Wit & Wisdom In The Dock…Why Are People Freaking Out About Great Minds? 100Kin10, Substitutes, Virginia, Transportation & More…

Hope you had a good weekend, hopefully not arguing with relatives about politics unless you enjoy that kind of thing.

Congratulations to 100Kin10 on their impact, Bellwether helped them assess and evaluate their data earlier this year.  Here’s an education playbook from ExcelinEd. Recommend this deep dive on integration from Minneapolis.

Former Bellwarian, current Seattle Public Schools teacher, Jamie Rees with an idea on substitutes:

I propose that every employee at the district office, from the superintendent down, put themselves in the substitute pool one day a month. Many of them were once teachers, and all of them, like us in the schools, have chosen a profession whose purpose is to build our city and our society by educating the young people who inherit responsibility.

Third Way talks with Virginia voters, includes education.

People remembered the quote about parents and schools from McAuliffe, and it bothered them. It said something about Terry and how he’d run the schools to them. However, the problem was that it played into an existing narrative that Democrats didn’t listen to parents when they kept the schools closed past any point of reason and that they’d close the schools again over parents’ objections. They broadly don’t feel heard right now when it comes to schools, and they blame liberals and Democrats.

This from the Tennessee in the “CRT” circus:

The 11-page complaint alleged that the literacy curriculum, Wit and Wisdom, used by Williamson County Schools and at least 30 other districts, has a “heavily biased agenda” that makes children “hate their country, each other and/or themselves.”

The group detailed concerns with four specific books on subjects like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, the integration of California schools by advocate Sylvia Mendez and her family, and the autobiography of Ruby Bridges, adapted for younger learners.

Buried in the article:

A spokesman for Great Minds, the company that produces Wit and Wisdom, told the Tennessean in July the curriculum does not include any of the concepts banned in the legislation.

That seems provable or falsifiable? Earlier this month I asked Great Minds to send me all the books, which is why, if you’ve recently been on a zoom with me, you’ve seen a big box of books in the background. I’m not through them all but the Ruby Bridges one, for instance, includes things l like this,

“Some people did not want a black child to go to the white school”

I guess you could argue that if you’re one of those people this might make you feel bad except it, you know, happened. It’s literally a recitation of the history of what happened to Ruby Bridges (and by extension to other kids in other communities). If you want to argue that you shouldn’t be telling little kids they’re complicit in white supremacy you will get a lot of support across racial lines. If you want to argue that you shouldn’t tell kids that not long ago schools were segregated, here’s why, here’s what changed, then you’re living in the past.

Bridges’ book ends with,

“Now black children and white children can go to the same schools. I like to visit schools. I tell my story to children. I tell children that black people and white people can be friends. And most important I tell children to be kind to each other.

What’s ironic is that it’s some of the most strident “anti-racists” who are likely to take issue with that sentiment and its implied individualistic ethos and minimizing of structural issues. Yet it’s “Moms for Liberty” raising the ruckus. The Martin Luther King book, by the way, is pretty straightforward. If you want different perspectives I guess you could argue it doesn’t include the views like, This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed, and other views that King was too accommodationist (although the teacher manual does mention the tension of non-violent protest for southern Blacks, “nonviolence was not an easy idea.”) Or perhaps aspects of his personal life that remain controversial. But all of that is for older students, it isn’t appropriate for young kids and the King book is a picture book!

The complaint includes testimony from a parent concerned about the impact of the Great Minds material on their biracial child. But the episode, as described, seems more about teaching strategies than curriculum. Another reminder that teachers need support and we should disentangle what are curricular and training issues from what are lack of curriculum and training issues.

Some additional context from the local paper.

Anyway, the Great Minds stuff is pretty good though you can’t please everyone, one could argue it’s light on LGBT or gender issues, for instance. Others will see different omissions.  And Great Minds was a BW client years ago but are not now. So disclosure there.

On the obvious political point, if Democrats can’t figure out how to parse the ‘don’t have first-graders doing Robin D’Angelo’ crowd from the ‘don’t have kids reading about Ruby Bridges and MLK crowd’ then they’re simply in the wrong line of work. There remains a 70% position here for the party that decides to seize it.

Here’s Matt Labash on the larger context but germane to this Tennessee dust-up:

And yet, one can’t help but shake the feeling that if wokeness does die, the people who will be muffling the loudest graveside sobs are the likes of Kid Rock and his pals on the right who have now turned trolling from a pastime into a religion, keeping their fingers crossed that somebody – anybody! – will try to cancel them. Martyrdom has always been good for business. Meaning that Mr. Rock, despite his protestations to the contrary, is likely dying for someone to tell him how to live. His crappy song has only been up on YouTube since November 19, and already has over three million views. (A million of those likely coming from the hall monitors at Media Matters.)

With any luck for their respective record sales and fundraising arms, the two sides will keep practicing kafaybe, a pro wrestling term of art that old Bruiser Brody knew, defined by Oxford Languages as: “the factor or convention of presenting staged performances as genuine or authentic.” Maybe the phoniness of it all is why the wokeness wars are making me sleepy.  When you have nothing to say (aside from “eff you”), the only thing that can make it seem important is when some speech gendarme tries to stop you from saying it. But that doesn’t make you combatants. Rather, it makes you codependents.

School transportation is becoming a hot issue. Really!

Improving Indiana School Transportation

Here’s a past BW project on the transportation issue. And The Mind Trust is hosting a virtual roundtable on the issue Thursday evening. 

One view, via Freddie deBoer on where we are today ($): 

Perhaps no issue better illustrated the differences between neoliberals and leftists than education reform. Most neoliberals are deeply antagonistic towards teachers unions, seeing them as a major impediment to the kind of innovation and disruptive practice that leads to improved outcomes. Leftists identify teachers as workers and teacher unions as a legitimate expression of basic rights. Neoliberals view tenure and job security for teachers as a clear barrier to effective change; leftists, as a hard-earned job benefit that raises the standard of living of a large class of poorly-compensated workers. At issue, too, is what mechanisms best create positive change in society, and whether a corporate model can really be applied to all domains of human activity. For left-wing critics of neoliberalism (like me), the broad failure of preferred “market-oriented” reforms like charter schools, private school vouchers, or merit pay is indicative of the limitations of applying market solutions to every human problem. Unsurprisingly, this opinion is not shared by most neoliberals.

And the collapse of bipartisan consensus towards certain cherished assumptions among school reformers, principle among them the importance of testing and the preeminence of quantitative metrics, is related to this cultural divide. In 2012 I would have told you that the largescale dismantling of teacher unions and the replacement of traditional publics with charter schools was an inevitability. Now that movement is deeply wounded, thanks to the only political argument that has any salience anymore, the claim that it’s racist. Of course, by appearing to oppose the very idea of rigor, teacher unions and their allies are likely generating an intense backlash.

Can’t Let Go…

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