Meet Kyle Schwarz, the Denver 3rd grade teacher who apparently started the #IWishMyTeacherKnew meme that has spread to at least 17 states, according to CBS News. Image via Twitter. @kylemschwartz.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this segment from Tuesday is watching host Chris Hayes try and make sense of the issues. Tisch and Ravitch basically stick to their talking points and fight to a draw. Along the way Hayes raises the education-poverty question and brings up the comparison to anti-vaxxers. he seems to understand that the issue can be seen as one of individual choice vs. collective need. ("You just destroy the dataset.") At the same time, he describes the movement as a "digital grassroots."
Or, watch NPR's Anya Kamenetz on The Nightly Show, talking about whether college is worth it.
It's a Thursday afternoon that feels like a Friday afternoon -- so balmy outside, and such post-ESEA markup euphoria -- so here's a #TBT segment from In Living Color in which Homey D. Clown tries his hand as a substitute teacher:
via Grantland: Bragging Rights
The account is one of several run by a group of young entrepreneurs in the UK whose company, Social Chain, regularly takes over social media, according to this BuzzFeed article. Other popular accounts are Exam Problems. The company has been accused of stealing others' content and -- more problematically -- functioning as an advertiser without sufficient disclosure.
Why should you care? Because your Twitter feed isn't just accidentally filling up with updates about things. Whether advertisers or advocates, the Twitterverse if increasingly filled with folks paid to influence your opinion or make you think things are bigger or smaller than they may be in real life.
Thirty years ago this month, Sports Illustrated pulled off one of the biggest media hoaxes imaginable at the time, presenting a long feature story by George Plimpton about a mysterious buddhist with a 168 mph fastball who was going to propel the Mets to World Series success. As revisited in this ESPN documentary short (Sidd Finch and the Tibetan Fastball), the man who played the mysterious pitcher was actually a middle school teacher from Chicago named Joe Berton. The explanation starts here.
The new Daily Show host Trevor Noah mocks Oprah's scandal-ridden African school. "You're getting a beating! Everybody's getting one!" There may be other, better examples, but this one will help you make it to lunchtime.
Intrepid BuzzFeed education and business reporter Molly Hensley-Clancy took to the teen-dominated social media app called Snapchat to interview a 13 year-old climbing phenom.
For the most part, the teen climber used the image-based app to answer questions posed to her in plain text form.
But then MHC went the extra mile and posed a question to the teen climber using the application herself (pictured).
This is the first time to my knowledge that an education reporter has used and published the results of a Snapchat interview.
WellDeserved is a a new app that allows folks to offer surplus privileges -- free food at work, extra dental appointments, a soon-to-expire SoulCycle coupon -- to fellow citizens who might want to purchase them.
Their motto: "Privilege goes unused every single day.Why would we waste any of it?"
Great idea, no?
But they need people to post more education-related privileges that are going unused, and maybe you can help them out.
For starters, there are all the extra laptops, tablets, and smart phones laying around many homes -- not to speak of all that unused broadband access and data. But that's not all. A student who doesn't need all of the Kumon hours his parents signed him up for could offer them to a fellow classmate. A private school family living in a desirable neighborhood could offer its spots at the local elementary school. I'm sure you can think of other examples.
Charles Best better watch out.
There may be too few educators on cable TV (and too few education-related segments, too), but has there ever been a time when schools were as much a central part of so many TV shows?
*On Fresh Off The Boat, the hip-hop loving son of immigrant parents has to make new friends at a Florida school where there has apparently a student who isn't white, black, or Hispanic.
*The New Girl is now an assistant superintendent and her boyfriend/employee teacher works at the same school (or still did, last I looked).
*Girls' most appealingly deplorable character, Hannah, substitutes at a private school after crashing and burning at her Iowa MFA program.
*In episode 6 of Tina Fey's new show, The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, the protagonist encounters a burned-out GED teacher who wants to be reported so he can get assigned to the rubber room. (There was a rubber room on Silicon Valley, too.)
*The female half of a bored married couple starts getting involved with an LA charter school startup in Eagle Rock that might also be good for her kids. (Repeat of Parenthood, sort of.)
Plus also: High Maintenance (seriously), Blackish (yep), Empire (just kidding), The Good Wife (I wish).
