THE PODCAST

The Story Behind Our Podcast

Ethical outreach: a parent coordinator anchors immigrant families

We speak with Herminia (Ita) Saldana, parent coordinator at MS 328, a middle school in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Every public school in NYC has a parent coordinator. Virtually all of the MS 328 students are current English Language Learners or have tested out of ELL status. As parent coordinator, Ita encourages and facilitates parent engagement as both advocate and navigator. She also helps recent immigrant families to...

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Making anti-racist change: A template for educational leaders

We speak with Dr. Sarah Diem of University of Missouri and Dr. Anjalé Welton of University of Wisconsin, Madison. They discuss the seemingly neutral "colorevasive" policies that actually reinforce racial inequity. Drs. Diem and Welton present an action protocol for school and district leaders who seek to create antiracist schools.

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Grief and loss: Supporting students, families, and teachers in a pandemic (encore)

As of today, March 31st, 2021, over 550,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. We're reposting our conversation with Cynthia Trapanese former grief counselor, now teacher, who explains that the adults in a school need to grapple with their own losses in order to help children and families.

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Exacerbating inequality: Private money in public schools

We speak with Dr. Sue Winton of York University in Toronto about the effects of private money--much of it from parents- that replaces decreased public funding of schools. Fundraisers and fees for special programs benefit affluent schools and the children who already have the most access to opportunities. Low income parents often feel pressure to donate beyond their means for their children's sake.

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Shared visions: Creating an abolitionist school culture

We continue our conversation with Grace Alli Brandstein, a school improvement and instructional coach supporting struggling high schools in the Bronx. This week, Ms. Brandstein focuses on humane, antiracist education, and explains Dr. Gholdy Muhammad’s construct of literacy as identity, skills, intellect, criticality, and joy. She also speaks about the conditions for successful adult learning, giving teachers the training they need to lead one another and the...

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The bigger picture: High school improvement in the Bronx

We speak with Grace Alli Brandstein, an improvement and instructional coach with the New York City Department of Education. Ms. Brandstein works with Bronx high schools that the State has designated as needing support. This is part one of a two part interview. Today, we discuss challenges teachers and students at these schools face, and their everyday achievements. Ms. Brandstein talks about the impacts, both positive and...

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Toward Antiracism: The evolution of an undergraduate teacher ed program

We speak with Dr. Marsha Daria of Western Connecticut State University. Dr. Daria teaches undergraduate courses in the Department of Education and Educational Psychology. She explains how in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, the department reconfigured its curriculum to center social justice, equity, and self-reflection. She discusses the department's recruitment initiatives to increase teacher candidate diversity.

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Teaching the “isms”: Students’ lived experiences in context

We speak with Jillian McRae and Sam North, English and history teachers at Ossining (NY) High School, and their student, Alaysha. For 15 years, Sam and Jillian have co-taught a college-level course called "racism, sexism, and classism: a popular approach." They focus on pervasive systems of power, and encourage students to discuss their own experiences of privilege, disadvantage, and intersectionality.

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Antiracist school leadership: Courage and commitment

Dr. Bradley Carpenter, associate professor of educational leadership at Baylor University, speaks about developing and supporting antiracist school principals. Very few leadership prep programs prioritize or embed antiracism principles or practices. A principal committed to centering antiracism needs to have a full equity audit of existing curriculum and practices and to lead faculty members through the emotionally laborious process of examining everyone’s own privileges...

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Early childhood education: It is play, but it is not “babysitting”

We speak with Michele Washington, longtime early childhood lecturer at Lehman College, about expertise at the preschool level. Head Start, pre-K, and 3-K teachers can support children and families in myriad ways once parents or guardians trust them. Cultural humility is essential; teachers need to understand and respect their children's families and communities.

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Student record privacy: Danger looms from police and hackers

We speak with Mark Lieberman, Education Week tech reporter. Pasco County FL schools give the sheriff records of students deemed "destined to a life of crime." NYS Education Department funded facial recognition of school visitors to schools. Hackers hold district data hostage for ransom. We discuss legal and ethical privacy issues in the age of tech, including the dilemmas for teachers if a "D" leads to a...

