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Dialogue, discourse, and debate are essential to a vibrant and engaged educational community in an interconnected, global society. We welcome commentaries from scholars, practitioners, policy makers, community-based organization members, K-12 teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders who share in our commitment to education for the public good. Commentaries are original essays that address topics, issues, or events that are relevant to the field of education. We encourage diverse perspectives and questions that sustain deliberation, and engage multiple audiences and stakeholders to address educational and societal inequities. The commentaries are generative and lead to conversations across multiple communities to have broad impact in the field and beyond. Commentaries are reviewed internally by the Teachers College Record Editorial staff and published on our website soon after acceptance and copyediting. Submissions typically run between 1000 and 1500 words.




Commentary
by Jennifer Green & Elizabeth Bettini - 2020
When teachers return to work in the fall, the schools they reenter will look quite different from the schools they left behind in March. Schools are anticipating substantially increased demand to support student mental health, as many will return to school having experienced loss and grief, months of social isolation, and heightened rates of familial violence and poverty (Galea et al., 2020). To meet the needs of these youth, it will be crucial to support the mental health and wellness of teachers and school staff who provide their care.

by Martin Scanlan - 2020
Educators, parents, and community members all recognize that reopening PK-12 Schools plays a central role as communities strive to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. As communities plan to reopen PK-12 schools this fall, we need to bear in mind that doing so is not simply a matter of solving logistical problems to ensure health and safety. The process must be driven by educational professionalism that serves the broader purpose of maximizing learning and addressing students’ holistic needs.

by Jordi Díaz-Gibson & Alan Daly - 2020
As we write this, many of us across the world are sheltered in place, not being able to safely leave our homes. This pandemic has its roots in how connected we are as a planet. Ironically, we only seem to attend to our human connectivity when it comes to historically negative events such as a pandemic. However, what if we really focused on the fact that these connections also hold the potential for equally positive impacts for our world? Sadly, it seems we rarely activate these systems for this purpose.

by Olivia Marcucci - 2020
Scholars and practitioners started noting the disproportionate disciplining of Black students around 45 years ago with the release of a seminal report from the Children’s Defense Fund (1975). While the historical trend likely predates the first study, recent research indicates that Black students are up to 300% more likely to be disciplined, even when controlling for poverty and misbehavior (Goplan & Nelson, 2019; Gregory et al., 2010; Owens & McLanahan, 2019; Pearman, et al., 2019; Skiba et al., 2014). In the 45 years of scholarship on the issue, scholars have used terms like “discipline gap,” “discipline disparity,” or “discipline disproportionality.” Following Ladson-Billings’s (2006) call for a renaming of the “achievement gap” to “education debt,” the objective of this commentary is to argue for a shift in how we talk about the phenomenon at hand. This commentary explains why I have chosen to use the alternative term “hyper-disciplining” in my own scholarship.

by Joanna Weidler-Lewis - 2020
This commentary considers the rise of augmented and virtual reality simulators (AR and VR) as a proxy for teacher education preparation in classrooms through the example of Mursion. AR and VR Simulators are a promising technology to meet the educational and clinical training needs of student teachers in the face of the current global pandemic that has canceled in-person options. Simulators allow pre-service teachers the opportunity to practice interactions with student avatars by either walking through pre-recorded scenarios or engaging in real-time sessions with a simulation specialist. The discourse surrounding this technology and simulators is one of reducing “mistakes” and “risks” and maximizing “authenticity” and “safety.” In some cases, these concepts have taken on new meaning post COVID-19, particularly with respect to keeping students, both pre-service teachers and PreK-12 students, healthy and safe. However, we must interrogate what these concepts entail and ask for whom is the learning environment made authentic and who is taking what risks. In this commentary, I call on teacher educators and professionals to examine the broader consequences of implementing AR and VR simulations, the underlying theories of learning and behavior that influence their design, and the costs incurred by this technology.

by Emily Schnee & Liesl Schwabe - 2020
As both the pandemic and its uncertainty continue, college students, their families, and professors are looking ahead to fall, wondering how or if anyone will be able to return to campus. But the implications of how we, as a country, navigate the future of higher education will have ramifications for years, if not decades, to come.

