Tuesday Reading List: I. Can. Not. Even.

Monique Judge of The Root reports on some startling deliberations of the Louisiana legislature:

Students in more than half of Louisiana’s public school districts will still be subject to paddling and spanking in school for misbehavior after the state House on Monday rejected a proposal to ban corporal punishment across the state. NOLA.com reports that only 34 lawmakers voted in favor of Shreveport Democrat Rep. Barbara Norton’s prohibition bill, and sixty-one lawmakers voted against it. Norton said her proposal would make sure “that we not brutalize our children.” She added that 31 other states have outlawed the punishment and found other ways to discipline students at school ... Rep. Rogers Pope, a Republican and retired school superintendent from Denham Springs, said local districts should decide whether to use corporal punishment, not the state. “I still feel like we can do some things better at the local level,” Pope said.

First of all, let's address the elephant in the room: in 19 states it is LEGAL to beat children in public schools as a disciplinary practice.

What year is it again?

That's what I thought.

Sometimes, when I want to get really pessimistic about the potential for political progress in this country, I reflect on the fact that we can't even agree that you shouldn't beat the shit out of kids in public schools.

In other news, Catherine Gewertz of Education Week reports that California is thinking of eliminating its high school exit exam:

Last week, on a 56-17 vote, the state Assembly approved Assembly Bill 830, which eliminates the California High School Exit Examination as a graduation requirement. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. Known as CAHSEE, the test has been the target of increasing criticism in recent years as the state moved toward a system of judging schools and students that puts less emphasis on a single test. The language of AB 830 reflects that shift. The state's new accountability system promotes college and career readiness, the bill says, and provides "resources to allow the identification of pupils in academic need in lower grades. This paradigm shift moves us away from using a single test, like the CAHSEE, for making high-stakes decisions."

As recently as 2014 almost half of the states in the country required high school exit exams, but the number has been dwindling downward ever since. The practice of mandating such exams has few defenders, even amongst the relative moderates in the education reform debates, so it's no surprise they are disappearing.

In other news, D.C.'s state superintendent, Hanseul Kang, writes about her own experience as an undocumented immigrant in The Washington Post:

My whole adult life, I have felt the need to prove my worth and my value, to justify my presence in this country. The drive to work as hard as I possibly can, to always do more and better, has been helpful in many ways. But it has also left me with a weight and a relentless internal voice of self-criticism — always wondering if I am smart enough, capable enough, doing enough fast enough. These kinds of doubts can be exhausting and demotivating over time and can have a real impact on mental health. For example, high-achieving college students from minority backgrounds report higher rates of depression and anxiety than their white peers, in part based on the self-doubt that can be triggered by discrimination. That is my concern about the impact of this latest shift in rhetoric and policy on immigrants: that as a country we will convey, especially to our students, that we question their value and their abilities.

It is rare for a public official to be so personally vulnerable about an issue of critical import, and I am in awe of Kang's bravery here.

Finally today, Kyle Walcott of Blavity looks at a new competition for high school students:

Youth Speaks, a world leader in youth development and spoken word performance, kicks off the beginning of the "Brave New Schools" competition—a national contest boasting spoken word, hip-hop and poetry. In collaboration with XQ Institute, the competition is purposed to use the power from the art of spoken word to help spark the conversation about how to transform the face of high school and public education. The partnership between the two organizations will launch a series of 20 town halls where young people can broadcast their poems, stories and dreams to reimagine the experiences endured in public high school. With up to $50,000 in prizes, scholarship awards will range from $1,000 to $4,000 with additional incentives of up to $2,500 for teachers and nonprofits who encourage students to participate.

The XQ Institute is the organization that is giving away millions of dollars to redesign high schools. It's fascinating to see them investing in youth activism. Have a great day!