Our research revealed no obvious, simple way to improve teacher retention. The differences in retention rates that we saw across districts are not explained by easy-to-observe factors such as student demographics or teacher salaries. But related research shows that teachers leave schools with poor working conditions where they feel they cannot have success with their students, and they stay in schools where they feel supported by their colleagues, their principals and their school culture. Working to build more supportive school environments can both help students and ameliorate the retention crisis plaguing some of our urban school systems.
Back in 2014, NY Times Magazine published a piece called “The Tale of Two Schools,” recounting a program to bring together students from Fieldston—an elite private high school in Riverdale—and University Heights HS—a public school in the South Bronx.
I remember this piece because it was one of the texts we used in a unit of study on segregation in NYC.
The latest “This American Life” podcast returns to this program, exploring it from the perspective of students involved in the program from both schools, asking the question, “What impact did this program actually have on the perspectives of the students many years later?”
It’s a powerful and thought-provoking episode. Give it a listen here.
Education for the incarcerated
“Incarceration is supposed to be about rehabilitating those who may have lost their way in the past,” Mr. Cuomo said. “And it’s time that we get back to embracing that principle as a society.”
How to get affluent white families to send their kids to local public schools
Market the schools to realtors.
Aren’t we all Americans?
‘Rethink who is the curriculum, who is the teaching, centered on?’ Souto-Manning said.”
…’I wanted to get away from that story of the people in power,” said Salas, who works at P.S. 75 on the Upper West Side. ‘Story acting is a culturally relevant teaching tool because it helps students develop empathy and understand multiple perspectives.’
This Chalkbeat story, which paints “culturally relevant” teaching in glowing terms, gave me pause. Some of the suggestions made in the piece, such as knowing your student’s backgrounds and experiences or how to pronounce their names correctly, are just simply common sense. One would certainly hope that your son’s teacher knows his name and who he is as a person and treats him with respect and provides him with individualized attention. That this doesn’t happen in all classrooms speaks more to the quality of our ed preparation and people that are coming into the profession than a problem with curriculum.
The idea that we need to rethink our curricula to center them more on specific populations of students seems questionable to me for two reasons.
One is that this progressive rethinking of curriculum has been going on for a long time now. So take a look at actual curricula used in NYC schools and tell me how it’s not developing student understanding of multiple perspectives. Avoid vague platitudes and let’s talk actual content.
For example, one of the teachers mentioned in the pieces gives an example of a lesson on Christopher Columbus that challenges the “story of the people in power.” Yet if you examine the NYC social studies scope and sequence, which one would assume this teacher should be drawing from, here is the essential question for European exploration and colonization:
“How do issues of power, wealth and morality influence exploration and colonization?”
Such a question hardly seems to close off multiple perspectives on the topic. Arguably, therefore, this teacher is simply paying heed to teaching history the way curricular guidelines ask her to teach it.
Second reason is that I see the fundamental problem with our education system, especially in regards to integration and diversity, to be exactly the reverse as what is laid out by the notion of “culturally relevant” curriculum. The problem, as I see it, is that we don’t spend more time laying out what it means to be an American citizen, and the common values and principles we all share. And this problem is further compounded by the utter lack of coherency and consistency in the way we teach any content.
This teacher argues that teaching to the textbook can still be more relevant–and more effective
“I’ve learned how to leverage my understanding of my students WHILE implementing a curriculum designed by someone else.”
Speaking of curriculum. Florida conservatives craft a law to allow anyone to challenge school textbooks
“’We found [school books] to be full of political indoctrination, religious indoctrination, revisionist history and distorting our founding values and principles, even a significant quantity of pornography,’ he says.
The pornography, Flaugh says, was in literature and novels such as Angela’s Ashes, A Clockwork Orange and books by author Toni Morrison, which were in school libraries or on summer reading lists.”
Uh, dude, that’s not pornography. Has he ever read literature before? It’s not like Lady Chatterly’s Lover is being recommended for summer reading. . .
(While we’re on the topic, here’s an op-ed from the Lemony Snicket author arguing that boys need to be given books that have more sex in order to pique their interest: Want Boys to Read? Easy. Give Them Books About Sex., NY Times)
“He found more than 80 places where he believes the textbook was wrong or showed bias, beginning with the cover. Its subtitle is ‘Our Democracy.’
