Wednesday Reading List: Teens Organize to Fight Sexual Assault, How Not to Increase Teacher Pay, and 2017's Most Awkward Road Trip

Tyler Kingkade is in BuzzFeed, following a group of Orgeon teens who are reshaping how public schools respond to sexual assault:

 Bella brought about that change, turning her frustration with how Ashland High School dealt with her sexual assault report into activism that galvanized her classmates and forced the school district to overhaul its approach to sexual violence. And she did it with little more than help from friends and guidance from a single advocate at a local rape crisis center ... Over the past few years, student activism has pushed the US government to crack down on how colleges handle sexual assault cases, prompting a sixfold increase in federal Title IX investigations of campuses. Meanwhile, the rate of K-12 schools being investigated for the same problems has grown at the same rate, from 23 in July 2014 to 141 today, yet combatting sexual violence among teens hasn’t gotten nearly as much government attention as college sexual assault has.

Kingkade tells the Ashland story, while also exploring how schools might play a more proactive role in preventing assault. One way to do that would be through more robust sex education in schools, but alas, that area continues to be a minefield of local politics.

Speaking of local politics, Justin Davidson is in New York with a long piece on the urban-rural political divide in America:

The power struggle between urban and nonurban America has gone on since the 18th century and will likely continue for generations. The tension is baked into the Constitution, which tilts the balance of power toward rural states. Thanks to the vagaries of the Electoral College, today’s Wyoming voter has nearly four times the clout in a presidential election of a voter in California, and both states get the same number of senators. That deliberate imbalance is why Trump was able to carry the election while not just dismissing cities but denigrating them ... Already liberals are deploying formerly Republican positions (and legal precedents handed down by a conservative Supreme Court) to argue in favor of local independence, while conservatives insist on imposing the will of a federal government they claim to despise. It’s a liberal cities’-rights movement as opposed to a conservative call for the rights of states.

The tension between "red state" and "blue city" is a very real phenomenon in education right now. Davidson doesn't provide any real solutions here, but he does a nice job of summarizing the historical political problems. Surprise surprise: there's a racial component to the breakdown, as rural areas are about 80% white, whereas white people tend to be one of several minority populations in cities.

Andy Rotherham and Kaitlin Pennington are in The 74 analyzing a California proposal to eliminate income taxes for teachers. Spoiler alert, they don't like it:

... if you want teachers to make more money, well, then pay teachers more. Providing teachers with tax incentives is a gimmicky and confusing way to raise teacher compensation. Right now the federal tax code has a “feel good” provision allowing teachers to claim a tax deduction for school supplies they purchase out of pocket. But many can’t use it because of how they file their taxes. A better idea would be to just adequately resource schools so that teachers aren’t paying out of pocket for work supplies as though they were contractors. If California legislators wish to raise teacher salaries, they should do just that.

This position seems reasonable to me. Teachers should make more money, especially earlier in their careers, but the tax system is a terrible venue through which to accomplish that goal.

Finally, Alyson Klein of Education Week offers a first nomination for 2017's "Most Awkward Road Trip" award:

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, will be making their very first appearance together, in the Van Wert, Ohio, school district Thursday. The visit has been a few months in the making. Shortly after taking office, DeVos agreed to visit a traditional public school with Weingarten. And in return, Weingarten, who vehemently opposed DeVos' confirmation, said she would tour a "school of choice" with DeVos. (That visit hasn't been scheduled yet.) Lily Eskelsen García, the president of the National Education Association, told Politico that she didn't want to have a relationship with DeVos at all.

I've been able to secure some live footage from the event ...

If you're old enough to get the joke, and are offended by it, don't @ me ...