Articles about Contemporary Issues
This page reflects a collection of articles that reflect the issues and events that impact, illustrate, or spark discussion of equity issues in our community, state, and nation.
FCC Commissioner and Former Ed. Secretary: We Need a National Policy on Internet Access
For low-income students, the suburbs are no sure path to college
It was a given in high school that Vanessa Atocha would go to one of the best colleges she could get into — just like the majority of students in her classes at Newton North High School. But once there, Atocha, the daughter of a housekeeper who spoke little English, encountered challenges most of her classmates could not even fathom. From the moment she arrived at Pennsylvania State University in 2010, Atocha struggled to pay her bills, even with the help of financial aid and loans.
40 Children's Books Celebrating Native American and Indigenous Mighty Girls
When I was a little girl I was taught that there were no Indians. The only time I ever saw Indians was when we visited the stupid natural history museum and they were dead and stuffed like the dinosaurs.... [When Sesame Street] called me up and said that they wanted me to recite the alphabet like everybody else does, and count from one to ten....I said that I wasn’t interested in doing that, but I asked if they had ever done any Native American programming....
'Bleak' Landscape for K-12 Fiscal Equity, State-by-State Report Finds
More than a third of the nation's states distribute billions of K-12 dollars in a regressive manner, spending more on wealthier students than on impoverished students, according to a new report by the Education Law Center, an advocacy organization focused on fiscal equity in public education. Another 17 spend equal amounts of money between wealthy and poor students, even though research shows poor students are more expensive to educate. In its annual "Making the Grade" report released this week, the organization blames aging state funding formulas and rapidly increasing poverty rates among children for district budget cuts, stagnant teacher pay and academic achievement gaps.
Black-White Achievement Gaps Go Hand in Hand With Discipline Disparities
Gaps between black and white students in school suspension rates and academic achievement may be two sides of the same coin, according to a massive new national study. The study, based on data from more than 2,000 school districts, finds the two racial disparities are tightly intertwined, compounding challenges for students of color and the educators trying to support them. “These disparities are two things the districts think and care a lot about,” said Francis Pearman, an assistant education professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and the lead author of the study.
A ‘Disturbing’ Assessment: Sagging Reading Scores, Particularly for Eighth Graders, Headline 2019’s Disappointing NAEP Results
Scores released today from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) held bad news for American schools, with trends that are essentially flat in mathematics and down in reading. Most states saw little or no improvement in either subject, with their lowest-performing students showing the most significant declines in scores. Whether the cause lies in hangover effects from the Great Recession, missteps in federal education policy, or some combination of these and other factors, there has been little progress to be assessed for over a decade.
North Carolina's poverty rate remains 15th highest in the nation
New data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau, measuring poverty and income, provides insight into how North Carolinians are faring. The data finds that last year, 1.4 million North Carolinians lived in poverty, making North Carolina the state with the 15th highest poverty rate. This represents a 0.7 percentage decrease from the previous year.
When School's a Battleground for Transgender Kids, Teachers Learn to Protect, Affirm Them
Homecoming kings and queens. Lines for boys and lines for girls. Class rosters with names and gender seemingly set in stone. Schools can be a battleground for transgender students or students who are gender nonconforming.
Oregon Schools Slowly Rolling Out Indigenous Studies Curriculum
Inside a room at the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians’ new tribal community center are three framed sketch drawings by a Native artist. K’Ehleyr McNulty, the tribe’s youth development specialist, pointed to a drawing of a traditional Cow Creek home — a plankhouse, with planks partially in the ground. “That keeps you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summertime,” McNulty explained.
Young Girls Create Free App to Help Special Needs Kids Define Emergencies
A house fire vs. a BBQ fire. Chest pain vs. a toothache. The ability to determine a true emergency is second nature to most of us. However, this may not be an easy task for kids with special needs. In a life or death situation, kids need to be able to handle a potentially dangerous situation in a matter of seconds.