‘We’re not a democracy, we’re a constitutional republic,’ Flaugh says.”
Actually, both of these assertions are problematic. We’re a democratic republic. Flaugh needs to read Federalist paper #10.
In any case, this law is a whole lot of sound and fury that will lead to nothing, except maybe some further fragmentation and incoherency in curriculum in Fla. What the Florida Citizen’s Alliance fails to recognize is that few schools and districts utilize any given set of textbooks anymore. Like I said before, the overriding principle of the U.S. school system is its complete lack of coherency. Most districts and schools use some amalgamation of books, resources, and materials supplied by various vendors or individual teachers.
Tim Shanahan on when to teach decoding and when to scaffold grade-level texts
A pervasive problem teachers face in teaching literacy are the increasing gaps between students’ reading abilities and the complexity and difficulty of the texts they are supposed to read at grade-level.
Shanahan provides some useful advice for teachers on this core issue:
“It doesn’t make sense to me to try to scaffold over any appreciable distance when a youngster is trying to figure out how to decode basic text. With those kids, I would teach phonics, I would engage them in reading easy texts, and I would read the seventh-grade texts to them with all of the scaffolding needed to keep their heads in the game about the ideas in those texts.
If it is the former of those queries—the one about scaffolding a great distance, like 6 or 7 grade levels, then I have a different answer for you. In fact, it is possible to scaffold that kind of distance, as long as the readers aren’t beginners. I’m saying that It is possible to scaffold the reading of an eighth-grade book for a student who now can only read at second-grade level, and there are benefits to doing this (though I’m certainly not claiming it to be an easy way to go).”
Scaffolding the Reading of Seventh-Grade English Learners: How Much is too Much?, Shanahan on Literacy
This chart on violence and bullying in schools is no surprise to anyone who has attended or worked in a middle school
Smart piece from a Republican senator on the need for teens to engage in hard work
“…meaningful work for kids is less about any particular task than the habits the hours teach. The effort involved and the struggles, once overcome, become the scar tissue of future character.”
Teacher evaluation is about relationships and learning, not about scores
Long ago, I co-wrote a policy paper advocating for a teacher evaluation system that acknowledges that evaluation is a conversation that requires the context of a professional learning community, with input not only from the administration, but furthermore one’s peers.
While a pre and post-conference is included in most current eval systems, the reality is that the focus is on 1) compliance (paperwork), 2) the stakes/consequences attached to that paperwork, and 3) the demands of a very subjective rubric, rather than on the practices and content that will move learning forward for students.
So it should come as no surprise that few teachers are rated poorly by their principals. These systems have become all about summative evaluation, rather than formative feedback, and thus have lost sight of the real purpose of the system in the first place — to improve teacher practice and student learning. Effective principals will use the system to have those conversations — but they won’t rate their teachers poorly on paper unless they are intent on pushing them out the building.
Research shows: Elect Democrats to fight segregated schools
Partisan tensions between individualism/choice and systems/regulation in action.
Andy Rotherham argues against safe spaces
“. . . challenging people to become bigger than themselves is at its core an act of respect and love. Shielding them from challenge, especially in their most formative years, is fundamentally deeply disrespectful to them and their education.”
He’s talking about higher ed. But this also applies–arguably, even more importantly–in K-12.
“Challenge Students, Don’t Shield Them,” US News
John King and Arne Duncan plead for sanity in regulations to protect students
“Protecting students and taxpayers shouldn’t be a partisan political issue.”
It shouldn’t. Unfortunately, however–in our country, in these times–it is.
The Problem with Robot Teachers
“I . . . worry that we’re slowly evolving toward a system where the affluent get that kind of education and the poor get automated schooling.”
Are The Robots Coming? Is The K-12 Sector Allergic To Accountability? Cheating In DC, College Access, David Harris Goes TEDx, Claudio Sanchez On ESSA, Jeff Walker On Systems Entrepreneurs, Curbing Eliteness, Cow Horse, More!, Eduwonk
A middle school in the South Bronx harnesses the power of testing & practice
This Bronx school is applying what we know from decades of research: repeated quizzing and practice of key skills and concepts, spaced out over time, transfers learning into long-term memory.
