This blog on Texas education contains posts on accountability, testing, K-12 education, postsecondary educational attainment, dropouts, bilingual education, immigration, school finance, environmental issues, Ethnic Studies at state and national levels. It also represents my digital footprint, of life and career, as a community-engaged scholar in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin.
Here is a great resource from http://baqed.utep.edu/curriculum.htm for schools from El Paso ISD, Grades 3-8 together with high school topics, including chemical processes and analyses, smelter in the city, air pollution and vulnerable populations, and nuclear decay. These curriculum modules are free to all. It allows literally tens of thousands of children annually to learn about some aspect of air quality. It has children work in concert with communities to find ways to improve air quality. All lessons are also in Spanish. Angela Valenzuela c/s
Most of the schools in the El Paso Independent District are
located in areas that are close to major air pollution sources such as
the busy interstate highway, three international bridges with long lines
of trucks going both directions delivering international cargo, a large
military base, a busy airport, a large oil refinery, and a sister city
of 1.5 million. Today, El Paso meets air quality standards most days,
but there are still ozone-alert days in the hot dry summers, dust storms
with zero visibility, and brown inversion layers that spread over the
Master teachers in the El Paso district worked with university
educators to create this curriculum that informs the citizens about air
quality issues and to bring about community and personal actions to
decrease the air pollution.
The product is an imbedded series of learning experiences for
50,000 students and their families addressing issues that are important
and relevant to this border region. We share them with all educators.
Third graders learn about particulate matter and ozone. Coco
the Chameleon teaches them how to read the air quality index so they can
avoid playing outdoors when breathing the air may be unhealthy. more…
Fourth graders learn about air pollution caused by burning hydrocarbons
from fossil fuels. They explore what it feels like to breathe if you
have respiratory problems, and they make plans to have less air
pollution around their school. more…
Texas is a good location for producing alternative energy – plenty of sunshine and windy plains. Fifth graders
use inquiry learning experiences to explore wind, solar, and biofuels;
and then make multimedia presentations to inform others. more… Sixth graders measure temperature changes in ambient air compared to CO2
to understand the greenhouse effect and the foundation of climate
change. They create public service announcements about the climate
issues for the school news channel and their families. more…
Students in seventh grade use scientific data bases about
cities with high air pollution levels to examine the relation between
income, education, and health. They propose reasons why environmental
conditions and poverty affect health. more…
El Paso is located in an area where inversions occur and a brown-gray haze often hangs over the city. Eighth grade
students explore causes of thermal inversions and use data sources to
find the major pollution sources affecting local air quality. more…
Using the important environmental history of the ASARCO copper smelter located near downtown El Paso, chemistry students
learn how to identify sources of air pollution, the chemical behavior
of these polluting compounds, and then explore options to reduce
chemical air pollutants. more… Students in Environmental Science classes examine
environmental justice through the history of the copper smelter and use
wind rose data to identify trends and ways that wind direction may
affect air quality. They use scientific data to understand how our
actions affect our neighbors in Mexico and develop solutions to improve
regional air quality. more…
This is the sign that appears on Leona Kwan's ethnic studies classroom in Oakland Unified School District's (OUSD). It could be a slogan for the ethnic studies movement that has gained momentum across the United States, most especially Texas and California. Although it has been inspired by the struggle over Mexican American Studies in Tucson Unified, it is a deeper, decades-long struggle that finds expression in the presence of Mexican American Studies programs and departments in universities nationwide.
To wit, many of us in Texas are organizing through our National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS) Tejas Foco statewide organization that hosts an annual conference taking place this February18-20, Lone Star College-Kingwood with a focus on the preservation of "traditions, oral history, customs, dichos,
folklore, language, food, religion, literature, music, education, folk
art, Chicana/o history and how they affect our everyday lives and
identity." Simultaneously, February 17-20 the Texas Association for Chicano in Higher Education (TACHE) annual conference is also taking place with a similar focus: ¡Adelante! Latinos on the Rise: Remembering our Past, Leading our Future. A recent statewide conversation on merging the bilingual education and Mexican American Studies agenda spearheaded by Texas State University professor Dr. Christopher Milk also took place in El Paso, Texas, at the Texas Association for Bilingual Education's annual meeting. NACCS Tejas Foco has become a very large, well-attended conference in Texas due in no small part to the excitement of teaching Mexican American Studies at all levels of the educational system in Texas. While we still have to fight for inclusion at the State Board of Education level, as well as in textbooks, generally, our community doesn't have to wait for our officials to do the right thing in the meantime. And this is what is happening in California, too.
This is a great piece on so many levels. It speaks to the value of ethnic studies, generally, and specifically, to Oakland Unified School District's (OUSD) take on it: Not anyone can teach it; and it's as much about the content as it is about the authentic caring relationships between teachers and students. This approach helps children to feel both powerful and seen.
Students work in pairs, sheets of paper littering their desks.
Each pair is assigned to dissect a different section of the Black
Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program. Posters of Malcom X, the Dalai Lama
and Che Guevara line the walls. A wooden sign above the whiteboard, made
by a former student, reads “No History, No Self. Know History, Know
Self.” In this Castlemont High School ethnic studies classroom, that’s
the objective: gaining knowledge of one’s history and community helps
students feel more connected and empowered.
“In terms of social studies content, there is no content that is more
directly relevant to students’ lives or more academically rigorous,”
said Leona Kwon, an ethnic studies teacher at Castlemont. “There might
be these words that are really big, like ‘institutional oppression,’ but
once you explain the concept, students can understand that right away
because it reflects so much of their lived experience.”
Thanks to anOakland Unified School District (OUSD)
school board vote Wednesday night, within the next three years ethnic
studies classes, like this one, will be offered at all Oakland high
schools. The course may count as an academic graduation credit, and
though the policy does not specify the course will be a graduation
requirement, the possibility has been discussed by the board in previous
According to the district’s new policy, presented to the board by Young Whan Choi, civic engagement coordinator for OUSD,
ethnic studies courses create “higher overall academic achievement,
boosts in social emotional learning, increases in self-efficacy, higher
graduation rates, and a reduction in drop-out rates.” The policy
encourages elementary and middle schools to incorporate an ethnic
studies curriculum, but will only require district high schools to offer
The course, a general survey that will cover the histories of many
groups of people, will be piloted by a small group of teachers during
the 2016-2017 school year. A group of teachers is currently updating the
framework for ethnic studies that will be used by teachers to develop
the curriculum for their schools.
