#tellEWA Member Stories (February 24-March 2)

Here’s what we’re reading by EWA members this week.

Past President Jimmy Carter got his start as a school board member for a Georgia school district, where his legacy lingers. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Vanessa McCray details Carter’s career in and commitment to public education, from his first political defeat to his insistence on enrolling his daughter into public school rather than private school. McCray also gives background on the predominantly Black Sumter County School District in which Carter served as a board member for seven years.

“Don’t come to school tomorrow.” A 13-year-old Black girl in Texas tried reporting another student’s comment, believing it to be a potential school-safety threat. Because the girl didn’t report the comment in a way the district deemed appropriate, school administrators severely punished the girl and accused her of reporting false information. Talia Richman of The Dallas Morning News examines the repercussions of doling out severe discipline in response to school-violence fears and highlights research that shows biases against Black girls in student discipline.

A San Antonio school district will pilot a controversial artificial intelligence-based student surveillance tool called Gaggle for 90 days. Some school leaders say the tool is necessary amid growing concern about school violence and students’ mental health, but others argue the tool violates students’ privacy and could exacerbate long-standing disparities in school discipline. San Antonio Report’s Isaac Windes dives into research about the effects of surveillance tools and explains which student groups are most affected.

Al.com Education Lab reporters are covering a rise in student-behavior issues in Alabama. In the most recent story, Savannah Tryens-Fernandes found that students can face harsh punishments for minor or first-time offenses. Citing a policy he admitted wasn’t explicitly written in the school’s code of conduct, a Tuscaloosa City principal ordered one such student to spend 90 days at an alternative school. Tryens-Fernandes digs into how the principal classified the incident and explains why this classification is problematic when examining the state’s student-discipline data.

Kansas City school boards are faced with high-stakes decisions, such as whether to close schools or hear challenges to controversial books. Yet, some local school districts canceled their April school board elections because community members didn’t bother to run for seats. Maria Benevento of The Kansas City Beacon analyzes school board trends, showing where races are canceled and explaining how this year compares to the 2022 elections.

Because of the shift to remote learning, many educators became more purposeful and resourceful when promoting literacy and reading during the pandemic. Teachers moved away from didactic, dry approaches to more engaging lessons that use body movements and sounds to demonstrate reading patterns. Teachers also encouraged their students to read aloud to pets and video record themselves reading, Kara Arundel reports for K-12 Dive.