Take 5 Minutes for Civil Rights Today

You may have seen the following in your social media feeds:

ACTION ALERT: Through the Federal Register, the U.S. Dept. of Education is receiving comments on why it’s important to preserve and expand the Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection. The Obama Administration published this request for comments on December 30, 2016 and it is essential that we flood Secretary DeVos with comments that explain why this data collection is essential for enforcing civil rights statutes and helping to protect all students. 
Comments are due on Tuesday, February 28. Please click HERE to comment.
All you have to say is: “The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) provides much-needed transparency and information on key education and civil rights issues in our nation’s public schools. This data helps the U.S. Department of Education achieve its mission of ensuring access to equal educational opportunity for all students. Secretary DeVos must preserve, expand, and publicly share the results of the CRDC.”
Copy and paste on Facebook, but do not share.
This is a real thing.
Here’s some background:
The CRDC collects a variety of information including student enrollment and educational programs and services, most of which is disaggregated by race/ethnicity, sex, limited English proficiency, and disability. The CRDC is a longstanding and important aspect of the ED Office for Civil Rights (OCR) overall strategy for administering and enforcing the civil rights statutes for which it is responsible. Information collected by the CRDC is also used by other ED offices as well as policymakers and researchers outside of ED.
These data range from enrollment numbers to math course offerings to instances of reported bullying. And, for the first time ever, OCR is including school internet access as a  component of healthy civil rights:
2. Access to Internet While many school districts have used the internet to enhance educational opportunities, there have been concerns that schools and school districts do not have equitable access to high-speed internet. This equity concern occurs at both among and within school districts. For the 2017–18 CRDC, OCR is proposing to collect new information regarding internet access:  Amount of school bandwidth in Megabit per second [see Attachment A-2, page 69 (Data Group 1014)] Do many school districts already collect (or could they easily obtain) school bandwidth data that would allow OCR to determine the existence and scope of any such access disparity? Are there other data about connectivity that OCR should consider collecting to gauge access disparity?
The comments you make, published to the Federal Register, require agency staff to respond to the significant issues raised in comments:

How can I use the Federal Register to affect Federal rulemaking?

Federal agencies are required to publish notices of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register to enable citizens to participate in the decision making process of the Government. This notice and comment procedure is simple.

  1. A proposed rule published in the Federal Register notifies the public of a pending regulation.
  2. Any person or organization may comment on it directly, either in writing, or orally at a hearing. Many agencies also accept comments online or via e-mail. The comment period varies, but it usually is 30, 60, or 90 days. For each notice, the Federal Register gives detailed instructions on how, when, and where a viewpoint may be expressed. In addition, agencies must list the name and telephone number of a person to contact for further information.
  3. When agencies publish final regulations in the Federal Register, they must address the significant issues raised in comments and discuss any changes made in response to them. Agencies also may use the notice and comment process to stay in contact with constituents and to solicit their views on various policy and program issues.

If you are someone like me who cares deeply about civil rights, then please take the five minutes to tell the Department of ED why knowing who is in our schools and how they are treated is still important information for our country.

52/365 What Do These Pictures Do to Inform our Conversations about Race?

In a recent class, a colleague was describing the Chicano civil rights movement here in Colorado. As she detailed the events, she ended with, “…and then it went nationwide.”

I paused for a moment. Why hadn’t I heard about this movement when I was growing up in Central Illinois? Had it truly gone nationwide?

Then I got curious as to what the Hispanic population looked like by the numbers near my hometown. I’d several friends who identified as Hispanic when I lived in Florida, but couldn’t remember any from my time in Illinois. I took to the Internet. Here’s what I found:

Hispanic PopulationIt seemed from this picture that I had a reason why the movement going nationwide hadn’t resonated as profoundly in the Midwest. This got me curious. Here’s what else I found:

American Indian PopulationAnd…

African-American PopulationAnd…

Asian PopulationThese were things I could probably have described generally if handed a blank map and asked to color in the distribution. It wasn’t until I started considering these maps with regard to the “national” conversations we have about race, ethnicity, and culture I’ve witnessed and participated in as I’ve moved around the country. Some things I’m thinking:

