Friday Shares (2-3-23) – College Board’s Predictable Decision

While the news stories continue about the state of Florida pressuring the College Board regarding some of the content of its AP African American Studies curriculum, there are a few things worth highlighting. First, AP courses are elective courses…This means that no one is forced to take them.  Second, the College Board is probably best known for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) which Carl Brigham, a noted eugenicist, developed. Dr. Tracey Benson, a school leader, researcher, and the co-author of Unconscious Bias in Schools highlights the problematic nature of the College Board offering an AP African American Studies course in his post on medium DeSantis v. Black Studies (2023): New Dog, Old Tricks. He notes, “Ultimately, the pretty package of developing and offering an African American studies AP course represents putting cracked eggs in a flimsy basket.”

If College Board wanted to look anything but disingenuous in this endeavor, they would have had a much more transparent process in the curricular decisions that were made around this course. They could have modeled the type of collaborative process that is necessary when fear-based tactics are used to pressure educators. As Lauren Porosof notes in her ASCD article Navigating Tough Curriculum Conversations, we need to ask ourselves reflective questions like “Is this curriculum making people unsafe or merely uncomfortable? Who, exactly, is uncomfortable? What might be the source of that discomfort.”  Porosof also notes that it is pretty common for adults to “mischaracterize experiences as unsafe when they’re merely uncomfortable.”  

The article concludes with a subheading titled “A Manifestation of Values.” Here’s the first sentence: “Creating curriculum is always a matter of deciding what’s most important for students to know and do, and what anyone considers most important reflects that person’s values.” In this case, it reflects the values of both the College Board and the Governor of Florida. In Florida’s case, there is some irony in the fact that the state is simultaneously moving towards permitless carry of weapons for residents over 21 while at the same time reminding teachers they could face felony charges for unapproved books in their classrooms

Recommended Listen/Watch

Democracy-ish Podcast – New episodes drop each Thursday. Here is the description of the podcast from the Democracy-ish website: “Democracy-ish is a podcast dedicated to fighting for democracy and preserving your sanity in a time when both are under active assault by forces committed to white supremacy and stupidity. For far too long our body politic has been viewed through an all-white prism that does not represent the multiracial nation that is the United States of America. Hosts Danielle Moodie and Wajahat Ali always keep it real, blunt and entertaining as they discuss how we can achieve a multiracial democracy and cover all the ground left behind by mainstream media and seek to make sense out of the nonsense.”

  • Last week’s, Bustin America’s Racist Myths episode featured Princeton History Professor Kevin Kruse who discussed his new book Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past , a collection of essays by historians which addresses some of the biggest historical inaccuracies about our country. The book includes an essay on Voter Fraud by Carol Anderson, author of New York Times Best Seller White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide and Professor of African American History at Emory University, and an essay on Police Violence by Elizabeth Hinton, author of America On Fire and Associate Professor of History in the Department of History and the Department of African American Studies at Yale, with a secondary appointment as Professor of Law at the Law School.
  • This week’s episode, Banning Black History, discusses the College Board’s decision to delete som portions of its AP African American History curriculum after criticism from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Recommended Read

A few more articles on the situation with the College Board  

A Framework for Resisting Book Bans – by Daniel Liou and Kelly Deits Cutler in ASCD’s Educational Leadership

This a great article on Resisting Book Bans! The authors share a constructive and proactive framework that ensures diversity, equity, inclusivity, and social justice are prioritized.

4 Ways Anti-Blackness Shows Up In DEI – by Janice Gassam Asare in Forbes

Did you know research done in 2019 found that over 80 percent of Chief Diversity Officers were white? Gassam Asare notes, “Not enough conversation centers around how those of us hired to help eliminate workplace inequities are instrumental in perpetuating harm.”  The four areas she goes in-depth on in the article are: expertise, pay inequity, deprioritizing black issues, and aggregating all non-white employees.

Poll: Parents Don’t Want Schools to Focus on Culture Wars – by Eesha Pendharkar in EdWeek

New data indicates that two-thirds of voters feel culture wars distract schools from their core mission of educating students. Despite this data, the truth is that some states are continuing to pass regulations around “divisive concepts” and banning books that limit access to diverse points of view and cause fear in educators.