Recently, both local and statewide initiatives pushing schools to
offer ethnic studies courses gained ground. This fall, San Francisco
public schools began to offer ethnic studies classes in all high schools. However, on October 9, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill,
authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) and supported by state
senate and house Democrats, calling for the creation of a statewide
ethnic studies curriculum.
For the OUSD, specific details about the proposed curriculum are not
set in stone. At Castlemont, one of the few schools in the district that
now offers an ethnic studies course, all 9th grade students take the
class taught by Kwon, which she has taught for five years. Throughout
the year, she focuses on concepts like personal identity and systems of
privilege, which helps students think about how the different parts of
their identities can effect their personal experiences and understand
those experiences within a historical context. The course also focuses
on the idea of race as a social construct—or that individuals who share a
particular racial identity can be very physically diverse—and
discussion of levels of oppression within society.
After taking the ethnic studies course, students “are able to place
themselves within a historical context” said Kwon. “Through ethnic
studies, they have such a better, more critical understanding of how
society functions, both currently and historically, that is also very,
Michelle Flores, a 10th grade student at Castlemont,
believes that her experience last year in Kwon’s classroom was key to
her growth as a student and an individual. “Most people don’t know the
real history. They know the dominant narrative,” said Flores. “It made
me want to prove the stereotypes wrong. It made me want to give back to
my community and teach my community about all the oppression that we’re
going through, especially institutional oppression.”
“It just opened my eyes to the world,” said Taejin Kim, another 10th grade student at Castlemont.
“And now every time we see a Disney movie, it’s like ‘Whoa, they just said something racist there!’” said Flores.
Students from other OUSD high schools have also called for ethnic
studies courses. At the October 14 school board meeting, student
director Darius Aikens expressed his interest. “It gives students the
ability to feel powerful,” said Aikens. “I don’t have ethnic studies at
Oakland High, but I would like to have ethnic studies at Oakland High.”
One of the challenges the board has faced as it considered including
ethnic studies in the curriculum at all Oakland high schools is finding
the right teachers for the course. At the October 14 meeting, staffing
was a main concern cited by board members. Director Hinton-Hodge
(District 3) recalled the beginnings of the African American Male
Achievement Initiative in 2010, a program dedicated to addressing the
needs of African American students by offering an after-school mentoring
program focusing on African history and culture. According to Hodge,
before the program was introduced, African American students did not
feel like they were being acknowledged or being given equal access to
opportunities in the general education classrooms.
“Young people, young black boys, didn’t feel as though they were
seen. They didn’t feel like people valued them, they didn’t feel as
though that they could really learn,” Hodge said.
Hodge, who also said she was excited about the possibility of
developing a system-wide ethnic studies curriculum, said she wants
staffing to be carefully considered. “I don’t want to be pessimistic by
any means, but I don’t want to see an investment in a curriculum when
people don’t authentically care … with their heart and really love each
one of our children who walk in there.”
“Not just anybody’s going to be able to teach this,” said Director
Torres (District 5). “So we don’t want anybody saying, ‘Well I need a
job and there’s this opening so I want to do this work.”
Kwon’s students say she is fully invested in creating a welcoming
space for her students. “She’s really passionate about her job—that’s
what makes her so amazing,” said Flores. Both Flores and Kim mentioned
times when they missed class and immediately received a text from Kwon
asking if they were OK.
Compassion like Kwon’s students see in her might benefit any
classroom culture, but for an ethnic studies class, where issues like
privilege and oppression are frequently discussed, sensitivity is key,
Kwon says, and it is important that her classroom remains a safe space.
“So much of ethnic studies is not just the content you teach, but how
you teach it,” said Kwon. “It comes down to your relationships and sort
of the culture you set up in your classroom.”
This piece recently appeared in The Atlantic. There should be no clash between education and assimilation. Bilingual education in our country is more of an issue of politics than evidence. When well staffed, funded, and designed, it works in all the ways that we care about in terms of educational outcomes. If anything, this "debate" has more to do with the dominant group's loss of centrality and a lack of desire to relinquish privilege. Too bad. There is so much to gain from a bilingual and bicultural—indeed multilingual and multicultural—world.
With more than 20 languages
spoken in one eighth-grade classroom, Harlem Village Academy West in
New York City rivals the vibrant cultural and ethnic mix of the United
Nations headquarters, a short trip down the FDR Drive. Spanish,
Mandingo, Fulani, French, Arabic, and other languages come together to
form a tapestry of nationalities. Yet unlike the U.N., the premier
institution representing the peoples of the world, public schools have
not always encouraged children to embrace their heritages. Indeed, as
non-native English speakers, some of the Harlem Village’s
middle-schoolers relate feelings of isolation as younger children solely
based on their attainment of the English language.
a 13-year-old Spanish-speaker who learned English in the third grade,
recalls her earliest years in school as especially difficult amid her
struggles to communicate with peers. “I used to get mad and aggravated
because I couldn’t speak English,” she says. “People were looking at me
as if I were another type of human being.” Her classmates share similar
frustrations. “I felt dumb and left out when we did advanced math
because my teacher wouldn’t let me do it even though I knew I could,”
says Yaye, a bright 14-year-old who speaks Wolof, the most widely spoken
language in Senegal, at home. Yaye says he languished in his K-2
English-as-a-second-language classes, “not progressing or learning.”
