#tellEWA Member Stories (March 31-April 13)

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

Nebraska school officials violated the First Amendment rights of Northwest High School student journalists, the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union said in a lawsuit filed this month. The lawsuit came after district leaders eliminated the decades-old student newspaper, Viking Saga, which included a 2022 Pride Month edition featuring LGBTQ issues and students’ preferred pronouns. The Grand Island Independent’s Jessica Votipka gives additional background and details what school officials wrote in emails and text messages.

Seeking to drive voter turnout to school committee races, conservative organizers are spearheading debates about book bans and parents’ rights in school curriculums in several Massachusetts towns. Colin Hogan of The New Bedford Light explains that several conservative groups, including one dedicated to “strengthening the family and affirming the Judeo-Christian values,” filed and collected public records from schools to energize parents over emotional issues, such as sex education. Hogan also explains the hyperfocus on library books and the impact on students.

“I would have left anyway.” A 2022 National Education Association survey showed that more than 50% of educators were thinking of leaving their jobs. As school staffing vacancies abounded, some teachers quit their jobs following the survey. Ed Surge’s Emily Tate Sullivan highlights the experiences of a few former educators who resigned. They discuss why they left, their life after teaching and more.

More than 3,000 students – including those who are first-generation, low-income, or undocumented – are participating in a New Deal-esque program: the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps. The program helps college students pay for school through acts of long-term, much-needed community service in education, food insecurity or climate mitigation. Advocates for the program hope it’s replicated in other communities, but critics have concerns. Writing for The Hechinger Report, Gail Cornwall provides background on the program through the experiences of some of the students.

“They really know their routes and they know the kids.” In a rural community in Vermont, longtime school bus drivers function as the eyes and ears of their school districts. These drivers help schools support students who need services, such as transportation help, nutritional assistance or even winter coats. The specialty transportation service contracted by the district primarily serves students experiencing homelessness, and these students often tell drivers of other students in need, Asher Lehrer-Small reports for VTDigger and The 74.

“It’s not the damage to the school that I mourn. It’s the destruction of childhood.” Nearly 3,000 schools have been damaged in Ukraine. For example, a colorful kindergarten class in Kharkiv remains empty following a Russian artillery attack last August. In a multimedia-rich story for NPR, Elissa Nadworny and Claire Harbage detail their eight-month journey from Europe to the United States to find out what happened to the teacher and children who once learned in the empty classroom.