Kudos to MS 343. When you think about just how much of an outlier this approach is, it’s pretty disturbing. Most schools do not have a coherent and systematic approach to what they teach, nor consider how they are reinforcing what is most essential to learn across grades and classrooms.
Speaking of practice, here’s 10 teaching techniques worth practicing
This is a useful list of a few pedagogical methods worth spending time mastering from UK educator Tom Sherrington, which are based on Deans for Impact’s advice for deliberate practice.
Ten teaching techniques to practise – deliberately., Teacherhead.com
NYCDOE is pressing ATRs into schools
Dan Weisberg writes an op-ed in The 74 against the move, claiming that “Principals would go back to hiding vacancies and would justifiably argue that they can’t be held accountable for student learning if they don’t get to pick their teams.”
His claim appears to be justified, as a recent Chalkbeat article reports:
“I’m going to make sure my school doesn’t have a vacancy,” said one Bronx principal who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the topic. “I’m not going to post a vacancy if someone will place an ATR there. I’ll be as strategic as I can and figure out another way.”
I think Weisberg’s suggestion makes much more sense: set a time limit on how long someone can be in the ATR pool.
Randi Weingarten calls Devos’s brand of choice what it is — but what is her union doing to fight segregation?
I think Weingarten is pointing out an inconvenient truth by calling vouchers a “polite form of segregation,” given their history and the folks that most typically foam at the mouth over them.
But I do wonder what exactly she and her union are doing to fight segregated schools. Public schools are doing plenty on their own to contribute to segregation without any consideration of charters nor vouchers.
The school year in NYC just ended on the 28th; summer school begins this week. I’ve been facilitating training for summer school programs the last few days so have been pretty busy, but I’ve still got a few ed-related links worth reading compiled for you.
I’m waaay late to this, but this NTCQ report on what teachers need to learn in ed programs is excellent
I’ve had this PDF sitting on my desktop since January and just finally got around to perusing it.
The 6 strategies, based on extensive research, are deceptively simple. And yet, barely any of them, aside from asking probing questions, are covered in most teacher prep textbooks or courses.
Here’s the 6 strategies:
- 1. Pairing graphics with words.
- 2. Linking abstract concepts with concrete representations.
- 3. Posing probing questions.
- 4. Repeatedly alternating problems with their solutions provided and problems that students must solve.
- 5. Distributing practice.
- 6. Assessing to boost retention.
These would be a good focus for any sustained PD for a school. And I would argue that numbers 5 and 6 would be the biggest bang for your buck if you looked across the curriculum of a school.
What do most teacher prep textbooks focus on? Stuff like, “How teachers and students should organize themselves (e.g., inquiry learning, direct instruction, or cooperative learning).”
You know what? That’s what most professional development focuses on, too.
National Council on Teaching Quality, Learning About Learning
Ideas for how to change entrenched misconceptions in education (and beyond)
“We think advocates of learning science should be more curious about why teachers believe what they believe, including learning styles.”
Why mythbusting fails: A guide to influencing education with science, Deans for Impact
Joe Kirby presents important ideas on how to distribute practice and assess to boost retention
If your school is committed to addressing those 6 points outlined above, Joe Kirby has some good advice that not only will promote better student learning, but furthermore reduce your workload.
Three Assessment Butterflies, Pragmatic Education
Amanda Ripley forwards a wonderful idea for promoting tolerance and understanding diversity: cultural exchanges within the US
Over the last year, I spent a lot of time thinking about the problems of segregation across New York state, and something I found under-explored and often trivialized by integration advocates was how to address rural and urban divides, as well as other students who are geographically isolated in urban areas.
Plus, it must be said that the reality is that there isn’t enough affluent or white kids in our public schools to spread around, if we’re going to start counting beans. So we need to look at more than only getting kids of different backgrounds in the same schools, though that can go a long way. We also need to look at how we can bring kids together in other ways.
Kentucky is bringing people of all ages together through a Rural-Urban Exchange. This is something other states should emulate, most especially for our children.
“It’s harder to demonize someone once you’ve stayed in their homes and shared meals and stories together.”
