Roberge dévoile les bases du nouveau cours «Culture et citoyenneté québécoise»

Of note, likely the next series of debates (Bill 21 and 96 would be good places to highlight issues):

La culture, la citoyenneté québécoise et le développement de la pensée critique formeront les « trois axes » du nouveau cours appelé à remplacer celui d’Éthique et culture religieuse (ECR). Le ministre de l’Éducation, Jean-François Roberge, a dévoilé dimanche « les thèmes » qui seront enseignés dans toutes les écoles primaires et secondaires du Québec à partir de la rentrée 2023.

Le premier volet permettra aux élèves de comprendre la culture « des sociétés » avec un accent prononcé pour celle d’ici, a expliqué le ministre en conférence de presse.

L’« objectif du cours » se trouve dans le deuxième axe. « La visée, c’est de préparer nos jeunes à l’exercice de la citoyenneté québécoise. Nos valeurs et les principes qui sont les fondements de notre société seront présentés aux élèves », a expliqué Jean-François Roberge en citant le respect, la liberté d’expression, la liberté de conscience, les droits, les libertés et les responsabilités de chacun. Il sera aussi question d’éducation aux médias et d’éducation sexuelle.

« Le dialogue, la pensée critique et l’éthique » composent la troisième orientation du nouveau cours. Les élèves seront notamment amenés à se questionner et à aborder des dilemmes moraux. « Cette approche fera obstacle aux censeurs et à tous ceux qui s’attaquent à la liberté d’expression », a déclaré le ministre Roberge.

Il a insisté à plusieurs reprises pour dire que le cours d’ECR était « vicié à la base » et « reposait sur un dogme qui est une erreur », soit que la religion est l’unique « lunette à travers on regarde la personne ». L’analyse des identités religieuses demeurera au programme, mais perdra son aspect « prépondérant ». « On peut ne plus tolérer ce genre des biais dans nos écoles. »

Le nouveau programme n’ira pas dans la « redondance », mais dans la « complémentarité » par rapport au reste des matières, a par ailleurs mentionné M. Roberge.

La rédaction du programme est déjà « bien amorcée », a-t-il affirmé. Le ministère officialisera le contenu au printemps 2022. La matière sera testée à partir de l’automne 2022 avec « des enseignants qui [lèveront] la main » ou « des équipes-écoles qui [lèveront] la main ». Des « ajustements » suivront au cours de l’année scolaire afin de pouvoir étendre ce nouveau cours à toutes les écoles primaires et secondaires du Québec à l’automne 2023.

Le cours d’ECR, 2008-2023

Le nouveau cours de « Culture et citoyenneté québécoise » ressemble au cours d’ECR avec un « vernis national », juge Georges Leroux, professeur émérite à l’UQAM et corédacteur du programme désavoué par le ministre. « La grande question, c’est quel est véritablement le changement qui va séparer le nouveau programme de l’ancien ? À part la promotion nationale, tous les thèmes qui sont abordés en éthique sont abordés dans le programme actuel. »

À cela le ministre répond que « quelqu’un qui compare les deux cours verrait à la fin que la compétence de l’éthique et du dialogue reviennent, mais dans une perspective différente. L’ancien cours d’ECR amenait le débat et l’éthique, mais empêchait parfois la remise en question de certains dogmes. Je ne veux pas répéter cette erreur-là dans le nouveau cours. »

Avant l’arrivée de ce cours d’ECR en 2008, « on était dans un enseignement confessionnel qui sortait du XVIIe siècle », rappelle Benoit Mercier, un autre des concepteurs de l’ancien programme. Les jeunes Québécois devaient alors suivre soit un cours de morale, soit un cours de catéchèse.

Les deux spécialistes doutent surtout des consultations qui ont mené à cette nouvelle version. Plus de trois ans de discussions et d’analyses avaient été nécessaires pour accoucher du cours d’ECR. À la fin ce processus, « tous les syndicats étaient d’accord, toutes les universités, les collèges et leurs représentants étaient d’accord. […] Tout le monde était d’accord », se remémore Benoit Mercier.

Accueil mitigé

Le cours de culture et citoyenneté québécoise découle d’un processus entamé en 2020. Une consultation publique en ligne, deux consultations en personnes — à Québec et à Montréal —, des rencontres virtuelles avec les communautés autochtones et l’étude de quelque 200 mémoires ont mené à l’annonce de dimanche, a précisé Jean-Bernard Émond, adjoint parlementaire à l’Éducation.

Plusieurs se réjouissent de la fin du cours d’ECR, vu par certains comme une promotion du multiculturalisme. Le député du Parti québécois dans Matane-Matapédia, Pascal Bérubé, considère le remplacement du cours comme une « victoire » pour sa formation politique, puisque « le ministre de l’Éducation ne voulait pas l’abolir, car il l’avait enseigné ».

