USA: From slavery to socialism, new legislation restricts what teachers can discuss

Age of ignorance?

Across the U.S., educators are being censored for broaching controversial topics. Since January 2021, researcher Jeffrey Sachs says, 35 states have introduced 137 bills limiting what schools can teach with regard to race, American history, politics, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sachs has been tracking this legislation for PEN America, a writers organization dedicated to free speech. He says the recent flurry of legislation has created a “minefield” for educators trying to figure out how to teach topics such as slavery, Jim Crow laws or the Holocaust. One proposed law in South Carolina, for instance, prohibits teachers from discussing any topic that creates “discomfort, guilt or anguish” on the basis of political belief.

“That means that a teacher would have to be very, very careful about how they discuss something like, let’s say, fascism or racism or antisemitism,” Sachs says. “These are political beliefs, and it means that teachers are going to have to second-guess whether they can describe that political belief in as forthright and honest a way as we wish for fear of falling afoul of this bill.”

Critical race theory, an academic approach that examines how race and racism function in American institutions, has inspired a backlash in conservative circles across the United States. In one of his first acts in office, Glenn Youngkin, the Republican governor of Virginia, established a hotline to allow parents or members of the community to report critical race theory in the classroom. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, a conservative mom’s group is offering a $500 bounty to catch teachers who break a state law prohibiting certain teachings about racism and sexism.

“I think it must be a very terrifying time to be an educator at any level in higher ed or in K-12,” Sachs says.

“You have, unfortunately, the kinds of daily stressors that we’ve all become used to because of COVID,” he says. “And now on top of that, these educators are trying to negotiate outraged parents and media pundits. … When you listen to what educators are saying, they’re burned out, and many of them, I think, will head for the exits.”

Interview highlights

On how some of the proposed bills would be impossible to comply with

Some of the bills — I would say many now — include a provision that says something to the effect of: Teachers cannot be compelled to discuss a controversial contemporary issue, but if they do, they must do so evenhandedly and without any kind of favoritism. However, many of those same bills also would require teachers to denounce, in the strongest possible terms, ideas like Marxism or socialism.

For instance, a bill in Indiana that is currently under consideration would require, among other things, that in the run-up to any general election in the state, students must be taught “socialism, Marxism, communism, totalitarianism or similar political systems are incompatible with and in conflict with the principles of freedom upon which the United States was founded.” And it goes on to say as such, “socialism, Marxism, communism, totalitarianism or similar political systems are detrimental to the people of the United States.”

The issue there, among many others, is that it’s a bill requiring students to be exposed to this litany of claims about different ideologies. And it also requires that in doing so, teachers cannot show favoritism or bias in any one direction. In other words, it’s a bill that can’t possibly actually work. Teachers are being pulled in two different directions, and the consequence is going to be a kind of self-censorship.

Another Indiana bill … prohibits teachers from including in their class any “anti-American ideologies.” Now that term is never defined, and again, it’s not that teachers can’t endorse or promote anti-American ideologies — they’re just simply forbidden from even discussing them.

On bills that address sexuality, gender and LGBTQ issues

It differs bill to bill. But again, many do include language prohibiting teachers from discussing concepts like gender fluidity. It prohibits them from discussing “nontraditional gender identities” and in many cases forbid[s] teachers from discussing controversial events that would presumably include, in many cases, ones like gay marriage or LGBTQ rights.

We see as well many bills requiring teachers to report to parents if their children are asking questions about their gender identity, and in many cases as well — for instance, in a Florida bill — that prohibit teachers from “encouraging any conversation about sex and sexuality.”

So it really puts teachers in an impossible situation. In a contemporary high school or middle school, even earlier in elementary school, these sorts of topics arise. And in particular, it would put LGBTQ teachers in a really difficult situation where they’re forced, essentially, to disguise their identity or the status of their relationships in order to fend off running afoul of these bills.

On how these laws are similar to what’s going on in authoritarian countries

It often gets dismissively described as “woke ideas,” and more broadly, I think we would just describe these ideas that we’re talking about as socially liberal ideas. And unfortunately, what we’re seeing is in countries like Russia, China, in Turkey, in Hungary, we are seeing these regimes targeting educational institutions and other sites of cultural production like museums or the media, [as] an attempt to drive these ideas out — to signal that to be a “real” Russian or to be a “true” Hungarian, one must be straight, one must be socially conservative. These efforts underway in these regimes, that are either authoritarian or unfortunately trending in that direction, all signal the kind of political energy that leaders believe they can get by attacking these ideas.