Melyanet, also 14, remembers feeling alienated and lonely when she was
in prekindergarten—an age when children often sharpen their social
skills through play. “I would try my best to learn English but it was
hard,” the teen recalls. “No one spoke [Spanish] so I wouldn’t make
friends. I would sit in the back.”
adolescents at Harlem Village are part of a rapidly growing population
of students in America’s public schools with diverse linguistic
backgrounds. Of the 50 million students currently enrolled in public K-12 schools, almost one in four
(12 million) schoolchildren ages 5 to 17 speak a language other than
English at home, according to an analysis of census figures. Their
numbers have inched up over the last decade, along with the percentage
of students participating in English-language-learners programs. Department of Education data
shows this segment of the public-school population is steadily
climbing. Some 4.4 million students—ranging from those who don’t speak
English to those transitioning into full proficiency—were classified as
English language learners in the 2012-13 school year, an increase of
more than 250,000 students over the previous decade.
Even as states struggle to reach a common definition
of what it means to be an English language learner, the proportion of
these students continues to rise—and with it, the temperature of debate
surrounding the purpose and goals of bilingual education. It remains an
unsettled issue that continues to challenge America’s self-image as
welcoming and inclusive: The value of linguistic assimilation is pitted
against the values of a culturally diverse nation of immigrants, leaving
education systems and its students caught in political crosshairs. The
divide is exacerbated by financially strapped schools with skyrocketing
numbers of English learners—meeting all of the mandates for their education can be expensive—and
the national discourse on immigration, which saw the 2016 presidential
contender Donald Trump advise his competitor Jeb Bush to “really set the example by speaking English while in the United States.”
trace today’s fraught bilingual-education politics back to the
Bilingual Education Act, which was adopted in 1968 to aid local school
districts in educating children with limited English. At the bill signing,
President Lyndon B. Johnson voiced his enthusiasm for a law that would
bring an unprecedented federal role and funds to the education of
children whose first language wasn’t English:
Thousands of children of Latin descent, young [Native
Americans], and others will get a better start—a better chance—in school
… What this law means is that we are now giving every child in America a
better chance to touch his outermost limits—to reach the farthest edge
of his talents and his dreams. We have begun a campaign to unlock the
full potential of every boy and girl—regardless of his race or his
region or his father's income.
Yet bilingual education’s cultural, social, and historical dimensions date
back well over a century before Johnson signed his landmark education law. In
recounting the history of bilingual
education, Rethinking Schools chronicles the earliest efforts to teach
immigrant students. The first bilingual-education law, enacted in Ohio in 1839,
created a German-English language program and was followed by similar laws in
Louisiana and the New Mexico area geared around French-English and
Spanish-English instruction, respectively. As the trend accelerated, more
states and localities began dual instruction in an array of languages,
including Polish, Italian, Norwegian, and Cherokee. The onset of World War
I—and its accompanying era of xenophobia, discrimination against language
minorities, and English-only laws—quickly brought this trajectory to an end.
This pattern continued through the 1920s as the tension between forced assimilation
and educationally sound practices continued—and as the academic performance of
students with limited English skills began to suffer. The passage of the
Bilingual Education Act, part of a wave of civil-rights legislation pushed
through Congress by the Johnson administration, ushered in a major shift once
again and a return to bilingual instruction in many of the nation’s schools.
But as the Act was reauthorized in the 1980s and ‘90s and then subsumed under No Child
Left Behind in 2002, national policy seesawed between prioritizing
multilingual skills and an English-only focus.
Today, schools are still twisting in the wind of politics, with 31 states passing laws naming English the official language over the last two centuries and voters in California, Arizona, and Massachusetts
approving ballot measures in recent decades that replace bilingual
education with English-only policies. Meanwhile, a growing contingent of
educators are promoting the cultivation of bilingualism to support the
social and emotional needs of English language learners.
Kagan, a languages and cultures professor at UCLA and director of the
university’s National Heritage Language Resource Center, has studied the
implications of denying students the ability to communicate in their
parents’ native language. “Many of these students have no literacy in
the language they speak,” she wrote in a December 2014 Los Angeles Times op-ed. “And that is a problem.”
than ignoring English in the classroom, Kagan calls for capitalizing on
the language skills students already have and taking their background
knowledge into account. “I think the main roadblock is societal attitude
to bilingualism ... We lose much of the nation’s capacity in languages
by letting go of this resource,” she told me recently. And the various
benefits for students are evident. Kagan’s survey of California college students
found many “heritage speakers” wished to study their home language at
school to connect with their culture, build their literacy, and
strengthen their bonds with relatives.
Driving much of the decision-making in English-language instruction are myths that need debunking,
says Rusul Alrubail, an education consultant whose work focuses on
English-language learners and pedagogical practices in the classroom.
“Banning [a child’s] first language often creates a negative impact ... a
sense of divide for students between their first language, often used
at home, and English. We see students who refuse to be associated with
their first language, or refuse to speak it or acknowledge that they
know it, due to them feeling ashamed ... This impacts their cultural
the consequences, says Alrubail, are when students internalize the
notion that their first language is inferior—with English becoming the
language of assimilation—and when some immigrant families specifically
ask their kids not to speak in their first language at home in an effort
to ensure their children conform to Western culture. Interestingly, research finds mixing languages
has no impact on children’s vocabulary development. But the pressure
from teachers and schools, enshrined in policy and practices, can be
teachers believe that in order to learn English one must assimilate to
American culture and abandon one's own cultural practices,” Alrubail
said. “This is always a result of fear and anxiety; when students do not
meet their expectation of what it means to be ‘American,’ it becomes
imperative to speak English.”
upshot of this mindset is seen in Amadou, a 13-year-old at Harlem
Village who speaks Fulani, a Niger-Congo language spoken by 13 million
people in many parts of in West, Central, and North Africa. “Nobody
spoke my language except in my home [so] I would only try to speak
English so they wouldn’t look at me differently. I wanted to fit in with
everyone else and be the same,” he says. Will his native language, rich
in tradition and heritage, soon slip away as the middle-schooler slowly
simmers in America’s melting pot?
Important read for the adherents of standardized, test-based measurement from FORMER nationally-renowned specialist, Arizona State University Professor Dr. Gene Glass. Concise quote on why he's defecting from the field of measurement:
The degrading of public education has involved impugning its
effectiveness, cutting its budget, and busting its unions. Educational
measurement has been the perfect tool for accomplishing all three: cheap
and scientific looking.
