How Legos helped build a classroom lesson on white privilege

Good read (remember that under the Conservatives, the multiculturalism program would not fund any organization that explicitly mentioned white privilege):

Are the yellow Minifigures in the Lego universe white people? A Grade 8 social-studies class at Allan A. Martin Sr. Public School in Mississauga mulled this existential question on a recent afternoon while their teacher delivered a lesson on one of the most politically charged topics addressed in Canadian classrooms.

Mandi Hardy stood in front of a whiteboard and asked students to list what they believed to be the most important jobs in the world, then asked them to list people – real or fictional – who hold those positions. Almost all the doctors were from TV, among them Derek Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy and Dr. Phil. The same was true for the scientists and emergency-service workers that the students listed. Then, without explanation, Ms. Hardy began putting stars beside nearly all of the names – pausing when she reached a Lego character – and students quickly caught on to what she was doing.

“They’re all white!” one called out.

The lesson of the day was white privilege, the idea that white people enjoy unearned advantages due to their race. Her exercise was meant to show that white people receive greater public profile for many of the occupations society deems to be the most important. This isn’t a required subject, but one Ms. Hardy has elected to teach for the past four years.

While students in social-studies classes in B.C., Ontario and Manitoba must learn about the disturbing history of the residential-school system, and those in Nova Scotia are taught about how black people in their own province were enslaved, the specific term “white privilege” is so charged that provinces have steered clear of explicitly addressing it in their curriculums.

Just three years ago, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) caused a furor when it advertised a workshop for educators on teaching white privilege. During the municipal election that same year, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he does not believe it exists. Some teachers who have dared to deliver lessons on it have invited angry complaints from parents and the wider community.

But a growing number of educators, those who train them and the unions that represent them are taking on the challenge.

In the eighties, a white woman named Peggy McIntosh wrote a piece titled White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, which listed particular privileges white people have that many racialized people do not. It has become one of the key teacher resources on the subject in North America. She enumerated the daily effects of white privilege in her own life in the piece, among them: “I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.”

When a Grade 11 anthropology teacher at a high school in Caledon, Ont., passed out Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack to her class last spring, one of her students, Logan Boden, was skeptical. He declared white privilege to be a racist ideology. The teacher responded, “Coming from a white male …,” according to Mr. Boden.

When he got home from school, he told his mother, Rebecca Knott, about what had happened. He’d encountered the term “white privilege” before that day and was surprised his teacher was bringing it up in class.

“I’ve seen a lot of social-justice warriors and feminists use the term … to shut people down, to say their opinion isn’t valid because they’re white,” he said. “It’s a term basically coined to make you feel bad for being white.”

Ms. Knott contacted the teacher, the principal and the school board to complain about the lesson and said “the other side” should also be shared with students – suggesting the teacher screen videos from Rebel Media, a conservative outlet well-known for its anti-Muslim content that was roundly criticized for sympathetic coverage in August of white supremacists protesting in Charlottesville, Va.

A spokesperson for the Peel District School Board said the board investigated after Ms. Knott’s complaint and reviewed the matter against the board’s equity and inclusive education policy. The teacher and principal in question did not want to comment for this story.

The BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has been developing resources for decades similar to the one Mr. Boden’s teacher used. As a result, BCTF president Glen Hansman has received e-mails from community members, among them parents, that accuse his union of racism against white people.

“I think we have to reject that as absurd,” he said. “We have to challenge our assumptions and work through them and sometimes that can be uncomfortable for people for a long period of time, especially if they’re the ones who are benefiting from that privilege.”

It’s not just students and parents who have taken issue with the subject, but educators, too.

Mohammed Saleh, a teacher in Southern Ontario, leads workshops on white privilege for ETFO throughout the province. Many have elected to attend but others have been sent by their superintendents and don’t hide their skepticism around the topic.

Some say this isn’t an issue for them because all their students are white. Mr. Saleh tells them those students likely will venture beyond their homogeneous communities as adults.

The issue with the workshops is that only the truly committed turn what they learn into lessons for their students, says Sam Hammond, ETFO’s president, and that’s not enough.

“White privilege should be incorporated into the curriculum both at the faculty of education level and in the curriculum across the system in a non-colonialized way,” he said.

