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Joann’s notes

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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Ways to Take Action During and After COVID

COVID-19 has drastically impacted the lives of our nation’s school-aged children. According to many national surveys, “shifting to remote learning last spring was academically and socially challenging for students, and…families and caregivers felt stretched thin by supporting their students at home” (TNTP, Inc., 2020). Ultimately, every parent is highly concerned about where their child will be academically when the pandemic is over. Now more than ever, parent advocacy is essential in ensuring that the impact of COVID on student learning and achievement is not as detrimental as the research suggests it will be. Parents, you should voice your concerns about...
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To Test or Not to Test? That is the question!

In a year ravaged by COVID-19 and its aftermath, there is a big question that parents want answered: Are my children required to take this year’s standardized tests? A recent national poll shared by the National PTA determined the following as it relates to parents’ views on state tests this spring:  These major findings reveal:  52% of parents favor end-of-year testing this spring to measure the impact of the pandemic on student learning.  60% of parents are worried their child is behind and want more information on where their child is academically.  62% of parents believe their child to be behind...
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Why Black Lives Matter: Then, Now, and in the Future

In the early 20th century, Harvard educated Carter G. Woodson along with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) devised a plan to launch Negro History Week. Due to an underrepresentation of American Blacks in historical books and conversations, Woodson set out to change the narrative and ensure that the history of African-Americans was shared with the masses. According to Woodson, “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated” (Zorthian, 2016). Negro History...
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Why Public Education is Essential to Our Democracy

Ensuring a well-informed citizenry is an essential purpose of our public education system. In schools across our nation, students learn civics and government and the concepts and principles that underpin our democracy. In order to sustain our system of government, Americans must be educated on their roles in our democracy and their responsibility to make decisions that determine the future of our nation. As future voters, our children must be made aware of the importance of their roles as citizens. In the weeks following the 2020 Presidential election, our country has experienced one of the greatest political controversies of the present century....
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Remote Learning and Student Achievement: What We Currently Know

The events of this year have been unprecedented. From shutdowns, to quarantines, to mask mandates, COVID-19 has impacted so many areas of our daily lives until this new normal has become quite intrusive. One area that has been deeply affected by all of this is our nation’s public schools. Our school systems have been transformed by this pandemic and student achievement has suffered gravely as a result. In early March, school districts across our country shut down immediately and scrambled to provide virtual platforms to ensure students were able to continue their learning. In many instances, teachers and students were...
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