On a new law that addresses the concept of systemic racism

There’s a law currently on the books in North Dakota that was passed last November after just five days of consideration that has me up at night. This is a law that attempts to prohibit critical race theory in K-12 schools, and I just want to reemphasize here this is not a law that prohibits people from endorsing or promoting critical race theory. It’s a law that forbids them from even including critical race theory in the classroom. And the way that that law defines critical race theory is what has me so concerned: … “critical race theory, which is defined as the theory that racism is not merely the product of learned individual bias or prejudice, but that racism is systemically embedded in American society and the American legal system to facilitate racial inequality.” In other words, the law now is saying that whenever a teacher talks about racism, they may only describe it as a product of an individual’s own biases or prejudices. They cannot describe it — even when the facts command them to — as something more endemic or embedded within American society. It’s a way essentially of preventing teachers, I think, from being honest about a lot of the uglier sides of American history and contemporary society.

Whenever you discuss slavery, your teacher would have to essentially say, “These slaveholders were racist.” The system that they were in, the laws that supported them, the economy that made that business profitable, you’d have to separate those institutional features and describe slavery purely as a product of individual bias, which does violence to the topic. It fails to educate students, and I think might discourage students from thinking critically about contemporary institutions and identifying whether or not they also might be guilty of systemic racism.

On how the idea for these restrictive teaching bills first came about

The origins here … go back to that summer of 2020. There’s a researcher there named Christopher Rufo, who was then with the Discovery Institute in Seattle. This is in a conservative educational institute centered around the promotion of intelligent design. And Christopher Rufo wrote a series of articles for an online website called City Journal. And in his City Journal articles, he detailed what he described as indoctrination in K-12 schools or in employee training programs in businesses or state agencies, programs that he said were training people to become critical race theorists.

Those articles caught the attention of Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, and Rufo appeared on his program in early September of 2020. The very next day, he received a phone call from Mark Meadows, then chief of staff for the Trump administration. Apparently, Trump had watched the program that evening. He’d seen what Rufo had to say, and within a matter of days, Rufo was in conversation with the Trump administration on some sort of legislative or executive response. The product of that conversation was Trump’s executive order in late September, where he prohibited any state agency from discussing certain ideas as part of employee training or [training for] a state contractor that wishes to do business with the federal government.

Source: From slavery to socialism, new legislation restricts what teachers can discuss

Document suggesting students learn positive aspects of Nazi Germany deleted by Alberta education officials

Striking that the document dates from 1984 with multiple revisions without anyone noticing or taking action:

A document that suggested Alberta students learn about the positive aspects of Nazi Germany has been deleted from the Ministry of Education’s website, following criticism from multiple groups.

The document, a set of guidelines for “recognizing diversity and promoting respect,” suggested considering whether a given educational resource addressed “both the positive and negative behaviours” of various groups.

“For instance,” it read, “if a video details war atrocities committed by the Nazis, does it also point out that before World War II, German government’s policies substantially strengthened the country’s economy?”

Source: Document suggesting students learn positive aspects of Nazi Germany deleted by Alberta education officials

«Malaise» autour du nouveau cours de citoyenneté

Of note, and not entirely unexpected:

Le processus de mise en place du nouveau cours Culture et citoyenneté québécoise provoque un « malaise » parmi les experts et les enseignants mandatés pour créer le programme, qui se sentent « instrumentalisés » à des fins politiques par le gouvernement Legault.

Selon ce que Le Devoir a appris, deux des cinq membres du comité de rédaction du programme ont démissionné au cours des dernières semaines. Des experts d’un autre comité, chargé celui-là de « valider » le contenu, envisagent de démissionner à leur tour devant la tournure jugée « partisane » de l’implantation du cours.

La fonctionnaire du ministère de l’Éducation qui était responsable du programme, Marie-Noëlle Corriveau-Tendland, a remis sa démission en mai dernier. Elle estime que la fonction publique « n’est plus un rempart administratif contre les interventions politiques ».

« Je sentais que pour satisfaire un ministre, on devait modifier le contenu d’un programme d’études. Ça m’a heurtée dans mes valeurs. Quand je suis allée au ministère, j’allais travailler pour l’État et non pas pour le gouvernement », dit Marie-Noëlle Corriveau-Tendland au Devoir.