  • While general patterns of cultural dominance and oppression appear regularly across the map, the cultures in question, how they interact, and how they shift those patterns is vastly different.
  • A person with limited geographic mobility living in any of these spaces of greater density of the ethnicities reported above is likely to live with a skewed perception of race in America and limited access to people of other backgrounds, thereby limiting the fulfillment of Allport’s Contact Hypothesis.
  • When we talk about race in America, we’re all having different conversations and are rarely aware of those differences.
  • Integration, equity, and civil rights are going to require varied approaches if we are to find that “more perfect union” we talk about so much.

If I were in a social studies classroom, I’d be building a unit around these maps and the questions they raise for my students and me. If I were in an English classroom, I’d be asking how these distributions might influence my selection of texts and how I approached helping students access them. If I were leading a school, I’d open a faculty meeting with these images and ask how they might help us think about how we are preparing students for the larger world and their citizenship in it.

And, I’d throw one more map into the mix to make it interesting…






Things I Know 305 of 365: The initial results are in

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.

– John F. Kennedy

Thank you to everyone who has taken a moment to add their thoughts to the School Purpose Project so far. A particular shout out goes to Marcie Hull, Patrick Higgins, Meredith Stewart and Karl Fisch who have pushed the link to the project out to their students and faculty.

The close of the semester meant my partner Trevor and I had to do something with the data we’ve collected so far and turn in our initial results to our professor. That report can be read here.

Though the report has been submitted, we’re not done with the project. The variety of responses has been amazing, and we’re hungry for more. We’ve also decided to submit a proposal to present further findings at the upcoming Student Research Conference at HGSE.

This means we still need your responses, your friends’ responses, your families’ responses and your students’ responses.

It also means our coded data is available for use by anyone who’s interested. Admittedly, I don’t yet know how to create any sort of dynamic infographics, but I hope you do. Maybe you’re a classroom teacher looking to incorporate a data set into your lessons. Maybe you’re a student looking for an only project. Maybe you’re just looking for numbers to play around with.

The SPP is as much about the process of collecting and sharing our process and data as it is about people’s responses. Please, take a look and see what you can build. If you’ve any questions, please comment below. If you build anything, we’d love to see it and feature it on the site.

At the very least, if you haven’t shared your answer to the question, “What should be the purpose of school?” now’s the time.

Things I Know 246 of 365: I’m deciding to learn something new

True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.

– Winston Churchill

In my first weeks at SLA, I got a little terrified. I inherited my classroom midway through the first quarter. By the time I’d started thinking about getting my bearings another teacher approached me, “What are you planning for your benchmark this quarter?”
For what was the fiftieth time since joining the school, my heart stopped.
I had no idea.
I talked to Chris. It was a moment of intellectual cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Essays, he explained, could be projects.
I breathed again.
I can do essays. They are the coin of the realm for the bulk of schooling. Whether you believe the 5-paragraph essay is the devil or the first step to clean livin’, schools find ways to get kids writing essays. Take a look at standardized test scores and you won’t be able to turn around without bumping into a schools whose writing scores outpace reading, math and science.
I’ve got three major essays in the offing here at school. This is on top of the weekly essay assignments for two classes. Add to those the daily postings here, and I start to feel like the essay king.
It’s ok. Essays are my sport.
So, I’ve decided to take up a new sport – one I appreciate watching, but have no idea how to play.
I’m going to learn to create data visualizations.
In google reader, my “Infographics” folder is my favorite.
I’ve been quietly building my collection of resources in delicious.
After I complete my next two essays, I’m starting. Seriously.
As many people better versed in the visualization of data have written, information and making sense of it are the coins of the realm for the modern age.
This realization is my secondary drive. Most of all, I’m curious. It’s the same things that led me to open up and dissect every telephone I could get my hands on as a little kid. It’s what prompted me to mix rain water, onion grass and other things I found in my yard and leave them in the garage to see what happened.
I’m curious about something I don’t know. So, I’m learning a new sport.