Just News from Center X – September 9, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Union Power Is the Best Solution to the Teacher Shortage

Jacob Goodwin, The Progressive

Labor Day is upon us once again and, while there is a tight labor market all across sectors, the pain is especially acute in public schools.  In February, the National Education Association conducted a survey of its three million members and found that 90 percent of respondents felt that burnout was a “serious problem,” while more than half of members reported thinking about leaving the profession “earlier than planned.”  This immediate shortage of teachers is paired with long-term concerns, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting that there will be an 8 percent increase in the number of high school teachers that are needed by 2030. But more immediately, the current teacher shortage is the product of an orchestrated attack on public spaces that, unfortunately, gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. I teach social studies to six graders at a public school in New Hampshire, which in July 2021 joined the ranks of at least five other states that have restricted classroom conversations about race and gender. Despite what their proponents claim, these laws are clear political ploys designed with the express purpose of stopping honest conversations about history in schools by intimidating teachers.

Striking Seattle teachers, aides explain why they are on the picket line

Nina Shapiro, Omar Shaikh Rashad  and Monica Velez, Seattle Times

For nearly 27 years, Jacqueline Hardy has been a paraeducator in Seattle Public Schools. During that time she hasn’t been able to afford to live in Seattle — where she was born and raised — and has worked two jobs to pay her bills. Wednesday was to be the first day of the 2022 school year, but instead, Hardy was one of the thousands of Seattle Education Association members on strike. Neither side has explained why they haven’t reached an agreement. But they’re still at the bargaining table, and a mediator is assisting. On Wednesday, striking educators spelled out their frustrations on the picket line, describing the challenges of teaching at a time when many children have fallen behind academically and are struggling with emotional and behavioral issues.

Gov. Newsom quashes bill to provide more funding for Black students

John Fensterwald, EdSource

The sponsor of legislation that would have provided $400 million in additional funding to raise the academic achievement of Black students pulled the proposal hours before likely passage Wednesday, after Gov. Gavin Newsom raised objections. Newsom advisers did not say what those objections were, although four years ago, in a similar bill, Assembly legislative analysts suggested that the legislation would violate Proposition 209, a 1996 constitutional amendment.

Language, Culture, and Power

First-of-its-Kind Report Sheds Light on Experience of Indigenous Students

Liann Herder, Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Indigenous students are struggling to make ends meet while pursuing their education and supporting their families and communities. To ensure Native American scholars can earn their degrees, institutions need to be more transparent about the true cost of college, expand campus-based tuition and fee waivers, boost emergency aid, and purposefully gather data on their Indigenous students instead of grouping them into the catchall demographic, “other.”

Rhode Island becomes fourth state to require Asian American history in schools

Tat Bellamy-Walker, NBC News

Rhode Island is joining a growing list of states mandating that Asian American and Pacific Islander history be taught in public schools. Gov. Dan McKee, a Democrat, signed the legislation over the weekend, which will go into effect for the 2023-2024 school year. It requires elementary and secondary schools to teach at least a unit of instruction on the history and culture of Native Hawaiians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Under this new curriculum, students will learn more about the populations’ fight for civil rights and their contributions to the region and the U.S.


The Inflated Promise of Science Education

Catarina Dutilh Novaes and Silvia Ivani, Boston Monthly

ould the world be a better, or even a different, place if the public understood more of the scope and the limitations, the findings and the methods of science?” This question was taken up in 1985 by the UK’s Royal Society, one of the world’s oldest and most distinguished scientific bodies. A committee chaired by geneticist Sir Walter Bodmer answered in the affirmative: yes, a scientifically literate public would make the world a better place, facilitating public decision-making and increasing national prosperity. Nearly four decades later, this view remains very popular—both within expert communities and without. The public, it is assumed, knows little about science: they are ignorant not just of scientific facts but of scientific methodology, the distinctive way scientific research is conducted.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Bill that would expand school health clinics faces opposition from anti-abortion groups

