Newsletter #162: No Way Out

Good morning, Highlighters, and thank you for opening up this week’s issue of the newsletter. After reading today’s lead article, an exposé of Georgia’s unconscionable, unforgivable special education program, I needed several minutes to put myself back together. This story will stay with you, and I urge you to read it. The other three articles this week are also outstanding, though I must warn you if you’re trending cheerful. These are heavy — and important. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’re willing to share them with me. Thank you!

SpotlightLast week’s lead article about fat shaming resonated with many of you. If you’d like to read more great articles about weight, dieting, and body positivity, I’ve compiled a collection of my favorites. Click here to read them!

Special Ed in Georgia: Separate and Unequal

Seth Murrell is a 4-year-old African American kid who has autism, yells loudly when he’s praised, doesn’t like wearing shoes, and sometimes spits in his teachers’ faces. Because he lives in Georgia, Seth attends GNETS, a separate, state-run school for children with special needs. Almost all of his peers are Black boys. The conditions at the school are abominable: Seth is often left alone, receiving an average of just 30 minutes of instruction per day. Seth’s mom advocates for a better placement, but like for most of the 4,000 kids in the system, there’s no way out. That is to say, until one day, when Seth is assaulted by his teacher. (37 min)

+ Rachel Aviv writes with urgency and lets her subjects tell the story. Check out her previously highlighted articles in #76#87, and #130.

Who Gets to Be Gifted?

When I was 4 years old, I took an IQ test that determined the rest of my academic career. This article explores how “gifted education” offers advantages for a small percentage of children at the expense of others. Writing from her experience in Canada, Katrina Onstad argues that segregating children by perceived intellectual ability not only undermines public education but also harkens back to eugenics and Social Darwinism. (27 min)

Speak Truth to Power: ‘We Must Tell Anyone and Everyone Who Will Listen’

This is a brilliant essay by Lacy M. Johnson, adapted from her new book, The Reckonings. She writes, “All across the country this situation is replicated with slight variations: a woman reports rape, is told that boys will be boys; a woman reports rape, is not believed. She is shamed. She is ostracized, traumatized, and retraumatized. At best, the woman’s life is forever and irrevocably changed. At worst, she self-destructs. Men, however, seem to thrive in a culture in which they can rape women with near impunity.” (30 min)

Kids Aren’t Being Taught To Read

Only 40 percent of American fourth graders are proficient readers. Why? According to this article (and podcast), it’s because teachers don’t know what they’re doing. Instead of following what brain research says to do (phonics, scripted curricula), teachers make stuff up (whole languagebalanced literacy). When it comes to the reading warsEmily Hanson takes no prisoners and allows no equivocation. (28 min)

Reader Annotations: Loyal reader Nicki read last week’s article featuring the financial struggles of 13 teachers and had this to say:

I relate to many aspects of Binh Thai’s story. I am the daughter of immigrants and my parents did not come to America so that I can be “just a teacher.” Although my parents have recently come to terms with my choice to go into education and that my choice is not “a phase,” they constantly worry that I will not be financially stable. With the low pay and high cost of living in the Bay Area, side hustles are almost necessary for those of us in education.

Nicki is the best for sharing. Readers, keep sharing your thoughts!

You’ve reached the end of this week’s issue of The Highlighter. Thank you for reading it. Please tell me what you thought by using the thumbs below. Also, let’s welcome new subscriber Grattan! If you like this newsletter, forward them the archives and urge them to subscribe. I would really appreciate it. On the other hand, if you think The Highlighter is humdrum, please unsubscribe. I’ll see you back here next Thursday at 9:10 am. Have a great week!