We have to start talking about wealth inequality, right? We have to start talking about the transference of wealth. More room has been made recently for a serious discussion about funding inequality in our education system. But we should expect policymakers to have a different lens. One day while his Abuela is in the bath, he takes down some curtains to make a tail and puts on a potted fern for long, flowing hair. He swishes through the rooms, when his Abuela suddenly comes out from her bath. “Come here,” she says.
Julián loves mermaids. But that affective reality, that sort of emotional reality, should be part of the calculus when we homework market make these decisions that impact the lives of children so deeply. I saw teachers who were punitive and, frankly, cruel, and teachers who were what we call in the literature “warm demanders” – very loving, very caring, but also had high expectations. You’ve said that people shouldn’t conflate “schooling” and “education.” Schooling is one of those institutional practices that, as you said earlier, emphasizes control and standardization, whereas education is genuine discovery and learning. Yeah, people tell me all the time that reading the book was upsetting.
What forces have made these students targets? Pushed Out: The Injustice Black Girls Face in School Black girls make up 16% of girls in U.S. public schools, but 42% of girls’ expulsions. Is she angry? Is he in trouble? No.
On a very visceral level, that’s very difficult, but it’s important for me to have that perspective. We have to talk about opportunity hoarding. At some point you have to talk about the virus if you’re sitting around sneezing all the time. It’s a natural human impulse, especially for parents. All of them were 100% black and low-income, but I saw real differences in how the teachers approached the students.
Reading about the sense of loss felt by students, parents and educators was difficult. So that’s a real potential for solidarity. They have to think about how we build systems that work for all students, that are not based on principles of competition, but instead on principles of resource provision. How far can that conversation go without talking about race? Ewing: It’s a start, but it depends on how much we want to scratch below the surface.
A lot of research bears this out. Were you prepared for that when you interviewed them and listened to their testimony? Ewing: I think I was intellectually prepared but I don’t think there’s any way to be emotionally prepared. The February 28 reading event was at Ashlawn Elementary School in Arlington, Va. and was sponsored by NEA and the Welcoming Schools Program at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, to support and celebrate our nation’s transgender and non-binary students. Author Matt de la Peña: Diverse Books Empower Students Matt de la Peña was a racially confused, working class kid who grew up to write books about racially confused, working class kids, but the universality and humanity of his characters will speak to young readers from any background. The avoidance to talk about the role of race in any of these decisions is pretty strong, right? This community’s choice to resist a school being characterized as “failing” is in fact about much more than the school itself: it is about citizenship and participation, about justice and injustice, and about resisting people in power who want to transform a community at the expense of the people who live there.” – From Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s Southside by Eve L. So I saw how the tone, tenor and climate of the schools – and how what the students were able to do – changes when someone treats them like human beings.
We have to demand courage and innovation to create the policies that are going to create conditions of equity. But there is a potential of something powerful happening there, for sure. In that simple gesture, we understand that Julián’s individuality is celebrated; that he is loved and accepted. One is the symptom and one is the actual virus. To what extent has it saturated our recent education policies? Ewing: Well, the speaker goes to 11!
To me, these questions are entirely about race. The idea that it’s not racism, it’s this other thing, has been a very effective way of silencing any sort of critique. Here are a few top picks. Closing schools not only has a negative impact on student performance but also creates hardship for communities already struggling with disinvestment. All of the educator-recommended books feature diverse characters, settings, and plotlines. “As a gay man, I know that had I been sitting in this classroom as a child, listening to a story about a boy who wants to be a mermaid, I would have felt understood and welcomed, even if my peers didn’t share my experience,” said Jaim Foster, who hosted the reading event in his kindergarten classroom at Ashlawn. “That is the power of books. I try really hard to think closely, and to ask people about their actual lived experiences, rather than assuming my own expertise.
What underlies all these supposed reforms has so much to do with how much we control black people, how we control black children, how we assimilate immigrant groups, how we commit cultural genocide against native people. And then everybody else has to catch up or not. “A System That Blames Children” Mass school closures in Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and other cities has created a multi-tier system where academically strong schools at the top are located in higher-income neighborhoods and not readily available to all students. I often bring up about the analogy about the sneeze and the cold. With his vivid imagination, he sees them everywhere – in ladies at the community pool, in girls playing in an open hydrant. When you see someone who looks like you or shares your experience, you feel less alone and that you belong in your classroom, in your community, and in the world.” Want Diversity, Hope and Healing?
Open a Book Booklists are brimming with notable children’s and young adult (YA), many of which are diverse books that grapple with tough topics like mental illness and racism while also conveying messages of hope and unity. Salary minimums by rank—$50,000, $60,000 and $70,000—in the contract’s first year. When people are choosing schools, when people are assessing what a good school is and what bad school is, when they are thinking about what kind of curriculum they want to implement in schools – if the children being served are black, the game changes from one of thinking about nurturing and resource provision to one of punishment and control. Over the following year and a half, union members demonstrated publicly, testified at board meetings and state legislative hearings, garnered the support of local lawmakers, and coordinated a media campaign, making sure their struggle for equity and professional respect stayed in the public’s eye. The nine-day strike in February by the 3,000 members of the Oakland Education Association forced the district to put a temporary hold on its plan to close 24 schools. So no, while the trauma experienced by these families wasn’t surprising to me, it might be surprising to the people who were the engineers of this policy.
But I spent lot of time listening to recordings of children crying. So how are we meeting our ethical and moral obligation to provide all children regardless of their social position with adequate resources? But I think a deeply-rooted anti-blackness undercuts that. If we want to talk about funding inequality, we have to talk about property taxes. I also worked as an aide in a couple of other schools on the South Side. So when many people think about schools, they see them as an engine to attain the most material gain that they possibly can for their individual child.
