Category: Education

Perspective | Addressing education equity isn’t only a job for schools – EdNC

The following is Mary Ann Wolf’s “Final Word” from the Oct. 10, 2020 broadcast of Education Matters — “Color of Education Summit-Part 2.” 


I have had many conversations over the past week and, quite frankly, over the past many years about what it will really take to address the opportunity gap and to achieve equity for all of our students. I have also watched so many district and school leaders and communities wrestle with this same question. What we know is that all too often we come up short, or we make a lot of efforts that do not lead to immediate or long-term changes in our schools.

As we continue our month-long focus on educational equity, our guests on Education Matters last week remind us both of the history and present-day context that we must acknowledge and embrace when thinking about solutions that result in true equity. They also remind us of the efforts that are currently in motion that are making a difference for some students.

We heard from Dr. Sandy Darity, whose research focuses on inequality by race, class, and ethnicity — as well as the racial wealth gap, which in the United States, continues to widen. Between 1983 and 2013 white households saw their wealth increased by 14%, while black household wealth declined by 75% and the median Hispanic household wealth declined by 50%.

Dr. Darity’s research exposes just how systematic inequality persists in the form of housing discrimination, unequal education, police brutality, mass incarceration, employment discrimination, and massive wealth and opportunity gaps — all barriers to eliminating the student achievement gap that we must collectively address before we can hope for equity in our schools.

We heard from Shannon Bowman, a middle school educator in Wake County who has supported teachers to leverage their advisory periods and leadership focus to empower students with skills to grow in their social and emotional learning and address their learning differences.

With her guidance, students are learning to develop their own voices and understand what it is they need to succeed. Bettina Umstead, chair of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education, shared the specific steps educators, administrators, and the community are taking in Durham to address equity in meaningful and sustainable ways.

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Our month-long Color of Education Summit is providing us with the time and space to hear and face data and facts that are not necessarily widely known or internalized as a critical part of our work. Wealth and health disparities that we are learning about must be part of how we address equity in our schools because they affect our families and students every day.

I am reminded by the importance of our efforts, but also of the complexity with which we will need to address equity. While not comprehensive, we must consider the following:

  1. How do we address systemic racism in our schools and our communities? Developing racial literacy and a deep understanding of past and present structural racism and how it impacts educational equity and opportunity has to be a part of our framework for all of us in the field of education- and we must take steps to redress inequities in and outside of schools.
  2. How do we create a culture that supports the whole child, which is the academic, social, and emotional learning for each and every student? We must also learn and be committed to understanding adverse childhood experiences (or ACEs) and the trauma-informed practices that support a school’s culture and interactions.
  3. How do we develop instructional approaches and learning opportunities that are strengths-based and culturally responsive and that allow students to show what they know in different ways? Instruction must empower and inspire students and maintain high expectations for every child.
  4. How do we change the systems that create and maintain barriers to equity? We must: Revamp school finance systems that result in inequitable resources across schools and districts; Ensure that all students have access to challenging, engaging curricula; Revise accountability models that penalize schools and students with fewer resources and opportunities, and instead provide them with adequate and equitable support; Provide opportunities for students to focus on their interests, to engage in meaningful, project-based learning experiences that will help them grow the range of skills they need.

This October, the Public School Forum’s Color of Education Summit and our speakers on last week’s show have impressed upon me that addressing equity in education is both complex and urgent.

We must also remember that this cannot be done by the schools alone, that much of what needs to change must also be done by communities who are willing to confront the systemic racism that can be found in all aspects of our daily living. However, I can once again find hope in the potential that we can finally make a real difference for all students, especially students of color.


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Mary Ann Wolf

Mary Ann Wolf, Ph.D. has served as President and Executive Director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina since June 2020, bringing with her more than 20 years of educational policy and leadership working directly with schools and districts across North Carolina to improve equity and build capacity for innovation.

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Educating for Democracy – Harvard Graduate School of Education

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With less than a month before a pivotal presidential election, democracy is on every educator’s mind. To shine new light on what civic engagement can look like today — and on the role of education in promoting healthy democracy — three new leaders in American civic education came together on Wednesday, October 14, in the latest installment of HGSE’s Education Now, a series of webinars seeking to address the unique challenges facing educators today.

