Trump’s inauguration: Safe for kids?

Image result for inauguration

“Every peaceful transition of power is a historic moment,” a fourth-grade teacher in Michigan told parents in an email. Brett Meteyer will let students watch the inauguration, but not Donald Trump’s inaugural speech. He fears “inflammatory and degrading comments about minorities, women, and the disabled” and “profanity.”

As it turned out, the speech was G rated with a “we the people” theme.

President Trump criticized an  “education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.” (Deprived of “all” knowledge?) What does that mean for education policy? No new federal spending initiatives, I guess, so it will be hard for the feds to promote knowledge over skills.

A Tennessee high school won’t let teachers air the inauguration in any class, complains Fox commentator Todd Starnes.

Suzanne Roberts, a parent, complained to the principal.

“She told me that Independence High School is going to focus on learning and moving forward and staying on curriculum and they would not be stopping class for the inauguration,” Mrs. Roberts said. “She told me that news happens every day in this country and they won’t be stopping class to watch the news.”

Greenville County (S.C.) Schools will let parents opt their children out of inauguration viewing. Officials say opt-outs were offered for past inaugurations.

In deep blue Oakland and Berkeley, California, a group of teachers and students called for schools to cancel classes to protest Trump’s inauguration, reports KTVU.

“This is an emergency,” said Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley teacher and organizer with the group By Any Means Necessary. “The lives of our young people are at stake.”

Students should watch the inauguration, writes Rebecca Gruber on PopSugar. It’s “not a sign of support” for Trump. “It is a sign that you believe in our democracy.”

Kids need to see that President Barack Obama and President-elect Trump will ride from the White House to the Capitol together with their wives seated by their sides. They need to see that the military doesn’t need to intervene to place our nation’s new leader in power. They need to see that our elected officials (minus those who are boycotting) come together on the Capitol’s balcony every four years. They need to hear Donald Trump take the oath of office and learn what those 35 words represent. This is civics at its best.

There is also a civics lesson to be learned in the power of the First Amendment, allowing protesters to speak their minds simultaneously.

If her children don’t get to watch the inauguration in school, she’ll watch it with them at home, she writes. “I’m setting my DVR and already have a few books picked out that explain midterm elections.”

Teachers protest discipline reform

Image result for blackboard jungleMaintaining order in the classroom was an issue in 1955, when Glenn Ford starred as a novice New York City teacher in Blackboard Jungle

Under pressure to reduce racial disparities in suspensions and expulsions, schools are turning to “restorative justice” programs that encourage offenders to discuss their actions and make amends.

Earlier this year, Indianapolis and New York City teachers complained about poorly implemented “restorative justice” programs, reported Emmanuel Felton in Ed Week. Now, teachers in Fresno and Des Moines are saying new discipline policies are making it harder to teach.

“As Fresno Unified officials were praising McLane High School’s restorative justice program” at a conference, “teachers at the school were circulating a petition that says those same strategies have led to an unsafe campus plagued with fights and disruptions,” reports the Fresno Bee.

At least 70 of the 85 teachers at McLane High have signed a petition demanding a stricter and more consistent student discipline policy, as well as more say in how students are punished for their actions.

The teachers paint McLane as a place where there are constant disruptions and numerous on-campus fights and where teachers are verbally assaulted.

. . . While suspensions and expulsions at Fresno Unified have dramatically decreased since then, some teachers say the pressure to curb disciplinary action has led to zero consequences for students, and out-of-control classrooms.

“Students are returned to class without consequence after assaulting teachers, both verbally and physically,” the petition declares.

There are problems in Des Moines too. “Students scream, threaten, shove and hit teachers or other students, with little consequence, students, parents and union leaders told the Register.”

Who is Betsy DeVos? What will she do? 

On the eve of confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s nominee for Education secretary, American Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten blasted Betsy DeVos as “the most anti-public education nominee” ever.

Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos

DeVos is a “fairly traditional, center-right education reformer,” not a radical, argues Michael Q. McShane in Education Next.

She “has a long history of supporting the kinds of accountability and school-choice policies that a broad swath of the education-reform community has championed over the last two decades,” he writes.

DeVos grew up in a wealthy family, then married an Amway heir. She and her husband, Dick DeVos, are major donors to Republican candidates and conservative causes, as well as to education, the arts, their community, etc.

As a whole, the DeVos family has given $1.33 billion to charity, according to Forbes’ list of America’s Top Givers of 2015.  That’s one-quarter of their current net worth, making them the “24th most-generous philanthropic family in the United States,” writes McShane.

DeVos’ interest in education reform was spared by a visit to The Potter’s House, a “Christ-centered” school that serves low-income students in Grand Rapids, she said in a 2013 interview with Philanthropy Roundtable. She and her husband started by funding private-school scholarships for low-income students, but worried about the many children who needed better schools.

Potter's HousePotter’s House school in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“I’m most focused on educational choice,” she said. “But, thinking more broadly, what we are trying to do is tear down the mindset that assigns students to a school based solely on the ZIP Code of their family’s home. We advocate instead for as much freedom as possible.”

DeVos founded the pro-choice American Federation for Children, and the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), which advocates for “choice, quality and accountability” in Michigan.