Le cours d’ECR « va passer à l’histoire comme une aberration », selon le président du Mouvement laïque québécois, Daniel Baril, qui s’enthousiasme de la fin du « tout à la religion ». Selon lui, « dans une société polarisée, c’est la culture québécoise qui est le pôle d’inclusion ».

D’autres accueillent l’annonce avec scepticisme. Le vice-président de la Fédération nationale des enseignants du Québec, affiliée à la CSN, se questionne sur le temps alloué de deux heures par cycle. « Il y a une espèce de fourre-tout, de divers thèmes. On se demande comment ce sera possible de faire passer l’ensemble de ces éléments avec seulement deux heures par cycle », a commenté Léandre Lapointe, qui espère que la formation pour les enseignants promise par le ministre sera adéquate.

La présidente intérimaire de l’Association québécoise en éthique et culture religieuse, Line Dubé, reste aussi perplexe devant ce nouveau cours. « Pour des pédagogues, des enseignants, des didacticiens, ça ressemble encore à un gros Jello, pas encore “pogné”. On attend encore la couleur réelle de ce à quoi on nous engage rapidement. »

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/societe/education/642501/le-nouveau-cours-de-culture-et-citoyennete-quebecoise-dans-toutes-les?utm_source=infolettre-2021-10-25&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

English version:

A new course intended to replace Quebec’s polarizing, long-standing ethics and religious culture curriculum will teach students how to be proud members of Quebec society, the province’s Education Minister said Sunday.

Jean-François Roberge held a news conference to unveil details of the new course, dubbed Culture and Citizenship in Quebec. He was joined by Isabelle Charest, the minister responsible for women, as well as various key players from Quebec’s cultural scene.

“You know Quebec is different from the rest of North America,” Roberge said. “We are not New York, Vermont, Ontario or New Brunswick. We have a Quebec way of life. We have our artists, Francophone and Anglophone, our cultural legacy. We are not ashamed to share this culture with our kids.”

The new class is intended to replace a course on ethics and religious culture that’s been taught in the province’s schools since 2008.

Roberge said the new curriculum was built around three main themes. The first will explore diverse cultures with an emphasis on Quebec. The citizenship plank of the program will teach the province’s values and responsibilities, while content intended to teach ethics is also meant to develop students’ critical thinking skills.

Roberge said the class aims to provide “national cohesion” as well as fight against sexism, racism and sexual violence. He also positioned the revamped curriculum as an “obstacle to censorship.”

The current program has faced years of relentless criticism from Quebec nationalists and committed secularists for allegedly putting too much emphasis on multiculturalism and diversity.

Roberge, however, cited different grounds for objection when critiquing the present-day course.

He said the ethics and religious culture class is not offering enough space for students to ask critical questions.

“We need to be able to discuss and debate everything respectfully,” Roberge said. “It cannot be a taboo and censorship class, it needs to be a course on freedom of expression and learning about personal relationships.”

The provincial government had announced plans to abolish the course last year following criticisms that too much time was being taken up by a section devoted to religions.

Roberge said religion will not be completely erased from the new program, but will not be the primary focus anymore.

“Of course, when you talk about culture you will have to talk about religious culture, but it’s not the only way,” he said. “… We have to modernize our program.”

Caroline Quesnel, president of provincial teachers’ union Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec, offered a different but equally critical take on the current program. She asserted the present curriculum does not present enough nuance when teaching students about religions around the world, citing lack of discussions around gender equality in certain faiths.

She also said the program does not address issues related to Indigenous peoples, calling the approach “quite limited.”

Roberge said the new course will teach residents how to navigate Quebec society and take pride in their province. It will include sections on the province’s judicial system, critical thinking, social media and sex education among others, he added.

Charest said not a week goes by in the province without reports of unacceptable behaviours, such as domestic violence which disproportionately affects women and girls. She hopes the new course offering will help tackle those issues.

“Students will be invited to reflect on notions of consent, respect, self-affirmation, empathy and equal relationships between men and women,” Charest said.

The new program will be introduced in some schools as a pilot project in September 2022 before being fully implemented across all of the province’s elementary and high schools a year later.

Quesnel, however, said the curriculum’s ambitious scope risks trying to cover too many topics at once.

“Freedom of speech, democratic institutions, sex education, technology, Indigenous Peoples, the environment …,” Quesnel said. “None will really be covered properly.”

She said Sunday’s announcement looked like a “show” in which the province attempted to sell the new program, but noted that not a single teacher was present at the news conference.

“I feel like the government is kind of using this curriculum to position itself as the guardian of Quebec values and impose its vision,” Quesnel said.

She also said teachers are worried about how many hours will be allocated for the course, and if they will receive proper training beforehand.

“Teachers are used to multitasking, but when we are talking about all these topics, they are quite specific,” Quesnel said. “It’s not only about writing a good manual and teachers will follow. It really needs more training than that.”