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Districtwide decisions: Day to day ethical considerations

We speak with Dan Callahan, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education in Peekskill City School District, 45 minutes north of Manhattan. The low-income district in wealthy Westchester is 70% Latino, including many students from immigrant families. We discuss how the district has adapted to rapid demographic changes and schools' role in helping students meet challenges. Mr. Callahan reflects on the decisions he and his staff make that impact...

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UPDATE: Moving toward admissions equity and culture change at Manhattan’s Beacon High School

We speak with Beacon PTA members Toni Smith-Thompson and Robin Broshi about NYC’s new requirements and the school's proposed admission plan. Then we listen back to last June's interview with activist students from the Beacon Union of Unions.

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Systemic racism in special education: Parent participation legitimizes inequities

We continue our conversation with LaToya Baldwin Clark of UCLA School of Law. Dr. Baldwin Clark explains how the special education system advantages White middle class families. Poor families and families of color tend to lack cultural capital to navigate the system and advocate effectively for their children. While resources flow to White children with special needs, Black children tend to be stigmatized and placed...

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Policing attendance boundaries: Education as private property

We speak with Dr. LaToya Baldwin Clark, assistant professor at UCLA School of Law. Dr. Baldwin Clark explains how school boundaries are used for racial exclusion. In many cases, schools don’t just reflect, but cause, segregated neighborhoods. Dr. Baldwin Clark argues that closing the education gap isn’t just about bringing up the bottom, but bringing down the...

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Supporting English Learners: pandemic and post-pandemic solutions

We speak with Dr. Julie Sugarman of the Migration Policy Institute about meeting the needs of English Learners. We discuss the meaning and implications of ELs “falling behind” during virtual instruction and difficulties administering upcoming English language proficiency tests. Dr. Sugarman talks about a model for incorporating ELs into planning. She also talks about what is lost (and gained) through technology, given the importance of personal relationships...

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Students as experts: Diversity, equity, and inclusion

We speak with Dr. Judith King-Calnek, United Nations International School’s first Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Since UNIS faculty and students come from all over the world, they draw on one another’s backgrounds and lived experience in presenting and analyzing social issues. Faculty, parents, alumni, and, especially, students are involved in new DEI initiatives. Students are actually writing curriculum, providing feedback, and delivering DEI modules to...

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Dodging responsibility for our children: Reducing learning to test scores

We speak with Samuel E. Abrams of Teachers College, Columbia University. The root problems in K12 education — including poverty-related stress and underpaid and underprepared teachers — are pervasive and expensive to fix. So instead, the U.S. has  adopted a “commercial mindset,” measuring success through standardized test scores and increasingly outsourcing school management to for-profit and nonprofit corporations. Dr. Abrams explains what we can...

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Students doing original research: Project-based learning in Ohio

We speak with middle school teachers, Debbie Holecko and Claudia Bestor, and their former student, Rafel Alshakergi, about a student-led research project that led to ethical civic engagement. Rafel explains how the experience emboldened her to ask questions and “speak [her] mind." The project, which got national attention, cut against Ohio's high-stakes test orientation; many teachers are afraid to do project-based learning because Ohio doesn't have tenure...

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Abolitionist education: Creating liberatory spaces (Part Two)

We continue our conversation with Dr. Edwin Mayorga of Swarthmore College. We discuss the corporatization of schools that reduces students to their test scores. Dr. Mayorga encourages educators to center joy and healing. Schools should be liberatory rather than places that are too often focused on punishment and surveillance. Schools, as "localized nodes of political power,” should adopt democratic processes that cultivate voice, participation, and collaboration. As...

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Abolitionist education: Creating liberatory spaces (Part One)

We speak with Swarthmore's Dr. Edwin Mayorga, who explains how abolitionist classrooms and schools create "freedom as a place" in contrast to racial capitalism. Teachers are the lead inquirers and try to "move at the speed of trust," helping to create classrooms full of joy. Edwin describes Philadelphia's Kensington Health Sciences Academy as a school where teaching and learning are based on establishing relationships of mutual...

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BIPOC and undocumented: A trauma-filled intersection

Dr. Christiana Best, who spent thirty years in the New York City child welfare system before becoming a full-time academic, discusses her personal experience of being left behind in Granada while her mother settled in the US. Dr. Best, now an assistant professor of social work at St. Joseph’s, delves into the difficulties of providing holistic support to immigrant children and families, who are (justifiably) hesitant to...

