Posts Tagged ‘Self-awareness’

Rhode Island Coalition of Aggrieved School Districts Considering Appeal of Civics Education Case… and I Have a Solution to the Problem

October 17, 2020 Comments off

The Columbia Teachers College e-Newsletter featured an interview with  one of their professors, Michael Rebell, the lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Cook v. Raimondo, a federal lawsuit against the State of Rhode for failing to provide children in that state with the education they need to become informed voters. In the interview, this question was posed:

What if you win on appeal, and there is a financial remedy from the legislature? That is, if the state were to put money into civic education?

It would depend not only on how much money, but also on how well they might reform civic education and make it a true priority.  But the Rhode Island legislature hasn’t come through in the past. It’s a question of whether it’s a sufficient priority for these schools to provide what’s needed. States have regulations on the books, but if they don’t follow up and hold schools and districts accountable, it doesn’t mean anything. For example, Rhode needs to require a mandatory civics course, which New York has. Rhode Island has no such requirement.

Without that kind of requirement, kids are under the gun to meet standardized test requirements, so they neglect social studies and other courses and topics that would help prepare them for civic participation.

A later question delved into the issue of how much detail the court would provide in rendering it’s decision, and Mr. Rebell indicated that he did NOT expect the courts to issue a prescriptive response. Rather than “asking the courts to be super legislatures or super school boards” Rebell was “looking for the Court to make it a priority that a state has to focus on“. He expected that “…at the end of the day, local school boards and state legislatures and maybe the federal Congress will have to do the implementation.”

Given the current President’s desire to “reform” social studies education and the current means of “reform” (i.e. the administration of a standardized test in a multiple choice format), I shudder to think what students will be asked to know.

I do, however, have an easy response to this whole issue: as part of a graduation requirement mandate that all students are capable of passing the US Citizenship Test and mandate that every graduate from high school has voted in at least three of the student government elections during their time in high school.

Vox Analysis of COVID-19: We Don’t Know Much

October 17, 2020 Comments off

The Vox article below offers lots of information but draws no clear conclusions about how schools and colleges might deal with the ongoing and seemingly endless pandemic. After reading this very comprehensive analysis I drew one conclusion: we know less now than we could have if we had a unified NATIONAL approach to collecting data and reopening. Eight months into this outbreak we have no uniform means of data collection, no uniform policy on defining what constitutes an acceptable risk level, and no clear path to making a rational and informed decision on how to reopen schools. It didn’t have to be this way. We could have heard from the outset that we need to listen to the scientists who know about the disease and heed their advice… but politics and the stock market were used to make decisions instead…. and it’s unclear whether or when we will have the data we need to make the life or death decisions we face.

Conservatives Concern Over Authoritarianism is Ironic

October 16, 2020 Comments off

Washington Beacon reporter Jack Beyrer’a praise for Mike Pompeo and Betsy DeVos’ pushback against a canned Chinese curriculum that is hardly used anywhere in the United States is ironic given the POTUS’s recent rants against our social studies curriculum. It seems that these two Cabinet members are opposed to the Confucius curriculum because it is narrow and overlooks some of China’s flaws.

Participants in Confucius Classrooms have noted that the programs restrict academic freedom. Program instructors often avoid discussing topics showing Chinese Communist Party in a bad light, such as the regime’s Uighur concentration camps and political abuses against Hong Kong.

At the same time I am certain that these two stand behind President Trump’s efforts to eliminate any curriculum that emphasizes the inherent racism in our country, lionizes our traditional “heroes” without relating their ownership of slaves, and perpetuates the narrative that the GOP wants children (and voters) to believe.

What is particularly chilling is the latent McCarthyism included in this kind of preemptive purge and the implication that Tufts college might be excoriated for using this program. Yet another reason that November 3 is a crucial date in our history.