San Francisco ousts school board members

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This is the Education Briefing, a weekly update on the most important education news in the United States. Sign up here to receive this newsletter in your inbox.

Today: San Francisco voters oust school board members. A Harvard sexual harassment case exposes the messy realities of Title IX complaints. And, some cute life advice on the nose of a kindergartener.


San Francisco voters ousted three school board members on Tuesday, a victory for parents angered by district priorities during the pandemic.

Data released by the district suggests that remote learning hurt black and latino students the most in San Francisco, as in the whole country.

But instead of focusing on reopening of classrooms for in-person learning, the district spent time decide if necessary rename a third of its schools Last year.

This effort was botched and in some cases historically inaccurate. The 44 public schools in question bear the names of a series of historical figures including Abraham Lincoln; Senator Dianne Feinstein; John Muir, naturalist and author; and Paul Revere, the figure of the Revolutionary War.

“These are the people who are rioting in San Francisco and saying it is wrong to abandon your responsibility to educate our children,” said Siva Raj, a parent of San Francisco public school students who has helped lead efforts to put the recall election on the ballot. .

The recall also appeared to be a display of Asian American voting power.

In echoes of debates in other cities, many Chinese voters were furious when the school board changed the admissions system for the district’s most prestigious school, Lowell High School. It abolished requirements based primarily on grades and test scores, instead implementing a lottery system.

Criticism of the council intensified when voters discovered tweets written by council vice-chairman Alison Collins, one of the three ousted members. In them, she said Asian Americans were like slaves who benefited from labor inside the home of a slave owner.

David Lee, a professor of political science at San Francisco State University, said the combination of the tweets and changes to admissions policies at Lowell have strengthened Asian Americans.

“It was an opportunity for the Chinese community to flex their muscles,” he said. “The community reaffirms itself.


Last Tuesday, three Harvard graduate students filed a complaint accusing the university of ignoring allegations that an anthropology professor had sexually harassed students for years.

The fallout was rapid and intense.

The next day, nearly all of the 38 professors who had signed an open letter defending John Comaroff, the indicted professor, backed down. After criticalthey released a new letter, “We retractsaying they initially lacked complete information about the case.

The university is also facing widespread public outcry for the way it conducted the federally mandated investigation into the professor’s conduct.

According to the lawsuit, Harvard obtained grades from one of the graduate student’s psychotherapy sessions without her consent and shared them with Comaroff, whom she had accused of kissing, hugging and groping her.

Lawyers for graduate student Lilia Kilburn said she provided the name of her psychotherapist at Harvard, but did not consent to the university obtaining those records.

The university said it could not discuss his case specifically without breaching confidentiality, and only provided Background information on what he usually does in such cases. Harvard said it will only contact a therapist if a patient says the therapist has relevant information — and only with their consent.

Harvard also said parties to a dispute were told the information would be shared with both parties and that if they weren’t willing to share it, they shouldn’t submit it. This is standard practice under Title IX, the federal education law that mandates investigations into allegations of sexual harassment, said Brett Sokolow, attorney and president of the Association of Title IX Administrators. , which is unrelated to the case.

Comaroff, through his attorneys, has denied wrongdoing. In its investigation, Harvard found that he violated sexual and gender-based harassment policies, but did not find him responsible for unwanted sexual touching.

It’s a difficult and upsetting case, and in this tangle of accusations and claims lurks a messy reality: the Title IX process is complex, and accusers don’t always understand the rules or the implications of their decisions.

Since so many people make claims without a lawyer, as Kilburn initially did, they rely on universities to guide them.

University officials “often think about protecting the school, not protecting the client,” said Arthur Caplan, a professor of medical ethics at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine.

Caplan said it’s unclear whether the university should have pursued the cases in the first place.

“It’s very murky in terms of consent, because she’s under pressure, she’s vulnerable,” he said. “Does she really know what she’s up to?”

“I don’t even know if you said it was OK to share it, that it would be OK to do it anyway,” Caplan added.


Masks

And the rest …


Five-year-old Clark Todebush struggled with the transition to kindergarten. Here are some of Clark’s tips for coping with anxietyalong with some brief background explanations from his mother.

“You have to say your affirmations in your mouth and in your heart.”

“Another mum on Twitter talked about doing affirmations with her child before school. We tried it. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Say it like you mean it.’ I guess he translated that.

“You say, ‘I’m brave of this meeting! I am loved! I smell good ! »

“He knows you can be scared of something, so he talks about being brave. I like the grammatical construction. I never fixed it because I like it better. I don’t know where the “I smell good” comes from, but I like it. I will use it a lot.

“Even if it’s a gross day, you can give yourself a hug.”

“There have been so many times where I can’t do anything. I tell her, ‘Even if it’s a bad day, when you get home, I’ll hug you.’

That’s it for this week’s briefing. If you have any questions for our education journalists, write to us using this form. We will regularly answer questions in the newsletter.

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