The Ontario curriculum does cover the subject of privilege for students in grades 9 to 12 (relating not just to race, but also socioeconomic status, gender and religion among other things) but does not specifically identify “white privilege.” In other provinces, the greater emphasis is put on inclusion, diversity and pluralism.

Several compulsory courses at the University of British Columbia’s faculty of education address white privilege, and associate dean of teacher education Wendy Carr says many teacher candidates are uncomfortable with those discussions.

“And that discomfort can range anywhere from guilt to shame to anger,” she said. The goal is not to make these would-be teachers feel guilty about their own race, but to recognize the obligations that come with being from a more privileged place than some of their peers and students.

Back in Mississauga, after the whiteboard exercise in Ms. Hardy’s class, she led a discussion about white privilege with students, all of whom seemed receptive to the idea. Then she gave her class an assignment: Find a person of colour who has contributed something impressive to the world and create a poster about them. Students pulled out phones and tablets and began their work, typing some version of the query “people of colour who have done something amazing” into Google.

One student simply searched “top most influential people” and landed on a magazine cover from 2010, featuring a grid of faces labelled 100 Most Influential People. Her eyes scanned the image, hopping from person to person, and then she called Ms. Hardy over to show it to her. Nearly all of the faces were white.

Source: How Legos helped build a classroom lesson on white privilege – The Globe and Mail


Germany’s election and the educational polarisation of voters | Times Higher Education (THE)

Interesting analysis:

Germany has voted. Angela Merkel is weakened, but she remains chancellor and is now seeking new coalition partners for government.

Instead of focusing on what the election means for German higher education and research policy – which probably won’t become clear until months of coalition negotiations have concluded – I want to highlight some interesting voting patterns among German graduates.

In the United States and the UK, it’s now a commonplace observation that voters seem increasingly divided by levels of education rather than traditional cleavages like levels of income. In the ballots of 2016 and 2017, graduates tended to take the side of more open, pro-cosmopolitan parties and politicians (Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, Hillary Clinton, Remain in the UK’s EU referendum) against more closed, nationalistic forces (Theresa May’s Conservatives, Leave, Donald Trump).

You can certainly quibble with these groupings, but the overall trend is unmistakable.

For example, in this year’s UK general election, graduates were 10 percentage points less likely to back the Conservatives, and nine percentage points more likely to vote for Labour, than the broader voting public.

The divide was even starker last year during the EU referendum, when 68 per cent of graduates voted to remain.

Meanwhile, in the US election, Clinton won college graduates by a nine percentage point margin, while Trump won everyone else by eight points. “This is by far the widest gap in support among college graduates and non-college graduates in exit polls dating back to 1980,” according to the Pew Research Center.

Is the same thing happening in Germany? Ostensibly not – German graduates seem more in line with their fellow citizens than in the UK or the US. This is most clearly visible when you look at the graduate vote share for Germany’s political parties arranged on the left to right political spectrum:

In terms of the bigger parties, graduates were a little less likely than other voters to vote for Merkel’s conservatives (CDU/CSU) – but exactly the same was true of the social democrats (SPD).German graduates voting patterns

Graduates were both more likely to opt for the radically left-wing Die Linke – and the almost diametrically opposed (at least on economic matters) Free Democratic Party (FDP). This feels very different from the US and UK, where graduates have come down heavily on one side or the other in the votes of the past two years.

Why might this be? A couple of potential reasons spring to mind. Germany is famed for the quality of its vocational education, which, although under pressure, still offers the hope of a well respected and remunerated life course that does not require university. Non-graduates are perhaps less likely to be economically “left behind” than in other countries.

There is also still no real equivalent of the Ivy League, Oxbridge or the grandes écoles in Germany, meaning that attending (a certain type of) university is arguably less of a prerequisite for power and influence.

But have a look at the chart again – there are nonetheless signs that educational polarisation is beginning to take root in Germany.

Graduates heavily backed the Greens, who, aside from their environmental policies, are known as supporters of multiculturalism, and have several high-profile leaders with a Turkish family background. The AfD on the other hand are emphatically against multiculturalism and have leaders who have made a series of brazenly racist statements; they were largely shunned by voters who have been to university.

As the AfD’s entry into parliament shows, Germany is not immune from the divisions afflicting the UK, the US and many other European countries. It will be interesting to see if the country becomes just as polarised on educational grounds as well.

