The world is adrift in the tides of hunger and desolation. It is difficult to think about education, or anything else, when your children are not able to eat. And yet, the sharp attack on education during this past decade forces us to consider the kind of future that young people will inherit. In 2018, before the pandemic, the United Nations calculated that 258 million, or one in six, school age children were out of school. By March 2020, the start of the pandemic, UNESCO estimated that 1.5 billion children and youth were affected by school closures; a staggering 91% of students worldwide had their education disrupted by the lockdowns. A new UN study released in June 2022 has found that the number of children experiencing distress in their education has nearly tripled since 2016, rising from 75 million to 222 million today.
Nearly two months after tests revealed tainted water coming from the faucets at more than a half dozen public schools, health officials say it’s still not safe to use the tap. The schools are all on the Navy’s water lines, which are contaminated with fuel from the Red Hill underground storage facility. There is no timeline for when the taps will be turned back on. To get by, school staff have been hauling bottles of water into classrooms and setting up sanitation stations so students can wash their hands. All the disruption has even the youngest keiki asking questions. “They asked me why did they put the tanks by the water. Didn’t they know it was poison. Who is going to save the water? And how can we save the water,” said kindergarten teacher Malia Rossetti.
Havana - “If you build it, they will come,” said Kevin Costner in the Field of Dreams. In Cuba, they didn’t come. Dissidents on the island, with their U.S. backers, had been working feverishly for months to turn the unprecedented July 11 protests into a crescendo of government opposition on November 15. They built a formidable structure, with sophisticated social media (including an abundance of fake news), piles of cash from Cuban Americans and the U.S. government, and declarations of support from a bipartisan Congress and all the way up to the White House. Even after the Cuban government denied the protesters a permit on the grounds that they were part of a destabilization campaign led by the United States, anti-government forces insisted that they were undeterred and were ready to take the risks.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has signed executive orders barring transgender athletes from women’s sports in the state. “Only girls should play girls’ sports,” Noem tweeted on Monday. “Given the legislature’s failure to accept my proposed revisions to HB 1217, I am immediately signing two executive orders to address this issue: one to protect fairness in K-12 athletics, and another to do so in college athletics.” The executive orders direct the state’s Department of Education and Board of Regents to align its policies so only those who are biologically female can participate in women’s sports. Last week, Noem refused to sign the GOP bill barring transgender athletes from women’s sports.
London, UK - Closing the roads around schools to traffic at pick-up and drop-off times has reduced polluting nitrogen dioxide levels by up to 23 per cent and is strongly supported by parents, new research published by the Mayor Sadiq Khan reveals. To measure the air quality benefits of the new School Streets, 30 cutting-edge sensors from the Breathe London network were installed at 18 primary schools across Brent, Enfield and Lambeth to record nitrogen dioxide levels. The air quality monitoring project, funded by FIA Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, was launched in September 2020 to give the most accurate indication yet of how the School Streets scheme is working. Since April 2020, almost 350 School Streets have been delivered across London with funding from Transport for London (TfL) and the boroughs to tackle children’s exposure to air pollution and improve their health.
In the third season of Black Lightning, the fictional Black city of Freeland was living under a military occupation by the ASA (the quasi governmental organization occupying Freeland). Not only did the city have heavily armed troopers patrolling the streets, but also had troopers patrolling the schools– detaining anyone they deemed a threat – using violence if necessary. In episode four, students are in a classroom discussing similar military occupations in multiple countries around the world and their harmful effects on the people being occupied. Some students agree, but then others claim the ASA occupying their city might be a good thing, suggesting that the ASA’s presence comes with safety. As they are discussing, the ASA comes into the classroom to detain (and abduct) a student named Tavon, under the suspicion of having powers.
Since the end of the draft in 1973, the U.S. has relied on an all-volunteer service to maintain its 1.3 million-member global police force. Over the years the military has used a number of different recruitment methods, but the target audience has always been the same: high schoolers. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 significantly changed how military recruiters reach teenagers. Section 9528 mandates public high schools give military recruiters the same access to students that college recruiters get, including their personal contact information. Schools became gold mines for recruiting “future soldiers.” Recruiters at my high school in Fairfax County, Virginia always set up shop in the cafeteria. For the next two hours, they would sit through the four different lunch periods and give their spiel to whoever was curious enough to stop at their station.
