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.

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.

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.

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.'

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.

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.'

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