Education

Is Your School District Segregated?

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Wait, school segregation - wasn’t that ended in, like, the

1960s? During that black-and-white photo era, nothing we need to worry about now, right? Our modern public schools don’t even SEE color! Well no, actually, that is wrong, wrong, and not even close to the case. In fact, Southern public schools are racially segregated at pretty much the same rate they were in the 1960s and other regions aren’t doing much better. The gerrymandering that has succeeded in keeping the GOP in power, despite dwindling voter ranks, is the very same force being used to keep schools separate and unequal. Alvin Chang at Vox has written an excellent article about the subject and went so far as to provide a handy widget, armed with data from a recent study on the topic, so that you can find out if your own local district is helping or hurting this problem. Your DGB for today is to read the article here: https://www.vox.com/2018/1/8/16822374/school-segregation-gerrymander-map

Studies have shown that all children, both white and minority, benefit from attending a diverse school. Let’s grab that opportunity back for them.

 

 

Plug The Pipeline

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One of the keystones of systemic racism here in the United States is the School to Prison Pipeline: a descriptor for the way minorities are funneled into prison starting with the way the are treated by their public schools and districts. The Department of Education now has a searchable database that allows you to see just how your own school or district is handling things like gifted and talented (G&T) enrollments and disciplinary situations. Ideally, the percentages will roughly reflect the enrollment data. So for example, if your school or district is 85% white, 5% Black, 5% Latinx and 5% Asian, your G&T and suspension rates will shake out into similar numbers. Sadly, this is often not the case. One DGB staffer noted that although her school of reference contained 4.8% Black students they made up over 9% of the out-of-school-suspensions.

Folks, this is not acceptable. Black and other minority students are regularly punished more often and with greater consequences than white students, yet there is no data that illustrates they are breaking the rules more often.

 

Please read more about this database and how to use the information here: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/heres-how-find-out-how-racist-your-kids-school

 

And look up your school(s) and district(s) here: https://ocrdata.ed.gov/DistrictSchoolSearch

 

Use this information to grab our students out of the prison pipeline.

 

Supply Some Supplies

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Summer is drawing to a close but before you bust out your puffy vests and PSLs, pitch in and help make this time of year a little less stressful for parents of school kids. As state and local budgets are cut to the bone, schools are tasked with keeping the buildings safe, the lights on and the teachers paid with less and less money. And as these budgets shrink, school supply lists grow, placing the burden of filling the gap on parents and teachers. These supplies are relatively inexpensive but when money is tight, you have multiple children, and your school has asked for extras like toilet paper and cleaning fluid, it quickly adds up.

Your DGB for today is to donate some pencils, paper, highlighters or something to a school supply drive. There are a few ways you can do this:

Find a drive near you. This time of year there are probably several. Just plug in “where can I donate school supplies” and the magic of Google will suggest a local donation spot.

Drop some off at your local school. If you go this route may we suggest you focus on things like cleaning wipes, paper towels, copier paper...stuff that will help keep the building and administration going. These items are often overlooked by local drives and charities.

The Kids in Need Foundation collects both cash and bulk products to distribute to schools in need across the country. Their donation page is here: https://www.kinf.org/donate/

 

 

Grab back-to-school!

 

Holocaust Remembrance Day

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Your DGB for today is to honor the over six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.

Yes, there are many haunting physical memorials you can visit and lots of literature you should read. Do those things. But, more importantly, see if your state has passed legislation requiring Holocaust education in the school system. Shockingly, fewer than ten states have such laws on the books, which may be one of the reasons a recent study showed that two thirds of millennials didn’t know what Auschwitz was, among other head shake-worthy finds. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/holocaust-study-millennials/

Use this state-by-state tool to identify gaps in your state’s education on the Holocaust and let your state representatives know what they can do better:

https://web.archive.org/web/20090505232145/http://www.ushmm.org/education/foreducators/states/

 

Teacher Appreciation Day

Your DGB for today is to show a teacher some appreciation.

It’s Teacher Appreciation week all week long, but today, May 9th, is a day specifically dedicated to the educators who have impacted our lives. Teachers have the ability to shape the lives of our future generations. Not only do teachers educate, but teachers also help develop a passion for learning, direct career paths, and provide support, encouragement, counsel, and often protection for our most vulnerable. With the very real risk to education with 45’s appointment of Betsy DeVos, now more than ever, we need to show teachers we have their backs.