These aren't just silly pop culture coincidences, I'd argue -- or at least not only that. They're a representation of what the larger public thinks or knows about education, or is at least what the public is curious about. Clearly, charter schools and the rubber room are fascinating to writers, and the notion of smart young people trying out teaching isn't as foreign or obscure as it once may have been.
Related posts: Oh, No! Girls' Lena Dunham Is Going To Teach; Neighborhood Segregation The Central Issue In New HBO Show; Apparently Not Everyone's Cut Out To Be A Teaching Fellow; Silicon Valley's Rubber Room Includes A Rooftop Grill; Louis C.K. Takes Us Back To 8th Grade Science.
"I went to public school in Mississippi. They told us dinosaurs went extinct because an asteroid turned them gay." - Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt via Tumblr. [Still ISO Ep6 classroom gifs!]
We must identify the people who are teaching ISIS their tactics – in other words, their teachers – and eliminate them. I did that in Wisconsin and I can do it in Iraq and Syria... Behind every problem, there are teachers you need to get rid of.
- Scott Walker (Walker Vows To Detroy ISIS Teachers via Andy Borowitz
I'm equally horrified and fascinated with the latest plot development on the HBO show Girls, in which Lena Dunham's character Hannah drops out of her MFA writing program and decides she's going to be a teacher. Specifically, she decides she wants to help people (despite her friends' observation that she's selfish) and that she's not good at writing, and -- yes -- that "those who can't teach." (Those words are actually uttered, with an unclear amount of irony.)
In a perfect/nightmare world, she'd do TFA or something, but to Hannah even that takes too long so she's apparently just going to substitute at a private girls' school. (The episode ends with her printing out a resume and walking up to a building with the name St. Justine's on the front.)
What to think, folks? Read more here: Girls Close-Up Episode Review for some guesses as to how well/poorly she'll do, and watch the clip below for a preview of next week. Or check out Twitter, where folks seem fascinated and appalled.
Note that one of the characters on High Anxiety also doesn't know what to do and tries teaching. It doesn't go well. Plus there's the charter school/adultery thing on Togetherness, and the charter school thing on Parenthood (RIP). And let's not forget The New Girl. This may be Peak Education On TV.
Image via @tvtagGirls
There are lots of different ways to look at the new CPRE/UPennGSE report about social media and the Common Core debate, but at least one of them is to observe just how small a role journalists and non-advocacy media outlets seem to have been playing -- even in areas where you'd think that mainstream and trade publications who share out information all day would have a big advantage:
*Just 13 of 158 high-volume "transmitters" (8 percent) are journalists. "These include print, online, and radio media, and represent both non-partisan and partisan media entities." I've asked for a list.
*Just 22 (16 percent) of 139 "transceivers" (who pass information along and have their tweets shared) are journos/media outlets. They include @educationweek, @BenSwann (who?), and @ NEAMedia (not really a journalistic outlet). This is the list where journalists are strongest, relatively speaking -- journalism's wheelhouse, really. But journalists come in third. (List requested.)
*Just 3 media outlets qualify for the list of 41 "transcenders" (the elite group in the study). They are @educationweek, @StateEdWatch (penned by Andrew Ujifusa) & @ellemoxley. The report adds @NEAMedia to the list but again that's a whole different thing.
Of course, the study is limited to tweets directly related to Common Core, and a certain time period.Other kinds of criteria would surface larger numbers of journalists and education outlets that are high-volume, high-retweet, or high-influence.
But my sense is that the report illustrates a deeper dynamic, which is that journalists and media outlets lag far behind activists on the use of Twitter, in part because of the decline in traditional journalism but even more so because of self-imposed limitations on expressing views or attempting to shape the debate. Advocates, think tankers, and even academics have a green light that journalists don't.
Also, my sense is that journalists' experience of Twitter is mostly being tweeted at by those with complaints legitimate and others. Twitter is the "new comment section," it's being widely noted, and we all know how most journalists feel about comments. So there may be some avoidance going on.
Image used with permission. I found the PDF version easiest for word searches but maybe there are other, better ways to navigate. #htagcommoncore @cpreresearch @upennGSE.
