The Looming Uncertainty for Dreamers Like Me

Hundreds of immigration advocates and supporters marched in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, in New York on Wednesday. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Tuesday was my first day back at school at Baruch College for my senior year. I had been looking forward to starting class again, but it was impossible to pay attention. I was completely distracted by the whiplash of news about whether Donald Trump would end the executive order Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, — the policy President Barack Obama announced in 2012 that allowed almost 800,000 immigrant youths like me to step out of the shadows of society.

Several Republican state attorneys general have threatened to sue if the president doesn’t revoke DACA by Sept. 5. So all week, as rumors have flown around the internet about the fate of the “Dreamers,” those who benefit from DACA, I have been bombarded by texts and notifications.

I haven’t known what to share with my friends and family. I don’t want to add needlessly to the paranoia and fear that permeates my entire community.

It’s hard to overstate how much DACA changed everyday life for people like me. Before the executive order, I couldn’t legally get a job. I couldn’t get a state ID. I couldn’t apply for virtually any scholarships. And traveling was risky. After high school, I bought myself a ticket to my first trip outside of New York since arriving from Mexico. I sweated as I went through security, worried that someone might call immigration officials if they found out I was undocumented.

But with DACA, I got a Social Security number, a state ID and work authorization. I got a job at a fine-dining restaurant, which coincidentally, was located in one of Mr. Trump’s hotels. At the time, I was proud of that. I worked in a fancy building, named for a billionaire businessman who was famous on TV. I even bragged about it because, for the first time, I wasn’t worried about whether my employer would find out about my immigration status. I had been hiding for seven years, but I was done.

It’s not that the paranoia of my previous life ended: All of us Dreamers knew that DACA was a measure that provided temporary relief, subject to renewal. We all had our fingerprints taken, our criminal records scoured. We knew we needed to be good — so much depended on our good behavior. Undocumented students are generally pretty intense about following rules: We are tasked with proving that we belong here by being “perfect,” and we have to build respect for our families, who are sometimes in even more dangerous situations, and often even more careful about following rules.

This is something that is so misunderstood about Dreamers. We aren’t a group of young people who take our blessings for granted. We know how much rests on our shoulders.

The narrative about immigrants in this country is upsetting and wrong. I have never taken anything from anyone that did not belong to me, and I’ve worked hard for everything that I have achieved. Though undocumented immigrants contribute just as much as any other American, we don’t receive the same benefits. I pay taxes, but I don’t have health insurance. I can’t get state-funded financial aid in New York. I owe my hard-won college education not to the state, not to this country, but to my parents who paid out of their pockets and a scholarship and support from Make the Road New York, a community organization that supports undocumented youths.

I’ve worked hard to be able to study and build a future for myself, and with DACA it slowly started to pay off. I enrolled in a four-year college, and I’m close to getting my bachelor’s degree in public affairs.

To imagine that I might not be able to finish school, or that my degree might just be a useless paper on the wall because I won’t be able to get a job when I graduate, destroys me. My family could be separated; if I were to be deported, I would miss the childhoods of my niece and soon-to-be-born nephew. I want my family and my community to live free of this fear — the fear of being deported and the fear of seeking help, even when we’re sick.

I personally couldn’t go back into the shadows even if I tried. But the freedom I’ve gained, and the future I have worked so hard for, could be ripped away if DACA is repealed. What’s worse, I will probably find out about my future from a tweet by the president. Maybe it will all depend on his mood.

No matter what he says, the Dreamers are here to stay.

Amid Allegations, a Call for Essex County College’s Board to Resign

The Rev. Ronald Slaughter, center, and other clergy members are pushing for a change in how Essex County College operates. Credit Yana Paskova for The New York Times

NEWARK — A group of New Jersey religious leaders called for the resignation of the entire board of Essex County College Thursday and for federal and state investigations into allegations of financial malfeasance and undue political influence at the institution, which is in danger of losing its accreditation after years of mismanagement.

The demands, from a group of pastors representing about 20,000 congregants in Essex County, which includes Newark, came at a news conference held before a raucous four-hour meeting of the board.

“I think what’s going on here is criminal,” the Rev. Ronald L. Slaughter, the pastor of Saint James A.M.E. Church in Newark, said after the news conference. “That’s why we need a forensic audit and we need the state attorney general in here.”

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which grants accreditation to area colleges, warned in November that the 51-year-old two-year college was in danger of losing its accreditation because it did not comply with the group’s standards on governance structure, lacked financial controls and conflict of interest rules and had trouble retaining students.

The institution is also facing declining enrollment and financial difficulties, as well as possible sanctions from the United States Department of Education for submitting late audits, said Anthony Munroe, the college’s president, who has been in office for a little more than three months.

Mr. Munroe said the college’s official reply to the commission was submitted Thursday evening, one day before it was due and immediately after the board voted unanimously to approve it. The commission will send monitors to the school in October.

But even the college’s early response to the commission’s warnings caused controversy. The response was lacking, said the clergy members, because the school had yet to name a chief financial officer to help address concerns about its financial controls and governance.

“Why are we going to Middle States with an incomplete report? We don’t even have a C.F.O. How can you operate a corporation without a C.F.O.? That is ridiculous. That is absurd. That is ludicrous,” the Rev. Lanel D. Guyton, pastor of Saint Matthew A.M.E. Church in Orange, N.J., told the board of trustees.

Critics have blamed Joyce Harley, the school’s vice president of administration and finance, for much of the turbulence, saying that she is doing the bidding of Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., the Essex County executive.

Ms. Harley formerly worked as Essex County administrator, appointed by Mr. DiVincenzo, who also backed her, unsuccessfully, to become president of the college. Although the college is supposed to be independent, Mr. DiVincenzo appoints many of the board members.

“Your allegiance is not to this community, not to the people we serve, but to a political boss,” Bishop Jethro C. James, Jr., senior pastor of Paradise Baptist Church in Newark, told the board.

The college has had three presidents since the resignation of the highly regarded and longtime former president A. Zachary Yamba in 2010. Mr. Yamba’s supporters say the college owes him money from the months after he came out of retirement to try, unsuccessfully, to stem chaos at the institution where the main campus building is named in his honor.

There are also several lawsuits from employees claiming wrongful termination and whistle-blower protection, some of which name Ms. Harley as a defendant.

“What you have here is a cancer in your organization and you have to do something about it or it will take over your entire body,” said the Rev. H. William Rutherford, III, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Orange.

Critics say it was Ms. Harley who scuttled the most recent attempt by Mr. Munroe to hire a chief financial officer, a charge she does not deny.

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About 15,000 students attend Essex County College. Credit Yana Paskova for The New York Times

“I did not find that candidate worthy,” said Ms. Harley who said she decided to speak during the public comment section of the board meeting because so many accusations had been hurled at her. “This was not the right place for that particular person,” she added.

Ms. Harley accused Mr. Munroe of altering the qualifications of the job description while also changing the school’s governance structure so that the chief financial officer reported directly to him instead of the vice president of administration and finance.

