Social Justice

Busing and School Segregation Used for Politics not Policy – Education Article

 If children of all races went to the same schools with each other, it would be harder to treat them unequally.   Moreover, it would be harder for them to grow up prejudiced because they would have learned what it’s like to have classmates who are different from them.   And though most people agree with these premises in principle, our laws still refuse to make them a reality in fact.   Perhaps that’s why it was so astounding when…

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Top 10 Reasons Bernie Sanders’ Education Policies Are Light Years Ahead of Everyone Else’s – Education Article

    For most of my life, the United States has been neglecting its public school children – especially the black and brown ones.   Since the mid 1970s, instead of integrating our schools, we’ve been slowly resegregating them on the basis of race and social class.   Since the 1980s, instead of measuring academic success by the satisfaction of an individuals curiosity and authentic learning, we’ve been slowly redefining it to mean nothing but achievement on standardized tests.  …

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The Last Day of School – Education Article

On the last day of school this year, my 8th grade students gave me one of the greatest salutes a teacher can get.   They reenacted the closing scene of “The Dead Poets Society.”   You know. The one where Robin Williams’ Mr. Keating has been fired from a boarding school for teaching his students to embrace life, and as he collects his things and leaves, the students get up on their desks as a testament to his impact and…

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Standardized Tests Are Not Objective Measures of Anything – Education Article

 When it comes to standardized tests, most people are blinded by science.   Or at least the appearance of science.   Because there is little about these assessments that is scientific, factual or unbiased.   And that has real world implications when it comes to education policy.   First of all, the federal government requires that all public school children take these assessments in 3-8th grade and once in high school. Second, many states require teachers be evaluated by their…

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School Field Trip Turns Into a Tour of Our Nation’s Unhealed Scars – Education Article

 You’ve got to be a little crazy to take a bunch of teenagers on a field trip – especially overnight and out of town.   But that’s what I did, and – yeah – guilty as charged.   For the second time in my more than 15-year career as a public school teacher, I volunteered along with a group of parents and other teachers to escort my classes of 8th graders to Washington, DC, and surrounding sights. And I never regretted…

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50 Years After Stonewall: LGBTQ Pride in America’s Schools – Education Article

NEA EdJustice Resources and stories for creating safe, affirming schools for LGBTQ students. Take Action: Tell the Senate to Pass the Equality ActMore than half the states in the U.S. lack fully inclusive non-discrimination protections, leaving millions of people subject to potential discrimination in their daily lives. NEA’s Read Across America CalendarEducator-recommended, age-appropriate titles that explore identity and can blend effectively into existing classroom activities and units of study. NEA Center for Social Justice TrainingsDesigned for all NEA members, particularly those…

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How Closing Schools Traumatizes Students and Communities – Education Article

A student walks down a hallway at the Jean de Lafayette Elementary School, on the final day of school Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Chicago. The school was one of 50 slated to be closed by the city.(AP Photo/Scott Eisen) Since 2004, Oakland Unified School District has closed 16 schools and is now targeting an additional 24 by the start of the 2019-20 school year. District officials call it “right-sizing,” a term borrowed from corporate America – appropriate given that…

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Time to Take a Look at Your Dress Code – Education Article

Listen to my interview with Coshandra Dillard and Marcus Campbell (transcript): Sponsored by Listenwise and OneNote Class Notebook   A couple months ago, I saw two different news stories that broke my heart. Both were about dreadlocks. The first story was about Andrew Johnson, a high school wrestler in New Jersey who wore his hair in cheekbone-length dreadlocks. Moments before Johnson was about to go to the mat for a match, the referee told him he wouldn’t be allowed to…

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Charter Schools Won’t Bring Us Racial Equity – Education Article

Earlier this month was National Charter Schools Week, but I was not celebrating. To explain, let me start by saying what equity is, and what it’s not. A common social justice definition of equity is everyone getting what they need to thrive. Equity is not improving outcomes for some, while others get the same or worse outcomes as before. It is important to clarify this because many charter schools and charter school networks claim to be fighting for racial equity,…

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SAT Adversity Score is an Antidote to Poison None of Us Need Take – Education Article

  Let’s say someone gave you a vial of poison.   Would you drink it? Of course not.   What if he gave you the antidote, too. Would you take the poison then?   Heck no!   Why would anyone knowingly ingest poison even if they knew they could counteract its effects?   But that’s pretty much the situation high school students across the country are in today with the SAT test.   The College Board has admitted that the…

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Charter Schools Are Quietly Gobbling Up My Public School District
 – Education Article

  I work in a little suburban school district just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that is slowly being destroyed by privatization.   Steel Valley Schools have a proud history.   We’re located (in part) in Homestead – the home of the historic steel strike of 1892.   But today it isn’t private security agents and industrial business magnates against whom we’re struggling.   It’s charter schools, voucher schools and the pro-corporate policies that enable them to pocket tax dollars meant…

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Sell Your Soul to the Testocracy: Kamala Harris’s Faustian Teacher Raises – Education Article

 I love the idea of Kamala Harris’ plan to give teachers a pay raise.  But once we get past ideas, it’s way more troubling.   The California Senator and Democratic Presidential hopeful is proposing a $13,500 pay increase for the average teacher, with the exact number based on the size of each state’s pay gap.  That’s $315 billion more over a decade through federal matching funds, which amounts to a 23 percent salary increase for most educators.   Yes, please!…

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Standardized Testing is a Tool of White Supremacy – Education Article

Let’s say you punched me in the face.   I wouldn’t like it. I’d protest. I’d complain.   And then you might apologize and say it was just an accident.  Maybe I’d believe you.   Until the next time when we met and you punched me again.   That’s the problem we, as a society, have with standardized tests.   We keep using them to justify treating students of color as inferior and/or subordinate to white children. And we never…

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Books That Celebrate Diversity – Education Article

A few of my MHMS friends & colleagues are taking a Cultural Proficiency course. Having taken that course a couple years ago, and as a passionate ally of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement, I offered to help them with their final project! We decided it would cool to create a curated list of books on a bookmark that celebrate diversity. Feel free to Take, Copy, Use, & Share – it’s all Creative Commons! We made sure that the books listed were all…

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‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ Has Never Been More Important Than It is Today – Education Article

It’s not.     Anne Frank is not dead.     Not in 1945. Not in 2019.     Anne was a Dutch Jew hiding from the Nazis with her family and four others in a loft above her father’s former factory in Amsterdam.     The teenager is the most famous victim of the Holocaust, but her story doesn’t end when she succumbed to typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the closing days of WWII.     Because…

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Pittsburgh School Board Candidate Anna Batista Takes Big Money From Special Interests – Education Article

  Meanwhile, her opponent Pam Harbin, a public school watchdog, is supported almost exclusively by grassroots donations.     Both candidates are running for District 4, which serves parts of Squirrel Hill, Point Breeze, Shadyside and North Oakland. Since they’ve cross filed and will appear on both the Republican and Democratic primary ballots, the seat should be decided in the May 21 primary.   Batista and Harbin have raised similar amounts for their campaigns. Harbin has $33,412.95 while Batista has…

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