Is there some way I can include Channing Tatum in my education research? Because that needs to happen.— Morgan Polikoff (@mpolikoff) February 23, 2015
It's from Morgan Polikoff: "Is there some way I can include Channing Tatum in my education research? Because that needs to happen." Any other good #Oscars2015 mashups that I might have missed?
“When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself, because I felt weird and different and I didn’t belong." Inspiring message that was sadly too late for Draven Rodriguez (the Laser Cat Yearbook kid). Or, watch the Moral March from North Carolina (via AFT). Got something better? Send it to me at @alexanderrusso@
-- Art teacher from "Boyhood," challenging unfocused protagonist to set some goals. See my tweets from last night for other tidbits (or try @mpolikoff or @smarick for edwonk #oscars2015 punditry).
"A test season riff on the WWII poster "Keep Calm And Carry On" via @mikeklonsky. Is this for real, or even new? I have no idea but would love to know. There's an ACT logo and they're getting back to me about whether it's official or not. If this was done by ACT rather than bootlegged it would be all the better. Other versions of the same idea are here." (2012: "Keep Calm And Continue Testing")
Here's the Kickstarter promo for the followup to "Race To Nowhere," via The Daily Riff.
You will meet this schlumpy lifer who five minutes into the conference makes you just feel like killing yourself, and you think, ‘I leave my child with this kid?’ And the next person you meet will be this incredibly charismatic person who sees every young person before them as this unique piece of clay about to be molded.
- Recently-deceased NYT media critic David Carr in The Answer Sheet (What David Carr told me)
From NBC News: "Missouri police seek a former elementary school principal, they now believe was running a heroin trafficking ring. " Click here if the video doesn't load properly. Or watch AFT video of UTLA event last week here, or Scott Walker's critique of going to college as a requirement for being President here, or Fordham's lavender-shirted Petrilli talking about the same topic over the weekend here.
Check out this video via Forbes' Jordan Shapiro, featuring the USA's own Stephen Ritz, who's apparently well known in the U.S.A for a TED Talk and classroom food production program in NYC.
According to Vox, it's not even close. But people keep saying it anyway, probably because it vividly captures concerns about mass incarceration and African-American education achievement. Click the link for an explanation. Image used with permission.
I guessed this was coming and am so glad it happened. That's President Obama with the Bronx middle school student and principal who have been part of this amazing viral good-news story about strangers giving over $1 million to a poor school to help pay for class trips to Harvard.
It wasn't entirely clear what Hillary Clinton's views on vaccination were -- until now. "The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork," she says (via Twitter). And, according to NPR, California is considering joining 30 other states that don't allow parents to list personal beliefs as a way to bypass vaccination requirements.
Here's Ellen Degeneres interviewing the man behind "Humans of New York" and the student and principal who have become unintentional superstars. Target is jumping on the bandwagon, too.
In case you missed this from a couple of years ago, as I did, you might want to check out this snippet from Spurlock's "Inside Man" series and then find the full episode (on Netflix). The documentary filmmaker goes to Finland, and loves everything he sees but crashes and burns during his guest teaching session, then comes back to the US and does somewhat better in a much more structured charter school setting. Hmm. Video link here.
According to a recent Grantland article, the miniseries -- called "Show Me A Hero" -- surrounds the reaction in Yonkers NY to a 1985 court decision that the city had "'illegally and intentionally’ fostered segregation in its schools and neighborhoods by concentrating all of its public housing in one section of the city.”
The series is based on a Lisa Belkin book by the same name (book cover to left). The former NYT writer has since moved to HuffPost and Yahoo. You can read an excerpt here. Something in Salon here. IMDB for the show is here.
What's this have to do with education? Well, residential segregation combined with neighborhood-based schooling is the main reason we have such inequitable & segregated schools and school systems (and charter networks, too). While everyone likes to talk about the joys of the neighborhood system, it's turned out to be class- and race-based in some pretty awful ways. See Nikole Hannah-Jones' work in ProPublica and The Atlantic if you don't think it's a current issue.
So this show will give us at least a glancing chance of revisiting the issues of race, class, and the neighborhood school.
Related posts: In Education, It's *Liberals* Who Oppose Choice; Watch School Segregation Grow Over 20 Years; Rethinking The Neighborhood School Ideal; Decline In Black-White Segregation (Sorta); The (Partial) Re-Segregation Of American Schools;
The devices are usually three to five feet long, with a handle at one end and a clip or other attachment to hold a cameraphone or GoPro (video camera).