Amber Coleman-Mortley, director of social engagement at iCivics; Noorya Hayat, Ed.M.’15, a civic engagement and equity researcher at CIRCLE at Tufts University; and Jessica Lander, Ed.M.’15, teacher and cofounder of We Are America were hosted by Senior Lecturer Richard Weissbourd, director of Making Caring Common, for the remote discussion which focused on the urgency with which educators must approach civics education. As Weissbourd said in his introduction, “Democracy is on the ballot.”

Throughout, participants outlined practical strategies for rethinking civics education and promoting equity.

Takeaways for Teachers and Parents

  • Let young people take the lead. “The future of civic engagement should be student led,” said Coleman-Mortley. Teachers and parents should make space for student activism through project-based learning, games, simulations, and even through simply going out into the community. “The role of adults is to facilitate that space, serve as a resource hub, connect students with the levers of power, and get out of the way – we love to feel in control, but we need to allow the process to unfold organically,” Coleman-Mortley explained. Only when we trust in youth leadership can true civic engagement begin.
  • Expand your teaching. Don’t just teach civic knowledge – teach “action civics,” said Lander. Beyond lecturing on the branches of government, educators need to ask, “what concrete skills do my students need to make change in the community?” In addition to civics knowledge, educators should focus on teaching civic skills, civic motivation, and civic efficacy — a student’s ability to see himself as a maker of change.
  • Stay local. Students are eager to engage in the issues they care about, but “it has got to be local and action-oriented,” explained Lander. Focusing on the issues young people see every day, the issues in their communities, keeps things concrete. In addition, explained Hayat, it fights cynicism. “Kids might be cynical about national politics, but they care about community issues,” she explained. Connecting to the local will prepare students to tackle issues on a small and large scale.  
  • Advocate for structural change. Civic education has declined as a result of the focus on other subjects, like STEM. This is beginning to change — legislation mandating state-wide civic initiatives was recently passed in Massachusetts and Illinois — but high- quality, equitable civics standards need to be adopted everywhere. Joining this fight can lead to large-scale change.  

The panelists agreed: Democracy matters, to young people and adults. Bringing the voices, lived experiences, and communities of young people into the civics conversation can lead to concrete engagement and powerful change. In today’s turbulent reality, where students are persevering remotely despite political vitriol, the increased visibility of racialized violence, and the challenges of COVID-19, finding strength and value in our shared democracy is more important than ever.

Additional Takeaways:

Strengthen the ecosystem for equitable K–12 civic learning: Civic education and civic educators can’t exist in a vacuum in the school. They are part of the ecosystem of K–12 education that directly connects to parents and communities. This also includes local community organizations and non-profits working with youth, culture and arts organizations, local media and newspaper, faith-based institutions and congregations, and local policymakers among many other institutions. For equitable access to civic learning of all students, we need to strengthen the connections and trust among institutions to support students’ holistic civic development and identity.

Support access and awareness for the youth vote: Young people are not apathetic when it comes to civic and political engagement but face systemic challenges to voting. In 2018, young people (ages 18–24) recorded the highest midterm youth turnout in decades. What young people need is outreach and awareness on how to connect their commitment to social change in their communities to casting a ballot. That is, youth need information, both related to their reason and motivation to vote (i.e. on issues, candidates) and how to register and vote. 

Resources:

On Civic Education and Teaching for Democracy:

  • CIRCLE resources for equitable K-12 Civic learning
  • Teaching For Democracy Alliance: A national alliance working to strengthen student learning about elections and informed voting that is coordinated by CIRCLE at Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University
  • All Together Now: Collaboration and Innovation for Youth Engagement: In 2012, CIRCLE convened a scholarly, non-partisan commission to investigate data on young Americans’ civic knowledge and participation, and to issue recommendations for how to improve both. The commission was formed in response to controversies about then-recent voting laws (such as photo-ID laws), as well as extant debates about civic education in K-12 schools and in higher education. However, in light of the myriad interconnected conditions and influences on young people’s civic knowledge and participation, the commission took a broader view, and its recommendations touch on a range of issues across the field of civic education and engagement broadly defined.

