Image describing call of conversation due september 15th on teacher activism

Call for Conversations: Education Activism

Since February 2018, a wave of unprecedented teacher activism across the country has captured the attention of the American public. Though teacher organizations have continued to advocate for increased pay and improved working conditions, this wave of demands has extended beyond educators’ immediate interests. Collectively, this activism emphasizes national, systemic issues, such as the persistently declining investment in public education since the Great Recession, the shrinking infrastructure of supports for students, and the future of public education in the midst of increased private-sector actors.

Teachers involved in this national movement have articulated a vision of smaller class sizes and staffing to meet complex student needs that extend beyond the walls of their classrooms. For example, Oakland educators advocated for increased nurses in light of the fact that the ratio of students to school nurses in their district was 1,750 to 1 (Flannery, 2019). As political candidates committed to market-based agendas continue receiving support from the economic elite in local and state education elections, educators have highlighted the power asymmetries shaping education policy, such as charter school expansion (Cavo, 2018; Mehta & Menezes, 2018).  This movement has also shed light on persistent declines in school funding, which has translated to inequitable learning conditions for students. In the midst of an uncritical faith in the inherent superiority of markets and the private sector to ameliorate public problems, recent teacher activism has highlighted the devaluation of public workers as a symptom of a broader erosion of public institutions.  These issues, though endemic to education, speak to a broader phenomenon of a contracted state and the day-to-day precarity that citizens face in navigating economic inequalities.

The role of U.S. schools in preparing citizens for participation in democracy is a dark and uneven portrait rooted in colonial practices and exclusion across race, class, gender, ability, and nativity. Though teacher unions have been portrayed as bureaucratic organizations resisting changes that would improve opportunities for students, unions are grounded in labor organizing with broader commitments to a more just and humane economic system. One of the most recognized teacher organizers of the early 20th century, Margaret Haley, argued that teacher unionism should be tied to efforts that advance teachers’ participation in democracy (Weiner, 1996), and in the Jim Crow South, Black teacher unions advocated for desegregated schools and the rights of Black communities overall (Buras, 2014; Walker, 2009; Siddle Walker, 2005). In doing so, these unions recruited the support of parents, students, and the broader community. As evidenced in this history, those on the margins of public education have persisted and reimagined themselves as actors with the potential to push back against limiting structures. Recent teacher activism draws on this history of resistance.

Therefore, teacher organizing—historically and in the contemporary moment—cannot be characterized as narrowly focused on teacher labor but rather as a potential space for advancing the interests of the broader community. At its best, teacher organizing leverages the power of activism in hopes of creating a more just economic system and a radically inclusive democracy. Although this begins with a focus on public education, it may inspire collective action against unjust systems of oppression that impact historically marginalized groups. Thus, the voices of teachers and others within the public education system, especially when organized on a national scale, can provide alternative visions for the future of public education, our democracy, and our economic system.

In this Call for Conversations, we invite educators, organizers, students, and community members to voice how they have spoken truth to power during this wave of teacher activism. We invite those actively working within—or those whose efforts are inspired by—national teacher organizing movements to voice their experiences in local, state, and national movements. We hope these submissions will illuminate alternative visions for the possibility of a more just and radically inclusive world within and beyond our schools. 

 

Requirements/Guidelines: Please send us your original and thoughtful scholarly essays, reflections, poems, and visual pieces. Submissions should be 1–3,000 words and sent to bre_editor@berkeley.edu. Submissions will be subject to peer review. The deadline is September 15, 2019.

 

 

References

Buras, K. L. (2014). Charter schools, race, and urban space: Where the market meets grassroots resistance. New York, NY: Routledge.

Cavo, R. (2018, November 17). Tony Thurmond is the new schools chief. Now what? CalMatters. Retrieved from https://calmatters.org/education/2018/11/tony-thurmond-wins-state-superintendent-of-schools-race/

Flannery, M. E.  (2019, March 1). How does only one nurse keep 1,750 students healthy and safe? neaToday. Retrieved from http://neatoday.org/2019/03/01/oakland-school-nurse-shortage/ 

Mehta, S., & Menezes, R. (2018, May 16). A few rich charter school supporters are spending millions to elect Antonio Villaraigosa as California governor. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-antonio-villaraigosa-charter-school-money-governor-20180514-story.html

Siddle Walker, V. (2005). Organized Resistance and Black Educators’ Quest for School Equality, 1878-1938. Teachers College Record, 107(3), 355-388.

Walker, V. S. (2009). Second-class integration: A historical perspective for a contemporary agenda. Harvard Educational Review, 79(2), 269–284.

Weiner, L. (1996). Teachers, unions, and school reform: Examining Margaret Haley’s vision. The Journal of Educational Foundations, 10(3), 85–95.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Call for Conversations 2016

Call for Conversations: Education in the Era of Trump

Call for Continued Conversations Announced

Round 1 Submissions are now live on the blog!

Submission Deadline Round 1: March 3

The Berkeley Review of Education invites you to the Invitation to the Call for Continued Conversations: Education in the Era of Trump

 

The swearing in of Donald Trump as the 45th president is a turning point in American history. As a society we are facing the possibility of the implementation of policies and laws that will fundamentally alter our country’s relationship to pivotal issues of race, class, gender, citizenship, the economy, the environment, and health care, among others.  Movements such as the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter, and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests are coming into full force. The need for dialogue across intersectional identities, groups, and fields is also ever pressing.

As we begin a new cycle of conversation, we––educators, students, community members, journalists, and scholars––have the herculean task of making sense of this new reality. As a scholarly journal centered on issues of education and committed to supporting open exchanges about current and critical issues in society, the BRE has created a forum for discussing and asking questions such as: How did we get here?  Where do we go from here? What does the election of Trump tell us about society in general and education specifically? What can we do in our roles and with our skills to teach, learn, protest, resist, and understand education in the era of Trump?

We invite you to submit a new piece or share your responses to the works already published on the BRE blog. Educators, students, scholars, and community members across the country have written on issues such as the problem of a “neutral” curriculum for education, the role of educators, social justice education, DACA and undocumented students, fake news, women’s lives, school desegregation, and more. Add your voice to the conversations in progress on the topic of Education in the Era of Trump.

Due to overwhelming response, the BRE will continue to publish a collection of thoughtful media from a variety of disciplinary and professional perspectives to incite productive conversations and actions. We invite submissions from all those interested in engaging in collaborative thinking and productive conversations. See our BRE Call for Conversations: http://www.berkeleyreviewofeducation.com/cfc2016-blog. We hope that this collaboration will highlight the diverse teaching, learning, and actions taking place in our communities.

Please send us your original and thoughtful scholarly essays, reflections, poems, responses to previous pieces, and visual pieces. Submissions should be 1-3,000 words and sent to bre_editor@berkeley.edu.  Submissions will be subject to peer review; the deadline for this second round of submissions is March 3rd, 2017.


Call for Conversations 2016:Education in the Era of Trump

Watch this space on Inauguration Day, January 20th, for the exciting launch of our 2016-2017 Call for Conversations: Education in the Era of Trump. Response to our Call has been overwhelming and we are looking forward to rolling out an ongoing collection of essays, articles, poems, conversations, and reflections.

More soon,

The BRE Editorial Team


The election of Donald Trump as president is a finite turning point in American history––there is a before and there will be an after. As a society we continue to grapple with fundamental issues of race, class, gender, citizenship, the economy, the environment, and health care, among others.  And yet following a contentious campaign, our society finds itself ever more in conflict, divided and vitriolic.

As a scholarly journal centered on issues of education and committed to supporting open exchanges about current and pressing issues in society, the BRE aims to create a space for thought and elicit dialogue by asking: How are we centering the election, its causes, and its consequences, in our work in educational institutions, in community spaces, and with young people?

With an uncertain future ahead of us, we––educators, students, community members, journalists, and scholars––have the herculean task of making sense of this new reality.  How did we get here? Where do we go from here? What does the election of Trump tell us about society in general and education specifically? What can we do in our roles and with our skills to teach, learn, protest, resist, and understand education in the era of Trump?

We will publish a collection of thoughtful media from a variety of disciplinary and professional perspectives to incite productive conversations and actions. We invite submissions from all those interested in producing collaborative thinking to submit their thoughts and join the conversation. We hope that this collection will highlight the diverse teaching, learning, and actions taking place in our communities.

The deadline for the first round of submissions is January 10, 2017. Please send us your scholarly essays, reflections, poems, brainstorms of an article to be, and visual pieces. Submissions should be 0-3,000 words and sent to bre_editor@berkeley.edu

Check out our previous Call for Conversations: Black Lives Matter below.


 


Call for Conversations 2015: Black Lives Matter

The killing of Mike Brown, the failure to indict Darren Wilson, and the protests and contentious dialogue surrounding these events have again exposed fissures that exist in society as a result of (but not limited to) the dynamics of race, class, and gender.     

Perhaps because of this, various media outlets have focused on analyzing the events from political, historical, and sociological perspectives.  However, as a scholarly journal centered on issues of education and committed to supporting open dialogue about current and pressing issues in education (from early childhood to higher education spaces, formal and informal spaces, from scholars and practitioners), the BRE focused on creating a space and elicit dialogue by asking, How are you centering Ferguson in your work in educational institutions, in community spaces, with young people? How are we–as students, educators, scholars, community workers–teaching and learning around Ferguson?

In the spirit of forging communities, we are publishing a collection of thoughtful media from a variety of disciplinary and professional perspectives to incite productive conversations and actions in educational communities. We hope that this collection highlights the diverse teaching, learning, and action taking place in our communities.   

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Berkeley Review of Education, its board, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education, UC Berkeley, other organizations that sponsor the BRE, and/or any/all contributors to this site.


CALL FOR CONVERSATION CONTENT


Moving into the New Trump Era: A Black Scholar’s Response

By Sydney Freeman, Jr., Ph.D., CFD, COI

 

Black people are told to work hard, play by the rules, and get the best education we can so we can compete on the job market. Yet by appointing people who have no experience or expertise in the areas in which they are asked to lead, Trump is setting a terrible precedent and revitalizing an anti-intellectual movement that totally undermines any notion of meritocracy. This movement towards anti-specialization and de-professionalization is especially damaging to Blacks and other people of color. Under the Trump administration, rich white men and women will continue to be put in positions of authority, even though they may be completely unqualified. And Trump is sending a clear signal to the business community, and the general public, that this is perfectly ok.

 

What will this mean for the academy–particularly for the Black Scholar? What signal does Trump send to the “liberal” enclaves called US colleges and universities? For one, it may mean fewer of our best and brightest doctoral graduates earn tenure-track positions. Black scholars and other faculty of color are already overrepresented in contingent positions. And those who are blessed to earn a coveted tenure-track faculty position may be subjected to ambiguous tenure and promotion standards at Predominantly White Institutions, positions that may become even more precarious. This could especially be the case for faculty doing work related to social justice, diversity, and multiculturalism.

Second, as some are still trailblazing Black scholars in their academic departments, schools, colleges, and universities, they may be forced to deal with intentionality, the ways in which they must perform their scholarly identity within their institution. In response to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ (2016 online/2017) essay titled, “My President was Black” in the Atlantic magazine, Professor Tressie McMillan Cottom wrote,

I think this is one of the most precarious challenges that the Black scholar will face in the New Trump era. Will we as Black Scholars chose to “wear the mask that grins and lies?” Will we reflect back to our White liberal colleagues their ideal selves that do not challenge them to change themselves to accept and learn, to genuinely embrace unapologetic Blackness? What should we do? What should be our response?

Several months ago, I sat in the audience at an academic conference that featured a panel discussion on the importance of public scholarship. One of the panelists was Professor Terrell Straythorn from Ohio State University. He gave an impassioned speech about the urgency and relevancy of his work to empower those who have traditionally been marginalized. He shared that he uses his public speaking as a platform to move his work beyond the boundaries of the academy, to influence constituencies who may not read academic articles and books or have access to those materials. I think this is one of the ways in which we as Black scholars can most effectively respond in this new Trump era.

We need to be writing and speaking with a sense of urgency and purpose. Our work and scholarship must be more direct, yet strategic. It is important that we be able to speak to multiple audiences. Particularly, we must unapologetically write to and on behalf of the Black community. For instance, in my own field and in my scholarship, I write extensively on the topic of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). To gain tenure and promotion, it is important that my work be published in “high status” peer-reviewed publications. However, it is my desire that my work address and directly impact HBCUs. Thus, finding lay periodicals, blogs, and speaking opportunities to engage with those seeking to innovate on behalf of HBCUs and the Black community is paramount to my overall intellectual mission.

We must not be afraid to see ourselves as more than Black academics, but be willing to step out as public intellectuals. This can and should also be integrated into our teaching, particularly when preparing future educators. For instance, I taught a doctoral course recently where in one of my class sections we discussed the relevance, challenges, and importance of developing one’s academic voice. This semester I was asked to teach a course titled, “Writing for Publication.” However, I am teaching it in a markedly different way from past instructors. I am utilizing the course to help broaden my students’ understanding regarding the nature of a scholar. I have them engaging in the development of critical blogpost essays, book reviews, policy reports, and literature reviews. Although they are learning about the importance of writing academic books and peer-reviewed articles, they are also learning how to share their scholarship in venues typically under-engaged in by scholars.  

In conclusion, this is not the time to cower and be quiet. This is the time to be strategic and to use our positionality, intellect, and voices as true Black Scholars to resist the anti-intellectualism of this New Trump era.

 

Author Note

Sydney Freeman, Jr., Ph.D., CFD, COI, is an associate professor of Adult, Organizational Learning and Leadership at the University of Idaho. His research investigates the higher education leadership and faculty roles. He serves on multiple academic journal editorial and review boards, including serving as managing editor of the Journal of HBCU Research + Culture. He also is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education.

 

 


Leading During Difficult Times

By the Principal Leadership Institute (PLI) at Berkeley

This video provides a snapshot into the everyday challenges of the work of equity and social justice minded leaders which include addressing issues of violence, oppression, and poverty- issues that are further intensified by the Trump administration. We document a “teach in” occurred during a Saturday class in Tolman Hall with the preparation students in Cohort 17 the day after President Trump’s inauguration. As an act of solidarity, support, and commitment to their work, alumni from prior cohorts who are now working school administrators volunteered to serve as panelists and shared their leadership challenges as well as how they sustain themselves in the work. Afterward, panelists, instructors, field supervisors, and students divided into small groups to continue the discussions. Other activities of the teach in that are referenced in the video include learning to sing Lead with Love- a song written by Oakland based Vocal Activist Melanie DeMore and participating in a visual art campaign entitled Teach Love Not Hate.

We hope our contribution to this issue raises up the critical role of school leaders, student voice, and the need for more critical conversations between practitioners and researchers about issues of equity in schools.

 

[leading in difficult times video]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmNCoFLNTdg

 

 

 

Author Note

The mission of the Principal Leadership Institute (PLI) at Berkeley is to prepare, induct, and support a diverse community of equity focused school leaders who will improve education for vulnerable and historically underserved students in California’s public schools in support of social justice. Since its founding in 2000, PLI has prepared 548 educational leaders through its Master’s program. Through its induction program, the Leadership Support Program (LSP), it has supported over 150 early career leaders. Through its outreach program, it has provided extensive professional development to educators in the Bay Area and internationally. For more information about the Principal Leadership Institute, go to principals.berkeley.edu


Shifting Sands in Florida:  Rural Perspectives on Immigration, Education, and Undocumented Youth under the Incoming Trump Administration

 

Maria R. Coady, Ph.D.

Deon Heffington*

Nidza Marichal*

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

 

Introduction

People commonly associate the State of Florida with white sandy beaches, bowing palm trees, and balmy breezes—a true tourist destination site. Yet Florida is home to more than 600,000 undocumented (or “unauthorized”) immigrants who work in the hidden corners of the state in the agriculture, fishing, and farming industries (MPI, 2016).  Largely hidden from the public’s view, undocumented immigrants support the State’s construction and building industries, competitive horse breeding, and restaurants. Without immigrant labor, Florida’s economy would face devastating consequences.

For undocumented children and families in Florida, the intersection of immigration and education policies has moved both in and out of the public spotlight over the past five years.  Undocumented youth between the ages of 18 and 24, referred to nationally as “Dreamers,” remain in the crossroad of state and federal policies. In fact, the US government’s failure to establish a sound and workable immigration policy that provides legal status to undocumented immigrants and their children continues to threaten the very fabric of the US economy and family structure.  The lack of clarity regarding immigration and education policies for undocumented youth, who were not born in the US and therefore lack US citizenship, has incited fear and confusion among educators, families, counselors, and community agencies across the State.  Recent news media (Mitchell, 2016) suggests that the Trump administration, set to take office on January 20, 2017, may move swiftly to eliminate President Obama’s 2012 executive order that established the DACA program—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (USCIS, 2017), compromising the safety and well-being of thousands of youth and families.

 

Brief Historical Overview

Since its inception in 2012, the DACA program has provided a legal place-hold for Florida’s Dreamers to gain temporary authorization to live and to work in the US for a period of two years, subject to renewal.  In order to receive a DACA card, immigrant youth must meet several important requirements, including:  having arrived in the US before the age of 16; being currently enrolled in school, having graduated from a high school in the US or obtained a certificate of completion; having resided in the US or a specific number of years; and not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or represent a threat to national security or public safety (USCIS, 2017).  They also must pay a $465 fee for each application or renewal, a significant amount of money for youth and families from low income families. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that there are 85,000 Dreamers in the State of Florida (MPI, 2016).  Four years after the implementation of DACA, approximately 38,000 of Florida’s immigrant youth had applied to the program in order to work legally or to attend college (Hipsman, Gómez-Aguiñaga, & Capps, 2016).