Elle considère « normal » qu’un ministre cherche à influencer le processus menant à la révision d’un programme. Après tout, il a été élu pour gouverner. La machine administrative doit cependant s’assurer de respecter les façons de procéder afin de « dépolitiser la pédagogie ».

« Les experts trouvent bizarre qu’il y ait des annonces de faites avant même la fin des validations normales du programme », dit l’ex-fonctionnaire, devenue conseillère pédagogique dans un cégep.

Le nouveau programme remplacera le cours Éthique et culture religieuse (ECR), créé en 2008 dans la foulée de la déconfessionnalisation des écoles. Le cours remanié réduit la place des religions et accorde davantage d’importance à la citoyenneté, à la culture ainsi qu’à la laïcité, thème central de l’action gouvernementale depuis l’arrivée au pouvoir de la Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), en 2018.

Un engagement politique

L’annonce de ce nouveau programme, dimanche, avait des allures d’événement préélectoral. Trois personnalités (Dany Turcotte, Pierre Curzi et Ingrid Falaise) sont venues vanter les vertus du cours amélioré. Dans une vidéo diffusée lors de la conférence de presse, huit ministres et le premier ministre défilent à l’écran pour expliquer que ce programme contribuera à un « Québec fier ».

« On se sent en pleine campagne électorale », déplore une source bien informée des tractations entourant la naissance du cours. Cette personne a demandé à garder l’anonymat par crainte de représailles.

« On parle ici d’un simple cours offert au primaire et au secondaire, mais le gouvernement nous décrit quasiment comme les sauveurs de la société québécoise », lance une autre source qui n’est pas autorisée à parler publiquement.

Le ministre de l’Éducation, Jean-François Roberge, se défend de faire de la politique sur le dos des élèves. « La refonte du cours d’ECR était un engagement de notre gouvernement. Il était normal d’en faire l’annonce. En aucun temps il n’est question de politiser l’enseignement des élèves », indique Jean-François Del Torchio, attaché de presse du ministre.

« Les thèmes qui seront abordés lors de ce programme ne sont aucunement politiques, mais bien des thèmes qui reflètent la réalité quotidienne des élèves, comme les institutions démocratiques, le système judiciaire, l’environnement, l’éducation à la sexualité, la culture, etc. », ajoute-t-il.

« Déjà depuis dimanche, plusieurs enseignants nous ont contactés pour participer à l’élaboration du cours. Ils veulent contribuer », précise le représentant du ministre.

Cap sur les élections

De vastes consultations du milieu de l’éducation ont bel et bien eu lieu à partir de janvier 2020, mais le ministre Roberge a écarté à ce jour les opinions contraires à son projet, indique Marie-Noëlle Corriveau-Tendland.

En privé, des experts et des enseignants disent constater eux aussi que le gouvernement Legault cherche à mettre en avant sa vision politique de la nation québécoise. Cette vision n’est pas nécessairement mauvaise, selon nos sources. Certaines personnes y sont favorables, mais le réseau scolaire doit s’élever au-dessus de la mêlée pour produire un programme pédagogique exempt de partisanerie, souligne-t-on.

Une autre membre du comité de rédaction du nouveau cours, enseignante au secondaire, a récemment remis sa démission. Il ne reste ainsi que trois des cinq membres originaux du groupe chargé de pondre la nouvelle version du programme.

Selon nos informations, des membres du comité de validation — l’étape suivant la rédaction — s’interrogent à leur tour sur la suite de leur engagement. Ce groupe d’une quinzaine d’experts ne s’est réuni qu’une seule fois, en juin dernier. Il n’a eu accès qu’à un résumé de quatre pages du projet de programme.

L’identité des membres de ce groupe est tenue secrète. Tous ont dû signer une entente de confidentialité. La prochaine réunion du comité est prévue pour vendredi. Le cours Culture et citoyenneté québécoise doit encore être peaufiné avant son entrée en vigueur à la rentrée 2023, a expliqué le ministre Roberge. Des projets pilotes doivent avoir lieu à la rentrée 2022.

Mélanie Dubois, chargée de cours en formation des enseignants à l’Université du Québec à Montréal, a l’impression que le gouvernement veut accélérer la mise en place du nouveau programme avant les élections prévues dans un an, en octobre 2022. Elle trouve aussi « décevant » qu’aucun enseignant n’ait été invité à l’annonce du programme par le ministre, dimanche.

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/societe/education/642852/education-malaise-autour-du-nouveau-cours-de-citoyennete?utm_source=infolettre-2021-10-26&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

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?