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Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…


7 Ways of Looking at Diversity

The diversity of ways we talk about diversity.

Quote from Article:

There are all kinds of ways that people talk about identity and diversity these days. I’ve been trying to organize them into approaches. Here’s my first crack. My goal here is to be descriptive, not judgmental. I don’t think these approaches are necessarily mutually exclusive, but I do think some people within each of these approaches are fiercely committed to their own paradigms in a way that dismisses others.


The Elementary School Diversity Approach

This is the “Let’s sing ‘Ebony and Ivory,’ put up ‘Diversity Is Our Strength’ bumper stickers and share the games we play during our different religious holidays” approach.


The Social Justice Approach

Everything is about race, gender and sexuality. Everything is plotted along a power, privilege and oppression chart. Major scholars/intellectuals of this approach include Audre Lorde, bell hooks and Gloria Anzaldua. More recent writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ibram X. Kendi would probably fit best here, too. This is the approach that is especially prevalent in higher ed and intellectual circles.


The Bridged Social Capital Approach

This approach is mostly associated with academics like Robert Putnam and Ashutosh Varshney. They highlight that identity communities create social capital. Lutherans might create a church that has a physical building, a bank account and 1,000 members. Jews, Muslims and Buddhists might do the same. So might various ethnic groups. The challenge for a diverse civil society is to make sure that the social capital associated with identity communities is both bonded and bridged — nurturing its own natural constituents and also in a positive relationship with other identity communities, ideally in a way that serves the broader society. A church, a mosque and a synagogue doing a food drive together is a good example of this.


The Political Philosophy Approach

This approach is most closely associated with political philosophers (or religious studies professors who moonlight as political philosophers) like John Courtney Murray, Martin Marty, Diana Eck, Michael Walzer, John Inazu and Danielle Allen. They recognize that most societies across history have been organized around ethnic, racial and religious homogeneity, and therefore the American project of bringing diversity together within a democracy is remarkable from the outset. While fully cognizant of how many sins and mistakes were made with regard to women and various ethnic, racial and religious minorities along the way, they generally believe that we Americans can, in the immortal words of James Baldwin, “achieve our country … and change the history of the world.” 


The Cognitive Diversity Leads to Better Teams Approach

This approach is most closely associated with Scott Page and his books The Diversity Bonus and The Difference. For Page and the many companies and organizations he consults with, the principal challenge is building teams — be they of Navy SEALs or Google engineers — who can solve problems. If everybody on your team has a “cognitive repertoire” that includes tools and associations A, B, C and D, they might not be able to solve a problem that requires tools E, F and G.


The quick summary: it’s not because there is anything essential about being black or female that people from different identities bring different cognitive repertoires to the table, it’s because people from different identities often have different social groups, experiences, reference points, etc., that they are more likely to also have different cognitive repertoires.


The Intellectual/Ideological Diversity Approach

Intellectual/ideological diversity is most associated these days with Jonathan Haidt and Heterodox Academy. It highlights that there are different explanatory frameworks and that public discourse should bring multiple and diverse frameworks together to engage with big questions, like, “What causes poverty?” and “Why are some nations democracies while others are dictatorships?” Higher education should especially prioritize intellectual diversity, as its highest purpose is to get to the most accurate answer. Here’s a good article on this.


The Cultural Intelligence Approach

This approach emphasizes making sense of and successfully navigating different cultural contexts. It’s the “When in Rome, pay attention to how Romans think about the world and do your best to fit in because it will be better for your business” approach. Like the cognitive diversity paradigm, it has particular salience in the world of corporate multinationals and other international organizations. It is often framed as the step after emotional intelligence. Leaders like Maria Dixon Hall at Southern Methodist University are bringing this work more into higher education.


There are, of course, the intellectual approaches that underlay all of this: namely, where does identity come from in the first place. Those are inquiries posed by neuroscientists, theologians, philosophers, evolutionary biologists, social psychologists and others. The answers/explanations range from “This is how God made us” to “This is how our brains are wired” to “This is a product of how we adapted (genetically or culturally or both) to different environments” to “This is how environments like schools or summer camps shape our behavior.”

The sentence that keeps ringing in my head about all of this is Kwame Anthony Appiah’s observation from his game-changing book, The Lies That Bind: “much of our contemporary thinking about identity is shaped by pictures that are in various ways unhelpful or just plain wrong.”

District Deeds Synopsis:

This facsinating article really made us think about the various experences we have witnessed regarding attempts at diversity within the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) over the last 20 years.