In the early stages of the DACA program in 2012, Florida’s Dreamers who wanted to attend college faced the added challenge of having to pay international tuition rates.  This essentially made attending college prohibitive, as international tuition is at least three times the cost of in-state tuition in many of Florida’s public institutes of higher education.  At the time of the DACA program’s roll out in Florida, however, it became clear that several—but not all—of the State’s universities and colleges had found ways to circumnavigate the international-tuition policy.  For example, some colleges and universities in the urban centers such as Miami and Orlando provided a tuition “waiver” to students that covered the gap in cost between international tuition and in-state tuition.  Their argument was that there was no way to ‘turn off the faucet’ of the large number of undocumented youth who wanted to attend college and who had graduated from a Florida high school.

In early 2013, the question of allowing in-state tuition for DACA card holders was brought before the Florida House and Senate for consideration.  Students around the State, including those from our institution at the University of Florida who fought for tuition equity, #gatorfortuitionequity (Schweers, 2013), organized and traveled to the state capitol, Tallahassee, advocating for in-state tuition for DACA card holders and a state-wide policy that supported students who wanted to go to college.  Proponents noted the economic benefit of such a policy, while opponents also noted the cost of extending the in-state tuition benefit to DACA recipients. Eventually, the organized students managed to influence legislators such that state higher education tuition policies allowed for in-state costs for DACA holders.

 

Current Issues and Challenges in Rural Florida

The local community in which we work is best characterized as rural and agricultural in nature, with immigrants entering and leaving the community based on seasonal crop labor demands.  In the community, immigrant Latinos are employed at plant nurseries, on horse (training) farms, and on dairy farms.  They also engage in seasonal labor by harvesting peanuts and watermelon, and baling hay.  While a handful of Latino families have been in the community for more than a decade and participate in church, school, and social events (fall harvest fairs), many are newer arrivals principally from Mexico and Guatemala, making this particular setting what has been described as a “new Latino destination” (Suro & Singer, 2013). Census (2010) data indicate that 87% of the county population is White, and about 8% is Latino.  Approximately 7% of the population speaks a language other than English in the home, and the average family income approximates $19,000/year.

Our work in the community over the past decade has illuminated several social issues that characterize and affect families’ emotional well-being and safety in rural Florida (Staccciarini, Wiens, Coady, Schwait, Pérez, Locke, LaFlam, Page, & Bernardi, 2011).  First is the social isolation that families and children face.  For undocumented immigrants, social isolation intersects with extremely limited public transportation that may otherwise support building social and emotional support networks. In particular, data from our earlier work revealed that members of the community felt largely “unheard” (Stacciarini et al., 2011, p. 490) or invisible in the rural community.  The social isolation and rural nature of the community meant that, secondly, mental health concerns could not be addressed, as families preferred to stay outside of the spotlight and invisible from public sight.  Further, community members in our earlier work noted that beyond issues of transportation, English as a Second Language (ESL) services, library support services, and culturally-sensitive health related interventions were absent.  Undocumented immigrants continued to drive to local clinics when absolutely necessary, but preventative health, dental, and mental-health care were not possible, because undocumented immigrant families did not want to risk being pulled over when driving (see Coady & Sorel, 2013).

In the same community, Coady, Coady and Nelson (2015) conducted a study of teacher professional development interests and home-school partnerships in a rural Florida school district.  They used semi-structured interview techniques with Spanish-speaking, immigrant mothers and also surveyed teachers of English learner children in the rural school district.  Ninety-eight teachers responded to the survey, which asked teachers to identify the most pressing issues and areas in which they wished to receive professional development.  The semi-structured interviews with mothers were conducted in Spanish at local churches, because prior work indicted that churches provide safe spaces for undocumented immigrant families (Marquardt, Steigenga, Williams, & Vasquez, 2013).   That study found that the most pressing issue for mothers was addressing immigration, and the second most important issue was helping their children in school.  In contrast, teachers noted that they wanted to learn how to modify their instruction for immigrant families, especially English Learners (ELs), followed by the desire to effectively communicate with families.  Overall, data from our work in the community indicate that undocumented, immigrant families desire to communicate and connect with schools and teachers and want to reconcile their immigration status but are unable to do so due to shifting, unstable immigration policies.

 

Preparing for Change under the Trump Administration

Before the November 2016 election, immigrant families with whom we work were indicting informally that they were concerned about their status under a potential Trump presidency, who built his political platform on anti-immigration sentiment and construction of a physical wall that would separate people – the opposite to what families and teachers expressly stated would be most helpful.  That concern was made real after the election.

Almost immediately, families began to express their fear to our informal network with Migrant Education staff, who provide support for agricultural workers’ children in public schools.  Families noted that they were afraid that an immigration “sweep” at the local Dollar General store, where most immigrant families shop, would occur.  In addition, the number of families and children attending the evening homework and tutoring program in the rural schools declined dramatically, despite the free transportation that is offered to families who wish to attend.

With our partners, Rural Women’s Health Project (RWHP, 2017), we are gearing up to identify immediate, albeit temporary solutions, to families in four key ways.  First, RWHP and the Office of Migrant Education are informing parents to have legal powers of attorney ready and available.  These powers of attorney would be essential, should undocumented parents be identified and placed into deportation centers.

The second temporary measure is to reinforce existing and build strong new networks between our university personnel and families.  As we embark upon a new federal grant, Project STELLAR (Supporting Teachers of English Language Learners Across Rural Settings), which will provide professional development to teachers and educators of EL children, we will prioritize social and emotional supports and networks with undocumented EL families living in rural communities.  Advocacy must start with relationships and trust.  Our projectwill address these issues by preparing educators of ELs to use high-quality instructional practices for English language learners in rural settings in order to improve the achievement for ELs, and that includes understanding the background and context of our EL families who are undocumented and immigrant (Coady et al., 2016).  Furthermore, home-school-community partnerships will be prioritized as they play a central role in learner success and student achievement (Epstein, 2001; Henderson & Mapp, 2002; Jeynes, 2003).

Third, university graduate students and faculty will attend a “safety preparedness” training and workshop held in the rural community itself.  The goal of the workshop is to train rural educators to remain calm, inform, guide, and motivate immigrant families with actions to increase their family’s safety.  Learning concepts for the workshop will include:

– the current plan of the incoming presidential administration about immigrants;
– the actions families can take to increase their physical and emotional safety; and
– how a special Power of Attorney can help families plan for their children’s care.

 

Finally, we will continue to include issues of immigration in the preparation of high quality teachers to enable them to understand and navigate the broader sociopolitical context (Coady, Harper, & de Jong, 2016; de Jong, Harper, & Coady, 2013). We consider this to be of critical importance for the transitions expected in the new ‘era of Trump’. Teacher training education programs for both preservice and in-service teacher will need to address issues such as an overview of various immigration programs and policies, including DACA; the realities of undocumented families who cannot access basic necessities of drivers’ licenses, health care, and mental health support due to immigration policies; the economic contributions of documented and undocumented immigrants to the US and states; and the origins of immigration, namely why families risk leaving their home countries to live in the US. These conversations should become part of every teacher education program, as immigration and education will continue to intersect in the foreseeable future.

 

Conclusion

The future for Florida’s Dreamers and undocumented families is uncertain.  Conservative positions and political rhetoric continue to characterize the State’s policy toward immigrants, and the possible repeal of the DACA program will mean that more than 38,000 Dreamers may lose the ability to work legally or to attend our State’s colleges and universities.  Even worse would be the exposure that Dreamers face after having applied for DACA cards and being marked in federal databases.  This is a real risk, as families are increasingly vulnerable in the current anti-immigrant climate.  We hope to network with our colleagues and friends across the US to build our own support networks and to share ideas and strategies to support our rural, immigrant families.

 

*Doctoral Students at the University of Florida

 

References

Census (2010).  Data on United States demographics. http://www.census.gov/2010census/data/

Coady, M., Coady, T. J., & Nelson, A. (2015). Assessing the needs of immigrant, Latino families and teachers in rural settings. NABE Journal of Research and Practice, 6. https://www2.nau.edu/nabej-p/ojs/index.php/njrp/article/view/42

Coady, M., Harper, C., & de Jong, E. (2016). Aiming for equity: Preparing mainstream teachers for inclusion or inclusive classrooms?  TESOL Quarterly 50(2), 340-368.  DOI: 10.1002/tesq.223

Coady, M. & Sorel, T. (2013).  Waiting on DACA film.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDTH1TJZHWo&feature=youtu.be

de Jong, E. J., Harper, C. A., and Coady, M. R. (2013). Preparing mainstream teachers for CLD students: Enhancing the knowledge and skills that teachers of CLDs must have.  Theory into Practice Journal, 52(2),89-97. Special Topics Issue, invited paper.

Epstein, J. (2001). School, family and community partnerships.Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Henderson, A., & Mapp, K. (2002).  A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family and community connections on student achievement.Austin, TX: National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools.

Hipsman, F., Gómez-Aguiñaga, B., & Capps, F. (2016). DACA at four: Participation in the deferred action program and impacts on recipients.  Issue Brief.  Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.

Jeynes, W. H. (2003). A meta-analysis: The effects of parental involvement on minority children’s academic achievement. Education and Urban Society, 35(2), 202-218.

Marquardt, M. F., Steigenga, T. J., Williams, P., & Vasquez, M. (2013).  Living “illegal”: The human face of unauthorized immigration.  The New Press.  Reprint Edition.

Migration Policy Institute (2016). Data on Unauthorized Immigrants in the State of Florida.  http://www.migrationpolicy.org/data/unauthorized-immigrant-population/state/FL

Mitchell, C. (2016). Trump vows to ‘work something out’ for DREAMers, but offers no details on plan.  The Language Learning blog, Education Week.  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning-the-language/2016/12/trump_were_going_to_work_somet.html

Rural Women’s Health Project (RWHP). www.rwhp.org

Schweers, J. (2013). Tuition equity supporters get opportunity to address trustees.  Gainesville Sunhttp://www.gainesville.com/article/LK/20131205/SPORTS/604158881/GS/

Staccciarini, J. M., Wiens, B., Coady, M., Schwait, A., Pérez, A., Locke, B., LaFlam, M., Page, V., and Bernardi, K. (2011).  CBPR: Building partnerships with Latinos in rural areas for a wellness approach to mental health.  Issues in Mental Health Nursing Journal, 32(8), 486-492.

Suro, R. and Singer, A. (2013).  Latino growth in Metropolitan America: Changing patterns, new locations.  Center on Urban & Metropolitan Policy and the Pew Hispanic Center. Washington, DC.http://pewhispanic.org/files/reports/10.pdf

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, 2017).  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca

 

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It’s (Not) Funny: On Feminism, Humor, and Fear

By Elizabeth Blake

A few years ago, Bill O’Reilly came to my campus. Or, technically, one of Bill O’Reilly’s surrogates did. When I arrived to teach my afternoon class, most of my students were huddled around a laptop, watching him interviewing students about the supposed lack of ideological diversity among faculty. Complaining about the percentage of political donations from professors that go to the Democratic Party, he scoffed, “that doesn’t seem very diverse to me,” and warned his viewers about “liberal indoctrination.” That day, before we worked through my lesson plan, we talked about how the rhetoric of diversity can be turned against itself in order to justify allowing intolerance into a conversation. We talked about how the imperative to represent both sides of an issue can obscure intellectual consensus, even when it comes to questions like the “debates” about evolution and climate change, where the scientific community has long agreed that no debate is necessary.

This was a useful lesson, because my class was a writing class; in order to write and argue well, you need to learn how to unpack rhetorical fallacies, and how to expose misleading logic. It was also a useful lesson because my class was a class on gender and sexuality, and my students—all of them female, many of them women of color—had a personal stake in unpacking that logic. Given that, I didn’t think twice about structuring twenty minutes of our class around a response to that video. As we transitioned from our discussion of the video to our discussion of feminist theory, I made a joke: “on to the indoctrination!”

My joke about indoctrination wasn’t especially funny—and it’s even less funny here, because jokes don’t get better when you explain them at length—but my students laughed. It’s of course possible that this was politeness on their part, as it so often is when students laugh at their professors’ jokes, but I’d prefer to think that it was because they got the joke. In order to know why you’re getting a joke, you need to understand what makes it absurd. In some cases, this understanding derives from knowledge shared only by an in-group, but in other cases all it takes is knowing what remains unsaid, or why a word doesn’t quite fit in context. Consider, for example, the unspoken punch line of every six year old’s favorite joke: “What’s brown and sticky?” The joke only lands because “a stick” is no one’s first thought. My students got my joke about indoctrination because it was so patently absurd as a description of what happened in our classroom.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that joke as I’ve watched academics discover that their names, institutional affiliations, research projects, and even photographs have been added to a “Professor Watchlist.” This list, whose mission is to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom,” isn’t the first of its kind. Writing for The New York Times, George Yancy called it “a new species of McCarthyism.” He noted its parallels to “Cointelpro, the secret F.B.I. program that spied on, infiltrated and discredited American political organizations in the ’50s and ’60s,” pointing out that “a watchlist like this can have the impact of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon.” This list is just one element of a threatening new political climate, a part that is specifically designed to scare educators. To keep us, among other things, from making that kind of joke.

We might also think of the watchlist as a new media expansion of David Horowitz’s 2006 book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, a book that profiles 101 professors that Horowitz judged to be dangerous to academia itself. The book justifies its project by rhetoric much like O’Reilly’s. Horowitz says, quite rightly, that “teaching must not seek the arbitrary imposition of personal opinions and prejudices on students, enforced through the power of the grading process and the authority of the institutions they represent” (xxvii). This is hard to argue with. Even when pedagogy emerges from a specific ideology, such as Marie Shear’s oft-cited definition of feminism as “the radical notion that women are people,” it should not be an exercise in the arbitrary reproduction of personal beliefs.

Yet, even in seemingly objective subjects, good teaching is neither neutral nor without nuance. Jokes, like all ideas, emerge within cultural contexts, and good teachers provide their students with the critical thinking skills to understand those ideas, those contexts, and how the two inform each other. Shear’s definition is quotable for the same reason it’s funny: because women are people, and this isn’t a radical idea. It’s also quotable because it’s serious: because acting like women are people is often treated as if it were radical. This is part of why it is necessary to argue with Horowitz’s claim that departments like Women’s Studies and Black Studies—both of which he puts in scare quotes, as if it to emphasize their illegitimacy—are bastions of indoctrination, “shaped by narrow, one-sided political agendas” (xxxiv).

While debating Horowitz at Reed College (full disclosure, my alma mater), Peter Steinberger offered an explanation for “why so many professors are liberal.” In short, Steinberger argues, academics are people who draw conclusions based on evidence. The evidence shows that hierarchies of race, class, and gender exist. Thus, those of us who teach subjects like Women’s and Gender Studies or Black Studies—and here I’m inserting myself in his argument—and who have an obligation to teach our students accurately about these subjects, must teach them this. And if we believe, moreover, as Steinberger puts it, that these “undeserved inequalities are so vast, so egregious, so devastating, that we have a moral responsibility try to do something,” then that is when we become the kinds of professors who will end up on this watchlist.

Steinberger’s response is a nuanced, moral one. It is also a rigorous, academic one. He demonstrates the inconsistencies of Horowitz’s argument, appeals to his audience’s better nature, and—it’s pretty clear, at least to this reader—wins the debate. Similarly, Yancy’s New York Times column, entitled “I Am A Dangerous Professor,” makes a stirring case for embracing one’s inclusion on the list.

These are arguments, and rigorous, moral arguments are one way to respond to the charge of indoctrination. But I want to make room for thinking about the moral value of another reaction: that of the joke. Like a metaphor, a joke works by doubling: you have to be able to hold two things in your mind at the same time. For a joke that rests on a pun, that’s the two meanings of a homophone. For a joke that relies on irony or sarcasm, that’s the assertion of plausibility and the knowledge of its falsehood. Jokes also teach us to hear tone, to attend to the context in which a thing is said, and to stay wary, lest we become the punch line. This is part of why it’s important not just to make jokes, but also to think about how jokes work. Humor can consolidate power, defining the boundaries of a group by shared understanding, wherein those who laugh are “in,” and those who don’t are “out.” But humor can also challenge the workings of power, undercutting received structures and exposing the absurdity of ideological assumptions. To add oneself to the watchlist—as many professors did—is to resist its agenda and publicly embrace the values it repudiates. To add Indiana Jones or Professor Snape to the watchlist, as quite a few people—at least according to Twitter—did, is both to disrupt the list’s ostensible purpose and to draw attention to its exaggerated rhetoric. There’s not much these two fictional professors have in common, but there is one thing: they’re both dangerous. In the fictional worlds that they inhabit, both of these men kill people. Even though neither man actually made it onto the list’s website, the joke works: this, it says, is a dangerous professor.

We don’t often think of jokes as nuanced or moral, but good jokes are precisely that: they offer us two possibilities, and ask us to choose. Is this indoctrination? Or is it indoctrination’s opposite? A stick, a carrot, or something else entirely?

 

For those of us who believe in Steinberger’s moral imperative—as I do—jokes can teach us to be careful, lest we accidentally deepen those inequalities with cruel or thoughtless punch lines. Indeed, a joke is exactly the thing that allows us to move beyond “narrow, one-sided political agendas.” When the humor website McSweeney’s published Donald Trump’s Black History Month address, verbatim, under the title “My Very Good Black History Month Tribute To Some of the Most Tremendous Black People,” in its series of “Short Imagined Monologues,” it transformed a thoughtless speech into a thoughtful joke.  To put this speech into this context is to point toward its implausibility, its absurdity, and its failure to meet the demands of its original context. This speech, the editors imply, belongs not at a breakfast honoring African-American leaders, but among the company of imagined speeches by luminaries such as “an Anthropomorphic Lady Jar of Mayonnaise,” an Epi-Pen, and Donatello from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. By transforming a real speech into a satirical speech, this editorial decision does more than just make fun. It points to the importance of distinguishing the real from the joke, and the difficulty of that task in the present moment. This joke forces us to hold two realities in our minds: the fact that this was a real speech, and the feeling that it can’t possibly have been a real speech. By making it into a joke, McSweeney’s reminds us that it was very real, and forces us to consider what about this speech makes that seem so unlikely. This is a joke that can teach us about what we expect from elected officials, what we’re getting, and how it feels when the two fail to align. Humor points back at reality, illuminating it from surprising angles.