Source: Quebec unveils new ethics and culture class


Why social mobility is key to explaining attitudes toward multiculturalism – EUROPP

Interesting that applies to both upward and downward mobility:

What explains attitudes toward multiculturalism in Europe? And how do citizens without a migration background react when the cities they live in become more diverse? Drawing on a new study, Lisa-Marie Kraus and Stijn Daenekindt show that social mobility is a key factor in determining why some people are more optimistic about multiculturalism than others.

People without a migration background have become a numerical minority in numerous Western European cities such as London, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Vienna. Looking at the generation of children aged 15 and younger, these numbers are increasing, indicating that this is a lasting phenomenon.

These evolutions generate various challenges. One important aspect in this regard is how people without a migration background experience their changing status and, more generally, how this influences their attitudes towards multiculturalism. Some people may respond optimistically towards living in such multicultural societies: they may support ethnic diversity, embrace the idea of a multi-ethnic city and consider it as part of everyday life. Other people are rather pessimistic: they may insist on maintaining their ‘own’ culture and reject other cultural influences. How can we understand the variation in these attitudes among people without a migration background?

Inspired by numerous studies which have demonstrated the link between educational attainment and attitudes towards ethnic diversity, we hypothesised that we can find a partial answer to this question by focusing on educational social mobility. Educationally socially mobile people either hold a higher (upward mobility) or lower (downward mobility) educational qualification than their parents.

Previous research has shown that the experience of educational social mobility is an influential factor in various domains of social life and highlights the consequences of social mobility. In particular, downward mobility has been connected to feelings of frustration, depression and failure as it entails a drop in social status. Yet, even if upward mobility entails increased social status, it can also come with negative consequences.

This is because both upward and downward mobility ultimately puts individuals in a different social environment from the one they were raised in. Hence, the socially mobile are exposed to ‘alien’ lifestyles, perspectives, attitudes and habits. Because of this, socially mobile individuals may neither feel genuinely at home in the social environment in which they were raised, nor in the one in which they end up. We believe that this experience of different contexts is related to the multicultural attitudes of the socially mobile.

To investigate the role of social mobility in the formation of multicultural attitudes, we used data from people without a migration background who live in five highly ethnically diverse Western European cities: Amsterdam, Antwerp, Malmo, Rotterdam and Vienna. Our analyses show that the experience of social mobility is related to more optimistic multicultural attitudes.

Socially mobile individuals have a more positive outlook on multicultural societies than their immobile counterparts. Both upwardly and downwardly mobile individuals demonstrate greater openness to multiculturalism. While the experience of social mobility, and in particular downward mobility, has generally been associated with rather negative inter-ethnic attitudes, our study finds no evidence for this. On the contrary, both upwardly and downwardly mobile people are more open to multiculturalism than their immobile peers.

What explains this finding? We believe that the experience of social mobility allows people to adapt more easily to ethnically diverse social contexts. The socially mobile have encountered different social environments throughout their lives. This experience involves the adaption to, and navigation of, lifestyles typical of different social environments. The exposure to different social environments may lead to a general ability to adapt to different contexts and moving between these environments may make the navigation of different contexts a ‘habit’. Mobile individuals have, so to speak, embodied the ability to adapt to diversity and this is reflected in their attitudes towards multi-ethnic cities.

Our findings provide insights into the way attitudes towards multiculturalism are developed in general. They suggest that if policymakers wish to stimulate support for multiculturalism among those without a migration background, they might achieve this through policies which focus on other forms of diversity, such as the desegregation of neighbourhoods and schools along the lines of social class.

Source: Why social mobility is key to explaining attitudes toward multiculturalism – EUROPP

Taliban vows to purge education system of anything ‘against Islam’ as Afghan folk singer shot dead

No surprise:

The Taliban is planning to purge Afghanistan’s education system of all elements that are “against Islam”, according to an official, as activists and campaigners warn of a return to authoritarian rule in the country.

Speaking on Sunday, interim higher education minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani criticised the current education system that was founded by the international community, claiming that it had failed to adhere to religious principles.

“[The] world tried to take religion out of scientific education, which harmed the people,” Mr Haqqani said.

He added that “every item against Islam in the educational system will be removed”.

Mr Haqqani’s comments came as reports of the killing of an Afghan folk singer in a mountain province raised fresh concerns about the threat to human rights in the country as the Taliban works to form a new government.

The family of Fawad Andarabi said he was shot dead by a Taliban fighter in the Andarabi Valley (after which he was named), an area of Baghlan province some 100km (60 miles) north of Kabul.

“He was innocent, a singer who only was entertaining people,” his son said. “They shot him in the head on the farm.”

Mr Andarabi played a bowed lute, known as a ghichak, and sang traditional songs about his birthplace, his people and Afghanistan as a whole.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, told reporters that the insurgent group would investigate the incident, but he could not provide any details on it.

