The Highlighter #210: Donuts And The American Dream


Loyal readers, I hope you’re enjoying your Thursday so far, and thank you very much for opening this week’s issue. Today’s edition is three parts education, one part donuts. If you’re someone who appreciates reading something positive now and then, start with the lead article, an ode to the Los Angeles donut. Bonus points if you read it while eating a donut. (Yes, send me a selfie.)

Then, after your sugar high wears off, dive back in and enjoy three articles on education, back to back to back. The first discusses how one program supports Black men to thrive as teachers. The second exposes how colleges compromise diversity for tuition dollars. And the third explores how middle and high schools can better prepare first-generation students of color to succeed in and graduate from college. Happy reading!

Donuts and the American Dream

It has been too long — more than two years and 100 issues — since this newsletter last included an article on donuts. At long last, the wait is over. This outstanding history of the Los Angeles donut will restore your faith in our country and the possibility of the American dream. Impervious to chains like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts, the donut industry in Los Angeles has remained open and profitable to new immigrants from Vietnam and Cambodia and Japan and Laos and Mexico and Guatemala and El Salvador. “Donuts are the soul food of a place that is often accused of lacking a soul,” David Samuels writes. “They are the sticky, messy, waist-expanding ying to the yang of Southern California’s sun-kissed beaches and taut-and-tanned infatuation with wellness.” (10 min)

With A Teacher Like Me, Would I Have Turned Out Better?

Black men are 2 percent of American teachers. In New Orleans, where 84 percent of students are Black, 4,300 teachers were fired after Hurricane Katrina, and alongside the proliferation of charter schools, the city has experienced a rise in the hiring of white teachers. That is why programs like Brothers Empowered 2 Teach, which supports and incentivizes Black men to become teachers, are so important. Read about 22-year-old Nathaniel Albert’s journey as a beginning teacher. (15 min)

What Do College Admissions Offices Really Want? (Answer: Money.)

Don’t look now, but the college admissions game is a big scam, according to Paul Tough’s new book, The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes Or Breaks Us. (I’m in the middle of it — great so far!) Despite best intentions to accept a diverse class, most college admissions offices face a very real competing interest: the thirst for tuition revenue. That usually means accepting rich white kids who aren’t great, because their parents can pay. (39 min)

How Schools Can Improve College Access and Persistence for All Students

Though college is expensive, and only 60 percent of students graduate within six years, and student debt averages $22,845 among Californians, graduating from college remains the best way to attain economic mobility and well-being. This report by Summit Public Schools offers an excellent framework for how schools can support their students to persist in college. My biggest takeaway: identity development and clear visioning of future goals. (30 min)

Did you read them all? If not, don’t fret: You have until next Thursday to finish. Thank you for reading this week’s issue of The Highlighter. Use the thumbs below to tell me what you thought. Or hit reply and send me a quick message. Also, let’s please welcome our new subscriber Lisa. Hope the newsletter is a good match for you! If you like The Highlighter, please help it grow and get better. I appreciate your support. Here are a few ways you can help:

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