Most of us learn about jokes pretty early. We do this so early, in fact, that we don’t really think of getting jokes (unlike telling them) as a learned skill. It is, however, one of the first forms of literary interpretation most of us encounter. In one sense, then, I am making an argument for teaching the kinds of interpretive practices that enable scholars like Yancy and Steinberger to make the stirring arguments they do. In another sense, this is an argument for fostering something more subtle, reminding students that the interpretive work we do in the classroom is not so different from the interpretive work they must do in their daily lives.

We live in a historical moment in which cultural knowledge is increasingly shared through humor. We’ve all heard that statistic about how all the young people these days are getting their news from The Daily Show. Critique also passes through less traditional channels, including every Bernie Sanders meme you’ve ever seen, and my favorite: “Clarissa Explains White Supremacy.” It’s a moment, too, that requires us to think carefully about questions of positionality—who gets to tell which jokes, and in what contexts, and to what audiences. A joke that’s painful in one context can be reparative in another, and that’s an important lesson as well. Turning the phrase “nasty woman” into a joke is a way of refusing its ugliness, a way of using language and humor as tools of care.

 

Students, in my experience, are often more adept at this than professors. Indeed, I should confess that the best joke about Bill O’Reilly came from one of my students: “Next,” she said, “ he’ll be warning us about Women’s Studies!” All of her peers laughed, and so did I. That joke brought us together, implicitly constituting us as a community by acknowledging our shared investment in women’s studies, and materially doing so by making us all laugh. It’s important to laugh sometimes, and that’s part of my point here. The other part is that we, as professors and teachers, need to acknowledge and affirm the multiple modes of language and interpretation that our students bring to the table, and give them the tools to understand how those modes interact with, rely on, and inform their cultural intuitions. Unpacking a joke is never exactly a funny exercise, but it is one with high stakes—especially for those of us who are genuinely invested in ensuring that our students have the critical thinking skills to resist narrow, one-sided ideologies, in addition to the meme-making skills to render them hilarious.

References

Horowitz, David (2006). The professors: The 101 most dangerous academics in America. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc.

My very good Black History Month tribute to some of the most tremendous Black people. (2017, February 1). McSweeney’s. Retrieved from https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/my-very-good-black-history-month-tribute-to-some-of-the-most-tremendous-black-people

Steinberger, P., & Horowitz, D. (2006, November). A debate on academic freedom. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.reed.edu/reed_magazine/winter06/columns/NoC/images/steinberger_horowitz.mp3

 

Yancy, G. (2016, November 30). I am a dangerous professor. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/30/opinion/i-am-a-dangerous-professor.html?_r=0

Author Note

Elizabeth Blake is a Visiting Assistant Professor and Fellow in the Writing Program at Haverford College. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature with a concentration in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Cornell University. In addition to teaching courses on food, feminism, modernism, and queer studies, Dr. Blake has been involved in graduate pedagogy training and research. She can be reached at eablake@haverford.edu


Post-election: What do we say to the children?

Louise Derman-Sparks, Debbie LeeKeenan, and John Nimmo

As teacher educators, we come from different life experiences but are brought together by our common commitment to social justice. Although we view this work as a long-term struggle and vision with times of change and pushback, like many activists, we viewed the period prior to and following the 2016 election as particularly challenging for educators of young children.

Together, we are the co-authors of Leading Anti-Bias Early Childhood Programs: A Guide for Change (Derman-Spark, LeeKeenan, & Nimmo, 2015). Louise has been an educator and activist for much of her life and grew up in a White, Jewish-American working-class family from Brooklyn, NY. Debbie is a third-generation Chinese-American, also originally from NYC, who has a multi-racial family; her personal experiences greatly influenced her professional life as a social justice educator. John is Australian by birth, and identifies as White and economically privileged. Being male, straight and cisgender in the early childhood field has been an important provocation in his thinking.

After the 2016 presidential election, both experienced and new teachers shared an outpouring of emotion and questions about how to respond to the children in our early childhood classrooms. Feeling a sense of urgency, we compiled the following response, a version of which first appeared the week after the election on our website: http://www.antibiasleadersece.com/

The presidential campaign contained some of the most hateful language and messages many of us have ever experienced. We know that bullying, teasing and name-calling based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and family make-up greatly increased in schools during the campaign and hurt many children (Costello, 2016). Now the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency threatens to oppose the values of anti-bias education and reverse many of the gains resulting from the Civil Rights and social justice movements of the past 50 years. His campaign and election have emboldened numerous organizations and individuals, mainly, but not exclusively, White, who share his negative beliefs about anyone whose race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation don’t fit with their view of a mythical norm. As Richard Cohen (2016), President of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) asserted,

White supremacists who backed his candidacy are jumping for joy. They think they now have their man in the White House. … We can’t afford to take [their] statements as the ravings of extremists on the fringes of society. They are now at the gates. (para. 16–20)

Even more disturbing, as soon as the election results were known, racist attitudes began turning into hate actions–––both verbally and physically. These hate actions have been directed against children as well as adults. The SPLC, which has tracked the racist actions of organizations for many years, wrote in the days after the election that in the reports they received, “many teachers took pains to point out that the incidents they were reporting represent a distinct uptick; these dynamics are new and can be traced directly to the results of the election” (Costello, 2016, para. 14). Pulling from news reports, social media, and direct submissions at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website, the SPLC had counted 201 incidents of election-related harassment and intimidation across the country as of Friday, November 11, at 5 pm. These are being directed against African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ people and women (reports can still be made at https://www.splcenter.org/reporthate ). Outrageously, the SPLC is finding that the most commonly reported location where incidents of harassment occurred were K–12 schools (Costello, 2016). For example, in Georgia a teacher reported, “I’ve had a lot of students repeat the phrase ‘Trump that bitch’ in my class, and make jokes about Hispanic students ‘going back to Mexico’” (para. 26). In Washington State, a teacher shared, “he day after the election I overheard a student in the hall chanting, ‘White power’” (para. 38). In Tennessee, an early childhood educator reported that “one Muslim girl clung to her kindergarten teacher on November 9 and asked, ‘Are they going to do anything to me? Am I safe?’” (para. 45). Second- and third-grade Mexican-American children in Fullerton, CA, reported to their young sibling’s childcare teacher that they were told by classmates to pack their bags because they had to get out of the country (personal communication to authors). Adults have also been targeted. For example, a parent from El Salvador was in a Greater Boston school and told to “Get out of here; you are in Trumpland” (personal communication to authors).

Such hate behavior harms children directly, when they are targets, and indirectly, when they see or hear about someone else being a target. No matter how the families of children in our classrooms voted, our schools must be hate-free zones. We have to intentionally and pro-actively do everything we can to ensure that the goals of anti-bias education are fully implemented and celebrated during a time when our children are hearing and experiencing hate messages and may be experiencing tension anger, or pain from family members. We also have to work intently to ensure that all of our children feel safe and are comforted when they are hurt. For example, we can broach the topic and encourage an inclusive community with openings, such as:

In our country, we vote for the person who is going to be our leader. Not everyone votes for the same person. In an election, people have different viewpoints and we are not always happy with who becomes president. However, the president is supposed to be the president for everyone. We hope that the adults in charge of our country can work together to benefit all Americans.

We know that some people are saying and doing hateful and hurtful things to other people. We also know that there are many people who do not like those hateful words and behaviors. In this classroom/in this school, I /we (all staff) will make sure that everyone belongs, and is safe, cared for and treated fairly. If you feel unsafe, if people say things that are not nice to you, you can come to the adults. Our job is to keep you safe and to be brave and stand up to any unfairness/injustice that comes to our community.

Here are some additional guidelines to support children during challenging times:

  • Encourage children to ask questions.
  • Be a good listener. Pay attention to words and feelings. Look for the underlying meaning.
  • Answer children’s questions immediately and directly, with information that is appropriate to their developmental level and experience.
  • Accept complexity. Recognize that there may not be simple answers, but still ones that can help children. We want to move beyond either-or thinking. Be aware that some children will be receiving messages that the election result is welcomed, with speech that does not include hate language.
  • Avoid responding to current events and issues in highly emotional or dramatic ways. Even if you are angry or upset, try not to let your own feelings influence how you pay attention to and interpret what the children are saying and feeling. But do let the children know that it is okay to be e.g., scared, angry, sad, while also comforting them and helping them sort through their feelings and actions.
  • Provide resources to help children manage fears or uncertainties. Include resources that talk about people who have worked together in the past to make life safe for everyone.
  • Engage the children in creating ways that they can make themselves and each other feel safe and happy in the classroom and school.

As social justice educators, it is our obligation to not only support the children but their families. Families may also be targeted for their social identity, and may be fearful of deportation. We need to reach out and let families know school is a safe place for them, too. We also need to work with and support our colleagues and staff who share the responsibility of educating and caring for our children and families. We have the responsibility and the opportunity to be proactive in how we support our children and families during these challenging times. Take the long view. Be optimistic. Model resiliency. We need to hold the light.

References

Cohen, R. (2016, November 10). White supremacists think their man won the White House. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved from https://www.splcenter.org/news/2016/11/10/white-supremacists-think-their-man-won-white-house

Costello, M.B. (2016, November 28). The Trump effect: The impact of the 2016 presidential elections on our nation’s schools. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved from https://www.splcenter.org/20161128/trump-effect-impact-2016-presidential-election-our-nations-schools#executive summary

Derman-Spark, L., LeeKeenan, D., & Nimmo, J. (2015). Leading anti-bias early childhood programs: A guide for change. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Author Bios

Louise Derman-Sparks has worked for over 50 years on issues of diversity and social justice as a preschool teacher at the Perry Preschool Project, child-care center director, Human Development faculty member at Pacific Oaks College, and activist. She is author and coauthor of several books, including Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves, and What if All the Kids are White? Anti-Bias/Multicultural Education for Young Children and Families, as well as numerous articles. She speaks, conducts workshops, and consults on anti-bias education with children and adults throughout the United States and internationally. Louise is now retired as a professor emerita. rldsparks@aol.com

Debbie LeeKeenan is a visiting professor of Early Childhood Education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Previously, she was director of the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School and an instructor in the Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Debbie consults locally, nationally and internationally. Her publications include co-authorship of Leading Anti-Bias Early Childhood Programs: A Guide for Change with Louise Derman-Sparks and John Nimmo, as well as numerous chapters and articles. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of New Mexico and is a former preschool and elementary school teacher. debbie.leekeenan@gmail.com

 

John Nimmo is assistant professor in Early Childhood Education at Portland State University, Oregon. Previously, he was Executive Director of the Child Study and Development Center and associate professor of Family Studies at the University of New Hampshire. His publications include Loris Malaguzzi and the Teachers (with Carolyn Edwards & Lella Gandini), Leading Anti-Bias Early Childhood Programs,  Emergent Curriculum (with Elizabeth Jones), and numerous chapters and articles. John’s research includes a video documentary on children’s rights through the World Forum Foundation. He holds a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts and was an early childhood teacher in Australia. jnimmo@pdx.edu

 

 


Undocumented ESL students from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in the era of Trump: A personal narrative.

Luis Javier Pentón Herrera, M.Ed., M.S., M.Ed.

Concordia University Chicago, Doctoral Candidate

 

The day after the elections, I first reflected on what president-elect Trump’s presidency would mean for my life—how it would directly affect me. Now I know that I was selfish; I did not think about those who are more affected than me by this election’s results—my students.

When I arrived to school that morning I saw and heard something that struck me very hard. I saw my students taking pictures together and telling each other that they had to take those pictures as “going away” memories before they got sent back to their countries. My heart sunk in sadness and pain, as I stood there helpless and hopeless. I was not prepared to discuss this topic with my students but I knew I had to learn how; I needed to help them fast.

In this discussion, I reflect on my personal and professional experience as an English as a Second Language (ESL) educator teaching undocumented Hispanic immigrant ESL students. In particular, I focus on ESL students from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, as they represent the majority of undocumented Hispanic ESL students in American classrooms (Zong & Batalova, 2015).

Undocumented Hispanic ESL Students from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras

The majority of the current newcomer population in the United States is comprised of students from Spanish-speaking countries (NCES, 2016; Payán & Nettles, 2007), specifically from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador (Zong & Batalova, 2015). Statistics show that there have been an increasing number of immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in recent years, and much of that population has settled in the states of California, Texas, Florida and Maryland (Zong & Batalova, 2015). Considering the increasing numbers of immigrants from these three specific Central American countries, surprisingly limited attention is paid to the reasons behind this mass migration.

El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala “have become virtually war zones where lives seem to be expendable and millions live in constant terror at what gang members or public security forces can do to them or their loved ones” (Amnesty International, 2016). The violence, war, and vandalism present in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have affected the lives of all the immigrants from those countries in one way or another. In particular, the immigrant children arrive to the United States with academic, personal and physical scars that cannot easily be forgotten.

Many of the undocumented Hispanic immigrant ESL students from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala arrive to American classrooms with academic challenges that go beyond learning the English language. Pentón Herrera & Duany (2016) explain that many students from this growing ESL population—identified as binate language learners in their article—are illiterate or have underdeveloped proficiency in Spanish. These academic realities reflect the students’ circumstances in their native countries, where many of them did not attend school or stopped going at an early age for fear of getting killed. In addition to this, many of these students arrive with personal stories that no living being should experience, let alone a child. Many of them have seen friends and family members killed with their own eyes, do not have immediate family members, and wear the physical scars of the never-ending violence in their countries.

These real stories and scenarios are happening all across El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala; and yet, these students are referred to as immigrants instead of refugees. These students are the protagonists of one of the world’s least visible refugee crises (Amnesty International, 2016).  When they arrive to the United States, many continue overcoming barriers that keep them from attending school.  Identifying and acknowledging this student population as “refugees” instead of “immigrants” is the first step towards understanding their life and offering the academic and social support they need. Addressing this particular population of students as “refugees” is the best opportunity we have, as a society, to finally humanize them.

Forces Impacting Students’ Lives

There are different forces that may keep this particular population of students from attending schools at any level (K-12 or Higher Education). Some of these forces are: (a) Immigration status, (b) politics, (c) problems in the household/Income, (d) uncertainty about their future, (d) lack of opportunities for further education, (e) society, and (f) individuals within their school system. These forces act as barriers that keep students from becoming successful in school and from focusing only on achieving excellence in education.

These forces have been present throughout President Obama’s presidency and can only intensify during President Trump’s time in office. These factors, combined with unrealistic academic expectations and unsupportive instruction, have contributed to the current education gap among Hispanic immigrant students and other race groups in the country (Haskins & Tienda, 2011). The figure below briefly explains the impact these forces have in these students’ academic experiences. I chose these forces and explanations based on my personal and professional experiences. I have worked with this population of students for many years and I have experienced these realities first-hand.

Forces Brief Explanation
Immigration Status Immigration status is a big concern for this population of students. They worry about what will happen to them and their loved ones constantly. In school, students often talk about how unsafe they feel and worry about what their immigration status means for their present and future life after high school.
Politics Politics in the United States affects this population of students the most. In 2016 there were many “redadas” (immigration raids) where many undocumented individuals were detained and sent back to their countries. These raids greatly affected this population of students as many of them stopped attending school for a while for fear of getting deported while others just disappeared from school for fear of being identified. After Trump won the elections, the same happened; some students stopped attending school for a while, and others just stopped attending altogether. In 2017, these students’ future remains undecided as politics promise to be more conservative and this population will be more targeted than before.
Problems in the household/Income Many students are orphans and live with distant family members, friends or friends of relatives they have not seen in years. In addition to this, guardians and parents work many jobs and long hours to ensure economic stability for their family. These factors, together with parental/guardian misinformation about what is expected from them in schools, affects parental involvement. Lack of parental/guardian involvement and lack of communication between parents and schools often result in poor student support and poor student academic achievement.
Uncertainty about their future Students do not know where they belong. Many feel unwanted and unappreciated because of the political rhetoric surrounding this election in the United States. At the same time, they do not feel safe going back to their country because they may get killed. This uncertainty of not knowing what to do in their lives, where they fit, or what they should aspire to be or study in the future creates a dilemma they have to struggle with every day.
Lack of opportunities for further education Many students do not know or understand the options they have for further education after high school. In addition to this, there needs to be more opportunities for this student population to pursue and aspire to be part of important fields of studies such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) where they continue to be widely underrepresented (Santiago, Taylor, & Calderón Galdeano, 2015).
Society Society plays a big part as many students feel discriminated against inside and outside of school on a daily basis. Many students experience racial and cultural discrimination on a daily basis and they just do not know how to respond or how to protect themselves.
Individuals within their school system Many school professionals do not believe in this student population and do not go out of their way to help them in any way. Many school professionals blame this student population for low scores in standardized tests and many do not want to have ESL students in their classes because they “do not speak English”. This is sad to hear, but it is the truth that many students experience in their schools on a daily basis.

Table 1. Forces Impacting Students’ Lives

Students cannot focus on learning when their basic human necessities are not met. Some needs, such as food and physical safety, are essential for the survival of individuals. Only when these essential needs are taken care of, students feel free to pursue more complex needs, such as education and self-improvement (Toledo-López & Pentón Herrera, 2016). The academic gap between Hispanic immigrant students has not been closed because their basic needs have not been met in the past. During President Trump’s presidency, one can expect that this particular population of students will only face more challenges inside and outside their schools that will continue to widen the academic gap and perpetuate illiteracy.