The only thing that I might add is that it is important for progressives to study psychometrics so that they can critique/challenge from within. But I totally get it that once one is in this community, it can be very seductive to the point that one can abandon one's original commitments to equity. Not in Gene's case though. He's simply defecting. Check out Gene Glass' blog here. -Angela
I was introduced to psychometrics in 1959. I thought it was really neat.
By 1960, I was programming a computer on a psychometrics research
project funded by the Office of Naval Research. In 1962, I entered
graduate school to study educational measurement under the top scholars
in the field.
My mentors – both those I spoke with daily and those whose works I read –
had served in WWII. Many did research on human factors — measuring
aptitudes and talents and matching them to jobs. Assessments showed who
were the best candidates to be pilots or navigators or marksmen. We were
told that psychometrics had won the war; and of course, we believed it.
The next wars that psychometrics promised it could win were the wars on
poverty and ignorance. The man who led the Army Air Corps effort in
psychometrics started a private research center. (It exists today, and
is a beneficiary of the millions of dollars spent on Common Core
testing.) My dissertation won the 1966 prize in Psychometrics awarded by
that man’s organization. And I was hired to fill the slot recently
vacated by the world’s leading psychometrician at the University of
Illinois. Psychometrics was flying high, and so was I.
Psychologists of the 1960s & 1970s were saying that just measuring
talent wasn’t enough. Talents had to be matched with the demands of
tasks to optimize performance. Measure a learning style, say, and match
it to the way a child is taught. If Jimmy is a visual learner, then
teach Jimmy in a visual way. Psychometrics promised to help build a
better world. But twenty years later, the promises were still
unfulfilled. Both talent and tasks were too complex to yield to this
simple plan. Instead, psychometricians grew enthralled with mathematical
niceties. Testing in schools became a ritual without any real purpose
other than picking a few children for special attention.
Around 1980, I served for a time on the committee that made most of the
important decisions about the National Assessment of Educational
Progress. The project was under increasing pressure to “grade” the NAEP
results: Pass/Fail; A/B/C/D/F; Advanced/Proficient/Basic. Our committee held firm: such grading was purely arbitrary, and worse, would only be used politically.
The contract was eventually taken from our organization and given to
another that promised it could give the nation a grade, free of
politics. It couldn’t.
Measurement has changed along with the nation. In the last three
decades, the public has largely withdrawn its commitment to public
education. The reasons are multiple: those who pay for public schools
have less money, and those served by the public schools look less and
less like those paying taxes.
The degrading of public education has involved impugning its
effectiveness, cutting its budget, and busting its unions. Educational
measurement has been the perfect tool for accomplishing all three: cheap
and scientific looking.
International tests have purported to prove that America’s schools are
inefficient or run by lazy incompetents. Paper-and-pencil tests
seemingly show that kids in private schools – funded by parents – are
smarter than kids in public schools. We’ll get to the top, so the story
goes, if we test a teacher’s students in September and June and fire
that teacher if the gains aren’t great enough.
There has been resistance, of course. Teachers and many parents
understand that children’s development is far too complex to capture
with an hour or two taking a standardized test. So resistance has been
met with legislated mandates. The test company lobbyists convince
politicians that grading teachers and schools is as easy as grading cuts
of meat. A huge publishing company from the UK has spent $8 million in
the past decade lobbying Congress. Politicians believe that testing must
be the cornerstone of any education policy.
The results of this cronyism between corporations and politicians have
been chaotic. Parents see the stress placed on their children and report
them sick on test day. Educators, under pressure they see as
illegitimate, break the rules imposed on them by governments. Many
teachers put their best judgment and best lessons aside and drill
children on how to score high on multiple-choice tests. And too many of
the best teachers exit the profession.
When measurement became the instrument of accountability, testing
companies prospered and schools suffered. I have watched this happen for
several years now. I have slowly withdrawn my intellectual commitment
to the field of measurement. Recently I asked my dean to switch my
affiliation from the measurement program to the policy program. I am no
longer comfortable being associated with the discipline of educational
Gene V Glass
Arizona State University
National Education Policy Center
University of Colorado Boulder
The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not
represent the official position of the National Education Policy Center,
Arizona State University, nor the University of Colorado Boulder.
Whereas the entire Mini-Corps program in California is arguably praiseworthy, the one
getting recognition was this one at Cal State Fresno led by Mini-Corps coordinators Lilly Lomeli and Jose Mejia. Specifically, they were recently recognized by the White House as one of the 2015 "Bright Spots in Hispanic Education" initiative. The proposal itself was written by Dr. Alice Ginsberg, Assistant Director for Research, Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania. Bright Spots in Hispanic Education identifies and highlights "asset-based, solution-oriented innovations that are helping close the achievement gap for Latinos." The Mini-Corps teachers get a minimum of 3,000 hours of field experiences before they enter the classroom and they get taught an advanced teacher preparatory curriculum that additionally prepares them well for graduate school should they decide to take their education further. Home visits to migrant worker families' homes are a regular feature of this program. The teachers themselves emanate from migrant worker households.
In existence since 1967, this program has deep roots in the Central Valley and in the state of California, generally, considering that there are 22 program sites. The coordinators themselves are products of this program. University professors, researchers, and state leadership has grown out of this program. Such a beautiful story all of this. Everybody's eyes light up when they talk about it and the varied, multiple, and exponential ways that it has contributed to the well being of so many Mexican-origin, children, families, and communities, lifting them up out of poverty and uncertain futures. With such great programs like these, we do not need to outsource teacher preparation to the for-profit sector. We need programs like these that are grounded in our communities and that grow our own teachers. Children need to see teachers that look like them in their classrooms, who share their experiences, languages, and community-based identities. This is one such program that is making a difference in the world. Their hard-earned, mostly under-recognized, and under-funded efforts have nevertheless harvested—and promise to continue harvesting—an abundant, life-giving future to "the least of these." Angela Valenzuela c/s
Fresno State’s Mini-Corps
Program was recognized by the White House for helping to close the
achievement gap among Latino students.
