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This weekend we're posting four mini-episodes of the Axios Re:Cap podcast, focused on the unique challenges of back-to-school in 2020. This one digs into the strains on special education.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 17, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on America's education inequities

On Tuesday, November 17, Axios' Sara Kehaulani Goo, Erica Pandey, and Courtenay Brown hosted a conversation on unequal opportunity and systemic racism in schools, featuring Northern California Indian Development Council Indigenous Education Advocate Rain Marshall, National Education Association President Becky Pringle and EdBuild CEO Rebecca Sibilia.

Becky Pringle discussed racial inequity in the education system, highlighting a lack of funding and accessible resources for students of color, as well as the need for congressional action around students' access to virtual education.

  • On the stark challenges of digital access: "60 million students did not have access to virtual learning in the spring...It is now November and those students still do not have that access. We are working with our educators and with communities, with our families or our partners to demand that the Senate act."

Rebecca Sibilia unpacked how school district lines can reinforce existing racial and economic divides, and discussed the possibility of making school districts larger to better distribute resources to students.

  • On growing wealth inequality and its impact on education: "[The] school district line becomes incredibly important in determining which students go to which schools and how well resourced they are. Because we fund schools primarily based on property taxes, the state tries to equalize for differences in the fundamental wealth of communities, but they just can't keep up."

Rain Marshall discussed the legacies of colonization on Indigenous students and the impact of those narrative being left out of school curricula.

  • On the classroom experience of Indigenous students: "You have a curriculum that doesn't reflect the population of Indigenous students...You have these leftover legacies in the school system and implicit bias where teachers just aren't aware that [this] erasure is harmful."

Axios' VP of Events Kristin Burkhalter hosted a View from the Top segment with President of Paul Quinn College Dr. Michael Sorrell and discussed the impact of poverty on students, and how to rethink the American education system.

  • On increasing accessibility to higher education: "People need are easier on and off ramps into higher education...The idea that what you study when you're 20, 21, 22 years old is going to be with you for the rest of your life and you won't need to make adjustments is just not realistic."

This event was the second in a yearlong series called Hard Truths, where we'll be discussing the wide ranging impact of systemic racism in America. Read our deep dive on race and education here and check out the series page here.

Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this event.

2 hours ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.