America, Meet America: Getting Past Our Toxic Partisanship, Wall Street Journal
How did this DC public school get to 100% college acceptance?
System-wide support and money.
“a strong support system within D.C. public schools made it a reality. Staff tracked students, often working side by side with them to apply for college in the library. It also took a lot of money. Grants, donations and district funds took kids on college tours, and the school incentivized students with pep rallies, T-shirts and free food.”
Every Senior Applied To College At This Washington, D.C., High School, NPR
And a reminder that “transforming” schools is incredibly hard
Well-reported, and as Eliza Shapiro (Politico reporter who’s an ace journalist herself) stated on Twitter, “nothing cute, no triumphant narrative, just proof of how hard it is to change schools.”
The Fight for Fairmount Park Elementary, Tampa Bay Times
Revisiting the ‘Parents Involved” SCOTUS case and its unrealized potential for racial integration
“for all the obstacles confronting a rebooted school desegregation movement, the legal path towards integration still lies mostly open”
‘Parents Involved,’ A Decade Later, American Prospect
Rural youth are leaving (and pushed to leave) for greater opportunities
“Researchers have found that the hollowing-out of heartland communities is the result of a push-pull phenomenon: Ambitious students are drawn to the attractions and opportunities of major cities, but they’re also encouraged to leave by teachers and parents who see college as a chance to escape stagnation.”
If rural communities want to keep their youth, they must engage them
“Their creative thinking and problem solving can advance communities when given the opportunity.”
RURAL COMMUNITIES MUST EMPOWER YOUTH, The Daily Yonder
And here’s an example of that
“I was taking a class called Latina Leadership Initiative — that class is all about empowerment. When I saw that I had access to these programs to bring them to Perry, I kind of let go of [my] shyness and said – this is something I need to do.”
A ONE-WOMAN EDUCATION START-UP MACHINE IN SMALL-TOWN IOWA, The Daily Yonder
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz with a great finale to a commencement speech
“Oh, by the way. That young lady I was chasing? Twenty-eight years later, she’s still my wife.”
We may be jumping the gun on ‘microaggressions’
We’re already incorporating “microaggressions” into trainings here in NY (the mandated 6-hour DASA trainings), but we may be jumping ahead of any solid evidence that backs up the concept.
A psychologist argues for a moratorium on use and training around the term until more evidence is gathered.
Climate change will increase inequality in the US
“The ‘hidden costs’ of carbon dioxide emissions are no longer hidden, since now we can see them clearly in the data,” said Jina, a postdoctoral scholar in the department of economics at the University of Chicago. “The emissions coming out of our cars and power plants are reshaping the American economy. Here in the Midwest, we may see agricultural losses similar to the Dustbowl of the 1930s.”
Climate change damages US economy, increases inequality, ScienceDaily
Came across this study on planting patterns, “Fractal planting patterns yield optimal harvests, without central control” that bears some closer review.
What’s fascinating about this is that it seems to present a real-world solution to a problem commonly referred to as the “tragedy of the commons,” in which the self-interest of individuals leads to the destruction and overuse of shared natural resources.
Spatial patterning often occurs in ecosystems as a self-organizing process caused by feedback between organisms and the physical environment. “The centuries-old Balinese rice terraces are also created by feedback between farmer’s decisions and the ecology, which triggers a transition from local to global scale control,” explains Lansing. “Our model shows for the first time that adaptation in a coupled human-natural system can trigger self-organized criticality.”
This is absolutely fascinating, and it’s interesting to consider this in relation to other ideas on a “self-organizing criticality” that we’ve explored here before, such as in brains and sand piles.
For proponents of ed reform who argue against centralized control, this seems like it could be worth digging into further.
The aspect of fractals here is also tantalizing. After chatting with a colleague about the article, he referred me to Ron Eglash, a mathematician who has studied fractals in African history and culture. Do yourself a favor and watch his TED talk, it will blow your mind.
Eglash raising an interesting point about self-organizing principles: they can be wonderful, as in Google search, or our brains. But there is also a dark side, such as in the spread of HIV or the damaging effects of capitalism. He suggests that the fractal algorithms employed in Africa could present us with “robust” “ways of doing self-organization — of doing entrepreneurship — that are gentle, that are egalitarian.”