On Youth Civic Engagement:

  • CIRCLE’s exclusive data tool, Youth Voting and Civic Engagement in America, offers a unique way to explore the relationships between voting and other forms of civic participation, and some of the conditions that shape such engagement. The tool features more than 40 unique indicators, and it includes data at the national, state, congressional district, and county levels
  • CIRCLE’s RAYSE Index: CIRCLE is committed to helping organizations and governments use research to improve civic life and close gaps in opportunities for civic engagement. This is why we developed the RAYSE Index (Reaching All Youth Strengthens Engagement). The RAYSE Index provides county-level data on factors and conditions that we know correlate with civic engagement. It brings data to bear on efforts to broaden access to youth engagement opportunities: it can provide research-based support for making the case that engagement has a high potential for growth, and for making decisions about where to invest resources (e.g. time, resources, funding).
  • CIRCLE’s Youth Electoral Significance Index (YESI) is a valuable tool for any individual, campaign, organization, or institution that seeks to increase youth political engagement. The index provides a data-driven ranking of the top 10 Senate and top 10 House races where young voters have the highest potential to influence the results of 2020 elections, as well as the top 10 states where youth could determine the outcome of the presidential race.

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Why Companies Should Pay for Employees to Further Their Education – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM STRATEGIC EDUCATION – Harvard Business Review

For today’s professional, a full-time job and family commitments are often so time-consuming that earning a college degree is a daunting gamble. Questions of affordability, flexibility, and relevance dominate decision making—in short, will the degree be worth the investment?

Alleviating risk in one area can make the decision easier. Financing higher education is perhaps the biggest obstacle to earning a degree, but what if the employer shouldered all of the financial burden? Through tuition assistance or reimbursement benefits, an employee could learn new skills and become a reliable asset to their organization, with less stress about how to pay for it.

The problem? At many organizations that offer education benefits, fewer than 5% of employees take advantage of these programs, according to SHRM.

This is a missed opportunity for both employee and employer, especially in light of the pandemic, as fears of wide-scale layoffs and furloughs have caused many employees to contemplate career shifts and building new skills.

“Companies will compete on how well they are able to find, source, develop, advance, and retain talent,” according to research by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “Learners and workers will compete on skills and credentials and the ability to be agile in a dynamic labor market and economy. Communities, too, will compete on their ability to attract, develop, and retain a competitive workforce that will drive economic growth, opportunity, and prosperity.”

The global pandemic has introduced new urgency and risks that require bold thinking to update antiquated talent and education financing practices. Current approaches to financing education and career readiness fail to meet the needs of the labor market. We in higher ed and the employment space need to create employee education programs that are attractive and relevant for the employee and that can build and retain a skilled workforce for the employer.

A 2016-17 survey administered by the Graduate! Network found that from an employer’s perspective, education programs were influential in their ability to achieve organizational goals, including decreased turnover and increased customer satisfaction, employee engagement and productivity, and profit. Experts at McKinsey contend that businesses will emerge stronger from the pandemic if they start reskilling their workforces now.

There is enough evidence that this is the right path forward, so why aren’t we moving rapidly to scale employer-sponsored employee education programs?

Because employer-sponsored employee education programs are not ready to be scaled. The current user experience is Byzantine and lengthy, overly processed, and about as user-friendly as a rotary phone in an iPhone world.

To showcase the power of these programs, we need to create an experience that is both easy and interesting. Higher education and employers can come together to create innovative solutions that produce tangible results. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US (FCA) partnered with Strayer University to offer its dealership employees and their families the opportunity to earn a degree at Strayer free of charge. According to 2017 data, participating dealers experienced nearly 40% higher employee retention and a 17% higher revenue growth than nonparticipating dealers.

But just creating a better experience isn’t enough. We need to show value, because for employees, the value of earning a degree or credential is not always clear.

A recent national poll by Strada Education Network found that there is growing interest in postsecondary education or training among adult learners aged 25 to 44 without a college degree. However, these learners are less likely than they were a year ago to believe that the education or training will be worth the cost and will help them get a good job. Fewer than one-third of adults without degrees reported understanding “very well” available career pathways, valuable skills, and details about potential education programs.

This is a call for employers to help. By developing solutions that provide employees with a clear path to success—from choosing a degree program that best fits their goals to mapping out which courses will be most applicable—employers can effectively train or reskill employees to meet their own workforce needs.