Betsy and Dick DeVos also founded West Michigan Aviation Academy, a charter high school in Grand Rapids.

Some conservatives are dubious about DeVos, reports McShane. GLEP backed Common Core standards, when they were adopted by the Michigan State Board of Education in 2010.

“When governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense,” writes DeVos on her web site. She abandoned the Core when the U.S. Education Department intervened, she claims.

Ed Week rounds up the nominee’s backers and detractors.

Update: DeVos’ confirmation hearings have been postponed by one week.

DeVos: Mainstream or monster?

Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for Education secretary, is a “pretty mainstream pick – though usual suspects on right & left of course are already going bonkers,” tweeted Andrew Rotherham. On Eduwonk, he added that DeVos is “within the mainstream of Republican thought on education.”

She’s not the elitist, racist, fundamentalist, public education-hating monster that opponents claim, writes Tyler O’Neill in PJ Media. She doesn’t hate public education or oppose all regulation of charter schools.

She doesn’t want to bring back “child labor.” (A staffer at a DeVos-funded institute argued for teens working “a few hours a week.”)

The challenge for DeVos is to “avoid the Beltway education trap,” Column write Jim Stergios and Charles Chieppo of the Boston-based Pioneer Institute in USA Today.

Only 10 percent of K-12 spending comes from the federal government, they write, yet education secretaries always want to run the whole show.

DeVos “isn’t an educator or an education leader,” writes Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press, also on USA Today. “She’s not an expert in pedagogy or curriculum or school governance. In fact, she has no relevant credentials or experience for a job setting standards and guiding dollars for the nation’s public schools.”

I’m bothered by DeVos’ lack of experience with traditional public schools: She attended private schools and sent her children to private schools. She’s an education advocate — Henderson says “lobbyist” — but not an educator.

That’s surprisingly common: Of 10 Education secretaries, only three — Bell, Paige and — were former K-12 teachers.

Betsy DeVos is a Jeb Bush ally, reports Politico, which calls her appointment his “consolation prize.”

NYT gets it wrong on economists and vouchers

Free Market For Education: Economists Generally Don’t Buy It, claims Susan Dynarski, a University of Michigan education professor, in the Dec. 30 New York Times.

“Only a third of economists on the (University of) Chicago panel agreed that students would be better off if they all had access to vouchers to use at any private (or public) school of their choice,” she writes. “While economists are trained about the value of free markets, they are also trained to spot when markets can’t work alone and government intervention is required.”

Slate Star Codex’s Scott Alexander looked at the source, UC’s Initiative on Global Markets: Economic experts who have an opinion, support vouchers by a nearly two to one margin.

Check out the chart: 36 percent of economists agree vouchers would improve education, 19 percent disagree and 37 percent are uncertain. Weighted by the economists’ confidence, 41 percent back vouchers and 23 percent do not, while 35 percent are uncertain.

IGM redid the survey a year later in response to complaints that the question implied all students would benefit from vouchers, Alexander notes in a follow-up post. The new study asked whether vouchers would make most students better off.

With the new phrasing, 44 percent of economists backed vouchers, while only 5 percent disagreed. Weighted by confidence, half said vouchers would improve things; only 6 percent disagreed. Once again, many were uncertain.

I think this is very misleading reporting.

Include working-class whites in ed reform

Image result for white "working class" american familiesTrump supporters recite the Pledge of Allegiance at a June campaign rally in Redding, California. Photo: Stephen Lam/Reuters

By framing education as the “civil rights issue of our time” and focusing on the racial achievement gap, reformers “tacitly made education reform a race-based endeavor,” Robert Pondiscio wrote last year. There’s been much praise for inner-city charters for black and Hispanic students, little attention to small-town schools that educate (or fail to educate) white working-class kids.

Pondiscio didn’t think Trump would win. But he saw the people who might be drawn to Trump.

There are about twice as many non-Hispanic whites as blacks living below 150 percent of the poverty line in the U.S.

. . . Keen observers like Charles Murray in his book Coming Apart warned us that we are becoming a nation divided less by race than class. Births out of wedlock, crime and joblessness are not uniquely inner city problems. They are almost as prevalent in Murray’s “Fishtown.” As work disappears, physical disability claims have skyrocketed by millions, creating a new economic underclass helpfully absent from sunny unemployment figures.

“If education reform truly is the civil rights struggle of our time, it’s time once again to widen the definition of rights-at-risk to include working class white people too,” wrote Pondiscio.

I’d like to see a serious push for high-quality career-tech education linking high schools to community colleges to employers. Two-thirds of young Americans do not earn bachelor’s degrees; a majority won’t earn any college credential. They need more than college-failure prep.

High school grads need ‘middle skills’

A man walks his dog past a mural depicting factory workers in Chicago's Pullman neighborhood. Photo: Andrew Nelles/Reuters
A man walks his dog past a mural depicting factory workers in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. Photo: Andrew Nelles/Reuters

Donald Trump persuaded Carrier to keep 1,000 production jobs in the U.S., but he won’t be able to make manufacturing great again, writes Anthony Carnevale in the Hechinger Report. To earn a middle-class living, high school graduates will need to train for “middle-skills” jobs. For most that will mean earning a vocational license, certificate or associate degree.