In response to the killing, Amnesty International secretary-general Agnes Callamard said: “There is mounting evidence that the Taliban of 2021 is the same as the intolerant, violent, repressive Taliban of 2001.

“20 years later, nothing has changed on that front.”

Although the Taliban has claimed that it will lead a more moderate government in Afghanistan, many fear that women and religious minorities will once again face severe restrictions and oppression under the group’s rule.

On Sunday, former officials and lecturers at Afghan universities called on the insurgent group to maintain and upgrade the country’s education system instead of dismantling it.

Former minister of higher education Abas Basir told a conference on higher education, held by the Taliban, that starting over would be repeating a mistake made by previous governments.

“Let’s not reject everything, starting a new system: we should work more on what we already have,” Mr Basir said.

Mr Mujahid has said that a full cabinet for the new Taliban government will be announced in the coming days, with governors and police chiefs already appointed in all but one of the country’s 34 provinces.

The insurgent group is appealing to the US and other western nations to maintain diplomatic relations after the withdrawal of foreign troops is complete.

However, the UK has warned that relations will only be maintained if the new government respects human rights and allows safe passage for those who want to leave Afghanistan.

Source: Taliban vows to purge education system of anything ‘against Islam’ as Afghan folk singer shot dead

Douthat: A Case for Patriotic Education

More on capturing the “the good, the bad and the ugly” and finding a balance, along with age appropriateness for the negative parts:

I have my doubts about America. As a Catholic, my first loyalty is to a faith that predates and promises to outlast our Republic, that was disfavored for much of our history and may be headed into disfavor once again. American anti-Catholicism is far from the worst evil in this nation’s history, but it still instills a special obligation to take critiques of our Anglo-liberal-Protestant inheritance seriously, whether they come from radicals or traditionalists or both.

But when it comes to introducing American history to my own American children, none yet older than 10, I’ve realized that we’re giving them a pretty patriotic education: trips to the battlefield at Concord; books like “Johnny Tremain” and the d’Aulaires’ biographies of Lincoln and Franklin and Pocahontas; incantatory readings of “Paul Revere’s Ride.”

One of my son’s favorite books is an account of Lewis and Clark’s mission that pairs extracts from diaries with vivid illustrations. Laura Ingalls Wilder may have been canceled a few years ago, but she’s a dominant literary figure for our daughters. Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” plays in our minivan, and when my eldest daughter tries to win arguments by declaring “I’m a free American!” I let the claim stand, rather than answering her with Catholic critiques of liberal individualism.

I should say that we also deliver doses of realism about slavery and segregation and the importance of seeing history from the perspective of the defeated, from the Tories to the Sioux. (Though many older texts contain those perspectives, however un-P.C. their form; tragic realism is not the exclusive province of the early 21st century.) And we are not home-schoolers; our patriotic education interacts with what our kids learn in school and pick up through osmosis in our progressive state and city.

But having written recently about the race-and-history wars, I think it’s worth talking about what makes patriotic education valuable, even if you ultimately want kids to have critical distance from the nation’s sins.

Here I want to disagree mildly with David French, the famous conservative critic of conservatism, who wrote for Time magazine recently chiding parents who are “afraid children will not love their country unless they are taught that their country is good.” The love for country we instill, he argued, shouldn’t rest on American innocence or greatness; rather we should love our country the way we love our family, which means “telling our full story, the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

To which I would say, yes, but … you probably want to feel a certain security in your children’s family bonds before you start telling them about every sin and scandal.

Admittedly there are families where that isn’t possible, as there are political contexts where young kids need to know dark truths upfront. But we aren’t living in Nazi-occupied France, and there is easily enough good in America, past and present, to lay a patriotic foundation, so that more adult forms of knowledge are shaped by a primary sense of loyalty and love.

Moreover, with families the people you’re supposed to love are usually there with you, and to some extent you can’t help loving them even in their sins. Whereas the nation’s past is more distant, words and names and complicated legacies, not flesh and blood. So if historical education doesn’t begin with what’s inspiring, a sense of real affection may never take root — risking not just patriotism but a basic interest in the past.

I encounter the latter problem a lot, talking to progressive-minded young people — a sense that history isn’t just unlovable but actually pretty boring, a grim slog through imperialism and cisheteropatriarchy.

Whereas if you teach kids first that the past is filled with people who did remarkable, admirable, courageous things — acts of endurance and creation that seem beyond our own capacity — then you can build the awareness of French’s bad-and-ugly organically, filling out the picture through middle and high school, leaving both a love of country and a fascination with the past intact.

And starting with heroism doesn’t just mean starting with white people: From Harriet Tubman to Martin Luther King Jr., the story of the African-American experience is the most straightforwardly heroic American narrative, the natural core of liberal patriotism — something liberalism understood at the time of Barack Obama’s election, but in its revolutionary and pessimistic mood seems in danger of forgetting.