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The impact of deportation policies on Latinx students’ mental health

Dr. Randy Capps, Director of Research for U.S. Programs at the Migration Policy Institute, surveyed Latinx high school students to see how fear of deportation – of their parents, relatives, friends, or themselves – impacts their mental health. The students, roughly half foreign-born and half US-born, suffered anxiety, depression, and PTSD at significantly higher rates than other students their age. Strong bonds immigrant students formed with one...

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Empowering school counselors to support struggling students

Dr. Mandy Savitz-Romer of Harvard Graduate School of Education sees counselors as schools' academic conscience, the hub for providing holistic support to students. To be effective, they need a seat at the leadership table. Respondents in Savitz-Romer's 1000-counselor survey described obstacles and successes in serving students during the pandemic.

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Holistic history: The African diaspora

Dr. Kim Butler, who leads Rutgers's Africana Studies program, says that while we usually teach history and social studies in discreet, testable units, events are complex and interconnected. Slavery throughout the Americas was central to the development of capitalism. Dr. Butler describes how working class students often can't choose a liberal arts education because they have to focus on getting jobs.

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Students leading change: Inclusiveness at an elite school

Stacey Cervellino Thorp and Naima Moffett-Warden teach drama at Manhattan's famed LaGuardia High School, and Abigail Rivera is a senior in the drama studio. Although all LaGuardia students are extraordinarily talented, their families, neighborhoods, and middle schools have vastly different resources. Students and faculty, led by students of color, have won changes and are demanding more steps to make the school more accessible and the curriculum more...

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Teaching economics as political and ethical choices

We welcome back Lev Moscow of the Beacon School to discuss his approach to teaching political economy, which actually applies to any social science. It's not primarily about the numbers but about the human choices behind them. How do we determine who gets paid what and who gets to spend 80,000 hours in a lifetime engaged in meaningful work? Also, how our mantra of continuous economic...

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Education denied: What should reparations look like?

Daarel Burnette II of Education Week delves into the history of Black communities demanding education and school boards conspiring to deprive them of opportunities and resources. We zoom in on Virginia's reparations to Black citizens, now in their 60's, who were excluded from schools when Prince Edward County shut its schools to avoid integration. Mr. Burnette, a “military brat,” theorizes about why children of Black military families...

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Identity-focused classes: Experiments in cultural relevance

We speak with Dr. Emily Penner, who studied the impacts of two programs in which students delved into their respective races, ethnicities, and communities. San Francisco's was designed for academically-struggling students of a range of ethnicities. Oakland's was designed for young Black men across academic achievement levels, as part of the district's "targeted universalism" approach. The results, in both cases, were dramatic.

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Practicing ethics: Case studies

We speak with Meira Levinson, Professor of Education at Harvard, about her website justiceinschools.org and books of “hard cases,” designed to help educators and youth workers think about the ethical implications of their decisions. Often, there are no perfect solutions, and  these decisions can have far-reaching consequences in children’s lives. A former teacher herself, Meira would like teachers to be able to consult with specially trained school ethicists.

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Parent voice: Supporting families with special needs

Ellen McHugh, long time activist and Public Advocate Williams's appointee to the NYC Citywide Council on Special Education, delves into the challenges facing parents of students with special education needs. Ethical relationships among educators, parents, and the students themselves are crucial to these students' success. Too often educators minimize the importance of parental input even though the law requires that they be equal partners in their children’s...

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Anti-racism: Lessons for the classroom and faculty lounge

We speak with Mica Pollock about US vs Hate and Schooltalk. Student anti-racism messaging in any medium can catalyze youth activism. Comments embedded in teachers’ everyday communication can impact students’ lifetime trajectories.

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Consumption as ethics: Talking with students about food

We welcome back Monica Chen of Factory Farming Awareness Coalition. She describes the animal-agricultural complex that exploits workers in meatpacking plants and animals in factory farms and devastates communities and the environment. Monica introduces FFAC's culturally-competent virtual lessons and presentations for students from middle school through university, customized for all subject areas. Students who want to become social justice activists, with food as the hub that...

