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Black Parents’ Impossible “Choices” The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on P–20 education cannot be overstated, yet Black parents’ quest to find a “good” school is a perennial dilemma. Black parents constantly challenge anti-Black practices in public, private, and charter schools, and are increasingly considering the utility of choice programs or the affordances of homeschooling. In fact, amidst rampant concerns about how virtual or hybrid learning affects Black children, many Black families are reconsidering schooling altogether, transitioning to private schools, or trying out homeschooling. As before, Black parents do not have any ideal options: some want their children physically in schools and others see the racialized benefits of keeping their children at home. While parents across the country are now tasked with balancing their jobs and educating their children at home, Black parents have long felt the burden of having to be hypervigilant about what their children learn and experience in school and/or reeducating their children. Why must Black parents always make impossible choices regarding their children’s well-being and their education?
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The Need to Understand Teacher Choices About News Media News sources matter. If there is ever a time that illustrates this, it is now. With the flip of a channel or the flick of a finger, people can access news media that represent various relationships to truth, ideologies, journalistic integrity, and utter conspiracy. Democracy requires an informed electorate, but recent studies have found most folks are not particularly good at figuring out whether they are being misinformed (McGrew et al., 2018). When misinformation combines with political and social animosity, as illustrated recently by the mob of white supremacists storming the US capitol to overturn a free and fair election, the consequences can be dire. Although we hesitate to place responsibility for mitigating these systemic issues at the feet of already overworked teachers, it is critical to acknowledge that the education system has a role to play in promoting more thoughtful consumption of news.
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Youth Apprenticeship is Back, Again The idea of creating formal apprenticeships starting in high school has appeared and faded more than once. During the 1980s and ’90s it emerged as a response to fears that Germany and Japan were threatening the United States’ leadership in manufacturing and inspired the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994. Wisconsin began a youth apprenticeship system around that time that persists today. Other initiatives have emerged recently after “college for all” and standardized testing have failed to improve the education of all students and China has become the dominant source of manufactured goods.
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Race and School Discipline in the COVID Era As schools reopen across the United States, there has been a rash of headlines about school discipline crises. Teachers and school systems have been forced to consider what they should do if a child refuses to wear a mask or plays with a toy gun during remote learning. They must identify appropriate responses to children who struggle with the return to school, following recent trauma. Many educators are struggling to address student behavior under extremely stressful conditions, in both remote and face-to-face environments.
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If Miguel Cardona Cares about All Students, Urban and Rural, He and President Biden Must Make Universal Broadband the #1 Priority The next US Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, faces enormous challenges. Not only does Cardona have to address educational inequality at a time of unprecedented interruptions in schooling, but he also takes leadership when our country is facing large divides between urban and rural communities. The United States has educational reform traditions, policies, and entrenched practices that focus so squarely on urban schools, that urban has become almost synonymous with educational improvement efforts. But if Cardona cares about equality and national unity, he must begin to pay greater attention to our rural schools, and the more than thirteen million students who attend them. We have a simple recommendation that can help address both of these issues: partner with President Joe Biden to make universal broadband a top priority of the new administration.
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Want a Piece of Biden’s Planned $58 Billion Investment in Community Colleges and Workforce Training? Better Start Thinking Entrepreneurially For those of us who work in community colleges, as well as for the 5.5 million students who attend them, the future under President Joe Biden is bright. Not only do community colleges feature prominently in the administration’s Plan for Education Beyond High School, but we’ve got one of our own in the White House with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, a longtime professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College.
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Sociopolitical Constraints on Teachers’ Ability to Support Undocumented Students As teachers and former teachers of undocumented immigrant students, we have noticed a glaring lack of resources—and even conversation—within schools, districts, and schools of education about how to support and advocate for these students. Over 7 percent of K–12 students are estimated to be undocumented or the children of undocumented immigrants. Yet training on educating this sizable portion of our student population is exceedingly rare in teacher preparation, professional development, and educational leadership programs. Educators are faced not only with a lack of information but also ambiguous policies that leave them uncertain if their efforts to support students violate school or district guidelines.
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Reculturing Schools for Gender Equity The COVID-19 crisis has created an unexpected window of opportunity in education. Out of necessity, families and educators are increasingly willing to reimagine schooling: where learning can take place, what content to include, and how to deliver instruction. Convention is being replaced with improvisation and innovation. One convention that merits examination is how gender shapes and is shaped by our school structures and educational practices. Our K–12 schools lag behind new knowledge about gender identity and expression. Moving forward, schools need to challenge binary notions of gender, affirm transgender and gender-expansive youth, and reculture K–12 schools for gender equity.
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The Critical Role of Science Teaching and Learning during COVID-19: How Teacher Educators Can Support Science Teachers Learning and Preparation in These Times This year we have seen science being made publicly and in real-time as a result of the current COVID pandemic. Science teachers and science teaching have never been more important and urgent as they are in this era of COVID, when our everyday, personal, and family decisions about safety—how to survive and attempt to engage in daily tasks—require understanding and weighing of scientific evidence. How do we know which mask is most appropriate? How do we determine when our children can safely return to school? If a vaccine is developed, how do you choose if you would take it? As our understanding of the virus has changed, the recommendations around our activities have shifted over time. Understanding how scientists produce knowledge is critical for shaping how we learn science, most especially in the context of making decisions about human health in relationship to novel diseases or viruses.
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Equity Ethic: As STEM Fields Become More Racially Diverse, New Values Emerge Dr. Manu Platt, a Black engineering professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has a world-class biomedical engineering lab, yet he spends countless hours designing and running after-school and summer internship programs for Black high school students. At the University of Texas at San Antonio, Dr. María G. Arreguín-Anderson leads a team of researchers and teacher educators who specialize in culturally responsive and critical STEM education to support the growing number of Hispanic educators who teach computer science to K-12 students. Scientist B.K. Goldtooth of the Navajo Nation joined members of other tribal groups—Alaska Natives and Hawaiian Natives, Canadian Natives, and Native youth—at the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991 and helped to shape its landmark Principles of Environmental Justice. Goldtooth and other Indigenous peoples were the earliest and some of the most effective US environmental justice activists, understanding that their movement would strengthen global efforts to eliminate environmental racism.
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