With hard bargaining and skillful mediation, eventually the union won a four-year contract, retroactive to July 2018. “Coming together on a first contract can present many challenges,” said Kevin Dorsey, SIU System interim president. “I want to congratulate the administration and the faculty association at SIUE for finding common ground as they have worked to strengthen the university, and provide the best opportunities for our faculty and ultimately our students.” It includes: Total faculty salary increases of $4.77 million. (This includes $3.22 million in across-the-board raises, plus $1.2 million in equity raises, and $350,000 toward fixing the issue of salary compression.) A permanent $50,000 floor for newly hired faculty. Smiling, his Abuela hands him an intricate necklace, completing his mermaid costume. What is it that is actually making us sick? Are you optimistic about the heightened awareness of how many of these policies are affecting students? There’s been quite a bit of progress on some fronts, including charter schools and overtesting. Scholars before me have established that that sort of deflection can in many ways be a racist tactic.
But I don’t know that the heightened awareness has been matched by the policy environment. All of these in their way are the underlying projects of school reform. “We Need to Be Disruptors of Institutional Racism in Our Schools” To tackle institutional and systemic racism, NEA President Lily Eskelsen García told the South by SouthWest conference in March, we have to be aware of every part of the system, including the silence of implicit bias that blinds us to the larger system and what needs to be disrupted and dismantled. Full compensation on overload coursework and contact hours. Why, for example, are people are so attracted to curriculum reforms that supposedly elevate test scores and graduation rates to astronomical levels simply by ensuring that children live under an intense disciplinary regime – one that minimizes their capacity for free expression and maximizes the degree to which their bodies are under control? These are the costs that people are willing to pay for the supposed dividends of test scores, right?
And even a lot of policymakers who identify themselves on the left and who are white still advocate for policies for children of color that they would never dream of implementing if their own children were in the classroom. Ewing Ewing: People are comfortable talking about race when they are talking about how some racial groups are not performing up to par, when it’s through the lens of talking about deficits that are perceived in students of color, particularly black students. Since 1997, when a NEA reading task force suggested a day of reading to emphasize the fun and adventure of reading, NEA has called on every community to enjoy the benefits of reading. We can’t sit around and wait for people to suddenly be better people in order for our school systems to be better. It also marks the beginning of the 2019 Read Across America celebration and its focus on diversity in children’s literature.
Video: NEA President Lily Eskelsen García on Why We Need Diverse Books http://neatoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Lily_RAA-SD-480p.mp4 This year NEA launched the Read Across America digital calendar so educators, librarians, and families can plan ahead for special celebrations and observances throughout the school year. And I think that’s fine. This was a traumatizing experience for them. Ewing: Well, I’m not really sure we’re seeing all that much progress yet. Eskelsen García’s book, Julián Is a Mermaid, is one of 36 diverse books highlighted in NEA’s Read Across America calendar that reflect the wide range of races, cultures, and identities of public school students across the country. “NEA believes diverse literature enables students to see themselves as the heroes of the story, while also showing them that all kinds of people can be the heroes too,” said Eskelsen García. “It is important that we emphasize books that are telling children of color or of different gender identities that they belong in the world and the world belongs to them.” An estimated 45 million educators, parents, and students across the U.S. will participate in Read Across America events this year, which is the 22nd year of NEA’s Read Across America.
There’s a difference between talking about race and talking about racism. He likes to imagine he’s one too, with beautiful flowing hair and a long glimmering tail. Each month lists suggested books for readers of all levels, plus activities and resources to help create learning experiences around them. It took more than two and a half years for the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) Faculty Association to win its first comprehensive union contract, but the effort was worth the wait, say union leaders. “With this historic, first comprehensive union contract in place, the SIUE Faculty Association and SIUE administration start a new chapter of cooperation, with both parties beginning to implement new, mutually agreed-upon policies,” said union president Kim Archer, a professor of music. “During the next year, the college, schools and their respective departments will be updating operating papers and ways of doing business to align with the contract.” The young union—it was certified in December 2016 to represent 400-plus tenured and tenure-line faculty—battled a hostile administration to first reach an interim agreement in December 2017 that included salary raises and a grievance procedure with binding arbitration. As you say in the book, racism can be just as much, if not more, about the outcome as opposed to the intent. I do think we’re seeing rhetorical progress and that is a really important first step. A group of 50 kindergarteners also felt loved and accepted for what makes them different and special as they listened to the story Julián Is a Mermaid read aloud by NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.
And I do think that people across racial groups are beginning to see the brunt of some of these policies. So that and hyper-individualism are two mindsets that have to change, but policymakers and politicians have to take a lead on that. Because some of these experiences were mirrored in my own life, I sort of knew what to expect. To what extent are competing visions or ideas about the role of public education getting in the way of transformative change? Ewing: We live in a hyper-individualist society.
So I don’t want to be that researcher. So much goes uninterrogated about how and why our schools look the way they do. Under Betsy DeVos, I think we’ve been regressing on quite a few areas, just thinking about vouchers for example. People see blackness as a proxy for low-quality and the presence of black children as a proxy for badness. It would be a different if we pushed ourselves to talk about race and education policy in terms of the way that current policies reinscribe and reinforce racial inequalities, and the way the education system interacts with other stratified systems in our society to ensure that students don’t have the same resources or opportunities based on race.
If we want to talk about property taxes we have to talk about residential segregation.