Friday, July 1, 2022

Decades after Brown v. Board, US schools still struggle with segregation – 4 essential reads

Decades after Brown v. Board, US schools still struggle with segregation – 4 essential reads

Millicent Brown, left, was one of the first two Black students to integrate a South Carolina public school, in September 1963. AP Photo
Jeff Inglis, The Conversation

The Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, handed down in 1954, was supposed to end racial segregation in the nation’s public schools. But that work remains undone, as evidenced by a U.S. Department of Justice collection showing dozens of active school-desegregation cases even in 2022.

To take a more in-depth look at the prevalence and nature of contemporary school segregation in the U.S., The Conversation sought scholars who could discuss the topic from various standpoints – from its legal history to its current status and modern-day efforts to make schools inclusive beyond racial identity. Here are four selections from our past coverage.

1. The Brown case wasn’t the beginning

The fight for full equity in schools first went to the courts in 1947, when a group of Black parents in South Carolina wanted their kids to be allowed to ride the bus to school, as the white students could. When the case finally went to federal court in 1951, writes equity scholar Roy Jones at Clemson University, a federal judge suggested more – a suit against school segregation itself.

“A month later, [civil rights lawyer Thurgood] Marshall brought a new case, Briggs v. Elliott, … arguing that school segregation in South Carolina was unconstitutional. This was the first lawsuit in the country to challenge school segregation as a violation of the U.S. Constitution,” Jones writes. “The Brown v. Board case eventually grew out of that South Carolina case.”

2. Still segregated

A group of young adults with varying skin tones socialize outside
Court-ordered desegregation has happened in the U.S. as recently as 2015, when a federal judge issued a desegregation order to the Cleveland, Miss., school district. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

The Brown decision declared that public schools could not be segregated by race anymore, but the process took years and is still incomplete, writes Pedro Noguera, an educational sociologist at the University of Southern California.

“American society continues to grow more racially and ethnically diverse. But many of the nation’s public K-12 schools are not well integrated and are instead predominantly attended by students of one race or another,” he writes.

In fact, Noguera explains, “in 2018-2019, the most recent school year for which data is available, 42% of Black students attended majority-Black schools, and 56% of Hispanic students attended majority-Hispanic schools. Even more striking, 79% of white students in America went to majority-white schools during the same period.”

3. Economic segregation

Racial differences aren’t the only way U.S. schools are segregated. Education policy scholar Kari Dalane at the American University School of Public Affairs and a collaborator looked at how students are split up into classrooms within schools.

We found that … economically disadvantaged students were increasingly likely to be concentrated in a subset of classrooms rather than spread out relatively evenly throughout the school,” Dalane writes.

That’s a problem because, as she explains, “more experienced teachers raise student test scores more than novice teachers, on average. However, novice teachers are frequently assigned to classrooms with more low-income students. Therefore, the more students are separated along lines of household income, the more likely poorer students are to fall behind academically.”

4. Children with disabilities

A teacher speaks with students who are raising their hands.
Learning support teachers such as Sabrina Werley in Pennsylvania are common, but schools’ services can vary widely. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

In the wake of the Brown decision came another effort – to include children with disabilities in the nation’s classrooms, rather than sending them to specialized schools focused on addressing their weaknesses.

A 1979 lawsuit ultimately asked the Supreme Court to interpret a 1975 law that said “children have the right to a ‘free appropriate public education’ in the ‘least restrictive environment’ possible in which their needs can be met,” explains education law scholar Charles Russo at the University of Dayton.

The lawsuit didn’t go well. In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled that a deaf student didn’t qualify for a sign-language interpreter because the student was doing well enough, even though an interpreter could have helped the student learn more and do better.

It took 35 years – until 2017 – for the Supreme Court to rule that schools owed students with disabilities an actually equal chance to make the most of their talents and promise. “Progress – and potential – were the new standards, not merely getting by,” Russo writes.