“I did not ask for the C.F.O. to report to me. The board put that structure up,” Ms. Harley said. “Those are the rules. I follow the rules.”

The idea that the financial officer would report to anyone other than the president is indicative of the depth of the problems the college is facing, the religious leaders said.

“There’s almost no corporate institution on the face of the earth where a C.F.O. reports to the vice president,” said the Rev. David Jefferson Sr., pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark. “You can’t hold people accountable for results if you are going to tie their hands.”

Ms. Harley did not directly respond to calls for her resignation but quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during her remarks.

“When you stand up and you speak up and you speak truth to power, you will often be vilified and demonized,” she said.

Mr. DiVincenzo, who clergy leaders thought would attend the news conference or the board meeting, instead issued a statement saying the college was at a “critical crossroads” while denying any wrongdoing.

“Although I nominate members to the board of trustees, I have never interfered with college business,” Mr. DiVincenzo said. “This is a landmark institution that has nurtured the American dream for generations of students. It cannot and will not fail.”

Mr. DiVincenzo’s comment about the college’s importance was the only thing the two sides seem to agree on.

Speaker after speaker spoke of the college’s survival as a civil rights issue because of the opportunity it provides to the 15,000 mostly black and Latino students who attend. Many Essex County College students hope to move on to a four-year institution such as Rutgers University.

“I believe in what this institution stands for,” said Mr. Munroe, the former president of Malcolm X College in Chicago.

He called the challenges serious but said that he has begun to put into effect both short-term and long-term solutions.

“You hired me to do a job. Allow me to do my job,” Mr. Munroe said to thunderous applause in a speech at the end of the meeting.

Tarrick Tucker attended the college from 2012 to 2016 and graduated with an associate in science degree in paralegal studies.

“The school, to me, meant chance after chance after chance. The people I’m losing on the streets need this chance,” Mr. Tucker said.

Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues

Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues

Kayla Delzer, a teacher in Mapleton, N.D., has created a flexible classroom where her third graders sit where they please and learn to post on Instagram. Tech companies are courting teachers like Ms. Delzer to help improve and promote their education tools. Credit Dan Koeck for The New York Times

MAPLETON, N.D. — One of the tech-savviest teachers in the United States teaches third grade here at Mapleton Elementary, a public school with about 100 students in the sparsely populated plains west of Fargo.

Her name is Kayla Delzer. Her third graders adore her. She teaches them to post daily on the class Twitter and Instagram accounts she set up. She remodeled her classroom based on Starbucks. And she uses apps like Seesaw, a student portfolio platform where teachers and parents may view and comment on a child’s schoolwork.

Ms. Delzer also has a second calling. She is a schoolteacher with her own brand, Top Dog Teaching. Education start-ups like Seesaw give her their premium classroom technology as well as swag like T-shirts or freebies for the teachers who attend her workshops. She agrees to use their products in her classroom and give the companies feedback. And she recommends their wares to thousands of teachers who follow her on social media.

“I will embed it in my brand every day,” Ms. Delzer said of Seesaw. “I get to make it better.”

Ms. Delzer is a member of a growing tribe of teacher influencers, many of whom promote classroom technology. They attract notice through their blogs, social media accounts and conference talks. And they are cultivated not only by start-ups like Seesaw, but by giants like Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, to influence which tools are used to teach American schoolchildren.

Their ranks are growing as public schools increasingly adopt all manner of laptops, tablets, math teaching sites, quiz apps and parent-teacher messaging apps. The corporate courtship of these teachers brings with it profound new conflict-of-interest issues for the nation’s public schools.

Moreover, there is little rigorous research showing whether or not the new technologies significantly improve student outcomes.

More than two dozen education start-ups have enlisted teachers as brand ambassadors. Some give the teachers inexpensive gifts like free classroom technology or T-shirts. Last year, TenMarks, a math-teaching site owned by Amazon, offered Amazon gift cards to teachers who acted as company advisers, and an additional $80 gift card for writing a post on its blog, according to a TenMarks online forum.

Teachers said that more established start-ups gave them pricier perks like travel expenses to industry-sponsored conferences attended by thousands of teachers. In exchange, teacher ambassadors often promote company products on social media or in their conference talks — sometimes without explicitly disclosing their relationships with their sponsors.

Many public schools are facing tight budgets, and administrators, including the principal at Ms. Delzer’s school, said they welcomed potentially valuable free technology and product training. Even so, some education experts warned that company incentives might influence teachers to adopt promoted digital tools over rival products or even traditional approaches, like textbooks.

“Teachers can’t help but be seduced to make greater use of the technology, given these efforts by tech companies,” said Samuel E. Abrams, director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Public-school teachers who accept perks, meals or anything of value in exchange for using a company’s products in their classrooms could also run afoul of school district ethics policies or state laws regulating government employees.

Nicholas Provenzano, an educator and tech brand ambassador in the Detroit area, demonstrating a product at the International Society for Technology in Education conference in Denver last year. Credit Nick Cote for The New York Times

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Educators at a reception that Amazon hosted at the Denver conference. Credit Nick Cote for The New York Times

“Any time you are paying a public employee to promote a product in the public classroom without transparency, then that’s problematic,” said James E. Tierney, a former attorney general of Maine who is a lecturer at Harvard Law School. “Should attorneys general be concerned about this practice? The answer is yes.”

Ms. Delzer and other educators forcefully argue that they’re motivated by altruism, and not company-bestowed status or gifts. “I am in this profession for kids,” Ms. Delzer said, “not for notoriety or the money.”

At a time when teachers shell out an average of $600 of their own money every year just to buy student supplies like pencils — and make pleas for student laptops on DonorsChoose.org, a fund-raising site — it’s understandable that teachers would embrace free classroom technology.

“My kids have access to awesome things that, as a district, we could never afford,” said Nicholas Provenzano, an English teacher in the Detroit area who is an ambassador for companies that make $1,299 3-D printers and $300 coding kits. He noted that he had apprised his school, and his students, of his company ties.

Another important draw for teachers, who already often feel underappreciated: Having tech companies, the icons of American society, seek their views provides welcome attention. “Teachers have really responded well to feeling like they are being listened to,” said Carl Sjogreen, a co-founder of Seesaw.

The benefits to companies are substantial. Many start-ups enlist their ambassadors as product testers and de facto customer service representatives who can field other teachers’ queries.

Apple, Google and Microsoft, which are in education partly to woo students as lifetime users of their products, have more sophisticated teacher efforts — with names like the Apple Distinguished Educators program, Google for Education’s Certified Innovator Program and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert program. Each yearlong program selects teachers to attend a conference and work with the company to help create, or develop, education innovations, often using company tools. The tech giants position their programs as professional development for teachers, not marketing exercises.

Microsoft and Apple said they worked with schools to make sure any conference travel expenses they covered for teachers complied with district ethics rules. Google said it provided meals but not teachers’ travel expenses.

An Amazon representative, responding to a question about the gift cards that TenMarks offered to certain teachers last year, said that the company had not given that incentive recently and that it had procedures “to ensure our compliance with applicable laws and to help facilitate teachers’ obligations to their schools.”

