Education Dive: “Teachers and administrators have … implemented restorative justice practices, asking students to reflect on their behaviors, take responsibility for them, and find opportunities for resolution.”
Education Week: “Kindergarten students in 2010 started school with noticeably stronger literacy, math, and behavior skills across the board compared to their peers that started school just 12 years earlier.”
Education Week: “The nation’s schools must devote more resources and research to educating students who aren’t native English speakers.”
The Hechinger Report: “General education teachers are teaching more students with disabilities. But training programs are doing little to prepare teachers.”
The Huffington Post: “‘The strike is very consciously using a diversity of actions to talk about women’s labor, because women’s labor is most often rendered invisible, both by society and by policymakers.’”
The Huffington Post: “‘If you’re going to be horrified at visible Muslims being attacked in public spaces, you have to be prepared to step in.’”
National Public Radio: “‘A lot of schools that might be bragging about their graduation rates typically are accepting more affluent students of all races. But the real challenge, the real work is done when you’re going after low-income students and trying to bring them to a new level.’”
Reuters: “Parents who immigrated illegally to the United States and now fear deportation under the Trump administration are inundating immigration advocates with requests for help in securing care for their children in the event they are expelled from the country.”
Slate: “By misgendering [Gavin] Grimm, these briefs clearly reflect the kind of animus that moved the school board to bar Grimm from the correct bathroom in the first place.”
Teen Vogue: “As Global Minds participants, they spend their time working on activities centered on human rights, sustainable development, international relations, and diversity. Through it all, the native-English-speaking students get to learn about other students’ cultures, while the ESL students are able to practice English.”
If you come across a current article or blog you think other educators should read, please send it to email@example.com, and put “What We’re Reading This Week” in the subject line.
While undocumented students and their families have always lived with the daily fear of deportation, the day Donald Trump was elected president marked a point at which many families began vocalizing their fears within the safety of school walls. Parents are seeking reassurance that their children’s records won’t be released to immigration officials; students are expressing worry that their parents or other family members will be deported before they get home from school.
In the past month, anxiety over deportations significantly increased as nearly 700 undocumented immigrants were arrested during targeted raids in at least six states. Then, last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released new guidelines that broadened the types of undocumented immigrants who can be detained beyond those who have committed “serious crimes.” The guidelines also provided immigration officials greater discretion over whom to pursue.
Immigrant-rights advocates say that such broad guidelines will tear otherwise law-abiding families apart. The number of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for more than a decade has been steadily increasing, as overall numbers of those who come here without papers have declined. The result is more undocumented immigrants who have started families, built lives and sent their children to school in the United States.
Roughly 50 million students were enrolled in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools in 2012; seven percent of those students had at least one undocumented parent. As The Atlantic succinctly put it in 2016, “immigration policy is education policy.”
Students are being kept home from school due to deportation fears. Those who do attend bring physical and emotional stress with them into classrooms and may have difficulty focusing on academics. Teachers are spending parent-teacher conferences counseling families on how to prepare for possible deportation, not discussing their children’s school performance.
Teachers are often the first resource for families in need because they have established a trusting relationship. There are resources available for teachers when counseling undocumented families, including this one from the National Immigration Law Center. If you haven’t seen the Teaching Tolerance post on what to say to students regarding immigration orders, read it here.
In an attempt to ease concerns from families, as well as provide clear direction for teachers and staff, some school districts are taking a public stand to protect and educate students who may be undocumented. A few examples:
- Chicago Public Schools’ Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson advised principals not to let immigration officials into schools without criminal warrants. Nearby Evanston School District 202’s school board passed a “safe haven” resolution that, among other directives, prohibits employees, contractors or volunteers from inquiring about students’ immigration statuses or releasing such information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without a court order to do so.
- The Denver Public Schools Board of Education passed a resolution that promised schools would not share information about students unless required by law, and would fight to protect students’ legal rights.
- Sacramento City Unified School District, along with several other California districts, adopted a “safe haven” policy that provides a range of inclusive efforts, from promoting tolerance over hate speech to offering focused staff development opportunities.
It’s important to note that ICE continues to define schools as “sensitive locations” and therefore will avoid engaging in “enforcement actions” on school property. School districts that promise to keep ICE away from schools and student records are providing more of a symbolic—but still important—way to show solidarity with undocumented families.
