Tag Archives: social justice

I’m Thinking About…

  • Education policy.  What is the connection between public high schools and two and four year colleges?  Whatever it is it isn’t enough.  So much of the education debate takes place around K-12 that we leave out any consideration of what our students go on to post-diploma.  The NY Times explores one side of this issue. (NY Times)
  • My students are doing incredible research on social justice issues.  One group is focusing on the enormous issue of prostitution, while another is looking at human trafficking.  My ears perked up when I heard this debate on NPR last night.  Also thrilled to have discovered Intelligence Squared U.S. (NPR)
  • More on prostitution: This is an incredible story taking place as we speak in the life of one woman, her lawyers, and a flawed justice system.  Read the story and send a letter.  (FreeDebbie)
  • Pop-Up Stores…ever since Refinery29 started talking about their pop-up Save Fashion I’ve been intrigued.  All of a sudden I’m having crazy ideas about Rockridge and Pop-Up stores…more on Pop-Ups and Save Fashion: (Refinery29) (Save Fashion) (Business Week)
  • More, more, and more gardening.  I’m working on the landscape, a vegetable garden, and a cutting garden for my flower arranging.  Had a great morning at Longs on 51st the other day (sounds crazy but this is a well-respected garden center for you skeptical non-East Bay-ers).  Here’s one of my favorite purchases:

aquilegia

aquilegia2

Aquilegia ‘Origami Blue and White’

Prolific long-spurred blooms are a favorite of hummingbirds.  Beautifully rounded plant habit, airy silver-gray foliage.  Good choice for cutting, naturalizing.  Plant in sun or partial shade 12″ apart.  Grows to 16″ tall.

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The Fight for Civil Rights: Gay Marriage

I’m immensely saddened by today’s ruling.  I’m also incredibly proud of the citizens who peacefully exercised their right to protest, and who invoked the spirit of dissent–that truly American spirit–through civil disobedience.  May we all follow in these brave souls’ footsteps, and may all of us have the right to marry.

paul sakuma

sakuma

hafalia

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If You Don’t Know, Now You Know

Tomorrow, Friday April 17, 2009 is the 13th annual Day of Silence.  Day of Silence “brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.” 

The goal of the Day of Silence is to make schools safer for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. In a Harris Interactive study on bullying, students said two of the top three reasons students are harassed in school are actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression. Additionally, nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment at school. 

Students across the country participate in the Day of Silence to bring attention to this problem, let students who experience such bullying know that they are not alone and ask schools to take action to address the problem.

Many of my students will be voluntarily participating in DoS tomorrow.  I am too.  To keep my vow of silence I will be teaching a silent lesson.  All instruction will be written and individual so that students who wish to remain silent may.

dos_b1

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This Story Isn’t Going Away

When I studied in Berlin in 2001, I spent the majority of my time in coffee shops and the Freie Universitat studying the issues surrounding Germany’s largest group of minorities: the Turks, who were invited to Germany by the German government during the post-WWII labor shortage.  

Today, while casually listening to NPR in the car, my ears perked up when I heard the abridged version of the story I learned rehashed on The World.

The story The World tells focuses on the controversy around integration: at first the Germans didn’t want the Turks to integrate, then the Turks wanted to integrate, then the Germans decided they wanted the Turks to immigrate, and once the Germans came around, generations had gone by and young and old Turks alike aren’t so sure anymore which road to choose.

A nation’s immigration policy is played out in heavy ways through language and education.  It’s especially extreme in a place like Germany, with its particularly nationalistic history (from Kant to Fichte to Hitler to post-WWII immigration policy) that contrasts with the global necessity of inexpensive labor (sound familiar?).  In Germany, these immigrant laborers are called gastarbeiter, or “guest workers.” 

The piece The World did is just the tip of the iceberg, but it serves as a magnifying glass.  Pay close attention around the 3:50 mark when one Turkish interviewee explains (in German) that his son has good enough grades at his elementary (!) school to get into the college track.  In spite of the good grades, the school is excluding the boy from the college track (implicitly on nationalistic grounds) and forcing him into a vocational track.  The father can’t understand the school’s decision in light of his son’s perfect German language skills (his son was born in Germany).  