The competition for these teacher evangelists has become so fierce that GoEnnounce, a one-year-old platform where students can share profiles of their accomplishments, decided to offer a financial incentive — a 15 percent cut of any school sales that resulted from referrals — to Ms. Delzer and a few other selected teachers just to try to keep up with rival companies’ perks.

So far, no teacher has asked for the payment, said Melissa Davis, GoEnnounce’s chief executive. Still, she said, teacher referrals accounted for 20 percent of GoEnnounce’s first-year sales.

“These champions are really essential in giving us a really powerful foot in the door to meet with districts and schools,” Ms. Davis said.

The medical profession has long wrestled with a similar issue: Can pharmaceutical-company gifts like speaking fees or conference junkets influence physicians to prescribe certain medications? A recent study of nearly 280,000 doctors concluded that physicians who received even one free meal promoting a specific brand of medicine prescribed that medication at significantly higher rates than they did similar drugs. Drug makers are now required by law to provide details on their payments — including gifts, meals and fees for promotional speeches — to a range of physicians and academic medical centers.

Unlike industry influence in medicine, however, the phenomenon of company-affiliated teachers has received little scrutiny. Twitter alone is rife with educators broadcasting their company-bestowed titles.

“If medical experts started saying, ‘I’m a Google Certified Doctor’ or ‘I’m a Pfizer Distinguished Nurse,’ people would be up in arms,” said Douglas A. Levin, president of EdTech Strategies, a consulting firm.

Another issue: The Federal Trade Commission considers sponsored posts to be a form of advertising. It expects people who receive a product, a meal or anything else of value from a company, in exchange for promoting a product, to disclose that sponsorship when they endorse the product.

This is true for celebrities and teachers alike. And it applies equally to conferences, YouTube videos, personal blogs or Twitter posts.

Some teachers and start-ups said they were not aware of those guidelines.

“If you are receiving any sort of incentive to promote the company’s product, that is what we call a material relationship,” said Mary K. Engle, associate director of the trade commission’s division of advertising practices, “and that has to be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the endorsement message.”

For some teachers, corporate relationships can be steppingstones to lucrative speaking or training engagements. Schools often hire company-connected educators to give training sessions to their teachers. And technology conferences for teachers often book influential teachers as speakers.

Ms. Delzer said her fees for such events started at several thousand dollars a day. Some veteran education influencers charge much more.

To do it all, Ms. Delzer negotiated a special contract with her district, allowing her to take 10 unpaid days off a year. She uses those days off to give speeches and run teacher workshops for other schools.

She spends some evenings and weekends doing her consulting work. She also co-founded her own teacher training conference, called Happy Go Teach.

“It’s like two full-time jobs,” Ms. Delzer said.

The Starbucks Classroom

Just before 8:30 a.m. on school days, Ms. Delzer, 32, stations herself at the classroom door. She greets each of her third graders by name, ushering them in one by one with a brief shoulder squeeze. “I want them to feel love when they walk in,” she said.

If her classroom looks less like a traditional schoolroom and more like a den — with a colorful rug and inspirational signs exhorting children to “DREAM” and “LAUGH” — that is no accident. A few years ago, Ms. Delzer decided to remodel her classroom to foster the kind of independent work habits she thought her students would need in life.

So she ditched the standard-issue desks and rearranged the room to look more like the place where she goes to work on her conference talks: her local Starbucks. Today, her third graders sit wherever they please — on cushions, rocking chairs, balance balls.

Ms. Delzer said she devoted herself to her students during school hours, with conference talks restricted to days off and her consulting work to weekends and some school nights. “It’s like two full-time jobs,” she said. Credit Dan Koeck for The New York Times

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Ms. Delzer’s “Starbucks for kids” classroom, which she wrote about in an industry publication, earned her national attention. Credit Dan Koeck for The New York Times

“If I’m just feeling like relaxing, I usually sit on the rockers or the ball chairs or the beanbag chairs,” Jennings, a third grader in Ms. Delzer’s class last spring, explained. “But if I want to be really, really focused, then I usually feel like going on something a little harder so that I don’t lose concentration.”

The “Starbucks for kids” classroom proved so successful that Ms. Delzer wrote about it for EdSurge, an industry publication, in 2015. The article quickly spread in education circles.

Sitting in her local Starbucks in West Fargo, Ms. Delzer noted: “If you Google ‘Starbucks Classroom,’ it’s a thing now.”

But Ms. Delzer said she did not start out seeking to influence the practice of teaching. It was serendipity, she said, and an iPad experiment.

In 2011, Ms. Delzer’s school, in Thief River Falls, Minn., bought a few iPads and asked her to try using them in class. Two years later, her school’s technology director suggested that they speak at an education conference about her experiment.

That was when Ms. Delzer realized, she said, that by addressing her peers, she could reach vastly more students.

“I see the ripple effect on teachers who leave the conference,” she said. “It’s really gratifying to know that those classrooms are better because of it.”

One of Ms. Delzer’s students making a voice recording last spring explaining his answer to a math problem. Credit Dan Koeck for The New York Times

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Guidelines that Ms. Delzer’s class drew up included “I will choose a seat where I can work productively.” Credit Dan Koeck for The New York Times

She soon found herself a bigger stage — at TEDxFargo, a local chapter of the well-known TED conference. It was 2015, and she spoke about using technology and other approaches to give students more autonomy. The YouTube video of her talk has racked up more than 127,000 views.

Today, so many teachers from other districts want to visit her classroom that Mapleton Elementary has set aside every Tuesday to host them. “We limit it to four teachers a day,” Ms. Delzer said.

Education Disrupted

A series examining how Silicon Valley is gaining influence in public schools.

Some non-tech companies, too, are eager to harness her star power by providing their products at no charge.

“BIG THANKS to our friends @TradeWestEDU for the new chairs, bean bags and tables!” Ms. Delzer tweeted in January after Trade West Equipment, an office and school supplier, furnished items for her classroom. “We are loving our new #flexibleseating options!”

Potential for Conflict

One morning last spring, Ms. Delzer assigned her third graders a math problem to solve on their iPads using Seesaw. Developed by two former Facebook product managers, Seesaw lets students produce and share their schoolwork as written notes, diagrams, audio recordings or videos.

Some children love the sharing aspect. “They can see what you are doing now that we have Seesaw,” McCoy, a third grader in Ms. Delzer’s class, said of his parents. “Other years they couldn’t — they were only able to see on your papers.”

Ms. Delzer is also an ambassador for Seesaw, an unpaid post. “Seesaw, my teacher heart loves you :-),” Ms. Delzer wrote on Instagram this year with a video clip showing her students using the program. It was seen more than 6,500 times.

Teaching, by nature, is a helping profession. And educators have a long tradition of sharing ideas with colleagues.

