. But some of the increase is likely due to get-out-the-vote initiatives conducted in colleges across the country. Stronger student turnout strengthens democracy and increases the likelihood that policymakers will pay attention to issues important to students, like student debt. Political science research explains how these initiatives made a difference.

More so than adults, U.S. teens value people feeling safe online over being able to speak freely

Colleen Mcclain, Pew Research

Teens and adults in the United States differ on a key issue tied to online speech and its consequences. A majority of teens ages 13 to 17 say a welcoming, safe online environment is more important than people being able to speak their minds freely online, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. A separate survey of Americans 18 and older shows that adults’ views on the same question are more evenly divided. Overall, 62% of teens say people being able to feel welcome and safe online is more important than people being able to speak their minds freely online, while 38% hold the opposite view. By comparison, half of adults say a welcoming and safe online environment is more important, while a similar share (47%) put more value on people being able to speak their minds freely online.

Other News of Note

In Memoriam: Nel Noddings

Laurie Brooks, Teachers College Press

Nel Noddings, the Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education, Emerita at Stanford University in California died Thursday, August 25, 2022, at her home in Key Largo, Florida. She was 93. Nel will be remembered as a philosopher, a feminist, a matriarch, and an engaged citizen of the world. Nel was a prodigious writer with more than twenty books and monographs in print that have been translated into fourteen languages including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish. She is best known for her ethic of care described in her first book Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics & Moral Education published by the University of California Press in 1984. In 2013 she changed the title replacing the word feminine with feminist.