Carolyn Jones, EdSource

A bill that would double the number of health clinics on school  campuses is headed to Gov.Gavin Newsom for approval amid objections from anti-abortion groups that claim the clinics would make it easier for students to end pregnancies. Assembly Bill 1940, would set aside $100 million for schools to build or expand an estimated 200 health clinics offering free medical care, dental services, mental health counseling, reproductive health care and other services for students and, in some cases, the surrounding community. “There’s so much urgency, so much passion and need for this right now,” said Gabrielle Tilley, senior policy manager at the Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health, one of the organizations supporting the bill. “We have the money, and we have a new awareness of the massive inequities in our state — this seems like a perfect time to make this happen.”

Activists demand LAUSD add green space to schools

Susan Carpenter, Spectrum News

As the sun bore down on the blacktop Wednesday, a group of parents, educators and community members gathered outside the playground of a Boyle Heights elementary school to protest the lack of shade, water and green space on LA Unified School District campuses. Like many other schoolyards around the city, just 5% of Lorena Street Elementary is green space, according to the district’s Greening Index. The rest is concrete and asphalt. “If you think about what it feels like to be in a parking lot on a hot day with the heat melting the soles of your shoes, that is what school kids around Los Angeles experience every day at recess, PE and after school and what parents see every day when they pick up their kids with their faces beat red, drained from the heat of the day,” LAUSD parent and activist Aleigh Lewis said Wednesday.

How 2 districts use community partnerships to ensure students can walk safely to school

Anna Merod, K-12 Dive

Six years ago, a first-year high school student at Harrisonville School District in Missouri was killed after being struck by a car while walking home from school. Out of the tragic situation, a community partnership called the Harrisonville Cares Coalition was formed to improve pedestrian safety around schools and the surrounding community, said Jill Filer, director of communication and community relations for Harrisonville Schools.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

For Head Start, masks and vaccine mandates are still in place—for now

Ariel Gilreath, Hechinger Report

For much of the country, this school year started with Covid restrictions in the past: No more masking, vaccine mandates, social distancing requirements or testing regulations. But for many Head Start programs, federal requirements remain in force, complicating operations. Under a federal rule announced almost a year ago, Head Start centers must require vaccines for staff and masks for anyone 2 years or older, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the program. The federally-funded preschool system collectively serves nearly 750,000 children from low-income families.

College grads in U.S. tend to partner with each other – especially if their parents also graduated from college

Richard Fry, Pew Research

It’s well established that college graduates in the United States tend to partner with other college graduates. In 2019, 81% of household heads with a bachelor’s degree or more education had a spouse or partner who was also a college graduate. A new Pew Research Center analysis of government data shows that this pattern is even more pronounced for adults whose parents also graduated from college. Some 86% of household heads with a four-year college degree – and at least one parent with a degree – have a spouse or partner who is also a college graduate. By comparison, the same is true for a smaller share of household heads who are first-generation college graduates (73%).

To Build a Pipeline of Black Teachers, This Program Starts Recruiting in High School

Emily Tate Sullivan, EdSurge

Even as some current teachers are leaving the education workforce—or, at the very least, considering it—plenty of would-be teachers are opting for other career paths, creating a worrisome landscape where there are neither enough teachers right now, nor expectations to recover the dearth in the future. This is partly a pandemic consequence, but also the result of a years-long decline in the attractiveness of teaching as a profession.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Ruby was the first Black child to desegregate her school. This is what she learned [Audio]

Mary Louise Kelly, NPR

The morning of November 14, 1960, a little girl named Ruby Bridges got dressed and left for school. At just six years old, Ruby became the first Black child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. Federal marshals had to escort Ruby, as she was faced with throngs of angry white protestors restrained by barricades. Today, she is a civil rights activist and author, with her most recent children’s release, I Am Ruby Bridges: How one six-year-old girl’s march to school changed the world, telling the story of that day, with illustrations by Nikkolas Smith. She joined All Things Considered to share more about her experience, and what today’s children can learn from what she endured.

