amy halpern laff

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

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,…

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Kym Vanderbilt on ethical early childhood teacher preparation

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…

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

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

We speak with Norm Fruchter, long-time educational activist and thought leader, about Independence School, an experimental high school where the ideal was that someone walking into a classroom couldn’t tell the teacher from the students. We discuss lessons learned – and perhaps forgotten – about supporting students whose original schools failed them. Among the school’s…

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

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. Photo by Bruce Warrington

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

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

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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Silvia Canales on Relationship-Based College Counseling

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….

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

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.

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…

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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