But how? Employers are working with cumbersome platforms, little to no measurement or tracking tools, and high fees for online program managers (OPMs) to administer education benefits.

The pandemic has reminded us vividly of the power of technology to alleviate and solve challenges. We talk with our doctors, bank securely, and order dinner, all on our phones—all but eliminating any argument that technology has no place in higher education. In that vein, to be successful, employee education programs must shift to be more like a make your own burrito bowl and less like a prix-fixe menu.

A partnership between Noodle Partners and Strategic Education—parent company of both Capella University and Strayer—adapts the insurance industry’s concept of “in network” and “out of network” to deliver relevant educational programs.

Through a newly developed employee education management portal, employees will be able to choose from Noodle’s network of public and private universities, find a program that fits their needs, and manage their benefits—all on one platform. Employers will be able to log into the same portal to administer and disburse funds as well as check on progress. This new level of data will allow benefits managers to better track returns on their investment and make adjustments as necessary.

This example shows how much there is to gain when higher ed and business come together for the benefit of adult learners. The key to a successful partnership is to prioritize the needs of employee-students, which are very different from those of traditional four-year college students.

There are more innovations like this that will achieve better results for employers and for workers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and others, recently launched Talent Finance, a groundbreaking initiative to explore new private-sector-led solutions for investing in people and skills that keep pace with innovation and advance economic opportunity, inclusion, and competitiveness. Constant innovation and investment in the economy’s most important resource—human capital—is needed to build the workforce of the future. Talent Finance will develop new ways for employers and the financial services community to work together to identify private sector tools for financing talent development and new strategies for managing risk in the labor market.

The pandemic reminds us all that the way we’ve done things in the past is no longer a feasible option. For the United States to grow its economy and strengthen its global competitiveness, the education and business industries must reimagine their approach to expanding economic opportunity. Strategic investments need to be made on both the employer side and the employee side—with assistance from higher education companies that are willing to invest in promising technologies—to evolve the tuition assistance and reimbursement programs for the future. Their alliance is a path forward for meeting the evolving demand for new skills with an affordable and accessible education that benefits employees, businesses, higher education, and the overall economy during a pandemic, and beyond.

To learn more about WorkforceEdge powered by Strategic Education, click here.

Terry McDonough serves as president of alternative learning at Strategic Education, Inc.a mission-driven higher education organization dedicated to advancing economic and career mobility through higher education. In his role, Terry oversees Strategic Education’s non-degree portfolio, including Sophia Learning, self-paced general education courses that are ACE-recommended for college credit; WorkforceEdge, a full-service, online employee education management portal; Degrees@Work, customized employer-sponsored degree programs for businesses; and non-degree web and mobile application development programs through DevMountain, Generation Code, and Hackbright Academy.

Cheryl Oldham serves a dual role as vice president of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and senior vice president of the education and workforce program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

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Education Department pulls handbook with Clery Act requirements – Inside Higher Ed

The Education Department says it was trying to make it simpler for institutions to report crime and campus safety statistics required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. But experts in the law’s reporting requirements said the move — eliminating a thick department handbook guiding administrators — will cause even more confusion for institutions, and possibly more work.

Eliminating the Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting does address complaints by colleges and universities that it required too much of administrators. But replacing the 265-page document with a 13-page addendum to another handbook, on administering financial aid, goes too far, said S. Daniel Carter, president of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses. The consulting company advises institutions on the law’s requirement that federally funded institutions disseminate an annual security report to employees and students with statistics of campus crime.

“Instead of taking the time to correct the guidance, the department decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” said Carter, who published a blog post on the change.

The department announced it was rescinding the handbook two years ago, as part of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos’s “commitment to reducing the regulatory burden on institutions,” according to a notice of the change.

The 265-page document had grown to include guidances that were not required by laws or regulations, the department said. Institutions, though, could still feel pressured to follow them for fear of being sanctioned.

The department referred also to a 2015 bipartisan Senate report on the regulation of higher education, which called the handbook “unnecessarily voluminous.”

Five years after the report, the department’s shorter addendum gives institutions more discretion to define such things as which campus administrators are required to report campus crime statistics to the department, and what area constitutes the campus in order to compile the data.