Mini-Corps is a statewide program
that was founded in 1967 and is designed to provide instructional
services to migrant students in grades K-12 with the help of trained
Mini-Corps coordinators Lilly Lomeli and Jose Mejia were both ecstatic when they heard the news. “I wanted to scream,” said Lomeli when she found out the program received White House recognition.
“We’re really happy that we got that
recognition,” Mejia said. “It just shows the amount of work students do,
the impact that they have and what the program has become.”
The online report, “Bright Spots in
Hispanic Education Fulfilling America’s Future,” was released on Sept.
15 by the White House. The goal of the report is to highlight the
efforts that programs, models, organizations and initiatives have done
across the county to help support Latino education and excellence. More
than 230 programs were featured on the report.
“It’s a small program, but it has a big impact,” Lomeli said.
The University of Pennsylvania nominated Fresno State’s Mini-Corps Program for the White House honors.
“We work closely with some professors there and that’s how we got connected with them,” Lomeli said.
“We got a grant through the
University of Pennsylvania. So they came and they interviewed our
students, interviewed us and they recognized this was a good program,
especially for future teachers.” Mejia said the University of
Pennsylvania recorded Fresno State’s Mini-Corps Program information,
wrote it all up and then submitted it.
“They felt that it was a great
program, and that it should be recognized,” he said. “I think they saw
the process students go through and the support they get here. The end
result is not only positive but very high in terms of our students
graduating and actually acquiring their teaching credentials.”
I am re-posting this from Valerie Strauss' blog, the Answer Sheet. This should cause folks in Austin and other places that are gentrifying—to consider the agendas behind gentrification:
Black inner-city residents
are suspicious of school reform (particularly when it is attached to
neighborhood revitalization) which they view as an imposition from
external white elites who are exclusively committed to using schools to
recalculate urban land values at the expense of black children, parents
Here is a link to the book titled, The Color of School Reform" (1999) mentioned in this piece. -Angela
(Correction: Fixing publication date for book, and removing quote attributed to book)
Here is a provocative piece from Leslie T. Fenwick,
dean of the Howard University School of Education and a professor of
education policy, about what is really behind urban school reform. It’s
not about fixing schools, she argues, but, rather, about urban land
development. Fenwick has devoted her career to improving educational
opportunity and outcomes for African American and other under-served
By Leslie T. Fenwick
truth can be used to tell a lie. The truth is that black parents’
frustration with the quality of public schools is at an all time
righteous high. Though black and white parents’ commitment to their
child’s schooling is comparable, more black parents report
dissatisfaction with the school their child attends. Approximately 90
percent of black and white parents report attending parent teacher
association meetings and nearly 80 percent of black and white parents
report attending teacher conferences. Despite these similarities, fewer
black parents (47 percent) than white parents (64 percent) report being
very satisfied with the school their child attends. This dissatisfaction
among black parents is so whether these parents are college-educated,
high income, or poor.
The lie is that schemes like Teach For America, charter schools backed by venture capitalists, education management organizations (EMOs), and Broad Foundation-prepared
superintendents address black parents concerns about the quality of
public schools for their children. These schemes are not designed to
cure what ails under-performing schools. They are designed to shift tax
dollars away from schools serving black and poor students; displace
authentic black educational leadership; and erode national commitment to
the ideal of public education.
Consider these facts: With a
median household income of nearly $75,000, Prince George’s County is the
wealthiest majority black county in the United States. Nearly 55
percent of the county’s businesses are black-owned and almost 70 percent
of residents own homes, according to the U.S. Census. One of Prince
George’s County’s easternmost borders is a mere six minutes from
Washington, D.C., which houses the largest population of
college-educated blacks in the nation. In the United States, a general
rule of thumb is that communities with higher family incomes and
parental levels of education have better public schools. So, why is it
that black parents living in the upscale Woodmore or Fairwood estates of
Prince George’s County or the tony Garden District homes up 16th
Street in Washington D.C. struggle to find quality public schools for
their children just like black parents in Syphax Gardens, the southwest
D.C. public housing community?
The answer is this: Whether they
are solidly middle- or upper-income or poor, neither group of blacks
controls the critical economic levers shaping school reform. And, this
is because urban school reform is not about schools or reform. It is
about land development.
In most urban centers like Washington
D.C. and Prince George’s County, black political leadership does not
have independent access to the capital that drives land development.
These resources are still controlled by white male economic elites.
Additionally, black elected local officials by necessity must interact
with state and national officials. The overwhelming majority of these
officials are white males who often enact policies and create funding
streams benefiting their interests and not the local black community’s
The authors of “The Color of School Reform” affirm this assertion in their study of school reform in Baltimore, Detroit and Atlanta. They found:
key figures promoting broad efficiency-oriented reform initiatives [for
urban schools] were whites who either lived in the suburbs or sent
their children to private schools (Henig et al, 2001).
control of public schools (through elected school boards) is supposed
to empower parents and community residents. This rarely happens in
school districts serving black and poor students. Too often people
intent on exploiting schools for their own personal gain short circuit
the work of deep and lasting school and community uplift. Mayoral
control, Teach for America, education management organizations and
venture capital-funded charter schools have not garnered much grassroots
support or enthusiasm among lower- and middle-income black parents
whose children attend urban schools because these parents often view
these schemes as uninformed by their community and disconnected from the
best interest of their children.
In the most recent cases of
Washington D.C. and Chicago, black parents and other community members
point to school closings as verification of their distrust of school
“reform” efforts. Indeed, mayoral control has been linked to an emerging
pattern of closing and disinvesting in schools that serve black poor
students and reopening them as charters operated by education management
organizations and backed by venture capitalists. While mayoral control
proposes to expand educational opportunities for black and poor
students, more-often-than-not new schools are placed in upper-income,
gentrifying white areas of town, while more schools are closed
and fewer new schools are opened in lower-income, black areas thus
increasing the level of educational inequity. Black inner-city residents
are suspicious of school reform (particularly when it is attached to
neighborhood revitalization) which they view as an imposition from
external white elites who are exclusively committed to using schools to
recalculate urban land values at the expense of black children, parents
So, what is the answer to improving schools for
black children? Elected officials must advocate for equalizing state
funding formula so that urban school districts garner more financial
resources to hire credentialed and committed teachers and stabilize
principal and superintendent leadership. Funding makes a difference.
