Miami School Board Reverses Itself, Approves Sex Ed. Textbook | Big Indy News
Connect with us

Uncategorized

Miami School Board Reverses Itself, Approves Sex Ed. Textbook

Published

on

The board for Florida’s largest school district rescinded a decision made last week that rejected new sex education textbooks for middle and high school students.

The debate over the sex education materials in Miami took place as school districts and boards navigate a new landscape in Florida classrooms over what officials deem appropriate content.

Miami-Dade County has the nation’s fourth-largest public school system, with 334,000 students.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed new laws this year that prevent teachers from talking about gender identity and sexual orientation to 3rd graders and younger and limiting how race can be discussed.

Miami-Dade School Board approved the textbooks after Chair Perla Tabares Hantman changed her mind this week, citing the district needs to follow state standards and curriculum requirements.

“It is my duty, my obligation to ensure the proper operation of our school district,” Hantman said. “In spite of my personal beliefs, and I have very strong personal beliefs and principles, I must make sure our district is in compliance.”

The chair added the books are online and content that is not age appropriate is not accessible. She clarified parents are also allowed to opt their children out from lessons on sex education, tasking school officials with making a strong effort to let parents know.

“The rights of the parents will be respected every step of the way,” Hantman said.

“Comprehensive Health Skills,” published by Goodheart-Willcox in Illinois, comes in different versions for middle and high schools, with topics including nutrition, physical activity, and sexually transmitted diseases, as required under the district’s units of study for Human Reproduction and Disease Education.

The board first adopted the textbooks in April on a 5-3 vote, but its material was challenged by parents citing the parental rights law signed by DeSantis in March. The new state law, which some critics call the “Don’t say gay” bill, prohibits instruction related to gender identity or sexual orientation in grades K through 3, “or in a manner that is not age appropriate.” Other objections to the text came from anti-vaccine proponents who opposed to references to how vaccinations can prevent viral infections. Others objected to content about contraception and abortion.

In April, the board voted to ask the publisher to remove chapters that cover gender and sexual orientation among other topics. Earlier this month, after coming under public pressure, the board reversed itself and rejected the book. On Thursday, to the surprise of some, the board reversed itself again to accept the text but to maintain a block on access on the more controversial chapters.

Thursday’s vote was the third regarding the textbooks with those members in opposition complaining they were blindsided that the issue was brought again up for vote after they had already agreed on it last week.

“If you support this item, you are not supporting transparency,” said Lubby Navarro, one of the members opposing the textbooks. “The public has a right to have been noticed properly on this matter.”

The school board attorney at the meeting said rescinding last week’s vote was allowed.

Before the vote, Alex Serrano, of the Miami-Dade affiliate of a group called County Citizens Defending Freedom, said the district could set the example for other school systems on developing new curriculum that is appropriate.

His group, he said “strongly believes that from significant parental and community involvement, we can achieve human reproduction and disease education that is age appropriate, scientifically accurate and that complies with all pertinent statutes related to parental rights,” Serrano said.

Community members in attendance were not expecting the change of heart.

Amanda Altman, CEO of Kristi House, a Miami-based nonprofit that helps children suffering from trauma, said she was “pleasantly surprised.” Altman supported the adoption of the textbooks.

“This is why we have school systems, this is evidence-based. Let’s trust in the facts, let’s trust in the system,” Altman told The Associated Press.

Altman said she worried about removing content about gender identity and sexual orientation, although she understood the challenging position the board faces.

“I understand the school board’s concern, but I can also see the detriment for the children, when they face a lot of bullying and backlash for being who they are,” she said.



Read the full article here

Uncategorized

Adnan Syed of ‘Serial,’ Newly Freed, Is Hired by Georgetown University

Published

on

Adnan Syed, who was freed in September after he spent 23 years in prison fighting a murder conviction that was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial,” has been hired by Georgetown University as an associate for an organization whose work mirrors the efforts that led to his release, the university has announced.

Mr. Syed, the subject of the 2014 podcast and pop-culture sensation that raised questions about whether he had received a fair trial after being convicted of strangling his high school classmate and onetime girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999, will work for Georgetown’s Prisons and Justice Initiative.