“Our goal was to provide guidance to institutions that would enable them to focus on maintaining a safe and secure environment, rather than spending time and resources generating reports that few students or parents consult, and that could overwhelm them with excessive data that obscures the most important and helpful parts of these reports,” the department’s announcement said.

The move eliminates some reporting guidances that have frustrated institutions, Carter said, including giving the impression that faculty advisers to student groups have to file campus crime statistics.

The handbook had also said colleges’ Clery reports had to include the crime statistics of hotels if a student stayed there for two or more nights on college-sponsored trips.

“Those two alone were taking up a significant amount of time for people collecting information for the Clery Act,” he said.

The change was also welcomed by Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education’s senior vice president for government relations. The handbook, which over the years has become a compilation of answers the department has given to colleges’ questions, has grown beyond the original intent of the law, he said. Colleges have had to get crime statistics from foreign cities where their students are studying abroad and the cities where their teams have traveled to play, he said.

But, on the other hand, Carter worried that giving institutions more discretion to define terms would mean they would have to come up with the definitions with little guidance from the department, and without assurances the department will not object.

He and Abigail Boyer, associate executive director of the Clery Center, which also advises colleges on the reporting requirement, said also the handbook had described in plain terms what administrators are supposed to do.

“No guidance is perfect — we have, in fact, advocated for certain changes to the Handbook to address areas of overcomplication or confusion for institutions,” said a blog post by the Clery Center, which was founded by the parents of Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University freshman who was raped and murdered in 1986, and for whom the law is named.

“However,” the post said, “we do not anticipate that there will be fewer questions with the rescission of this guidance altogether. The department just has one less resource available to help answer these persistent questions.”

In addition, Carter and Boyer said, they worry the data collected from colleges will reduce the quality of the data collected under the law because institutions will be using different definitions.

With Election Day approaching, it’s possible a Biden administration could bring the handbook back in a few months if he is elected. But Carter and Boyer said they were unsure what Biden would do.

“I think this is a little too far below his radar,” Carter said.

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How to prepare teachers for remote education – NJ Spotlight

This year’s return to school has been unlike any other. Educators across New Jersey are working through extraordinary circumstances as they reengage students amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus continues to force the need for remote and hybrid learning models of instruction, educators find themselves in uncharted waters as they work to ensure effective teaching and learning.

While much of the local conversation has focused on “closing the digital divide” and ensuring our students have the necessary devices to participate in remote learning, this shift is not solely a technological endeavor.

Success in remote or hybrid learning requires schools to closely examine teacher readiness and preparation for remote instruction. The shift to digital delivery causes a pedagogical conundrum — a fundamental change requiring significant adaptations in the way teachers teach. Traditional instructional strategies do not work and new skills are required. Most teachers have not received any formal training on hybrid or remote instruction through their preparation programs or continuing education classes.

This fall, it is incumbent upon state and district leaders to provide the means and resources through which teachers receive the training and support necessary to ensure consistent, engaging, and standards-based instruction for their students.

A strong professional learning program for hybrid and remote instruction must go well beyond how to use the district’s learning management system or how to use a web conferencing platform. It must also provide teachers with strategies and tactics for meaningfully engaging students, facilitating self-guided learning, and teaching concepts and skills in a remote setting. Consider the following as guideposts for designing professional learning on remote education:

  • Students will not care what teachers know until they know their teachers care even more so in a digital world. Ask any teacher what the most fundamental element of good teaching is and they will say relationships. In a digital environment, building teacher-to-student and student-to-student relationships will be challenging. School leaders should consider providing their teachers with training on how to establish a sense of community and build relationships with their students, as well as how to best use technology to facilitate and encourage peer-to-peer and student-teacher interaction.
  • Lesson design is not just what it looks like lesson design is how it works. Building upon Steve Jobs’ notion that Apple products were designed first and foremost to meet the needs of the user, training on hybrid and remote instruction should focus on best practices for designing quality, engaging remote lessons that meet the needs of all learners. This means school districts should train their teachers on how to assess student learning virtually, evaluate the best method for instruction for each remote lesson, effectively communicate and provide feedback in an online platform, integrate principles of Universal Design for Learning, and differentiate for remote students with diverse learning needs.
  • Students learn best when they feel safe and supported — keep their social-emotional learning needs in mind. While there has been a significant focus on the academic regression following the spring school closures, a growing body of evidence is revealing the toll the pandemic is having on student mental health and emotional well-being. An unprecedented number of students have experienced additional stress during this public health crisis, including social isolation, economic strains, family conflict, and personal loss. Schools must respond to this need using a framework that supports not just academic achievement, but also the social-emotional needs of students. Teachers need training on actionable strategies to embed social-emotional learning and programming into virtual lessons and how to identify “look-fors” when children are struggling with their emotional and mental health.

