Wednesday Reading List: Protest and Voting Shenanigans

Kathleen Lucadamo at The Hechinger Report investigates whether more students can succeed in schools focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM):

White and Asian students dominate advanced science and math classes in high school. In 2008, 9 percent of Hispanic and 10 percent of black students in the U.S. took advanced algebra or calculus, compared with 22 percent of white students and 43 percent of Asian students, according to the National Math + Science Initiative, a group working to boost student performance in these fields ... One way to close that racial gap, educators argued, was to create more science and technology high schools for all students, schools where students could be coached to get through tough courses, regardless of ability.

There's some good news in this piece, as teacher training and retention, coupled with student supports, can increase the odds that students will be prepared for college level math and science work. For education policymakers concerned with both college preparation, and career readiness, STEM is a good place to look.

Caroline Bermudez looks at another high school that is examining ways to reach the most vulnerable students:

RISE High, a charter school in Los Angeles, will share three or four sites with existing nonprofits that offer services such as medical and mental health care, meals, legal assistance, and arts programs. In addition, RISE will have an online learning hub and a mobile learning center housed in a bus to transport students to and from classes, and provide them with computers, Wi-Fi, hygiene products, a washer/dryer, homework assistance, tutors, and therapists ... There are over 526,000 homeless children in California ... the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) educates the state’s highest share of these subgroups: over 15,000 homeless students and 7,500 foster youth ... RISE High focuses on the unique circumstances of these overlooked students, understanding that a traditional brick-and-mortar operation is ill-suited to their tumultuous lives. It doesn’t just accommodate homeless and foster kids, but tailors everything it does around these students.

These statistics are staggering, and it's important for some schools to cater to the specific needs of children with unstable or inconsistent housing. This school just won one of the XQ Institute's Super School prizes, so it will be fascinating to watch this project develop.

At high schools around the country, students are engaged in different degrees of peaceful protest about police violence. Melinda D. Anderson, writing at The Atlantic, looks at the breadth of this student activism:

In just the last month alone: A high-school football player in Massachusetts was reportedly suspended for one game after kneeling during the national anthem and quickly reinstated after a swift social-media response; a 14-year-old Native American girl in California who has refused to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance since elementary school out of respect for her culture lost points off her class grade for participation; a 15-year-old in suburban Chicago was allegedly pulled out of his seat when he also chose to remain seated for the Pledge in Spanish class; and in Collier County School District in southern Florida, a high-school principal said that students would “be sent home” if they didn’t stand for the national anthem. Charles C. Haynes, the founding director of the Religious Freedom Center at the Newseum Institute in Washington, D.C., said there has been an uptick in teachers and administrators seeking guidance for what’s permissible regarding the Pledge and Anthem, which he partly attributes to the Kaepernick controversy.

Anderson offers examples of both measured and draconian responses to student protest. Students who risk punishment to protest evince both leadership capabilities and civic engagement. Punishing those students is a terrible idea. Schools have a responsibility to make meaning of complex situations for these students, and to cultivate leadership qualities among youth.

Speaking of civic engagement, Chanté Griffin at The Root has a catalogue of the various ways in which public officials will try to stop people from voting, including policing people's names:

It makes sense to check the names and Social Security numbers of voter applicants in your county against the list of people listed in the state’s Department of Drivers Service or Social Security Administration databases, but does it make sense to reject someone’s application if her SSA name is “Chante” (without an accent) but her application name is “Chanté” (with the accent)? This new law in Georgia rejects any applications that don’t have an exact match for every letter and number in the application. Ridiculous, especially for those of us with tricky names, and especially because of the rarity of voter fraud.

Read the rest of the shenanigans, and have a great day!