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Busting out of the classroom: Connecting local history to everyday life

Social studies teacher David Edelman and student Raúl Baez speak about their class's "Virtual Walking Tour of Slavery in New York City" and other projects in which students become teachers. David's goal is to instill curiosity and encourage students to connect history to their lived experiences. He shares suggestions for virtual teaching and teacher collaboration.

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Food injustice: The corporatization of school meals

We speak with Monica Chen, veteran teacher and executive director of Factory Farming Awareness Coalition. Monica tells us how cow’s milk became a staple in school lunches even though most children of color do not have the ability to digest lactose, the main carbohydrate in dairy products. She explains how checkoff programs like Got milk? mislead the American public into thinking these are healthy foods for human...

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Audit culture: The dehumanization of education

World renowned educational consultant Bill Stroud talks about schooling within our capitalist culture and the impact that on-line learning will have on teachers' autonomy and teacher-student relationships. He discusses similarities and differences among classrooms in different countries, the potential impact of the Movement for Black Lives on schools, and what envisioning a different system of schools would look like.

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Supporting student civic activism: Social studies on steroids – Part 2

Dr. Alan Singer, Dr. Pablo Muriel, and Gates Millennium Scholar Dennis Belen-Morales, three generations of teachers, describe how they center student activism in their project-based social studies and history classes while giving students the tools to pass the NYS Regents exams. Dr. Singer was Dr. Muriel’s professor in college, and Dr. Muriel was Mr. Belen-Morales’ high school teacher and college professor in turn. Now all three are...

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Supporting student civic activism: Social studies on steroids – Part 1

Dr. Alan Singer, Dr. Pablo Muriel, and Gates Millennium Scholar Dennis Belen-Morales, three generations of teachers, describe how they center student activism in their project-based social studies and history classes while giving students the tools to pass the NYS Regents exams. Dr. Singer was Dr. Muriel’s high school teacher, and Dr. Muriel was Mr. Belen-Morales’ teacher in turn. Now all three are at Hofstra University. Part 1...

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Police and metal detectors in schools: Student perspectives

Nia Morgan and Anahi Ortiz Fierros of Urban Youth Collaborative describe how police and metal detectors humiliate and traumatize students. The story of the "fork in the backpack" illustrates the system's absurdity. And while NYC school arrests are down overall, Black and Latinx students are arrested at much higher rates than white students. NYS legislature considers Solutions Not Suspensions Act. Campaigns for police-free schools are taking...

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*UPDATE* Civics education: A Constitutional right?

Last year we interviewed Mark Santow, one of the plaintiffs suing the State of Rhode Island under the 14th Amendment for failing to provide some students civics curricula and other components of an adequate education. After we revisit our interview, Dr. Santow updates us on the suit and reflects on the lawsuit’s particular relevance at a time of pandemic and the Mobilization for Black Lives.

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Too Late For Reform: Abolishing the Police in Schools

Toni Smith-Thompson, Senior Organizer at NY Civil Liberties Union, discusses the importance of replacing police presence in schools with restorative practices. Toni envisions ethical schools, in which all students feel both appreciated by and accountable to school communities, and conflicts are resolved internally. Students returning to school, many of whom will have experienced trauma associated with the pandemic and police violence, will need nurturing, not punitive measures.

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Savage inequalities: How school funding intentionally privileges white, wealthy communities

Zahava Stadler, Policy Director of EdBuild, explains how housing discrimination and state funding policies disadvantage Black and low-income districts. EdBuild has reported on funding schemes throughout the country, documenting a $23 billion annual funding gap between White districts and districts of color. Ms. Stadler describes how states could allocate education dollars more equitably, benefitting at least 70% of students.

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Reimagining college admissions: Performance assessment pilot at CUNY

Dr. Michelle Fine speaks about better alternatives to standardized tests for students to demonstrate college-readiness. NYC's Consortium Schools, which use Performance Based Assessment Tasks, collaborated with CUNY to open CUNY's 4-year colleges to more low-income Black and Latinx applicants. Students, especially Black males, did better at college than test score-admitted peers. Dr. Fine gives a passionate call for democratic school cultures based on student initiated work...