Robots, not low-paid Chinese workers, are responsible for most of the decline in manufacturing jobs.

Who’s taking manufacturing jobs?

Manufacturing jobs aren’t being shipped to low-wage countries like Mexico or China, writes Carnevale, who heads Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce. “In recent years, 88 percent of job loss in manufacturing is due to gains in productivity, such as increased use of robots.”

The economy needs service workers, he writes. While 19 percent of new jobs are low-paid, low-skilled “McJobs,” 36 percent are middle-skill jobs in “health care, information technology, financial services, office-based clerical and administrative work” and skilled work in construction, repair, and machinery operations. These jobs “pay close to the median earnings of all full-time, full-year workers ($42,000), if not more,” writes Carnevale.

In 1967, only 25 percent of workers had “some college,” he writes. “Now 61 percent of workers have some credentials beyond high school.”

We expect that about 20 percent of high school graduates, almost all men, can achieve a middle-class income through jobs that mostly involve skilled manual labor. But that still leaves nearly one-fifth of workers with not enough education or skills to thrive in the modern economy.

Manufacturing, which now employs 9 percent of the workforce, is not going to make a dramatic comeback, he argues. “The  United States should be investing in training and education that meets these workers where they live.”

It’s time to teach civics

It’s now or never for civic education, argues Robert Pondiscio, who’s taught civics at a Democracy Prep high school in New York City.

In an informal study of the mission statements of the 100 largest U.S. school systems, he found 60 percent didn’t mention civics or citizenship. Not one used the word “America,” “American,” “patriotic” or “patriotism.” Twenty-eight districts used “global” in phrases such as “global society,” “global economy” or “global citizens.”

Image result for letter from a birmingham jail

College Board’s redesigned framework for Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics requires students to read “19 Supreme Court cases and nine foundational documents, from Federalist No. 10 to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter From Birmingham Jail,” Pondiscio writes. That requires a high level of literacy.

Serious civic education also requires teachers who can teach well and fairly, he writes. “Fears of teacher bias are not misplaced and surely make district officials gun-shy about any political course content, but that squeamishness is a luxury we can no longer afford.”

Teachers are promoting anti-Trump hysteria, charges Larry Sand on Union Watch.  United Educators of San Francisco issued a “Lesson Plan on the 2016 Election” as a guide for teachers. It includes:

DO NOT: Tell them that we have LOST and that we have to accept this.  We do not have to accept ANYTHING except that we must and will fight for justice against an unjust system and against unjust people.

If Clinton was your choice, “you did lose and you do have to accept it,” Sand points out.

So, who’s going to teach civics and government?

Teaching anti-Trump hysteria


Photo: Eric Risberg/AP

The election of Donald Trump should be used to teach civics and history — not scare students or “suggest that only a Democratic victory would have aligned with the nation’s values,” write Rick Hess and Checker Finn in U.S. News. Teachers should keep their bias out of the classroom.

They’re not Trump fans, but they think it’s foolish to see the election only “through the prism of racism and xenophobia.”

If Hillary Clinton had won, some students would have felt “unsafe” on campus, write Hess and Finn. Their list includes:

  • Evangelicals and Catholics whose religious schools and colleges are threatened by federal authorities for non-compliance with directives related to gender and sexual identity.
  • College students muzzled by progressive speech codes or sanctioned by “bias response teams” for posting Trump signs or celebrating America as a “melting pot,” and well aware that a Clinton administration would embrace such restrictions.
  • College students fearful of being falsely convicted by kangaroo campus courts and publicly pilloried or expelled under the Obama administration’s Star Chamber approach to sexual harassment, which has compelled universities to abandon the basic tenets of due process.

If Clinton had won, would educators have canceled classes to comfort Trump supporters? Would anti-Clinton students carrying “not my president” signs be consoled — or mocked as sore losers?

Hess and Finn conclude: “For those who supported Donald Trump because they think the nation’s elites hold them in contempt and have declared war on their values, we fear that the nation’s educators have done little this past week to disprove the point.”

Discuss.

Oh, in a column on how universities are “othering” Trump supporters, Glenn Reynolds links to a great rant by “Jonathan Pie” on how to persuade people to change their minds. Calling them racists isn’t the most effective strategy.

Is the Dream over?

Luis E. Juarez-Trevino, a fifth grade bilingual teacher in Dallas, is “DACAmented.”

President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order make it possible for undocumented immigrants to work legally without fear of deportation. Teach for America has placed 146 “DACAmented” teachers — also known as “Dreamers” — in classrooms, reports Education Week. Will they stay or will they go?

In a 60 Minutes interview, Trump said he’ll prioritize deporting criminal immigrants before deciding about people who’ve broken only the immigration laws. (His estimate of two to three million “bad hombres” is very high.)

Deporting Dreamers makes little sense, says Stephen Legomsky, former chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. To qualify for DACA, they’re supposed to be in school or working and have clean records. “As a practical matter, it seems like these folks would be the lowest priority of all,” he said.

Will Trump let people who arrived as children continue to get work permits?