Source: Germany’s election and the educational polarisation of voters | Times Higher Education (THE)

ICYMI: Ontario to begin collecting data on students’ race, ethnicity, hoping to boost achievement

The Toronto District School Board has been doing this for some time – expanding this across the province makes sense given its overall high diversity:

The provincial government will begin collecting and analyzing data on the ethnicity of students in an attempt to improve school achievement, CBC News has learned.

The move will be announced today by Education Minister Mitzie Hunter as just one part of the province’s new equity action plan, according to a government source.

The decision to gather demographic data such as race and ethnicity and to analyze its relation to school achievement will help the government make better education policies, said the source.

Word of the decision comes just as students across the province return to the classroom — and after complaints of discrimination and racism made headlines during the past school year.

In April, Hunter issued a sweeping list of directives to the York Region District School Board after two high-profile incidents of racism and Islamophobia within the YRDSB: one in which a school trustee used a racial slur when referring to a black parent, and another in which a principal posted offensive material on Islam and refugees to her Facebook page.

Those two incidents were set against a backdrop of mounting complaints of systemic racism in the board.

That was followed by the YRDSB thanking the ministry for the report, albeit pointing out it contained “significant errors of fact,” and making assurances it would take action immediately.

Also in April, news emerged that almost half of Toronto District School Board students expelled over the last five years are black. That finding was one that TDSB executive superintendent Jim Spyropoulos said left him “alarmed.”

A report out of York University found that a similar phenomenon reverberated across the Greater Toronto Area, with black students routinely being streamed into applied programs rather than academic ones, and suspended at much higher rates than their counterparts.

Led by professor Carl James, the study made several recommendations which the TDSB said it would review.

And in June, an investigation into allegations that a high school teacher in Whitby, Ont., referred to a group of black students with a derogatory term using the N-word with no punishment for the teacher, according to a parent who attended a meeting with the Durham District School Board.

Source: Ontario to begin collecting data on students’ race, ethnicity, hoping to boost achievement – Toronto – CBC News

Ontario school board promotes literature diversity to reflect student body

Makes sense and does not appear to being implemented in an either/or manner.

However, while the motivation is with respect to those from diverse backgrounds, the benefits will be the exposure of different voices for all students:

Students at a high school in Brampton, Ont., will not be reading about star-crossed lovers in Verona this year, or a feisty six-year-old girl in Maycomb, Ala., or a group of young boys marooned on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean.

Instead, they will read about protagonists who look more like them.

The move at Jean Augustine Secondary School, north of Toronto, comes as their district, the Peel District School Board, recently sent a memo to high-school principals, vice-principals and English departments, encouraging them to reconsider the novels being read in class so that the literature is more reflective of a culturally diverse student population.

It’s a bold step, educators say, especially for those who believe in the educational value of mainstays, such as Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies.

But an increasing number of school officials both in Peel and in other districts are pushing hard to introduce new voices in literature, in addition to the old ones, to reflect a changing student body.

“There’s probably a small minority who still believe that there is a literary canon that we need to hold onto. I think it’s because it is the way we’ve always been taught,” said Poleen Grewal, associate director of instructional and equity support services at the Peel board. “[But] if we are focusing on equity and inclusion as a school board, the work around inclusion must be visible at the student desk.”

Ms. Grewal sent a memo to English department heads in June, asking them to explore culturally relevant texts after the school board heard from its students that their experiences were not being reflected in classroom literature. She attached a list of books, which includes A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse. Students in Ontario are required to take an English course every year of high school.

She acknowledged that books are costly, but Ms. Grewal said that funds are set aside every year for new purchases.

“We do not expect a clean sweep of texts in every school; however, we would like to see movement towards more culturally responsive texts that connect to the lived experiences and narratives of the students and communities we serve,” Ms. Grewal said.

In the Peel region, minorities have reached a critical mass and now make up 57 per cent of the total population. Close to half of Peel’s residents are South Asians.

Increasingly, school districts are looking at their curriculum to see if it reflects their culturally diverse student population – a shift that is becoming more pronounced by news events beyond the classroom walls.

A spokesman for the Halifax Regional School Board said teachers are looking to develop culturally relevant lesson plans.

Marilyn Manning, acting supervisor for curriculum and resource support at Edmonton Public Schools, said part of a project this summer involved developing guidelines for educators to consider when making book selections. “We’re not about banning books or telling teachers they can’t use these things. It’s really about broadening perspectives and developing the sensitivity to the social considerations,” Ms. Manning said.