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Students demand equity and inclusion: call for admissions, curriculum, counseling changes

Manhattan's Beacon High School students are fighting for racial equity in NYC's highly segregated school system. Three student activists talk about their experiences in the elite public school, the student-led demonstrations and teach ins, and the Beacon Union of Unions' comprehensive list of demands.

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Crises and opportunity: A holistic approach to supporting and empowering youth

In light of the pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted BIPOC, and BLM uprisings, we’re revisiting Jon’s interview with Jason Warwin of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol. COVID-19 has devastated Bro/Sis’s community of Black and Brown youth and their families. And despite the pandemic, Bro/Sis staff and members are joining protests to demand systemic change. We’ll check in with Jason and then listen to the interview from last June.

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Challenging hierarchies: The role of the social justice teacher educator

Dr. Sherry Deckman speaks about creating classroom environments that challenge cultural and social hierarchies. Teachers need to be aware of the lenses through which they view the world and their students, especially lenses that center Whiteness. She discusses everyday anti-racism for educators and creating humanizing spaces for all students, as well as the isolation that teacher educators of color often feel.

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Why teach history? Knowing “why” shapes “how”

Richard Miller, who taught in progressive NYC secondary schools for 28 years, talks about teaching students to think like historians, weighing different sources and drawing their conclusions from evidence. The past gives context to the present, and understanding historiography, or how history is interpreted over time, equips students to view current issues from multiple perspectives.

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Therapeutic crisis intervention: a consultant’s role in creating an ethical school culture

Misha Thomas, longtime consultant with Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Schools, discusses how schools can develop trauma-informed systems for resolving behavioral conflicts and crises. He explains that schools should prioritize a culture of trust and authenticity, and establish school wide expectations that crises will be explored in context of students’ lived experiences. As an outside consultant, Misha freely shares with clients his observations on systemic issues.

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The principal as “keeper of the vision”: Fostering and protecting an ethical community

Jill Herman, founding principal of East Side Community H.S, now at Bank Street College, raises essential questions: To whom should a principal be accountable? How can social emotional learning and academics be integrated? What do we mean by an ethical school?

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Student stories: SEL through writing and sharing lived experiences

Keith Hefner and Betsy Cohen of Youth Communication discuss their 40-year-old organization. Professional editors help students develop personal stories, which are shared with their peers. Writers experience self-reflection, readers develop empathy and gain strength from knowing others' experiences, and teachers acquire better understanding of their students. Youth Communication also offers curricula and materials for teachers to implement.

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Grief and loss: Supporting students, families, and teachers in a pandemic

Cynthia Trapanese, a teacher who spent 17 years as a pediatric chaplain, observes that we are all grieving right now, and that adults need to be aware of their own feelings of loss in order to help children and families effectively. During this period of isolation, children miss not only extended family, especially grandparents, but also their friends, classrooms, and the details of their school days. The...

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Culturally responsive practice and SEL: Effective professional development and programs

Dr. Heather C. Hill of Harvard Graduate School of Education looks at the research on culturally responsive education and SEL programs. She examines components of successful professional development programs, and how they apply to SEL and CRE. Well-designed curricula give teachers a framework on which to build and perhaps self-reflect. Daily classroom practices that build trust and engagement are important. Even if the professional development is high...

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Vulnerable students’ needs and rights in pandemic: Threats and opportunities

Diana MTK Autin, parent advocacy leader, describes how distance learning fails to meet the needs of many students and exacerbates inequities. She leads several organizations that help parents advocate effectively for their own families and also for systemic change. The pandemic's impacts are likely to be felt by students for a long time, and unless students' rights are defended, long-standing legal protections may be weakened with devastating...

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High school sports: Ethical challenges and considerations

Master basketball coach Mark Jerome speaks candidly about social emotional complexities in sports culture and how his own ethical sensitivities have evolved over his decades of playing, coaching, and parenting. Mark describes enormous inequities in schools’ sports resources and discusses bullying and abusive parental behavior, as well as what he loves about basketball.

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Engaging young black men in school: What we can learn from art class

Dr. Don Siler, a researcher and inservice teacher educator, himself a former high school dropout, discusses how art classrooms invite students to be themselves, to explore their lived experiences, and to work on projects that mean something to them. Student engagement in the art classroom can be leveraged across subject areas by incorporating both the arts and art-based pedagogy throughout the curriculum. Student outcomes improve when we...