This idea of a patriotic foundation hardly eliminates controversy. You still have to figure out at what age and in what way you introduce more detail and more darkness. This is as true for Catholic doubts as for radical critiques: I’m not sure exactly how to frame Roe v. Wade and abortion for my older kids.

In this sense French and others to his left are correct — there is no escape from hard historical truths, no simple way to raise educated Americans.

But still I feel no great difficulty letting my children begin, wherever their education takes them, with the old familiar poetry: Here once the embattled farmers stood / And fired the shot heard round the world.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/10/opinion/sunday/history-education-patriotic.html

Teachers need ongoing anti-Black racism training, not workshops, elective courses, experts say

Of note, both the specific context of anti-Black and broader context of anti-racism training in general. Challenge, of course, for teachers to integrate this into the existing curriculum rather than being another add-on along with other demands on their time:

Although her daughters, Savannah and Sahara, are in their first few years of elementary school, Cshandrika Bryan of Ajax, Ont., has already seen a wide range of examples in how the Black experience is reflected inside their classrooms.

At six-year-old Savannah’s former school, Bryan recalled, her teacher included Black voices in everyday lessons and helped guide fellow teaching staff in interactions with Black families.

Source: Teachers need ongoing anti-Black racism training, not workshops, elective courses, experts say

State GOP lawmakers try to limit teaching about race, racism

Of note (and of course, the states are preserving existing indoctrination):

Teachers and professors in Idaho will be prevented from “indoctrinating” students on race. Oklahoma teachers will be prohibited from saying certain people are inherently racist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. Tennessee schools will risk losing state aid if their lessons include particular concepts about race and racism.

Governors and legislatures in Republican-controlled states across the country are moving to define what race-related ideas can be taught in public schools and colleges, a reaction to the nation’s racial reckoning after last year’s police killing of George Floyd. The measures have been signed into law in at least three states and are being considered in many more.

Educators and education groups are concerned that the proposals will have a chilling effect in the classroom and that students could be given a whitewashed version of the nation’s history. Teachers are also worried about possible repercussions if a student or parent complains.

“Once we remove the option of teachers incorporating all parts of history, we’re basically silencing the voices of those who already feel oppressed,” said Lakeisha Patterson, a third-grade English and social studies teacher who lives in Houston and worries about a bill under consideration in Texas.

At least 16 states are considering or have signed into law bills that would limit the teaching of certain ideas linked to “critical race theory,” which seeks to reframe the narrative of American history. Its proponents argue that federal law has preserved the unequal treatment of people on the basis of race and that the country was founded on the theft of land and labor.

Those states include Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

The latest state to implement a law is Tennessee, where the governor this past week signed a bill to ban the teaching of critical race theory in schools.

The legislative debate over that bill caused a stir earlier this month when a Republican lawmaker who supports it, state Rep. Justin Lafferty, wrongly declared that the Constitution’s original provision designating a slave as three-fifths of a person was adopted for “the purpose of ending slavery.” Historians largely agree that the compromise gave slaveholding states more political power.

Some other states have taken steps that fall short of legislative change.

After Utah’s Republican governor blocked a vote on a set of similar bills, the GOP-controlled Legislature passed a symbolic resolution recommending that the state review any curriculum that examines the ways in which race and racism influence American politics, culture and the law.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp wrote in a letter to state education board members that they should “take immediate steps to ensure that Critical Race Theory and its dangerous ideology do not take root in our state standards or curriculum.”

Montana’s attorney general issued a binding decision Thursday declaring that certain teachings violate the U.S. and state constitutions and that schools, local governments and public workplaces could lose state funding and be on the hook for damages stemming from lawsuits if they provide critical race theory training or activities.

The National Education Association and the National Council for the Social Studies oppose legislation to limit what ideas can be presented inside a classroom.

“It creates a very chilling atmosphere of distrust, educators not being able to be the professionals they are not only hired to be but are trained to be,” said Lawrence Paska, a former middle school social studies teacher in New York and executive director of the council.

Republicans have said concepts suggesting that people are inherently racist or that America was founded on racial oppression are divisive and have no place in the classroom.

Earlier this month, Republicans in the North Carolina House moved to prohibit teachers from promoting seven concepts that critically examine race and racism, including the belief that a person’s race or sex determines their moral character, that people bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex, and that they should feel guilty because of those two characteristics.

Rep. John Torbett, a Republican who leads North Carolina’s House education committee, said the legislation was intended to promote equality, not rewrite history.

“It ensures equity,” Torbett said during a hearing this month. “It ensures that all people in society are equitable. It has no mention of history.”

Kimberlé Crenshaw, executive director of the African American Policy Forum, was among those who helped popularize critical race theory in the 1970s and 1980s as a response to what she and others felt was a lack of progress following passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

She said Republicans are twisting the concept to inflame racial tensions and motivate their base of mostly white supporters.

