Should Sexual Orientation Be Excluded from Student Records?
A new Texas State bill gives parents the right to access all written student records, including information about their children’s physical and mental health. The bill states that educators must share “general knowledge” about the child with their parent as it relates to attendance records, test scores, grades, disciplinary records, counseling records, psychological records, admissions applications, health and immunization information, teacher & school counselor evaluations, & behavioral patterns, and other records relating to the child's well-being. Although the bill does not specifically state that information regarding sexual orientation must be disclosed, critics fear that the bill will force teachers to “out” LGBTQ students due to its provision that if an educator withholds general knowledge about a student from the parent, they may face disciplinary action. The author of the bill, Senator Konni Burton, has issued a statement that the bill is intended to strengthen the partnership between school employees and parents and that fears of students being outed are unfounded.
Literacy Among Incarcerated Adults
The National Center for Educational Statistics has released the results of the US PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults, which measures literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments. Over 50% of incarcerated adults lack basic numeracy skills, and nearly a third lack basic literacy skills. U.S. Department of Education Secretary John B. King expressed concern that a lack of education and vocational training programs in prison reduces future opportunities for prisoners once they have served their time and increases the likelihood of recidivism.
Happenings. A study of approximately 10,000 high-school sophomores, their parents, and teachers, reveals differences in how math and English teachers communicate with parents from different racial, ethnic, and immigrant backgrounds. Among the findings is that teachers are much more likely to reach out to black and Latino parents regarding behavioral problems than they are white ones. A new report from Data & Society Research Institute reveals that young adults under 30, especially young women, and LGBT individuals are much more likely to experience and witness online harassment, and suffer negative effects.
Youth and Fake or Biased News
A recent study conducted by the Stanford History Education Group on evaluating information in the digital civic context made a startling find: “Overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.” As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the study found that across age groups, young people were largely unable to distinguish real news from sponsored content and false content. This deficit poses a great challenge to parents and educators as they try to prepare youth to be knowledgeable and civically engaged young adults. By the time kids turn 18, almost 90% of them regularly obtain news information from social media, where “echo chambers” may make separating real from fake news and discerning bias in news even more challenging. The WSJ article suggests that children and teens should learn the “basic skills used by professional fact-checkers,” such as evaluating sources’ reliability based on whether they are corroborated by other websites, and whether they are “named, independent, and well-informed or authoritative.” However, Berkman Klein Faculty Fellow Judith Donath argues that developing our personal fact-checking skills isn’t enough to promote fact-based civic discourse. In a CNN opinion piece, Dr. Donath explains that the allure of fake news stories online is difficult to combat because even fact checking “can be counterproductive” due to group dynamics such that “[w]hen a story that a community believes is proved fake by outsiders, belief in it becomes an article of faith, a litmus test of one’s adherence to that community’s idiosyncratic worldview.” Fake news seems to proliferate online due to users’ ignorance about sources’ veracity, such as the Stanford study described, as well as users’ disregard for veracity and willingness to share fake news to signal their membership in a community.