"They're like half-size fishing rods," said Laverne AP Joe Schmesterhaus.
Their basic function is to help users take better "sellfies," extending the length between the camera lens and the person taking the picture. Some telescope for greater ease and portability.
The issue began as a mere distraction this fall when some students started using the sticks to take pictures or video of themselves going to and from school, walking to class, and having lunch, then uploading the images to Instagram, Snapchat, or other social media platforms.
It got much worse following the Winter Break, when many more students received or purchased the selfie sticks as gifts, and began jostling and rough-housing with them in the halls and in class. Some of the younger teachers also began bringing them to class.
The last straw, according to school board member Mary Lee Smiley, was a lunchtime melee the Tuesday after MLK Day Weekend when several students fought using the sticks as weapons, while others documented the event on their own devices.
"Schools always look bad when they ban things," said Smiley. "With any luck this is just a short-term solution until we figure out something more constructive."
Related posts: School Drones; "Trigger Lock" Legislation Gaining Popularity; Obama's SuperSecret Special Ed Diversion Program; "Classroom Intervention" Premiers This Fall; Indiana School District Agrees To House Gitmo Detainees.
"Which has more teachers? Which has a bigger budget? Who has more Twitter followers?" via Scholastic (The Super Bowl of EDU: Seattle vs. Boston) What about NAEP TUDA scores? Next year (maybe) PARCC and SBAC scores.
Following up on Christine Armario's January 15 AP story about the growth of schools offering after-school meals as well as breakfast and lunch, here's a chart and file from the USDA showing which states are serving how many of these kinds of meals.
The program started in 2010 and served 104 million meals last year - much smaller than the breakfast and lunch programs.
They call them after-school meals or suppers (which seems quaint, no?).
All states now participate, according to USDA - though as you can see the participation levels vary widely.
I'd love to know how it's worked at some schools to have that available -- for the kids, teachers, and parents. Has it made a difference?
Here's the full list of states (PDF). At Risk Suppers FY2014
The world is actually even safer than when I was a child, and I just want to give them the same freedom and independence that I had — basically an old-fashioned childhood. I think it’s absolutely critical for their development — to learn responsibility, to experience the world, to gain confidence and competency.
-- Parent Danielle Meitiv in Slate (Maryland parents investigated by the police for letting their kids walk home alone)
"Boyhood" was a big winner at last night's Golden Globes awards, which reminded me of the great scene in the movie when the protagonist's high school photo teacher gives him a pep talk/calling out. ("Who do you want to be Mason, what do you want to do?") I wrote about this last summer when the movie came out. There's a glimpse of it in the trailer, too -- along with a few other school-related scenes ("Welcome to The Suck.")
Let's close out the week with a recommendation to watch at least one segment from the Vimeo series "High Maintenance," which focuses on a character's ill-fated decision to join a Teaching Fellows-like program (and is adult fare probably not best suited to the workplace).
Called Ghengis, the episode features a character named Evan Waxman (pictured above, via Tumblr) who "tries to become a teacher in an attempt to be more fulfilled by his career." But it doesn't go well or easily for him, assigned to a burned-out summer school teacher with some rowdy (and hilarious) high school students.
Pulling a pencil out of his nose is just the least of it. A moment of desperation leads him to do and say some very, very mistaken things.
It's a darkly comic version of the lighthearded peeks into modern school life we get from The New Girl or the seriousness of Parenthood. And it's not particularly pro- or con-alternative certfication. Evan just as easily have come through a traditional program. I feel like I've met lots of Evans from both routs.
Here's a short video and writeup via The Atlantic about the 1974 Boston public school integration effort, and recent efforts to revisit segregation in public schools. Click here if the video doesn't load.
