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Good morning!

 

We start off today with the latest installments of our “Weaving a Stronger Society — Starting in our Schools” series, produced in partnership with The Aspen Institute. This morning, we're introducing a teacher in inner-city Philadelphia who helps his kids and community capture hope and promise through art, and a rural Nebraska educator who challenges students and her neighbors to engage with the world.

Also new today, in advance of Sunday's commemoration of Juneteenth, we have a new essay from Clark University Professor Raphael E. Rogers about helping educators feel more confident teaching young students about slavery. Plus, the latest on federal approval of COVID vaccines for children under 5; a look into how 100 large and urban districts are — and aren't — tackling lost learning this summer, and the cost of a bad test, today at The 74.

Weavers

WATCH: Inner-City Teacher Helps Community Capture Hope & Promise in Art


Tony Rocco, founder of Philadelphia’s Photography Without Borders, knows his students live in one of the country’s most at-risk neighborhoods. Their middle school is a 15-minute walk from the East Coast’s largest open-air drug market, and drug users, dealers and violence plague their journey to and from class. But in the shadow of all this, Rocco's afterschool program has become a vital, safe haven where these kids pursue photography, share passions and build identity — and offers a conduit through which both the students and the wider community find hope through art. The 74’s James Fields and Emmeline Zhao visited Photography Without Borders and filmed a gallery showing of the students’ work.


Go Deeper:

 
  • See the Full Series: Celebrate Educators Who Use Community to Help Students Succeed in Class … and in Life

Weavers

Rural Teacher Challenges Students to Wrestle with the World


Megan Helberg has traveled the world — but she always returns to the Taylor, Nebraska, ranch where she grew up. An English teacher at Loup County School and her state’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, Helberg says she’s never found anything to match the sense of belonging she feels in her small hometown. She shares her love of travel with students and neighbors by organizing trips to destinations as far away as New York City and San Francisco, and welcomes guests from around the globe into her classroom. "I wanted to be part of [a place] where I could directly impact positive change,” she told The 74's Laura Fay. “I want to be the person that helps take Taylor from surviving to thriving."


Related:

 
  • WATCH: In Rural Nebraska, a Teacher of the Year Weaves Her Community By Asking Students and Families to Wrestle With the World

Analysis

Many Districts Doing Less This Summer to Make Up for Lost Learning

 

Despite national attention on bolstering summer school for students who lost learning time during the pandemic, most large districts have not expanded or improved their 2022 summer programming, according to a review by the Center on Reinventing Public Education. Of 50 districts publicly detailing their American Rescue Plan spending, just 28 are directing federal relief money toward summer school this year, and among 100 of the nation’s large and urban districts, about 70 are offering summer programs focused on credit recovery and social and emotional well-being, down from 2021 figures. Contributors Lisa Chu & Christine Pitts have the breakdown.

Student Voice

Graduating After a Third COVID-Disrupted School Year

 

With graduation season in full swing, this year’s grads are walking across the stage on the heels of their third pandemic-disrupted school year. To mark the occasion, we invited a few members of The 74’s Student Council who are graduating to take stock of the current moment, reflect on the highs and lows of pandemic schooling and share what they’ve learned along the way. Joshua Oh, on the verge of finishing middle school in Gambrills, Maryland, strikes a hopeful note: “It feels like COVID is attached to middle school and high school will be a fresh start.”

Commentary

What’s the Cost of a Bad Test? Much More than $7 Per Student


When states must test every student every year, economics overrides good education practice. The only cost-effective type of exam that allows this involves mostly computer-graded multiple choice questions. It can cost as little as $7 per student — but it takes its toll in children who don't learn critical thinking, teachers constrained by rigid curricula designed to produce "proficiency” and principals unwilling to innovate, lest their schools be seen as failing. But contributor Jason Dougal thinks there's a better way.

Charter Schools

Attorneys Consider Asking Supreme Court to Weigh In on Charters' Public Status


A North Carolina charter school is weighing whether to appeal Tuesday’s 4th Circuit ruling that charter schools are public schools and subject to equal-protection laws. The majority of the 16 judges on the court said Charter Day School — like any other public school — was acting on behalf of the state when it adopted a dress code requiring girls to wear skirts, and, therefore, violated their constitutional rights. The school, a nonprofit, argued it should have flexibility over its educational approach. Linda Jacobson reports.
 

Read More:

 

Washington, D.C.

Graduation Gift from Pharrell: 4,000 Tickets to D.C. Music Festival


More than 4,000 Washington, D.C., Public Schools seniors are getting one free ticket this weekend to attend the Something in the Water festival, sponsored by XQ Institute and musician Pharrell Wiliams. “Congrats to this year’s D.C high school graduates,” Williams said on Instagram. “You’ve truly inspired all of us through your resiliency and through your ability to learn through a pandemic. You deserve to be celebrated."

Union Report

NYC Schools Take on Every Contentious Issue at Once


When Mayor Eric Adams recently appealed to state lawmakers to renew mayoral control of New York City's schools, he found the Legislature had a quid pro quo in mind: a two-year extension in exchange for class size reductions. The city's budget for the coming year includes $215 million in cuts to education, as enrollment dropped by about 50,000 students over the last two years. One class size activist believes the city is already at or near the limits demanded in the state bill — and that Adams's cuts threaten implementation of the caps. With all these issues intertwined, untangling them is bound to lead to snarls. Mike Antonucci takes a look in this week's Union Report.

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