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Text guided literacy: Literature as experience in English class

Dr. Anthony Johnston, associate professor of education at University of St. Joseph, explains text guided literacy as a framework for teaching literature. A former English teacher, Dr. Johnston resists the current emphasis on close reading. Text guided literacy encourages readers to extrapolate from the text, to take the perspective of a fictional or historical character, and to make connections between the text and their own lives. As...

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Creating a safe haven: Changing lives after school

Jason Garcia of SoBro, a South Bronx community-based organization, describes how after school staff members help young people deal with the effects of trauma. Staff members teach content, guide students through transitions, and help students build long term relationships. SoBro’s youth workers wear many hats -- guidance counselor, social worker, referral source -- filling in where schools and families lack resources.

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Teaching as research: Auto-ethnography of a pioneering bilingual teacher educator

Dr. Carmen Mercado, CUNY professor emeritus, talks with us about the importance of self-study, sharing diverse perspectives in class, and reflective writing in her own development and that of her students. She shares her experiences as one of the first bilingual classroom teachers and teacher educators in NYC. Carmen’s book, “Navigating teacher education in complex and uncertain times: connecting communities of practice in a borderless world,” was...

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Post-Graduation Planning: Helping students to explore myriad options

Lindsey Dixon, Director of Career Readiness at Urban Assembly, talks about helping students make more informed college and career decisions. The current model is restrictive and outdated, leading to suboptimal outcomes for the majority of students. Hands-on experiences and self-reflection programs can help young people better prepare for fulfilling careers and lives.

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The “Name Game”: racialization in a suburban high school

Drs. Tony de Jesus, Anthony Johnston, and Don Siler of University of St. Joseph recount their intervention in a multiracial high school in crisis. White students had instigated a “game” of addressing Black students as the n-word. We discuss the impact of racialization in the Trump era on white students, students of color, and the school community as well as actual and potential responses by schools.

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Centering SEL for social and economic mobility

David Adams is Director of Social Emotional Learning at NYC’s Urban Assembly, a network of schools that does not screen students. David focuses on the intersection of academic and technical skills, social-emotional competencies, and career development to create social/economic mobility. Students must have a relationship with the teacher or the content for optimal learning. Perspective-taking is central to ethical development. Schools have to “know their ‘why’” and...

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The Algebra Project: Bob Moses on math literacy as a civil right – Part 2

The Algebra Project founder and president–and lead organizer of the famous 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer voting rights campaign–talks about math literacy as an organizing tool to guarantee quality public school education for all children. Bob Moses describes the Algebra Project’s strategies to connect math to students’ life experiences and everyday language. The interview is divided into two episodes.

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The Algebra Project: Bob Moses on math literacy as a civil right – Part 1

The Algebra Project founder and president--and lead organizer of the famous 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer voting rights campaign--talks about math literacy as an organizing tool to guarantee quality public school education for all children. Bob Moses describes the Algebra Project’s strategies to connect math to students’ life experiences and everyday language. The interview is divided into two episodes.

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Navigating college and career pathways: Self-knowledge, preparation, and parameters

Maud Abeel, nationally-recognized education consultant, focuses on college and career readiness for middle and high school students, including “match and fit.” The earlier the students begin to think about postsecondary options, the better. There are myriad resources for students and their families, many of them free and online. Maud discusses cohorts, groups of high school classmates who enter college together and support one another, increasing their likelihood...

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Black and Latinx students, institutional racism, and the carceral continuum

Dr. Carla Shedd, associate professor of sociology and urban education at The Graduate Center, CUNY, studies the interactions with institutions of low-income Black and Latinx students and how institutional racism impacts children from even before birth. Children who attend integrated schools have sharper awareness of inequities than their counterparts in segregated schools and communities. The “carceral continuum” is more comprehensive than the “school to prison pipeline” and...

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The Algebra Project: Math Literacy and Empowerment

Kate Belin teaches math at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, a progressive public school in the Bronx, where she implements the Algebra Project, an initiative that connects math to students’ lived experiences. We talk about the synergy between the Algebra Project and Fannie Lou, both of which have their roots in the history of the civil rights movement.

