BLACK LIVES

Black Lives Matter

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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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 space to coalesce around a shared vision, expectations, and protocols.

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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 negative, of being rated as needing improvement, especially the pressure it puts administrators, teachers, and students. Next week, Ms. Brandstein talks about abolitionist education.

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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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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 police database.

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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 students’ lives in very concrete ways, and the tension between consistency, applying the same rules for all students, and specificity, looking at the totality of circumstances in each individual case.

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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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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 and bases 40% of teacher evaluation on student test scores. The teachers discuss how to meet standards through project-based learning. This interview is just a joy to listen to!

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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 an organizer, he encourages coalitions of people resisting different aspects of racial capitalism, including those fighting destruction of the planet and exploitation of other species.

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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 respect.

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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 culturally responsive.

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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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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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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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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 and collaborative revision.

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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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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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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 broaden the ways in which students get information, process the information, and demonstrate their understanding of the information.

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

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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 programs. CONNECT helps males reassess their perceptions of masculinity and fatherhood. While perpetrators need to be held accountable, so do institutions and public leaders.

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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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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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