The thought that the Common Core, of all things, would somehow derail [Bush's] presidential campaign is a little odd. Federal education policy is a second-tier issue, and as Nate Silver has shown there's no clear partisan tilt on the Common Core issue among the mass public... If party leaders decide that a charge against the Common Core is their #1 goal for 2017, then obviously Jeb is out of luck. But that would be a very weird thing to decide. - Vox's Matt Yglesias (Jeb Bush's path to victory in 2016)
Take a minute to think about how much time and attention the Colbert Report has dedicated to education-related issues during its long run, which ended last night. Colbert's guests included not only EdSecs Spellings and Duncan, but also a who's who list of mostly reform types like Joel Klein, Wendy Kopp, Charles Best, Bill Gates, Jonah Edelman's Dad, Emily Bazelon, Maurice Sendak, Geoff Canada, David Levin, Roland Fryer, Campbell Brown. Colbert also included education in numerous segments, mocking states for gaming proficiency levesl, fired Florida teachers, and simultaneously mocked and endorsed the Common Core earlier this year:
Some favorites among the (just!) 49 times that Colbert appears in the headline of a TWIE blog post include "Keep [Parental] Fear Alive," Says Colbert, his out-of-character story of being miserable in school (Colbert's "It Gets Better" Story), and a Roland Fryer interview in which Fryer pulls off a feat and gets the best of Colbert ("You're Black Now, Aren't You?"). Some of his few dud interviews related to education include one with the director of the War On Kids documentary, and his interview with Peter Edelman in which Edelman appears to walk off the stage at the end (Another Unhappy Moment For The Edelman Clan).
Need more? 21 times Stephen Colbert has dropped his act and been himself (Vox), which includes some graduation speeches, his Congressional testimony, and a few other moments, and Goodbye, Stephen Colbert (a fond farewell from the NYT).How
Maybe everyone else already knew this but I hadn't noticed until recently that for the last year or so the longstanding liberal watchdog Media Matters for America (MMFA) has had an education-focused page tracking cable news coverage of school-related issues, run by Hilary Tone.
Most of the posts are focused on conservative cable news shows, which Media Matters tracks closely and I don't usually pay much attention to. They also cover right-leaning online outlets like the Daily Caller and the Washington Beacon (a Petrilli favorite, if I remember correctly).
Some recent posts: North Carolina Newspapers Mostly Silent As ALEC And Koch Brothers Rewrite History; School Athletic Officials Debunk Horror Stories About Transgender Student Athletes; How Conservative Media's Attacks On Michelle Obama's Anti-Obesity Efforts May Lead To A Government Shutdown; Fox Takes Premature Victory Lap On AP History Controversy In Colorado.
If you think that the liberal-leaning media are doing a hatchet job on schools and school improvement efforts, you may have forgotten how the right-leaning outlets roll.
But sometimes -- as with the recent piece on cable news' shows education guests -- they include mainstream and left-leaning outlets like CNN and MSNBC, which I noted recently (Too Few Educators On Cable News- And Too Few Education Segments, Too). The site also addressed on the TIME/Vergara cover, albeit focusing on coverage from the conservative and labor perspectives rather than the mainstream (What Conservative Media Miss In Coverage Of Controversial Time Teacher Story).
Related posts: Too Few Educators On Cable News -- And Too Few Education Segments, Too; Critical Roundup Of MSNBC's "Mixed" Reporting; What's Wrong With Chris Hayes?; New Cable Channel [Pivot] To Feature Do-Gooder Content; Rhee & Weingarten Together On Morning News Show. Image used with permission.
EdSec Arne Duncan may have marched for #blacklivesmatter last weekend, and his communications team may have posted a somber picture of him doing so, but AFT head Randi Weingarten gave a fiery speech to the crowd. Uploaded by AFT. Not in the mood? Morning Joe has a segment about a school taking a blind kid's cane away as punishment, replacing it with a swimming pool "noodle."
There are lots of ways for education reports to get fleeced by sources or to neglect to check things out thoroughly, but New York Magazine found a pretty obvious wayof embarassing itself when it posted a story about a NYC high school student who'd supposedly made millions trading before turning 18 (Mohammed Islam, Stock Trader).
The problem was that the student hasn't made anywhere near $72 million in the original story headline and the Chase bank statement that he provided to NY Magazine fact-checkers was fake.
After lots of questions about the story, editor Adam Moss wrote about the story and concluded with the obvious: "We were duped. Our fact-checking process was obviously inadequate; we take full responsibility and we should have known better."
Arne Duncan Joins Al Sharpton's Civil Rights March PK12: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is among thousands of demonstrators who participated in a march through Washington, D.C. Saturday to focus attention on recent law enforcement actions that led to the deaths of unarmed African-American men, according to a tweet sent from his official account. See also here.