by Caroline Wylie & Margaret Heritage - 2020
Our commentary notes the challenges faced by many teachers amid the COVID-19 pandemic as teaching and learning abruptly shifted from site-based to distance learning, with learning opportunities relying on a combination of asynchronous and real-time interactions. Discourse opportunities are inevitably reduced in remote teaching, lessening possibilities for formative assessment. Here, we offer some suggestions for how teachers might use technology tools to preserve the essence of formative assessment practices and the potential of these practices to mitigate equity concerns.

by Marybeth Gasman - 2020
A short essay based on conversations with my daughter.

by Richard Fossey - 2020
The closure of a small liberal arts college is a traumatic event for faculty members who lose their jobs. Is there anything a college can do to relieve the hardship on professors who are thrown out of work, perhaps after spending their entire careers at an institution that ceases to exist?

by Mary Hermann & Julie Gorlewski - 2020
This commentary builds on the authors’ recent research on teachers who are also mothers. The study was completed just prior to the current world-wide health crisis. Study findings indicate that combining teaching and motherhood has become more challenging in recent years as both societal motherhood norms and expectations in the teaching profession have risen significantly. As teachers in the United States encounter the effects of new shelter-at-home directives, teacher mothers are experiencing unprecedented responsibilities related to remote teaching expectations and their recently acquired role of homeschooling their children. Challenges related to these experiences as well as opportunities provided by this crisis are explored in this commentary. Recommendations are provided for managing the dual roles of teacher and mother during the pandemic and beyond.

by Harrison Yang, Lam Kwok & Xuan Wang - 2020
In the span of just a few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has quickly become the world’s most salient common concern. One of the most significant challenges during this unexpected crisis is the continuation of K-12 education for students who have been instructed to stay at home.

by Michael Feuer - 2020
Contrary to recent critiques, economics and economists have made substantial contributions to education and public policy. Scapegoating the profession is misdirected and undermines the value of scientific evidence in government.

by Carrie Ashcraft, Petra Chou & Cindy Jones - 2020
Advanced coursework in high school is often viewed as stepping-stone to future educational opportunities, such as technical school or college. However, students from minority populations and lower socio-economic classes continue to be underrepresented in advanced courses. Desegregating classrooms begins with making visible the effects of racism and classism keeping marginalized students from advanced coursework and a rigorous curriculum. Evaluation of current structures must include open dialogue to make visible disparities within schools, thus promoting a rigorous curriculum for all students and avoiding the long-term consequences of unequal access to high-quality secondary education.

by Joseph Jones - 2020
This commentary explores how relational pedagogy should guide educational leaders through times of crisis.

by Brian Oh, Heather Hong & Emily Park - 2020
Court cases such as Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard (2019) and Fisher v. University of Texas (2016) have brought around tensions around the practice of affirmative action. Time and time again, affirmative action’s use of race in the admissions process has been deemed appropriate from the U.S. Supreme Court. While this is the case, news outlets throughout the political gamut and over the years such as CNN, Fox News, and PBS have weighed their support on socioeconomic status being considered as a factor in the college admissions process.

by Sarah Hurwitz, David Nguyen & Suzanne Eckes - 2020
From equity and school discipline to affirmative action and sexual harassment, the current political climate is affecting the civil rights of P-16 students. The U.S. Department of Education (“Department”) has proposed to rescind, or has already rescinded, numerous rules and regulations that were developed by previous administrations. Rather than providing state and local education agencies with clarification, these policy changes are causing uncertainty. In this article, we focus on three areas that impact the civil rights of students, providing policymakers and educators with a timely explanation of the changes that are currently underway.

by Tiffany Noel & Padmashree Rida - 2020
Building on Karalis Noel’s (2019) research surrounding belongingness of women in STEM fields, this commentary aims to address the critical underrepresentation of and prejudice inflicted upon minority women in STEM higher education. Rida, a current graduate student at a large, R1 midwestern institution, and Karalis Noel, a previous graduate of the same institution, came together to compose a commentary that calls attention to the crucial underrepresentation and alienation of minority women in STEM.

by Hope Nye - 2020
To support every student’s educational progress, the IDEA provides a framework through a system of measurable annual goals listed within student IEPs. Benchmark objectives following the gradual release of responsibility model of instruction scaffold supports for students to master skills identified within their measurable annual goals. When fading these supports through benchmark objectives, students transition from external to internal motivation when achieving independence with their target skill.

