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From KQED

Judge Issues Temporary Ruling in City College Accreditation Dispute

On Friday, a judge issued a temporary ruling that may allow City College of San Francisco to resubmit evidence in its fight to maintain accreditation. We'll discuss the decision and its possible effects on the college.

Oakland Calls on Charters to Revive Underperforming Schools

Citing low test scores and declining enrollment, Oakland Schools Superintendent Antwan Wilson has announced a plan to revive five of Oakland's most troubled schools. Under the Intensive Support Schools Initiative, the district will invite charter organizations and other groups to submit proposals to redesign the schools and re-launch them in 2016. What will the plan mean for students, parents and teachers?

PBS NewsHour

Why my Pakistani student says she hates Malala, and what that’s taught me

Photo
         by the NewsHour's American Graduate Project

Girls return to their school in Peshawar on Jan. 12 after it was devastated by a Taliban attack that killed 145 people. Photo by Khuram Parvez/Reuters

Editor’s Note: Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai has garnered support all over the world and earned a Nobel Peace Prize last year for her work advocating for girls’ education. Below, teacher Alison Walter explains how a student’s unexpected opinion of Malala gave her a new approach to global lessons.


“Oh, Malala Yousafzai? Tsk. I hate that girl.”

teachersloungeI stared at my student, my head filling with the panicky buzz that teachers get when a child says something socially unacceptable — What do I say now? Where is this attitude coming from? Thank goodness it’s after-school tutoring and the other kids aren’t in here …

Part of my disbelief came from the fact that, until that point, I would have compared this girl to Malala — they were both Pakistani, both very conscientious students, both concerned with what was happening in the world around them and both living in different countries in order to get the education that they and their families wanted. So, since no good response came to mind, I asked, “Why do you hate Malala?”

My student launched into a very long, very well-thought-out critique of how foreign governments treated Malala as a martyr, giving her benefits like a house and money while women from her village were suffering attacks by the Taliban as retribution.

We are teaching and raising a generation that has the world in their pocket. Since my conversation about Malala, I have made two changes to open my classroom up to the world.“How is she helping Pakistan? I want to go back and help my country; that’s why I am getting an education here. She is not helping them. Why does she not ask Britain and the U.S. to give money to the Pakistan government for education?” This outburst turned into a productive conversation about the troubled relationship that the United States has with Pakistan — and with that conversation, a realization that I had been doing something wrong.

I teach Civics — the structure, purpose, and history of American government. In several of my class sections, more than half of my students were born outside of the United States, and a quarter of them speak little to no English. I had been so focused on trying to give them the background to understand American culture, politics and government that I had neglected to leave room for their own backgrounds and experiences.

I teach American government in a global classroom. My students come from five of the seven continents, and a casual count brings me to around 20 different countries of birth. My students spend half of their day on their phones, on Instagram and Twitter. My students know exactly what is happening in the world, as long as it is relevant to their friends, their parents or their news feeds. Although I am required to discuss American politics, if I do not address what drove my students from their homes and what their families are still facing, I leave half of my class in the dust.

We are teaching and raising a generation that has the world in their pocket. Since my conversation about Malala, I have made two changes to open my classroom up to the world.

First, I have stopped fighting the weird obsessions that my 8th graders bring into class with them — one day it’s the Illuminati, another day it’s an utter conviction that they will die from Ebola. Even though the standards and curriculum guidelines don’t seem to connect to global politics, I find a way to make it work. Which branch of government is in charge of health workers abroad during a global pandemic? Are conspiracy theories another tool that the media use to influence elections?

Second, I am much more careful with choice in my classroom. Frequently, I will give students a selection of three to five different reading options: newspaper articles, textbook excerpts, whatever medium I can use to get content across. Now, instead of focusing on generic high-interest topics like football or Justin Bieber, I think about what my students have brought up that week. Maybe my West African student wants to read about hyperinflation in Zimbabwe, since he was asking me why people can’t afford food in some countries. Then again, he might still choose the article about sports but if I never give him the option, I’ll never know.

In the crush of testing, standards and the pitfalls facing students in poverty, it is easy to lose sight of the incredible richness that our interconnected world can offer. So far, I have been able to find a few opportunities to pull the world into my classroom.

What other ideas can you provide to me and to your colleagues? I’m always looking for more.

Alison Walter is a middle school civics teacher in northern Virginia.

The post Why my Pakistani student says she hates Malala, and what that’s taught me appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Yale police aim gun at columnist’s son, turn spotlight on racial profiling on campus

New York Times Columnist Charles M. Blow tweeted about his son's experience being held at gun point by Yale campus
         police Saturday .

New York Times Columnist Charles M. Blow tweeted about his son’s experience being held at gun point by Yale campus police Saturday .

The debate over racial profiling — already a hot topic on many college campuses — gained renewed attention this weekend when Yale University police briefly detained a black male student Saturday evening.

Black students and faculty members at many campuses charge that racial profiling is a fact of life for them, but this student’s experience immediately attracted wide attention. His father is a New York Times columnist who has written about racial profiling and whose Twitter feed attracts many eyeballs.

Charles M. Blow, posted several tweets about the incident, saying that his son was held at gunpoint, and that the incident left the father angry.

Many of his 122,000 followers quickly spread the word about the incident.

Blow wrote that the incident reinforced his view of the importance of drawing attention to the issue of racial profiling.

