Just News from Center X – September 23, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

What Teachers of Color Say Will Actually Work to Diversify the Profession

Madeline Will, Education Week

School districts have long sought teachers of color, who make up just 20 percent of the profession and provide valuable academic and social-emotional benefits to all students, but particularly to students of color. Yet teachers of color aren’t often asked directly what they think would help in recruitment and retention efforts to diversify the profession. A new study by the RAND Corp. provides some answers—teachers of color overwhelmingly favor broad solutions that make it more affordable to become a teacher.

NEPC Talks Education: An Interview With Richard Ingersoll and Tuan Nguyen About Teacher Shortages [Audio]

Christopher Saldaña, Richard Ingersoll, and Tuan Nguyen, NEPC

Crusading for parental rights may cloak other motives

Edward Larson, Washington Post

Education is a key issue for Republicans all over the country in 2022. Why? In a word, Virginia. Before 2021, Republicans had gone a dozen years without winning a statewide race in the commonwealth. But that year, with many parents angered by pandemic-related classroom closures, GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin made parental control over public education his top issue. Youngkin began by attacking the record of Democratic nominee and former governor Terry McAuliffe. He reminded voters that McAuliffe once vetoed a bill that would have allowed parents to exempt their children from studying material they deemed “sexually explicit,” such as Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel with references to rape, slavery and infanticide. In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests and amid new national debates around classroom curriculum exploring race relations, Youngkin’s attacks focused on opposing instruction in critical race theory.

Language, Culture, and Power

What Is the Purpose of Teaching U.S. History? [Video]

Jeremy Engle, New York Times

How schools teach U.S. history has been the subject of fierce debate in recent years. What do you think students in the United States should learn about their country’s history? Should social studies education focus on the positive accomplishments and contributions the country has made to the world? Or should it reveal the uglier sides of the country’s history, such as persistent racism and economic inequality? In other words, what do you think is the purpose of teaching U.S. history in schools? Is it to foster patriotism? To prepare active and informed citizens? To create change makers? Or something else? In the interactive “What’s Actually Being Taught in History Class,” The Times talked to social studies teachers about what they teach and why.

We asked Asian American students what they wanted from history instruction. They say including their voices is not enough

Julian Giacone, Chalkbeat New York

There’s a new look to history classes in New York City schools: a curriculum in Asian American and Pacific Islander history. Its creators say they’ve felt a surge of support, in part because the idea could provide long-term solutions to help combat the extraordinary rise in hate crimes targeting all Asian Americans seen since the beginning of the pandemic. It could also help resolve the internal conflicts that many Asian Americans experience when dealing with their sense of identity. New York City’s Department of Education is the latest public school system to require that U.S. history instruction include an Asian American and Pacific Islander K-12 curriculum.

Michael Sandel, Philosopher and Professor: In Defence of Dialogue [Audio]

BBVA Podcast

This professor of Political Philosophy seeks to revive the Socratic spirit and stops to talk to people to inquire what justice is or what the “common good” means. He does this inside and, more importantly, outside the classroom. In the BBC series ‘The Global Philosopher’, he leads video discussions with participants from over thirty countries on the ethical aspects of issues such as immigration or climate change. His writings on justice, ethics, democracy and markets have been translated into more than 25 languages, including the book ‘What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets’. The philosopher also teaches “Justice”, the first Harvard course available for free online and on television.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

“They knew they would be safe for at least a little while each day” in her class.

Erin Reed, Twitter

May every LGBTQ+ student have as fierce an advocate as Dawn Riggs, who testified against a policy in Ohio that would ban trans students pronouns, out them, ban them from bathrooms.