This has also become a topic of discussion around North America and there’s sometimes backlash.

In 2015, The Washington Post detailed how a teacher in an inner-city school in Sacramento, Calif., no longer wanted to teach Shakespeare because she felt other works of literature better spoke to her ethnically diverse students. Many reacted negatively, with one teacher responding by saying that shared skin colour doesn’t equal shared experiences, and that Shakespeare still speaks to the human condition.

Closer to home, the Durham District School Board, east of Toronto, recently said that its students don’t necessarily have to read To Kill a Mockingbirdbecause a school official reportedly said it may make some uncomfortable.

At Jean Augustine, which opened its doors last fall and is named after a Canadian social-justice advocate, students in each grade are given a choice of books, ensuring that they answer an essential question around service, leadership, advocacy and innovation. (It is common in English courses for books to have an essential question.) Teachers at the school also decided to offer novels that are written by diverse authors and have characters more reflective of the students. This year, they are reading Indian Horse, Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman and How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, among others.

Lynn Filliter, head of the school’s English department, said there is still a place for Shakespeare and other traditional novels in the classroom. But by adding new voices, she has found that even the most reluctant readers are engaged in learning.

“I think that it validates their own experiences and it empowers them to understand that their voice and their perspective is valued,” Ms. Filliter said. “We try to be thoughtful about having the characters in the novels be reflective of students in our classrooms. We’re a very diverse board. So our books should also be very diverse.”

Ann Lopez, an associate professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, has found in her research on culturally responsive pedagogy that students are more engaged when reading stories that reflect their communities. She said that literary canons are valuable, but she has seen schools make efforts to put other pieces of literature front and centre.

“It’s really about disrupting this idea that knowledge comes from a single space,” Prof. Lopez said. “Of course you must read Shakespeare. But you must read Shakespeare and Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind.”

Source: Ontario school board promotes literature diversity to reflect student body – The Globe and Mail

New head of Peel school board vows to support marginalized students

Good set of initiatives, will be interesting to see how they work out through the ongoing evaluation planned:

“Teaching is very much about meeting students halfway through understanding and empathy,” he said. “And some of our students need more from us. They need us to identify, understand, minimize and eliminate the marginalization they experience so they can rise.”

That includes Black, LGBTQ and Indigenous students, and those who live in poverty, he said.

It was Joshua’s first opportunity to introduce himself at the annual back-to-school kickoff held by the Peel board. But it wasn’t long before he was sharing the stage.

…The voices of students who are struggling or feel marginalized “are sometimes difficult to hear,” he said in his remarks. “Our backs go up. We think, ‘have I said this to a student?’ Our discomfort should lead to self-reflection.”

Those voices also underscore the need for more training to help staff meet the diverse needs of the children and youth they teach. In a survey last year, mental health was an area staff requested more help with, he noted. And additional training will be provided to help equip them with strategies to support students with anxiety and other conditions.

In the past year, the board has announced initiatives to address the needs of Black students after surveys revealed many felt excluded, subject to suspicion and harsher discipline, and that they faced lower expectations for careers and university and were streamed into courses below their abilities.

In response, the board presented a plan starting with mandatory bias and anti-racism training for all staff, which begins this fall. It also pledged to revise curriculum to include the history and experiences of Black Canadians throughout, and to create mentoring programs aimed at getting more Black students involved in taking on leadership roles.

It committed to collecting race-based statistics at a time when boards across the province are being encouraged to take that step.

Peel’s first student census to provide that information is expected to be completed by December 2018.

Its first workforce census earlier this year found that while visible minorities make up more than half of Peel Region, only about a quarter of staff and teachers at the board identify as “racialized.”

Joshua says Peel’s 153,000 students need to see themselves reflected in the people who teach them and what they learn in their classrooms.

“If students see themselves reflected in the curriculum, if they believe their identities are validated and their narratives are included they will be engaged,” he told staff last week.

He said the board will be working with York University professor Carl James to measure the impact of the steps it is taking and what more should be done.

“I’m encouraged with the conversations we’ve had, and the fact the board has had these discussions with the community,” said James, who last spring published a major study on the barriers faced by Black students in the GTA.

