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What Are Schoolteachers Thinking? Report Gives Insights

What teachers think and experience in the public education system is explored in a new report by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS). The Harris Poll, a market research and consulting firm, carried out the survey of over 1,200 public schoolteachers from both charter and district schools for the report.

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Among other things that were revealed in the report was that teachers say they just want to teach (94%) and report feeling like they are caught in the crossfire of a culture war (91%). Photo courtesy California Black Media.
Among other things that were revealed in the report was that teachers say they just want to teach (94%) and report feeling like they are caught in the crossfire of a culture war (91%). Photo courtesy California Black Media.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌

California‌ ‌Black‌‌ Media

 

What teachers think and experience in the public education system is explored in a new report by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS).

 

The report, named “Listen to Your Teacher: An Analysis of Teacher Sentiment on the State of Public Education, was authored by NAPCS’s vice president of Communications and Marketing, Debbie Veney.

 

The Harris Poll, a market research and consulting firm, carried out the survey of over 1,200 public schoolteachers from both charter and district schools for the report.

 

“I think the results of The Harris Poll raises the important point that the teacher’s voice is critical in determining the challenges we face in education, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic,” said Leona Matthews, Senior Director of Literacy Programs for Green Dot Public Schools California.

 

Green Dot Public Schools is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help transform public education, so all students graduate prepared for college, leadership and life. The U.S. Department of Education has featured Green Dot as a national leader in school turnarounds.

 

“It makes it clear that charter schools provide the kind of small school, values driven environment that empowers teachers to meet the diverse needs of the students we serve.”

 

The NAPCS commissioned the survey to gain more insight into the teachers’ experiences, opinions, and motivations for entering, staying in, or leaving the profession.

 

The research was conducted online from May 10 to May 30, 2023.

 

“Next to parents, teachers are the backbone of education. It is valuable to have insight into how they feel in today’s climate and find out how we can better support their heroic work in and outside the classroom,” stated Nina Rees, president and CEO of the NAPCS.  “Although we certainly have a special interest in charter schoolteachers, we care deeply about the experience of all public schoolteachers.”

 

Based on the study, 10 Los Angeles-based Green Dot Public Schools helped students increase proficiency rates in both math and English during the 2022-2023 year. Four schools exceeded their pre-pandemic proficiency rates.

 

Charter schools are publicly funded independent schools established by teachers, parents, or community groups under the terms of a charter with a local or national authority.

 

They are governed under a legislative contract — a charter — with the state, school district, or another entity, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Education (USDE).

 

In April 2020, the NCES and Institute of Education Sciences released a 71-page report that Black educators were 11% of the teachers in the country’s charter schools during the 2017-2018 academic year.

 

Overall, Black educators make up 11% of the teachers in city schools but only 5.5% of the teachers in suburban schools and 3.6% in rural schools. The nation’s average of Black educators in the classroom is 6.3%, according to the report.

 

Veney participated in a podcast focused on the study. She said that the importance of the survey was to get the 1,211 teachers to provide their perspectives (811 school district teachers and 400 charter school educators).

 

“This is the most important topic right now facing public education. We’re hearing all these headlines about teacher shortages, teacher resignations, and teacher dissatisfaction,” Veney said. “It really felt like we were not listening enough to what teachers were actually saying about this (or) if there was a lot of talk about teachers but not enough talk to teachers.”

 

The key data from the survey indicate the following trends:

 

Teachers Agree Families and Students Should Have Education Choice — About 4 out of 5 teachers agree that regardless of its politicized nature, public school choice is important for both families and teachers (79% of all public schoolteachers; 87% of charter schoolteachers and 78% of district schoolteachers).

 

Something Has to Change — Public school teachers cite student behavior and discipline issues (74%) as the top challenge they believe teachers currently face, followed by pay (65%).

 

There’s Something Special About the Experience of Charter Schoolteachers — Eighty percent of charter schoolteachers say they are as or more motivated than when they initially entered the profession (vs. 34% among public school teachers).

 

Aligning with Culture — Ninety-six percent of charter schoolteachers report feeling aligned with their current school’s culture in terms of values and beliefs about education. About 75% of district schoolteachers feel this way.

 

Keep Politics Out of the Classroom — Teachers say they just want to teach (94%) and report feeling like they are caught in the crossfire of a culture war (91%).

 

 

“It amplifies a needed conversation about our educational system, how we can best support teachers, and ultimately our students.” Matthews said of the report.

 

Charter schools historically serve proportionately more students of color and more students from low-income communities than district schools. For a stretch of 16 years (2005-06 to 2020-21 school years), charter schools have consistently had a higher portion of students of color compared to district schools, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS).

 

During the 2005-2006 school year, a total of 196,851 students were enrolled in California charter schools, according to data provided by NAPCS. The movement continued each year as enrollment reached 692,783 pupils by the end of the 2020-2021 calendar year.

 

As of the beginning of the 2022–23 school year, more than 1,300 charter schools and seven all-charter districts are operating in California, according to the California Department of Education (CDE).

 

Alameda County has 80 charter schools; San Bernardino County has 52; Los Angeles County has 275; San Diego County has 124; Sacramento County has 56; and San Francisco has 16 public charter schools, according to CDE.

 

“I am really delighted to say that a lot of what we found is consistent and similar across both types of school settings,” said Veney, referring to the charter schools and district schools.

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Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

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Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌

More Segregated Than Deep South: ACLU Releases Report on Calif. Public Schools

The 2024 State of Black Education: Report Card was recently published by the American Civil Liberties Union California Action (ACLU California Action). It states that California is the third most segregated state for Black students.  Co-author of the report, policy counsel Amir Whitaker from ACLU Southern California explained the criteria the ACLU use to rank California during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education held at the State Capitol the day after the Memorial Day holiday.