I’d love to explore more about how the fractal design of school structures and systems could be utilized for a productive purpose. Please share if you’ve got more on this.
Another interesting angle on the Balinese rice farmers is suggested in an earlier study reported also on Phys.org, “Phase transitions of rice farmers may offer insight into managing natural resources.”
Their study and modeling seems to suggest that smaller self-segregated communities within a society are desirable in the long-run.
They found that the downside of the segregation is that it increases the social disharmony throughout the society as a whole. The upside, however, is that the social disharmony within each community becomes very low. In some communities, individuals are more likely to keep cooperating with each other—using the shared resource fairly—compared to the situation without segregation. These results were very similar to what the researchers observed in the segregated society of the Balinese subak.
This seems to be a dark side unmentioned in the more recent study on how the Balinese farmers exemplify a self-organizing society in harmony with nature. Or perhaps this isn’t a dark side — it’s a suggestion that some self-segregation can be positive.
But I don’t know anything about the Balinese subak, either, so not sure how much to read into this. Certainly worth going deeper into this. If any readers have knowledge of African fractal algorithms or Balinese subaks, please share!
On the 63rd anniversary of Brown v. Board of Ed, worth reviewing last year’s GAO study findings
“[Segregated] schools, investigators found, offered disproportionately fewer math, science and college-prep courses and had higher rates of students who were held back in ninth grade, suspended or expelled.
What’s more, GAO investigators found, public charter schools, a key strategy in improving education for such students, may take minority and poor students from larger more diverse public schools and enroll them into less diverse schools.
Overall, investigators found, Hispanic students tended to be “triple segregated” by race, economics and language.”
A panel on desegregation offers insight
Jill Bloomberg: “So there were lots of questions about safety, which are really very coded questions about race and racism. We assured them that their kids would be fine.”
David Goldstein: “We would create these little Shangri-Las of these beautiful little high-performing schools that were diverse and all that. Meanwhile, all the rest of the schools got squat. And that wasn’t our plan, so we went districtwide.”
And a comparison of integration to broccoli.
As in Staten Island, so in the US
When it comes to Staten Island’s North Shore, as in many other areas of our society, “We make judgements about a whole community without ever walking in the door.”
High school admissions changes in the works for NYC may promote diversity
This is good to hear. But we’re going to need to look at zoning and the elementary school level if we’re really going to fight segregation.
Great data visualizations and background on segregation in Indiana
Vacations (or the lack thereof) highlight class divisions
“school vacations can highlight disparities and fracture the sense that students are equal in the ways that matter most”
This piece also points to an often under discussed aspect of school integration: it takes a lot of work to ensure kids (and staff) are interacting with one another’s differing experiences and perspectives in a constructive manner.
I know as an advocate of integration myself, I don’t usually even bring this up because the very first step: just getting kids physically (or even virtually) into the same classrooms and schools is hard enough in and of itself. But it’s an essential piece. Just getting kids together is only half the battle. Curriculum, conversational protocols, academic interventions, and social-emotional support then needs to be firmly in place.
Student voices on segregated schools
“My reality is gym lockers with brown rust.
My reality is the suffocating phenomenon of poverty present on a daily basis.”
“Education was my only hope for redefining my life. But it seemed like the bar was always set out of reach for people like me, and most of our time was spent elevating ourselves to reach the bar instead of figuring out how to surpass it.”
Jeb checks the NY Times
“Florida’s McKay Scholarship Program simply gives parents options if their children are stuck in the wrong learning or social environment for their unique needs. It is not a condemnation of public schools or a seal of approval for private schools. In fact, the McKay program includes public school choice as well.”
Recent research on wrap-around services brings to light our goals for public services
MDRC has recent research that brings into question the impact of the “community school” model — if we assume that raising test scores is the goal of providing such additional services.
But as a community school advocate notes:
“The services themselves are, of course worthwhile — don’t we all agree that having kids who have access to mental and physical health care, regular nutritious meals, and quality, safe afterschool and summer programs is inherently a good thing?”
Let them eat cake?
Strange things are afoot at Deborah Meier’s school
What exactly is the problem going on here? Too progressive? Not progressive enough? More to explore here, for sure.