Black students who attend schools where 50 percent of more of the
children are on free/reduced lunch are 70 percent more likely to have an
uncertified teacher (or one without a college major or minor in the
subject area) teaching them four subjects: math, science, social studies
and English. How can the nation continue to raise the bar on what we
expect students to know and demonstrate on standardized tests and lower
the bar on who teaches them?
the nation’s inner cities are dotted with coffee shop chains, boutique
furniture stores, and the skyline changes from public housing to
high-rise condominium buildings, listen to the refrain about school
reform sung by some intimidated elected officials and submissive
superintendents. That refrain is really about exporting the urban poor,
reclaiming inner city land, and using schools to recalculate urban land
value. This kind of school reform is not about children, it’s about the
business elite gaining access to the nearly $600 billion that supports
the nation’s public schools. It’s about money.
Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
Emotional control and the brain. Could you learn to have better control of your emotions? A 2013 study in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that a certain type of working memory training can help people regulate their emotions in high-stress situations.
The link between emotion and working memory Emotional control, or the ability to regulate your emotional responses and stay focused on a goal, helps determine success in personal relationships as well as in professional ones. The researchers in this study noted that emotional control and working memory rely upon some of the same brain areas, including the frontoparietal area and the amygdala. Since these two functions share brain pathways, they posited that strengthening one could strengthen the other.
Working memory, your ability to store and use multiple pieces of information at once, is a skill drawn upon in many aspects of daily life. Every time you mentally calculate a tip while splitting a bill or hold on to your original train of thought when interrupted, you use your working memory. Special emotion-oriented working memory training Researchers divided the study’s 34 participants into two groups: one trained working memory for 20 days, while the other placebo group played simple games for 20 days.
The group that trained worked with a special version of the dual n-back task, a common neuropsychological task used in many studies. The traditional dual n-back task has people observe sequences of two types of stimuli, typically an image and a sound. People must compare the current item with what they heard or saw 1, 2, 3, or more trials ago.
Researchers added a twist to the dual n-back task to refocus it on emotions. Training participants heard words that evoked strong emotional reactions (dead, evil, rape) and saw images of people making negative facial expressions (fear, anger, disgust).
Training helped lower emotional distress After 20 days, all participants watched a series of emotionally disturbing films on topics such as war, famine, or accidents. While watching, participants were asked to either control their emotions or not attempt any control.
As a group, those trained working memory self-reported less distress when they watched the disturbing films while trying to control their emotions. Self-reported distress was significantly higher in the placebo group. Furthermore, fMRI brain scans showed that those who trained working memory also had different patterns of brain activation.
The future of emotional training The ability to rein in your emotions and keep a cool head is crucial to success in many avenues of life. While there are still many open questions about emotional control, this study suggests that researchers may find a clue by exploring its relation to other well-studied brain functions. The more we learn, the better we may be able to help people understand not only their intellectual capabilities but also other aspects of their cognitive well-being.
Why we should focus on today's kindergartners and earlier ages:
“Today's kindergartners will be in their early 40s by 2050, when Latinos are expected to comprise nearly a third of the US population. Thus, the strength of the country's future workforce will depend on today's investments in facilitating their academic journey.” (p. 22)
Today’s kindergartners offer a glimpse of tomorrow’s demographics. A
new data analysis by Pew Research Center finds a big increase over the
past decade in the number of states where at least one-in-five public
school kindergartners are Latino.
There are 17 states where Latino children comprise at least 20% of
the public school kindergarten population, according to our analysis of
2012 Census Bureau data. By comparison, just eight states had such a
composition a decade earlier, in 2000.
At 54 million, Hispanics are the largest minority group. They make up 17% of the nation’s population, and have dispersed across the nation. The states where at least one-in-five kindergartners are Hispanic include some states with historically few Hispanic immigrants,
such as Nebraska, Idaho and Washington. In Kansas and Oregon, fully
one-in-four kindergartners are Hispanic, the same share as in New York,
which has the fourth-largest Hispanic population in the country.
Fueled in part by Hispanic population growth, there may be more
minorities in classrooms when school starts this fall (among them
blacks, Asians and Hispanics) than white students nationwide in K-12
public schools, according to U.S. Department of Education projections.
In 2014, some 50.3% of students are projected to be minorities. That’s a
sharp increase from 1997, when minorities made up just 36.7% of
Minorities also are expected to become the majority in the United
States in the coming decades. Minorities today make up about 37% of the
overall population, with the share projected to increase to 57% by 2060,
according to the Census Bureau. Among people of all ages, there are
four states where minorities make up a majority of the
population—California, Hawaii, New Mexico and Texas.
Looking ahead, nearly half of babies born in the U.S. today are a racial or ethnic minority, though they are not yet a majority. The number of Hispanics has increased in recent years primarily due to births, as the number of Hispanic immigrants has stalled after four decades of rapid growth. In 2012, one-in-four of the nation’s newborns were Hispanic. By 2060, Hispanics are projected to make up 31% of the overall U.S. population.
Trying to keep up with the trends. Here's an earlier piece by Anna Brown that I published on my blog to add to this one. Here's another related piece on kindergarten demographics by Jens Manuel Krogstad, 2014.
February 26, 2014
The U.S. Hispanic population has increased sixfold since 1970
The U.S. Hispanic population in 2012 was 53,027,708, nearly six times the population in 1970.
The Hispanic population grew to 53 million in 2012, a 50% increase
since 2000 and nearly six times the population in 1970, according to the
most recent U.S. Census Bureau data.
Meanwhile, the overall U.S. population increased by only 12% from 2000
to 2012. Hispanic population growth accounted for more than half of the
country’s growth in this time period.
