The National Guard deploys to classrooms

Today: Staff sergeants run classrooms, the Biden administration takes steps to end a policy that targeted Chinese researchers and...


Today: Staff sergeants run classrooms, the Biden administration takes steps to end a policy that targeted Chinese researchers and after a pandemic hiatus, Modern Love is back with its contest of academic writing.


National Guard troops are staffing classrooms in new mexico to address crippling pandemic-related staffing shortages. There they use their informal motto, “Semper Gumby” – Always Flexible.

In a classroom in Estancia, about an hour from Albuquerque, my colleague Erica L. Green watched a member of the Guard use her uniform in a vocabulary lesson. The students worked on their pronunciation of an “authoritative R”, as in -er, -ir-, -ur.

“My replacement wears equipment“replied a student.

“Yes,” replied the teacher, Lt. Col. Susana Corona, beaming. “The superintendent allows me to carry my uniform. I’m wearing a pair of boots.

Other states have also turned to uniformed personnel to help schools cope. In Massachusetts, members of the National Guard drove school buses. In Oklahoma, police officers served as substitutes. Some critics worry that placing more uniformed officers in schools could create anxiety among student populations who have historically had hostile experiences with law enforcement.

But in New Mexico, schools have largely embraced members of the state militia as a complicated but critical step towards recovery.

“You always have to be ready when there’s a need, when there’s a call for service,” said Col. Corona, who watched his own fourth grader try to learn remotely last year.

Some teachers have expressed gratitude for what have been called “extra bodies”. Others see the deployment as a way to avoid tackling long-standing issues underpinning staffing shortages, though state lawmakers have just passed legislation that increase the base salary of teachers by an average of 20 percent, starting this summer.

The students were mostly unfazed, Erica reported, but a third-grader told her she knew “it’s not normal.”

First-graders can say this too. They called their new teacher, Staff Sergeant. Rainah Myers-Garcia, “Mrs. Private.”

Once, when a teacher walked out unexpectedly, Sergeant Myers-Garcia relied on Google searches to manage a fraction of a lesson. The next day, she had worksheets her mother had printed out for a morning icebreaker, a prize bag she had bought at Walmart, and two lesson plans she had borrowed from other teachers.

“In their defense, their teacher is not there and they have a soldier for a teacher,” she said.

But despite the Guard’s misfires and flexible approach, superintendents and headteachers said the staffing shortages were simply too great to bear on their own.

“The image that comes to mind is walking into a grocery store and seeing bare shelves,” said Royceann LaFayette, a high school counselor in a farming community about a half hour south of Albuquerque.

His school was short of about half a dozen teachers this fall. Airman First Class Jennifer Marquez joined last month, covering several topics.

“We’re going to use her every day until she gets the order to come in,” said Eliseo Aguirre, the manager, “which I hope won’t be until the end of the year. year”.


The US Department of Justice will soon announce changes to the China Initiative, a Trump-era effort to combat threats to Chinese national security. The changes will most likely focus on efforts to root out scholars who have lied or concealed their Chinese affiliations.

Critics have pressured the Biden administration to end the program, saying it unfairly targeted Asian professors, chilled scientific research and contributed to a rising tide of anti-Asian sentiment.

They also said the program grouped financial disclosure cases with more serious crimes, such as espionage and theft of trade secrets, falsely giving the impression that anyone hiding Chinese affiliations was a spy.

And although the program resulted in many ways and convictionsseveral lawsuits against academics ended in acquittal Where dismissal.

In a high-profile failure, prosecutors dropped charges against Gang Chen, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, after the Department of Energy said his undisclosed affiliations with China would not have affected his grant application.

“You work hard, you get good results, you build a reputation,” Dr. Chen said. said to my colleague Ellen Barry earlier this year. “The government gets what it wants, doesn’t it? But in the end, you are treated like a spy. It breaks your heart. It breaks your confidence.


  • A New Virginia Law Will Work bar local school mask mandates by giving parents the right to exempt their children without giving a reason. The law, signed by Governor Glenn Youngkin last week, also limits distance learning.

  • The Maryland State Board of Education voted to cancel the school mask mandate Tuesday. The State Assembly will make the final call.

  • Jackson, NJ, school district raises pay for bus drivers to $30 per hour from $22.67 per houran attempt to remedy the shortage.

  • The masks will be optional in public schools in Anchorage starting Feb. 28.

  • New Hampshire will no longer allows schools to move to fully remote or hybrid learning due to outbreaks.

  • A good read from The Atlantic: Olga Khazan explored the question“Should parents alone decide what children learn and how they live, or do government institutions also have a role to play?”

  • And a good read from the Associated Press: Distance learning has made it easier young olympians to juggle between training, competitions and class work.


Colleges and universities

  • The head of the California State University system resigned amid allegations that he previously mishandled complaints of sexual harassment.

  • The University of California at Berkeley said it might take accept thousands fewer students than expected. A state appeals court has ruled it must cap enrollment at pandemic levels after a legal battle with a group of residents.

  • For years, the State University of New York system has enforced rigid debt collection practices on former students with unpaid tuition fees. Now officials are promising change.

  • New Mexico should expand its free university program this fall, already one of the most generous in the country.

  • University of Alabama official resigns after police arrest him for solicit prostitution.

  • A private equity investor was sentenced to 15 months in jailthe longest sentence to date in the nationwide college admissions bribery case.

  • Howard University received a $2 million donation to digitize a large archival collection of black newspapers.

  • Just weird: A Brigham Young University student tried to make rocket fuel in his kitchen on campus. It moved 22 students after setting off a fireball.

San Francisco Reminder

  • Chinese-American voters and volunteers were essential to victory in the school board recall election, which three members lost in a landslide.

  • “This year, a lot of parents are telling me, ‘We’re done being scapegoats,'” one campaign organizer told my colleague Thomas Fuller, the San Francisco bureau chief. “We are still considered foreigners. We are American. You must respect us.

  • From Review: Jay Caspian Kang examined how the organizers capitalized on anger about changes to the admissions process at Lowell, an elite public high school. (For more information, see the most recent episode of “Time to Say Goodbye,” a newsletter and podcast co-hosted by Jay. The conversation begins at around 54 minutes.)

And the rest …


The last time Modern Love held a college essay contest It was 2019. The world was…a different place, especially for students.

Finally, the contest is back. And we want to hear from you. How has love been for you in these extraordinary times? Have you experienced surprising opportunities, unexpected challenges, new ways to connect, or to make the most of difficult circumstances?

Undergraduate students, submit your 1,500-1,700 word personal essay by March 27 at 11:59 p.m. EST. The Times will announce a winner and four runners-up in early May. The winner will receive a $1,000 prize and all five essays may be published in Modern Love.

Click here to More information how to apply, a selection of past winners and runners-up and the rules for this year. Good luck, and see you next week!

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.

Sign up here to receive the briefing by email.

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