This morning, a column by Blow offers more details on the incident in The New York Times. He said he understood the need for police, at Yale and elsewhere, to look for people who match descriptions of various suspects. But he questioned why his son was stopped on campus at gunpoint and told to get on the ground.


“Why was a gun drawn first? Why was he not immediately told why he was being detained? Why not ask for ID first?” Blow wrote. “What if my son had panicked under the stress, having never had a gun pointed at him before, and made what the officer considered a ‘suspicious’ movement? Had I come close to losing him? Triggers cannot be unpulled. Bullets cannot be called back.”

The column closes this way: “The dean of Yale College and the campus police chief have apologized and promised an internal investigation, and I appreciate that. But the scars cannot be unmade. My son will always carry the memory of the day he left his college library and an officer trained a gun on him.”

Yale officials acknowledged to Inside Higher Ed that a student was briefly detained and then released Saturday night. A spokeswoman declined to confirm that the student was Tahj Blow, the son of Charles Blow, or that he was held at gunpoint.

A spokeswoman said that Yale’s police department would review what happened, and she described the events that led to a student being detained.

She said that students in one of Yale’s residential colleges — which has experienced burglaries in the last week — reported an individual had been entering rooms under false pretenses. Students described the suspect as a tall African-American male, college aged and wearing a black jacket. That description was sent to campus police, the spokeswoman said, and was the reason the student was detained.

After the student was released, a suspect was arrested.

Other Incidents

There have been numerous incidents in the last year in which alleged racial profiling by campus police or police of college towns has been an issue:

- In December, essays by two Vassar College professors that, among other things, discussed the way they were treated by local police, attracted wide attention. The headline on one of the essays — “My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK” — focused on the way the authors write that black people are suspected until they can demonstrate a connection to the college.

- In June, a black professor at Arizona State University was arrested by campus police in an incident that was prompted by jay-walking that the professor’s supporters said would never have led to the questioning of white faculty member. Video showing the campus police body-slamming the professor attracted widespread concern. The professor is now suing Arizona State, which is moving to fire the police officer in the incident.

- In July, the University of California at Los Angeles agreed to pay $500,000 to settle complaints of use of excessive force and racial profiling against a black judge during a traffic stop. The UCLA Black Alumni Association will receive $350,000 of the payment, to be used for scholarships. UCLA also agreed to hold a one-day forum on police-community relations. The case was detailed in an article in The Los Angles Times.

- A year ago, black student and faculty groups at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities asked the police there to stop using racial descriptions in crime alerts, saying that such descriptions encouraged racial profiling. The university denounced racial profiling but declined to change the way it described suspects in crime alerts.

Inside Higher Ed is a free, daily online publication covering the fast-changing world of higher education.

PBS NewsHour coverage of higher education is supported by the Lumina Foundation and American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The post Yale police aim gun at columnist’s son, turn spotlight on racial profiling on campus appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Critics say Obama proposal will hurt families saving for college

Peter Gridley via Getty Images

A tax package proposed by President Obama during Tuesday’s State of the Union address would negatively affect parents saving for their childrens’ college, critics say. Photo by Peter Gridley via Getty Images

About 12 million people across the U.S. have money socked away, in most cases by their parents, in special savings accounts meant to be used to pay for college.

The draw of the plans, known as 529 plans, is that when the money is withdrawn to pay for expenses like tuition, fees, books and some room and board costs, the interest earned by parents’ deposits is not taxed.

If the tax reform package President Obama proposed during his State of the Union address this week were to become law, that federal tax benefit would disappear for any future contributions to 529 accounts.

Obama’s proposed changes to these savings plans are part of a streamlining of education tax credits the White House says will ultimately benefit middle-class families.

Sandy Baum, an expert on college costs at the Urban Institute, told the New York Times that 529 plans “primarily provide a subsidy to people who would save in other forms anyway.” Meaning, the accounts are used by affluent families with extra disposable income, not the middle-class parents proponents say use the accounts.

A story in the Wall Street Journal points to a report from the Government Accountability Office showing more than half of families contributing to the plans earn less than $150,000 a year and 30 percent earn less than $100,000, putting them in a position where paying for one or more child to go to college could be unaffordable without prior savings.

“We’re unlikely to find out how changing the taxes applied to the college savings plans would play out for American families,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, chair of the Senate’s education committee, told the Wall Street Journal the 529 plan is “sure to go nowhere in Congress.”


PBS NewsHour coverage of higher education is supported by the Lumina Foundation and American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The post Critics say Obama proposal will hurt families saving for college appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Say what? Half the world’s languages will vanish by the end of the century

[Watch Video]

There are more than 6,000 languages spoken around the world today. But by the end of this century, fewer than half of them will remain.

That’s the driving concern of the new documentary “Language Matters,” from poet Bob Holman and filmmaker David Grubin. The two traveled the globe looking at endangered languages and efforts to preserve them — visiting an aboriginal community in northern Australia, the country of Wales and the Hawaiian Islands.

“Each of these languages holds a little piece of information or a lot of information, can hold the information about medicines and health, can hold information about the constellations in the sky,” Holman says. “And that’s information that if you lose the language, you lose that connection with that place, with that way of thinking, with tens of thousands of years of that language’s lineage.”

As part of our coverage of Culture at Risk, Chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown recently discussed the film with Holman, which premieres on some PBS stations this weekend and can be streamed online now.

The post Say what? Half the world’s languages will vanish by the end of the century appeared first on PBS NewsHour.