Ms. Delzer explaining a math exercise on Seesaw, an online portfolio service that lets students diagram their answers or record themselves explaining their reasoning. Credit Dan Koeck for The New York Times

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Jennings, a student who was in Ms. Delzer’s class, explaining how he worked out a math problem.
Two of Ms. Delzer’s third graders planning for their next assignment: using paper plates and cups to construct a roller coaster that can smoothly carry a marble. Credit Dan Koeck for The New York Times

Ms. Delzer said she did not see a conflict between her teaching and other activities. She said she deliberately divided her work, devoting herself to her students during school hours while giving conference talks on days off and working with companies on some school nights.

“It’s really important to keep the two things separate,” she said.

She added that she worked only with companies whose products she personally believed in. Those relationships, she said, gave her valuable access to resources that could benefit her students, colleagues and teacher followers.

“If I am going to put my name on it, it either has to make learning better for students or teaching better for teachers,” Ms. Delzer said.

But companies that tap public-school teachers to use or promote their products in exchange for perks are effectively engaging the educators as consultants — a situation that could conflict with teachers’ obligations to their employer: schools.

According to the Seesaw site, for instance, the company expects its teacher ambassadors to “use Seesaw regularly in your classroom,” host two Seesaw-related conference talks or workshops annually and participate in Seesaw discussions online. In exchange, Seesaw offers teachers a subscription to its $120 premium service, product previews and a company badge to post on their profiles.

Joel R. Reidenberg, a professor at Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan, said those kinds of arrangements could violate state or school district conflict-of-interest rules governing public employees.

“Vendors offering free technology to teachers for their personal or professional use in exchange for teachers promoting it to students or other teachers is a very questionable activity,” Professor Reidenberg said.

Tim Jacobson, the principal of Mapleton Elementary School, where Ms. Delzer teaches, offered a different view. He described the company-teacher relationships as mutually beneficial for schools and industry. After Ms. Delzer developed a relationship with Seesaw, he noted, the company gave every Mapleton teacher a premium subscription and training sessions.

“It’s a real advantage when she comes back and she shares with us what she sees happening at the forefront of education,” Mr. Jacobson said. “Plus, it is good recognition for Mapleton Elementary School. We do a lot of things you wouldn’t expect in a school of our size.”

Mr. Sjogreen, the Seesaw co-founder, said that his company’s ambassador program did not pay teachers and that its premium software was not valuable enough to be a draw for them.

“There is nothing that we are doing really to incentivize teachers to become ambassadors,” he said. “To the extent that they give us great feedback and help us spread the word, we are happy to support them to become more knowledgeable.”

Ms. Delzer has also served as an Amazon Education “Teacher Innovator”; a “Digital Image Champion” for GoEnnounce, the student portfolio platform; a brand ambassador for GoNoodle, a classroom activity app; and a “Lead Digital Innovator” for PBS LearningMedia, the education arm of the nonprofit broadcasting company.

The Lesson of Drug Makers

One evening last spring, Mr. Provenzano, the English teacher and tech company ambassador, came home from school and went downstairs to his basement.

He had just finished teaching “To Kill a Mockingbird” in his English classes at Grosse Pointe South, a public high school in a Detroit suburb. And he had given his students an unusual choice of assignments: They could make traditional class presentations, or use computer-assisted design software to draft objects illustrating themes from the novel.

Mr. Provenzano used a Dremel 3-D printer to turn his students’ designs into real objects in his basement workshop in Michigan. Credit Brittany Greeson for The New York Times

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At Grosse Pointe South High School last spring, Mr. Provenzano helped a student design an object inspired by “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Credit Brittany Greeson for The New York Times

At a time when many teachers feel constrained by curriculum requirements, Mr. Provenzano said digital tools provided a creative outlet. The design software assignment also took advantage of his side business, called The Nerdy Teacher. Mr. Provenzano consults for education technology companies, and his basement is chock-full of the electronics they send him to try.

Now, he used a $1,299 3-D printer sent to him by Dremel, a tool brand for which he is an ambassador, to turn his students’ designs into three-dimensional objects. He printed one student’s design, a gavel, representing the struggle for justice in the novel.

Later he posted a photo of the gavel on Twitter, mentioning the brand: “Student designed and @DremelEdu 3D40 printed gavel for a To Kill a Mockingbird presentation.”

Mr. Provenzano also blogs and gives conference presentations to teachers, sharing interesting ways that he uses the 3-D printers. “I feel comfortable saying teachers have bought Dremel because of me,” he said.

This teacher-influencer soft sell may be new in schools. But researchers who study medical marketing recognize it from techniques used for years by the pharmaceutical industry.

Drug makers have long cultivated doctors to promote brand-name medicines to their peers. Insiders have a nickname for these doctors: “Key Opinion Leaders.” Among other things, drug makers have paid physician influencers to give talks about company drugs, sent them on junkets and lavished them with fancy dinners.

If the ed-tech industry is now replicating these strategies, it is because, at least in medicine, they work.

“These techniques encourage the use of the product being promoted rather than evidence-based practices,” said Dr. Aaron S. Kesselheim, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who has studied how drug company payments influence doctors. “There is evidence that even a small amount of money, like a meal, can influence prescribing.”

An electronic whiteboard in Mr. Provenzano’s classroom last spring displaying a design for a gavel, representing the theme of justice from “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Credit Brittany Greeson for The New York Times

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Amazon sponsored a workshop during which Mr. Provenzano showed teachers how to use 3-D printers at the International Society for Technology in Education conference last year. Credit Nick Cote for The New York Times

Some academic medical centers now prohibit their doctors from giving industry-sponsored speeches. And some drug companies have stopped giving doctors swag.

But there has been little public discussion about the ramifications of similar tech industry cultivation of teachers.

Mr. Provenzano said he did not see a conflict of interest between his teaching and industry affiliations, noting that his blog prominently listed his company affiliations. He added that school districts often hired him to train their teachers precisely because his industry relationships had helped him become an expert.

He left his public-school teaching job over the summer and started a position as director of maker spaces at a nearby private school. “These ambassadorships helped me get this job,” Mr. Provenzano said.

Some ambassador programs involve formal contracts that may take advantage of well-meaning teachers, legal experts said. For instance, a document online reviewed by The New York Times titled “Dremel Idea Builder Ambassador Agreement” contains a number of stipulations for teachers.

Among other things, the document said the company would provide a 3-D printer in exchange for a teacher’s developing at least one four-minute video tutorial every other month featuring a classroom project using the device. It required the teacher to give Dremel-related presentations at two or more conferences. The document, as written, also included a noncompete clause prohibiting teachers from working with other 3-D printing companies.

And Professor Reidenberg of Fordham Law pointed out that the document reviewed by The Times would give Dremel the right to settle any legal claims arising from the teacher’s work, while making the teacher liable for legal costs. “This clause could bankrupt the teacher,” Professor Reidenberg said.

Linda Beckmeyer, a spokeswoman for Bosch, the maker of Dremel, said its contract with teachers was confidential and declined to discuss its terms.

“The purpose of the ambassador program is to advance the maker movement in education by giving teachers and students access to 3-D printing,” she said.