Mr. Syed, who was 17 at the time of Ms. Lee’s death in Baltimore, has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

The university said that Mr. Syed, now 41, will help support programs at the organization, such as a class in which students reinvestigate wrongful convictions and seek to “bring innocent people home” by creating short documentaries about their findings. The program, founded in 2016, “brings together leading scholars, practitioners, students and those affected by the criminal justice system to tackle the problem of mass incarceration,” according to its website.

Georgetown University, which is in Washington, said that in the year leading up to his release, Mr. Syed was enrolled in the university’s bachelor of liberal arts program at the Maryland prison where he was incarcerated.

“To go from prison to being a Georgetown student and then to actually be on campus on a pathway to work for Georgetown at the Prisons and Justice Initiative, it’s a full circle moment,” Mr. Syed said in a statement. “P.J.I. changed my life. It changed my family’s life. Hopefully I can have the same kind of impact on others.”

He added that he hoped to continue his education at Georgetown and go to law school.

The new job this month culminated what has been a remarkable year for Mr. Syed, whose case has again received widespread public attention after a flurry of recent legal activity.

In September, Mr. Syed was released from prison after a judge overturned his murder conviction. Prosecutors said at the time that an investigation had uncovered various problems related to his case, including the potential involvement of two suspects and key evidence that prosecutors might have failed to provide to Mr. Syed’s lawyers.

In October, prosecutors in Baltimore dropped the charges against Mr. Syed after DNA testing on items that had never been fully examined proved Mr. Syed’s innocence, officials said.

Ms. Lee’s family filed an appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals after prosecutors dropped the charges.

On Nov. 4, the court said in an order that the appeal could be heard in court in February.

Marc Howard, the director of the Prisons and Justice Initiative, said in a statement that Mr. Syed’s “commitment to the program and to his education was clear from the moment he stepped into the classroom.”

He added that Mr. Syed “is one of the most resilient and inspiring people I’ve ever met, and he has so much to offer our team and the other students in P.J.I. programs.”

In a Georgetown University article about the hiring, Mr. Syed said that he was in disbelief when he first saw a flier for the program.

“It became this domino effect to see us be accepted,” he said. “It made it become something real in the eyes of others, that there are opportunities. There can be a sense of hope: a sense of hope that things can get better, a sense of hope that I can work hard and still achieve something, a sense of hope that I can still do something that my family will be proud of.”

His attachment to the school was evident on Sept. 19, when he walked out of prison for the first time since he was a teenager.

Amid a throng of reporters and his supporters, Mr. Syed walked down the courthouse steps in Baltimore, smiling. He gave a wave.

And in his hand, he carried a binder with a Georgetown sticker. His graded papers and tests were inside.

Read the full article here

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

At Berkeley Law, a Debate Over Zionism, Free Speech and Campus Ideals

Published

on

“Supporting Palestinian liberation does not mean opposition to Jewish people or the Jewish religion,” the group said in a statement to the Berkeley law community. Members of the group did not respond to messages seeking an interview.

After learning about the bylaw, Mr. Chemerinsky met with the university’s Hillel rabbi and spoke with several Jewish students, but, aside from concerns within the law school, the reaction was relatively muted, he said.

That changed, he said, after Kenneth L. Marcus, the civil rights chief of the U.S. Education Department during the Trump administration, wrote about the bylaw in September in The Jewish Journal under the explosive headline “Berkeley Develops Jewish Free Zones.”

Mr. Marcus wrote that the bylaw was “frightening and unexpected, like a bang on the door in the night,” and said that free speech does not protect discriminatory conduct.

The article went viral.

Mr. Chemerinsky said he learned about Mr. Marcus’s article, which he described as “inflammatory and distorted,” while he was in Los Angeles for a conference. Mr. Chemerinsky said he typed out a response to the article, which was appended to it, and then didn’t think much of it. That afternoon, he was deluged by emails. At an alumni event that night, the law school’s perceived hostility to Jews was “all anyone wanted to talk about.”