“This is a 2022 strategy to weaponize white insecurity, to mobilize ideas that have been mobilized again and again throughout history, using a concept or set of ideas that they can convince people is the new boogeyman,” Crenshaw said.

The boundary between teaching ideas and promoting them has stirred concern among teachers and racial justice scholars.

Uncertainty about that boundary could cause teachers to avoid difficult conversations about American history, said Cheryl Harris, a UCLA Law School professor who teaches a course on critical race theory.

“For anybody who’s ever taught in a classroom, the idea is to get the conversation flowing, and you can’t do that if you’re preoccupied with which side of the line are you going to be on,” Harris said. “That is a chilling effect, and that is every bit as offensive to the First Amendment as a direct ban.”

Opponents of the North Carolina bill say it’s a solution in search of a problem. Tamika Walker Kelly, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said the bill’s promoters could not point to any school in the state where students were being indoctrinated in certain racial concepts.

That’s just one reason the bill faces an uphill climb. The press secretary for Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said the governor believes instruction should be honest and accurate, and that students need to be taught to think critically.

The legislation also faces skepticism from the Republican leader of the state Senate, where it will be considered next.

“I don’t like making it illegal to teach a certain doctrine, as wrong as that doctrine may be, while saying the reason for that ban is freedom of thought,” Sen. Phil Berger said in a statement. “That strikes me as a contradiction.”

Source: State GOP lawmakers try to limit teaching about race, racism

USA: Do immigrants harm native students academically?

Interesting debunking:

Over the past 50 years, the United States has experienced the second-largest wave of immigration in its history. As a result, the share of recent immigrants (either foreign-born or children of foreign-born) in public schools reached 23% in 2015, with concentrations over 70% in several school districts in high-immigration states. These trends have generated a policy debate about the effects of immigration on public education and the perceived costs that immigrants may impose on public schools, local governments, and educational outcomes of the U.S.-born student population.

Better understanding the causal effects of immigrants on native students is therefore critical to inform these policy debates, yet there are two factors that complicate any effort to reveal this link. First, immigrant students are not randomly assigned to schools, and are more likely to enroll in schools educating students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Second, U.S.-born students, especially those from comparatively affluent families, may decide to leave when a large share of immigrant students move into their school district—a phenomenon commonly referred to as “native flight.” Both factors imply that simple correlations between immigrant exposure and native student outcomes will likely yield a more negative relationship than the true causal effect of immigrant exposure.

In a recent paper, we show how immigrant exposure affects the academic achievement of U.S.-born students. We do this with an analytical strategy that addresses both concerns above. We make use of rich, longitudinal education and health microdata from Florida. These data are exceptionally detailed. For example, they identify students’ siblings in school records, which enables us to use the within-family, across-sibling variation in immigrant exposure to study the effects of immigrants. In other words, we can compare the learning of U.S.-born siblings when one of those siblings happened to have more immigrants in their school cohort than the other sibling(s).

Figure 1, illustrating our main result, shows the relationship between immigrant exposure and native student math scores, and how this relationship changes when one accounts for native flight. We present the results for all U.S.-born students (black bars), along with the results for white (green bars) and Black students (blue bars) to demonstrate the effects for different student groups.

Estimated Effects of Immigrant Exposure on U.S.-Born Student Math Scores: Overall and by Race

The results on the left of the figure are from a common model that accounts for the non-random sorting of immigrants (by comparing U.S.-born students with their peers in the same school), yet does not address native flight. (That is, we compare the academic performance of native students with their peers in the same school who have different levels of exposure to immigrants because they are enrolled in different grades.) On the right of the figure, we present the results from our preferred model where we rely on sibling comparisons. Several findings are worth highlighting.

First, when we move from our baseline model to sibling comparisons that account for native flight, we see that the relationship between immigrant exposure and U.S.-born student test scores changes from negative to positive.

Second, we find that this trend is entirely driven by students from more advantaged backgrounds. For example, for white students, we find a negative relationship between immigrant exposure and math achievement in models that fail to account for native flight compared to a sizable positive relationship in our preferred model. In contrast, for Black students, the positive effect of immigrant exposure remains virtually unchanged between the two models. This is consistent with the expectation that native flight is a bigger issue when examining the effects of immigrants on students from more advantaged backgrounds who can afford alternative schooling options in the wake of an immigrant influx.

In summary, we find no adverse effects of immigrant students on the academic achievement of U.S.-born students. This is true even when the immigrants’ academic achievement is lower than the U.S.-born students. In fact, we find significant benefits of having immigrant peers on the test scores of native students, especially among students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This does not necessarily mean that immigrant students do not require public resources initially as they acquire English proficiency and get accustomed to the school system and life in a new country, which could have adverse effects on native students in the short-term—especially in the aftermath of large migrant inflows. That said, our findings suggest that, in the long run, the benefits of exposure to recent-immigrant peers, who are typically higher performing academically and have higher educational aspirationscompared to more established immigrant generations, likely outweigh these potential short-term adverse effects.