‘We Are Not All Kim Kardashians’

Earlier this year, after school, Ms. Delzer drove to Kittsona, a trendy midpriced clothing boutique in Fargo. She already had a host of speaking engagements on her calendar, and she wanted new outfits to wear to them.

The Kittsona staff greeted her like a V.I.P.

Kayla Delzer during a fitting with Sarah Henning at Kittsona, a boutique in Fargo, N.D. Kittsona provides Ms. Delzer with free clothing for her speaking engagements; in exchange, she promotes Kittsona on social media. Credit Dan Koeck for The New York Times

Last year, the store’s owners agreed to outfit Ms. Delzer free of charge after she asked them to sponsor her in exchange for her tagging Kittsona on social media. Now, a stylist rushed about, picking out cute sleeveless dresses, embroidered tunics, layered necklaces and suede bootees for the teacher to try on.

Kittsona ran several promotions this year in which Ms. Delzer offered her Instagram followers a store discount. Each one directly resulted in 50 to 100 sales, said Nicole Johnson, Kittsona’s co-owner.

It was an indication, she said, that young working women were responding to Ms. Delzer’s ambitious-but-approachable schoolteacher brand. “We are not all Kim Kardashians,” Ms. Johnson said.

An hour or so later, Ms. Delzer left the boutique laden with shopping bags. But her working day was hardly done.

After dinner, Ms. Delzer installed herself at her kitchen counter. Dozens of emails from companies, conferences, publishers and teacher fans on social media needed responses.

Ms. Delzer, at home, planning events over Skype with her co-founding partner in Happy Go Teach, a series of teacher training workshops. Credit Dan Koeck for The New York Times

Ms. Delzer recalled how, when she was starting out a few years ago, some veteran teacher influencers snubbed her. Tonight, she would try to respond to as many requests as possible. “I just drink a lot of coffee,” she said.

If her Top Dog Teaching fans nationwide love her, so do her third graders. One reason is that she often treats them like budding adults.

Every fall, for instance, Ms. Delzer holds a social media boot camp to teach her students how to run the class Instagram and Twitter accounts. She teaches them rules like “never share your password” and helps them understand how to maintain an upbeat online image.

After all, the class accounts, called TopDogKids, are essentially an offshoot of her own.

“You don’t want to post something bad,” McCoy, the third grader, said, “because if you want a job, those people are probably going to look at your social media page and they are going to decide if they’ll let you have the job.”

Lest they forget, a sign on the classroom wall reminded students and teacher alike: “I am building my digital footprint every day.”

Gracie was selected by Ms. Delzer to run the class Instagram account, called TopDogKids, for a day. Credit Dan Koeck for The New York Times

You’ll Never Be Famous — And That’s O.K.

Credit Charlotte Ager

Today’s college students desperately want to change the world, but too many think that living a meaningful life requires doing something extraordinary and attention-grabbing like becoming an Instagram celebrity, starting a wildly successful company or ending a humanitarian crisis.

Having idealistic aspirations is, of course, part of being young. But thanks to social media, purpose and meaning have become conflated with glamour: Extraordinary lives look like the norm on the internet. Yet the idea that a meaningful life must be or appear remarkable is not only elitist but also misguided. Over the past five years, I’ve interviewed dozens of people across the country about what gives their lives meaning, and I’ve read through thousands of pages of psychology, philosophy and neuroscience research to understand what truly brings people satisfaction.

The most meaningful lives, I’ve learned, are often not the extraordinary ones. They’re the ordinary ones lived with dignity.

There’s perhaps no better expression of that wisdom than George Eliot’s “Middlemarch,” a book I think every college student should read. At 700-some pages, it requires devotion and discipline, which is kind of the point. Much like a meaningful life, the completion of this book is hard won and requires effort. The heroine of the novel is Dorothea Brooke, a wealthy young gentlewoman in a provincial English town. Dorothea has a passionate temperament and yearns to accomplish some good in the world as a philanthropist. The novel’s hero, Tertius Lydgate, is an ambitious young doctor who hopes to make important scientific discoveries. Both hope to lead epic lives.

Both Dorothea and Tertius end up in disastrous marriages — she to the vicar Mr. Casaubon, he to the town beauty Rosamond. Slowly, their dreams wither away. Rosamond, who turns out to be vain and superficial, wants Tertius to pursue a career lucrative enough to support her indulgent tastes, and by the end of the novel, he acquiesces, abandoning his scientific quest to become a doctor to the rich. Though conventionally “successful,” he dies at 50 believing himself a failure for not following through on his original life plan.

As for Dorothea, after the Reverend Casaubon dies, she marries her true love, Will Ladislaw. But her larger ambitions go unrealized. At first it seems that she, too, has wasted her potential.

Tertius’s tragedy is that he never reconciles himself to his humdrum reality. Dorothea’s triumph is that she does.

By novel’s end, she settles into life as a wife and a mother, and becomes, Eliot writes, the “foundress of nothing.” It may be a letdown for the reader, but not for Dorothea. She pours herself into her roles as mother and wife with “beneficent activity which she had not the doubtful pains of discovering and marking out for herself.”

Looking out her window one day, she sees a family making its way down the road and realizes that she, too, is “a part of that involuntary, palpitating life, and could neither look out on it from her luxurious shelter as a mere spectator, nor hide her eyes in selfish complaining.” In other words, she begins to live in the moment. Rather than succumb to the despair of thwarted dreams, she embraces her life as it is and contributes to those around her as she can.

This is Eliot’s final word on Dorothea: “Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

It’s one of the most beautiful passages in literature, and it encapsulates what a meaningful life is about: connecting and contributing to something beyond the self, in whatever humble form that may take.

Most young adults won’t achieve the idealistic goals they’ve set for themselves. They won’t become the next Mark Zuckerberg. They won’t have obituaries that run in newspapers like this one. But that doesn’t mean their lives will lack significance and worth. We all have a circle of people whose lives we can touch and improve — and we can find our meaning in that.

A new and growing body of research within psychology about meaningfulness confirms the wisdom of Eliot’s novel — that meaning is found not in success and glamour but in the mundane. One research study showed that adolescents who did household chores felt a stronger sense of purpose. Why? The researchers believe it’s because they’re contributing to something bigger: their family. Another study found that cheering up a friend was an activity that created meaning in a young adult’s life. People who see their occupations as an opportunity to serve their immediate community find more meaning in their work, whether it’s an accountant helping his client or a factory worker supporting her family with a paycheck.

As students head to school this year, they should consider this: You don’t have to change the world or find your one true purpose to lead a meaningful like. A good life is a life of goodness — and that’s something anyone can aspire to, no matter their dreams or circumstances.

Private University in North Korea Reopens Despite Travel Ban

Students at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology during a seminar and lecture in 2011. Credit David Guttenfelder/Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — The only foreign-funded private university in North Korea started a new semester on Monday, but without its usual American professors because of Washington’s ban on travel to the country, university officials said.

The travel ban, which took effect Friday, has threatened the operation of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a school in the North Korean capital that was financed by evangelical Christians abroad.