“They’ve put in place a number of processes that I think should bode well,” he said in an interview, adding that it has the potential to become a model for other boards.

Source: New head of Peel school board vows to support marginalized students | Toronto Star

BC college faculty feel pressure to ‘pass’ students with poor English | Vancouver Sun

Conflict between universities and colleges as a business versus maintaining standards?

Veteran college English instructors are routinely receiving passionate, imploring pleas for passing grades from the international students who increasingly fill their classes.

The foreign students’ emotion-filled emails and in-office appeals, often issued in jumbled English, invariably aim to cajole faculty at Langara College and other institutions into giving them a break, so they will be able to move on from their mandatory courses in English literature.

The foreign students often maintain their entire future depends on passing the English course.

Langara College has experienced a five-fold rise in foreign students since 2014, but two English literature and composition instructors say the college’s over-reliance on international fees is not working for many high-stressed foreign students, their anxious offshore parents or for shortchanged domestic students.

Langara College English instructors Peter Babiak and Anne Moriarty are among a small number of Canadian higher education officials who are ending their silence to raise concerns about the expanding business of international education, which now brings 130,000 foreign students to B.C., mostly Metro Vancouver.

“I do feel sorry for the (international) students, of course, but that’s not really the point. When I assign grades, presumably I need to be objective and not let emotions get in the way,” says Babiak, who has been teaching at Langara since 2002.

Like many faculty at universities and colleges, Babiak and Moriarty feel pressure to wave through the full-fee-paying foreign students, especially in mandatory first-year English literature courses, even if they lack fluency in English.

“There is a booming industry dedicated to helping students jump through English-language hoops, which teachers like me everywhere work hard to defend. Being part of this is weighing heavily on my conscience,” said Moriarty.

Langara Provost Ian Humphreys, however, said Tuesday “there is no pressure on faculty to pass students who are not yet achieving learning outcomes.”

Humphreys said he is proud that Langara “is an open access institution that serves a diverse student population – both domestic and international – that has a high proportion of English language learners.” He says the college’s grads have a strong success rate when they transfer to other institutions or the job market.

Moriarty, however, said that even though many of the foreign students work hard in their technical, business and computer courses, many also leave their mandatory English literature course to the end of their multi-year programs, knowing their English is weak.

Both Babiak and Moriarty also agonize over how classroom discussions in English literature courses are often severely restricted because of language barriers. It means, he said, students who seriously want to study novels, linguistics and composition don’t get as much high-level interaction as they could.

Source: BC college faculty feel pressure to ‘pass’ students with poor English | Vancouver Sun

Une version « décolonisée » de l’histoire – Including Indigenous history and culture

Interesting and thoughtful approach to increasing awareness and understanding of Indigenous peoples:

Où étaient les autochtones avant l’arrivée des Européens ? Comment vivent-ils aujourd’hui  ? Connaissez-vous des artistes autochtones ?

Ce sont des questions auxquelles les élèves du collège John Abbott sont désormais confrontés. Depuis un an, un groupe de sept enseignants de ce cégep anglophone de Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue a entrepris un projet visant à « décoloniser » son programme.

« La décolonisation consiste à défaire les effets de la colonisation, désapprendre la pensée dominante colonialiste, inclure du contenu autochtone dans le curriculum, en apprendre davantage sur eux et reconnaître leur contribution dans la société », résume Debbie Lunny, enseignante en philosophie qui a dirigé le projet.

L’initiative a commencé de façon informelle. Les sept enseignants se sont rassemblés pour échanger des lectures et parler de différentes manières de décoloniser l’éducation au cégep. Par la suite, ils ont consulté des élèves et des experts autochtones pour connaître leur avis. Le projet était lancé.

« Dans le domaine de l’enseignement, la décolonisation consiste à questionner les relations de pouvoir, les hypothèses eurocentriques qui privilégient les perspectives eurocanadiennes. »

Dans ses cours, Debbie Lunny demande à ses élèves de nommer leur chanteur autochtone préféré, leur personnage de télévision autochtone préféré, leur auteur autochtone préféré. La plupart d’entre eux remettent une page blanche.

« On invite les élèves à réfléchir à travers des questions. Ce n’est pas que ces artistes n’existent pas, c’est qu’ils sont marginalisés des médias et de la société canadienne », estime l’enseignante.