The need for a progressive agenda for the working class
“Democrats need a comeback strategy, and the American working class needs an ally. The solution to both problems can be the same: a muscular agenda to lift up people without four-year college degrees.”
How Democrats Can Get Their Mojo Back, NY Times
Was the high-profile LA school board president race determined by the negativity bias?
So there’s this cognitive bias called the “negativity bias.”
Aside from the vast funds that were plowed into this race, I wonder whether that played a role? Here’s a description from the74 that suggests it did:
“Zimmer campaigned on a platform that the district is improving, pointing to rising graduation rates. Melvoin campaigned on the premise that the district was failing and the board needed to act with more urgency to improve student achievement and address its financial situation.”
North Carolina Representative Virginia Foxx takes a stand for CTE
“In order for these people to thrive, we must do everything we can to change the way people think about CTE, shifting the narrative from a Plan B option to a Plan A option”
And the House takes a bipartisan stand for CTE
A nice moment of positive legislation in the midst of the chaotic destruction the GOP has been nurturing in DC.
Sure would be nice to see this piece of legislation on school infrastructure get bipartisan support . . .
“The legislation has six other Democratic lead co-sponsors in the House, but no Republican lead co-sponsors.”
Oh, and “The IES survey also found it was an average of 44 years since the construction of the main instructional building at schools.”
Professional development should be based on the curriculum
“We argue the need to take the important but often overlooked step of organizing teachers’ professional learning around the curriculum materials they are using with their students.”
Makes sense to me. I go into schools to support ELA teachers, and the only way my work is able to have any traction is by supporting implementation of a curriculum.
But there’s more to it than this. Which curriculum? Why? A school needs to coalesce around its vision for what skills and knowledge it wants students to graduate equipped with — and then align their curriculum to that vision.
Instead, I see schools teaching something just because they think they are supposed to. (“Why are you teaching these texts?” “Because I’m told to.”) And getting weird directives from their bosses, such as that EL (EngageNY) or CodeX are a “reading” curriculum, then adding Teacher’s College units as the “writing” curriculum. These kinds of misunderstandings become embedded into the scheduling: a teacher is teaching EL lessons for 3 days a week, and TC lessons for 2 days a week.
If you are an ELA teacher, then you know how incredibly difficult it is just to implement one ELA curriculum with fidelity, let alone two completely different and unaligned ones.
In other words, the problem isn’t just that curriculum is detached from PD — it’s that curriculum is detached from school and district leadership and the structures and schedules they enforce.
And there’s mounting evidence that a coherent curriculum is an effective method for improving outcomes. Like some of us have been saying all along . . .
“There are no silver bullets in education. But a growing body of both empirical and real-world evidence makes a compelling case that curriculum is a key component of student success.”
A Compelling Case for Curriculum, US News
BASIS schools exemplify what a coherent and rigorous curriculum can do
BASIS is also doing some really interesting practices worth emulating:
Student notebooks as sources of communication and data between teachers and parents. . .
“Many schools create an online grade portal that allows parents to see how their children are performing. BASIS doesn’t. Any information about grades comes to parents because their kids have shown them the contents of their planner, which contains test scores, homework assignments, and notes to see the teacher after school for help.”
Building empathy and understanding of diverse perspectives through it’s Global Classroom Project:
“…which connects kindergartners in different BASIS schools virtually to help them learn about one another. In one project, the children exchanged pictures of their local grocery stores so they could compare them. They also sent the Shenzhen school a video of second-graders sharing a Lunar New Year greeting in Mandarin.”
More sunlight = higher test scores
One of the central tenets of this blog are that some of the most basic contextual factors are overlooked in schooling, and here’s one that’s so basic but clearly powerful: starting school later results in better test performance.
More sunlight, more fresh air, more greenery. The best method for improving test scores? Very well may be.
Sunshine Improves Test Scores, The Atlantic
As in ecosystems, so in schools?
Look to the soil for our future.
A geomorphologist and author’s book, “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” outlines the drastic difference that healthy soil management practices can make, and the common practices that good soil management entails.
Not surprising at all that conventional methods (monoculture, frequent tilling) ain’t good for soil.