The problem with perpetuating illiteracy in our society is that eventually it will affect all of us. This population of students will become adults and will eventually have children who are American-born citizens. These children will grow up in a low-income household with illiterate parents who have no academic or economic means to support their children’s education. This cycle of poverty and illiteracy has becomes part of the American culture and, in years to come, it will continue to expand to a greater scale.

Teachers – Supporting Students

Teachers have, more than ever, an opportunity and a responsibility to teach tolerance, respect, and resilience to this vulnerable population of students. After the elections, I have heard many times that my students want to leave school because they feel unsafe and they think that agents from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will come to get them at any time. Fear takes over their faces every time someone knocks at our classroom door during instruction because they always expect the worst. My students, like many other students in the same situation and different grade levels around the country, feel unsafe, in despair, and do not see a reason of how education can be beneficial to them. In their minds, many think, “Why am I studying if I will get deported anytime soon?”

The reality is that students worry about getting deported because they do not have anything to go back to in their countries. Many students have sought refuge in the United States running away from murderers, rapists, dealers, and violence. Some have shared that going back to their native countries will mean a certain death to their family and to them. As I hear these stories and I see my students’ despair and fear, only one question comes to mind, “What can I do to help them?”

Since the elections, I have learned to modify my learning style to meet my students’ social and emotional needs. My students need a place where they feel safe, included, appreciated, and where they have a reason and an opportunity to voice their opinion.  In my classroom, I offer them the opportunity to feel part of a community where everyone is equal and where we can all engage in civil, respectful, and enlightening discussions. In my classes, I have learned to include activities and conversations where my students feel empowered to be great and to flourish in these difficult times, and where they do not think of themselves as victims.

Educators of undocumented Hispanic immigrant ESL students are at the frontlines of the battle against illiteracy and school dropout. As such, it is not enough to become advocates for our students; we need to be informed advocates. I have found support and information through community and non-profit organizations that offer direct support to this population. Furthermore, I have shared and informed my students about their rights, and what they can do to seek help and become proactive. Also, I have worked with other school personnel to offer space for students to talk about their feelings and their vision for their future. These conversation circles, or support groups, have proven highly effective and have acted as a net of support for students and school personnel alike through these challenging times.

Final Thoughts

As an ESL teacher educating a vulnerable student population in the Trump era, I have found knowledge and education to be the best approaches to combat my students’ uncertain future. As a former English Language Learner (ELL) myself, I remember the importance of resilience in developing a sense of personal improvement and academic achievement. I often talk to my students about my life experiences in hopes of instilling in them the strength to stay in school during these difficult times. The most difficult times are yet to come for my ESL students and for all undocumented Hispanic immigrant ESL students in the United States. However, the solution cannot be silence. I believe that talking about Trump and what he represents for my students’ future is a healthy approach to coping with this reality that is not going away. As an ESL educator and a strong advocate for my students’ rights, I believe teaching my students literacy, content knowledge, and resilience is the best practice to keeping my students in school.

 

Author Biography

Luis Javier Pentón Herrerais currently a high school ESOL teacher and an adjunct professor at different colleges and universities where he teaches Spanish, TESOL, Research, and English classes. His current research focuses on Bilingual Education, Spanish, ESL/ESOL, Adult Education, Literacy Studies, and Hispanic Pedagogues.

Author Correspondence: Luis.penton@gmail.com

 

References

Amnesty International. (2016). Central America turns its back on hundreds of thousands fleeing

“war-like” violence. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/10/central-america-turns-its-back-on-hundreds-of-thousands-fleeing-war-like-violence/

Haskins, R., & Tienda, M. (2011). The future of immigrant children. Future of Children, pp. 1-7.

National Center for Education Statistics. (NCES). (2016). English Language Learners in public      schools. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgf.asp

Payán, R. M. & Nettles, M. T. (2007). Current State of English-Language Learners in the U.S.:

K-12 student population. Retrieved from https://www.ets.org/Media/Conferences_and_Events/pdf/ELLsympsium/ELL_factsheet.pdf

Pentón Herrera, L. J. & Duany, M. (2016). Native Spanish speakers as binate language learners.

NECTFL Review, 78, pp. 15-30.

Toledo-López, A. A. & Pentón Herrera, L. J. (2016). The impact of bilingual education in the       professional development of Hispanic women. Ámbito de Encuentros Journal,9(2), pp.            25-49.

Santiago, D. A., Taylor, M., & Calderón Galdeano, E. (2015). Finding your workforce: Latinos

in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). ¡Excelencia in Education! Retrieved from http://www.edexcelencia.org/research/workforce/stem

Zong, J. & Batalova, J. (2015). Central American Immigrants in the United States. Migration

Policy Institute. Retrieved from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/central-american-immigrants-united-states

 


 

 

 

Can the DREAM still exist?

By Cheryl Burleigh, EdD

The rite of passage and dream of high school seniors is to apply and be accepted to a college or university of their choice. For students who are immigrants and undocumented the ability to attend college is a challenge made easier through the United We Dream (UWD) and DREAM Education Empowerment Program (DEEP). Meeting with a group of students who depend on the support of such programs and the DREAM Act grants, the conversation on the topic of their education and future shifted from thoughts of the application process to the events of the presidential election and after the inauguration to what the future may hold. The following is a three-stanza progression poem based on this discussion.

I DREAM of a better tomorrow,

brighter future,

a fresh start,

a college education,

being challenged by like-minded individuals,

finding others like me,

independence,

expanding my horizons,

and a better life.

I DREAM of no boundaries,

no walls,

not living in fear,

my family staying together in the U.S.,

finding my parents home tonight,

being able to walk freely without anxiety,

not looking over my shoulder,

trusting the police,

and not being reported,

deported.

I DREAM of our voices being heard,

positive political action,

unity,

a movement of activism,

equality

embracing diversity,

earning my college degree,

supporting my family,

kindness,

compassion,

humanity,

freedom,

and hope.

 

Author Note:

Cheryl Burleigh is a research fellow, associate faculty, and faculty supervisor for the University of Phoenix. Dr. Burleigh is an advocate for educational change and awareness, empowering educators and administrators to support positive transformation within school systems. Her academic research interests include ethical decision making, education law, empowering females students in STEM, school leadership, education equity, and LGBTQ issues. Dr. Burleigh has been a presenter of science education curriculum and practices and educational leadership for school programs and administrators, state teacher associations, national and international conferences, and on behalf of NASA. She has won numerous grants and awards for curriculum and leadership development. Dr. Burleigh recently completed a series of observational studies of international education practices of underprivileged students. Please address all comments and questions to Cheryl Burleigh, EdD at cburleigh@email.phoenix.edu.


James Lane, Ed.D.

University of Phoenix

Center for Professional Responsibility in Education

The Classroom as Metaphor and Window to Democracy

Qualitative analysts apply metaphor to understand and explain. In the current cultural malaise, one metaphor seems best. The concept of the classroom as a window to the world emerges as resilient and renewed. I propose the classroom as a window to our culture. Through the classroom things flow in and out, showing and merging views, insights, and opportunities for growth and change. The classroom is a safe place, a haven for honor and respect. It is the place where different points of view come together. Only in the classroom can these different perspectives converge in a milieu of respect and honor and safety. In the classroom we come to know each other as people, as colleagues, even as friends. We share moments poignant, personal, emotional––of our own reflections, our own soul-baring. The classroom remains the ultimate egalitarian soil for growth of democracy. Black. White. Young. Middle aged.

Muslim. Christian. Conservative. Progressive. In the classroom, labels fall away. All are altogether and all together for reflection and renewal. I propose the classroom as a venue through which we and our students gather to teach, to learn, and to understand.

I reflect on students in several of my recent classes, enrolled in a generic freshman English course in a small, liberal arts college. The curriculum includes personal compositions, class presentations based on anthologized essays and stories, and related class discussions. They are a panoply of American society.

One is a young Muslim woman, a citizen of a Middle Eastern American ally. She tells us about her arranged marriage to an abusive spouse. She describes the trauma of marriage and the shame of divorce. She describes her wearing of the hijab as a commitment to her faith. She compares the Prophet Muhammad and Martin Luther King, Jr.––both of whom, she says, desired to serve their community and people who were marginalized.

A young man in his early twenties supports the discussion. He carries several citizenships––the United Kingdom, Germany, and another Middle Eastern country––links to his parentage and place of birth. The two describe life in their countries, where citizens build homes surrounded by high walls where they can relax, free from the eyes of their peers. They are polite, erudite, thoughtful, and offer views to a world beyond the experience of most here.

Two Caucasian men who served tours in Iraq describe locals who risked their lives to help Americans. These brave Iraqis worked on U.S. bases, entering and leaving in darkness. They and their families could have been punished, even killed, for working with Americans. These soldiers see as a clear and present danger sentiments to brand Muslims as enemies and ban them from entry into the United States.

Another is a guard in the county prison. He is black. Sometimes black inmates ask him of the white guards, “Can I trust this guy?” Other times the same prisoners taunt as he walks by: “Hey traitor, Uncle Tom, in bed with the white man.” Torn between worlds, he wants only to serve.

Another student is a middle-aged African American. He describes two experiences traveling in the U.S. only a decade ago. He was refused service as an African American, once in the South and, perhaps surprisingly, once in the Northeast. In both instances, he was in uniform. The talk is poignant. He cries––and so do we. The pain is palpable. It is emotional. It is real.

There is a set of veterans––one is white in his early twenties, another is Puerto Rican, middle-age. Both are stalwart supporters of the new U.S. President. They are thoughtful, serious, empathetic. Both scoff at fears of nationalism. Both reject claims that the conflagration of patriotism and nationalism represent racial prejudice and xenophobic pulses against the phantom “others” in American society.

The classroom is the window between insight and blindness, light and darkness, democracy and fascism. It is the great equalizer, the medium for Freirean dialogic leading to better understanding by all within. To this purpose founders, philosophers, and practitioners can illuminate.

In Romances with Schools, John Goodlad (2016) describes education as a moral institution and the foundation of a vibrant democracy. “The rhetoric linking education and democracy has had a long run since this nation’s founding––from Thomas Jefferson through many advocates to the present” (p. 255). He argues for a clear mission for schooling grounded in the principles of democracy itself. Education poses for us, he says, a moral challenge to create the ethical culture “that lies within the power of all the stakeholders to create” (p. 267).

In Democracy and Education, Dewey (1916) reminds us that education must embody both the means and the ends of democracy. He observes, “A progressive society counts individual variations as precious since it finds in them the means of its own growth. Hence a democratic society must, in consistency with its ideal, allow for intellectual freedom and the play of diverse gifts and interests in its educational measures” (p. 305). For Noah Webster, schooling is a tool for social planning and improvement. For Jefferson, schooling is the means to educate youth and so empower them to make informed decisions. For Horace Mann, education is the vehicle to uplift society. For Diane Ravitch (2008), “Democratic habits and values must be taught through … agencies that allow citizens to interact with each other and to have a sense of efficacy. The best protection for a democratic society remains well-educated citizens” (p. 56).

From this I reflect on post-election events at other education institutions I know. At a local high school firmly planted in middle-class suburbia, a teacher tells a black student he had better behave, or President Trump will send him back to Africa. At a storied university steeped in learning and tradition, a Muslim student sees written on her the notepad next to her door, “Leave now. You’re not welcome here.” At a large metropolitan university near the site of a mass killing, a young lesbian reads “you’re next” scrawled outside her dorm. Would these dystopian perpetrators have hurled the same barbs if they had been immersed in a dialogic classroom culture?

I recall my students. The young Muslim woman. The black G.I. The white men dependent on Iraqis who risked their lives. The two men, a generation apart, who view nationalism and patriotism in the same light. The question we must ask is not, “How did we get here?” The productive query, rather, is, “Where do we go from here?”

I return to the metaphor of the classroom as window. It allows views within and without.

It reflects. It provides flow and exchange. How can the classroom affect the view outside? This concept is more challenging. Many classrooms, many windows, together can affect insight and change. More than ever before, ours must be the classrooms of Jefferson and Webster, of Dewey and Mann, of Ravitch and Freire. Only through our classrooms can we shine light within and without. Only through the dialogues within our many classrooms, exponentially compounded collectives spread across and throughout America, can we reflect, illuminate, and change the view, within and without. This is the promise, the potential, the power, and the moral imperative of the American classroom. Within it and through it democracy and truth grow and will shine.

References

Dewey, J. (1916).  Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education.

New York, NY: Macmillan.

Goodlad, J.L., & Goodlad, S.J. (2016). Romances with schools: A life of education. Lanham,

MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Lee, G. C. (1961). Learning and liberty: The Jeffersonian tradition in education. In L. A. Cremin

(Ed.), Crusade against ignorance: Thomas Jefferson on education, (pp. 1-26). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Mann, H. (1957). Twelfth annual report to the Massachusetts state board of education. In L. A.

Cremin (Ed.), The republic and the school: Horace Mann on the education of free men, New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Ravitch, D. (2008). Chapter 3: Education and democracy: The United States of America as a

historical case study. Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education107(1), 42-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7984.2008.00129.x

Webster, N. (1787, December). Education. American Magazine, 23.

Biographical Information

Dr. Jim Lane has spent nearly 40 years as an educator. He began his career as a high school English teacher. He later served as the principal of two middle schools that served high minority, high poverty student populations. He holds a B.A. in English and Mass Communications Education, an M.A. in English, and an M.Ed. and Ed.D.in Educational Leadership.  He now works as Associate Research Chair for the University of Phoenix Center for Professional Responsibility in Education, where he serves as a liaison for research and publication. His research interests include ethical frameworks, ethical dilemmas, educator codes of ethics, autoethnography, narrative analysis, constructivism, school leadership, and middle school curriculum.

 

 

 


Elizabeth Blake

Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing, Haverford College

It’s Not Funny: On Feminism, Humor, and Fear   

A few years ago, Bill O’Reilly came to my campus. Or, technically, one of Bill O’Reilly’s surrogates did. When I arrived to teach my afternoon class, most of my students were huddled around a laptop, watching him interviewing students about the supposed lack of ideological diversity among faculty. Complaining about the percentage of political donations from professors that go to the Democratic Party, he scoffed, “that doesn’t seem very diverse to me,” and warned his viewers about “liberal indoctrination.” That day, before we worked through my lesson plan, we talked about how the rhetoric of diversity can be turned against itself in order to justify allowing intolerance into a conversation. We talked about how the imperative to represent both sides of an issue can obscure intellectual consensus, even when it comes to questions like the “debates” about evolution and climate change, where the scientific community has long agreed that no debate is necessary.

This was a useful lesson, because my class was a writing class; in order to write and argue well, you need to learn how to unpack rhetorical fallacies, and how to expose misleading logic. It was also a useful lesson because my class was a class on gender and sexuality, and my students—all of them female, many of them women of color—had a personal stake in unpacking that logic. Given that, I didn’t think twice about structuring twenty minutes of our class around a response to that video. As we transitioned from our discussion of the video to our discussion of feminist theory, I made a joke: “on to the indoctrination!”

My joke about indoctrination wasn’t especially funny—and it’s even less funny here, because jokes don’t get better when you explain them at length—but my students laughed. It’s of course possible that this was politeness on their part, as it so often is when students laugh at their professors’ jokes, but I’d prefer to think that it was because they got the joke. In order to know why you’re getting a joke, you need to understand what makes it absurd. In some cases, this understanding derives from knowledge shared only by an in-group, but in other cases all it takes is knowing what remains unsaid, or why a word doesn’t quite fit in context. Consider, for example, the unspoken punch line of every six year old’s favorite joke: “What’s brown and sticky?” The joke only lands because “a stick” is no one’s first thought. My students got my joke about indoctrination because it was so patently absurd as a description of what happened in our classroom.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that joke as I’ve watched academics discover that their names, institutional affiliations, research projects, and even photographs have been added to a “Professor Watchlist.” This list, whose mission is to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom,” isn’t the first of its kind. Writing for The New York Times, George Yancy called it “a new species of McCarthyism.” He noted its parallels to “Cointelpro, the secret F.B.I. program that spied on, infiltrated and discredited American political organizations in the ’50s and ’60s,” pointing out that “a watchlist like this can have the impact of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon.” This list is just one element of a threatening new political climate, a part that is specifically designed to scare educators. To keep us, among other things, from making that kind of joke.

We might also think of the watchlist as a new media expansion of David Horowitz’s 2006 book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, a book that profiles 101 professors that Horowitz judged to be dangerous to academia itself. The book justifies its project by rhetoric much like O’Reilly’s. Horowitz says, quite rightly, that “teaching must not seek the arbitrary imposition of personal opinions and prejudices on students, enforced through the power of the grading process and the authority of the institutions they represent” (xxvii). This is hard to argue with. Even when pedagogy emerges from a specific ideology, such as Marie Shear’s oft-cited definition of feminism as “the radical notion that women are people,” it should not be an exercise in the arbitrary reproduction of personal beliefs.

Yet, even in seemingly objective subjects, good teaching is neither neutral nor without nuance. Jokes, like all ideas, emerge within cultural contexts, and good teachers provide their students with the critical thinking skills to understand those ideas, those contexts, and how the two inform each other. Shear’s definition is quotable for the same reason it’s funny: because women are people, and this isn’t a radical idea. It’s also quotable because it’s serious: because acting like women are people is often treated as if it were radical. This is part of why it is necessary to argue with Horowitz’s claim that departments like Women’s Studies and Black Studies—both of which he puts in scare quotes, as if it to emphasize their illegitimacy—are bastions of indoctrination, “shaped by narrow, one-sided political agendas” (xxxiv).