The university has been relying on 60 to 80 volunteer professors from the outside, about half of them Americans. It can no longer accept American volunteers unless it wins exemptions from the travel ban.

For now, the fall semester started with 20 to 25 non-American foreign volunteers, according to Colin McCulloch, the university’s director of external relations.

The university said in a statement that it was recruiting more non-American volunteers willing to teach there.

Under the travel restrictions, an American passport is no longer valid for travel to North Korea. Among the hardest hit were humanitarian workers who have been operating in the impoverished country.

Washington has said it would consider a one-time, special-validation visa for journalists, humanitarian workers, Red Cross officials and those who travel for “the national interest.” The Pyongyang university said it would apply for such a visa for American volunteers.

The university’s founding chairman, James Kim, and its chancellor, Park Chan-mo, both American passport- holders, visited the campus in August but had to leave last week before the travel ban went into effect, university officials said.

The United States announced the travel ban in July in response to the death of Otto F. Warmbier, an American college student who had been serving a 15-year sentence of hard labor in North Korea after being convicted of trying to steal a political poster. Mr. Warmbier, who was 22, died in June shortly after the North released him. He had been in a coma for more than a year.

The ban came into effect amid heightened tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea’s latest nuclear test.

The Pyongyang university was founded in 2010 with the goal of helping North Korea’s future elite learn the skills to modernize and open up the isolated country. It provides students with an education they cannot get elsewhere — computer science, agriculture, international finance and management, all conducted in English by an international faculty. Its Christian teachers are forbidden to preach.

But the university’s rare experiment came into question as two of its volunteers, both of them Korean-Americans, were detained this year by the North Korean authorities on vague charges of committing “hostile acts.”

‘Hamilton’ Hip-Hop, by Students

Amir Ferguson, Se’von Young and Jerimiah Williams represent the Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men on the Chicago stage of “Hamilton.” Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

You can draw a direct line from the founding fathers to issues and concerns of today in these verses. In a curriculum created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, students study how Lin-Manuel Miranda used primary source documents to write raps for his Broadway show on Alexander Hamilton. They then choose a founding-era person or event on which to base their own creation. One presentation from each participating school gets stage time before students attend a performance of the show. As the “Hamilton” national tour expands (next opening: Los Angeles on Aug. 11), so does the curriculum. The institute, which has been integrating history into classrooms for more than 20 years, expects its Hamilton Education Program to reach 250,000 public school students across the country.

We created this issue’s Pop Quiz by excerpting snippets of student presentations and dropping out the key word(s). Fill in the blanks by clicking on one of the answer options, and watch a video of each performance.

 

1 of 8

It was the year 1750 and I had escaped from slavery

No cloak on my back

No home to relax

Just pursuit from my master like a panic attack

They put out an ad that rewarded my capture

Land of the free?

More like land of disaster

My name’s __ __,

The first death of the Boston Massacre.

Jose Avalus, Nicholas Jaochico and Jeremiah Juzix, Mount Eden High School, Hayward, Calif.

2 of 8

My children, fortunate enough to have three,

All died from disease

My husband has been taken away from me

But still I rise

I am __ __, the first of many African writers to grace the pages with my ink

Broken down barriers, stereotypes, discrimination and accomplishments

“Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain,

May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.”

Alyssa Martinez, Renaissance High School for Musical Theater and Technology, the Bronx

3 of 8

It was a harsh winter when we settled at __ __.

The air was crisp, the ground covered with snow.

My troops, suffering.

Was this a test for us?

Or was this the end?

12,000 men

Many lacking shoes, clothes, blankets and food.

12,000 men

Fighting diseases and hunger.

12,000 men

In need of salvation.

Congress, please

Help our poor souls survive the cold winter.

And fight for our freedom.

12,000 men

continued to train for battle,

The promise of liberty keeping us alive.

It was a harsh winter down by __ __,

A frozen hell.

But a small price to pay for freedom.

Cassandra Gatica, Thurgood Marshall Academic High School, San Francisco

4 of 8

I am on the $1 bill

I am on the quarter.

I once said “__ __ may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

Tyreek Brown and Ralik McPherson, High School for Civil Rights, Brooklyn

5 of 8

WASHINGTON: All right, I call this __ __ to session.

We need to quickly make some new law to cure this tension.

Shays’ Rebellion made Boston spend a few too many dollars,

So if anyone’s got anything better, let me hear you holla!

MADISON: Your honor, I have a way to end these shenanigans.

Named the __ __, by yours truly, James Madison.

Two Houses, combined with representation by population,

For the fate of our nation, I think it’s a great foundation.

HAMILTON: Hold it right there! Giving only big states all the power?

I think you need to reconsider your life in the shower!

Long Tran, Kevin Do and Aaron Tran, KIPP San Jose Collegiate (Calif.)

6 of 8

Coming home from the war and in need of some whiskey

Then I got some news that really upset me

A __ __on liquor? What were they thinking?

Cause now I’m mad and I wanna start drinking.

Osariemen Uwaifo and Christopher Zaragoza, Broome Street Academy, New York

7 of 8

I learn about presidents when I’m in school.

__ __ was president No. 2.

Graduated from Harvard Law School.

Did one term he couldn’t do two.

Amir Ferguson, Jerimiah Williams and Se’von Young, Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, West campus, Chicago

 

8 of 8

You were new to the country, an immigrant don’t you see.

I took you in as a friend, then you went and betrayed me.

How dare you choose Thomas Jefferson over me!

Don’t worry this can all be settled.

Just take back your words,
and then we can go back to being the old Hamilton and __.

Janea Herbert and Mina Bunch, Thornton High School, Mount Vernon, N.Y.

More Diversity Means More Demands

More Diversity Means More Demands

Students are protesting for official recognition of their identities, whether racial, ethnic, sexual, religious, first-generation, low-income or immigrant.

A message claiming cultural appropriation, painted on the “free speech wall” at Pitzer College, was one of several polarizing episodes in a strife-filled semester at the Claremont Colleges.Credit

Last semester was a stormy one for the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of seven elite institutions in suburban Los Angeles.

As the 2017 school year came to a close, protesters at Pomona College staged a sit-in, symbolically unregistered themselves from sociology classes and called for rescinding a visiting scholar post that was awarded to Alice Goffman, a white sociologist who chronicled the impact of prison and policing on black youth. In an open letter to the sociology department they demanded “peer-appointed influential student positions on the hiring committee.”

By then, students were already well practiced in making their demands known.

A few weeks earlier, at Claremont McKenna, so many had protested the appearance of Heather Mac Donald, a Black Lives Matter critic, that she ended up addressing a mostly empty hall while the event was live-streamed. Several black students then wrote David W. Oxtoby, Pomona’s outgoing president, demanding an apology for the “patronizing” email he sent on academic freedom in response to the Mac Donald protest and asking what “steps the institution will take and the resources it will allocate” for “marginalized students.” They also ordered action against student journalists at the conservative Claremont Independent “for its continual perpetuation of hate speech, anti-Blackness, and intimidation toward students of marginalized backgrounds.”