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Asm. Mia Bonta (D-Alameda) was a guest speaker at the State of Black Education report card briefing at the State Capitol on May 29. CBM Photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Asm. Mia Bonta (D-Alameda) was a guest speaker at the State of Black Education report card briefing at the State Capitol on May 29. CBM Photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌, California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

The 2024 State of Black Education: Report Card was recently published by the American Civil Liberties Union California Action (ACLU California Action). 

It states that California is the third most segregated state for Black students.

Co-author of the report, policy counsel Amir Whitaker from ACLU Southern California explained the criteria the ACLU use to rank California during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education held at the State Capitol the day after the Memorial Day holiday.

“For every state in the Deep South, California (schools) are more segregated,” Whittaker said. “People often think that California is not segregated or unequal as Deep South states and others. The inequalities here (in California) are actually wider.”

New York and Illinois are ahead of California regarding the racial diversity of their student bodies. According to a report May 2022 report by Stanford Graduate School of Education, the Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York City school districts are in the top 10 most racially segregated districts for White-Black, White-Hispanic, and White-Asian segregation based on the average levels from 1991-2020.

In bigger school districts, segregation between low-income (students who are eligible for free lunch) and non-low-income students increased by 47% since 1991, according to the Stanford Graduate School’s report.

“That’s why it’s important to look at this data,” Whitaker said. “When you have millions of people living in places like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, the urban areas are a lot more segregated than the south. That’s a big part of it.

A number of factors contribute to the segregation of schools in California such as parents sending their children to private schools, others optioning for homeschooling, and other reasons, Whitaker said.

The Brown v. Board of Education case declared that separating children in public schools based on race was unconstitutional. However, Whitaker pointed to cases after the landmark decision that circumvented that federal law.

According to a 2014 report by the Civil Rights Project, in the 1990s, decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court decision ended federal desegregation orders in San Francisco and San Jose. In addition, court decisions in the state that ordered desegregation in the 1970s were overturned by the 1990s. Legally, California has no school integration policy to adhere to.

“This is why we did this report. There needs to be a report just on this issue (of school segregation),” Whitaker told California Black Media. “Right now, there’s no task force or anything addressing it. I have never seen the California Department of Education talk about it. This is a pandemic (and) a crisis.”

ACLU Northern California hosted an overview of the report and panel discussion at the State Capitol on May 29. California Black Legislative Caucus member Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Alameda) and Sen. Steven Bradford were the guest speakers. Parents, students, educators, and Black education advocates from all over the state attended the 90-minute presentation at the State Capitol.

School segregation is the No. 1 issue listed in among the report’s “24 areas of documented inequality,along with problematic trends of racial harassment, a continuous decline of Black student enrollment, school closures, connection with school staff, chronic absenteeism, low Black teacher representation, and parent participation.

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California Black Media

L.A. Pilot Program Addressing Asian American Hate Could Be California Model

Californians who are Asian American or Pacific Islanders (AAPI) were the targets of an escalated number of hate crimes and hate incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many AAPI people, particularly the elderly, reported being too scared to leave their homes. Others experienced firsthand hateful incidents stemming from deep-rooted prejudices and stereotypes — such as verbal or physical assaults in public.

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By McKenzie Jackson, California Black Media

Californians who are Asian American or Pacific Islanders (AAPI) were the targets of an escalated number of hate crimes and hate incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many AAPI people, particularly the elderly, reported being too scared to leave their homes.  Others experienced firsthand hateful incidents stemming from deep-rooted prejudices and stereotypes — such as verbal or physical assaults in public. Yet, too many of them were hesitant to voice their emotions, according to Yu Wang, an associate marriage and family therapist at the Asian Pacific Counseling and Treatment Center in Los Angeles.

“A space for healing is critically needed,” Wang said, also noting that some Asian cultures don’t put a heavy emphasis on sharing feelings and vulnerabilities. “It makes it difficult to talk about experiences related to racism. Also, many of us lack to the language to express emotions, which exacerbates feelings of isolation and fear.”

The Asian/Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Equity Alliance in collaboration with other Asian American community groups recently launched the Healing Our People through Engagement (HOPE) pilot program in Los Angeles County geared at healing racial trauma experienced by Asian American community members by providing healing spaces and reducing isolation. Based on the successes of the initiative, supporters and organizers believe the “culturally centered” program could become a model for other cities around the state.

Ethnic Media Services hosted an hourlong Zoom press conference on the last day of May, which was AAPI Heritage Month, to allow HOPE program facilitators and allies the opportunity to provide details of the initiative to the media.

HOPE is a healing space for five distinct Asian American communities — Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and Korean — created to make sense of their experiences with racism and recent surges in hate crimes. The psychology of the program is radical healing, a framework that has aided Black people in dealing with years of prejudice-caused trauma. HOPE is funded by a grant from the California Department of Social Services. 

More than 11,000 stories of hate have been reported to the California-based online resource, Stop AAPI Hate, since 2020.

AAPI Managing Director of Programs Michelle Sewrathan Wong called HOPE vital and said Asian Americans endured episodes of brutality on a scale not seen in generations.

“They were scapegoated by politicians for transmission of COVID-19, targeted for violent physical attacks, made to feel unsafe and unwelcome in their own communities and bullied and ridiculed by neighbors and strangers,” she stated.

HOPE opened healing spaces in Los Angeles County that offer six two-hour sessions conducted in groups by facilitators, who are staff from partner community organizations.

DePaul University Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Anne Saw said the radical healing framework promotes healing over coping.

“Healing may be lifelong because racism is ongoing, yet a program like ours reminds people of the cultural, community, family, and individual strengths they have to resist racism,” Saw said. We believe that healing in a group can be more powerful than an individual engaging in healing on their own because of the support they receive.”

This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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