The American Biology Teacher has hosted a guest editorial by Glenn Branch and Minda Berbeco of the NCSE. The editorial points out that climate science is under a similar sort of anti-science attack as evolution has been for years, though generally with different (less religious) motivations. Also noted is the problem of fitting climate change into the curriculum, especially in biology classes. Indeed, biology teachers are already having a hard time getting the standard fare on the plate. In recent years, for example, the AP biology curriculum has jettisoned almost everything about plants, which were previously used as examples of physiology owing to both their relevance and the relative ease of using plants in biology labs. Branch and Berbeco note that climate change has not made its way that far into the biology classrooms, but there are already anti-science efforts to keep it out.
… a backlash against the inclusion of climate science - and anthropogenic climate change in particular - in the science classroom is under way. For example, when West Virginia became the thirteenth state to adopt the NGSS in December 2014, it was discovered that beforehand a member of the state board of education successfully called for changes that downplayed climate change… Nationally, according to a survey of 555 K-12 teachers who teach climate change, 36% were pressured to teach “both sides” of a supposed scientific controversy, and 5% were required to do so.
The US Senate voted 92-8 to pass HR 2, which has been known as the “doc fix” for Medicaid reimbursement rates, as well as many other health care provisions. HR 2 includes an alarmingly high increase in funding for the AOUM program, bringing its annual funding to $75 million. President Obama has already agreed to sign the bill, saying in a statement that he “would be proud to sign it into law.”
This compromise bill, however, also includes a two-year extension of Title V abstinence-only education, allocating significant federal funding to Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). Many CPCs lie to women about abortion and birth control and target women who are facing unplanned pregnancies and provide them with medical misinformation. AOUM curriculums rely heavily on shame and stigma, and have been proven to be unsuccessful at preventing unplanned pregnancy and the spread of STIs.
The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) wrote of the expansion of AOUM, stating that SIECUS is “incredibly disappointed by this wasteful increase and expansion of AOUM programs that are ineffective, stigmatizing, and fail to provide young people with the sexual health information, education, and skills they need throughout their life to make healthy and responsible decisions.”
Some commentators argue that with more women earning college degrees than men, and with more value being placed on “soft skills,” it’s just a matter of time before men start losing out to women in the workplace. A new report shows just how far the United States is from that reality.
The report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) on women’s poverty and opportunity finds that despite significant gains in educational achievement, women earn less and have higher poverty levels than men in all 50 states.
IWPR found that more women than men have a bachelor’s degree or higher in 29 states, and the share of women with that level of education has increased in every state and the District of Columbia since 2000. Women made up 57 percent of college students from 2012 to 2013.
“Denial of an education is the analogue of denial of the right to vote: the former relegates the individual to second-class social status; the latter places him at a permanent political disadvantage.” - Justice Marshall (Plyler v. Doe)
“We are being held hostage by test scores. Our society is being scammed into thinking we don’t need this vital government service. And there are a lot of really smart people with their heads in the sand afraid of being politically active.”
Public School Enrollment from Fast Facts from the National Center for Educational Statistics:
In fall 2014, about 49.8 million students will attend public elementary and secondary schools. Of these, 35.1 million will be in prekindergarten through grade 8 and 14.7 million will be in grades 9 through 12. An additional 5.0 million students are expected to attend private schools (source). The fall 2014 public school enrollment is expected to remain near the record enrollment level of fall 2013.
About 1.3 million children are expected to attend public prekindergarten in fall 2014; enrollment in public kindergarten is projected to reach approximately 3.7 million students (source).
In fall 2014, about 4.1 million public school students are expected to enroll in 9th grade—the typical entry grade for many American high schools (source).
Does anyone really believe that parents will maintain a minimum standard of education for 49 + million students without the Public Education System?
Hawthorne Elementary in Louisville, Kentucky, looks like what you might imagine a typical American suburban elementary school to be, with students’ art projects displayed in the hallways and brightly colored rugs and kid-sized tables and chairs in the classrooms. It’s located in a predominantly white neighborhood. But the students look different than those in many suburban schools across America. Some have dark skin, others wear headscarves, others are blonde and blue-eyed. While many of them qualify for free and reduced lunches, others bring handmade lunches in fancy thermal bags and come from well-off families.
Ever since a court forced them to integrate in the 1970s, the city of Louisville and surrounding Jefferson County have tried to maintain diverse schools. Though the region fought the integration at first, many residents and leaders came around to the idea, and even defended it all the way up to the Supreme Court in 2006.
The county, which borders Indiana on the south, spreads across 400 square miles and encompasses census tracts in which more than half of the population lives below the poverty level, and tracts in which less than 10 percent does. But there are no struggling inner-city schools here—the city and county schools are under the same district, and the most sought-after high school within it, duPont Manual, is located near downtown.