While debating Horowitz at Reed College (full disclosure, my alma mater), Peter Steinberger offered an explanation for “why so many professors are liberal.” In short, Steinberger argues, academics are people who draw conclusions based on evidence. The evidence shows that hierarchies of race, class, and gender exist. Thus, those of us who teach subjects like Women’s and Gender Studies or Black Studies—and here I’m inserting myself in his argument—and who have an obligation to teach our students accurately about these subjects, must teach them this. And if we believe, moreover, as Steinberger puts it, that these “undeserved inequalities are so vast, so egregious, so devastating, that we have a moral responsibility try to do something,” then that is when we become the kinds of professors who will end up on this watchlist.

Steinberger’s response is a nuanced, moral one. It is also a rigorous, academic one. He demonstrates the inconsistencies of Horowitz’s argument, appeals to his audience’s better nature, and—it’s pretty clear, at least to this reader—wins the debate. Similarly, Yancy’s New York Times column, entitled “I Am A Dangerous Professor,” makes a stirring case for embracing one’s inclusion on the list.

These are arguments, and rigorous, moral arguments are one way to respond to the charge of indoctrination. But I want to make room for thinking about the moral value of another reaction: that of the joke. Like a metaphor, a joke works by doubling: you have to be able to hold two things in your mind at the same time. For a joke that rests on a pun, that’s the two meanings of a homophone. For a joke that relies on irony or sarcasm, that’s the assertion of plausibility and the knowledge of its falsehood. Jokes also teach us to hear tone, to attend to the context in which a thing is said, and to stay wary, lest we become the punch line. This is part of why it’s important not just to make jokes, but also to think about how jokes work. Humor can consolidate power, defining the boundaries of a group by shared understanding, wherein those who laugh are “in,” and those who don’t are “out.” But humor can also challenge the workings of power, undercutting received structures and exposing the absurdity of ideological assumptions. To add oneself to the watchlist—as many professors did—is to resist its agenda and publicly embrace the values it repudiates. To add Indiana Jones or Professor Snape to the watchlist, as quite a few people—at least according to Twitter—did, is both to disrupt the list’s ostensible purpose and to draw attention to its exaggerated rhetoric. There’s not much these two fictional professors have in common, but there is one thing: they’re both dangerous. In the fictional worlds that they inhabit, both of these men kill people. Even though neither man actually made it on to the list’s website, the joke works: this, it says, is a dangerous professor.

We don’t often think of jokes as nuanced or moral, but good jokes are precisely that: they offer us two possibilities, and ask us to choose. Is this indoctrination? Or is it indoctrination’s opposite? A stick, a carrot, or something else entirely?

For those of us who believe in Steinberger’s moral imperative—as I do—jokes can teach us to be careful, lest we accidentally deepen those inequalities with cruel or thoughtless punch lines. Indeed, a joke is exactly the thing that allows us to move beyond “narrow, one-sided political agendas.” When the humor website McSweeney’s published Donald Trump’s Black History Month address, verbatim, under the title “My Very Good Black History Month Tribute To Some of the Most Tremendous Black People,” in its series of “Short Imagined Monologues,” it transformed a thoughtless speech into a thoughtful joke.  To put this speech into this context is to point toward its implausibility, its absurdity, and its failure to meet the demands of its original context. This speech, the editors imply, belongs not at a breakfast honoring African-American leaders, but among the company of imagined speeches by luminaries such as “an Anthropomorphic Lady Jar of Mayonnaise,” an Epi-Pen, and Donatello from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. By transforming a real speech into a satirical speech, this editorial decision does more than just make fun. It points to the importance of distinguishing the real from the joke, and the difficulty of that task in the present moment. This joke forces us to hold two realities in our minds: the fact that this was a real speech, and the feeling that it can’t possibly have been a real speech. By making it into a joke, McSweeney’s reminds us that it was very real, and forces us to consider what about this speech makes that seem so unlikely. This is a joke that can teach us about what we expect from elected officials, what we’re getting, and how it feels when the two fail to align. Humor points back at reality, illuminating it from surprising angles.

Most of us learn about jokes pretty early. We do this so early, in fact, that we don’t really think of getting jokes (unlike telling them) as a learned skill. It is, however, one of the first forms of literary interpretation most of us encounter. In one sense, then, I am making an argument for teaching the kinds of interpretive practices that enable scholars like Yancy and Steinberger to make the stirring arguments they do. In another sense, this is an argument for fostering something more subtle, reminding students that the interpretive work we do in the classroom is not so different from the interpretive work they must do in their daily lives.

We live in a historical moment in which cultural knowledge is increasingly shared through humor. We’ve all heard that statistic about how all the young people these days are getting their news from The Daily Show. Critique also passes through less traditional channels, including every Bernie Sanders meme you’ve ever seen, and my favorite: “Clarissa Explains White Supremacy.” It’s a moment, too, that requires us to think carefully about questions of positionality—who gets to tell which jokes, and in what contexts, and to what audiences. A joke that’s painful in one context can be reparative in another, and that’s an important lesson as well. Turning the phrase “nasty woman” into a joke is a way of refusing its ugliness, a way of using language and humor as tools of care.

Students, in my experience, are often more adept at this than professors. Indeed, I should confess that the best joke about Bill O’Reilly came from one of my students: “Next,” she said, “ he’ll be warning us about Women’s Studies!” All of her peers laughed, and so did I. That joke brought us together, implicitly constituting us as a community by acknowledging our shared investment in women’s studies, and materially doing so by making us all laugh. It’s important to laugh sometimes, and that’s part of my point here. The other part is that we, as professors and teachers, need to acknowledge and affirm the multiple modes of language and interpretation that our students bring to the table, and give them the tools to understand how those modes interact with, rely on, and inform their cultural intuitions. Unpacking a joke is never exactly a funny exercise, but it is one with high stakes—especially for those of us who are genuinely invested in ensuring that our students have the critical thinking skills to resist narrow, one-sided ideologies, in addition to the meme-making skills to render them hilarious.

Horowitz, David (2006). The professors: The 101 most dangerous academics in America. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc.

My very good Black History Month tribute to some of the most tremendous Black people .(2017, February 1). McSweeney’s. Retrieved from https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/my-very-good-black-history-month-tribute-to-some-of-the-most-tremendous-black-people

Steinberger, P., & Horowitz, D. (2006, November). A debate on academic freedom. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.reed.edu/reed_magazine/winter06/columns/NoC/images/steinberger_horowitz.mp3Yancy, G. (2016, November 30). I am a dangerous professor. TheNew York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/30/opinion/i-am-a-dangerous-professor.html?_r=0


Curbing Ignorance and Apathy (Across the Political Spectrum)
Through Global Citizenship Education

By Michael Thier

What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?
I don’t know and I don’t care.

Whether we know that snarky response as a Jimmy Buffet lyric or the punchline to a quintessential Dad joke, “I don’t know and I don’t care” captures the disunity that defines the wake of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. We know or care very little about our ideological mirrors to the extent that the “United” States, our voting patterns, and our reactions to them have become a curiosity for the other 95% of the world’s population. Our new national pastime of navel-gazing about an election that many pundits call inexplicable follows a campaign filled with rambunctious rhetoric that revealed globalization as a springboard for the social unease that propelled Donald Trump into the Oval Office.

Many voters chose their candidate based on perceptions of his business bona fides. Those voters either did not know or did not care that multiple bankruptcies do not align with such perceptions. Many voters used their ballots in protest, seeking an outsider whose expertise came from beyond the Washington, DC, Beltway. Those voters either did not know or did not care that public policy experience often predicts one’s ability to govern. Disheartened members of the political left continue to reproach the president and his supporters for what they see as a barrage of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and Islamophobia. But Trump opponents either do not know or do not care that packaging 46% of the electorate as all racists, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes, and Islamophobes is inherently misguided. Instead, Pehme (2016) counsels crestfallen liberals to engage right-leaning family members around the dinner table, suggesting that despite “a depressing number of them that deserve these characterizations, to brush aside the more than 61 million Americans who cast their ballots for Trump as mere hateful idiots is to perpetuate the liberal elitism that helped fuel Trump’s success” (para. 11).

Regardless of what your 2016 ballot looked like, choosing to neither know nor care about the perspectives of nearly half your country’s citizens exhausts any chance to win the hearts and minds of your ideological mirrors. Ideas no longer matter once we squander opportunities for dialogue. As someone who has cast votes for both major U.S. political parties, but who also counts himself among those who believe that two people can disagree while both being right, I recommend that we stop wringing our hands and cease asking how our country could have elected a reality TV personality with a professor emerita-length CV of unpresidential behaviors. Instead, as the serenity prayer instructs, we must accept the things we cannot change, summon the courage to change the things we can, and find the wisdom to know the difference. Taking the latter tack, we should begin by accepting that no one wins minds by calling others ignorant. No one wins hearts by calling others cold. Instead, we must examine something that nearly none of our public schools taught us to know or care about: global citizenship education (GCE). Summoning the courage to change the things we can, I propose we emphasize GCE, a concept that too many education decision-makers overlook regardless of their political persuasion.

In a world beset by the opportunities and challenges of globalization, GCE can instill the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and dispositions to live, learn, and work. In one of many global citizenship conceptualizations, Oxley and Morris (2013) present four cosmopolitan dimensions (political, moral, economic, and cultural) and four advocacy dimensions (critical, social, environmental, and spiritual). With so many dimensions to navigate, one might readily recognize why GCE can prompt students’ critical thought about the world they inhabit (Henderson, Nunez-Rodriguez, & Casari, 2011; Maguire, Donovan, Mishook, de Gaillande, & Garcia, 2012). Given climate change, wealth inequality, permeable borders, and complex geopolitical conflicts, it seems logical that GCE would be offered as public-school standard. Unfortunately, though, the travesty of inequitable opportunities to learn relegates GCE to boutique status. By one measure, less than 1.5% of U.S. public schools serve GCE to their K-12 students (Thier, 2016). Even in the rare places that offer GCE, access favors students who are university-bound, White, and from affluent backgrounds (Perna et al., 2013). Several additional challenges thwart efforts to scale up GCE: its literature base is diffuse (Marshall, 2011), its definitions remain hotly contested (Davies, 2006; Myers, 2016), and GCE empirical studies are rare (Kerkhoff Vessa, 2016). Still, this burgeoning area of interdisciplinary research and practice links GCE to several desirable outcomes, such as increasing empathy within and across cultures, as well as fostering engagement with and understanding of complex international affairs (Goren & Yemini, 2017).

Since Election Day 2016, pundits have clutched at myriad factors in their attempts to explain results. Some have zeroed in on a core component of GCE: attitudes toward globalization (e.g., Lakshmanan, 2016). Many Americans’ exceptionally tepid attitudes toward the rest of the world are not surprising given the bubble our nationally focused schools have created. After World War II claimed the lives of as many as 85 million humans or about 4% of the world’s population at the time, many policymakers and educators pleaded for U.S. education to globalize students’ experiences (Scott, 2005). Instead, policies continue to compel elementary and secondary educators to address a narrow range of curricular goals, typically those that can be tested easily, such as basic skills in literacy and numeracy (Zhao, 2015). Focusing on local and national priorities, our secondary schools do not mandate that students learn about the world. Students simply do not receive the type of intentional GCE that would help them gain critical self-awareness, mutual respect, and a sense of reciprocity (Dolby, 2008), all traits that would be beneficial if distributed widely across our electorate and our society at large.

For example, the Education Commission of the States (2007) compiled graduation requirement data for our 50 states and the District of Columbia. Less than half of those 51 jurisdictions required students to take as much as a half-unit of globally focused social studies coursework (e.g., world geography, world history, or even European history). Only eight jurisdictions required students to spend one or more years learning a language other than English. Only three jurisdictions—Michigan, Washington, DC, and West Virginia—required students to take a global studies course and also learn a language other than English. By contrast, nearly all students were compelled to take three or more years of English, mathematics, and science each. With such little priority accorded to formal opportunities to learn global themes, one could imagine how infrequently schools might integrate GCE across subjects, an approach that Heilman (2008) casts as a remedy for a “single-nation curriculum” (p. 30).

Some readers might wonder what, if any, are the costs to our domestic focus. As one seemingly innocuous example, we join Burma and Liberia as the only three countries on the planet that do not use the metric system, denying us the ability to collaborate seamlessly in a common language of measurement with nearly 200 other countries. Of greater severity, perhaps the kinds of global perspectives that one could develop through intentional, well-integrated GCE would have helped the electorate think deeply about the ramifications of nationalist agendas, of the economic variety or otherwise. Sadly, the world is witnessing a rising tide of nationalism. The Economist (2016) likened the U.S. Republican Party’s gravitation toward nationalism to the rise of alternative populist parties in Austria (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs), France (Front National), Germany (Alternative für Deutschland), Hungary (Fidesz – Magyar Polgári Szövetség), India (Bharatiya Janata Party), the Netherlands (Partij voor de Vrijheid), Poland (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość), Sweden (Sverigedemokraterna), and Turkey (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi). These parties all reject globalization, refugees, and immigrants, particularly those who are Muslim. Given the U.S. history of an inward-facing educational agenda (Gaudelli & Fernekes, 2004), we must abandon the practice of disregarding our globalizing world.

Inside the bubble of our “America-first” educational system, we learn to know and care very little about the rest of the world (Rapoport, 2009; Summit, 2013). Surrounded by 3,000 miles of ocean on either side, our historic bouts of isolationism align well with our recent potential to reignite that practice. But if we want education to be a mechanism that mitigates ignorance and apathy for future generations of American voters (both the half that goes to the polls in a presidential year and the half that do not [1]), we must embrace GCE in K-12 classrooms. GCE can pierce the bubbles that interfere with our knowing or caring about the diversity that our communities, country, and world display.

In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, President Trump (2017) called education the “civil rights issue of our time.” Among several unspecified aspects of that claim, I wonder what U.S. education will do to make our citizens civil toward one another? To what extent will education lead students to approach each other with humility and mutual responsibility regardless of how their counterparts look, how they choose to pray or not, the language(s) they speak, their national affiliation(s), or any other demographic separators that would be better pitched as catalysts of intellectual curiosity? The idea “that America must put its own citizens first” to rediscover some nebulous moment of greatness is intellectually suspect, if not dishonest. In fact, GCE would lead to a greater society, one in which citizens possess global views that make them less inclined to endorse border wars, trade wars, or wars of any kind.

As exit polling data in Table 1 show, perceptions about globalization were powerful drivers of 2016 U.S. Presidential election results. Voters who cared most about foreign policy or the economy—issues that are often framed to require examinations of forces outside the country—endorsed one candidate. Voters who cared most about terrorism and immigration—issues that are often framed to generate protectionist or isolationist sentiments—endorsed another. Voters who viewed international trade as a job producer or as job neutral endorsed one candidate. Voters who viewed international trade as a job robber endorsed another. Overwhelmingly, anti-immigrant sensibilities guided a considerable segment of the electorate. In the wake of the June 2016 U.K. Brexit vote, University of Oxford sociologist Alexander Betts made similar observations during the TEDSummit. Betts argued that political lines no longer divide as right and left, as tax and spend. Instead, an unexamined fault line divides “those that embrace globalization and those that fear globalization” (McManus, 2016, para 4.)

To unite this divide in our age of truthiness, all students need GCE: an education that defines success using metrics other than standardized tests of basic literacy and numeracy skills. Schools should not be judged by their ability to place students on conveyor belts that move them through a requisite number of Carnegie units. Instead, success should produce active citizens who know how to sift through a universe of information to dissect sense from nonsense, a core experience of GCE. Success should mean graduates who engage in transformative, purposive action in their local communities and the wider world so they can combat intolerance (Bajaj, 2011; Catalano, 2013; Woolley, 2008). At a minimum, successful graduates should be discerning voters who recognize that neither CNN nor Fox News nor the Daily Kos nor Breitbart is painting a comprehensive picture of their community, country, or world. As Thomas Friedman, who made globalization a household word in his book, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century, notes in a 2010 op-ed, “When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, it becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues” (para. 10). Until we embrace education models that align with GCE, our electorate will remain ill-equipped to know or care. As long as we fail in that regard, we will get the leadership that we deserve.

[1] Presidential year voter turnout in the U.S. has fluctuated between 49-58% since 1964.

References

Bajaj, M. (2011). Human rights education: Ideology, location, and approaches. Human Rights Quarterly33, 481-508.

Catalano, T. A. (2013). Occupy: A case illustration of social movements in global citizenship education. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 8(3), 276-288.

Davies, L. (2006). Global citizenship: Abstraction or framework for action? Educational Review, 58, 5-25.

Dolby, N. (2008). Global citizenship and study abroad: A comparative study of American and Australian undergraduates. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad17, 51-67.

Education Commission of the States. (2007). Standard high school graduation requirements (50- state). Retrieved from http://ecs.force.com/mbdata/mbprofall?Rep=HS01

Friedman, T. L. (2005). The world is flat: A brief history of the 21st century. New York, NY: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

Friedman, T. L. (2010, 16 Nov.). “Too good to check.” The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/17/opinion/17friedman.html

Gaudelli, W., & Fernekes, W. R. (2004). Teaching about global human rights for global citizenship. The Social Studies95, 16-26.

Goren, H., & Yemini, M. (2017). Citizenship education redefined–A systematic review of empirical studies on global citizenship education. International Journal of Educational Research82, 170-183.

Heilman, E. E. (2008). Including voices from the world through global citizenship education. Social Studies and the Young Learner20(4), 30-33.

Henderson, F., Nunez-Rodriguez, N., & Casari, W. (2011). Enhancing research skills and information literacy in community college science students. The American Biology Teacher73, 270-275.