Much of the growth is occurring in a relatively small geographic area. A Pew Research Center analysis
last year found that the 10 largest counties by Hispanic population
accounted for 22% of the national Hispanic population growth between
2000 and 2011. Half of these counties are located in California.
Nationally, Mexicans are the largest Hispanic origin group but the
composition of origin groups varies by geographic area. For example,
while Mexicans represent a majority of Hispanics in all but 11 states,
Puerto Ricans are the largest group in New York and New Jersey and
Cubans are most populous in Florida.
The demographics of each origin group
vary significantly. For example, Hispanics of Mexican origin are the
youngest out of the 14 largest origin groups, with a median age of 25,
compared with Cubans’ median age of 40. Venezuelans are the most likely
to have a college degree (51%), compared with 7% of both Guatemalans
This piece provides a fairly comprehensive look at what many see as a renaissance of indigeneity or indigenous identity in the U.S. One wonders about the impact of DNA analysis, too, that is awakening folks to it. It's an imprecise science but it improves with more people doing their estimates, as well as with picking a vendor that produces valid results. I found this piece by Roberta Estes along these lines to be the most helpful in this regard.
Young Tarahumaran girls in northern Mexico. By: Santi Llobet / www.flickr.com License: Creative Commons License (By SA 2.0)
Mexican-American Indians now make up the fourth largest
tribal group in the United States, following the Cherokee, Navajo, and
Choctaw, according to the US Census.
A US Census brief, titled “The American Indian and Native Population:
2010,” states that there are 175,494 Mexican-American Indians
nationwide, 14,435 in Texas, and 578 in El Paso County.
These figures do not include members of the Tigua tribe in El Paso. As of 2012, there were 1,717 members of the tribe.
According to a July 3, 2011 New York Times article, “The
trend is part of a demographic growth taking place nationwide of
Hispanics using ‘American Indian’ to identify their race. The number of
Amerindians—a blanket term for indigenous people of the Americas, North
and South—who also identify themselves as Hispanic has tripled since
2000, to 1.2 million from 400,000.”
The “Mexican” category is a subset of the “Hispanic” category under US Census rules.
Dr. Howard Campbell, a professor of anthropology at UTEP, said that there are various factors that may attribute to the growth of people self-identifying as Mexican-American Indians.
One factor may be the US Census itself. “It’s making it possible for
many to identify with more labels, such as black and Hispanic, and so
forth,” said Dr. Campbell. However, he said that calling
Mexican-American Indians a “tribe” can be misleading.
“Given that Mexico is a Mestizo country, most people of Mexican
descent are part Indian. They just don’t convalesce as a unit as they do
in the US. Mexican Indian isn’t considered Native American in the US.
It becomes a symbolical matter rather than a political one,” he said.
Another factor at play may be growing pride of indigenous ancestry in
the Mexican-American community, said Dr. Campbell. “We know that
Indians in the past were terribly mistreated, but now people are
starting to realize that the culture is important. There is a growing
pride of indigenous people here and in Mexico. And that’s a good thing.”
An additional reason for the growth of people indentifying as Mexican-American Indian may stem from the growth of awareness.
Spencer Herrera is an associate professor for the Department of
Languages and Linguistics at New Mexico State University with a focus on
Chicano Literature. He talked about a local group of people from New
Mexico beginning to identify as American Indian, known as the Genizaros.
In 2010, Herrera helped host a symposium titled, “Los Comanches de
los Ranchos de Taos: An Hispanicized Native American Cultural
Tradition.” The symposium consisted of exhibitions and cultural dances
by the Genizaros.
He mentioned that many Genizaros are aware of their Native American
heritage, but are shy about it because they are not recognized by other
Native American groups. Although they are recognized as a tribe by the
state, they have yet to be recognized nationally.
“The Genizaros took on Hispanic last names, but throughout history,
they have been able to maintain their culture,” said Herrera. “It’s a
weird thing to be Genizaro. They speak Spanish, but they’re not accepted
by other Indians because they don’t have papers. They’re kind of a
group to their own.”
A Certificate of Degree of Indian or Alaska Native Blood (CDIB) is required in order to become an enrolled member of a federally recognized Indian tribe.
Herrera is hoping to spread more awareness with another symposium in the coming years.
“A lot of people don’t accept Genizaros because they don’t have BIA
(Bureau of Indian Affairs) papers. They don’t need papers to know (who
they) are. They look Hispanic, but they’re still Indian. They live it.
They practice it.”
Another critical factor attributing to the growth of Mexican-American
Indians is the growing numbers of indigenous immigrants from Mexico,
especially in California, New York, and Florida.
According to a Census Bureau American Community Survey, 70 percent of American Indians in New York are of Hispanic origin.
In another example, the Indigenous Farmworker Study or IFS—a
partnership conceived by California Rural Legal Assistance and Dr. Rick
Mines—found that California is home to 120,000 indigenous Mexican
farmworkers. The research notes that the figure may actually be higher,
because it doesn’t include those who work outside of the agriculture
One other factor attributing to the growth of Mexican-American
Indians is the changing demographics of Mexican migrants due to the
effects of NAFTA, or North American Free Trade Agreement, which was implemented in 1994.
According to a report by Public Citizen, a nonprofit organization
based in Washington, DC, “NAFTA-required changes have resulted in
millions of Mexican peasant farmers leaving their small farms and their
livelihoods and being forced to migrate. Projections range up to 15
million displaced Mexican small farmers because of NAFTA’s agriculture
The World Bank reports that between 1994 and 2004, Mexico’s
indigenous population was predominantly rural and lived in small
communities of fewer than 15,000 people.
“While only 35 percent of the non-indigenous population lives in
rural areas, over 72 percent of the indigenous population lives in rural
communities,” the World Bank states.
The World Bank goes on to say that in 2002, 89.7 percent of Mexico’s indigenous peoples lived in poverty.
In a February 2003 discussion paper, the International Fund for Agricultural Development or IFAD,
a United Nations financial institution, said that poor indigenous
peoples in Mexico and other Latin American countries are an at-risk
“They are also among the most vulnerable and marginalized of the rural poor,” the paper says.