Source: Do immigrants harm native students academically?

New [US] Data Highlight Disparities In Students Learning In Person

Useful study. Wonder how it compares in Canada (or at least in the largest provinces):

The U.S. Education Department has released the first in a series of school surveys intended to provide a national view of learning during the pandemic. It reveals that the percentage of students who are still attending school virtually may be higher than previously understood.

As of January and early February of this year, 44% of elementary students and 48% of middle school students in the survey remained fully remote. And the survey found large differences by race: 69% of Asian, 58% of Black and 57% of Hispanic fourth graders were learning entirely remotely, while just 27% of White students were.

Conversely, nearly half of white fourth-graders were learning full-time in person, compared with just 15% of Asian, 28% of Black and 33% of Hispanic fourth-graders. The remainder had hybrid schedules.

This disparity may be partly driven by where students live. City schools, the survey found, are less likely than rural schools to offer full-time, in-person classes. Full-time, in-person schooling dominated in the South and the Midwest, and was much less common in the West and Northeast.

The racial and ethnic gaps may also be driven in part by which families are choosing to stay remote, even where some in-person learning is offered. Three out of 4 districts around the country were offering some in-person learning as of January, the report says, with full-time, in person learning more common than hybrid schedules.

The Education Department created the survey in response to an executive action signed by President Biden on his first full day in office. To obtain results quickly, researchers used the existing infrastructure of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the testing program also known as “The Nation’s Report Card.”

More than a year after schools around the country first switched to virtual learning, this is the first attempt at federal data collection on the progress of school reopening. Although the Trump administration pushed for school reopening, it made no such efforts. “I’m not sure there’s a role at the department to collect and compile that research,” former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said last October.

This survey covers a nationally representative sample of around 7,000 schools, half of which were educating fourth-graders and the other half educating eighth-graders (those being grades included in The Nation’s Report Card testing).

New results will be reported monthly through at least July. The results are intended to provide context for The Nation’s Report Card in 2022, and state tests, which the Biden administration is requiring this year.

The survey is also intended to pinpoint inequities. For example, among the other key findings: More than 4 in 10 districts said they were giving priority to students with disabilities for in-person instruction. Yet in practice, 39% of elementary students with disabilities remained remote, compared with 44% overall. Many families of students with disabilities have said that their children receive limited benefit from virtual learning.

Finally, this pilot survey asked how many hours of live video instruction students were receiving when learning remotely. The majority of schools said they are offering more than three hours per day. But 10% of eighth-graders, and 5% of fourth-graders, are getting no live instruction at all when learning remotely. They may be working on other activities such as homework packets, or software, or watching pre-recorded lessons.

The response rate to this nationally representative survey varied around the country and was lowest in the Northeast. Notably, out of 27 large urban districts targeted in the survey, 16 declined to participate.

Previously, NPR has been citing school reopening data provided by an organization called Burbio. Burbio scrapes school district websites to find out whether school is being offered hybrid, full-time or all-virtual. Their data set — 1,200 school districts representing 35,000 schools and nearly half of the U.S. school population, is larger than that covered in this federal survey.

Source: New Data Highlight Disparities In Students Learning In Person

Fear and discomfort shouldn’t block anti-racism efforts in schools

Some interesting practical suggestions towards greater inclusivity:

In 1920, Duncan Campbell Scott, then-deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs is quoted for suggesting that his goal was to “get rid of the Indian problem.” Scott’s solution was to expand the residential school system forcing Indigenous people to assimilate. One hundred years later, the legacy of residential schools continues to impact Canada’s current school systems. Research shows that Indigenous children across the country continue to experience systemic racism by their peers, teachers and the larger community. Needless to say, shaming and assimilation persist today.

Over the past 16 years, I’ve worked in education in various roles as a teacher, board lead, university course director and now as a vice-principal. Throughout this time, I’ve noted many advancements in championing Indigenous education and narrowing the Indigenous achievement gap by increasing graduation rates. But time and time again, I’ve also noticed deep discomfort and fear among educators when it comes to addressing anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism in schools.

“I don’t feel comfortable!”

For the most part, educators want to have a positive effect on their students. But when asked to participate in creating that change by addressing racism, I’ve witnessed some who squirm and say they prefer not to “rock the boat.” For systemic racism to be dismantled in Canadian schools, however, we need to address the discomfort and fear that some educators feel in disrupting anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism in schools.

For example, during a staff meeting at a Scarborough school where I previously worked, an administrator asked staff members how racism was being spread at school. Was it the curriculum? Our choices of books? The way we speak to students? I thought these were excellent questions to ask to encourage self-reflection and to prompt discussion about potential areas for improvement. In response, however, there was a long silence.

By comparison, I asked colleagues at different schools if race-related conversations were also happening during their staff meetings. For example, looking at race-based data and examining in-school practices that might hinder Black and Indigenous students. Most said yes, but added that they were led largely by Indigenous, Black and racialized educators.

