3.8.17: Weekly Progress Report

Spotlight: Hidden Figures, by Natalie Bullock Brown

I recently had the opportunity to see the film Hidden Figures with my 11 year old daughter... in spite of the pride I felt in learning about these women, I also left the film quite angry as I realized the many unfortunate truths that the film illuminates. Read more on the blog >>

Related Reading: Beyond 'Hidden Figures': Nurturing New Black and Latino Math Whizzes (NY Times)


Welcome to our first weekly progress report! This week, we're featuring calls to action and resources to help educators #ProtectTransKids, along with a roundup of the week's biggest education stories, calls to action, and upcoming events. 

Week in focus: #ProtectTransKids

This week, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to the fight for transgender students’ rights by refusing to hear the case of Gavin Grimm after previously agreeing to take it up. Grimm, a student in southeastern Virginia, is seeking the right to use the boys’ bathroom in his high school; the district currently forces students to use the bathroom corresponding with their biological sex.

This decision comes hot on the heels of the Trump administration’s decision last month to withdraw Title IX protections for transgender students, and the Supreme Court actually cited this guidance as a reason for its decision not to hear the case. Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in education, was expanded under President Obama to include the right of transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.

The bottom line? Allowing people who are transgender or gender nonconforming to use the bathroom of their choice doesn't cause crime. However, discriminating against transgender youth does come with risk. In the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, “78% transgender/gender non-conforming students in grades K-12 reported experiencing harassment, while 35% experienced physical assault and 12% experienced sexual violence.”

The good news

"After Trump withdrew federal guidelines protecting transgender students, several state and local officials wasted no time announcing they would continue protecting transgender students, and Trans Lifeline received so many donations that their website crashed." (via Small Victories)

Calls to action

  • If you know a transgender or questioning student in crisis, please urge him or her to call Trans Lifeline, a free, confidential resource: (877) 565-8860
  • National: Call the White House comment line and your Congressional representatives, and tell them that especially in light of the SCOTUS decision, we need stronger—not weaker—protections for trans students in our schools. Click here for a script. Then, join the #DearBetsy campaign to tell Betsy DeVos why protecting Title IX is so important.
  • State/Local: Use 5calls’ script to call your governor and urge him or her to take up the fight to protect transgender students. This script also works for local leaders, including mayors, superintendents and school board presidents; you can find out where your state stands on so-called “bathroom bills” here and find a more general description of state laws and policies affecting trans people here.

Resources for educators

We recognize that not all of our resources are right for educators in every type of school. We encourage you to use your discretion about what will work in your classroom and to take smart risks when introducing your students to topics that some may find controversial. Read more about our “smart risk” mentality >>

Classroom resources

Professional Development

 Policy


Education around the web

News and policy headlines

Today is the national women’s strike, #DayWithoutAWoman. Anticipating widespread staff shortages, two school districts in Virginia and North Carolina decided to close for the day. If you’re striking, here’s a list of rallies and events happening across the country; if you’re not, here are some ways you can show solidarity with the cause.

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos visited a private religious school in Florida late last week, pushing their pro-voucher agenda. But Florida’s voucher program might not be so great after all, and new research shows that vouchers don’t work.

Education now has its own repeal and (don’t) replace scenario, as Congress decides whether to forward with using the Congressional Review Act to gut key portions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Here’s a historical perspective on how we got where we are, and where the GOP might go next.

Following Trump and Devos’s recent meeting with HBCU presidents, one leader issued a statement saying that the gathering amounted to little more than a photo op for the president (and Kellyanne Conway). Trump will have to work hard to get back in the group’s good graces, especially after DeVos ignorantly said that HBCUs were “pioneers of school choice.” As of Tuesday afternoon, there were reports circulating that Morehouse President John Silvanus Wilson, Jr. has been fired for his remarks about Trump.

In better news, we’re hearing that HR 610—which would repeal ESSA, approve vouchers, and change school nutrition guidelines—is probably dead, having failed to get enough party sponsorship to go to committee. We’ll keep you updated on this one as we learn more.

Calls to action

National

State/local

Have a state or local call to action to share? Click here to send it to us.

Upcoming events (via Resistance Calendar and RISE People’s Calendar)