August 13, 2020
NCTR and Partner News

NCTR Network Director Erica Hines and her husband Michael Hines, an assistant professor in the Stanford School of Education, co-authored an op-ed for Time, reinforcing the historic and current evidence that Black teachers uplift Black students and are an irreplaceable force in eradicating the school-to-prison pipeline. Sharing the purpose and potential of the NCTR Black Educators Initiative (BEI), the Hineses laud that NCTR BEI partner institutions are doing more than wishing and hoping for a more diverse class of aspiring teachers to impact local schools: “they set hard goals around recruiting from the communities they serve” and then tangibly support the candidates through the beginning of their careers as classroom teachers.  These proven strategies “have each shown real and reliable results that can and should be implemented more consistently across settings.”

Speaking of the BEI, Memphis blog Choose 901 featured the Memphis Teacher Residency’s Marjorie Lee Browne STEM Education Fellowship. The Fellowship is designed and funded to support college students of color to lead a STEM camp for middle school students, and “work alongside experienced teachers, gaining classroom experience while also studying the importance of education as a facet of the Civil Rights movement.”  Learn how the 2020 camp has been adapted to be all-virtual in the time of COVID-19.

Mentor and Resident of the Year Wrap-Up

This winter, NCTR asked our partner programs to submit their nominations for the annual recognition of our Mentor of the Year and Resident of the Year. We were excited to celebrate 27 nominees from 14 of our partner Network programs.  Mentor of the Year nominees were submitted by their programs for demonstrating a commitment to resident growth, promoting inquiry and reflection, and excellence in modeling effective teaching and cultural competence.  Similarly, Resident of the Year nominees display a commitment to their students’ learning and exemplify the qualities of strong colleagues and leaders. 

It has been an honor to showcase these amazing educators over the last few months.  As our feature is coming to an end, we are excited to celebrate a new group of educators as the new school year begins.  These new features will start in a few weeks. 

Review the archive of Mentor and Resident spotlights, starting with the April 22 E-blast, here.  And find shareable posts with graphics for each nominee on the NCTR Facebook!

Featured News

As we continue following the reopening decisions and plans of school districts across the country, major news outlets are summarizing for the populace what educators, parents, and professional supporters/advocates for education have come to understand in vivid detail in recent months: there is much more at stake here than getting educators and students back into buildings.  

Digital learning, as The Washington Post reports, was spotty in the springtime due to the sudden onset of COVID-19 disruptions and school closures.  But even with summer weeks to plan for better, more inclusive and effective remote instruction protocols, many educators are still awaiting word from their administrators about how the school year will proceed, or (in states already back as of last week) figuring it out as they go.  “School district leaders spent so much time over the summer trying to create reopening plans that would meet safety guidelines for classes inside school buildings that they had little time to focus on improving online academic offerings,” recounted Post reporters Valerie Strauss and Hannah Natanson. 

Then again, as Wisconsin Deputy State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Thompson relayed, the national politicization of mask-wearing, etc., has complicated the already tough decisions facing education systems and families: “The politics making its way into this situation has made it harder for school districts...and divided communities,” he said. “And it was a difficult enough situation already.”  

The New Yorker hints that privilege plays a large part in the options and creative approaches being explored in districts, and even among neighbors in communities, to ensure kids a quality but safe education this fall: “pandemic pods” with hired tutors and the like.  With the grim reality that many guardians have no choice but to send young children back to school so that the adults can work outside the home, NPR outlines 11 factors to critically examine a school’s reopening plan, from social distancing, to cafeteria and recess protocols, to air circulation, to what happens when someone is confirmed positive for COVID-19. 

A New York Times op-ed poses this crucial question outright: What will Schools Do When a Teacher Gets Covid-19? The inevitability of sick adults unwittingly infecting students with whom they come in contact each week needs to be discussed.  Author Dr. Emily Oster asks, “Is it really better to trick people into opening, only to face panic and anger when there is a case? If we face the reality now, we are better able to prepare both emotionally and practically for what is inevitable.” 

At NCTR, we are thinking about all of the educators and school support staff returning to school buildings in the coming weeks.  We know you are grappling with difficult personal and professional decisions right now. We hope that you and your families stay safe and stay healthy. 

In The News
Exclusive: NYC Teachers Union Launches Its Own Investigation of School Building Air Quality Amid COVID Threat, UFT President Says
The 74

After decades of complaints about insufficient ventilation in especially aging New York City schools, the United Federation of Teachers has dispatched health and safety workers to review the worst offenders for their “air intake systems on roofs as well as exhaust systems and air diffusers inside.”  While the DOE has indicated improvements will be made to some systems, most schools built before the 1980s do not even qualify for such upgrades.  “The UFT receives more complaints from its members about poor indoor air quality in schools than about any other health and safety issue,” cites a report previously produced by the teacher's union, and this issue has only been heightened by the spread of COVID-19.  More than half of NYC’s 1,700+ schools are “naturally ventilated,” which means they lack modern air conditioning and ventilation systems that employ filters and would help to purify the circulated air.
State Board tackles new accountability model for educator preparation programs

North Carolina’s State Board pushed the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission for diversity measures to be included in the state’s updated accountability model for teacher preparation programs.  “The plan would split up the diversity section using three components: growth in percent of non-white students over time, comparison of the percent of non-white students in the EPP to the overall college population, and comparison of the percent of non-white students in the EPP to the state as a whole” in addition to accounting for traditional teacher performance metrics, stakeholder perceptions, and retention in the profession.  If approved by the State Board, this plan would be recommended next month to the General Assembly for a vote.
Please note that the articles and events in the NCTR E-Blast do not reflect the opinions of our organization, but rather represent information that we believe will be relevant to you and your programs.

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