The conclusion we arrived at is that virtually ALL of these identity and diversity philosophies have been exhibited and deployed in many different ways, we found that the more skilled and ethical the SDUSD leadership, the more different methods listed above they are able to deliver to the extremely diverse SDUSD Student and Family populations.

During the tenures of past highly skilled Superintendents like Carl Cohn, Terry Grier and Bill Kowba, the diversity methods deployed encompassed most, f not all of the “7 Ways of Diversity” described in the article.

Currently, with a weak, inexperienced and incompetent Superintendent like Cindy Marten, who has only the minimum experience as an overrated Elementary School Principal, the best the SDUSD can muster in regard to diversity is the minimal “Elementary School Diversity Approach”.

That is why anyone who visits a SDUSD school site sees lots of ‘Diversity Is Our Strength’ type propaganda plastered all over the campus, while thousands of Students, Teachers and Administrators are fleeing the toxic, anti-diversity environment created by Elementary School Superintendent (ESS) Cindy Marten and her politically “bought and sold” Board of Education led by Trustee “Tricky Dick” Barrera.

Until Marten, Barrera and all of their cronies are removed from leadership, the possibility of real initiatives promoting diversity for the benefit of ALL SDUSD Stakeholders is non-existent.

Marten, Barrera and their cronies “gotta go”!!!

Yes, Teachers Need More Pay. But They Also Need Strong Leaders to Support Them. The Candidates Need to Talk About Both

Quote from Article:

Months after most Democratic presidential candidates unveiled their education plans, they are finally going to focus on the state of our K-12 schools Saturday at a forum in Pittsburgh. No doubt some, if not all, will mention boosting teacher pay. But hiking salaries, especially without targeting those dollars to teachers in high-needs schools, isn’t enough to address long-standing inequities. Low-income schools, which often have large numbers of first-year and uncertified teachers, have long struggled to recruit and keep educators, particularly in areas like special education and middle and high school science. Research shows that financial incentives may help schools retain strong teachers, but if the incentives stop, teachers don’t stay. And incentives may be less effective for recruitment.


Strong school leadership is especially important in high-needs schools. Nationally, teachers are almost twice as likely to leave a high-poverty school as a low-poverty school. But when educators in high-poverty schools are satisfied with the leadership and staff cohesion in their building, they are about as likely to stay in their position as their colleagues in wealthier schools. The cliché that “people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses” is as true in teaching as in any other profession.


School leadership is also incredibly important for black and Latino teachers, who often face particular challenges in their classrooms and schools and tend to leave the profession at higher rates than white teachers. Strong principals can empower and invest in teachers and help create culturally affirming school environments where teachers of color feel that they can be their authentic selves and belong to a schoolwide family. Those conditions are undoubtedly important in all schools, but since teachers of color are more likely to work in the schools with the most students of color — which also tend to have more students from low-income backgrounds — having school leaders with those abilities is even more critical in these schools.

Unfortunately, research suggests that high-poverty schools are less likely to have strong leaders, are more likely to employ inexperienced principals than the lowest-poverty schools, and are more likely to have their teachers rate their principals lower than in wealthier schools.


At the national level, leaders could invest (through the Higher Education Act) in principal reparation programs with curriculum aligned to equity-focused standards.

State leaders could set professional standards for education leaders that explicitly include the ability to support teachers who are working with historically underserved students. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, states can use some of their Title II funds for activities related to school leaders, either directly or by supporting districts.

District leaders could create principal pipelines, and national and state leaders could provide grants to support those initiatives. A recent RAND report on the Wallace Foundation’s Principal Pipeline Initiative, which helped six large, high-needs districts strategically prepare, hire, develop and support school leaders, showed that pipeline principals were more likely to stay in their schools for at least three years, providing stability that’s important for both teachers and principals. In five of the six districts, their schools significantly outperformed similar schools.

District Deeds Synopsis:

Dumping the most inexperienced Teachers and Principals to high poverty SDUSD schools has been an annual tradition under ESS Marten and her “White Woman Mafia”.  Over 60% Principal turnover, layoffs of key staff annually due to gross financial mismanagement by Marten and Barrera along with a toxic, punishment based, work environment at both school sites and the central office has ensured a legacy of educational dysfunction at the neediest schools with the neediest students.

