Podcast Episode

Ujju Aggarwal on school choice, whiteness as property, and the “right to exclude”

We speak with Dr. Ujju Aggarwal, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Experiential Learning at the New School’s Schools of Public Engagement. Dr. Aggarwal explains how neoliberalism, with its emphasis on individual choice, includes a “right to exclude” and perpetuates discriminatory school admissions, not only to some charter schools but also to district schools and programs, describing in particular the experiences of parents in Manhattan’s District 3. Dr. Aggarwal also discusses the participatory action research model, combining data collection and community organizing, which she has helped to develop.

Ujju Aggarwal on school choice, whiteness as property, and the “right to exclude”

 
 
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Jesse Hagopian on bringing Black Lives Matter into schools

We speak with Jesse Hagopian, an editor for ReThinking Schools and a long-time teacher in the Seattle Public Schools. He is a co-editor of the book Teaching for Black Lives. Jesse discusses the groundbreaking annual National Week of Action in February that makes four demands of schools: replace zero tolerance discipline with restorative justice, implement ethnic studies in all schools, hire more black teachers, and fund counselors (rather than police) in all schools. About teachers who “don’t want to get involved” in social justice issues, Jesse quotes Howard Zinn, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” NYC’s UFT is one of the few unions that hasn’t endorsed the Week of Action.

Jesse Hagopian on bringing Black Lives Matter into schools

 
 
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Find more about Jesse and his work on blacklivesmatteratschool.com, iamaneducator.com and rethinkingschools.org

Credit: Kuow Photo/Joshua McNichols

Adjoa Jones de Almeida of the Brooklyn Museum on art as experience

We speak with Adjoa Jones de Almeida, Director of Education at the Brooklyn Museum. We discuss the significance of “art as experience.” Ms. Jones de Almeida describes art’s transformational power to educate and empower students of all ages, both personally and politically. The Museum partners with teachers across the academic spectrum and works to include diverse families and communities.

Adjoa Jones de Almeida of the Brooklyn Museum on art as experience

 
 
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To know more about the Education programs at the Brooklyn Museum, visit brooklynmuseum.org/education

Melissa Rivers on Community-Based Education in Rural Alaska

We speak with Melissa Rivers, Principal of the Scammon Bay School in Alaska’s Lower Yukon, a mile from the Bering Sea. The isolated, tight-knit Yupik Eskimo community is subsistence-based, harvesting moose and salmon. Students are artistic and learn by making things, but also must prepare for standardized tests designed for very different environments. For the past several years, Scammon Bay has participated in a cross-cultural exchange program run by the Alaska Humanities Forum to promote understanding among Alaska’s urban and rural communities.

Mark Santow on Suing Rhode Island for Educational Equal Protection

We speak with Dr. Mark Santow, Chair of the Department of History at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Dr. Santow and his middle school son, along with 12 other plaintiffs, are suing the state of Rhode Island in federal court under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution for failing to provide civics curricula and other components of an adequate education to some Rhode Island students. The suit is especially notable because most education equity cases are brought in state courts. We discuss the racial, socioeconomic, and political underpinnings of educational inequality.

Lev Moscow offers advice for secondary school teachers

We interview Lev Moscow who, for the last 14 years, has taught history and economics at The Beacon School in New York City. Lev reflects that advisory, done well, can serve as a venue for students to explore questions of ethics, purpose and happiness. He talks about balancing the history curriculum to include non-European perspectives. Getting students to read more than a few sentences is perhaps today’s teachers’ greatest challenge and Lev explains his approach.

Lev refers to John Dewey, Tony Judt, and these resources:

  • Book “Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials” by Malcolm Harris;
  • Book “The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School” by Neil Postman.

Lev Moscow offers advice for secondary school teachers

 
 
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Lev also hosts a podcast that aims to make economics accessible. It is called A Correction Podcast and you can listen to it on acorrectionpodcast.com.

Leo Ackley on teaching in Finland’s consistently superior schools

Amy interviews Leo Ackley, who emigrated to Finland in the 1972. He taught art, history of architecture, design, and engineering in Finnish schools for 37 years. We discuss the Finnish system. Teachers have autonomy to develop their own curricula. Finnish administrators are answerable to teachers rather than the other way around. Homework is rare and standardized testing limited to a single exam towards the end of senior year. Finland is consistently in the top five in PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) rankings.  

Leo Ackley on teaching in Finland’s consistently superior schools

 
 
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Photo by Baptiste Valthier

Kym Vanderbilt on ethical early childhood teacher preparation

We interview Kym Vanderbilt, Lecturer and Professional Development Liaison in the Early Childhood/Childhood Department at CUNY/Lehman College. Kym describes her students’ concerns about meeting the needs of teacher assistants and parents as well as children. She talks about the test-heavy teacher certification process, which is both intimidating and expensive for aspiring teachers of limited means, and how she tries to create a more welcoming and supportive environment for her students, staying in touch with them long after they become teachers themselves. To give us context, Kym gives us a fascinating overview of the complicated history of early childhood education.