School leaders know firsthand that significant issues remain in addressing the educational inequities that occurred during the immediate transition to remote education in the spring and are still occurring today. While closing the digital divide is one piece of the puzzle, in order for our students to have access to a robust, engaging, and rewarding learning experience, school leaders must also focus on providing teachers with a comprehensive professional learning program that delivers effective strategies to teach in a digital environment.

About Public Consulting Group

Public Consulting Group, Inc. (PCG) is a leading public sector solutions implementation and operations improvement firm that partners with health, education, and human services agencies to improve lives. Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, PCG has over 2,500 professionals in more than 50 offices worldwide. PCG offers education consulting services and technology solutions that help schools, school districts, and state education agencies/ministries of education to promote student success, improve programs and processes, and optimize financial resources. To learn more, visit http://www.publicconsultinggroup.com/education/.

Our work reflects deep educational expertise and the capacity to implement change within schools. Our products and services help school and district leaders improve outcomes and equity for all students and help educators make effective decisions by transforming data into meaningful results. Click here to learn more about PCG’s remote education professional learning curriculum.

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Commentary: Kentucky Board of Education recent appointment of student representation is a milestone – User-generated content

By Emanuelle Sippy and Sanaa Kahloon

With Eastern High School student Solyana Mesfin’s recent appointment by Gov. Andy Beshear as a non-voting member of the Kentucky Board of Education, Kentucky joins the ranks of 20 other states who have young people playing a similar role. As a Jefferson County junior and daughter of Ethiopian immigrants who is active in several youth-driven, equity-oriented leadership groups, including ours, Solyana brings exceptional capacity and perspective to the job.

Commissioner Kevin Glass, chair Lu Young, and other members of the Kentucky Board of Education deserve immense credit for this development, as do a patchwork of Kentucky districts like Boone, Woodford, and Gallatin counties that have been supporting student representation on local school boards for many years now. And while it is important to recognize that visionary adults have paved the way for more meaningful student voice in school governance, it is as important to note that Kentucky students have contributed, too.

Kentucky youth led the charge in 2015 with House Bill 236, an act early members of the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team conceived, drafted, and promoted widely to add students to superintendent screening committees. Months of student-led testimony, op-ed writing, editorial board meetings, and partnerships with youth development program powerhouses like the Kentucky YMCA, Governor’s Scholars, and the speech and debate circuit resulted in a spectacle that reflected the depth of our commitment to creating more just, more equitable schools. That was when hundreds of students from districts across the state made their way to Frankfort and joined a bipartisan group of legislators on the steps of the capitol to advocate for the bill in a major media event that they organized themselves.

Ultimately, and due largely to unfriendly amendments that were added to it by state legislators, the bill was dropped in the final moments of the session. The deeply disappointed organizers willed themselves some solace: “We take comfort in knowing that in the process of building support for our bill, we have demonstrated what is possible when students work as partners to improve our schools and our communities more broadly,” they wrote in a final op-ed.

Sanaa Kahloon

In the years since, our team, incubated by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, has continued to expand the possibilities around student voice in Kentucky and built a constituency around the effort. We’ve invested deeply at both the grassroots and grasstops levels with intentionality around amplifying and elevating the voices of Kentucky students who are least heard in the system and supporting students to make their schools safer, more inclusive, and more engaging from the inside out.

We have written policy reports and led workshops for students and educators about what meaningful student voice in school governance looks like; we have conducted and taught others to conduct student-led school climate audits; we have published a book featuring students’ stories surfacing inequities in the postsecondary transition process; we have mobilized coalitions and spearheaded campaigns to restore need-based college scholarships and raise the state’s investment in more preventative school safety measures; and we are currently leading one of the most rigorous examinations of the statewide impact of COVID-19 on students in the country.

In honing and sharing our model, we’ve also been serving as education thought leaders and intergenerational partners, and we have been doing so independently, without formal appointments and in most cases too, without awaiting permission.