Teachers Protest Grand Jury Decisions At Police Precinct HuffPost: A.J. Hudson, an 8th grade biology teacher at KIPP Amp Middle School in Brooklyn, told The Huffington Post that the grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for killing black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and in Staten Island, New York, have been “upsetting everyone” at his school.
Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan Decries School Funding "Injustices" in Philly and Nation District Dossier: In a column printed in the Philadelphia Inquirer Friday, the Education Secretary says the nation should be embarrassed that the quality of children's public education is largely dependent on where they live and their parents' incomes.
Big Drop In Students Being Held Back, But Why? NPR: The number of students being held back has been cut nearly in half, and researchers have no idea why.
Two Years Later, Still Learning From Sandy Hook NPR: A new report on the 2012 Newtown school shootings says that school administrators failed Adam Lanza despite their best efforts. The authors say the district had a lack of special education expertise.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
Black-white segregation is declining, notes the New Republic notes (Black-White Segregation Is Steadily Declining) but adults and school-age children are affected differently (see chart above) and schools remain something of a segregation holdout.
In case you hadn't heard, This American Life spinoff "Serial" is a big hit. Focusing on the murder of a high school student in Maryland, it's a true-crime "whodunit?" with lots of excellent school-related characters and tidbits. One California teacher has replaced Shakespeare with the series.
But it's increasingly facing a major backlash, focused in part on the fact that the reporting team behind the piece is all white and the main characters are minorities: "What happens when a white journalist stomps around in a cold case involving people from two distinctly separate immigrant communities? Does she get it right?" (Success And 'Serial' Backlash - Digg; Serial' & White Reporter Privilege - The Awl; The Complicated Ethics Of 'Serial,' - ThinkProgress).
I'll leave the merits and details of the pushback to others -- Conor F. at The Atlantic has a long piece defending the show -- to point out that a very similarly popular show by This American Life last year focusing on Harper High school in Chicago generated little such concern despite many similarities.
White reporters? Check. Set in and around a high school? Check. Minority community? Check. Widespread acclaim? Check.
According to some critics, Serial and TAL have a lot in common: "Ethnic naïveté and cultural clumsiness are hardly unique to Serial. They’re woven into the fabric of its parent show, This American Life, which over its 20-year history has essentially made a cottage industry out of white-privileged cultural tourism," writes Quartz's Jeff Yang.
But Harper High didn't generate nearly as much criticism as Serial has. The two-part Harper High show (Episodes 487 and 488) won widespread accolades and to my knowledge just a smidgen of criticism. "In the end, I believe that [TAL's] coverage served to excuse many of the most harmful practices in our schools today and perpetuate some of the most harmful myths about urban education."
I can think of lots of possible reasons for the disparity -- though none is entirely satisfying. Perhaps "Harper High" is simply better than Serial, more careful to protect against stereotypes and white privilege. Perhaps we're more sensitive to cultural stereotyping when immigrants (Korean- and Pakistani-American) are involved than African-Americans. Or, it could be that the criticism results from the multi-week format. Perhaps we're more sensitive to cultural stereotyping in 2014 than we were in 2013?
Watch John Oliver make a mockery out of 44 state lotteries, which are ostensibly supporting education but in reality don't seem to have much if any positive effects on school resources. Warning: it's long, and has bleeped swear words -- volume down, earbuds in.
Sure, there's a charter school plotline in" Parenthood," and school is in the background (so far) of "Black-Ish." "How To Get Away With Murder" is set at a law school. But "New Girl" remains the most school-focused show out there, and still sometimes the most amusing.
This week's episode of New Girl features Jess's attempts to avoid interacting with her crush, a teacher at the school where she's an assistant principal. It also involves touchy-feely professional development, and male bonding gone awry.
Related posts: "New Girl" Jess Confronts The Cool Mean Teachers; "New Girl" Gets Pink Slipped [Teacherpocalypse 2012]; "New Girl" Deals With Bullying 5th Grader; TV's "New Girl" Teacher Is She One Of You?.
Check out the startling statistics presented above (based on an AAUW study) and more at this Al Jazeera America story. Harassment and related issues aren't a standard education policy topic but they're an important and real part of too many students' lives.