This is just one example.  Almost all the interviewees from The World story (both German and Turkish) express great concern over the issue of language.  Language can serve as a means of protest, a mark of integration, or a ticket to social mobility.

If we are smart, we Americans have a chance to learn from the extremes that Germany presents.  Germany is a potential heuristic for our own immigration policy and attitudes towards educating the children of immigrants.  The challenges of globalization cannot be exaggerated.  It will take real work (not just hours, but personal-attitudinal work on the part of citizens and educators, policy, and academic research) to create equitable policies and practices appropriate to a new and ever-changing conceptualization of citizenship and nationhood.

Excerpt from The World March 25, 2009

The Federal Foreign Office of Germany: information on German citizenship

Freie Universitat (Berlin)

oranienstrasse

Oranienstrasse, Kreuzberg, Berlin

kottbuser-damm-kreuzberg

Kottbusser Dam, Kreuzberg, Berlin

kreuzberg

Kreuzberg

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to go digging through the garage (I was actually taking pictures on film back then) for my personal photos from my time there, but I thought it appropriate to post some pictures of Kreuzberg, the notorious (and more recently hip) Turkish neighborhood in Berlin. 

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Spate of Education-related posts

The Teacher Salary Project, a group of educators and citizens committed to raising teacher salaries in order to improve the quality of education, is having an event in San Francisco on March 23, 2009 from 6:30-8:30.  The evening will include clips from the new film of the same name, based on the New York Times best-seller Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America’s Teachers by Daniel Moulthrop, Ninive Clements Calegari, and Dave Eggers.  In addition to a preview of the film, the evening will include discussion with the directors and producers and sushi from Ichi Catering.  Mmmm.  Minimum suggested donation is $150.  A small price to pay for raising money and consciousness for real social change.

teacher-salary-party

Teacher Salary Party pdf

Another incredible opportunity to show your support for students and the people who work hard to prepare them for . . . everything, is quickly approaching at ARL all-time favorite Oliveto.  I knew I was in love with Paul Canales, and here’s just one more reason why.  

MetWest High School invites you to
A Morning of Real-World Learning:

Our first annual exhibition-viewing breakfast fundraiser
Wednesday, March 18th, 8:30 – 9:45 AM

*Join us for a breakfast prepared by Oliveto Restaurant head chef, and MetWest internship mentor, Paul Canales
*Sit amongst our students to view one of our students quarterly exhibitions of their internship-based learning
*Hear more about MetWest’s unique approach to high school education:
– Exploring passions through internships
– Professional networking skills
– Project management experience
– Anti-oppression curriculum
– Close peer relationships within a diverse student body

Please RSVP to Greg Cluster:
metwestgregc@gmail.com or 510-435-6115
Space is limited

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Required Reading

I’ve read this article about three times now.  The Marxist ideal of transformation doesn’t obsess me as much as my conclusion that the differences in “school knowledge” that Anyon describes, as dictated by social class, are true, and have become more deeply entrenched each year since she wrote this piece (in 1981).

Tomorrow my students get an earful.  They have the (un?)fortunate fate of a teacher insistent on being honest with them about the state of the world and one who refuses to let them get away with any less thinking than the “Executive Elite Class” does, regardless of their situation of birth.  I can’t dictate the outcome of students’ lives, but I can insist on providing them with options.

Click here to read Jean Anyon’s “Social Class and School Knowledge.”

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What’s Up With Black History Month

I’ve been thinking about BHM, and wanted to say something about it on ARL, so I did a little digging.  The first thing I came up with was Cynthia Tucker’s article that was published locally in the Chronicle on 2/9/09.  I think Tucker did a brilliant job elucidating the issues around keeping up the tradition, while simultaneously looking forward to better days.  I hope to share this with my students.  Let’s hear your thoughts.  

Black history is the nation’s history by Cynthia Tucker via the San Francisco Chronicle

douglass

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