Category Archives: Education

Black Mississippi State Senators Stage Walkout as Critical Race Theory Ban Passed

“We cannot continue to stumble into the future backwards,” said one Black senator who taught for 33 years. “That’s what this bill does.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 1-22-2022 by Common Dreams

Every Black member of the Mississippi state Senate walked out of the legislative chamber in protest on Friday as the Republican-led body passed a bill critics say will ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools, from kindergarten through college.

S.B. 2113—titled Critical Race Theory, Prohibit—passed by a vote of 32-2 as 14 Black lawmakers filed out of the Senate chamber. Two white Democratic senators—David Blount (District 29) and Hob Bryant (District 7)—remained in the chamber to vote against the measure. Continue reading

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What will 2022 bring in the way of misinformation on social media? 3 experts weigh in

A cutout display at a protest highlighted the connection between social media and the real-world effects of misinformation.
Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

Anjana Susarla, Michigan State University; Dam Hee Kim, University of Arizona, and Ethan Zuckerman, UMass Amherst

At the end of 2020, it seemed hard to imagine a worse year for misinformation on social media, given the intensity of the presidential election and the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. But 2021 proved up to the task, starting with the Jan. 6 insurrection and continuing with copious amounts of falsehoods and distortions about COVID-19 vaccines.

To get a sense of what 2022 could hold, we asked three researchers about the evolution of misinformation on social media. Continue reading

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Modern-day culture wars are playing out on historic tours of slaveholding plantations

These statues of enslaved young boys are part of a modern-day depiction of southern plantation life at the Whitney Museum in Louisiana.
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Kelley Fanto Deetz, University of California, Berkeley

Located on nearly 2,000 acres along the banks of the Potomac River, Stratford Hall Plantation is the birthplace of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the home of four generations of the Lee family, including two signers of the Declaration of Independence, Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee.

It was also the home of hundreds of enslaved Africans and African Americans. From sunup to sundown, they worked in the fields and in the Great House. Until fairly recently, the stories of these enslaved Africans and of their brothers and sisters toiling at plantations across the Southern U.S. were absent from any discussions during modern-day tours of plantations such as Stratford Hall. Continue reading

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Civil Rights Groups Denounce ‘Unlawful’ Book-Banning Effort by Texas GOP

“We will not stand by and watch politicians play games with the education and well-being of our children.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 11-23-2021 by Common Dreams.

Two prominent national civil rights groups on Tuesday blasted efforts by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state Rep. Matt Krause—both Republicans—to compel school districts to censor hundreds of books, including many popular LGBTQ+, reproductive rights, and racial justice titles, following the passage of laws prohibiting the teaching of the racist history of the United States and banning transgender athletes from interscholastic athletics.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. issued a statement condemning “Texas politicians’ efforts to force schools to begin pulling books from their classrooms and libraries shelves under the guise of state law.” Continue reading

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School surveillance of students via laptops may do more harm than good

School laptop surveillance systems monitor students even when they’re not in school.
Jacques Julien/Getty Images

Nir Kshetri, University of North Carolina – Greensboro

Ever since the start of the pandemic, more and more public school students are using laptops, tablets or similar devices issued by their schools.

The percentage of teachers who reported their schools had provided their students with such devices doubled from 43% before the pandemic to 86% during the pandemic, a September 2021 report shows.

In one sense, it might be tempting to celebrate how schools are doing more to keep their students digitally connected during the pandemic. The problem is, schools are not just providing kids with computers to keep up with their schoolwork. Instead – in a trend that could easily be described as Orwellian – the vast majority of schools are also using those devices to keep tabs on what students are doing in their personal lives. Continue reading

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As heat waves intensify, tens of thousands of US classrooms will be too hot for students to learn in

Climate change means more schools will need to install or upgrade cooling systems.
Bill Uhrich/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Paul Chinowsky, University of Colorado Boulder

Rising temperatures due to climate change are causing more than just uncomfortably hot days across the United States. These high temperatures are placing serious stress on critical infrastructure such as water supplies, airports, roads and bridges.

One category of critical infrastructure being severely affected is the nation’s K-12 schools.

Ideally, the nation’s more than 90,000 public K-12 schools, which serve over 50 million students, should protect children from the sometimes dangerous elements of the outdoors such as severe storms or extreme temperatures. Continue reading

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‘This Is Big’: House Passes Amendment to Cut US Complicity in Saudi Bombing of Yemen

The vote, said Rep. Ro Khanna, “sent a clear message to the Saudis: end the bombing in Yemen and lift the blockade.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-23-2021

Ro Khanna at a symposium at the Brookings Institute in 2019. Photo: Paul Morigi/flickr/CC

Anti-war groups on Thursday welcomed the U.S. House’s passage of an amendment to the annual defense bill that would cut off the flow to Saudi Arabia of U.S. logistical support and weapons “that are bombing civilians” in Yemen.

“This is BIG,” tweeted the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) following the afternoon 219-207 vote, which fell largely along party lines, with just 11 Democrats voting “no.” Continue reading

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To Avoid ‘Spoiling’ Hungry Children, Wisconsin School District Opts Out of Free Meal Program

“No matter their family income, it’s unacceptable for any student to go hungry at school,” said the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 8-27-2021

Image: Forest Ridge School District 142/Facebook

Hundreds of families and educators in Waukesha, Wisconsin are calling on the city’s school board to reverse a decision it made earlier this year to opt out of a federal meal program that was introduced at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, offering free food to students regardless of income.

As the Washington Post reported Friday, Waukesha is the only school district in the state to reject funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Seamless Summer Option program, which was praised by economists and beneficiaries alike for destigmatizing the need for public assistance and eliminating red tape. Continue reading

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Creative Associates International (CAI): It’s Not Exactly the CIA, But Close Enough

While mercenary armies like Blackwater have at least been subject to inquiry, making the company’s name infamous around the world, Creative Associates International has largely flown under the radar — exactly where the organization’s board wants it to be.

By Alan Macleod   Published 8-13-2021 by MintPress News

Graphic by Antonio Cabrera

You have likely not heard of them, but Creative Associates International (CAI) is one of the largest and most powerful non-governmental organizations operating anywhere in the world. A pillar of soft U.S. power, the group has been an architect in privatizing the Iraqi education system, designed messenger apps meant to overthrow the government of Cuba, served as a front group for the infamous Blackwater mercenary force (now rebranded as Academi), and liaised with Contra death squads in Nicaragua. As such, it has functioned as “both as an instrument of foreign policy and as a manifestation of a broader imperial project,” in the words of Professor Kenneth Saltman of the University of Illinois, Chicago. Continue reading

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Koch Network Infiltration of Public Schools ‘Harms Students, Teachers, and Our Democracy’: Report

“In their assault on public education, the network has taken actions to increasingly privatize and corporatize K-12 institutions.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 8-11-2021

Photo: Ted Eylan/Wikimedia Commons/CC

A new report published Wednesday reveals how the Koch network—a shadowy group of wealthy capitalists acting to push the U.S. in a more conservative direction—is methodically working to undermine and privatize public education for financial gain.

The report (pdf), entitled The Koch Network and the Capture of K-12 Education, was compiled by the advocacy groups UnKoch My Campus and Save Our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ) and examines tactics employed by the plutocrats’ cabal—which is led by billionaire Charles Koch, and whose members pay at least $100,000 per year—”to destabilize and abolish public education.” Continue reading

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