Public schools

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

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

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

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.

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

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.