Author Archives: Bellwether Education Partners

Teaching Race in the Classroom: An Eduwonk Guest Blog Series

What are we really talking about when we talk about Critical Race Theory? Eduwonk hosted a weeklong guest blog takeover by Sharif El-Mekki and Ian Rowe. In a series of thought-provoking posts, they expand on their recent National Alliance for Public Charter School discussion and unpack elements of what is quickly growing into a nationwide CRT culture war.

Visit Eduwonk to read Rowe’s thoughts on preparing all students to achieve greatness and how the CRT debate is distracting from the dismal nationwide reading proficiency numbers, and El-Mekki’s perspective on what students of color really need to succeed and the importance of high-quality, diverse educators who reflect the demographics of the students they teach. 

While the two experts don’t always agree, they bring a wealth of knowledge and mutual respect to a difficult, nuanced, and timely conversation. For more reflections in the Eduwonk CRT series, click here.

Sharif El-Mekki is founder and CEO of The Center for Black Educator Development. Ian Rowe is the founder and CEO of Vertex Partnership Academies and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Opinion: K-12 Schools Should Focus Federal Recovery Funds on Equitable Initiatives to Support Students

Photo courtesy of Allison Shelley for EDUimages

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 includes $123 billion to K-12 education through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and $39 billion for higher education through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. 

Ahead of the upcoming 2021-22 school year, state and local education officials nationwide are beginning to spend funds on a wide range of programs in K-12 and postsecondary education. 

Bellwether’s Alex Spurrier argues that Louisville, Kentucky’s Jefferson County Public School system is making a $75 million mistake by using pandemic relief funds to give every permanent district employee a $5,000 bonus.

Every dollar spent on bonus payments to address a phantom teacher retention problem is a dollar that won’t go toward supporting the needs of the kids who attend JCPS schools — a mistake JCPS is making 75 million times over. Should JCPS’ limited education recovery funding really be used to further expand economic and racial inequality in our city?

A more targeted retention bonus program could have been modeled after successful efforts to retain effective educators in high-needs schools. Or it could have focused on specific positions for which vacancies are an issue, such as custodial and food service positions. Instead, most of this blanket windfall of cash will end up subsidizing a relatively affluent segment of our community that didn’t once have to worry about their next paycheck — something few families can relate to in a district where 66% of students are economically disadvantaged.”

Read more from Alex Spurrier’s recent Louisville Courier-Journal op-ed, here.