March 2021 changes to CDC guidance on schools: brief comment

Five weeks ago, after the CDC released its first set of new school operations guidance under the Biden administration, I wrote in summary, “Remember: [these recommendations come] three and a half weeks into the new administration. In reality, that’s fast. There were bound to be omissions or emphases that are wrong in retrospect.”

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Marginalized college radio: past, present, and future?

Not once but twice in the last century, major movements in radio policy marginalized a range of radio stations licensed to colleges and universities. In the 1920s, that marginalization was part of the disappearance of dozens of college radio stations. In the 1970s, college radio stations became divided into two broad segments: those who had the resources to become part of the new National Public Radio system with a professional staff and fundraising ties to local listeners, and those who remained independent, small, often run by students. The repeated marginalization of college radio stations raises important questions about the costs of systematization for small operations, and it tells us something about that for higher education in general, not just radio or broadcasting.

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Motte-and-bailey clues to the structure of the school choice coalition

This spring, conservatives in the Arizona legislature look like they can’t make up their mind. Do they support public-school choice that allows parents to pick a public school, or do they want to mandate and ban subjects as they would prefer? Conservative legislators consistently say they support school choice, and the state Senate education committee voted last month to subsidize transportation expenses of parents to enable more parents of moderate means to take advantage of open enrollment and charter schools.

But sometimes the instinct to control local school districts seems more important to the conservative wing of the state GOP. The senate last week voted on a party-line vote to prevent local schools from having the choice of offering comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education in elementary grades.

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Transmission chains broke trust chains

The debates over schooling in the pandemic are best explained by a concept defined by Anthony Bryk and Barbara Schneider in their 2004 book about Chicago school reform, Trust in Schools: relational trust. As they describe in the book’s second chapter,1 relational trust is the social glue needed within the type of organization that requires its members to risk a great deal just to keep the organization operating. Teachers and other school staff are regularly asked to risk their professional careers, sense of self, and their time for all sorts of tasks and initiatives that are demanded either by schools as organizations or society at large. Unlike skilled positions where people can assume a basic level of infrastructure, educators often cannot assume that they will work in an environment where they have current textbooks, enough undistracted time for lessons, or planning time; and in many places, they work in schools without safe drinking water, soap in bathrooms, or modern or safe HVAC systems.

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  1. Julie Kochanek cowrote that chapter with Bryk and Schneider []

It’s the summer, sunshine

If the Biden administration’s COVID-19 relief package passes with funding for K-12 summer school, we’ll see a great deal of things more clearly as a result. How much are parents worried about the academics their children have missed, as opposed to all the other roles of schools? How much have teachers been stressed to the point of quitting/disengaging when they can? How much can schools operate in-person smoothly if the staff are vaccinated but the students aren’t?

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