The Census Bureau plans to release a report consisting of the latest
estimate of Mexican-American Indians in the El Paso area this coming
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: October 29, 2013
A quote from Spencer Herrera, associate professor for the
Department of Languages and Linguistics at New Mexico State University,
was corrected to reflect his view that Genizaros appear Hispanic, not
Such a beautiful song by Cuban Artist Carlos Varela that calls for peace and reconciliation. Behind all the fractures in families and identities that are largely artifacts of unjust government policies and actions are family photos and the enduring, tender memories that they inscribe. So very touching.
This is the first of three episodes on youtube.com that you can view in sequence.
"Kids for Cash" is a must see, very disturbing documentary if you've not seen it. Here is Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! covering it on her program. It tells the story of Pennsylvania, school-age children being summarily handcuffed and dragged out of the courtroom for truly minor infractions before bewildered, astonished parents that had been previously discouraged from getting attorneys in their children's defense. In 2008, executive director of the Juvenile Law Center, Robert Schwartz,was able to investigate this and unearth this horrific practice of kickbacks to the tune of $2.6 million from Robert Mericle and Robert Powell, co-owners of two private, for-profitjuvenile facilities. The corrupt judge behind this scandal is named Mark Aurthur Ciavarella, Jr. He received a 28-year sentence in federal prison and is now doing time at the Federal Correctional Institution, Williamsburg in Salters, South Carolina. In this report, Goodman engages the voices of youth and parents left with shattered lives and indelible scars in the aftermath of this injustice. Also see the Wikipedia article by its same title, "Kids for Cash Scandal." It is important to bring these scandals to light so that parents and the public, in general, can not only grasp the powerful, for-profit interests that influence the adjudication of crime—with this as an extreme case (the very same interests that drive undocumented immigrant detention), but also so that they can act more wisely and intelligently on their children's behalf. Children and parents do have rights to an attorney and an appeal whenever appearing before a judge; and they should never be so trusting. I did a quick search and here is one site that provides a checklist of rights in the event that you or your son/daughter gets arrested. Angela Valenzuela c/s
UT's Dr. Adair is doing important research that exposes the deficit assumptions of many classroom teachers of Latino/a youth that is further justified in terms of an emerging "word gap" discourse. Quote from within:
If we decide to label children by what they are not, rather than who
they are and the capabilities they can expand then we are stuck blaming
children for what we don't think they can handle. If we continue
to use word gap language for describing young children, we are just as
misleading as Texas textbooks in how we label people. Children deserve multiple and sophisticated learning experience. Let's be responsible with our words.
Rather than helping children, this discourse has unfortunately further solidified deficit assumptions. We should consider instead our children's funds of knowledge and their cultural community wealth, and most seriously, the gulf in sociocultural awareness and knowledge that largely exists between our schools and the children's communities from which they emanate. Our communities of color also need to be much more involved in their children's education where education and self-determination are adjoined goals.
Updated: Over the past few years, in my role as an early education professor
and anthropologist, I have increasingly witnessed children being labeled
at higher and higher costs. And this is happening younger and younger.
Young children in preK are put into red, yellow and green categories of reading success as early as age 4.
newest label comes from the word gap argument which is supposed to
alert everyone to the idea that young children from poor families begin
school at a disadvantage because by the time are 3 years old they have
heard thirty million fewer words.
Perhaps this doesn't seem like a
serious labeling problem. After all, if we let everyone know that poor
children will hear fewer words, then the adults in their lives will be
motivated to talk and read to them more.
This is not what's happening so far.
Instead, like textbooks in Texas, the word gap argument
is glossing over the very real historical and complicated understanding
of the causes of poverty that should blame leaders and systemic
inequities, rather than on the children and families. And it fails
to recognize how White upper middle class versions of speaking and/or
communicating with children are somehow inherently better than other
Despite such deficit attitudes towards families, the word gap argument is finding a powerful fan base.
The word gap has received extensive media coverage over the past two years. This includes tremendous support from the White House, national early childhood advocacy groups and major foundations.
This mostly positive reception masks or perhaps is naïve to, as I was,
to how the word gap may be used to deny children in poverty important
early learning experiences.
I was first alerted to this problem
when I realized that teachers, principals and school officials in my
latest early childhood education research study have
been using this word gap language to articulate why they can't or don't
give poor children of color dynamic, sophisticated, creative learning
experiences. In my work, I make films of classrooms where mostly Latino
children of immigrants get to make a lot of decisions, conduct research
on their own, gather input and ideas from their classmates, discuss
ideas and share stories, resolve conflicts and design projects.
every single time I show these films to teachers and principals at
schools that mostly serve Latino immigrant and/or low-income
communities, they say that the kinds of learning in the films are good
but would not work in their classrooms.
"It seems nice but it would not work at our school. Our kids don't have the vocabulary to do that."
of interviews with more than 100 teachers and administrators, almost
every single group referred to a lack of words as being the reason to
withhold dynamic learning experiences. Not because they believe other
types of learning would be better. Not because of testing. Now, the
rationale is about the children's lack of vocabulary.
enormous pressure with little autonomy, teachers who work in low-income
schools are often pushed to deliver the same literacy outcomes with
fewer resources. In schools across the country, there is an increasingly
narrowed curriculum for many young children but disproportionately for
children in poverty. Children who could benefit from multiple, routine
experiences to learn through curiosity and cooperative,
interdisciplinary types of learning are most often in classroom settings
where they sit and memorize and follow directions.
And yet it is
the same learning experiences in the early grades that will develop
their vocabulary along with a host of other important academic,
cognitive and social capabilities.
If we focus a great deal of attention on word count deficiencies rather than the resilience,
funds of knowledge and potential capabilities of children and families
struggling in poverty, then we will most surely deny them the learning
experiences we offer those without those struggles.
If we decide
to label children by what they are not, rather than who they are and the
capabilities they can expand then we are stuck blaming children for
what we don't think they can handle.
If we continue to use word
gap language for describing young children, we are just as misleading as
Texas textbooks in how we label people.
Children deserve multiple and sophisticated learning experience. Let's be responsible with our words.