U.S. Public Education is Under Attack. It’s Time to Take a Stand – From Lynn Jennings at the Education Trust last February.

The article is as relevant as it was a year ago when Jennings wrote: 

“Education equity advocates and allies must stand united once again, for divided we fall. We must actively resist legislation and state policies that force educators to whitewash U.S. history and deny students the literature that will help Black students see themselves in history and for White students to develop empathy for those who don’t look like them.”

Black Visibility Matters: The Inconvenient Truths of Bias and Erasure – by Kevin Myles of Learning for Justice.

This article is from this past September and Myles’s words about inclusivity certainly resonate this week:

“We must operate in a heightened state of awareness to ensure inclusivity in all realms. Failure to operate on this high frequency means failing ourselves as human beings as we yearn to make the world a better place in which tremendous gifts and opportunities are not wasted because of bias and anti-Blackness.”

Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors – by Rudine Sims Bishop in 1990. 

As some may be aware, Bishop is referred to as the “mother of multicultural literature” for her groundbreaking research in children’s literature. Check out the short video here with Professor Bishop discussing the importance of Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors. 

Additional Resources

ADL’s online bibliography of recommended children’s and young adult books about bias, bullying, diversity and social justice.

ADL’s Monthly Featured Books From This Month back to 2011

UCLA School of Law CRT Forward Tracking Project – The CRT Forward Tracking Project (FTP) identifies, tracks, and analyzes local, state, and federal measures that attempt to restrict access to truthful information about Critical Race Theory (CRT), race, and systemic racism. To demonstrate the breadth of anti-CRT measures across the country, FTP provides a comprehensive database of anti-CRT measures across all levels of government and varying types of official action.

Friday Shares (1-27-23) – When Things Fall Apart

The end of this week came with the video released in Memphis showing five police officers brutally beating a black man, Tyre Nichols, who later died of his injuries. A couple of articles I read as I try to learn more about this man whose life was ended prematurely due to another case of unnecessary violence by police against a black person in this country:

Tyre Nichols’ killing by police — why is this still happening?

Tyre Nichols remembered as beautiful soul with creative eye

Learning for Justice has reposted its resources for Discussing Race, Racism and Police Violence which was first created in 2014.  It outlines how to facilitate conversations with students while also not adding to the trauma black students may be feeling. 

Other relevant reading/listening connections

When Things Fall Apart : Throughline : NPR

This week’s Throughline podcast episode was certainly timely.  The episode noted the following “In the United States, polls indicate that many people believe that law and order is the only thing protecting us from the savagery of our neighbors, that the fundamental nature of humanity is competition and struggle.”

The episode goes onto share the Two Wolves story which is often attributed to the Cherokee: “An old man says to his grandson, there’s a fight going on inside me. It’s a terrible fight between two wolves.  One is evil, angry, greedy, jealous, arrogant and cowardly. The other is good, peaceful, loving, modest, generous, honest and trustworthy. These two wolves are also fighting within you and inside every other person, too. After a moment, the boy asks, which wolf will win? The old man smiles – the one you feed.”

The episode also highlights Veneer Theory, a theory based on the belief that humans are basically selfish and evil and need “civilization” to save them. The episode offers the contrasting points of view of 17th Century philosopher Thomas Hobbes and 18th Century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Hobbes was a proponent of a strong government and did not think human beings would be able to refrain from killing each other, or from devolving into a state of mutual destruction without such a government. Author Rebecca Solnit noted the following:

“Hobbes’s idea that somehow you need authoritarian structures to control people corresponds really well to imperialism and colonialism, people who saw themselves as civilization imposing order on chaos.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, on the other hand, believed the lives of human beings in the state of nature was actually pretty good. Dutch historian Rutger Bregman summed up Rousseau’s thinking as follows:

“We were quite healthy. We had lots of exercise. We had a varied diet, and it was pretty peaceful as well. But then everything went wrong when we gave up our liberty, and we invented private property, and we settled down in villages and cities, and we created this thing called civilization.”