Even schools under the safe haven banner are trying to understand what exactly that designation means for their particular students. Some schools are partnering with local governments and nonprofit organizations to provide families with information about their legal rights. Schools are also developing rapid-response networks that can help children whose family members have been detained and also develop procedures in case emergency contacts can’t be reached. Some schools are considering connecting families directly to legal representation.
Schools are uniquely qualified to not only provide essential support for students from undocumented families, but also to remind others about the importance of being inclusive, equitable and respectful. After all, every child in the United States has the right to an education, no matter their citizenship status.
This blog was produced in partnership with the anti-hate news project 500 Pens.
Applegate is a journalist, editor and storyteller who focuses on youth, family and social justice issues.
When murmurings about a women’s march began on November 9, 2016, I knew I needed to be there—with friends and strangers who were ready to unite. The rustlings online began to grow louder. Hotel rooms were booked, car pools to Washington, D.C., organized.
Last year, I wrote about why Women’s History Month still matters. In 2017, we need to continue to consider gender in an organized, national celebration. History has a gendered dimension, as does politics. The Women’s March, as an event that was both historic and political, will have a rightful place in the month-long March celebration of women’s history.
The National Women’s History Project reminds us, “Our history is our strength.” As we showed the world during the march on January 21, 2017, our strength is also in our numbers. When my group, including my 5-year-old daughter, was standing still in the sea of people, I felt safe, happy and relieved. Before the march, I just thought it would be an interesting and important event. I didn’t really think it was historic. And then I got there and we couldn’t get on a train. We couldn’t move. We definitely couldn’t pee!
And we didn’t care. Because in that moment of togetherness and singing and chanting and—finally—marching, we could feel something was happening, something bigger. Afterward, while we ate room service meals and put up our tired feet, we scrolled social media feeds in awe, only then learning that the movement was worldwide on that day.
For several reasons, the Women’s March will be an important part of my classes’ discussions during Women’s History Month—and will likely have a place in larger discussions of women’s history in the future.
The march was an exercise in intersectionality. Strong arguments abound as to why the march still was not inclusive enough. However, I would argue that the women’s movement has come a long way from the second wave of feminism and that many people worked to make the march a worldwide platform for intersectional feminism. Yes, the original committee for the Women’s March was quite white, but people did the work to ensure a diversity of voices. And that diversity became manifest.
The march created a critical feminist manifesto. To read a mission and vision statement that brought together so many communities took my breath away. Such a manifesto is critical if we are to unite the energies, talents and organizing concerns of so many activists. With all the discussion about what feminism is, we sometimes forget what feminism does. The statement gave feminists a concrete platform to build upon. Every word deserves attention, but I was personally moved by the intersectional and peaceful vision set forth:
We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.
The march provided feminist activists with a plan. For many people, marching is easy, a one-day commitment. But activism takes slow and steady work. The Women’s March will remain part of history because it didn’t end in a day, but instead has encouraged slow and steady progress through community and grassroots organizing. People are huddling. Striking. Most important, people are seeing that there is a space for them in the movement.
We don’t even know what additional history will be made from the actions this march has inspired or will inspire. What I do know is that it has motivated a new generation of activists and helped organize and coalesce those of us already engaged. When we talk about women’s history from now on, the Women’s March will be an important part of those lessons.
Clemens is the associate professor of non-Western literatures and director of Women's and Gender Studies at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.
On February 27, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released a statement after meeting with leaders of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), praising these institutions as “real pioneers when it comes to school choice.” She spoke more the following evening about HBCUs’ history of challenging the status quo and “providing a necessary opportunity to African Americans following the Civil War.”
DeVos’ disregard for (or ignorance of) the systems of racism and racial discrimination that necessitated HBCUs in the first place is a striking example of historical whitewashing from the highest levels of the U.S. power structure. Such disregard, unfortunately, trickles down and influences what happens in school buildings. Today, we encourage you to address with students the history of inequitable education systems in the United States and how people, groups and institutions like HBCUs have not only worked to upend those systems but also have excelled in spite of them. It’s possible that your students don’t know much about HBCUs. This is a great chance to teach an empowering and inspirational part of black history.
- What is an HBCU? Where are they located, who can attend them and who are some well-known alumni?
- What social conditions led to the formation of HBCUs?
- HBCUs are often portrayed as a modern construct that grew from the Jim Crow era. Is this true? Why or why not?
- How is school choice different from equal access to educational opportunities?
- What was the intent of Secretary DeVos' statements? What was the impact of her statements? Provide evidence.