Why are some white educators so uncomfortable? Perhaps it’s fear that openly and honestly engaging in these critical conversations may result in being labelled “racist” or “insensitive.” That said, many racialized and white educators do want to speak up. They are on a journey towards unpacking their racist ideologies or internalized oppression – but they don’t know how and where to begin or what language to use. Sometimes, it helps if a critical friend engages them in discussion. But this responsibility usually falls on Indigenous, Black and racialized people, which is problematic because the work of becoming anti-racist is a personal journey that doesn’t involve others.

“ I do not feel safe”

This makes me wonder what the union’s role is in protecting racialized teachers from microaggressions and unintentionally or intentionally racist remarks. Whose safety matters when having these discussions? What role will the union play in dismantling racism at Canadian schools?I’ve witnessed colleagues respectfully correcting white educators for saying: “I do not think racism is that bad in our school…is it?” Unfortunately, some have complained to the teachers’ union that they “do not feel safe” or feel “attacked” whenever they’re corrected for making a racist or problematic statement.

There’s also significant discomfort among educators when it comes to using anti-racist language when teaching elementary students. I’ve consistently heard some say that children at this age have “tender minds” or are “too young” to learn, and that “we don’t want to instill fear” in them. Yet research suggests that kids begin to perceive racist ideologies from the age of two. That’s why anti-racist education shouldn’t be just one lesson or unit plan. Instead, it needs to be embedded in everyday practices, starting from kindergarten. And if a student uses the term “racist” incorrectly, teachers should take that as a learning opportunity to address the class.

“I have good intentions!”

There is no doubt that educators have good intentions for student safety when participating in school board-wide events, such as Orange Shirt Day, Remembrance Day and Treaty Week. But what happens when these events cause harm to students?

For example, the purpose of Orange Shirt Day is for educators to teach students about the cultural genocide committed against First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, so it’s an opportunity for the school community to unite in the spirit of reconciliation. Specifically, students learn that the RCMP forcefully removed Indigenous children from their families and communities, as the Canadian government’s goal was to “kill the Indian in the child.”

That’s why, on Sept. 30, they read about Phyllis, a residential school survivor from Northern Secwpemc in British Columbia. As the story goes, Phyllis’ grandmother bought her an orange shirt to wear to St. Joseph’s residential school, but when she arrived, school officials took her shirt away. As a 6-year-old, Phyllis expresses that she felt worthless and like no one cared about her.

Despite this focus on Phyllis and other Indigenous residential school survivors, though, their experiences are often decentered on Orange Shirt Day. How? I’ve seen students receive handouts with the sentence starter, “I matter because…” Students’ responses, which ranged from “I am lucky I have a safe school” to “I have a mom and a dad,” are all valid but the voices of Indigenous people are erased in the process. It’s essential that educators focus on Phyllis’ story because only then can Canadians move forward towards reconciliation. For example, educators can dive deeper into researching residential schools’ objectives, and then explain how they were wrongly informed by white supremacist ideologies.

Another board practice we need to reimagine is “spirit days” like Crazy Hair Day, which can be problematic if students choose to wear an Afro, cornrows or Native long braids as a costume. Students also learn that this type of hairstyle is “crazy,” which dehumanizes Indigenous and Black people for the sake of “making school fun” or “keeping old traditions.” What’s more, Sikh and Muslim students can’t participate in these activities because some wear a turban or hijab, so they’re automatically excluded.

Educators need to understand that some school traditions promote racism, sexism, classism and other forms of discrimination against marginalized groups. We can no longer say, “But we’ve always done it this way” or “It’s a school tradition.” For example, hold a spirit day when students identify acts of kindness among their peers and compliment them, or wear their favourite piece of clothing and share why it’s special to them. This would enable students to participate without having to assimilate or adhere to antiquated norms.

It’s time to involve students in critically rethinking past practices and reimagining new inclusive school traditions. Educators can no longer hide behind fear when Indigenous, Black and racialized students’ lives depend on it.

Source: Fear and discomfort shouldn’t block anti-racism efforts in schools

ICYMI: Hong Kong to teach elementary students about subversion and foreign interference

Yet another sign of the Chinese regime’s crackdown on Hong Kong:

Hong Kong has unveiled controversial guidelines for schools that include teaching students as young as six about colluding with foreign forces and subversion, as part of a new national security curriculum.

Beijing imposed a security law on Hong Kong in June 2020 in response to months of often violent anti-government and anti-China protests in 2019 that put the global financial hub more firmly on an authoritarian path.

The Education Bureau’s guidelines, released late on Thursday, show that Beijing’s plans for the semi-autonomous Hong Kong go beyond quashing dissent, and aim for a societal overhaul to bring its most restive city more in line with the Communist Party-ruled mainland.

Source: Hong Kong to teach elementary students about subversion and foreign interference