In an interview, Mr. Marcus, a Berkeley law school alumnus, said that he was contacted by law students there who were concerned about the bylaw. He said he spent weeks trying to support them and wrote his article after Berkeley did not “rectify the problem.”

Not allowing Zionist speakers, he said, was a proxy for prohibiting Jews. The provisions, he said, are “aimed at the Jewish community and those who support the Jewish community,” even while acknowledging that the policy could allow Jewish speakers and bar those who are not Jewish.

Read the full article here

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

‘Better Defined By Their Strengths’: 5 Ways to Support Students With Learning Differences

Published

on

“People with learning differences are human,” wrote Deanna White, a neurodiversity advocate and parent learning coach in response to a question we posed on LinkedIn. “Unique individuals and wonderful humans that are better defined by their strengths. So stop focusing on the weakness.”

We invited our social media followers across Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to weigh in on the most effective way schools can better support students with learning differences.

Responses ranged from shifting educators’ mindset—like highlighting student strengths—to more far-reaching changes that would require schoolwide or district support.

Focus on students’ strengths

There are many ways of encouraging students to play to their strengths, as educators Winston Sakurai and Phyllis Fagell demonstrated in an August 2022 article by Education Week Assistant Editor Denisa Superville.

They detailed how they shared their own learning struggles as a way to connect with their students. Their personal successes show students, who may be struggling academically or socially, that anything is possible.

Here’s what other educators had to say.

1. Help them understand their learning strengths and challenges and growing them as strong self-advocates.

2. Devoting time and money to developing teachers’ abilities to differentiate.

– Amy S.

By having high expectations and giving them exposure to high-quality materials and experiences, even ones that seem “above them.” They will shock us with their insights every time.

– Angela P. 😒😒🥴

Meet students where they are

In a 2015 primer on the topic, EdWeek Assistant Editor Sarah D. Sparks wrote about how “differentiated instruction”—the process of identifying students’ individual learning strengths, needs, and interests and adapting lessons to match them—became a popular approach to helping diverse students learn together. Respondents largely agreed.

Time to work with every student. If you can meet with a child for a bit of time to help with exactly what she or he needs, it might ignite both learning and understanding.

Alison K.

So many ways…start with environment, a.k.a. The Third Teacher.

  • Reduce obstacles

  • Increase supports

  • Meet kids where they are

(h/t @drncgarrett)

Matt R.

Small class sizes, strong positive teacher/student relationships, differentiated instruction, and reflection.

Yvonne E.

Smaller class sizes

In a 2017 Opinion essay, former teacher Marc Vicenti wrote about “the daily wear and tear on educators when trying to juggle a full teaching load and meaningful relationships with lively young people who all have different needs and experiences.”

“We can either choose to be less effective in our practice or exhaust ourselves—neither of which is beneficial to students or our own well-being,” he wrote.

Smaller class sizes are one way of mitigating the risk of burnout while working to meet each student’s needs.

Small classes, small schools, local control. I am the principal in a pretty small school in a small community and I know every child, and every family and we can build programs to meet our students’ needs. A country run or state run school system can’t do that.

Ryan G.

Increase funding to actually lower the student-to-teacher ratio. This allows teachers to give more time to the individual.

Cathleen W.

Fewer standardized tests

Standardized tests have long been criticized for narrowing instruction and for holding all students to the same standard when “students enter school at varying levels and learn and grow at different rates.”

The backlash against standardized testing renewed interest in alternative ways to evaluate students’ learning progress, like “performance assessments—the idea of measuring what students can do, not merely what they know”.

STOP standardized testing.

Dawn W.

Fewer standardized or timed tests, teaching to mastery, not according to a schedule.

Autumn

Give students a voice

Sometimes it’s best to go to the source to discern how to best tackle an issue. Giving these students a voice can not only empower them in their learning, but also help educators understand how to have the biggest impact.

Ask them how they learn and what helps. Give them a voice!

Grisel W.

Yes! Listening to what students need and giving them a voice is something we need to do for all students, but especially those who need more help in the classroom.

Victoria D.



Read the full article here

Continue Reading

Trending