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NYC schools: still separate and unequal

Student activists Coco Rhum and Hebh Jamal describe what real integration of NYC schools would look like and how to achieve it. Bringing sharp analysis and insight from their experiences as leaders in IntegrateNYC and Teens Take Charge, they were interviewed by Lev Moscow on our sister podcast, acorrectionpodcast.com.

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Advice for Secondary School Teachers

This is an encore. 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...

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Multicultural Education: Challenges and Aspirations

We speak with New York State Regent Luis O. Reyes on the evolution of multilingual education in New York, beginning with the ASPIRA Consent Decree that in 1974 established bilingual education as an entitlement for Puerto Rican and other Latinx students. NY is gradually transitioning to bicultural and bi-literate education. The Regents’ Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework represents the way forward.

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Gender Inclusivity: Where Science and Ethics Intersect

We speak with high school science teachers and trans men, Sam Long and Lewis Maday-Travis, who have developed resources and trainings to help biology teachers develop gender-inclusive curricula. Science tells us that sexual and gender diversity is both normal and positive.

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Emotionally Responsive Education: “inviting and containing”

Margaret Blachly of Bank Street’s Center for Emotionally Responsive Practice describes how to fit materials, curriculum, and relationships together to create an emotionally safe classroom. Emphasizing the importance of a deep understanding of child development, she tells how important it is to know each child’s “story.” Margaret shares what she’s learned as a dual-language and special ed teacher and gives advice to new kindergarten teachers. Reflecting...

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Post-traumatic growth and resilience: Creating safe environments for Central American immigrant children

This is an encore. Our conversation with Stephanie Carnes about Central American immigrant youth was one of our most popular. Enjoy it with our wishes for a safe and happy holiday. Stephanie Carnes is 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...

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Special education: How students and their teachers are shortchanged

Jia Lee, NYC special education teacher and union activist, talks about the unfairness of the Fair Funding Formula, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the tendency of schools to re-traumatize vulnerable students. She also highlights the contrast between NYC Chancellor Carranza’s call for more culturally responsive classrooms and the City’s newly-mandated MAP tests, and the gap between what the United Federation of Teachers does and what it could do.

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Reframing masculinity: Stopping violence against women and girls

Quentin Walcott (“Q”), a leading NYC and international anti-violence educator and activist, creates programs that help transform men and boys — even batterers — into activists against violence. He focuses on the intersections of violence — race, class, and gender — and its impact on marginalized communities. Q is Co-Executive Director of CONNECT, a nonprofit that approaches domestic violence systemically and holistically, including in school- and after-school...

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Ed schools as allies to new teachers of color

Dr. Harriet (“Niki”) Fayne of Lehman College School of Education describes strategies to support new teachers and “second stage” teacher-leaders. She discusses ways to attract teacher candidates, reduce early-years attrition, and help teachers grow while staying in the classroom. Lehman builds ethics into leadership training and maintains long-term relationships with its graduates and the schools they teach in.

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Paula Rogovin: Creating a social justice early childhood classroom

We speak with Paula Rogovin, who taught kindergarten and first grade in NYC public schools for 44 years. Paula empowered the youngest students to become researchers and activists. She encourages students to ask questions (“anything goes”) and research is interdisciplinary, comprising literature, social studies, art, music, and science. Cultural relevance evolves organically from the research. When students discover injustices, Paula encourages them to channel their anger to...

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José Jiménez on gender diversity and sexual identity in elementary schools

We speak with José Luis Jiménez, principal of A.C.E. Academy for Scholars, PS 290, in Queens. A queer educator of color, he came out to his students during Pride Month in 2017. If a community is truly welcoming to all, he thought, “you don’t “check a part of yourself at the door.” José encourages his...

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Kiersten Greene on technology in schools: “Are we doing our homework?”

We speak with Dr. Kiersten Greene, Associate Professor of Literacy Education at SUNY New Paltz, about classroom internet use. Electronic tech’s transformational possibilities can go unfulfilled as schools buy and use tools and materials without evaluating whether they are effective or meet teachers’ needs. Huge funding sources like New York’s Smart Schools bond issue fund...

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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 systems. He 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...

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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. Find more about Silvia and...

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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...

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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...

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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....

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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.

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