Smorgasbord: Collective Memory and Vouchers

“Diverse teste dal naturale.” by Denon, Vivant (1747-1825) is licensed under CC0 1.0

Social structure affects collective memory; or, why fake news is such a big problem

“memory convergence is more likely to occur within social groups than between them — an important finding in light of survey data suggesting that 62% of US adults get their news from social media, where group membership is often obvious and reinforced”

How Facebook fake news and friends are warping your memory

So we need to counter groupthink

“a certain amount of contrarianism can go a long way”

There really was a liberal media bubble

Another method of fighting groupthink: When diverse groups interact, everybody ends up smarter and healthier

“The researchers conclude that society would be better off if governments promoted more interaction between groups. They point to public housing and school districting policies as ways to encourage such mixing.”

When diverse groups interact, everybody ends up smarter and healthier

People who don’t have regular interactions with others who are different are the most afraid of others who are different

How a Sleepy German Suburb Explains Europe’s Rising Far-Right Movements

Does diversity strain—or develop—solidarity?

“You might argue that this just goes to show that diversity strains solidarity. Or you might argue that, because we need solidarity, we must learn to recognize America in other accents, other complexions, other kitchen aromas.”

Why does Donald Trump demonize cities?

Reading failure cuts across subgroups

“These staggering numbers of failed reading proficiency underscore our nation’s massive collective failure to effectively teach literacy and build verbal proficiency across all races. It also shatters the accepted truth that racism is the sole or even primary cause of low proficiency rates among all Americans.”

White kids can’t read, either (and other unacknowledged truths)

Shakespeare received a classical education. Maybe that’s what fueled his creative mastery.

Daisy Christodoulou examines the type of curriculum and pedagogy Shakespeare would have been exposed to. Perhaps drilling and memorization centered on a core body of knowledge are not such horrifying things, after all.

Shakespeare and creative education

Just as privatization has ensured that dentistry remains separate from a larger system that would better serve all students, privatizing schools. . .

“Private organized dentistry protects the marketplace for care and the power of private practitioners to provide it but that leaves a lot of people out.”

Why Dentistry Is Separate From Medicine

Unreal. But oh so real

Corey Stewart advocates for Confederate flags, statues at Roanoke rally

Corey Stewart Advocates for Confederate Flags and Statues at Roanoke Rally

Time to drop the term ‘microaggressions’?

“The scientific evidence for microaggressions is weak and we should drop the term, argues review author.”

“Lilienfeld also suggests we all consider putting aside the word microaggression in favour of “perceived racial slight’”

The scientific evidence for microaggressions is weak and we should drop the term, argues review author

Physical infrastructure requires long-term vision

“Basic physical infrastructure is like that. It requires long-term vision and patient capital — think horizons of 10 years or more, rather than two or three. In return, investments in basic infrastructure will pay steady, reliable returns until the sun explodes. And the spillovers from those investments in terms of economic growth and social justice for everyone in a community are routinely extraordinary.”

Google Fiber Was Doomed From the Start

Empiricism and Vouchers

“Post Trump and De Vos, I see plenty of commentators and researchers reporting “vouchers don’t raise test scores” and virtually no “vouchers increase parental satisfaction.” Is that empiricism? In isolation, maybe. In terms of reflecting the broader spirit of science, not so much. It is also not humility.”

Marilyn Rhames on why she wants vouchers as a parent


The Gap Starts at the Top

In essence, we have upper-middle class white people who usually live in predominantly affluent, white communities controlling the educational options of millions of disenfranchised black and brown children who usually live in impoverished, racially segregated communities.

Why then are we baffled that, despite our well-intended reforms, there’s such a persistent achievement gap between black and white children?

The gap starts at the top and cascades, not trickles, down.

—Marilyn Rhames, “Black Like Them: Why a ‘Surge’ of Color Could Change the Face of Ed Reform” on Ed Post

Is Education Really About Improving Outcomes for All Students?

“Is it honest to expect educators to collaborate to build better outcomes for all students, if the system forces us to constantly compete against one another?”

—Marilyn Rhames, “When It Comes to Education, Whose Kids Are We Really Talking About? Yours or Mine?” on Education Post

Studying Segregation in NYC

Marilyn Rhames, whom I’ve written about here before, generously offered her (much more prestigious) blogging space, “Charting My Own Course” to share a unit of study on segregation which my 8th graders undertook last year. Please read the full piece to learn more about the surprises that my students and I discovered along the way, and while you’re at it, follow Rhames’s excellent and thoughtful blog on Education Week (you can also find her on Twitter).

Here’s a taster:

When it comes to conversations on race, it’s important that we provide students with multiple perspectives, rather than jump immediately to the convenient, “safe,” or conventional narratives so often conveyed by media headlines or by superficial references to history. The tension between white and black communities is not only a matter of individual prejudice, nor is it an issue relegated to a distant past. We won’t move forward in improving race relations unless we are able to critically examine and study those relations more deeply, so that we can understand our own and others’ prejudices and ideals.

Humiliation, Race, and the Law

Marilyn Rhames, an accomplished educator and blogger on EdWeek, whom I have had the honor of meeting at a Bellwether Better Blogging Conference, has a post up detailing the humiliating experience of getting handcuffed and taken in a squad car to the police station for the heinous and criminal act of . . . wait for it . . . .allowing her driver’s license to expire. And Marilyn, by the way, had been on her way that morning to attend a board meeting of Teachers Who Pray, a group she is the founder of.

Marilyn, in case you haven’t guessed already by such treatment, bears the skin color commonly referred to as “black.”

The ridiculousness and callousness of the situation is captured by the following description from Rhames:

So there I was—the mother of three on her way to a meeting to discuss the success of our recent third annual Teachers Who Pray conference and strategize about how to spiritually support teachers in 2015—in handcuffs and being pushed into the back of a squad car for having a driver’s license that was 22 days expired.

She goes on to say:

Just because I am a teacher I am not better than anybody else. Just because I hold two masters degrees doesn’t mean I am not above the law. But on Saturday, I felt that I was a victim of the law. I felt I was beneath the filthy foot of law, which was pressing against my neck and putting my face in the mud.

And finally, Rhames considers the actions of the black female cop who arrested her and informed her that this was “just following procedure” and “no big deal”:

She could have used discretion, like the cops in the suburbs. But discretion is not for citizens who look like me—educated or non-educated. Discretion mostly applies to people with white privilege, which I am guaranteed never to have.

If Marilyn were white, would she have been treated differently? And if your answer to that is “no,” or “depends,” then consider, if she were not an inhabitant of an area of poverty, but rather a resident in an area of wealth and status, would she have been treated differently?

Was it necessary to arrest her and humiliate her to enforce the law in this case? Wouldn’t simply writing a ticket have served the same purpose? Or, really, just a stern talking-to and directive to renew her license immediately?

Once, long ago, when I was a teenager in San Diego, the cops caught me breaking the law. They looked at my license. “I know someone who lives on this street,” one of the cops said to me. We chatted pleasantly about which house his friend’s was. He handed me back my license, and I got a verbal reprimand. That’s it.

That, my friends, is privilege. The privilege of skin, the socio-economic status of one’s neighborhood, and all the trappings such may bring.