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Joann’s notes

Censorship in School Libraries: Protecting or Limiting Access to Information?

According to data released by the American Library Association (ALA), there were nearly 700 attempts to ban library books in the first eight months of 2023. From January 1 to August 31, the attempts sought to challenge or censor 1,915 titles, a 20% increase compared to the same months in 2022, the organization said. Last year saw the most challenges since the ALA began tracking book censorship more than two decades ago. Such censorship extends to school libraries where we are seeing the removal or restricting of access to certain books, magazines, or other materials. This might include materials that...
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How Differing Political Views are Impacting Public Education

In recent years, the political landscape has become increasingly divided and these differing political views are beginning to have a significant impact on public education. From debates over funding and curriculum to discussions on school choice and teacher evaluations, political ideologies are shaping the way our education system operates. One area where political views are impacting public education is funding. Different political parties often have different priorities when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars and education is no exception. Conservative lawmakers may argue for smaller government and lower taxes, leading to less funding for public schools. On the other hand,...
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Summer Learning Enhances Student Success

Summer break is often looked upon with great anticipation by both students and teachers alike. However, as research shows, summer learning loss can be a major concern for many families. Studies have found that students can lose up to two months of progress in math and reading over the summer months. This “summer slide” can disproportionately affect students from low-income families, who may not have access to the same enrichment opportunities as their peers. This is where summer learning programs come into play. Summer programs offer opportunities for students to engage in academic learning and fun activities during the summer...
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Parent Involvement vs. Parent Engagement: Is there a Difference?

When it comes to a child’s education, there is often talk of the importance of parental involvement or engagement. While the terms may seem interchangeable, there are actually important differences between the two concepts. Parent Involvement Parental involvement refers to actions or activities that parents do to support their child's learning, such as attending parent-teacher conferences or volunteering at school events. It is often seen as a more passive role, where parents are involved in their child's education but may not be actively seeking to improve it beyond these traditional activities. Parent Engagement Parental engagement, on the other hand, goes...
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Culturally Responsive Teaching Can Improve Student Academic Outcomes

It can be said with assurance that COVID-19 and the resulting removal of students from school buildings, has changed the way classrooms work and has left schools, districts, and teachers searching for ways to motivate and engage students now that they are back at school. Because of the learning loss students experienced as a result of the pandemic, schools and parents are finding it challenging to figure out ways to best manage both student resilience and learning. Many school districts have been able to access funds and resources to help address the issue while parents have become more concerned about...
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School Board Elections – The Epicenter for Political Control 

School board meetings and school board elections are becoming frontline battlefields for the nation’s political division. School board decisions directly impact three of our most precious resources – our children, our public schools, and our money. School boards not only determine policy, they are also the community’s educational watchdog and, in rural districts, they may be overseers of the largest employer in the area. To a considerable extent, school boards also determine the level of difficulty for parents and citizens to navigate their local public school system and find a seat at the decision-making table, itself. This is where politicization...
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When Schools Are Underfunded, Children Suffer

A lack of equitably funded public schools is creating huge barriers for many of our nation’s students. Inequitable funding is creating huge barriers for many of our nation’s public school students. According to The Century Foundation, we are underfunding our, “K-12 public schools by nearly $150 billion annually, robbing more than 30 million school children of the resources they need to succeed in the classroom.”  The schools that are being robbed of much needed funding are most often those where Black and Latinx students make up most of the student body. Funding formulas directly impact the support for public schools. For...
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Action Required: Public Schools Must Be Safe Places to Learn

Class room with empty desks
In the 10 years since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, gun legislation in this country still has not changed very much. As schools prepared to end for summer break, Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old armed gunman, walked onto the campus of Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas and used an assault style rifle to terrorize the members of this public school for more than an hour. In his deranged state, Ramos ended the lives of 19 elementary students and 2 adults. In its destructive aftermath, families were shattered, a community was left with unanswered questions, and a nation mourned the loss...
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Critical Race Theory: What You Should Know

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the latest clash between politicians and community stakeholders concerning how public school students should learn about history in the United States. Although this theory initially made waves on the collegiate level, somehow the discourse about CRT has spilled over into the nation's public schools and has caused quite a concern for many parents nationwide. What is Critical Race Theory? Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an academic term used to define a framework that holds the idea that racism is systemic, i.e., racism that is deeply rooted in the systems, laws, policies, and practices of daily...
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Public Schools Must Ensure Equity for All

All students in this country deserve not only a quality education, but they also deserve the right to be who they are without discrimination or harassment while pursuing that education. The notion of equity not only applies to a student’s racial identity and socio-economic status but also to a student’s gender identity as well. Many of our nation’s LGBTQ+ students face discrimination and harassment while at school and are often tormented online by their peers when at home. For these students, school can be a very desolate place, and we must make every effort to create a truly equitable and...
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