Kym Vanderbilt on ethical early childhood teacher preparation

 
 
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During our conversation, Kym mentions the episode with David Kirkland about the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework. Click here to listen to it!

Photo by Christina Morillo

Anna Allanbrook on Brooklyn New School: centering children, marginalizing tests

We speak with Anna Allanbrook, longtime principal of Brooklyn New School (BNS). Learning at BNS is inquiry-based and cross-disciplinary. As well, BNS is known as the “opt-out school” because 95% of families opt out of standardized testing. The school offers no test preparation.

Anna Allanbrook on Brooklyn New School: centering children, marginalizing tests

 
 
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Find more about the Brooklyn New School on bns146.org

David Kirkland on New York’s State’s Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework

We speak with Dr. David E. Kirkland, Executive Director of NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. A leading voice in culturally responsive and sustaining education, the Metro Center helped write New York State Education Department’s new Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework. The Framework is founded on a view of education that regards culture as a critical component of learning. Multiple expressions of diversity, including race, ethnicity, gender, language, and sexual orientation, are regarded as assets to be recognized and cultivated.

David Kirkland on New York’s State’s Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework

 
 
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Click here to learn more about the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework. 

Norman Fruchter on the pioneering alternative high school he and colleagues built in Newark in the 1970s

We speak with Norm Fruchter, long-time educational activist and thought leader, about Independence School, an experimental high school where the ideal was that someone walking into a classroom couldn’t tell the teacher from the students. We discuss lessons learned – and perhaps forgotten – about supporting students whose original schools failed them. Among the school’s strengths were authentic, enduring relationships among teachers and students, teaching strategies that enabled illiterate students to learn to read without embarrassment, month-long internship breaks, and curriculum that referenced students’ life experiences.

Norman Fruchter on the pioneering alternative high school he and colleagues built in Newark in the 1970s

 
 
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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Soledad Hiciano on nurturing and educating immigrant children in an age of deportation and deprivation

We speak with Soledad Hiciano, executive director of Community Association of Progressive Dominicans (ACDP), a multi-service community organization in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. She describes the challenges of supporting children who may have experienced multiple traumas, including homelessness and the deportation of close relatives.

Soledad Hiciano on nurturing and educating immigrant children in an age of deportation and deprivation

 
 
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Photo by Bruce Warrington

David C. Bloomfield on why we need a revolution in attitude to see education as a social good rather than an individual property right

We speak with Dr. David C. Bloomfield, Professor of Education Leadership. Law & Policy at Brooklyn College. David Bloomfield condemns the social Darwinism and “hoarding” mentality of our education systemsHe explains how school resource allocation exacerbates segregation and inequality, a process deliberately abetted by the proliferation of school districts around the country Education policy and financing reinforce an us against them view of schools. Until we start thinking of the nation’s children as our collective responsibility,  we will continue to seek todeprive “other people’s” children in order to benefit “ours,”  thereby impoverishing all of us.

David C. Bloomfield on why we need a revolution in attitude to see education as a social good rather than an individual property right

 
 
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Find more about David on davidcbloomfield.com

Silvia Canales on Relationship-Based College Counseling

We speak with Silvia Canales, who coordinates the college advisory program at Brotherhood/Sister Sol, an organization that provides comprehensive and holistic support services to underserved youth. Silvia talks about fully integrating college counseling into a program environment in which adults know young people well and students engage in systematic self-reflection.

Silvia Canales on Relationship-Based College Counseling

 
 
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Find more about Silvia and The Brotherhood/Sister Sol on brotherhood-sistersol.org

Scarlett Lewis on the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement: A Sandy Hook parent’s SEL program

“Nurturing, Healing Love” was the message that Scarlett Lewis found on her kitchen chalkboard shortly before her son, Jesse, was murdered in his first-grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In order to become part of the solution to the violence, Scarlett founded The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement with a mission to ensure that all children have access to Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in their classrooms. We talk about post-traumatic growth and how the program educates and encourages students to choose love over anger.

Scarlett Lewis on the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement: A Sandy Hook parent’s SEL program

 
 
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Find more about Scarlett and the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Program on jesselewischooselove.org

Adán Vásquez on The Washington Heights Community Conservatory of Fine Arts: “I could be the one playing the cello!”

We talk with Adán Vásquez, executive and artistic director of the Association of Dominican Classical Artists and the Washington Heights Community Conservatory of Fine Arts, a unique free classical and folk music education program for the youth of Upper Manhattan. Adán Vásquez, a harpist, is an educator, an acclaimed classical musician, and a community activist. He talks about making Latin American and European classical music and Latin American folk music accessible to low-income young people of color, and the role of performing arts in transforming children’s lives and community building. We listen to excerpts of students playing Carabine by Julio Alberto Hernández and the Conservatory faculty (“La Camerata Washington Heights”) performing Migraciones by Servio R. Reyes.

Adán Vásquez on The Washington Heights Community Conservatory of Fine Arts: “I could be the one playing the cello!”