E(race)ing Inequities: The State of Racial Equity in North Carolina Public Schools
Racial inequity in education has a long history in North Carolina public schools. Race conditions students’ access to educational resources and opportunities, and therefore has been and remains a persistent and powerful predictor of every measure of student success in school. Yet, it is difficult to find evidence that comprehensive assessment of, and sustained attention to, embedded racial inequities are a part of the ordinary operation of public education in the state.
Thousands of Students Could Lose Free School Meals if SNAP Changes
A Trump administration plan to tighten eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could have a secondary effect: hundreds of thousands of children losing automatic eligibility for free school lunches, child hunger groups warn. The proposal, announced Tuesday, would curb broad-based categorical eligibility, [a] provision that allows states to streamline the application process SNAP, commonly known as food stamps, for families who participate in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
How Each State Performed on School Spending and Equity (Map and Rankings)
Examine the grades and scores that states and the nation earned on school funding and equity in Quality Counts 2019: School Finance with this interactive map, grade-summary table, and top-to-bottom ranking. For a description of what these education indicators mean, view the grading scale and methodology.
Protecting Undocumented Students / Teaching Tolerance
This week, a Texas teacher made news by tweeting President Trump to ask for help “actively investigating and removing” undocumented students from her district. In the face of this stark reminder of the hostility undocumented children face even from those charged with their care, we’re sharing our best resources for supporting and protecting undocumented students. We hope you’ll use and share them, and that you’ll continue to stand up for all of the young people in your schools.
Counselors Blast SAT's 'Disadvantage' Score
The College Board's plan to expand a program that’s designed to help colleges see students’ SAT performance more fairly, by scoring students’ high schools and neighborhoods by “level of disadvantage,” has rattled college counselors and reignited decades-old debates about how college admission decisions are made. As soon as news broke last week that 150 colleges and universities would pilot the testing organization’s “Environmental Context Dashboard” next fall—three times the number that used it in 2018-19—counselors were juggling phone calls from parents and jumping into debates on Twitter and Facebook.
Overlooked: How Teacher Training Falls Short for English-Learners and Students With IEPs
English-language learners and students with disabilities—groups of children once taught in isolated classrooms with specially trained instructors—spend more time in general education classrooms now than in years past. But many general education teachers are not equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the needs of English-learners or students with disabilities, researchers have found.
Why We Weren't Surprised to See Teachers Holding a Noose (Opinion)
We were disgusted but not surprised when we saw a photo of four elementary school teachers in Palmdale, Calif., smiling while posing with a noose last week. Televised news coverage also showed the noose hanging on the wall in Summerwind Elementary School. The only thing that surprised us was that it was the school's principal who reportedly photographed her colleagues as they posed with one of America's most hateful symbols of racial terrorism.
Welcoming Students with a Smile
A widely cited 2007 study claimed that teachers greeting students at the classroom door led to a 27 percentage point increase in academic engagement. The problem? It included just three students. Now a new, much larger and more credible study—comprising 203 students in 10 classrooms—validates that claim: Greeting students at the door sets a positive tone and can increase engagement and reduce disruptive behavior.
The Unfinished Story of Silent Sam, from 'Soldier Boy' to Fallen Symbol of a Painful Past
PROLOGUE: After standing for 105 years in the oldest part of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, Silent Sam fell on Monday, pulled from his pedestal by the protestors’ tug of a rope. Immediately the news became cause for celebration and outrage: celebration for those who saw the statue as a racist symbol of white supremacy, as an ode to soldiers who fought, among other things, for the survival of slavery; outrage for those who viewed the statue as a tribute to Southern heritage, and to lives lost while soldiers fought for a cause they believed in.
NC's 'Alarming' Disparity Of Black Student Arrests Among Worst In Country
In North Carolina, black students are nearly six times more likely to be arrested at school and school activities than white students, according to recently released federal data analyzed by WRAL News. That disparity is among the worst in the country. Law enforcement arrested more than 600 North Carolina students on public school grounds, during off-campus school activities or on school transportation during the 2015-16 school year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Education.
Rush Limbaugh, Other Conservatives Attack NC School Over White Privilege Handout
Conservatives around the country are attacking the Wake County school system, a Raleigh elementary school and the school's PTA over a handout about white privilege that was sent home with students. There's been national attention since a minority parent at Hunter Elementary School complained this week that her 8-year-old son brought home a handout on understanding the concept of white privilege — the idea that white people get certain benefits due to their skin color.