by Elizabeth Keefe & Wen-Chia Chang - 2020
Education reform organizations, such as the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), leverage rhetoric to sway public opinion using sensationalized approaches. Language has long been a powerful tool of the education reform movement, perpetuating a false narrative about the United States’ “failing schools” and the “mediocrity” of U.S. teachers and university-based teacher preparation. NCTQ has a wide reach to education stakeholders via listservs and social media, and their arguments offer a straightforward and simple framing of problems and common-sense solutions. Problematically, however, their arguments are rarely supported with clear and accurate evidence. Despite this, their message remains pervasive and can affect policy. Educators must develop ways to combat these negative tactics; four strategies are proposed.

by Richard Fossey & Todd DeMitchell - 2019
In McNeil v. Sherwood School District 88J, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made clear that a school district may expel a student for out-of-school speech that contains threats of violence against other students without violating the First Amendment, even if the student never communicates those threats to anyone.

by Richard Fossey & Robert Cloud - 2019
A dissatisfied former student sued Kaplan University in federal court, accusing the for-profit university of making false claims and disseminating false advertisements. A federal court dismissed her claims, ruling that she had agreed to arbitrate her dispute with Kaplan rather than sue. On appeal, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's dismissal.

by Daniela Kruel DiGiacomo, Jessica Pandya & Julian Sefton-Green - 2019
This commentary considers the significance of the growth of new digital platforms that link families, children, and teachers through the well-known example of ClassDojo. The ubiquity of platform use is a relatively new phenomenon in schools, one not driven by findings from empirical research, but rather the result of a perfect storm of popular psychology and market forces. These platforms allow for communication between teachers and families in real time and across many languages. Teachers can send pictures of children, comment about student behavior, achievements, or activities, share information about upcoming programs, and more, all via a self-contained online platform or app on a phone. Parents in turn may message the teacher (usually via smart phone), but not other parents. Although they build on seemingly established and normed forms of communication between teachers and parents, we challenge how platforms like ClassDojo create and shape behavioral norms for families and teachers. For example, what impact does the digital footprint of a student’s classroom behavior have on how their parents treat them at home? And to what extent might casual family conversations become centered on the concerted calculation of ClassDojo avatar points, akin to how our daily “steps” (vis-à-vis the Fitbit) have come to stand for how far we have walked in a given day? We put forth this commentary as part of a broader call to action for the field to consider how interactions via platforms may be shaping family relations with schools and to continue to foreground in our collective studies the more general ways that the “datafication” of education is transforming teaching and learning practice.

by Ryan Allen - 2019
Over the past few years, there has been a rise in predatory journals in academic publishing. They can generally be defined as publications that lack any real peer review, have hidden publication fees, and blast spam emails to solicit submissions. This commentary describes the landscape of predatory journals and outlines a few checks that researchers can take to avoid these publications. However, this is not simply a warning to the rise of predatory journals, but rather a call to action for the field of education. Few studies have considered the impact and reach of predatory journals on our field and the phenomenon has been almost completely absent from the biggest educational research conferences in North America. Educational researchers need to take seriously the threat that predatory journals pose to the field’s credibility.

by Christopher Denham - 2019
Civil discourse is a necessary component to a functioning society, but one that seems to be recently absent. This paper discusses the need for civil discourse education, and the key features of English and Language Arts classes that make them an especially strong platform for teaching and modeling civil discourse.

by Elizabeth Benton - 2019
For many community college faculty members, the textbook remains a staple of the college classroom. However, free and open or low cost texts via open education resources (OER) offer the possibility of expanding access to college for would-be college students otherwise discouraged from ever giving college a try. This narrative account challenges administrators and faculty members to engage in a promising educational change process that enriches curriculum and pedagogy of community college teaching and opens doors for students seeking post-secondary education and career preparedness.

