Amy Halpern-Laff

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 well, empathy is a catalyst for ethical actions.

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Text guided literacy: Literature as experience in English class

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…

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Teaching as Research: Auto-ethnography of a Pioneering Bilingual Teacher Educator

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…

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

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 2

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 comprises all encounters with institutions. Carla also talks about professionals’ ethical responsibilities and responses and how to create safe spaces.

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

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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The Algebra Project: Math Literacy and Empowerment

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 sentences is perhaps today’s teachers’ greatest challenge and Lev explains his approach.

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Advice for Secondary School Teachers

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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Gender Inclusivity: Where Science and Ethics Intersect

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…

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Post-traumatic Growth and Resilience: creating safe environments for Central American immigrant children

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…

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Reframing masculinity: stopping violence against women and girls

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…

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Paula Rogovin: Creating a social justice early childhood classroom

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

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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Jesse Hagopian on bringing Black Lives Matter into 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.

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Melissa Rivers on Community-Based Education in Rural Alaska

Ethical College and Career Decisions

John Dewey, arguably America’s greatest 20th century philosopher and educator, stressed the importance of teaching habits of rigorous ethical inquiry in the classroom and in the larger society. He argued that students should learn to consider the impacts of their individual and collective social, economic, and political choices. Fortunately, many schools and youth programs encourage…

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Ethical College and Career Decisions

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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Leo Ackley on teaching in Finland’s consistently superior schools

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. Find more about the Brooklyn New School on bns146.org

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

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

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….

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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

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

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.

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

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…

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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.

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. References Find more about Zoe and the…

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

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

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…

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

Ethical Dining at School

Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself. – John Dewey John Dewey (1859-1952) was arguably the most consequential educational thinker of the twentieth century. According to Dewey, education should consist of meaningful activity in learning and participation in classroom democracy. Curriculum should be relevant to students’ lives as well as prepare them…

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Ethical Dining at School

Guidelines for submissions

Note from the editors to our readers and colleagues: We accept articles for our newsletter on any topic related to secular (preferably Deweyan) educational ethics. As you might expect, we have to pass on some articles, but we will let you know whether and when your article will run in the newsletter. Please keep in…

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Guidelines for submissions