The article highlighted a report by RAND (link to Report: RAND – Principal Pipelines-A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools) that presents the many effective and innovative ways that six large urban school districts approach the nurturing of Principal candidates.  In the 5th chapter of the study, RAND declares the following about the Principal Pipeline Initiative (PPI):

  • The Work Is Feasible: All Six PPI Districts Were Able to Implement ComprehensivePipelines, and They Did So in Different Ways

  • The Work Is Affordable: The Efforts of PPI Districts to Operate and Enhance TheirPipelines Cost Less Than 0.5 Percent of District Budgets

  • The Work Is Effective: Our Analysis Suggests That the PPI Benefited Schools

It is encouraging that these six large urban school districts have the commitment, positive attitude and advanced education management skills to accomplish great results in a customized way for their stakeholders.

Unfortunately the SDUSD with ESS Marten, “Commitment”, “Attitude” and “Advanced Skills” are just words to be used in empty slogans plastered on school site walls and and in phony “State of the District” speeches.

In the SDUSD, for the last 5 years since illegitimate ESS Marten was appointed in violation of the Brown Act, only one slogan applies:

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the SDUSD is an educational disaster and the incompetent Cindy Marten ALWAYS gets a raise


How to Lead Students to Engage in Higher Order Thinking

Asking students a series of essential questions at the start of a course signals that deep engagement is a requirement.

Quote from Article:

I teach multigrade, theme-based courses like Spirituality in Literature and The Natural World in Literature to high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. And like most English language arts teachers, I’ve taught courses built around the organizing principles of genre (Introduction to Drama), time period and geography (American Literature From 1950), and even assessment instrument (A.P. Literature).

No matter what conceptual framework guides the course I’m teaching, though, I begin and anchor it with what I call a thinking inventory.



Essential questions—a staple of project-based learning—call on students’ higher order thinking and connect their lived experience with important texts and ideas. A thinking inventory is a carefully curated set of about 10 essential questions of various types, and completing one the first thing I ask students to do in every course I teach.


When we say we’re “taking inventory”—whether we’re in a warehouse or a relationship—we mean we’re taking stock of where things stand at a given moment in time, with the understanding that those things are fluid and provisional. With a thinking inventory, we’re taking stock of students’ thinking, experiences, and sense-making at the beginning of the course.

A well-designed thinking inventory formalizes the essential questions of any course and serves as a touchpoint for both teacher and students throughout that course. For a teacher, writing a course’s thinking inventory can help separate the essential from the nonessential when planning. 



I tell students the thinking inventory is a document we’ll be living with—revisiting and referring to often—and that they should spend time mulling their answers before writing them down. The inventory should include a variety of essential questions, including ones that invite students to share relevant experiences.

I may ask students about their current knowledge base or life experience (What’s the best example of empathy you’ve ever witnessed?). I may ask them to make predictions or imagine scenarios (How will an American Literature course in 100 years look different from today’s American Literature course?). Or I may ask perennial questions (To what extent is it possible for human beings to change fundamentally?).


Here are a few of the questions I asked students to address at the start of a course called The Outsider in Literature:

  • Who is the most visionary person you know? How do you know they’re visionary? Is there anything about them you want to emulate? Anything about them that frightens you?
  • What are the risks of rebelling? Of not rebelling?  Explain.
  • What would happen if there were no outsiders? How would the world, and your world, be different?



On the first day of class, I give students the inventory for homework. Because I expect well-thought-out answers and generative thinking, I assign it in chunks over two nights, and we spend at least the second and third class meetings discussing their answers.

Throughout the course, I use the inventory both implicitly and explicitly. I purposefully weave inventory questions into discussions and student writing prompts. More explicitly, I use inventory questions as a framework for pre- and post-reading activities, and as prompts for reading responses, formal writing, and journaling.



By including a variety of essential questions (practical and experiential, conceptual and theoretical) and making a course’s aims explicit, the inventory invites all students into the conversation and the material from day one. It gives a deep thinker with slower processing speed or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, for example, time to orient themselves to the course’s core questions. Meanwhile, the inventory challenges students who see themselves as high achievers to respond authentically to thorny questions that have no right answers.

In addition, using a thinking inventory models how to ask good questions; gives introverts and anxious students an entry point because cold calling becomes warmer (I can ask, “What did you say on your inventory?”); and cultivates a community of learners connected by real, worthwhile inquiry and communal discourse.

District Deeds Synopsis:

We thought our Teachers, Parents and school site Admininstrators would enjoy this article regarding “Higher Order Thinking”.  We are sure that many of our SDUSD Teachers engage in similar strategies to improve and enhance their student’s thought processes.

We especially like the fact that these strategies help build a positive learning community environment for ALL Students…Good Stuff!!!

Now for our Quote of the Week:

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” – Henry Ford

Have a great week!!!



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