Ultimately, as we hear the varying narratives about incidents and events where there are various points of view (i.e. the murder of a black man by police), what wolf is being fed? Can we have a full view without knowing our country’s history and without having a good sense of our own identity and privilege?  

Speaking of history

The news out of Florida this week was that Governor DeSantis is looking at limiting what topics we can allow our students to learn about. This article from NPR gets into the discussion about the proposed ban on African American Studies in the Sunshine State. NEA President Becky Pringle summed things up with the following statement:

“When we censor classes and whitewash lesson plans, we harm our students and do them a deep disservice.”

Getting back to the Throughline episode above, what wolf does this narrative feed?

News Literacy is more critical than ever

As I watch some news outlets try to rationalize the killing of Tyre Nichols, I am struck by the irony that this past week The News Literacy Project just completed their fourth annual National News Literacy Week.  This non-partisan organization has amazing resources to help educators guide students (and adults) in being savvier about what they are reading and watching. This probably should have been mandated for all students back in 1987 when the FCC abolished the Fairness Doctrine.  Here is a list of resources for students (and adults) that can help us all better meet the main objective of the News Literacy Project and “determine the credibility of news and other information and to recognize the standards of fact-based journalism to know what to trust, share and act on.”

Concluding this week’s writing with the following reminders that resonated from yesterday’s webinars from the News Literacy Project:

Opinion Journalism should meet the following standards:

  • Credible opinion pieces are based on verified facts and employ sound, logical reasoning.
  • Opinion journalism does not seek to avoid bias or ignore opposing views.

Common Propaganda Techniques

Simplification – Making a complicated idea seem very simple.

Exploration – Manipulating emotions rather than weighing facts.

Exaggeration – Making its cause seem stronger or more popular than it is.

Division – Attempting to broaden and exploit the gap between “us” and “them”

Get the entire poster on Common Propaganda techniques from Newseum.

How can we move past ambivalence in our diversity, equity, inclusion and justice work?

A Boston Globe Article this week highlighted a unique experiential learning program that started in 1971 called Sidetrack. This program was a partnership between the predominantly white suburban community of Lincoln, MA, and the predominantly black urban community of Roxbury. The program was comprised of two classes of 7th graders and each class would have 50 percent of its students from Roxbury and the other 50 percent of the class from Lincoln and the classes would each spend one half of the year in each of the two communities involved. 

Despite the fact that the program showed great promise, the critics won out and the program ended after a year due to a lack of enrollment of Lincoln students. As Peter Thomson, both the author of the article and a student in the program put it, “Sidetrack and its vision would get mired in suburban ambivalence and recede into history.”  He later adds, “The biggest challenge to school integration programs has always been getting white families and communities to buy in.”

What does an unwavering commitment to the work of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice work look like? I mentioned this last month and shared a t-chart from the San Francisco Coalition of Essential Small Schools on what this unwavering discourse sounds like between educators. I also wonder what this unwavering discourse sounds like and looks like in classrooms and among students, families, and community members…

Friday Shares 1/13/23 and some thoughts on self-compassion

The view from my back porch this afternoon.

I’ve been involved in some great conversations during the past week surrounding self-compassion. As we are early in a new year, many of us set goals and/or make resolutions for ourselves. I wrote last week about trying to be more intentional in making connections and thus using the word connection as my word for 2023. With this in mind it was great to connect with others and discuss self-compassion. An episode of Laura Brewer’s podcast focused on how to practice really helped me make some meaningful connections in my own mind and with others on this idea. 

As an ardent CrossFitter, I made the connection to the importance of muscle memory in regards to improving on so many of the movements we do at the gym. A poor movement pattern repeated over time can result in a plateau or even an injury. When it comes to self-compassion, I can’t help remembering a quote from Dan Harris from 10-percent Happier and ABC News where he said, “The voice in my head is an asshole.” I have tried to drown out this voice by remembering the following words from Brené Brown: “Talk to yourself the way you talk to someone you love.”