4 Things Public Schools Can and Can’t Do When It Comes to Dress Codes

Galen Sherwin, Linda Morris, Eleanor Wachtel, ACLU

Most students have encountered school dress codes in one form or another – from bans on spaghetti straps or crop tops, to restrictions on certain hair styles, hair length, and head coverings. Despite how common they are, school dress codes and grooming policies often reflect and reinforce outdated and sexist stereotypes, and may be disproportionately enforced against students who are more likely to be policed or perceived as deviant by school officials. School dress codes, for example, may reflect the sexist and harmful view that girls’ bodies are inherently vulgar or inappropriate, that boys will be “distracted” by girls’ bodies, and that girls’ dress and appearance require more regulation than that of boys. Such policies also may punish LGBTQ+ students for not conforming with rigid and binary gender norms about proper behavior and appearance. Moreover, students of color – and especially Black girls and other girls of color – are disproportionately targeted for dress code enforcement because of intersecting race and gender stereotypes. Black girls, in particular, are often seen as less innocent and more adult-like, aggressive and threatening, and needing less support and protection – often known as the “adultification bias.”

Report: Federal policy adjustments needed to support newcomer students

Kara Arundel, K-12 Dive

To better support K-12 services for incoming immigrant and refugee students, a few federal policy and financial adjustments are needed, according to a report from Next 100, a progressive policy think tank.  Among the report’s recommendations is a call to undo limitations for subgrant funding dedicated to English learners and immigrant students in Title III, and to instead establish a formula grant system for Title III immigrant subgrants.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

An island of reading for youth in the California juvenile justice system

Betty Marquez Rosales, EdSource

Through four heavy, locked doors, down a long beige hallway lit by bright artificial lighting, and past several locked rooms filled mostly with middle and high school students sits a room that feels far more inviting: a superhero-themed library with colorful furniture and enlarged, vibrant, culturally-inclusive artwork on the walls.

What a College Degree Means to Returning Adult Students [AUDIO]

Jeffrey R. Young, Edsurge Podcast

College graduation ceremonies are big events, meant to symbolize the size of the life achievement of getting a degree. The staging is full of pomp and symbolism, with participants wearing traditional academic gowns and walking across a stage in front of thousands of spectators, including friends and family. As grads process across that space and accept a rolled up piece of paper, they’re coming out of a years-long process of study and personal growth, emerging as something new.

Basic Needs Centers at California Colleges Can Help Fight Student Hunger

Eliana Blachman and Caroline Danielson, PPIC

As the school year begins, low-income college students are struggling to balance success in the classroom with meeting basic needs—including stable access to adequate amounts of food. While temporary measures have made CalFresh food assistance—known nationally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—easier for students to access during the COVID-19 crisis, federal guidelines create enrollment hurdles for students and complexity for the state and its higher education system. In addition to demonstrating their income eligibility, college students must typically also receive certain kinds of financial aid or participate in specific types of employment to qualify for the program. California’s community colleges, which serve large shares of low-income students, are working to reduce some of these hurdles through basic needs centers.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

‘You Owe Us’: Youths Tell World Leaders at UN to Get All Kids Back in School

Laura E. Kirkpatrick, Pass Blue

As education across the world faces tremendous challenges from the three C’s: climate change, conflicts and Covid-19, hitting the world’s youngest and most vulnerable children the hardest, the United Nations tackled the problem in a three-day summit that culminated on Monday, prodding world leaders to get all children back in the classroom. But at least one crucial leader, United States President Joe Biden, was not in the General Assembly Hall. He was attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London. “Education is not a luxury but a right,” said Joseph Maada Bio, the president of Sierra Leone and a co-chair of the Transforming Education Summit. The gathering highlighted the vast education gap in which millions of schoolchildren have been left out of the classroom, driving global inequalities wider. The main goal of the conference, held at the annual opening session of the General Assembly, is to create a fairer education system — using Sustainable Development Goal No. 4 as a guide — based on critical thinking, comprehension, computer skills, creativity and civic education.

Poverty Is a Public Policy Choice

Asha Banerjee and Ben Zipperer, In These Times

It should not have taken a pandemic to realize poverty is a public policy choice. Public investments in safety net programs continue to be extremely effective poverty reduction tools, as newly released Census income data show. Government social programs kept tens of millions of people out of poverty in 2021. Because of expansions to programs like unemployment insurance benefits and the child tax credit, poverty rates were actually lower in 2021 than they were prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. The poverty reduction achieved through expanded social insurance programs highlights how much policymakers’ choices can impact poverty. Unfortunately, some of the program expansions enacted in the pandemic have already been reversed, and cuts to programs like unemployment benefits and the child tax credit will increase household economic distress going forward.