We are in no way trying to give you Pinterest worthy ideas, but we are offering you a gentle reminder that you should get in on this supporting of those who educate our youth. One quick and easy project is to get your children to write some thank you notes to their favorite teachers, then pick a dandelion or grab an apple to go with it, and DONE! The sentiment is there, the craft is free, and you’ve earned yourself some parenting brownie points. Support teachers because in times like these, we need education and a good support system more than ever.

 

Donors Choose

Your DGB for today is to check out and donate to a school listed on Donors Choose.

Donors Choose was started by a history teacher, and helps fund tools and experiences for students who attend grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 in US public schools. You may have heard about the organization when Oprah Winfrey highlighted it on her show in 2003. Teachers still need our help, and we at DGB think this organization deserves an A (and some cash) for effort.

On the website, you can click on “most urgent projects” or find a school in a high poverty area. There are over 73,000 schools for you to choose from. You can also check to see if a local school in your area is listed. If you can give, please do so, as every little bit counts. A donation of just five dollars can go toward a classroom’s art project, technology, books, a field trip, and much more.

When members of the community work together to promote the well-being and learning of all students, we send a message to children that they matter. If you are able to donate, help a teacher out.

 

After School Clubs: They DO Matter

Your DGB for today is to write a letter, postcard, or send a donation to an organization that supports after school clubs.

President Trump’s Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, stated that, “There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re [after school clubs] actually helping results, helping kids do better at school.”

We at DGB disagree, and Harvard research shows that after school clubs DO make a difference when there is sustained participation and proper adult supervision. The benefits include better academic performance as well as social-emotional, prevention, and health and wellness outcomes.

Below is a short list of after school clubs that DGB members have participated in or heard about:

Bedtime Math & Crazy 8s Math Club: All proceeds from the Bedtime Math Books go to support the Crazy 8s after school math clubs. All materials and lesson plans are free. Any parent can use them to start a K-2 or 3-5 club at your local school or library. If you aren’t able to volunteer, you can purchase one of their books to support the organization.

Girls on the Run: This after school club focuses on girls in grades 3-8, and allows parents and teachers to get fit with daughters, grandaughters, nieces, and other school-aged girls after school hours. What a great way to spend some time together.

Let Me Run: This is the counterpart to girls on the run. Let Me Run is for 4th - 8th grade boys, and supports building relationships and living a healthy lifestyle.

Do you have other ideas? Please share them on our Facebook Page. We at DGB would love to hear how after school clubs definitely ARE making a difference.

 

Good Samaritan Day

Your DGB for today is to obtain the skills and tools to become a better good samaritan.

Today is Good Samaritan Day, and we all remember the iconic finale to Seinfeld where the cast witnesses a man getting carjacked at gunpoint, and instead of helping him out, they stand around and crack jokes about it, all while Kramer films the entire thing. The victim notices and and they all end up in jail under the brand new “Duty to Rescue Law.” If you haven’t watched it, oops...spoiler alert, but the episode was used to highlight a phenomenon known as the bystander effect. The bystander effect is the aversion to helping others in an emergency situation when there are other people around. Some think it’s because we take social cues from others before acting or because we are waiting for someone with more expertise to step in.

Today we are asking you to break out of the bystander effect and be prepared for situations that may arise. There are three specific things you can do to be prepared to be a good samaritan. The first is to become comfortable delegating. Instead of asking someone for help, take charge in a situation by saying “you, in the hat, call 911.” Taking the lead and stepping in will make others feel more confident in helping out. You can learn more tips on bystander intervention here. The second thing to do is to learn the skills necessary to possibly save a life. Get your CPR or First Aid certificate to help someone in need while you wait for the professionals to arrive. And third, purchase a first aid kit to keep in your car or bag. You never know if you’ll need it for you, your family, or a stranger, but it’s always good to have on hand for bumps and bruises or more severe injuries.

So don’t be a Seinfeld and have your career ruined by cracking jokes while you see something bad happening. Prepare yourself with the tools and skills to be a good samaritan and maybe your dreams of a having a show about nothing will come true.