Huang, J., Jacoby, S., Strickland, M., & Lai, K. K. R. (2016, 8 Nov.). Election 2016: Exit Polls. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/election-exit-polls.html

Kerkhoff Vessa, S. N. (2016). Designing global futures: A mixed methods study to develop and validate the Teaching for Global Readiness Scale. (Doctoral dissertation, North Carolina State University). Retrieved from https://repository.lib.ncsu.edu/handle/1840.16/11104

Lakshmanan, I. A. R. (2016, 11 Nov.). “Trump won. Globalization lost. Now what?” Boston Globe. Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/columns/2016/11/10/trump-won-globalization- lost-now-what/b1qHh9uprJUd6AbVMwIHWN/story.html

Maguire, C., Donovan, C., Mishook, J., Gaillande, G. D., & Garcia, I. (2012). Choosing a life one has reason to value: The role of the arts in fostering capability development in four small urban high schools. Cambridge Journal of Education42, 367-390.

Marshall, H. (2011). Instrumentalism, ideals and imaginaries: Theorising the contested space of global citizenship education in schools. Globalisation, Societies and Education9, 411- 426.

McManus, E. (2016). I am British: Alexander Betts at TEDSummit. Retrieved from

Myers, J. P. (2016). Charting a democratic course for global citizenship education: Research directions and current challenges. Education Policy Analysis Archives24(55), 1-19.

Oxley, L., & Morris, P. (2013). Global citizenship: A typology for distinguishing its multiple conceptions. British Journal of Educational Studies61, 301-325.

Pehme, M. (2016, 22 Nov.). “C’mon, liberals, give your Trump-voting relatives some love on Thanksgiving: Just because they voted for Trump doesn’t mean they’re awful people. Really. So talk to them.” The Daily Beast. Retrieved from http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/23/c-mon-liberals-give-your- trump-voting-relatives-some-love-on-thanksgiving.html

Perna, L. W., May, H., Yee, A., Ransom, T., Rodriguez, A., & Fester, R. (2013). Unequal access

to rigorous high school curricula: An exploration of the opportunity to benefit from the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Educational Policy, 29, 402-425.

Rapoport, A. (2009). Lonely business or mutual concern: The role of comparative education in the cosmopolitan citizenship debates. Current Issues in Comparative Education12, 23- 32.

Scott, R. A. (2005). Many calls, little action: Global illiteracy in the United States. Language Problems & Language Planning29, 67-82.

Summit, J. (2013). Global citizenship demands new approaches to teaching and learning: AASCU’s Global Challenges initiative. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 45(6), 51-57.

The Economist. (2016, 19 Nov.). The new nationalism: With his call to put “America First”, Donald Trump is the latest recruit to a dangerous nationalism. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21710249-his-call-put-america-first- donald-trump-latest-recruit-dangerous

Thier, M. (2016). Left behind: Associating school-level variables with opportunities for global education. Presented at the 2015 annual conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education; posted in 2016. http://www.aare.edu.au/publications- database.php/9769/left-behind-associating-school-level-variables-with-opportunities-for- global-education

Trump, D. J. (2017, 28 Feb.). Speech to joint session of Congress. Retrieved from http://www.voanews.com/a/excerts-of-president-trumps-speech-to- congress/3744629.html

Woolley, R. (2008). Spirituality and education for global citizenship: Developing student teachers’ perceptions and practice. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality13(2), 145-156.

Zhao, Y. (2015). Counting what counts: Reframing educational evaluation. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.

Table 1
2016 U.S. Presidential Election Exit Polling Data by Percentage
Item Clinton Trump
Most important issue: foreign policy 60 34
Most important issue: economy 52 42
Most important issue: terrorism 39 57
Most important issue: immigration 32 64
Trade with other countries: creates jobs 59 35
Trade with other countries: does not affect jobs 54 39
Trade with other countries: costs jobs 31 65
Handling illegal immigrants working in U.S.: deportation 14 84
Support building wall along U.S.-Mexico border 10 86

Note. Data from Huang, Jacoby, Strickland, and Lai (2016).

Biographical statementMichael Their, a Research and Policy Fellow jointly appointed to the Educational Policy Improvement Center and the Center for Equity Promotion at the University of Oregon (UO), is a candidate for a concurrent Ph.D. (Educational Leadership, specialization in quantitative research methods) and M.P.A. He collaborates with researchers in 10 countries on mixed-methods studies that focus on (a) global citizenship education and (b) opportunities and challenges for students in rural and remote schools. His previous degrees come from New York University (B.A. Journalism) and Stony Brook University (M.A.T., English). Most importantly, he is the proud father of two daughters. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michael Thier, University of Oregon, Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership; 5267 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403. Email: mthier@uoregon.edu


BLM call for conversations content


T train

By Imrul Mazid

Engine, engine, letter T,

on the New York transit

“free,”

if these pigs go off the track,

stick em up,

stick em up,

stick em up!

Back on the scene,

shells on the T,

forward

to 1984.

Ammunition

strapped to my back,

writing thoughtcrimes

with a sword.

Rounds of artillery

and magazines,

munitions,

clips galore.

Best-selling heaters

in section nine,

self-determination,

aisle four.

A bang-bang,

a baby bubba,

a bang-bang

to the boogidy-beat.

(Bacon).

The boar beared down

and up-jumped my boogie,

broke my rhythm of the boogie,

the beat.

(I’m bakin).

Pigair gondher jonne ami nishash falithe parthesi na.

Amar tupir modhe lakha “Ali.”

Amar chambrar modhe kali.

Amar monair modhe judho,

onek mara-mari.

Amar jonmo hoylo bideshi,

ayta amar bari.

Ayta amar train,

ayta amar gari!

Engine, engine, letter T,

on the New York transit

“free,”

if these pigs go off the track,

stick em up,

stick em up,

stick em up!

Pigs rifled through my bag,

found my black and steely revolver,

my 44 Mag.

“Where you going, boy,

and what’s this here book?”

“I’m going to the library,

Oinker,

and a crook

is a crook

is a crook.”

“Look,

war is peace,

you’re a terrorisk,

and I just put you on my hit list.

It’s a free market,

and I’ll stop and frisk

with a star-spangled

iron

fist.”

“Seize the Fourth Amendment,

trample human rights,

oh, but I forgot,

in 1984,

the daytime is the night!

Banish books

like the Truthspeak Crew,

but I’ll muzzle your snout,

stick you in the zoo!

Pigs play in State Pens,

and I’ll brandish my pen,

I’m a snipewriter

through and through.”

A bang-bang,

a baby bubba,

a bang-bang

to the boogidy-beat.

When these pigs go off the track,

stick ’em up,

stick ’em up,

stick ’em up!

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

The impetus for this piece derives from a stop-and-frisk experience on the New York City subway. Drawing from the rich aural tradition of hip-hop, the poem addresses issues of a surveillance state, the policing of black and brown bodies, and the criminalization of knowledge. I sample re-interpretations of poetic luminaries, Sugarhill Gang and Black Sheep, which establishes a meter overlaid by Orwellian themes. The juxtaposition of English and Bengali linguistic forms reflects the native’s double-consciousness and the effects of state violence in the psychic realm.

 

>>>

Bengali exerpt

Pigair gondher jonne ami nishash falithe parthesi na.

Amar tupir modhe lakha “Ali.”

Amar chambrar modhe kali.

Amar monair modhe judho,

onek mara-mari.

Amar jonmo hoylo bideshi,

ayta amar bari.

Ayta amar train,

ayta amar gari!

Rough translation

I can’t breathe because of the stench of the pig.

“Ali” written on my hat.

Melanin in my skin.

War on my mind,

lots of fighting.

I’m born outside the motherland,

this is my home.

This is my train,

this is my car!

 

 


By Monica Chavez

Oakland High School, 9th grade


Anything But American

By Britany Borens

Please don’t call me African American. I’m no longer proud to be American. I mean, how could I be proud of a nation that takes enjoyment in the slaughtering of colored people, more often black people.

To the people that think that Mike Brown is the first case of police brutality, allow me to introduce you to just a few victims:

John Crawford — John Crawford, 22, murdered in Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio. By a police officer who said Crawford wouldn’t drop his weapon. However new surveillance footage shows officers give Crawford time to drop what ended up being a toy gun from the toy section. Policemen here cleared of my wrongdoing.

Please don’t call me African American.

Charles Smith — 29 year old was executed by police in Savannah Georgia. He was shot in the back of his head while having cuffed behind his back. His body was left on display for three hours. His murderer, Officer David Jannot, is on paid leave.

Please don’t call me African American.

And of course there’s Mike Brown.

Mike Brown — an 18 year old in Ferguson, MO was shot 6 times by Darren Wilson, then left on the ground for 4 ½ hours. Wilson says that Mike punched him in the face and had a lethal weapon but a video of the fatal shooting (a video you can watch online) shows Brown saying he was unarmed and a picture of Wilson after shooting shows no bruises. According to ryot.org, a woman named PLaget Crenshaw, who lives in a apartment, overlooking the street where Brown was killed also videotaped the incident because from the beginning something felt off about the incident. “From it all initially happening, I knew this was not right. I knew the police should’nt have been chasing this boy and firing at the same time. And the fact he got shot in his face, something clicked in me and I thought someone else should see this so I recorded,” she told CNN. According to Crenshaw, it appeared that the officer was trying to pull the teen into his car when Brown got away. The officer then fired his weapon multiple times.

Not only did Crenshaw videotape the scene but also someone on Twitter whose username is the TheePharoah tweeted what happened: I just saw someone die OMFG 10:03 am.

10:04 am The police just shot someone dead in front of my crib go.

10:05 am Fuckfuckfuck #justiceformikebrown: why did they shoot him?

10:14 am: No reason! he was running!

Both Crenshaws and TheePharoah tweets prove that Wilson shout out of malice rather than self-defence, as Brown was running when Wilson fired. And yet with all this evidence and more against him, Wilson is still a free man who has gotten thousands of dollars and a vacation for murdering a young teen.

The whole Mike Brown situation really shows that the white man’s words are worth more than cold, hard facts and this must stop. We must change our justice system if we expect our nation to thrive on another two thousand years or so, because if we can’t trust our government than the people will take justice into their own hands getting revenge on people whose took a loved one, people breaking laws and not paying taxes and a government without a justice system won’t last.

So, in my opinion the first step in changing our system is taking guns away from police officers, people make mistakes and if you accidentally kill someone there’s no way to make it right, a life will be gone forever. tasers, bats, and mace is enough to defend oneself without taking a life and if there’s ever a situation where guns are needed (which there will be) the swatt can handle it.

Secondly the people of the U.S. should become more educated on their rights, knowing your rights such as knowing whether police officers have the right to search your bag with or without your permission could help you get out a lot you never know.

These are just a couple of my ideas to reduce and stop police brutality and racism in our justice system. I hope my essay has inspired and opened the eyes of others to see that this is a serious problem, this should be taken as seriously as global warming if the US is going to survive another couple of thousands of years.

Until we fix police brutality I’m Britany and I’m anything but American.


Responding and Restructuring: Turning Schools into Allies

Kena Hazelwood-Carter and Jordan Karr

 

University of California, Berkeley

Responding and Restructuring: Turning Schools into Allies

In the midst of the cacophony of “Justice for Michael Brown!”, “Justice for Eric Garner!”, “I can’t breathe”, and “#BlackLivesMatter” it is equally important to take a step back and formulate an informed, modulated, and fully conceived response.  A response that encompasses not only the justified justifiable outrage, but also the too often ignored needs of children who see daily have seen their peers, parents, and neighbors targeted by those who pledge to keep them safe are pledged to keeping them safe (NAACP, 2014).  If, on their way to or from anywhere, they can be stopped and frisked anywhere, then the very streets leading to their homes, schools, friends’ houses, and churches are not benign.   Instead of ignoring the reality of these students lives it is important that we as educators, counselors, administrators, and support staff must not ignore these realities, and must equip ourselves as allies to these children. to be allies not solely in thought and word but in deed as well.

Most students’ lives are bookended by homes where they are sat down to have, “the talk”, as a small effort to try and keep them safe.  Messages like: “don’t walk in a store with your hands in your pockets,” “keep your hood down at night,” “never run anywhere” are modified by assurances that it’s not the child who is at fault but the greater world that is biased against them (Sultan, 2014).  Unfortunately, American schools also harbor these biases are not a benevolent exception to these biases. Black students are often targeted by teachers poorly equipped to teach diverse populations with disparate needs, cultural norms, and preparation levels, resulting in disproportionate rates of suspension and expulsion (USDE, OCR, 2014).  This reality, when combined with the clear miscarriage of justice witnessed on our streets, means that these youths are being primed to fight. Every door they step out of or through is a threshold to an ideological or literal battlefield. In this framework it is impossible to deny the need for institutional restructuring. The question becomes how best to respond.?

It is important to realize that often times parents and extended relatives those those we would naturally expect to provide solace and guidance, are missing from these children’s lives.  One in four Black children born in 1990 had a parent imprisoned at some point during their childhood experienced parental incarceration (Wildman, 2009). For these children and their families  those like them, who see their families ripped apart by the justice system’s caprices, the idea of a fair justice system is incomprehensible. This is compounded when you consider recent statistics: , which reflect that Black Americans receive 10% longer prison sentences and are disproportionately incarcerated for drug related infractions (NAACP, 2014).  Not only are Black children at risk for having a parent their caregiver imprisoned and differently treated, these children themselves are frequently denied the protective veil of childhood. Black boys are perceived as older and less innocent than like aged peers and are tried as adults 18% more frequently than white children (Goff et al., 2014). So again we ask, how to frame a response?

Schools are uniquely placed to counter the greater oppositional socialization provided by the justice system can be effectively identified, discussed, and neutralized.  And all it takes are a few simple steps.

  1. Acknowledge the problem exists.
  2. Own your ignorance.
    1. Educate yourself
      1. No one expects you to know the perfect thing to say or do, but there are a lot of great resources out there to help you find your way (look up the Staten Island School Chancellor’s video).
    2. Ask questions
      1. The only way to learn what you do not know is to ask.
  3. Show up, and Step Back
    1. Sometimes it’s enough to have someone voice acknowledgement of the issue:
      1. Send out emails, have an assembly, work with your school’s guidance counselors or school psychologist to tailor a response to your unique population.
    2. Sometimes the last thing someone overwhelmed with the thoughts, feeling and emotions contingent to these issues wants is to have another conversation.  Be respectful of this too. Remember being an ally and a resource means showing up in the way that best meets the needs of the group you are trying to serve.
  4. Provide a space
    1. Set-up a time for general discussion but also one specifically for those who might be most impacted by these events either due to personal history, demographic background, or some other reason, but do not assume you know who is going to fall into which category.
    2. Think about ways you can integrate the voices and history of traditionally ignored populations into general ed curricula.  New research is showing positive outcomes across the board, especially for underserved populations, when ethnic studies is included in the general curriculum (Tintiangco-Cubales, 2014).

5)  Allow for levity

Yes this is a serious subject matter but, if you can find a way to acknowledge what is absurd it can go a long way to bridging any perceived distance or unintended hurt.

  1. Allow for growth
    1. No one is going to be perfect at navigating these waters immediately but, if you are willing to keep the lines of communication open, apologize when you misstep and make allowances for others if they are less than magnanimous when you make your overtures of friendship or support, it should all come out fine.
    2. Be willing to adopt progressive disciplinary policies.  Research shows a clear link between suspension and dropout rates (Lee, Cornell, Gregory, & Fan, 2011).  These findings, taken together with the disproportionate disciplinary actions taken against Black students, make it imperative to consider alternatives (Losen, 2011).  Aggression and misbehavior in schools may often be explained by underlying emotional needs that have not been met (Dwyer, Oshen, & Wargen, 1998). Schools that counter behavior problems through meditation, counseling, parent-teacher conferences, and positive incentives have seen reductions in dropout rates (Losen, 2011).

References

Dwyer, K., Osher, D., & Warger, C. (1998). Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe          Schools. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED418372

Goff, P., Jackson, M. C., Allison, B., Di Leone, L., Culotta, C. M., DiTomasso, D. A. (2014).

The Essence of Innocence: Consequences of Dehumanizing Black Children, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 526 –545. DOI: 10.1037/a0035663

Lee, T., Cornell, D., Gregory, A., & Fan, X. (2011). High suspension schools and dropout rates

for black and white students. Education and Treatment of Children, 34(2), 167-192.          Retrieved from: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/education_and_treatment_of_children/v034/34.2.lee.html

Losen, D. (2011). Discipline policies, successful schools, and racial justice.  Retrieved from: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/4q41361g 12/13/2014

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Retrieved from: http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet 12/12/2014

Tintiangco-Cubales, A.; Kohli, R.; Sacramento, J.; Henning, N.; Agarwal-Rangnath, R.;

Sleeter, C. (2014). Toward an Ethnic Studies Pedagogy: Implications for K-12 Schools from the Research. The Urban Review. doi.org/10.1007/s11256-014-0280-y

Sultan, A. (2014).  Black Moms Tell White Moms About the Race Talk. Uexpress.com.
Retrieved from: http://www.uexpress.com/parents-talk-back/2014/9/29/black-moms-tell-white-moms-about 12/10/2014

US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. (2014). Data Snapshot: School Discipline

Issue Brief No. 1 (March 2014) retrieved from: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/crdc-discipline-snapshot.pdf

12/12/2014

Wildeman, C. (2009). Parental Imprisonment, the Prison Boom, and the Concentration of

Childhood Disadvantage. Demography 26, pp. 265-280. Retrieved from                  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1353/dem.0.0052

Resources

http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/12/new_york_schools_chancellor_le.html


Truth

By David Perez

August 9, 2014, 18 year old black man, Mike Brown was fatally shot 12 times in Ferguson, Missouri by police officer, Darren WIlson. This caused an outbreak of unrest in America. It believed that is was an unjust killing that as just another case of police brutality, being compared to the Rodney King beating. Although most people believe that this was an unjust killing that came from racial hatred, it is also believed that it was a justifiable homicide and that the use of force that officer Darren Wilson used was necessary to protect his own life. There is no videos, pictures or audio of the event that occurred so what really happened is heavily disputed.