The previous month, a call-out painted in looping yellow letters on a Pitzer College “free speech wall” against cultural appropriation — “White Girl, Take OFF your hoops!!!” — had escalated into widespread criticism of the wall painters.

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Campuses that have prided themselves on increased diversity in admissions are now wrestling with students who want more control over the institutions they attend, including a say in hiring (even of visiting professors), housing (a theme house at the University of California, Santa Cruz, must be painted in Pan-African colors) and curriculum (among nearly 50 demands presented to the University of Chicago: the creation of courses on the Islamic golden age, sequences on Caribbean and Southeast Asian civilizations, and a required diversity/inclusion course).

All this might remind old-timers of calls in the late 1960s and ’70s to institutionalize a more diverse viewpoint, leading to the establishment of black studies departments. Ralph F. Young, a historian who runs weekly “Dissent in America Teach-ins” at Temple University, predicts that “we will have the 1960s all over again.” But where that era’s activists focused on a few issues, he said, “now it is about everything — everything is under attack.”

Listening In on Portland State Activists

Listening In on Portland State Activists

Students plan recruitment strategies for the new school year: Demand and disorient.

Kaitlyn Dey, an activist at Portland State in Oregon.CreditLaura Pappano

The Portland State University Student Union explains itself on Twitter as “your friendly, neighborhood, radical student action team.”

One evening in June, its leaders convened at a cafeteria table in the basement of the student union to talk recruiting strategy for the new academic year. Each meeting begins the same way: They say their names and preferred gender pronouns and then respond to an oddball question. Today it was: Matte or glossy? One preferred matte, one glossy and a third favored glossy in summer, matte in winter.

The discussion then turned to tabling on campus, fliers, banner drops and their 1,000-student list-serve.

Kaitlyn Dey, organizer for PSUSU (pronounced sue-sue), pointed out that membership surged after members stopped the president’s convocation speech in 2015 and led the auditorium in a chorus of protests.

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“I literally wrote down ‘Convocation Disruption 2.0,’ ” said Ms. Dey, a social work major and advocate for the houseless (because the street can be home). Michael Richardson, a graphic design major, reminded Ms. Dey they would get a new university president in August.

“There’s not any dirt on him yet,” Ms. Dey conceded, but added that PSUSU could make a list of demands like, “Here, new president, this is what we expect from you.”

This is the back end of organizing, 2017. And these days there’s usually a long list of demands.

PSUSU, founded four years ago to rage against student debt and spur empowerment, has expanded its focus. In the past year, the group led a walkout and die-in to oppose the arming of campus security. They rallied for a $15 minimum wage for campus workers, against a tuition increase, repeatedly counter-protested a pro-Trump campus group and heckled Chadwick Moore, a gay conservative speaker. They also joined the protests by Portland’s Resistance, a community group formed in 2016 to oppose Trump policies and build a Tea Party of the left.

“If you wanted to, you could protest every day in Portland — there would be an event for you,” said Gregory McKelvey, a co-founder of the Resistance and a student at Lewis & Clark Law School.

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From the University of Chicago to Portland State to Dartmouth, student activists publish Disorientation Guides to educate new students on the “sneaky truths” about their campuses.Credit

Some broadening is strategic: If you want people to show up to your protest, you have to show up to theirs. But to recruit you have to use words like “‘resistance’ and ‘Trump’ — and people are like, ‘Yeah!’” said Ms. Dey, who joined Portland’s Resistance last fall.

Around the cafeteria table, PSUSU members planned their Disorientation Guide, a popular recruiting tool. The zines add bite (“The Board of Oppressors … Oops I Mean Trustees”) to the barrage of institutional information at new-student orientation. This fall Portland State’s zine will include a map of gender-neutral bathrooms, locations of the food pantry and places to get medicine and condoms. Most important, it will be framed around “What does resistance look like during Trump?” with articles on knowing your rights and what to bring to a protest.

Student activists around the country publish Disorientation Guides to educate new students on the “sneaky truths” about their campuses, in the words of one distributed at Long Island University, Brooklyn. They highlight issues of concern (“a lack of accountability and transparency in the investment system at Vanderbilt”), offer tips (“If you do drugs at Tufts, how to do them smart”) and, above all, urge new students to activism.

One PSUSU edition offered a road map for the future. It featured a 1970 photo of Portland State students marching after the shootings of Kent State protesters with these words: “YOU, the students of Portland State University, have the power to change everything — the rules of the game; how it’s played; heck, even the game itself.”

Liberal Lessons in Taking Back America

Liberal Lessons in Taking Back America

Political organizing is tedious. Change comes with dogged, on-the-ground work, not a list of demands, according to Harvard Resistance School.

Michael Blake, vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, lectures on tactics.CreditM. Scott Brauer for The New York Times

Marshall Ganz, shirt sleeves rolled up, spread his arms wide with a “join me.” Hands came together, slowly at first, then in a flurry of rapid, synchronized thwacks. A member of the old left — he dropped out of Harvard in 1964 to fight for civil rights in Mississippi and for California farmworkers with Cesar Chavez — Dr. Ganz was teaching the unity clap, the audible calling card of the United Farmworkers of America 50 years earlier.

“It’s not a trivial thing at all,” said Dr. Ganz, who had returned to his studies and is now a Harvard professor. Clapping is a collective action that builds cohesion and gets attention, and chanting is “a way of celebrating and honoring the values that are being enacted through this work.”

This was the fun stuff. Political organizing is tedious. It involves gathering people, setting group norms, defining roles and goals. And dogged on-the-ground labor.

These also happen to be the core aims of Dr. Ganz’s audience, members of an unsanctioned “school” created last spring by Harvard graduate students cold-cocked by the Trump victory. For those on the left, the election yanked away the scrim of sweet reason.

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“For a long time we have been able to think that things have been pretty O.K.,” said Yasmin Radjy, one of 11 founders of the Resistance School, four sessions on political advocacy and action held in a lecture hall at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Opposing forces now look more threatening. It is what spurred the students to invite professors and political veterans to lecture on the tools necessary to drive sustainable political change. Semester two is in the works.

The Resistance School focuses on “practical skills for taking back America” at a moment when front-porch politicking seems lost to likes and shares, online memes and long lists of diversity demands.

A 50-person army, many in their navy blue Resistance School T-shirts, operated in teams with elflike efficiency at the Kennedy School, working at odd hours to produce video highlights, lecture notes, syllabus materials and homework assignments. During lectures, students gathered in the “war room,” its conference table dotted with room-temperature pizza slices, to live tweet and select questions for the speaker from Facebook submissions.

In a wave of interest that surprised the founders, the videos have had more than 175,000 views; Yale and Grinnell students held “watch parties.”

To the audience, the Resistance School offered fresh information. “I think we sort of lost the idea that there was a need for organizing,” said Nina Vyedin, Vassar class of 2011. Co-founder of Indivisible Somerville, a chapter of the Indivisible project directing communities in opposing the Trump agenda, she and her under-30 group had been “passively active,” donating to a campaign or posting a Facebook status. “We have lost community,” said Ms. Vyedin, who works at Microsoft. “We need to rebuild it.”