Editor’s note: This post, part one of a series on teaching and learning how to know in 2017, offers a discussion of key terms from cognitive science and media literacy. Future posts in this series will focus on specific classroom tools and strategies.
It’s important for educators to determine a way forward in a time when many of the core values of education—fact-based arguments, civility, inclusivity and the cultivation of curiosity—are under assault. The devaluing of shared truth, deepening political polarization and the mainstreaming of hate have created a steeper climb toward the goal of helping students evaluate and think critically about the content they consume. Educators thus need to better understand how students access and integrate information, and how media works.
There is considerable research on how our brains seek new knowledge and integrate it into our existing worldviews. No student is a blank slate; learning is not just the acquisition of new information but also the correction, refinement and enhancement of existing ideas and assumptions. This is especially important given the prevalence of confirmation bias, which refers to our tendency to more readily believe information that supports—or confirms—our existing worldviews and to exclude information that might contradict previously held assumptions. Like other forms of bias, it is experienced as a cognitive shortcut that aims to simplify and reduce what’s known as cognitive dissonance: the mental stress of encountering information that contradicts previously held assumptions. The response to cognitive dissonance is typically to discount the new information and to latch on even more tightly to the ideology that is under threat.
As a result, even when new information is presented as factual and verified, what researchers call a backfire effect occurs: Our attachment to our assumptions becomes stronger in the face of contradictory information. We also practice what’s known as motivated directional reasoning, a more active version of confirmation bias that not only compels us to dismiss counterarguments and pursue information that matches preexisting assumptions but also clouds our ability to evaluate arguments effectively. We rate arguments that align with our views as more credible than opposing arguments. Our brains are capable of impressive, unconscious gymnastics to keep our worldviews intact, which makes challenging assumptions and advancing our respective thinking quite difficult.
For teachers, these tendencies underscore the necessity of gathering knowledge about students’ prior assumptions. Of course, the challenge is that, depending on students’ ages, they may not have well-developed, pre-existing political identities or worldviews, and what they do have will likely derive from their parents’ or families’ views, placing us educators in sensitive territory. And yet, an understanding of cognitive habits can provide an opening to justifying the importance of alternative viewpoints, open-mindedness and curiosity since, no matter where we might fall on the political spectrum, we are all prone to these thinking traps.
Constant self-scrutiny, reflection and skepticism, as essential to the scientific process as they are to any form of anti-bias work in schools, need to be practiced and modeled by teachers and students in all venues. Students need our help learning about and navigating this knowledge and information landscape. As such, the terms discussed here need to be part of the discourse within our classrooms.
Like most work around bias, it is made far more complicated by the political and social context in which it occurs. Our reliance on social media only exacerbates these tendencies. Many of us are stuck in echo chambers, sealed media ecosystems in which there is a perception of widespread consensus and unanimity. The resulting filter bubbles—for example, personalized search results, news streams created by websites’ algorithms or participation in closed ecosystems of like-minded thinkers—mean that we have to work harder to encounter, let alone be open to accepting, information that contradicts our thinking. Social media is also especially prone to the phenomenon of fake news, media that is produced to appear genuine but that is actually based on falsehood, exaggeration or propaganda. Similarly, click bait, salacious or enticing headlines meant to drive clicks (and therefore advertising revenue), can pull students’ focus away from seeking accurate information and from a diversity of viewpoints.
Finally, there is the familiar problem of the digital natives in our classrooms who see knowledge as something to consume and receive, and who thus fall prey to what philosopher of knowledge Michael Patrick Lynch argues is “the thought that all knowing is downloading—that all knowing is passive.” In other words, some students may view knowledge as something to be acquired passively rather than actively sought, which only further reinforces the tendency to accept information that supports pre-existing worldviews and to be susceptible to “fake news” and propaganda.
Given the mental shortcuts we take while learning and the treacherous landscape in which that learning occurs, learning to know in 2017 is indeed a challenge. We certainly don’t want our classrooms to fall prey to the same damaging patterns we see in our social media consumption; we don’t want our classrooms to become echo chambers in which there is no dissension (nor do we need to bend over backward to accommodate all views). While it’s easier to stay ensconced in an echo chamber of mutual biases and closed-loop reasoning, our students will better learn to know—and come to some actual truths—when they venture out to interrogate and reflect.
Gold is a seventh- and eighth-grade history teacher at Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island.