This article describes a course I taught recently for aspiring teachers inside a juvenile hall as part of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program:
from the Blog Ethical ELA: In Defense of Civic Engagement
“If we believe that our democracy requires citizen participation, then all of us, no matter what side of the debate we find ourselves on, should be supporting school walkouts, rather than discouraging them. Why? Because civic engagement is necessary for our democracy to function. This is also an important opportunity for educators to redefine what civic engagement means in schools and communities.”
Click here to read the rest of this guest post on Ethical ELA.
A great new blog post by Kate Sjostrom about the gifts we give our students when we invite them to write the stories that matter to them:
“Perhaps the greatest gifts we can give such students are the gifts Ms. Angela gives her students: an invitation to tell the stories they want to tell, an authentic audience, and the time to craft those stories they care about for an audience they care about, too. With those gifts, perhaps even the most reluctant of writers can learn to persist.”
By Kate Sjostrom
Who are these children sitting around me? Surely they are not my eight-year-old daughter and her classmates, though they look like them and go by their names. These children have just asked if they can skip recess to finish critiquing the story we have been reviewing for over two hours. These children have been only constructive in their feedback, never once dismissing something they “just didn’t like.”
The one who looks like my daughter and whose story we have been reading begs, “Please, Mom.” I look at her—at the blue-grey eyes that I share, at the blue and green striped shirt I helped pick out this morning—and I cave. “Sure,” I tell her. “We can keep going.” But I watch her from the corner of my eye as she readies her pencil to take more notes on what is not yet working in her…
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If you’re a university educator in CA, please consider signing this open letter! Thanks.
Listed on the letter will be each signer’s Name, Title, and College/University/Affiliation.
To sign, please click below and submit information in the form fields below the letter by March 9, 2018.
The following letter was co-authored by the following faculty in the School of…
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Is there room for democratically run, inquiry-based schools in today’s climate of test-and-punish accountability? Is it possible to create spaces where students follow their own interest and pursue inquiries that matter to them? And, if so, what would an inquiry-based high school look like in practice?
Well, I can tell you a few things about The Nova Project, a public high school in Seattle, where I currently teach: at department meetings there isn’t much talk about how to implement the Common Core; and, we don’t spend much time talking about test scores—except when we’re discussing our opt-out numbers (we had 100% last year); what you will see though, are teachers discussing how to best support students, how to partner with community organizations to get services and provide opportunities for students in school and out in the larger Seattle community; you’ll also hear teachers planning courses on the films of Kurosawa and Wes Anderson; or, courses on Dante’s Inferno and graphic novels, as well as Shakespearean tragedies; you’ll also see classes focusing exclusively on Young Adult Literature (YAL); as well as classes on African American Studies; spoken word poetry; writing blogs; novel and short story writing; courses on the history of skateboarding; courses on the history of the neighborhood; courses on math and music; courses on the environment; animation, dance, and music courses; and, classes on philosophy. What’s more, we don’t have grades at Nova; students demonstrate competencies through things like projects, performances, artworks, and critical reflections.
But my point in writing about all of this is not simply to brag about how great Nova is, and it’s certainly not to suggest that we’ve solved all the problems of education, or that we have somehow created a template for schooling, but rather I want to remind folks of what’s possible, even today in the age of accountability and standardization. I want to make clear that it is possible to make positive changes in public schools, to get involved, to opt out, to go on strike, to occupy, to push back, to demonstrate, and to adapt what we do in schools as well as how we do it. Ideas about inquiry-based and project-based education and research about democratic education aren’t new. So, the question is this: Why aren’t more of us organizing our schools around these ideas? Why aren’t more of our education leaders pushing for real creative and innovative public schools and then giving teachers and students the space to explore what’s worth knowing and doing?
In this post, NCTE writer Bill Bystricky continues his investigation into The Nova Project, a public high school in Seattle that embraces democracy, equality, and freedom.
In this post by writer Bill Bystricky on the NCTE blog Literacy & NCTE, Bill looks at The Nova Project, an alternative public high school in Seattle where I teach. Bill examines what it means when a school takes democracy seriously and involves students in all aspects of school decision making, including hiring, budget, and curriculum development.
The question I ask is this: Why aren’t more public school officials supporting the creation of schools like The Nova Project, particularly when we’ve known for such a long time that research supports inquiry-based education, that put students at the center of their learning?
Read more here: Democracy in a Public High School
FAQ on opting out of the SBAC.
There have been a lot of questions about the Common Core Standards (CCS) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests. There have also been conflicting messages, misinformation, some correct information and some boldface lies about opting out of the tests.
Much of the confusion is due to the fact that our state legislators, in their finite wisdom, chose to approve the CCS for our state, sight unseen. That’s right, the CCS had not been completely developed or reviewed when our elected officials in Olympia voted to approve them for every school district in our state. The concomitant SBAC test (in other states it’s the PARCC test), which has not been deemed valid or reliable by way of a peer reviewed study, is now being taken by students within the Seattle Public School district.
It has been projected that at least 60% of our students will “Fail” the test…
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A great new documentary about the way in which testing and accountability inform the the current effort to dismantle public education.
In Defies Measurement, Shannon Puckett expertly weaves together the problematic purposes of testing, Common Core, corporate reform, No Child Left Behind, Teach For America, The Gates Foundation, The Broad Foundation, charter schools, and privatization. The film begins with Chipman middle school and traces the inspiration and impact that the school had on a diverse groups of students over the long term beyond their experience at the Bay Area middle school. The core of the film traces the testing and accountability reform context from their birth in eugenics to their invasion of public schools in the 2000s. At each step, the movie has an acute sense of counter narrative to the common discourse and argument in favor of school reform.
DEFIES MEASUREMENT strengthens the discussion about public education by exploring why it is so important to address the social and emotional needs of every student, and what happens when the wrong people make decisions for…
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Great piece on the Chicago mayoral race.
Juan Garcia, crack investigative reporter for The New York Daily News, interviewed Jesus “Chuy” Garcia about his race against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Emanuel had hoped to win a decisive victory, but Garcia forced him into a runoff.
Garcia’s theme echoes the winning theme of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio: Chicago has become “a tale of two cities.” A city where the rich and powerful prosper and become more rich and powerful, and a city where working people see their life prospects diminishing.
“People are feeling the effects of inequality in this city, and they don’t like it,” Garcia told me in an exclusive interview Tuesday.
“Rahm has run this city for the benefit of the select few, the high rollers, hedge fund managers, big developers,” he said, “and the people voted for change.”
The Chicago race has instantly turned into the next big test for the soul of…
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In this essay (part of the JoLLE Scholars Speak Out series) I challenge educators to ask themselves: “What do we want this community to be and how can we make it so?” as we strive to see ourselves and our work as part of a larger project of community building.