Canadian city commemorates historic protest against segregated ‘Chinese-only’ schools

Kimmy Yam, NBC News

A century later, residents of Victoria, British Columbia, are commemorating the Chinese community’s 1922 successful protest against the city’s school segregation. Locals paid tribute this week to the Sept. 5 boycott, in which some 200 Chinese students walked out and refused to attend the “Chinese-only” schools that were designated for them by the board amid rampant anti-Chinese sentiment at the time. The yearlong boycott eventually forced the board to reverse its decision. On the 100th anniversary marked on Monday, community members retraced the steps of the protesters, honoring their fight against racism.

School Is for Social Mobility

John Friedman, New York Times

America is often hailed as a land of opportunity, a place where all children, no matter their family background, have the chance to succeed. Data measuring how low-income children tend to fare in adulthood, however, suggest this may be more myth than reality. Less than one in 13 children born into poverty in the United States will go on to hold a high-income job in adulthood; the odds are far longer for Black men born into poverty, at one in 40. Education is the solution to this lack of mobility. There are still many ways in which the current education system generates its own inequities, and many of these have been exacerbated by Covid-19 closures. But the pandemic also revealed a potential path forward by galvanizing support for education funding at levels rarely seen before.

Democracy and the Public Interest

School Is for Making Citizens

Heather C. McGhee and Victor Ray

Why do we have public schools? To make young people into educated, productive adults, of course. But public schools are also for making Americans. Thus, public education requires lessons about history — the American spirit and its civics — and also contact with and context about other Americans: who we are and what has made us. That broader purpose is currently under attack. According to PEN America, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting free expression, legislatures in 36 states have proposed 137 bills that would limit teaching about race, gender and American history.Nineteen censorship bills have become law in the past two years. In our increasingly diverse nation, insulating students from lessons about racism will create a generation ill equipped to participate in a multiracial democracy. When partisan politicians ban the teaching of our country’s full history, children are purposely made ignorant of how American society works. And the costs of this ignorance to American democracy will be borne by us all.

Daring to Speak Up About Race in a Divided School District

Daniel Bergner, New York Times

The Leelanau Peninsula looks, on a map of Michigan, like a thick pinky with a gnarled tip. In the northern reaches of the state, it lies between Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. It’s a place of cherry and plum orchards, long stretches of road bordered by forests and fields and monumental, surreal sand dunes. Demographically, the peninsula and adjacent mainland could hardly be more homogeneous; the population is over 90 percent white. But politically, the area is starkly divided. Conservatives worry that their territory is turning “as blue as Ann Arbor,” as one centrist Republican put it, and liberals see Trump 2024 banners draped over the fronts of neighbors’ houses and, on a few houses and trucks, Confederate flags. The peninsula — whose economy spans agriculture, tourism and, lately, an influx of people with the luxury of remote work, and where houses range from grand domains by the water to mobile homes just inland — voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and, by a slight margin, for Joe Biden in 2020, while the surrounding counties went overwhelmingly to Trump in 2016 and a bit less so in the last election. Some members of the Wolverine Watchmen militia will soon stand trial in Traverse City, at the peninsula’s base, on state charges of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic governor from her summer cottage close by.

Service-Learning Can Be the Bridge to Social Emotional Learning. Educators Should Embrace It.

Scott Petri, EdSurge

In 2020, California’s State Board of Education adopted criteria and guidance to award a State Seal of Civic Engagement to students who demonstrate excellence in civics education. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic set this work back substantially; teachers and students went into survival mode and volunteer opportunities dried up as workplaces closed. Despite the setback, I believe there is still a way for students to re-engage in school, support their communities and learn leadership skills. After taking a closer look at the social emotional learning (SEL) framework, it is clear there is a connection between SEL and service learning that educators can use and nurture.

Other News of Note

The latest crowd-sourced poem is about hope for the new school year [AUDIO]

Morning Edition, NPR

NPR’s Rachel Martin talks to poet in residence Kwame Alexander, who shares his latest community crowd-sourced poem about the goals that teachers, parents and students have set for themselves.