Emanuelle Sippy

Increasingly, we are also finding ourselves in excellent company, as local youth-driven groups such as the Kentucky Student Council Association, Black Student Unions, the Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council, and the Louisville Youth Coalition, among others, have been moving the needle on a range of civic and policy issues.

This is all to say that Kentucky students are at the forefront of today’s student voice movement, and as long as Solyana is supported to build on that existing energy in a way that recognizes the promise of authentic youth agency, partnership, and diverse representation in education decision-making, our state, our schools — and our students — will be especially well served.

Emanuelle Sippy is a senior at Henry Clay High School and the student director of the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team. Sanaa Kahloon is a senior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and the Student Voice Team’s research director.

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U.S Department of Education says it is investigating Pitt over treatment of a professor – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Path between desks in a classroom

Virginia board of education approves expansion of African American history in classrooms – WTOP

The Virginia Board of Education approved a set of recommendations on Thursday to improve the teaching of African American history in schools across the commonwealth.

Those recommendations were made by the African American History Education Commission, which Gov. Ralph Northam created on Aug. 24.

“This unprecedented time of crisis has given all of us an opportunity to renew our focus on breaking down structural inequities and telling a more honest Virginia story in our classrooms,” Northam said in a release. “The commission’s recommendations will ensure that Virginia’s history standards reflect the complexity of our past, help students understand how present-day challenges are connected to this history and provide teachers with more resources to engage in anti-racist work.

On Aug. 31, the commission released those recommendations, which the Board of Education will now implement.

“Incorporating additional context about African American history into the larger historical narrative has never been more important,” Board of Education President Daniel Gecker said in a news release. “The approval of these edits to the standards and curriculum framework begins Virginia’s effort to change the course of history and social science instruction to ensure inclusive and culturally relevant content in all grades and courses.”

For example, second-grade classes will now go more into depth on the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. in ending racial segregation. Other changes include adding Crispus Attucks and James Armistead Lafayette to the list of people who played important roles in the American Revolution and providing more details on the 1619 arrival of the first Africans to British North America.

The board also approved adding the history of lynching in America to Virginia high school courses.

The next step happens in January, when a more comprehensive review of Virginia’s history and social science standards begins. That review takes place every seven years and will consider more significant changes proposed by the commission, including the introduction of new study areas, that will culminate in revised statewide learning standards in 2022.

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Berger-Sweeney Joins Virtual Conversation on ‘Race, Class, Higher Education, and Democracy’ – Trinity College

Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney took part recently in a virtual conversation called “Race, Class, Higher Education, and Democracy,” hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education, a national leader in higher education journalism. The program explored how colleges define their roles in promoting civic engagement and what they can do to support democracy and racial equity.

Race, Class, Higher Education, and Democracy
A screenshot from the ‘Race, Class, Higher Education, and Democracy’ conversation, hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Berger-Sweeney was among the four panelists who were invited to discuss the ways in which educators can renew their mission to serve and advance an equitable democratic society. Joining Berger-Sweeney were: William Galston, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution; Sylvia Hurtado, professor of education and former director of the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles; and Peniel Joseph, professor of public affairs and history and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas at Austin. The panel was co-hosted by Scott Carlson, senior writer at The Chronicle, and Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College.

Held via Zoom on October 15—just weeks ahead of the presidential election—the conversation began with a question about how higher education can turn outward to serve the public good and address the issues of the day, including race, class, and democracy.

The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher EducationBerger-Sweeney, who helped launch the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University, spoke about Trinity’s choice to become a test-optional institution as one important way to promote equal access to higher education. “We removed SAT and ACT scores as a barrier to entry,” she said.

Additionally, Trinity created a series of programming called “Bridging Divides,” which Berger-Sweeney said focused on higher education’s role in advancing understanding and promoting a just society. “Even if you have a difference of opinions, you can come together and discuss them in the academy,” she said. “An educated population is essential to democracy.”

Berger-Sweeney also talked about her decision to encourage democratic participation by giving Trinity staff members the day off on election day this year to vote, work at polls, or volunteer in other ways if they wish.

To view the entire conversation on demand, click here.

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Trump Vs. Biden On Education Policy, Student Loans – NPR

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