Just like a poor physical movement pattern, we can be better with thought patterns and catching the negative voice earlier and finding ways to interrupt that critical voice. Whether it is stopping for a few breaths, going for a walk, or just sitting in the negative feeling and thinking about where it is coming from, all of these are ways that I can try and catch myself and not carry that negative energy into other spaces. This mental muscle memory is also something that I can reinforce and get stronger with. 

Anyway, I hope this resonates for some others. Thanks to Jen B. for sharing Laura Brewer’s podcast with me. I will definitely be diving into past episodes in the weeks ahead. Also thanks to my awesome community members at CrossFit 133 for engaging in the self-compassion conversation!

Recommended listens/watch

Laura Brewer’s How to Make Love podcast – “a podcast designed to grow your love, justice, and courage muscles.”

Leading Equity Podcast with Dr. Sheldon Eakins – As I have mentioned in the past, this is one I do not miss and Dr. Eakins had some more amazing guests since the last Friday Shares:

  • Unpacking the White Innocence Playbook – This episode featured Dr. Melanie Bertrand from the University of Arizona and Dr. Carrie Sampson from Arizona State University. This idea of white innocence actually began in legal studies and Richard Orosco’s has taken this same framework to look at public schooling. The episode highlighted the following 4 discursive strategies of white innocence:
  1. Denying blame
  2. Concealing racism
  3. Dodging responsibility
  4. Glorifying the district

Show Me The Evidence: Culturally Relevant Pedagogy & Primary Sources with Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings

If you want to learn more about Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, there is no one better than Dr. Ladson-Billings to learn from. This video is from a presentation done back in August for the Minnesota Historical Society. This is one I will watch again, but here are a few of my initial takeaways:

Her thoughts on Critical Race Theory (CRT). “(From the perspective of those decrying it) CRT is everything we don’t like.” Dr. Billings perspective is that “CRT is teaching the truth about our history.”

She describes Culturally Responsive Pedagogy as an equilateral triangle, one where all sides need to be equal. The three sides are composed of Academic Achievement/Student Learning, Cultural Competence, and Socio-political critical consciousness.  She advocates for the use of primary source documents and gives some great examples on how teachers can use them in a culturally relevant way to “make the familiar strange” by asking inquiry-based questions.

Quote I’m Pondering as we celebrate a long weekend in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

My One Word For 2023

Happy New Year! Do you have any resolutions for 2023 or new goals? I am not a big resolution person, having failed at so many in the past that I have stayed away from them for a while. Instead, I spent a lot of time thinking about a word that I would focus on for 2023. Being on a sabbatical from my full-time role this year has definitely impacted my word choice as I miss the day-to-day interactions that would be that I was used to working as a public school educator for the past 25-plus years. While the commute to my home office is great and more day-to-day interaction with my wife and our three dogs is great, I miss the multitude of  opportunities to interact with colleagues, students, and community members that I am used to having.

With this in mind, it did not take me long to settle on CONNECTION as my one word for 2023. I see see three main areas where I will be focusing on connection:

  1. Making connections with others 
  2. Making connections with myself
  3. Making connections in my learning

Making connections with others

My most consistent interactions lately are the hour I spend at the gym in the morning and I have noticed I’ve been way more talkative than in the past when I had to head right from the gym to work. In previous years, I was quieter during this hour in preparation for heading to work where the opportunities for connections would be plentiful. One of my goals is to slow down and be more appreciative of the time I have to connect with others in any setting, especially family members.

Making connections with myself

Having a less rigid schedule allows for a much greater focus on both physical and mental health. This time also allows for a great deal of reading, writing, and reflection on what provides meaning. What do I love? I can’t help think of an excerpt in Chapter 10  of Leadership On the Line:

“…love lies at the core of what makes life worth living. Love gives meaning to what you do, whether in a corporation, a community, a classroom, or a family. We take risks for good reason: We hope to make a difference in people’s lives. Leadership enables and challenges us to love well.”

Making connections in my learning

Teaching, taking classes, reading, writing, and reflecting allow me a tremendous amount of time to both learn a lot of new information and to reframe previous thinking. I’ll continue to share some of the things I am reading, watching, and listening to here in this space and hopefully it will help others make some connections as well. As I’ve noted previously, my focus will be on antiracism and equity so that I can continue to grow in my knowledge of the many facets involved in creating schools and spaces where all members feel a sense of belonging.  We can never have deep connections without belonging.