Lizzie Tukai est une élève inuite qui vient d’Inukjuak, au Nunavik. Elle vient d’obtenir son diplôme en sciences sociales à John Abbott. Pour elle, la mise en place de la décolonisation dans les cours permet aux élèves de mieux comprendre la réalité des autochtones. « Il y a souvent des gens qui sont mal informés, dit-elle. Ça cause des préjugés. »

Pour Lizzie, 41 ans, cette initiative est une occasion de réconciliation entre les autochtones et les allochtones.

« Lorsqu’on révèle la vérité de l’histoire, cela redonne du pouvoir à toutes les parties impliquées. »

« Ils nous ont appris l’histoire telle qu’elle s’est produite, révélé des choses qui étaient cachées, nous en ont appris davantage sur l’histoire des autochtones », dit-elle à propos de ses enseignants.

Les instigateurs du projet tâchent d’inclure dans la matière qu’ils enseignent des éléments des cultures autochtones. « Les autochtones ont besoin de trouver leur sens de soi, ils ont besoin de passer à travers la valorisation au lieu de l’humiliation », estime Jimena Marquez, enseignante en anthropologie qui fait partie de l’initiative. D’ailleurs, elle commence ses cours en reconnaissant la valeur de la chasse et de la lecture des étoiles, des valeurs importantes pour ces peuples.


Le cabinet de la ministre de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur, Hélène David, estime que l’initiative du cégep John Abbott est une bonne façon d’encourager les élèves des Premières Nations à se sentir inclus dans le système scolaire. Toutefois, aucune réponse n’a été fournie par le Ministère quant à l’application de mesures décolonialistes dans l’ensemble des établissements scolaires québécois.

Source: Une version « décolonisée » de l’histoire – La Presse+

New Florida Law Lets Residents Challenge School Textbooks : NPR

Symbolic of an ongoing decline of America, and an increasing age of ignorance:

Keith Flaugh is a retired IBM executive living in Naples, Fla., and a man with a mission. He describes it as “getting the school boards to recognize … the garbage that’s in our textbooks.”

Flaugh helped found Florida Citizens’ Alliance, a conservative group that fought unsuccessfully to stop Florida from signing on to Common Core educational standards.

More recently, the group has turned its attention to the books being used in Florida’s schools. A new state law, developed and pushed through by Flaugh’s group, allows parents, and any residents, to challenge the use of textbooks and instructional materials they find objectionable via an independent hearing.

Flaugh finds many objections with the books used by Florida students. Two years ago, members of the alliance did what he calls a “deep dive” into 60 textbooks.

“We found them to be full of political indoctrination, religious indoctrination, revisionist history and distorting our founding values and principles, even a significant quantity of pornography,” he says.

The pornography, Flaugh says, was in literature and novels such as Angela’s Ashes, A Clockwork Orange and books by author Tony Morrison, which were in school libraries or on summer reading lists.

Flaugh says he’s just as concerned about how textbooks describe U.S. history and our form of government. “I spent over 20 hours with a book called ‘United States Government,'” he says.

He found more than 80 places where he believes the textbook was wrong or showed bias, beginning with the cover. Its subtitle is “Our Democracy.”

“We’re not a democracy, we’re a constitutional republic,” Flaugh says.

He believes many textbooks downplay the importance of individual liberties and promote a reliance on federal authority, and what he calls “a nanny state mentality.”

Members of Florida Citizens’ Alliance have other concerns, including how some textbooks discuss Islam. Others take issue with science textbooks and how they deal with two topics in particular: evolution and climate change.

Flaugh says the law, which was signed by the governor on June 26, is intended to make sure scientific theories are presented in a balanced way.

“There will be people out there that argue that creationism versus Darwinism are facts. They’re both theories,” he says.

Science educators say that’s a familiar argument and one that fundamentally misunderstands the nature of a scientific theory.

“In everyday conversation, a theory is a hunch or guess,” says Glenn Branch, with the National Center for Science Education. “That’s not how scientists use it. For scientists, a theory is a systematic explanation for a range of natural phenomena.”

Cell theory, gravitational theory, and evolutionary theory are all evidence-based, well-tested explanations of aspects of the natural world.

Another member of Florida Citizens’ Alliance, David Bolduc, is most concerned about protecting the U.S. Constitution. But he also sees bias in how textbooks deal with science, including climate change.

