Librarians Love Us!

Time for a little not-so-humble brag. As readers know, dear ol’ Eduflack is incredibly proud of my work in transforming the teaching and Learning of American history. I believe this work is essential to both a stronger education snd a stronger society. It’s why I have spent so much time developing the Untold History initiative. And it’s why I launched the Driving Force Institute.

This week, the American Association of School Librarians announced its list of Top Digital Tools. This is an important list, particularly when we consider how just about anyone who is anyone in education was providing digital tools during the last Covid school year.

And Untold History was on that list! I am incredibly proud of what Makematic and I have been able to do here. And I am beyond honored that we have been able to partner with organizations such as the New York Historical Society, American Battlefield Trust, Kentucky Valley Educational Collective, iCivics, and many others to create these important digital tools.

Thank you to all of those who have made this work possible. We are having real impact as we dare mighty things.

Untold History, Right from the Student Lens

If the past few years (or even just months) have taught us anything, it is how important it is that we all know our history … and how boring and irrelevant history education can be for high school students today.

The Driving Force Institute launched its Untold History initiative to change that narrative. Untold has focused on making history interesting and relevant for today’s learners, telling the stories of those events, people, places, and artifacts that are essential, but often overlooked.

To supplement this work, this week we launch the Untold Pitch Competition. Over the past six months, we have been reaching out to students, asking them to develop their own videos on the moments in history that mean the most to them. Those submissions are now in, and we are sharing the finalists … seeking your vote for some of the top videos.

Check out the full competition here – https://makematic.com/blog/the-untold-pitch-competition/

Watch the videos! Share the Pitch! Cast your vote!

CRT and History Teaching

As state legislatures across the nation explore banning critical race theory from k-12 classrooms, it can be easy to turn away from the teaching of American history. After all, our nation’s history can be offensive to some.

In truth, American history is proud and dark, complex and contradictory, patriotic and problematic. In these times, that is all the more reason what we must embrace the teaching of history and ensure all understand both what has happened in our past and why.

I explore this important issue on the latest episode of Soul of Education over at the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here – https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/how-do-you-teach-american-history-without-offending-anyone/.

Effectively Reaching Young People

The simple answer is … there is no silver bullet for reaching today’s youth. If there was, every Fortune 500 company would turn to it to boost sales, every college and university would use it to increase applications and enrollment, and every non-profit and advocacy group would implement it to increase volunteerism and activism.

No, the answer is far more complex than one-stop shopping or a magical fix-all elixir. To effectively reach young people, PR people need to apply a formula built on respect, understanding, and integrated communications.

From Eduflack’s latest over at Medium

Do We Want Schools Monitoring Student Speech Outside the Classroom?

We regularly hear about how school districts are closely monitoring what their students say and what they do. It makes sense, after all, as our schools want to make sure they are providing a safe, open learning environment for all.

But does such responsibility extend beyond the classroom? A new SCOTUS case will soon examine that very question, as the court looks at whether a school can punish a student for what she says on social media from her own bedroom.

We discuss the topic over on the Soul of Education program for the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here!

American Families Plan Is Lacking, Education Wise

In looking at the American Families proposal offered by President Joe Biden last week, there is much to be happy about. Even when it comes to education, one can get excited by major investments in PreK and free community college.

And yes, there is value to extending the 13-year public education continuum to 17 years, ensuring early childhood education and post secondary to all learners.

But what message are we sending when we don’t add any additional dollars to k12? Sure, we have pumped hundreds of billions in recent months for HVAC and Covid testing and other immediate, tactical needs to reopen our classrooms. We are falling short, though, in investing in improved teaching and learning in those same classrooms.

One has to ask, for instance, if PreK is truly the secret sauce when two-thirds of fourth graders are reading at below proficient levels AND we have school districts fighting in federal courts that literacy isn’t a civil or constitutional right.

We explore this issue over at the Soul of Education on the BAM! Radio Network this week. Give it a listen here – https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/i-dont-want-to-sound-ungrateful-but-public-education-needs-more/.

Why Won’t NJ Congressional Leaders Prioritize Ed?

There once was a time when education policy could rise above identity politics and the red-blue divide. A time when, despite our differences, we could all agree that all learners – regardless of race, income, or zip code – were entitled to a high-quality public education. That time, though, seems to have passed us by.

Today, we are demanding that all public schools be fully reopened for physical instruction without addressing the hundreds of operational, logistical, instructional, and strategic questions those leading our school districts have asked. Today, we are pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into K-12 relief and support, without any real guidance to ensure those dollars are being used for little more than to pay off the past-due bills payable to Covid. And today, we are calling for trillions of new dollars to build our communities back better, but leaders in our New Jersey congressional delegation are promoting priorities that don’t even mention the words K-12 education.

From Eduflack’s latest for the NJ Education Report, asking why the Congressional Progressive Caucus fails to emphasize – or even discuss – education as part of a massive investment with the American Jobs plan.

Investing in the Future – or Past – of Education?

With President Biden’s Build Back Better initiative, we are looking at more than $100 billion in investments in k-12 education. And that’s in addition to the dollars the Feds typically send to schools in a annual basis.

For many decision makers, that means buckets of money to make up for the unplanned expenses of a Covid school year. For cleaning classrooms and new HVAC and learning devices and expanded wifi hookups. All dollars designed to ease the way back to school as we once knew it.

But what if, instead, we used those dollars to begin to build k-13 for the future. What if we looked to public education as it can be in 2050, and not as it was delivered in the 1950s?

We explore the topic over on the Soul of Education program on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here – https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/129-billion-dollars-for-education-will-we-spend-this-money-on-the-future-or-the-past/.

$10B for Covid Testing in Schools?

Yes, it is essential that Covid relief dollars be directed at our public school classrooms and their reopening. But after all the last year has taught us, does it really make the most sense to spend $10 billion on school-based Covid testing, with impact as short-lived as the spit in the vial?

Or so we try to spend these much-needed resources on preparing our schools for the future?

We explore the topic on the Soul of Education, over on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here – https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/opinion-is-10-billion-dollars-for-covid-19-testing-in-schools-the-best-use-of-funds/.

Getting All Kids Reading

“So how do we do it? What are the core components of the ghosts of research-provide literacy programs past that redouble our national commitment to ensuring every student is equipped with the literacy skills to read at grade level, particularly by fourth grade? How do we ensure that every child –regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or neighborhood — becomes a skilled, able reader?”

From Eduflack’s latest for Educate