Monday, October 30, 2017

Stress, hostility rising in American high schools in Trump era, UCLA report finds

So teacher hostility to Trump has transferred to their students

Student anxiety and hostility on public high school campuses has worsened since Donald Trump became president and is affecting student learning, according to a new UCLA report.

More than half of public high school teachers in a nationally representative school sample reported seeing more students than ever with "high levels of stress and anxiety" between last January, when Trump took office, and May. That’s according to the study, "Teaching and Learning in the Age of Trump: Increasing Stress, and Hostility in America’s High Schools," by John Rogers, director of the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access at the University of California Los Angeles.

"I’ve never been in a school year where I’ve had so many kids kind of on edge," said Utah social studies teacher Nicole Morris.

And nearly 80 percent said some students had expressed concern for their well-being because of the charged public conversation about issues such as immigration, health care, the environment, travel bans, and LGBTQ rights, it said.

The policy issue that concerned students the most was the administration’s statements about immigration.


When Quality Education Becomes a Matter of National Security

Surveys of our men and women in uniform indicate that finding a quality education for their children is a matter of national security.

A 2017 Military Times/Collaborative for Student Success survey of service members found that 35 percent of respondents said that “dissatisfaction with a child’s education was or is ‘a significant factor’ in deciding whether or not to continue military service.”

According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2018 Index of Military Strength, our armed forces already lack the resources they need. When quality of life indicators, such as access to a great education for their children, are a concern, the Military Times survey suggests more than one-third of our military could have second thoughts about extended service.

Washington should give our military families more access to learning opportunities. An EdChoice survey conducted by Braun Research, Inc., finds that 72 percent of active-duty members, veterans, and their spouses are in favor of using education savings accounts when informed of how the accounts work.

Now law in six states, education savings accounts give families the opportunity to customize a child’s education. States deposit a portion of a child’s funding from a state’s education formula into a private account that parents use to buy educational products and services for their children. Parents can buy online classes, hire a personal tutor and pay private school tuition, to name a few possible uses. Families can save money from year to year to prepare for additional high school or even college needs.

The accounts can help make reassignment easier for military families. When asked, “Did moving between states as part of your military service add challenges to your children’s education?” 70 percent of respondents to the Military Times survey said yes. In the EdChoice survey, 39 percent of military parents that used to have school-aged children and 31 percent of current military parents report enrolling their oldest child in at least four schools.

Military families are also more than twice as a likely than civilian families to say that they moved homes to be closer to their child’s school (37 percent vs. 17 percent).

With an education savings account, parents can use the funds to educate a child at home, combine services such as K-12 tutors and online classes or visit private schools with the resources to make a choice that works for their child. If the local district school to which a student is assigned is low-performing, the accounts will allow military parents to find an alternative.

The EdChoice survey demonstrates that military families are already making sacrifices for their children’s educations. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they have “significantly changed their routine” for the sake of their child’s education, compared to the national average of 38 percent.

To offer military families the opportunity to use education savings accounts, lawmakers could redirect some of the federal funds for K-12 children in military families (called “Impact Aid”) to students’ accounts. Today, Impact Aid provides federal funds to districts to help educate 150,000 students living on and off-base, along with tens of thousands of other military-connected students throughout the country.

Even if the accounts are made available to service members’ families, no family would be forced to use an account. The local public and private school options, along with homeschooling, would still be available to them without an account. And no public schools have closed due to savings account usage in states with account laws—generally, one percent or less of a state’s public school enrollment has opted to use an account since 2011 (in Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi).

But for military parents that need access to something other than their assigned district school, the accounts can be a life-changing opportunity. “Military parents are going above and beyond the national average when it comes to supporting their children’s K-12 educational experiences,” write the EdChoice survey authors, adding that there is “an opportunity to give real schooling power to military families, who have already sacrificed so much for their country.”


Government ‘developing fundamental British values curriculum’

The Department for Education is developing a “fundamental British values curriculum” aimed at helping teachers train pupils to resist extremism, a minister has said.

In a letter to education professionals, seen by Schools Week, the new academies minister Lord Agnew has set out plans to develop new “resources and guidance” for teachers.

This new “curriculum” will assist school staff in promoting fundamental British values and “building pupils’ resilience to extremist ideologies”, Agnew says.

This will be done via existing subjects. For example, the chronological teaching of British history can help “foster integration” and history lessons can teach pupils about the evolution of parliamentary democracy and religious tolerance, Agnew says.

Other subjects affected include RE, PSHE and citizenship.

The move follows calls from a senior government official, Dame Louise Casey, for the promotion of British laws, history and values within the core school curriculum.

Casey’s review of community cohesion and extremism, published last year, found that segregation and social exclusion were at “worrying levels” in some parts of Britain. She said more weight should be attached to a British values focus and syllabus in teaching skills and assessing school performance.

In his letter, Agnew invites teachers and other education professionals to join an expert advisory group. The unpaid members of this group will be consulted on the “specification of resources”, and will meet for the first time in early November.

Once developed, the resources will be published on the Educate Against Hate website.

According to Agnew, the DfE has received feedback that some teachers lack the confidence and knowledge needed to promote fundamental British values through the mainstream curriculum.

Ofsted inspectors have also found evidence of inconsistent and ineffective approaches to promoting fundamental British values, Agnew says.

The proposals have been cautiously welcomed by the Association of School and College Leaders.

Anna Cole, the union’s parliamentary specialist and an expert on the government’s British values agenda, said the resources would be useful as long as they were adaptable to an individual school’s context and non-statutory.

“We haven’t seen these resources but we welcome any high quality resources that are non-statutory and that can be adapted to context to help schools deliver in this important area.

She said the resources even had the potential to save teachers “time, workload and stress”, and give them confidence to “discuss these very important and difficult issues with children and young people in order to safeguard them and prepare them to thrive in a diverse global society”.


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