Indeed, it could be argued that Louisville, an economically vibrant city in a highly conservative and segregated state, is a success today in large part because of its integrated schools and the collaborations among racial and economic groups that have come as a result. “Our PTA president will drive downtown into neighborhoods she probably would not have gone to, to pick up kids to bring to her house for sleepover,” said Jessica Rosenthal, the principal at Hawthorne Elementary. “I just don’t know how likely that is to happen in a normal school setting.”
In contrast, regions that kept city and suburban schools apart have been plagued by growing inner-city crime, low academic achievement levels for black children who live in the city, and a hollowing out of the city by middle-class families who feel that they need to move to the suburbs to ensure their children will get a better education.
The Louisville plan wasn’t popular at first. Thousands of protesters rallied against busing at the district’s schools, protesting and vandalizing police cars until the governor called in the Kentucky National Guard to supervise buses for the first few days.
But something strange happened as the integration plan continued. Many of the residents’ fears failed to materialize, and after a few years the protests ceased.
It’s as though “people are amazed to discover that people from another race or ethnic group are actually pretty similar to them,” said Gary Orfield, the co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, who has worked with the city for decades on the plan (and is Myron Orfield’s brother). “There’s a tremendous deflation of protests when almost all the stereotypes people hold aren’t true.”
“School integration was never meant to be the only solution, but it is it is an essential and necessary element, they’ve at least kept that going, in spite of all kinds of problems over the years,” Orfield said. “They believe it works, not perfectly but a lot better than the alternatives.” It’s possible that commitment to diversity is a result of the integration that was forced on the region, in the 1970s. Now, people who grew up in integrated schools want the same for their children.
Since no system is without flaws or detractors, it’s worth reading the whole piece to get some idea of the negative aspects of the situation.
If recent elections have taught us anything, it’s that young Americans have taken a decided turn to the left. Young voters delivered Obama the election: the under-44 set voted Obama and the over-45 set broke for Romney. The youngest voters, age 18-29, gave Obama a whopping 60 percent of their vote.
Now Republicans have a plan to try to recapture the youngest voters out there: Take over the curriculum in public schools, replace education with a bunch of conservative propaganda, and reap the benefits of having a new generation that can’t tell reality from right-wing fantasy.
How well this plan will work is debatable, but in the meantime, these shenanigans present the very real possibility that public school students will graduate without a proper education. To make it worse, many of these attempts to rewrite school curriculum are happening in Texas, which can set the textbook standards for the entire country by simply wielding its power as one of the biggest school textbook markets there is. With that in mind, here’s a list of 11 lies your kid may be in danger of learning in school.
Lie No. 1: Racism has barely been an issue in U.S. history and slavery wasn’t that big a deal.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute reviewed the new social studies standards laid down by the right-wing-dominated Texas State School Board and found them to be a deplorable example of conservative wishful thinking replacing fact. At the top of list? Downplaying the role that slavery had in starting the Civil War, and instead focusing on “sectionalism” and “states’ rights,” even though the sectionalism and states’ rights arguments directly stemmed from Southern states wanting to keep slavery. There’s also a chance your kid might be misled to think post-Civil War racism was no big deal, as the standards excise any mention of the KKK, the phrase “Jim Crow” or the Black Codes. Mention is made of the Southern Democratic opposition to civil rights, but mysteriously, the mass defection of Southern Democrats to the Republican Party to punish the rest of the Democrats for supporting civil rights goes unmentioned.
Lie No. 2: Joe McCarthy was right.
The red-baiting of the mid-20th century has gone down in history, correctly, as a witch hunt that stemmed from irrational paranoia that gripped the U.S. after WWII. But now, according to the Thomas B. Fordham report, your kid might learn that the red baiters had a point: “It is disingenuously suggested that the House Un-American Activities Committee—and, by extension, McCarthyism—have been vindicated by the Venona decrypts of Soviet espionage activities (which had, in reality, no link to McCarthy’s targets).” Critical lessons about being skeptical of those who attack fellow Americans while wrapping themselves in the flag will be lost for students whose textbooks adhere to these standards.
Lie No. 3: Climate change is a massive hoax scientists have perpetuated on the public.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been hard at work pushing for laws requiring that climate change denialism be taught in schools as a legitimate scientific theory. Unfortunately, as Neela Banerjee of the L.A. Times reports, they’ve already had some serious success: “Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. South Dakota and Utah passed resolutions denying climate change.” Other states are taking the “teach the controversy” strategy that helped get creationism into biology classrooms, asking teachers to treat climate change like it’s a matter of political debate instead of a scientifically established fact.
The reality is that climate change is a fact that has overwhelming scientific consensus. In 2004, Science reviewed the 928 relevant studies on climate change published between 1993 and 2003 and found that exactly zero of them denied that climate change was a reality, and most found it had man-made causes. To claim that climate change is a “controversy” requires one to believe that there’s a massive conspiracy involving nearly all the scientists in the world. So, your kids are not only not learning the realities of climate change, they are also learning, if indirectly, to give credence to conspiracy theory paranoia.