Why 60 Minutes Aired Photos of Lynching in Report by Oprah
Wes Johnson was about 18 years old when he was murdered in a cotton field in southern Alabama. It was 1937, and according to newspaper reports at the time, a mob of men had dragged him from his jail cell before he could stand trial for the charge against him: assaulting a white woman. Today, only one photograph is known to exist of Johnson, a single picture to preserve his image for posterity—his lifeless body hanging from a tree.
2020 Census Will Ask Black People About Their Exact Origins
For the 2020 census, the U.S. Census Bureau is changing how it will ask black people to designate their race. Under the check box for "Black or African American," the bureau is adding a new space on the census questionnaire for participants to write in their non-Hispanic origins, according to a recent memo from the head of the 2020 census. "African American," "Jamaican" and "Nigerian" are listed as examples of origins on a questionnaire the bureau is testing for 2020.
A Painting of Confederate Flag and a Mural Depicting a Lynching Have Been Removed from the Walls of Tennessee School Gymnasium
A painting of a Confederate flag and a mural depicting a lynching have been removed from the walls of a Tennessee school gymnasium. The mural showed a white man, dressed in blue, hanging from a rope tied to a tree branch. Another person was standing nearby, in a red jersey, and holding a Confederate flag. The painting was intended to depict an athletic team rivalry. It's unclear how long the paintings have been inside the South Cumberland Elementary School, located 100 miles east of Nashville, but a complaint was first made in December by a concerned janitor of a nearby elementary school.
Parents Urge deBlasio to Give Teachers Anti-Bias Training
Parents are calling on Mayor de Blasio to provide anti-bias training for teachers after The News exposed a shocking slavery lesson at Bronx Middle School 118. Teacher Patricia Cummings was removed from her post Thursday after students and a staffer said she singled out black students and told them to lie on the floor for a lesson on U.S. slavery — and then stepped on their backs to show them what slavery felt like.
Report Updates Landmark 1968 Racism Study, Finds More Poverty And Segregation
In 1967, over 100 cities, large and small, exploded in fire and violence, the result of decades of discrimination against black populations in places like Cleveland, Nashville, Boston and Newark. The biggest riot at the time was in Detroit. After five days of rioting, 33 blacks and 10 whites were dead and property damage totaled more than $100 million. Unnerved by the scale of Detroit's unrest, and anxious to find the root causes of the violence, President Lyndon Johnson announced to the nation that he'd convened a new commission, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders.
How Racist Bullying is Tearing Apart a School District in the South
At 6 feet 2 inches tall and 270 pounds, Micah Speed is big, especially for a 16-year-old. He starts on the varsity football team at North Carolina’s Wake Forest High School, about half an hour outside Raleigh, and dreams of playing in college. So when Micah grabbed another student by his backpack and twice threw him onto the ground in his high school’s hallway on a Thursday last March, everyone noticed. A video later posted to Instagram showed the student, who’s white, calling Micah...
School Homework Asks Kids to Give 3 ‘Good’ Reasons for Slavery
A private Christian school in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, is under fire after asking fourth-graders to lay out three “good” reasons for slavery as part of a homework assignment. On Monday, the students at Our Redeemer Lutheran School were handed a social studies worksheet that told them to “give 3 ‘good’ reasons for slavery and 3 bad reasons.” Trameka Brown-Berry, who has a 9-year-old son in the class, told Fox 6 that she was in “shock” over the “highly offensive and insensitive” assignment.
Racial Microaggressions That Teachers Commit Every Day -- And How To Avoid Them
Whether private, public, or charter, everyone is familiar with the idea of the "strict" school. Even if you didn't attend one yourself, you probably had a friend or two who complained of the inflexible rules, rigid uniform codes, and discipline for even the slightest infraction. There's a word for schools like that. It's called "paternalistic," and according to David Whitman (who coined the term in this context), one of the aims of these paternalistic schools is to teach students "how to act according to what are commonly termed traditional, middle-class values."