Reading Assignment August 31st

We get kids on Tuesday, so obviously my body is choosing now to have a sucky cold. Luckily for the blog, this means all I feel capable of doing is sitting still. Let’s read some stuff!

The Costs of Neighborhood Schools In a Washington Post op-ed, Neerav Kingsland reacts to proposed changes to the school assignment boundaries. In order to understand his points, it’s helpful to understand a little about the geography of DC (although I’m sure every city has similar wealth distribution issues). The district is divided into four quadrants, with most of the wealth concentrated in Northwest, and most of the poverty concentrated in Southeast, to the East of the Anacostia River. Kingsland argues that by continuing to assign schools solely on where students live, students in Anacostia are cut off from a better-resourced school on the other side of the river. He says “for much of our nation’s history, neighborhood schools have been bastions of exclusion, not inclusion. And this exclusion persists to this day.” That’s just a fact. But I’m unconvinced that shuffling kids around, making them take long metro rides every morning, and failing to address the underlying reasons why certain schools are underperforming will help. In reaction, Peter Greene at Curmudgucation has an eloquent argument for strong community schools. As further evidence that just moving kids around won’t inherently solve any problems, DCist has a graph showing changes in DC CAS scores for students who’d be assigned to new schools. Only students in Wards 4 and 6 (that’s where I live!) would be moved to a “better” school, whereas everyone else would either be at a comparable or a worse school. #notworthit

Schools in Los Angeles to End Zero Tolerance Policies
Zero tolerance does not work – this is good news.

A Kids Space Designed for the Re-Imagination of Drawing Tools
Is this not an amazing space? What student body would not benefit from a friendly, open space where creativity is not just encouraged but necessary.

Do Public School Students Need Special Ed. Anymore?
… uh, yes?! Providing students with the support and resources they need is NOT the same as having low expectations.

Students Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep – School Starts Too Early
Thank you, American Academy of Pediatrics!

Acting French
Ta-Nehisi Coates spent his summer learning French, and he has this great reflection about learning that goes in many different directions. I wish I could be more surprised that such an eloquent and thoughtful writer struggled in school, but the school system does not usually reward being curious and creative. As Coates mentions when he’s talking about his high-performing classmates, the ability to succeed in school is usually determined not just (or not at all) by intelligence and curiosity, but the ability to play the game of school. This creates a huge problematic disconnect between those with valued skills, probably passed down from successful parents, and bright students who are nevertheless cut off from an education. This becomes especially important for minority communities – Coates mentions the Cherokee Nation – who recognize the importance of education in order to gain political influence and status. As usual from this author, this is a thought-provoking piece.

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