 

Anti-Bias Education

Your DGB for today is to seek out opportunities for our youth to participate in anti-bias education. It starts early, it starts at home, and you can partner with local schools to ensure the message is sent far and wide. You truly are helping to shape a future generation.

Recently, a group of high school seniors took their senior class photos. You may remember taking your own high school class photo, but what you (hopefully) don’t remember is having approximately 70 of your classmates give the Nazi salute, or shout “Heil Trump, heil Hitler!” while your photo was being taken. Yes, that is exactly what happened in a Texas high school. Appalled? Us too. This cannot happen.

What exactly IS anti-bias education? Check out the National Association for the Education of Young People’s (NAEYC) Anti-Bias Education site to learn more. You can find additional resources for anti-bias education here.

We must first remember that there are many amazing youth in our country, who do good things for other people each and every day. For these children, we should continue to be role models in the fight against bigotry, hate, and racism. For those being taught to discriminate, we need to intervene as early as possible. Make sure the heirs of our country take it from us with an understanding of tolerance and inclusivity.

 

Safety Pin Box

Your DGB for today is to check out, and hopefully subscribe to, Safety Pin Box.

Remember those horrible first few days after Hillary lost and her supporters, particularly white progressive women, fumbled through life in a haze of tears and disbelief searching for a way to “make it up” to the millions of minority Americans we let down? We took to social media in droves seeking a way to show how desperately sorry, ashamed, and ally-like we truly were. In an underwhelming act of “support,” we dramatically pinned safety pins to our shirts to show the world we were a safe harbor in a sea of white supremacy and hate…or something like that. Shortly after many had pinned their blouses and some had started up Etsy shops selling safety pin earrings, necklaces and - yes - safety pins, the harsh, but deserved, criticism of this act’s tone deafness began. Minority activists criticized safety pins as another way white progressives pay lip service without actually mobilizing, speaking out, or attempting to dismantle institutionalized racism and discrimination.

Two Black women activists decided to turn this non-action into tangible action and developed Safety Pin Box; a subscription service that spells out true activism for the activist-adjacent. Actionable tasks are regularly assigned to subscribers and are meant to develop into collaborative local activism. From the website:

“Tasks will vary in scope from individual to group assignments, and task categories include data collection, personal development, influencing your networks, and showing radical compassion.”

So let us not “put a pin in it,” but rather take up the mantle of true activism and embrace what it means to be a sincere accomplice in these uncertain times, and in doing so, support two Women of Color as they try to educate us.

 

 

Multicultural Book Donation to Preschools

Your DGB for today is to defeat implicit bias by donating a book featuring black or brown lead characters to your local Head Start Preschool.

While some adults may be beyond the reach of examining their attitudes towards race, children are receptive, teachable, and capable of shaping the future into the integrated and open world we desire for them. Media being predominantly white, bias begins early and white normalcy is something we need to combat. Children of all races need to see themselves and others in the media they consume; representation matters. This alone will not fix racism, a complex issue embedded in the fabric of our society, but it’s one of the places you can start or continue your work dismantling white supremacy.

Read more about the importance of public preschool here.

Find your local Head Start Preschool here.

Browse a list of books with black and brown protagonists for children of all ages here.

Or use one of our DGB suggested books for toddlers and preschoolers, which you can find used and new here, and a board book for those little ones who devour literature in a literal and not just figurative sense here.

And don’t forget to use AmazonSmile if shopping this way! 

 

Call to Action - Betsy Devos

 

Your DGB for today is to tell your senator to vote NO for Betsy DeVos’ appointment to Secretary of Education. DeVos is totally unqualified for this position with no background in education, has never even attended a public school or sent her children to one. She is also a strong supporter and advocate for a voucher system which funnels federal and state dollars away from public education, weakening the quality of education in both public and private systems. You can participate in today’s action in one of two ways:

Send a letter with this site:

Network for Public Education - Tell Your Senator to Vote No for Betsy Devos

 

Or sign this petition:

Move On Petition - Defend Public Education

 

This article describes two likely scenarios that would ensue if DeVos is confirmed by Congress. It also contains details from the  ACLU MI chapter regarding Betsy DeVos’ foundation’s efforts in that state:

Washington Post - What’s the Worst That Could Happen with Betsy Devos as Education Secretary: Two Scenarios