You don’t find school reformers talking much about how we need to train more teachers in the arts, given the current obsession with science, math, technology and engineering (STEM), but here’s a list of skills that young people learn from studying the arts. They serve as a reminder that the arts — while important to study for their intrinsic value — also promote skills seen as important in academic and life success. (That’s why some people talk about changing the current national emphasis on STEM to STEAM.) This was written by Lisa Phillips is an author, blog journalist, arts and leadership educator, speaker and business owner. To learn about Lisa’s book, “The Artistic Edge: 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly Right Brain World,” click here. This appeared on the ARTSblog, a program of Americans for the Arts.
You’ve probably heard it before: too many black students don’t do well in school because they think being smart means “acting white.”
It’s a popular thing to say, but it’s not true. At best, it’s a very creative interpretation of inadequate research and anecdotal evidence. At worst, it’s a messy attempt to transform the near-universal stigma attached to adolescent nerdiness into an indictment of black culture, while often ignoring the systemic inequality that contributes to the country’s racial achievement gap.
It’s no surprise that the “acting white” narrative resonates with a lot of people. After all, it echoes legitimate frustrations with a society that too often presents a narrow, stereotypical image of what it means to be black. It validates the experiences of African-American adults who remember being treated like they were different, or being smart but not popular in school. And for those who are sincerely interested in improving educational equality, it promises a quick fix. (“If they would just stop thinking being smart was ‘acting white,’ they could achieve anything!”)
The “acting white” theory also validates a particular social conservative worldview by placing the blame for disparate academic outcomes squarely on the backward ideas of black children and black cultural pathology, instead of harder-to-tackles factors like on socioeconomic inequality, implicit racial bias on the part of teachers, segregated and under-resourced schools, and the school discipline disparities that create what’s been called the school-to-prison pipeline.
So very high-achieving kids of all races experience social isolation at times. This is why there are plenty of high-achieving black kids to provide anecdotes about being socially shunned (and there are probably plenty of white kids who could do the same, but there isn’t the same appetite for collecting these stories to explain the white experience). And there are also plenty of black kids — many of whom are also smart —who have been accused of “acting white.” But there doesn’t appear to be much of a basis to connect the two experiences.
The “acting white” theory is tempting to believe because it does contains pieces of truth: Yes, there’s a racial academic achievement gap. Yes, there are plenty of African-American adults eager to tell stories about how they were shunned because they dared to be different. And yes, some super high-achieving black kids — like kids of all races — suffer social stigma. These individual facts are each painful, and they each resonate with people in a way that makes it easy to blur what’s missing from the “acting white” equation: an actual, causal connection between the accusations of acting white, social stigma, and lower academic outcomes. There isn’t one.
It’s particularly troubling that this myth persists, because stories about the sources of educational inequality can shape public attitudes and policy. A continued willingness to believe that solutions lie in simply repairing backward attitudes about getting good grades will continue to distract from the real problems: poverty, segregation, discipline disparities, teacher biases and other structural factors. Unfortunately, none of these issues is as easy to fix as simply changing the beliefs of black students.
At 56, Linda McCampbell discovered she could get the college degree she always wanted.
A Nashville paralegal for 30 years, McCampbell last year attended an eight-hour workshop to judge how her life experience might be cashed in for academic credits at Lipscomb University. The promise was alluring: the possibility of knocking months off a college education McCampbell had long abandoned as out of reach.
It turns out she qualified for an entire academic year’s worth of credits, and at a fraction of what two semesters of tuition would have cost.
“It wiped out my freshman year,” says McCampbell, who earned those credits by proving she could deal with a full inbox of tasks and solve problems with a group. The boost was enough to cure her of the longtime belief a degree was out of reach.
The first recommendation listed in the report is a simple one: Make sure classrooms can be locked from the inside.
“Testimony and other evidence presented to the commission reveals that there has never been an event in which an active shooter breached a locked classroom door,” it said. “The commission cannot emphasize enough the importance of this recommendation.”
The report also stated its belief that all types of threats — not just “active shooter” assaults — should be considered in the implementation of improved school safeguards.
I have long been bothered to see how school buses long lacked seat belts and included un padded steel frames around all the seats. Some of the reported suggestions strike me in the same light. What took so long to figure these out?
The report goes on listing how important maintaining situational awareness is and how vital custodial staff are given their knowledge on the school layout. What should not be the least surprising is how ordinary the suggestions are. Doors that lock. Understand the situation. Trust in those that work there. With obvious changes, that’s all stuff we long know about staying safe at home. Fire, medical emergencies, earthquakes and threatening or dangerous people all call for different responses. Empower (I do not refer to lethal weapons) the staff, or at home the responsible residents as best as you can in a practical sense.
What’s more valuable than our children? Nothing on this earth. Society can better afford the costs of ordinary practical measures for safety than the consequences of vulnerable class rooms and teachers.
For The Record
The full report.