 
 
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Find more about Adán Vásquez, ADCA and WHCCFA on clasicosdominicanos.com

Kids learn through relationships: a conversation with Pedro Noguera about building a culture conducive to teaching and learning

We talk with Dr. Pedro Noguera about public school models that work for students, parents and teachers, and how to build a social movement for a progressive education agenda. He talks about the social dimensions to learning and the mismatch between students’ needs and teachers’ skills. He argues that an obstacle to making change in schools is that we deal with education as individuals rather than collectively. Pedro Noguera is a Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and Faculty Director for the Center for the Transformation of Schools at UCLA. He is a critically acclaimed scholar, a dynamic speaker and a committed activist. His work focuses on a broad range of issues related to education, social justice and public policy. He is the author of several best-selling books and is a highly sought-after public speaker and international consultant.

Kids learn through relationships: a conversation with Pedro Noguera about building a culture conducive to teaching and learning

 
 
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Find more about Pedro Noguera on pedronoguera.com and transformschools.ucla.edu.

Jason Warwin on The Brotherhood/Sister Sol: building strong Black and Latinx youth leaders for social change

Jason Warwin is the Co-Founder and Associate Executive Director of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, an organization that provides comprehensive, holistic and long-term support services to youth who range in age from eight to twenty-two. Located in Harlem (NYC), Bro/Sis also has programs dedicated to developing Black and Latinx youth in Africa, Latin America and The Caribbean. Jason is a specialist in the design of transformative experiences and we talked about how the Bro/Sis model leads young people to ethical leadership and educational achievement, and makes them an essential part of a solid community that has been fighting oppression for almost 25 years.

Jason Warwin on The Brotherhood/Sister Sol: building strong Black and Latinx youth leaders for social change

 
 
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Find more about Jason and The Brotherhood/Sister Sol on brotherhood-sistersol.org

Stephanie Carnes on Post-traumatic Growth and Resilience: cultural competence and creating safe environments for Central American immigrant children in today’s U.S.

We talk with Stephanie Carnes, a trauma-focused bilingual school social worker in a large public high school in New York’s Hudson Valley. Stephanie worked as the lead clinician in a federally-funded shelter program for unaccompanied children from Central America and as a consultant she challenges the districts and agencies with whom she works to re-envision the meaning of an inclusive community. We talk about the necessity to normalize mental health care, how to create safe environments for immigrant children in American schools, and the power of their resilience.

Stephanie Carnes on Post-traumatic Growth and Resilience: cultural competence and creating safe environments for Central American immigrant children in today’s U.S.

 
 
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Find more about Stephanie on createculturalcompetence.com

Mark Gordon on the Friends and Relationships Course: teaching and learning from people with intellectual disabilities about sexuality, interdependence, and inclusion

We talk with Mark Gordon, founder of the Friends and Relationships Course, a program in New Mexico that provides classes for adults with intellectual disabilities who want to learn how to form intimate and other relationships. He talks about what he’s learned over 15 years of teaching sexuality classes, learning along with his son about the ongoing necessity for interdependence. We also discuss society’s failure to welcome and accommodate people with developmental disabilities.

Mark Gordon on the Friends and Relationships Course: teaching and learning from people with intellectual disabilities about sexuality, interdependence, and inclusion

 
 
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Zoe Weil on humane education: the world becomes what we teach

We talk with Zoe Weil, the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education. She talks about providing young people with the knowledge, tools, and motivation to address our pressing challenges in order to transform unsustainable and unjust systems into ones that are humane, healthy, and peaceful.

Zoe Weil on humane education: the world becomes what we teach

 
 
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Find more about Zoe and the Institute for Humane Education on humaneeducation.org

Deborah Meier on Public Education and Democracy: What makes an ethical school

We talk with MacArthur “genius” award winner Deborah Meier, a founder of the small schools movement, about what makes a good school. She talks about how to build and maintain trust and mutual respect among students, teachers, and families.

Eva Lopez on Act4Change: applying Theatre of the Oppressed to building social justice in The Bronx

Eva Lopez on Act4Change: applying Theatre of the Oppressed to building social justice in The Bronx

 
 
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We talk with Eva Lopez about Act4Change, a Theatre of the Oppressed project in the Bronx. Eva Lopez uses theater techniques to invite children and youth to envision liberation and to empower them to resist oppression. Audiences become spect-actors to examine root causes of bullying, domestic violence and other personal/societal crises.

Shirley Edwards on EBC High School: Building an educational community in Bushwick

Shirley Edwards on EBC High School: Building an educational community in Bushwick

 
 
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We talk with Shirley Edwards about EBC High School for Public Service and the creation of an intentional educational community of students, teachers, parents, and East Brooklyn Congregations. Shirley Edwards was the founding principal. She came with a background as a teacher and a parent coordinator, and responded to parents’ desperation for a high school that would lead their children to success.

 

Shirley also wrote an article for Ethical Schools! Click here to read “The school that Bushwick built: the story of EBC High School for Public Service”