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Students work in the Resistance School “war room.”CreditM. Scott Brauer for The New York Times

The point of the Resistance School is to support groups like Ms. Vyedin’s in promoting progressive values, including in city councils and state legislatures. “We feel it is a mistake to make it all about the presidency,” said Ms. Radjy, who graduated in May. Yet the election made clear that, “as a generation, we are not as politically trained as we should be.”

“Politics requires in-person, face-to-face interactions,” she said, which is why homework assignments call for live conversations and group gatherings. “If you are not used to negotiating and listening to the other side, it’s easy to caricature the other side,” she said. Many students are not listening; anger has been elevated to a philosophy.

In the first session, Timothy Patrick McCarthy, who teaches politics and social movements at Harvard, cued up the tensions that brought them all there. He spoke about the prickly subject of values. “Some of us need to go into what they are calling Trump Country and understand the white working class,” he said. “Some of them need to come to our bubbles.”

“This particular moment,” he said, “feels like a crisis point, an inflection point, where we are called to action in bigger and bolder ways than before.”

As Coding Boot Camps Close, the Field Faces a Reality Check

In the last five years, dozens of schools have popped up offering an unusual promise: Even humanities graduates can learn how to code in a few months and join the high-paying digital economy. Students and their hopeful parents shelled out as much as $26,000 seeking to jump-start a career.

But the coding boot-camp field now faces a sobering moment, as two large schools have announced plans to shut down this year — despite backing by major for-profit education companies, Kaplan and the Apollo Education Group, the parent of the University of Phoenix.

The closings are a sign that years of heady growth led to a boot-camp glut, and that the field could be in the early stages of a shakeout.

“You can imagine this becoming a big industry, but not for 90 companies,” said Michael Horn, a principal consultant at Entangled Solutions, an education research and consulting firm.

The demand from employers is shifting and the schools must adapt. Many boot camps have not evolved beyond courses in basic web development, but companies are now often looking for more advanced coding skills.

One of the casualties, Dev Bootcamp, was a pioneer. It started in San Francisco in 2012 and grew to six schools with more than 3,000 graduates. Only three years ago, Kaplan, the biggest supplier of test-preparation courses, bought Dev Bootcamp and pledged bold expansion.

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A class at Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco. Though Dev Bootcamp grew quickly to include several campuses, it is closing at the end of the year. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

It is now closing at the end of the year.

Also closing is The Iron Yard, a boot camp that was founded in Greenville, S.C., in 2013 and swiftly spread to 15 campuses, from Las Vegas to Washington, D.C. Its main financial backer is the Apollo Education Group.

Since 2013, the number of boot camp schools in the United States has tripled to more than 90, and the number of graduates will reach nearly 23,000 in 2017, a tenfold jump from 2013, according to Course Report, which tracks the industry.

Tarlin Ray, who became president of Dev Bootcamp in April, said in an email that the school offered “a high-quality program” that helped thousands of people join the high-tech economy. “But we were simply unable to find a sustainable business model,” he wrote.

Iron Yard echoed that theme. In an email, Lelia King, a spokeswoman, said that while students benefited, the company was “ultimately unable to sustain our current business model.”

Boot camp courses, aimed at adults, vary in length and cost. Some can take 26 weeks or more, and tuition can reach $26,000. The average course length is just over 14 weeks, and the average cost is $11,400, according to Course Report.

The successful schools, analysts say, will increasingly be ones that expand their programs to suit the changing needs of employers. Some have already added courses like data science, artificial intelligence, digital marketing and project management. Other steps include tailoring courses for corporations, which need to update the skills of their workers, or develop online courses.

Ryan Craig, a managing director at University Ventures, which invests in education start-ups, including Galvanize, a large boot camp, predicted that the overall market would still grow. But students, he said, would become more concentrated in the schools with the best reputations and job placement rates.

Flatiron School students in Manhattan. The school’s main offering, a 15-week immersive coding program, costs $15,000. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

The promise of boot camps is that they are on-ramps to good jobs. But rapid expansion into new cities can leave little time to forge ties with nearby companies, the hiring market for boot camp graduates, said Liz Eggleston, co-founder of Course Report.

That message was underlined by Mr. Ray of Dev Bootcamp. While he would not discuss specifics about what happened to his school, he wrote: “We do think that as the boot camp industry continues on, it will be important to create stronger alignment with employers.”

Some boot camps cater directly to corporate customers. General Assembly, which operates 20 coding campuses and has raised $119 million in venture financing, now works with more than 100 large companies on programs to equip their employees with digital skills.

“Employer-paid programs are now a big slice of the pie” for General Assembly, about half of its business, said Jake Schwartz, its chief executive.

At Galvanize, Jim Deters, the chairman, said he recently stepped aside as chief executive to concentrate on getting more business from corporations. This year, Galvanize will have 2,000 students who pay their own tuition, and about 1,500 people in its programs tailored to — and paid for by — companies like IBM, Allstate and McKesson. “The business re-skilling marketplace has become one of our biggest drivers of growth,” Mr. Deters said.

Kaplan is not closing Metis, a data science boot camp, which has corporate training programs.

Several boot camps are deploying “blended” models with both in-person and online teaching. Entirely online courses, in theory, could deliver rapid, profitable growth. But that is a different model from the immersive, face-to-face learning that has been the hallmark of the boot camp experience.

“Online boot camp is an oxymoron,” said Mr. Craig of University Ventures. “No one has figured out how to do that yet.”

Left, a student at the Flatiron School. Right, Avi Flombaum, a co-founder and the dean of the school. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

The Flatiron School in New York may have discovered one path. Founded in 2012, Flatiron has a single campus in downtown Manhattan and its main offering is a 15-week immersive coding program with a $15,000 price tag. More than 95 percent of its 1,000 graduates there have landed coding jobs.

In late 2015, the co-founders, Adam Enbar and Avi Flombaum, decided to try an online-only offering, Learn.co. The tuition is $1,500 a month. Students go at their own pace, and on average complete the course in seven months, putting in about 800 hours. Tuition charges stop after eight months — and there are instructors online 16 hours a day for help and advice.

Kailee Gray, 29, a math instructor in Fargo, N.D., seeking a career change, said she had communicated daily with instructors and participated in online study groups. On the night before a job interview, she recalled “getting panicked” and sent a message to an instructor. Soon, Rebekah Rombom, vice president for career services at Flatiron, was on the phone for a reassuring pep talk.

Ms. Gray landed the job — as have more than 95 percent of the students so far in Flatiron’s online program, according to the company and an outside audit report.

It seems a particularly high rate for an online course, especially when compared with free online courses, which only a small proportion of students complete.

The school was the subject of a Harvard Business School case study, published this year, which found that the early success of the online-only course has “expanded strategic options for Flatiron.”

But just how much is uncertain. “It’s pretty clear that they can do it at the scale they have,” said Thomas Eisenmann, a professor and lead author of the study. “What’s not clear is whether it can go from a hundred or a few hundred to thousands and thousands.”