If you are interested in this kind of stuff, there’s a book written long before this one with the word “revolution” also in the title, in which the author lays out the philosophy and practice of no-till farming: “The One Straw Revolution” by Masanobu Fukuoka.
In case you’ve missed it, the Baltimore Sun has run an excellent series on segregated schools in Baltimore County: Bridging the Divide
Part 1: The struggle to move past segregated schools
- “You are potentially causing our property values in Academy Heights to plummet!”
Part 2: Struggles of new East Baltimore school show challenges of integration
- “Schools filled with students living in high concentrations of poverty are like boats going against a strong tide.”
Part 3: Within integrated schools, de facto segregation persists
- “Victoria Howard said being in classes with black students made her feel more at ease, but she believes “nothing changes if everyone’s just too comfortable.”
- “Exposing people to being around different kinds of people is how we acclimate and how we change,” she said. “And that’s important when we leave high school. Because out in the world, you don’t get to pick who you’re around.”
And The Grade has a behind-the-scenes take on the creation of the series.
“If I had covered it with someone who thought the same way as I did, it probably wouldn’t have been as strong,” says Green.
And here’s another comprehensive piece on integrating schools from City Limits
To increase diversity Goldsmith says, “You need middle class families that have some commitment to public education and are willing to vote with their child.” You can attract such families, he says, with schools that offer a quality education, have inspired leadership and can “create an environment that is welcoming and inclusive to all.”
This is from an older piece about the Upper West Side squabbles over rezoning. Worth bringing back up here.
“It’ll take thousands, maybe a hundred thousand dollars off the value of my apartment”. . .
. . .”We moved here basically for that school, and that school is kind of like our right.”
Because apparently “public” is now synonymous with “private.”
Public service over property value: Ann Holton suggests how white parents can make integration a value
“My parents did a good job of helping us feel like we were part of something bigger than ourselves, something that really mattered. That influenced me in all kinds of ways.
“It influenced me toward a career in public service, and more immediately, the experience of going to school with people who were from different backgrounds. My background was not only white, but homogenous: Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, upper middle class. I didn’t know much of anybody who came from different backgrounds, and that experience of being with folks who were different, and yet discovering how much similarity we had across differences, it was a very important part of my education, and I have valued that throughout and including in my role as secretary of education.”
Nikole Hannah-Jones argues that democracy depends upon individual parents thinking more about the common good
“If there is hope for a renewal of our belief in public institutions and a common good, it may reside in the public schools.”
Derrell Bradford responds to Hannah-Jones’s piece, suggesting that individuals should have equal power to public institutions
“Our relationship with public institutions — and schools in particular — is only in balance when the individual can wield equivalent force against them. Achieving a state of balance with the nation’s public schools rests not in the constant altruistic acquiescence to them, but the strategic self-interested defiance of them. . . .
“In the school districts of the rich and the ruling, this equilibrium between voluntary participation and the ability to exit is the essential tension that drives performance. It’s a game for the privileged, but it’s a game they win.”
Bradford’s assertion here is interesting. But should individuals be able to wield “equivalent force” against public institutions? The “public” is by definition an aggregate of individuals—the people as a whole—and an institution that is a “public” institution therefore serves the interests of the many, rather than that of the individual.
Yes, it is true that those with wealth and power are not reliant upon public institutions. But however much those institutions have failed over the years, as Bradford rightly points to, I’m highly skeptical that in the absence of those institutions things would be better.
Public institutions, however problematic, get better through greater civic engagement, not the reverse. I would propose that if those that are better off chose to get more involved in those institutions–as Nikole Hannah Jones has suggested we do–than maybe we’d all be better off.
Let me be clear: I’m totally on board with the “get out into nature more” bandwagon, and I’m thrilled to see increasing research showing how much being out in nature contributes to well-being and health.
“We don’t recognize how happy nature makes us.”
I think we need some clarity around terms. If by “nature” we simply mean “green living things,” then sure, it makes us feel good. But if we mean “nature” as in the wilderness and the brutal forces therein, then happiness may be a quixotic cause.