It is widely believed that the event that took place was a result of black people, black men being targeted by police, often white police as criminals and racially discriminated. This might be true, but not entirely. Police brutality in america is not just being revealed to the world, it’s been around for decades, and really affected america in the 80s. It may be about race, but american police are already known to be violent and unfair, but it is more likely to be treated this way if you are a black man, than if you are a white man. But not all white men are safe from tyranny. Kelly Thomas, was a schizophrenic white man beaten to death by police officers of Fullerton California. No one is completely safe.

No one will ever know the full truth of what occurred that led up to Mike Brown being shot and killed , except for one person, Darren Wilson. And lets face it, a human will do everything it takes to preserve one’s self, including lying.


Further Notes on Teaching in the time of #Ferguson*

Edwin Mayorga
Swarthmore College

Ferguson was where this semester began.

When non-indictment news from Ferguson began streaming in I found myself searching. Searching for answers, searching for justice. I have been inspired by the various collections of resources that have been assembled through by educators who have sought to support others as we work through this tragedy (resources below).  But having just moved with my family to Swarthmore College (PA) I have thought about what it has meant to be teaching in the time of Ferguson.

The changing same

Before teaching , we must make sense of situations for ourselves. The failure to indict Darren Wilson was sadly not surprising. Instead it is a changing same. It speaks to the way oppressions, and racism specifically, are sown into the fabric of our society. As Gilmore noted, “racism, specifically, is the sanctioned or extralegal production and exploitation of group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death”[1]. What happened in Ferguson was a sanctioning of the legal system as a group differentiated death-dealing machine. What happened in Ferguson is injustice by design within the racial capitalist, carceral, state in which we live. The maintenance of racial and economic conditions in Ferguson, nationally, and globally become the legitimized motivation for state, and state-sanctioned, violence. In short Black lives matter, only in so much as they are of value to advancing what Robinson (1983) described as racial capitalism. Once decoupled from that value, our bodies become disposable.

This is the “changing same” that we must recognize and continue to document and analyze if we seek to abolish it.

Centering our humanity

There is much to analyze about Ferguson, the killing of Michael Brown and the numerous other Black people and people of Color who have died premature deaths at the hands of the state, but for now I turn to the undergraduate classroom.

In my haste to respond to injustice by sharing information and resources, I lost sight of the broader challenge to humanity moments like these pose. I needed to give my students AND myself time and space to grieve over the negation of human life and Black lives in particular. Engaging our grief, letting it circulate through us, is a part of moving forward. With that in mind I sent out an email to all of my students. I shared information from the night before, encouraged them to continue following social media, and let them know that the college was organizing transportation to Philadelphia to participate in a march. I also offered up my office as a space for students to meet. Not many students stopped by, but a few did, and several others thanked me via email for sharing information and making the office available.

After attending the march in Philadelphia , Joelle Bueno, a student in my Intro to Educational Studies course, noted in an email:

“thank you so much for sharing about the protests in Philly. I really appreciate your dedication to us as students and as people, it really means a lot to me especially as a freshman.”

Joelle’s words demonstrate the impact of centering people in the classroom. When we show our students that they matter to us, and that the injustices happening in the world must matter to all of us, we are having an impact.

To me, teaching in the time of Ferguson requires us to teach with our humanity at the center. In carving out spaces to come together we can begin to see each other, and  connect ourselves to stories of human struggle that are often, intentionally, blurred from sight.

Groundwork

Centering people in the classroom is an ongoing process rather than a single event. The groundwork  begins in the planning of the curriculum and is as every bit as essential as is the content we teach. This semester began with Ferguson, and I had to immediately modify our early sessions to to make certain that what was happening in the world was a part of our discussions on education. What became evident was that in addition to space for discussion students wanted more language and historical context for talking about racism and education.  As part of a changing same, Ferguson and the protests that have ensued are marks of the long history of structural racism and abolition work in the U.S. These stories are not often part of curriculum prior, but I contend that these stories are essential.

Ferguson is also a mirror.  Students are well intentioned folks who recognize the complexities of privilege and see broader injustices. Still, social forces like structural racism are thought to happen somewhere else, and through our discussion we came to recognize how we are all situated within structural oppression. We recognized that just as much work needed to be done within the college as was required in beyond the college.

Hope and radical possibilities

Ferguson was where the semester ended, and justice work was re/ignited.

Coming to grips with complicity can often have a paralyzing effect on those who wish to act. The long march to freedom can sometimes seem too big, too impossible. I invited students to read Crawley’s stunning piece, Otherwise, Ferguson,  Duncan-Andrade’s Note to educators: Hope required when growing roses in concrete, and Chapter 10 of Jean Anyon’s book, Radical Possibilities.  In each of theses pieces the call to fight injustice is clear and the sustainability of the work is made possible when we are animated by the radical possibilities of an otherwise.

Hope, I have come to think, is something crafted through human relationship.We remain hopeful because the ideas and action we share with the people around us nourish a feeling that change is possible. In the days since our last class meeting, students have expressed a desire to continue having these conversations and continue taking action next semester. The march is a long one, and our commitment to justice keeps me hopeful and thinking about #FergusonNext.

References
1. Anyon, J. (2005). Radical possibilities: Public policy, urban education, and a new social movement. New York: Routledge.

2. Crawley, A. (2014). Otherwise, Ferguson. Interfictions Online, (4). Retrieved from http://interfictions.com/otherwise-fergusonashon-crawley/

3. Duncan-Andrade, J. (2009). Note to educators: Hope required when growing roses in concrete. Harvard Educational Review, 79(2).

4. Gilmore, R. W. (2007). Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Resources (more resources to follow)* 

Desmond-Harris, J. (2014, September 2). Do’s and Don’ts for Teaching About Ferguson. Retrieved November 26, 2014

Ferguson Syllabus from Sociologists for Social Justice

National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation

Otherwise, Ferguson by Ashon Crawley.

Teaching and Learning in a Ferguson World (Paul Tritter, BTU Director of Professional Learning)

Teaching Ferguson Resources

Twitter #FergusonSyllabus

Teaching about Ferguson from the Zinn Education Project from Teaching for Change

*This essay is based on a previous post written by the author, Teaching in the Time of Ferguson (http://edwinmayorga.net/?p=515). Thanks to the various folks who have been putting these resources together since August. Specific thanks to Dr. Lee Smithey (@peacesociology) and the New York Collective of Radical Educators (@nycore3000).

 


By Connie Wun, Ph (of Illionis, Chicago) and Damien Sojoyner, PhD (Scripps College)

Beyond Police Violence: A Conversation on Antiblackness, #BlackLivesMatter, #WeChargeGenocide and the Challenge to Educators

The following is an excerpt of an ongoing dialogue between two scholars, Damien Sojoyner and Connie Wun, whose work closely examines the interlock of antiblackness, “violence,” schools, and prisons. It is situated within the current period – one that has focused on the police violence that has occurred across the nation, particularly in Ferguson, Cleveland, New York, Sanford, Chicago, Oakland, Detroit and Los Angeles. At the same time, this conversation situates the deaths of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Dominique Franklin Jr. and Rekia Boyd, Oscar Grant, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and Ezell Ford as a part of a civil society that is foundationally antiblack. We also understand that these are only a few of the names of people who have been murdered by police and with impunity. Police murders of Black people, we contend, are characteristic of a structure that also includes “slow and gradual state violence” against Blacks. The latter takes the form of school closures in predominantly Black neighborhoods, gentrification and displacement of Black communities, mass incarceration and their effects, poor health care, hypersurveillance of Black bodies at large, and racial “microaggressions” across multiple social spaces. We understand that the important political actions concerning “Black Lives Matter,” exists along side “We Charge Genocide” and “Black Power Matters” campaigns. We recognize that police violence against Black people is a part of a society that is organized around ‘antiblackness’ and call for educators, researchers and scholars to respond accordingly.

Connie: There has been much said about Ferguson in both the popular media and across academic forums, is there anything that stands out for you?

Damien: One of the things that I take note of it is the framing of what constitutes the “problem.” That is, the popular depiction of Ferguson and the tragedy that befell Mike Brown and his family is the very specific identification of the police in general and even more concise, a particular police officer as “the problem.” Historically, I think back upon the many Black rebellions that have touched off in the United States dating back to the Houston Mutiny of 1917 to the Watts in 1965 to LA in 1992.  In all of these, while policing was a huge part of the issue, it was a part of a much more multifaceted set of issues.

For example, even though 1992 is best remembered for the savage beating of Rodney King and the acquittal of police officers, the demands by one of the major organizing forces, a coalition of Crips and Bloods, was not for better policing.  They put forth an analysis that centered the fact that Black lives are vulnerable to the terror of policing when Black people are forced to live and exist in conditions that render them vulnerable. Thus, their solutions to the condition of structured vulnerability were multifaceted. They demanded a complete power shift in terms of resources, such as control over health care, employment, education and housing, be placed in the hands of Black communities.

I look at Ferguson and I see a city where Black people are devoid of “political representation.”  The schools are on the verge of state receivership. There has been a history of police abuse in the city and surrounding areas. Many of Black people do not have jobs and when they do find work, they are not paid a living wage. Better policing would not be able to address these concerns.

Connie: What would you say is a better approach to take?

Damien: I think the approach taken by the youth in Chicago who are framing the issue around genocide is much more effective.  While there is very limited action that can be achieved at the level of the United Nations given the unilateral power that the United States holds over the body and the watered down version of genocide that was developed in the 1990’s, the historic framework of genocide provides a multifaceted approach to understand the extent of anti-Black racism in the US.

Connie: I agree. Your invocation of genocide reminds me of questions that I have been wrestling with for some time. What does it mean to say “genocide?” If we can understand and agree that a genocidal project is beyond immediate deaths caused by police violence, then we have to contend with civil society that enables and is predicated upon multiple forms of antiblack violence.

Damien: Pushing you on the link between civil society and genocide, how do we as educators answer this call? Especially within the context of our understanding that schools have long played a critical role in genocidal projects?

Connie: We should understand that “genocide” is not a hyperbolic term to describe the condition that Black people are living under. When we understand genocide, we understand that Blacks are the “prototypical targets” of police violence and other forms of state violence. We must also understand that Black people are subject to forms of violence that are not archived and are even more mundane than police violence. There is violence that is woven into the fabric of other state institutions and every day social relations. In combatting an antiblack genocidal project, we must understand that police violence is a part of the U.S. As educators, we have to identify the relationship between police violence with other institutionalized forms of violence against Black people.

For instance, we have to look at how school closures are generally accompanied by privatized charter schools and intensified punitive mechanisms, which also include soft policing strategies (i.e. restorative justice that problematize student behaviors instead of the conditions that shape their lives).
We have to understand that as educators we are implicated within the civil society project. We too are licensed to police and punish our students. However, we can authorize ourselves to organize against the genocidal project of antiblackness by revealing the connections between state institutions and the ways that they all enable the possibility of Black deaths.


By maisha quint

The underlying notion for this particular piece that I am submitting is to show how Black death is still sanctioned in much of the same way(s) that it was sanctioned post-reconstruction– that the ways in which we allow, treat and participate in Black death is eerily unchanged. My “hang” poems are influenced by Kara Walker’s work and the way it interrogates the supposed antiquity of the antebellum south and slavery; this myth that the beliefs, representations and sentiments of that era are over and in the past are blown open in her work. Like Walker, my poetry aims to articulate the understanding that these ideas are very much alive and foundational to our culture. And also like Walker, the visual quality of the poems is very important to their meaning; much like how silhouettes are used in Walker’s work to punctuate, the sparse clusters of text against so much white space are similarly crafted to capture, to create an unrelenting gaze on the violence continuously enacted upon Black bodies.                                                                            

hang

as in opposite of crawl:

hands dragging knees

that bleed but instead

legs dangle

after head.

as in limp

from a rope

that swings

back and forth.

as in strung up

like lights

blaze brilliant

in the night.

as in opposite of crawl:

hands dragging knees

that bleed

but alive.

to get the hang

of something

to become

capable

first find the tree

preferably one

sturdy enough

for two

maybe three

bark able to burn

if need be

trunk wide

but branches

high enough

for two

maybe three

preferably one

on open field

large enough

for thousands to see

the two

maybe three

sway free

as in proud display

like trophies

or plaques

like the flag

billowing

from courthouse steps

now watch

as they drag

bleeding

black boy’s neck

and if he

breaks free

watch him

run mad dog wild

he may scream

or pray

smash both legs

a group of children

snapped the teeth

out of his head

to sell

as souvenirs

as in pin up

on the wall

writing scrawled

along postcard edges:

Bill, this was some raw bunch

to learn the method or

arrangement of

to become accustomed to

over 10,000 spectators

including city officials and police

gathered to watch

hang

on the corner

in twos

maybe threes

shrugged backs in dark sweatshirts

hands stuffed in jeans

black boys watch

cops circle

two maybe three

as in

helicopter in sky

waiting

see black boys

fly

from street corner

run mad dog wild

police kill

a black man

woman or

child

every 28 hours

as in

smoke

that lingers

from a gun

just fired

as in

(black boy)

limp

like

slack rope

tape off

the perimeter

isolate

the body

calm the officer

offer coffee

or water

crowds will gather

hang

as in opposite of crawl:

hands dragging knees

that bleed

but instead

crowds will gather.


Individual to Institutional:

Learning About Structural Racism in a Classroom Shaped by Structural Racism

By Laura Winnick

After I returned from Thanksgiving break, I was surprised to learn that my Coordinating Teacher (C.T.) had changed our three-week unit from an Of Mice and Men trial to discussion and dialogue about the events in Ferguson.

The essential question of the unit – mostly planned by my C.T. – asks: How has Ferguson affected our communities and where do we go from here? The core content depended on articles that my C.T. had seen widely shared through social media. Students read a New York Times informational report, several opinion pieces, viewed images and video from the protests, and read Facebook posts by a variety of people defending their opinions on whether protesting is effective. Grades are based primarily on their spoken opinions on this topic, through philosophical chairs and Socratic seminar exercises.

I was responsible for one lesson in the three-week unit. My C.T. recommended I teach Sally Kohn’s article in the Washington Post, “What White People Need to Know, And Do, After Ferguson.” It was a challenging article that had been shared many times through my social networks and that I had previously read.

After leading after-school programming at an urban high school for the past three years, participating in an anti-racist reading group, and attending many diversity trainings, I was comfortable talking about my racial identity in a classroom of students of color.  And, yet, I didn’t want to teach this article.

Still, I spent hours creating a lesson, utilizing my personal collection of articles on white supremacy and racism. When I had created a complex lesson plan that depended on close reading and academic vocabulary, I asked a friend for feedback.

“Wait,” my friend responded after I told her. “Are any of the kids in your class white?”

I replied, “No.”

“Then why do they need to know what white people need to know in this situation?”

I realized that I wanted to teach my students something that would serve them, not me.

In the past two weeks I had witnessed students, passionate and fiery, calling for the end of riots without knowing how peaceful the protestors were who marched through the streets of their city. They debated whether looting was effective, without knowing how many stores had been looted and what protesters were trying to prove about the value of property over human life. They called all police racist, without a complex understanding of different forms of racism.

Their responses showed me that they were hungry for framing and context. They needed the language to locate racism in our country, and to identify the different forms it takes. As a teacher, it was my responsibility to support students in deepening their critical consciousness.

The Lesson:

The purpose of the lesson that I created is to define individual, institutional, and cultural racism, share examples of the three racisms, show examples of organizations combatting racism, and collectively brainstorm other ways to combat racism.

The framework of this lesson is through critical perspective; this depends on students understanding how society and other systems oppress and silence individuals.  The lesson began with a Do Now that asked students to share examples of racism, in their personal lives, in others’ lives, or throughout history. I asked students to share these with the class.

I explained to students that their examples (of being heckled on the street, of an Uncle’s experience in a foreign country, of a Principal assuming a student spoke Spanish) were quite different, and that we were going to learn a framework for thinking about different forms of racism.

Then I passed out a worksheet that asked students to state their definition of racism. I asked three students to share these definitions, and all three employed the verb “to treat.” I was startled to hear that students understood racism only as the treatment of the “other.” No student volunteered a definition that spoke of injustice on larger levels than the interpersonal. No one mentioned the deep history of racism in America or the institutional prejudice illuminated by the Eric Garner and Michael Brown non-indictments.

Continuing with the worksheet, students defined the terms cultural, institutional, and individual. Then we, as a class, built definitions; I was more vocal than I should have been during this section, coaching the students through the complexity of these terms.

The definition of cultural racism (the societal beliefs and customs that promote the assumption that the products of a given culture are superior to those of other cultures) proved hardest for students to understand. Institutional racism (prejudice and power) made sense to most students, as they volunteered examples about immigration and thought about the power of the government, the legal system, and prisons. However, when a student labeled “gangs” as institutions, I didn’t know exactly where that belonged on our chart, but I added it anyway, knowing that it merited a longer discussion. Individual racism (when a person has racist assumptions, beliefs or behaviors) was easy for students to grasp because it fit their prior schema on racism.

Next, I showed the video titled “Hey White People: A Kinda Awkward Note to America by #Ferguson Kids by FCKH8.com.”  (Link is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQfg52m0-4o.) When students received a transcript of the video before I cued it up on screen, Emilee said out loud, “I can tell from the title that I’m going to like this video.”

And the students really did like the video. Only one head was down while the rest of my students laughed, cocked their heads to the side, and scrunched their eyes. They were contemplating the faces of the young black kids from Ferguson, in front of them, animated and speaking powerfully against the racism perpetuated by our colorblind society.

My next goal was for students to identify moments of individual, institutional, and cultural racism in the video, recording these examples in a concentric circle chart. And even though it was arguably the most important part of the lesson, it did not happen.