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  • Greetings, I am working on a four year mixed-methods study (2016-2020) of migrant newcomer youth involved in a program as part of a partnership between a school district and public library. I would like to write a commentary, drawing on the data with newcomer migrant youth, on how COVID as impacted their language-learning through the library-based after school program, and how its impacted their sense of belonging, and what educators can do to support them. Thanks for your consideration. Sophia BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH - RODRIGUEZ NAME Rodriguez, Sophia POSITION TITLE Assistant Professor of Educational Policy EDUCATION/TRAINING INSTITUTION AND LOCATION DEGREE MM/YY FIELD OF STUDY Marquette University, WI BA 2004 Political Science (with honors); English Fordham University, NY MST 2007 English Education Loyola University Chicago, IL Ph.D. 2014 Educational Policy Studies A. Position From 2020 Assistant Professor, Urban Education, University of Maryland 2020 Visiting Scholar, School of Education, Johns Hopkins University 2017-2020 Assistant Professor, School of Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro 2014-2017 Assistant Professor, School of Education, College of Charleston B. Selected peer-reviewed publications (*denotes student co-author) • Rodriguez, S. Undocumentedness in the U.S. South: How Youth Navigate Racialization and Immigration Status in Policy and School Contexts. (Under contract, Rutgers Press). • Rodriguez, S. & Conchas, G. Race Frames: Structuring Inequality and Opportunity in a Changing Educational Landscape. (Under contract, Teachers College Press). • Rodriguez, S. (In press). On the educational rights of undocumented students: A call to expand teacher awareness and empathy. Teachers College Record. • Rodriguez, S. (2020). “I was born at the border, like the ‘wrong’ side of it”: Undocumented Latinx youth experiences of identity, belonging, and racialized discrimination in the U.S. South. Anthropology & Education Quarterly. • Rodriguez, S. (2020). “We’re all in the same boat. We’re building the community”: Newcomer youth and community-school partnerships as racial projects in urban education reform. Urban Education. • Rodriguez, S. (2019a). “Educator and school-based personnel’s advocacy for undocumented youth in K-12 settings.” Policy Brief No. 06-2019, Sociology Policy Briefs, Retrieved November 1, 2019. https://www.policybriefs.org/briefs • Rodriguez, S. (2019b). “You’re a sociologist, I am too”: Theorizing disruption in fieldwork with undocumented youth. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0891241619882075. • Rodriguez, S. (2019c). “We're building the community; it’s a hub for democracy”: Lessons learned from a library-based program for newcomer immigrant and refugee youth. Children and Youth Services Review, 102, 135-144. • Rodriguez, S. & McCorkle, W.* (2019). Examining teachers’ awareness of immigration policy and its impact on attitudes toward undocumented students in a southern state. Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, 31(1), 21-44. • Rodriguez, S., Monreal, T.*, & Howard, K.J. (2018). “It’s about hearing and understanding their stories”: Teacher empathy and socio-political awareness toward newcomer undocumented students in the New Latino South. Journal of Latinos and Education. DOI: 10.1080/15348431.2018.1489812. • Rodriguez, S. & Monreal, T.* (2017). “This state is racist”: Policy problematization and undocumented youth experiences in the New Latino South. Educational Policy, 31(6), 764–800. C. Selected External Grants (2020-2022) PI. How school contexts shape equity for immigrant students. William T. Grant Foundation ($50,000) (2018—2020) Co-PI. Promoting education equity for immigrant students. The Spencer Foundation ($49,456) (2016—2020) PI. Linking learning and belonging: Narrowing the achievement gap for new arrival immigrant teens. Institute for Museum and Library Services. ($595,204.00)
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  • As a first-year teacher in the states, I began to include home visits as a way to reach out to families in our small, Mississippi community after seeing my African-American women colleagues doing so. I am interested in writing (or reading) an article that examines the practice of home visits, especially its history in the African-American community and its implementation in African-centered schools today.
  • Abstract The mantra “Every Child Can Learn” originally appeared in the education discourse as a way to level the educational playing field in regards to children coming from varied socioeconomic backgrounds. This paper seeks to use a foil for discussion “All Children Can Learn: Facts and Fallacies” (Thomas and Bainbridge, 2001) and as such, will explore that article’s concerns and how they can be interpreted 16 years later. As the rally call of the Effective Schools Movement, one might even state that the phrase brings to mind a call for social justice since the Movement endorsed the “understanding that school practices and policies can make a difference, even for children from homes in which parents have few educational or financial resources” (p. 660). The overarching concern for this author is that a reductionist view of what has become a knee-jerk statement has had direct influence on the rise—and endurance—of standardized education; policies that are punitive to educators; even the rise of diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. To be clear, Thomas and Bainbridge (2001) warned of similar concerns in their work, yet little has been written critically on the topic since. For example, the authors listed as one fallacy of the phrase ‘all children can learn’ needs to be put into context of the same curriculum in the same amount of time and at the same level (p. 661). The statement “all children can learn” has taken on a nearly sacred connotation (for both the political left and right), and any educator who might challenge the statement, or at least demand context for the statement, can receive the consternation of colleagues at the least, or feel herself in career jeopardy at most.
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