But it’s not clear how long it will take before every child has those opportunities.The Conversation

Jeff Inglis, Freelance Editor, The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Teacher burnout hits record high – 5 essential reads

Schoolteachers are reporting high levels of burnout. AP Photo/David Goldman
Published in The Conversation

Teachers in grades K through 12 are more burned out than workers in any other industry, according to a new Gallup poll that finds 44% of K-12 employees report “always” or “very often” feeling burned out at work. That number climbs to 52% when looking just at teachers.

Increased work duties during the pandemic, students with mental health challenges and political debates over masks and mass shootings are among the reasons educators say they are under unprecedented stress – and staffing shortages increase the pressure.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Conversation has asked several scholars to explain their research on various aspects of teacher burnout. Here are selections from their work.

1. Teachers most enjoy working with students

A teacher holds up a calendar to her laptop screen during a Zoom call with her class.
Teachers experienced more positive emotions interacting with their students when schools closed during the pandemic. Barrie Fanton/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Nathan D. Jones from Boston University and Kristabel Stark from the University of Maryland interviewed teachers in early 2020 – both before the COVID-19 pandemic sparked school closings and lockdowns and after they began.

“Of all the things teachers do on the job, we found that teachers enjoy interacting with students the most – and that the positive feelings when working with students intensified once schools shifted to remote learning during the pandemic,” they wrote. As parents and communities rallied around teachers, they felt supported and encouraged to continue to support each child in their charge. But the researchers warned those feelings might be overcome by other responsibilities.

“As schools reopen, our research suggests that one way to keep teachers motivated and engaged is to ensure that they have time to build and maintain relationships with students. This is something we fear could become lost as school leaders are forced to focus on the health and safety aspects of operating schools as the pandemic continues.”

2. ‘Every day feels unsettled’

Sure enough, by the 2021-2022 school year, teachers were feeling stressed and burned out, as Laura Wangsness Willemsen and John W. Braun at Concordia University, St. Paul, and Elisheva L. Cohen at Indiana University found in their interviews with teachers and school administrators.

Lack of staff support was a major concern: “[P]ersistent staffing shortages are leading professionals to feel burned out and to worry about students missing learning opportunities,” they wrote. One assistant principal told the researchers, “Every day feels unsettled. I experience anxiety about how my day will unfold.”

3. It’s more than just individual

Australian education scholars Rebecca J. Collie at the University of New South Wales Sydney and Caroline F. Mansfield at University of Notre Dame Australia looked at sources of workplace stress among about 3,100 teachers at 225 Australian schools.

They found that school management was also a key factor in whether teachers felt stressed. “[S]ources of stress at work are not necessarily specific to the individual, but reflect a broader school climate as well,” they wrote. “So, teachers’ stress isn’t just an individual issue – some schools are more stressful places to work.”

4. Teachers look for other options

All this stress and uncertainty led to teachers’ rethinking their careers, according to research from Gema Zamarro, Andrew Camp and Josh McGee at the University of Arkansas, and Dillon Fuchsman at Saint Louis University.

“More than 40% of the teachers surveyed said they considered leaving or retiring, and over half of those said it was because of the pandemic,” they wrote. “In March 2020, 74% of teachers said they expected to work as a teacher until retirement, but the figure fell to 69% in March 2021. The proportion of teachers answering ‘I don’t know’ to this question increased by a similar amount, rising from 16% to 22%.”

An adult stands in the front of a classroom with young children at desks
Teachers across the U.S. have been under stress throughout the pandemic. Jon Cherry/Getty Images

5. The exodus may not be immediate

Changes in career plans for teachers are one line of research for Christopher Redding at the University of Florida, who along with Temple University’s Allison Gilmour, Boston University’s Elizabeth Bettini and Kansas State University’s Tuan D. Nguyen compared what teachers said about their plans to change professions with whether they actually did so.

“Based on our research, we think it unlikely that most teachers who say they plan to leave teaching as soon as possible will actually leave this school year,” they wrote. “However, if even one-third of teachers who say they’re leaving the profession do so, that would be significantly more than the 8% of teachers who leave in an average year.”

What it comes down to, they wrote, is that “[t]eachers are clearly sounding the alarm about stress, burnout, dissatisfaction with school and district leadership, and other working conditions – even if they do stay in their jobs.”The Conversation

Jeff Inglis, Freelance Editor, The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.