As it is unfortunately typical in many under-resourced schools serving under-resourced populations, outside distractions filtered into the classroom in the form of one distraught student. Kyla had taken Diana outside of the classroom because she was crying about a friendship; Mikayla was concerned about Diana; students were growing restless, and the room suddenly felt quite heated. As my C.T. stepped outside of the room to comfort Diana, we all listened to Diana’s tears approach a full-blown panic and/or asthma attack. The class showed no signs of wanting to engage their critical consciousness.

Frantically, I taped sheets of paper over the slim window in the door so that students couldn’t see the school administrators surrounding Diana and I called for Mikalya to sit down.

I made a last-ditch attempt to wrap up the lesson, wanting to make sure that the class ended on a hopeful note. I showed students examples of anti-racist campaigns, projecting the #blacklivesmatter campaign on screen, clicking over to the Asians and Latinos support #blacklivesmatter media. I asked students to reflect on other ways to combat racism, and, despite cries of, “Miss you don’t care about Diana,” I tried to keep students on task for the last five minutes of class.

Irwin’s succinct reflection: “videos, protest, riots, peace” evidences that students don’t have many examples for campaigns that combat racism. Students struggled through this reflection, and several simply said to me: “there are no ways.” Although I prompted students, “what about that video you just watched?” some simply felt frustrated by the creative task at hand.

However, after collecting their learning logs and collapsing into my chair at the back of the classroom, I read through their one-sentence statements about what they learned in class. Most students stated that they learned about the different kinds of racism and its impacts, which was encouraging. Rodolpho wrote, “I learned that racism can be stopped.”

Supporting our students’ critical consciousness, especially those who attend under-resourced schools, won’t be easy. Critical pedagogy asks students to understand complex and academic language. It asks us to think deeply about the content we provide our students and how it serves them. It demands that teachers scaffold every component to activate student voice. And it also requires that Diana does not run out of the classroom crying.

But it is only when we eradicate institutional racism that such emergencies won’t interfere with the learning of our students of color. It is only then that under-resourced schools will get the resources they deserve, that Diana will have lived in a place that gave her healthy air to breath, that she will have attended schools that gave her access to social workers and therapy, that she will have the tools at her disposal for dealing with the end of a friendship outside of class instead of during.

For now, I’ll keep teaching our young people the language of critical consciousness, knowing that the actions they take to combat racism will be the ones that matter.

 

 


Law, Education, and Race: Reflections from a First-Semester Professor

By Rebecca Tarlau

I just finished my first semester as a Visiting Professor in a new masters program in Educational Leadership and Societal Change at Soka University of America, in South Orange County. The transition from being a graduate student to being a professor poses new challenges, both in terms of the work and in embracing a new identity as a professor. However, the biggest challenge I faced this semester was being detached from my colleagues at UC Berkeley, whom I had grown to trust and with whom I engaged in both political discussions and actions to intervene in the world.

These feelings of detachment culminated on Monday, November 24. This was the day that students called for a walkout across the UC system to denounce the recent tuition hikes. I felt pride in and envy of my graduate student colleagues, who were participating in something larger than themselves, which felt much more important than my teaching that week. Then, later that evening, I felt anger, sadness, and isolation, as I heard about the failure to indict Darrin Wilson and watched on TV as people across the country were taking to the streets to protest. Even more absurd was the fact that I still had three to four hours of class preparation to complete that evening, for a course on Educational Law and Policy that I was teaching. Ironically, the following day we would be discussing the legal history of race, desegregation, and affirmative action in the United States.

As I simultaneously watched the Ferguson protests on TV and prepared for my class, I had an increasing sense that Ferguson held more lessons for our understanding of educational law than the 800-page law textbook I was reading. I decided to organize our class discussion the following day by contextualizing the Ferguson decision and discussing why protesters’ skepticism of the law was logical, given the legal history of education and race in this country. Desegregation is too often told as a story of progress, a turning moment in our country’s “embarrassing” history of separating black and white children. I wanted to put this narrative of progress into question. I decided to teach the class by splitting up the history of educational law and race into four periods:

1) 1850-1954: Era of Separate but Equal

2) 1954-1974: Era of Desegregation Based on De Facto versus De Jure rulings

3) 1974 to 1996: Era of Desegregation & Race-Conscious Policies under Narrow-Tailoring

4) 1996-2014: Era of Intensified Affirmative Action Debates

This timeline served as a learning tool for us to conceptualize educational law not as  linear paths, but rather, as trends that were both progressive and regressive.

First, we discussed the blatant racism that existed in our country for decades under the “separate but equal” clause, which began with the 1850 Roberts v. City of Boston case that declared school segregation good for both races. The legality of “separate but equal” was solidified several decades later in the famous 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, which legally justified the segregation of Blacks, Latinos, and Asian minorities, in the name of “public safety.” However, even within this unlikely legal terrain, during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, the NAACP and other civil rights groups were able to use this law to make concrete gains for black students (e.g., Gaines v. Canada; Sweatt v. Painter). We then talked about the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case and how “separate but equal” was only repealed in a context when thousands of people were taking to the streets.

This led to a discussion about how, instead of staying in the streets, our country gave up the destiny of our schools to the legal system again, which between 1954 and 1974 was consumed by the distinction between de jure and de facto segregation–de jure segregation “arises by law or by deliberate act of school officials and is unconstitutional” and de facto segregation “results from residential housing patterns and does not violate the constitution.” We debated about why people did not simply take to the streets again at the blatant absurdity of the idea that housing patterns are not also affected by deliberate, racist acts. This acceptance of de facto segregation as “natural” has been used to legally justify a public school system that is now more segregated than before Brown v. Board.

Next, we discussed the rise of tracking during the 1960s and 1970s and also the illegality of inter-district busing after the 1974 Milliken v. Bradley case. This latter case solidified white flight as a legally-supported tactic to avoid desegregation. Then our class went over the affirmative action debates, starting with the 1978 Regents of the UC v. Bakke case, which upheld Affirmative Action under the restrictive language of “Narrow-Tailoring.” Afterwards, we explored how states, through state legislation such as California’s 1996 Prop 209, could choose to ignore even this limited language and make Affirmative Action policies completely illegal.

Our discussions led us to an assessment of educational law and race in 2014. Our basic conclusions were:

1) Desegregation is no longer legally viable, and schools are more segregated than before Brown v. Board;

2) Affirmative Action is on unstable footing; and,

3) State propositions, such as California’s Prop 209, can override any legal justification for Affirmative Action and have led to the UC system having lower percentages of Black students today than in the 1980s and 1990s.

We came to the consensus that educational law concerning race has clearly not been progressing over the past half-century. We ended the class with a debate about how viable it is to continue to use the legal system to improve racial relations in our schools. In regards to Ferguson, the question for us was not why people in Ferguson are so angry about the legal system and police prosecution, but why educational scholars are not expressing equal degrees of anger in regards to the legal system and education. Ferguson became a tool of critique of educational scholarship in our class.

However, even more importantly than this class discussion were our actions later that day, when several of the graduate students and I participated in a Ferguson solidarity protest organized by undergraduate students. I went to the protest as a faculty member in support of the students and also as a citizen angry about the Ferguson verdict. I am thankful for the national mobilizations over these past three weeks, which both allowed and forced me to embody this dual identity. It reminded me of a lesson I learned in graduate school, which I believe is equally important for professors: no matter how critical our teaching methods and scholarship, it is also necessary to act, to intervene in the world, and to take a stand not only rhetorically but physically.


Additional Resources for Further Dialogue

The Charlottesville Syllabus

Find zine #1 on UVAGSCL website: https://gradcoalition.com/wp/2017/08/14/charlottesville-syllabus-zine-1-for-august-12-2017/

“The Charlottesville Syllabus is a resource created by the Graduate Student Coalition for Liberation to be used to educate readers about the long history of white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia. With resources selected and summaries written by UVa graduate students, this abridged version of the Syllabus is organized into six sections that offer contemporary and archival primary and secondary sources (articles, books, responses, a documentary, databases) and a list of important terms for discussing white supremacy. Only “additional resources” are not available online (but can be found either through JSTOR, at the library, or for purchase).

What may be the largest fascist gathering in recent memory is being held in our town center this weekend. The Charlottesville Syllabus seeks to explore the local historical and contemporary precedents for this gathering, to give it history and context, to denounce it, and to amplify the voices of community members most affected by this “alt-right” occupation of space.

These resources are key to contextualizing the “alt-right” and their racist motivations. The “alt-right” have been working to distance themselves rhetorically from old-fashioned racist groups like the KKK, and it is essential that we do not let them falsify the narrative of white supremacy in Charlottesville and in this country.

 

A new and ongoing project, the syllabus is meant to be expanded, revised, and copied. Use this document as it’s useful to you, support each other, and take to the streets.”

– The GSCL

Additional Resources for Educators after Charlottesville

 

Teaching in Complex Times

James Baldwin’s Lesson for Teachers in a Time of Turmoil

Essay at the New Yorker by Clint Smith

 

Seven Ways that Teachers Can Respond to the Evil of Charlottesville, Starting Now

From AlterNet.org, written by Xian Franzinger Barrett

Resources For Educators To Use In The Wake Of Charlottesville

From nprED, written by Anya Kamenetz

 

The first thing teachers should do when school starts is talk about hatred in America. Here’s help.

From the Washington Post, written by Valerie Strauss

How to talk to your kids about the violence in Charlottesville

From the LA Times, written by Sonali Kohli

Teachers Share Resources for Addressing Charlottesville Hate Rally in the Classroom

 

From Education Week Teacher, written by Madeline Will

Unfortunately, this source is subscription-only, but here are some of the resources the article shares:

Generation Nation, a nonprofit on civic engagement, tweeted a helpful list of questions teachers can pose to their students to start a conversation.

Share this 18-minute podcast (or the transcript) with your students: It’s a conversation between an interview with two people who helped organize the counter-rally in Charlottesville to protest the white nationalist demonstration. The podcast covers the history of the KKK in Charlottesville, as well as how anti-racism groups organized and mobilized the community.

The Anti-Defamation League compiled a guide to talking about the so-called “alt-right” in class, including talking points on the use of propaganda as a recruitment tool and the First Amendment’s protection of hateful speech.

The Shoah Foundation, a nonprofit that maintains eyewitness records of the Holocaust, released 100 classroom resources for middle and high school teachers that focus on combatting hatred and intolerance.

The National Network of State Teachers of the Year compiled a “social justice” reading list for educators. The list includes diverse picture books for early learners and equity-themed books for elementary, middle school, and high school students, as well as books for teachers that address culturally responsive teaching practices and equity in the classroom.

The American Federation of Teachers’ site “Share My Lesson” includes educator-submitted classroom resources on civil rights and social justice, including those on activism and peaceful protests, teaching tolerance and respect, and helping students address their feelings. Educators must register to access these lessons.

Last summer, after a spate of police killings of black men and the killings of five police officers in Dallas, on Education Week Evie Blad compiled resources for discussing race, racism, and traumatic events with students. Many of these will be helpful now, too. (Also behind subscription-only pay wall.)

For more, check out this Twitter-powered #CharlottesvilleCurriculum Google Doc filled with resources for educators, which include a section on having difficult conversations in class.

 

There is No Apolitical Classroom: Resources for Teaching in These Times

From Literacy & NCTE (The Official Blog of the National Council of Teachers of English)

 

   The members of NCTE’s Standing Committee Against Racism and Bias have felt an urgency since we each joined the committee to stand against racism and bias. We have been working on ways to encourage each member of NCTE to speak out against the systemic and individual acts of racism that disenfranchise our students in and out of the classroom.

   We know that racism exists in our classrooms and in our communities. We feel that silence on these issues is complicity in the systemic racism that has marred our educational system. We see no place for neutrality and urge each member of NCTE to educate as many people as possible about the ways that systemic racism affects all of us in negative ways.

   There is no apolitical classroom. English language arts teachers must examine the ways that racism has personally shaped their beliefs and must examine existing biases that feed systems of oppression. In light of the horrific events in this country that continue to unfold, and the latest terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia, we would like to share resources that we hope will encourage all NCTE members to speak out against the racism and bias that have been a part of our nation’s fabric since the first immigrants disembarked from European ships.

   Our Action Subcommittee has been working this year on creating classroom resources for teachers to use as statements of love and support. Printable classroom posters and bookmarks for NCTE members will be available at the 2017 Annual Convention, as well as available for download after Convention. Until then, we offer this incomplete resource to help continue the daily work that is antiracism.

(Click on the Title Link for the full blog post and full list of resources)

 

Here’s What You Can Do After Charlottesville

From The Nation

 

A Collection of Resources for Teaching Social Justice

From Cult of Pedagogy, written by Jennifer Gonzalez

 

Preparing Leaders to Support Diverse Learners: Curriculum Modules for Leadership Preparation

From the University Council for Education Administration

With support from a USDOE FIPSE grant, UCEA is working with faculty teams from several institutions to develop curriculum modules focused on preparing leaders to support diverse learners. These modules are designed to enhance the core curriculum used in UCEA school leadership programs. The instructional modules will be designed to offer critical content knowledge and learning experiences that strengthen leaders’ ability to support students’ academic achievement at low-performing schools.

 

Great teachers are experts at difficult conversations. Here’s their advice to America on talking about race

From Chalkbeat, (First published July 8, 2016)

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Hate Map

Hate Groups are currently operating in the US. Track them with the SPLC Hate Map.

Areportfrom the Southern Poverty Law Center, onhow best to respond when controversial speakersor groups come to campus

 

Another report from SPLC,“Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide”

Youth Radio

Youth Radio is a powerful space where young people learn digital production skills to bring their stories to larger audiences.  Youth Radio has a multitude of resources on Michael Brown and Ferguson.  We have published a few here and encourage readers to peruse their extensive archives on Ferguson and other critical issues:

https://youthradio.org/news/article/in-oakland-the-disconnect-between-youth-and-police/

A sergeant from the Oakland Police Department responds to the above piece:

https://youthradio.org/news/article/youth-and-police-the-dialogue-continues/

 

Lesson Plans

 

At California College of the Arts, like many colleges and universities, multiple truths are held. One of those truths is that 78% of faculty are adjunct faculty; another truth is that there are over three times as many white faculty as there are faculty of color combined. These truths speak to the multiple identities that many faculty hold and often times, there is a desire to do more in relation to the pursuit of justice, but a question of what that looks like and who should be involved. In relation to Ferguson, Michael Brown, and Black Lives Mattering, this means that there can be “Nothing about us without us.” This is what led to the creation of this lesson plan and the class session in which it’s material was held.

Following this class session, many people across the campus began reaching out to staff of color and particularly black staff members in order to further the conversation and create action steps rooted in liberation-based, inclusive practice. Many students continued the conversation, hosting, for example, a forum of their own aimed at connecting the larger dialogue on race in America to campus climate. Their professor allowed this to be considered their final project. A conversation grew about how we inform students raised internationally and sometimes outside of the American context of race, racism, and racial justice about that particular context. Because this class session was a collaboration between Diversity Studies and Student Affairs, there has been a much stronger relationship and collaboration between those areas of the college since then.

Currently, staff, faculty, students, and administration are looking for ways to better institutionalize these practices with depth and sustainability.

 

#FergusonSyllabus

 

Sociologists for Justice

 

We encourage all concerned about the injustices and inequities made evident by the recent events in Ferguson to join us as we dig deeper into understanding the multiplicity of factors that contribute to the criminalization and marginalization of black and brown communities. The following is a collection of research articles used to inform the arguments in the public statement on the events in Ferguson.

http://sociologistsforjustice.org/ferguson-syllabus/

Teaching #FergusonResources

A google document with resources for educators: “The purpose of this document is to gather resources for learning about the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri. Original creation & development of this document bv by host/facilitator @dankrutka & the participants in #sschat at 7pm EST on August 20, 2014.”

#CharlestonSyllabus

African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS)

Here is a list of readings that educators can use to broach conversations in the classroom about the horrendous events that unfolded in Charleston, South Carolina on the evening of June 17, 2015. These readings provide valuable information about the history of racial violence in this country and contextualize the history of race relations in South Carolina and the United States in general. They also offer insights on race, racial identities, global white supremacy and black resistance. All readings are arranged by date of publication. This list is not meant to be exhaustive–you will find omissions. Please check out #Charlestonsyllabus and the Goodreads List for additional reading suggestions.

#Charlestonsyllabus was conceived by Chad Williams (@Dr_ChadWilliams), Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University. With the help of Kidada Williams (@KidadaEWilliams), the hashtag started trending on Twitter on the evening of June 19, 2015. The following list was compiled and organized by AAIHS blogger Keisha N. Blain (@KeishaBlain) with the assistance of Melissa Morrone (@InfAgit), Ryan P. Randall (@foureyedsoul), and Cecily Walker (@skeskali). Special thanks to everyone who contributed suggestions via Twitter. Please click here to read more about the origin and significance of #Charlestonsyllabus.

Teaching about the Flint Water & Social Justice Crisis

The Best Resources For Learning About The Flint Water Fiasco – Part 1

The Best Resources For Learning About The Flint Water Fiasco – Part 2

The Best Resources For Learning About The Flint Water Fiasco – Part 3

Larry Ferlazzo, EduBlog

Teaching Detroit and Flint – A Collection

New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE)

Facing History and Ourselves

Resources for Educators:

In Facing History Resource Collections, our most powerful and popular themes are illuminated through carefully selected publications, lesson plans, videos, current events, library resources, and more. View the complete list of resource collections on this page.

“There Are No Urban Design Courses on Race and Justice, So We Made Our Own Syllabus”

Brentin Mock, CityLab.Com

Black students at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design say there are no design courses that consider race and justice. Here’s an outline for one.

Thoughts on Ferguson and its Relationship to Our Work as Educators

Antwan Wilson, Superintendent, Oakland Unified School District