It Isn’t Populist to Defund Rural Schools

Jennifer C. Berkshire and Jack Schneider, The Nation

ural Americans have been voting Republican for more than half a century. And while Democrats have periodically attempted to convince rural voters that their economic interests are ill-served by the GOP’s agenda, they have mostly failed. That’s because Republicans have used a kind of fake populism—populism expressed chiefly through culture war, rather than through policy—to maintain their white, working-class base. Portraying Democrats as out-of-touch coastal elitists, the GOP has turned rural voters against universal health care (despite lower rural life expectancies), climate action (despite growing threats to crops), immigration reform (despite reliance on migrant labor), and wealth redistribution (despite higher levels of poverty in rural areas). Now Republicans have trained their sights on public education, including rural schools. Painting classrooms as sites for “woke” indoctrination and vilifying teachers as “groomers,” they’re hoping to convince rural voters to turn on public education. But this is proving a riskier tactic than they expected.

Democracy and the Public Interest

Book Banning, Curriculum Restrictions, and the Politicization of U.S. Schools

Akilah Alleyne, Center for American Progress

Recent debates across the country have pushed for book banning and the adoption of politically motivated laws and policies on school curricula. Such measures seek to prevent teachers from providing a thorough curriculum on American history, civics, and government in U.S. public schools and deny students their rights to a complete education. At least 17 states have introduced bills containing gag order2 or taken other steps that would restrict how teachers can discuss American history and current events, including pulling books off library shelves in an effort to suppress so-called “divisive concepts”—a shorthand affectation nearly always referring to issues about race and identity.

A recent skirmish over free speech involved high school students and their adviser [AUDIO]

Michel Martin, NPR

NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with attorney Hadar Harris of the Student Law Press Center about a high school adviser who refused to censor her student’s published work.

Criminal justice partners engage in voter education and outreach in Yolo County

Robyn Dobson, Daily Democrat

The Yolo County Elections Office will be partnering with the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office and Probation Department to conduct voter education and outreach to individuals impacted by the criminal-legal system ahead of the Nov. 8 election. Both the probation and public defender’s office will be holding voter registration drives ahead of Oct. 24, the deadline to register to vote, according to a press release from the county. “Voting allows people to have their voices heard and engage productively in their community,” the press release said. “By engaging in the democratic process, voters practice pro-social skills, such as civic engagement and appropriate expression of beliefs and values. The two county offices want their clients and the general public to know that everyone in the community retains the right to vote, regardless of any misdemeanor or felony convictions.”

Other News of Note

Don’t Be So Perfect

Eve Ewing and Fred Moten, New Suns

Educators and writers Eve L. Ewing and Fred Moten share much in common: Both use multimodal forms to express their ideas, and both share a passion for Black artistic traditions and pedagogical approaches. The following exchange centers on the generative qualities of making mistakes and teems with anecdotes drawn from the annals of jazz, history, poetry, and beyond. Ewing and Moten also discuss expansive ideas of archiving and documentation and, most importantly, the belief that if we embrace process and forego perfection, our mistakes can open up new and surprising corridors of thought and experience.

11 Disability Rights Activists on Where the Fight for Justice Stands

Teen Vogue

Airlines have lifted mask mandates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that most Americans no longer need to social distance or quarantine. Schools and employers are doing away with remote options and other accommodations for students and workers. In several states, expanded vote-by-mail access is being stripped away. Meanwhile, many Americans with chronic illness or disabilities — whose numbers have grown due to long COVID — feel they’ve been left behind, discarded as an acceptable consequence of the return to “normal.” We asked 11 disability rights advocates about their experiences during the various stages of the pandemic and what’s next in the fight for disability rights and inclusion. Their responses have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.