The Absolute Best School Climate Blogging (This Week)

By Evie Blad — July 25, 2014 1 min read
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Happy Friday, Rules readers. My weekend countdown was made even better by this new Kid President pep talk. You should watch it too.

You should probably also read these great links about school climate and student well-being. This week, we read about leaders’ attitudes about diversity, children’s attitudes about race, zero-tolerance policies, viral selfies, and more.

Are you the problem?

The problem with school climate may not be the students who enter the building from different backgrounds. The problem with school climate may be the very people who work in the school. When school leaders and teachers have a 'If you don't like my school go somewhere else,' attitude, they are knowingly and purposely alienating a population of students that enter their buildings or classrooms." —Jonathan, the director of the National School Climate Center, collaborates with Peter DeWitt for a post on his Finding Common Ground blog about the role of leaders' attitudes in creating a healthy school climate.

On ‘acting white’

And I implored them to be bold, black, beautiful and, most important, American. Too many folks forget that part. They spend so much time fighting for respect as a [fill-in-the-blank] American that they miss the American part altogether. They are part of the larger story of this country, and their success or failure is of great importance to it." —Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post's PostPartisan uses President Obama's remarks at a My Brother's Keeper event to discuss "acting white" and racial identity.

The keepers of My Brother’s Keeper

This certainly can't be a shiny thing, something that we admire for the time that President Obama is in office and then we let die." —David Williams, CEO of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, joins John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, to discuss their interest in My Brother's Keeper with Gwen Ifill on the PBS Newshour.

On aspiring to be inspirational

I aspired to be like the inspirational movie teachers—lyrical Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, standing on his desk and encouraging students to seize the day; tough army captain Michelle Pfeiffer pronouncing, in Dangerous Minds, 'There are no victims in this classroom!'; bleeding-heart Hilary Swank in Freedom Writers, wisely telling a student, 'To get respect, you have to give it.'" —Florina Rodov writes in the Atlantic about her experience as an idealistic first-year teacher in New York.

Should we tolerate zero-tolerance policies?

Rather than improving safety in schools, harsh zero-tolerance discipline has far-reaching negative consequences—dramatically increasing the risk of failure, dropping out, and involvement with the justice system. Even worse, these types of severe punishments disproportionately fall on children of color, particularly African-American students, who are three times more likely than white students to be suspended, even for similar types of misbehavior." —Kavitha Mediratta, the head of the racial-equity program at the Atlantic Philanthropies, says in an Education Week commentary that schools should abandon zero-tolerance policies.

What are we saying about ourselves when we take selfies?

And yet, the funny thing about viral images is how endlessly easy it is to misunderstand them. The selfie is already a politically and socially fraught form of expression, as many sociologists and social media theorists have written before; while self-portraits are understood by many to be little more than a flagrant show of narcissism or a plea for attention, they may mean something different to the taker herself. It's less a matter of self-glorification than self-documentation—'I was here.' 'This is who I was that day.' 'This happened.'" —Caitlin Dewey writes in the Washington Post's The Intersect blog about the internet outrage that bubbled over when a teen who took a smiling selfie in Auschwitz. The post makes good food for thought for discussions about "cybercivility" and appropriate social media use.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.