Living in tune with nature means having humility and respect, which comes from an appreciation for the often volatile and seemingly senseless danger and risks that are inherent in living in nature. In other words, it’s not just about something we can “get” from nature, in a transactional way, but also about recognizing and assuming our proper place within the cosmos.
That’s a point, alas, I don’t expect many people will buy into, so I understand why we focus on the transactional benefits of nature.
So while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about our children. We want them to be healthy and happy, right?
As Williams points out so well in the interview, our kids are the ones suffering the most from our lack of attunement to nature (however one defines it):
“I think our institutions need to take [incorporating nature into urban infrastructure] on, especially schools. Where I live, only 10 percent of kids get the recommended recess time. Which is appalling, because we know that kids need this time to run around and have exploratory free play in order to just pay attention later in the day.
. . . If you have kids, the most important thing you can do is get your kids outside enough to develop their love for nature. You will be giving them a gift they will have their entire lives.”
And while we’re at it, let’s help them gain a requisite humility and respect for the forces beyond our ken.
Innovation is truly generated from infrastructure, standards, and contexts that are incrementally shaped by bureaucracies. Sorry, Steve Jobs idolizers.
What are the consequences of children interacting daily with AI voice assistants like Alexa or Google Home?
“There can be a lot of unintended consequences to interactions with these devices that mimic conversation,” said Kate Darling, an MIT professor who studies how humans interact with robots. “We don’t know what all of them are yet.”
I think the fears about transference of how kids talk to robots to humans is overblown here — after all, we all talk to our pets as kids but that doesn’t seem to taint our interactions with other humans. But definitely worth considering how these devices could potentially provide linguistic training and refinement of questioning as an educative tool.
Direct instruction in a “circle time” game could help promote self-control in children.
Researchers noted that “there could be educational implications to their results: ‘the irony may be that in devising strategies for parenting and schooling geared to a world of rapid technological change while neglecting the importance of traditional cultural practices, we may be contributing to a deterioration of young people’s attentive and inhibitive resources, thus promoting impulses toward instant gratification’.”
According to an evolutionary psychologist, high school poses “an unprecedented social challenge to our prehistoric minds.”
Could just as easily switch the word parent to teacher here: “the things that the parent thinks that the child should be concerned with (preparing for a career and developing important life skills) and the things that the child is emotionally driven to actually be concerned with (being popular and having fun) are often at odds.”
“indigenous people were gardeners and stewards of biodiversity.” Compare to us.
A little wildness and diversity can go a long way.
“In an Urban Forestry & Urban Greening study of vacant lots in Cleveland, Ohio, where economic impoverishment and a declining population have left some 27,000 lots to go feral, the ecosystem services provided by inner-city lots far surpassed those of carefully-tended residential and suburban spaces.”
Brains as ecosystems.
“Critically, these cases began with studying behaviors that the animals naturally do, not those that they had been trained to perform.”
This is a great idea: quiz commenters on articles to ensure they have basic comprehension before they can comment.
“If everyone can agree that this is what the article says, then they have a much better basis for commenting on it.”
Not only could this ensure more level-headed commenting — but it could furthermore serve as a reinforcer of key details.
Respect to Mike Rowe for keeping up the call for CTE.
“If you want to make America great again, you’ve got to make work cool again,” he said.
Busing is always the conversation killer on the integration of schools. But Hartford demonstrates that busing can be beneficial.
An important reminder from Nikole Hannah-Jones what the word “public” means in the US — including both its dark side and it’s promise.
“as black Americans became part of the public, white Americans began to pull away.”
“schools, as segregated as many are, remain one of the few institutions where Americans of different classes and races mix. The vast multiracial, socioeconomically diverse defense of public schools that DeVos set off may show that we have not yet given up on the ideals of the public — and on ourselves.”
NY Teachers: Here’s a useful graph to share with students, courtesy of Achieve’s new report.
Success Academy’s Moskowitz gets called out by Politico
Suddenly, Moskowitz, one of the most vociferously and politically aggressive of education reformers, claims that “I … need to consider whether it is appropriate for me to use my position as the leader of a collection of public schools paid for with government funds to advocate politically.”
Though after some criticism from her own staff and from the exposure by that Politico article, it seems she suddenly re-discovered her voice.
Airplane wings that morph, inspired by birds