“It seems to me it’s very slanted in one direction,” Bolduc says. “That man is at fault, and that it’s definitely happening and that it’s real. You know the Al Gore lines.” Bolduc also believes parents should be able to challenge how textbooks deal with evolution.

In Florida and nationally, it’s those last two topics — climate change and evolution — that have sparked the greatest interest. Branch says the bill clearly was formed with those issues in mind.

“In affidavits submitted to the legislature in support of the bill, they said, ‘we complained that they were teaching evolution. We complained that they were teaching climate change and they wouldn’t listen to us. So that’s why we need this new law,'” he says.

Under the law, school districts will still have the final say. Even so, some worry the law will have a chilling effect.

Brandon Haught, a high school environmental science teacher and a member of Florida Citizens for Science, says “a science teacher might feel like, ‘argh, I’ve got all this heat coming down on all of us teachers. Maybe we should just not teach it as strongly, maybe just briefly cover it and move on.'”

Florida’s Department of Education is developing guidelines for school districts on how to comply with the law. The state school board association says one thing is clear — more challenges to the textbooks adopted by Florida schools are likely.

USA: Why Colleges Already Face Race-Related Challenges In Serving Future Students : NPR

Good analysis, showing ongoing stratification in post-secondary education and an interesting nuance of the Asian American ‘myth of being a model minority’:

Today, more Americans graduate high school and go on to college than ever before. But as the country becomes more diverse — the Census Bureau expects that by 2020 more than half of the nation’s children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group— are colleges and universities ready to serve them?

“If you look at the past 50, almost 60 years, you see we have made a lot of progress as a country in terms of high school seniors deciding to go to college in the 1.5 years after graduating,” says Andrew Nichols, director of higher education research and data analytics at the Education Trust, a nonprofit. “And that isn’t just white students. It’s also for black and Latinos. You’re seeing that increase for everybody.”

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2015, 88 percent of seniors – nearly 3 million students – graduated high school. By the following October, 69 percent of them – or more than 2 million people – were enrolled in college.

But where are they attending? And do they graduate?

The same is true for Asian Americans, says Robert Teranishi, a professor of education at UCLA and the director of the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE). The largest concentration of Asian-American students – about half – attends community colleges, he says. It’s also where enrollment of Asian Americans is increasing the fastest.

But because community colleges have low six-year graduation rates (39 percent according to a report by the American Association of Community Colleges), this means that few of those students will actually earn degrees. “The problem is there’s not a lot of expansion in higher education,” Teranishi says. As a result, some students end up in subpar schools where they may never earn a degree. “A lot of students are relegated to two-years or they’re ending up in four-year institutions that are not doing a good job at helping students succeed and earn a degree,” he says. “They’re being set up in a bad situation.”

Meanwhile, the nation’s selective institutions — the Ivy Leagues and flagship public universities — are becoming even more selective, and remaining mostly white. According to the 2013 report “Separate & Unequal” from the Georgetown Center for Higher Education and the Workforce, since 1995, 80 percent of America’s white college students have enrolled in the country’s 468 most well-funded, selective four-year colleges and universities. These schools spend two to nearly five times as much per student as do the 3,250 less resourced, open-access colleges (which do not require applications) where students of color are concentrated.

The study also found that while inequalities of race and class overlap quite a bit, race has a distinctive negative effect. Even after controlling for academic achievement in high school, black and Latino students attend selective institutions at far lower rates and drop out of college more often.

As a result, whites have higher graduation rates and are more likely to attain advanced degrees and higher future earnings, even among equally qualified students. Anthony Carnevale, the director of the center and one of the authors of the report, told NPR in 2013 that, “We found … that while more and more minorities are going on to college, that the system itself was becoming even more unequal. That is, we were getting more and more access, and access was bringing more and more inequality, and the inequality mattered.”

For Asian Americans, a false perception persists that they’re universally high achieving. Teranishi says that they’re treated as a homogenous group even though there are many ethnic subgroups, and that there’s not enough data tracking subgroups. A 2011 report by CARE found that up to two-third of Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States don’t have any form of post-secondary education and that for the ones who do enter college, half drop out.

“They’re generally overlooked and underserved when it comes to college opportunity programs, college access, or even student services or programs on campus,” Teranishi says. “And really, it’s rooted in this model-minority myth. There’s not a lot of understanding about their actual experiences or outcomes.”