Within weeks, the reopening of schools across the United States has already become a complete catastrophe. Outside of the mobilization of educators, parents and the broader working class to halt this homicidal policy, there will be rapid acceleration of the spread of the deadly COVID-19 disease throughout every region of the country. Because no government agency at the local, state or federal level is systematically tracking work-related COVID-19 cases and deaths, Kansas teacher Alisha Morris took it upon herself to begin compiling this data in a spreadsheet. The list, which is now curated by roughly 35 people, has been shared in the dozens of Facebook groups that have been set up to oppose the unsafe reopening of schools and has been viewed tens of thousands of times by educators, parents and students.
An Arizona school district that ignored state safety guidelines and voted to begin in-person learning on Aug. 17 has had to cancel classes after staff said it was unsafe to return and called in sick. Greater Phoenix’s J.O. Combs Unified School District canceled all instruction for Monday due to “insufficient staffing,” days after its board disregarded state benchmarks on when students can safely return to classes during the pandemic. The “sick out” underlined the difficulties in returning to in-person learning in the United States after schools in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama closed this week as students and staff were infected with COVID-19 or forced to self-isolate from exposure.
School districts across Utah are planning to open with in-person classes for the start of the new school year, despite the state having twice the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus as they did when schools closed in March. Governor Gary Hubert requested school districts open for in-person learning, while leaving planning and procedures up to individual school districts. School boards have been making minimal changes without input from teachers, school employees and parents. The Granite Education Association, representing teachers in Utah’s largest school district, held a rally outside the district offices during a school board meeting on Aug. 4. The rally was attended by approximately 600 workers. They demanded the school board listen to workers and do more to keep employees and children safe.
A new study from the University of Michigan on the use of facial recognition in schools is recommending that lawmakers and school administrators ban the use of this technology in educational settings. The researchers behind the study write that facial recognition in schools “will likely have five types of implications: exacerbating racism, normalizing surveillance and eroding privacy, narrowing the definition of the ‘acceptable’ student, commodifying data, and institutionalizing inaccuracy. Because FR is automated, it will extend these effects to more students than any manual system could.” “Using facial recognition in schools amounts to unethical experimentation on children,” said Evan Greer (she/her), deputy director of digital rights group Fight for the Future who have been organizing to ban facial recognition for more than a year.
Many parents nationwide are questioning whether it’s safe to send their kids back to a brick and mortar school this fall. With varied life circumstances, and different districts and schools choosing different options, it’s a daunting decision to make. For Florida’s Raquel Pantoja Lias, a mom of a rising fourth grader in Broward County, it’s a hard “no.” Under an emergency order from the state education commissioner, most schools are scheduled to reopen on August 19 for in-person learning, five days a week, a plan supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Schools in the U.S. provide students with much more than an education. They provide child care, meals (for 14 million students), medical services (mostly for students with disabilities), psychological counseling, supervised physical activity and social connections. There are more than 135,000 educational institutions and 56.6 million students in grades K through 12. Since 2014 the majority of all public school students have been children of color. (National Center for Education Statistics) While all parents want their children to be able to return to school, more than two-thirds polled want schools physically reopened only if safe.
The executive council of the American Federation of Teachers has voted to pursue various tactics—including strikes—to keep schools from reopening for in-person instruction without proper safety measures. "If authorities don't protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve, as our executive council voted last week, nothing is off the table—not advocacy or protests, negotiations, grievances or lawsuits, or, if necessary and authorized by a local union, as a last resort, safety strikes," said AFT President Randi Weingarten in a Tuesday speech during the national teachers' union's biennial convention. The resolution passed by the 45-member council says that school buildings can only open in places where the average daily community infection rate among those tested for COVID-19 is below 5 percent and the transmission rate is below 1 percent, and where there is effective contact tracing. Safeguards also need to be put in place, the AFT says...
On Sunday, more than 100 Minneapolis teachers and families rallied in the parking lot outside the Davis Center, the district headquarters, to protest the hiring – without prior warning – of what they suspect will be “rent-a-cops” with even less accountability than licensed police officers. “When we said we didn’t want any more SROs, any more police officers in our buildings, we did not mean, 'hire a bunch of private security officers and put them in our buildings,'” said MFT president Greta Callahan, a teacher at Bethune Community School in Near North. “Let me ask you a question. If I order a sandwich, and I say, ‘Hold the mayo,’ does that mean put a bunch of Miracle Whip all over it? They’re missing the point.” The teachers’ union asked concerned students and parents to call the district with two demands: stop the PSSS hiring process, and involve the public on how school security will be reconstructed.