Teranishi finds it disconcerting that Asian Americans are used as a wedge group against other people of color and says these claims of discrimination have scant evidence. “It’s not like Harvard can admit every student who is in the top of their class with a 4.0 GPA or who has a perfect SAT. That outnumbers the number of students Harvard admits each year. There’s a lot more criteria involved in the selection process,” he says.

“The other thing that concerns me is that this narrative … removes Asian Americans from the broader discourse about the importance of diversity and equity in higher education. So that’s concerning because Asian Americans, like other students, they benefit from being exposed to students of other racial backgrounds.”

Several studies have shown that diverse student bodies benefit students of all races by improving intellectual engagement, citizenship, and cognitive skills. The positive effects stay with them even after they graduate college.

Source: Why Colleges Already Face Race-Related Challenges In Serving Future Students : Code Switch : NPR

Korea: ‘Teachers need multicultural education’

Numbers still small: 100,000 compared to over 9 million but likely concentrated in cities:

Korea’s multicultural population continues to grow, but the government has yet to establish a law that requires teachers to receive training to better address a racially diverse classroom.

In 2010, a multicultural education class was introduced in the university curriculum for students aspiring to become teachers, but under the current system it is not compulsory.

Mo Kyung-hwan, president of the Korean Association for Multicultural Education (KAME) and professor at Seoul National University (SNU)’s Department of Social Studies Education, teaches this class, but only seven students are taking it this semester.

“If only seven students signed up for a class taught by a part-time instructor, it would be canceled. As dean of the department of social studies education, I was not required to teach the class, but decided to as students need to learn about multiculturalism,” Mo told The Korea Times in an interview at SNU, Tuesday.

Classes on school violence and special education are mandatory, but those on multiculturalism are not.

Classes teaching multicultural education were initiated at universities and departments of education with government funding, but the education ministry has cut subsidies and many schools no longer offer the classes.

Teachers who attended university before the classes were introduced in the curriculum have even less opportunities.

Since 2008, the Seoul and Gyeonggi offices of education started offering classes on multiculturalism for teachers. However, they are limited to 15 hours a year, which is far from enough, Mo said.

“The number of Korean students is shrinking, but that of multicultural students is growing. Students’ receptivity of multiculturalism has improved, but multicultural students still face prejudice and bullying at school,” he said, pointing to the need for teacher training to be made mandatory under the new Moon Jae-in administration.

Data from Statistics Korea shows the number of school aged children stood at 9.38 million in 2016, a 10.4 percent decrease from 10.5 million in 2010.

In contrast, the number of school-aged multicultural children stood at 99,186 in 2016, more than a 200 percent increase from 31,788 in 2010.

Multicultural children, who accounted for 0.44 percent of the student population in 2010, now accounted for 1.68 percent in 2016.

Korea’s efforts to embrace multiculturalism

Korea was mostly homogeneous up until the 1980s, but it saw an influx of immigrant workers in the 1990s and immigrant brides in the 2000s. Due to the growing population of immigrants and their children, the government drew up its first policy to support them in 2006.

In line with the policy, the education ministry revised the school curriculum so that textbooks would help students enhance their receptivity of multiculturalism.

In the meantime, schools aid multicultural children in learning Korean and building their academic skills, and assist them in planning their careers.

“Multicultural education has grown tremendously both in quantity and quality in the past decade,” Mo said.

“In the next decade, as the multicultural population grows further, their countries of origin, reasons for immigration, socio-economic status and Korean language abilities will be diversified _ and education for these students will be specialized to accommodate their needs.”

Learning from immigrant nations

Countries such as the U.S. or Canada, which began as immigrant nations, have far more advanced policies for immigrants.

“What we can learn from these countries is the premise they had of immigrant policies _ that they were not merely welfare for minorities but for the nation as a whole,” Mo said.

This is because immigrants contribute to the economy with the labor they provide, and with the taxes they pay. Young immigrants and their children can also provide a solution to countries with low birth rates, he said.

“When neglecting them, they could pose instability to the nation, but providing them support will lead to social integration,” Mo said.

He added these countries regarded policies for immigrants as important as defense, economic or labor policies.

“In the long-term, Korea will need a government body solely dedicated to immigrant affairs,” he said.

Source: ‘Teachers need multicultural education’