Friday Shares 12/30/22

A quote I am pondering

After watching the video on cultural humility referenced below, I cannot help coming back to this quote from Hacking Deficit Thinking.

Recommended listens/watch

The Art of Advocacy with Dr. Sheldon Eakins – The Necessity of Soul Care and Critical Self-Reflection for Equity Centered Educators – I’ve highlighted episodes of Dr. Eakins’ playlist in previous Friday Shares. New episodes of the podcast drop every Monday. Dr. Eakins also has a live stream he does on Thursdays at 6 p.m. called the Art of Advocacy. If you are able to check out the livestreams, you will have a chance to interact with the guests via the YouTube chat feature. If not you can still catch the replays on YouTube. The episode from December 15 featured Dr. Mel. The timing for this episode was perfect as educators head into their December break.  Dr. Mel highlighted the importance of slowing down, self-reflection, and avoiding perfectionism. Dr. Mel also shared a great series on Cultural Humility (see below). Check out the whole episode here and you will see that Dr. Mel definitely lives by her recommendation to “choose joy.” You can learn more about Dr. Mel’s work at Scholars for the Soul.

Cultural Humility – This video from August 2012 is just under 30-minutes. From the description on YouTube: “Cultural Humility is a communal reflection to analyze the root causes of suffering and create a broader, more inclusive view of the world.  Originally developed by Doctors Melanie Tervalon and Jann Murray-Garcia (1998) to address health disparities and institutional inequities in medicine, Cultural Humility is now used in public health, social work, education, and non-profit management.”

The first portion of the video talks about the difference between Cultural Humility and Cultural Competence. A major takeaway from this was the fact that cultural competence often indicates an end point and a checked box, but when we talk about this in relation to learning about other cultures, how could we ever be fully competent. Cultural humility, on the other hand, is an ongoing process. One line that resonated on the topic of cultural humility was: “It is a collaborative investigation that equitably involves those affected by an issue, and is meant to educate and create social change.”  

One other portion that I keep thinking about is an Audre Lorde quote that ties into the vulnerability that goes along with humility – “The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.”

Time for Teachership Podcast – Beyond “Performative Partnership” with Afrika Afeni Mills

This episode of the Teachership podcast is from January 2021 and Dr. Lindsay Lyons talks with Afrika Afeni Mills, who is the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for BetterLesson, and an Education Consultantabout, about moving beyond performative work to enact partnerships that can create real change in our schools and communities that result in more equitable schools and classrooms. Ms. Mills 

Cult of Pedagogy Podcast – How to Build Psychological Safety in Professional Development

This episode of the Cult of Pedagogy podcast with Jennifer Gonzalez features Bright Morning’s Elana Aguilar in a discussion on how to provide a space where psychological safety is prioritized for Professional Development. As Aguilar notes in the episode, “Learning requires us to be vulnerable and yet facilitators often don’t create the psychological safety, the conditions in which we can be vulnerable, take risks and say, I don’t know.” The episode goes on to highlight the portion of a The PD Book from Aguilar and Lori Cohen which focuses on the ways we can build an environment for Professional Development that allows educators to feel psychologically safe so they can fully engage in the learning experience. The podcast shares 5 Ways to Build Psychological Safety for Teachers from chapter two of the book and the strategies that Aguilar uses for adult learning spaces are equally important for setting up successful learning spaces for students. Aguilar notes the following: “Safe is the minimal required condition for learning.” The thought by the facilitator and the collaborative processes needed are described in great detail. Check out this episode and The PD Book which I discussed back in November

Speaking of Bright Morning and Elana Aguilar, check out her episode from this week on setting yourself up for success in 2023. Elana shares some tips on helping to become more reflective and gets into it a bit deeper on the Bright Morning Instagram account

That’s it for this week. Happy New Year! Wishing everyone a 2023 that is full of joy both personally and professionally!

Are We Really Living Our Equity Values In Our Schools?

“Racism is a system we all live within. As a result, many common ideas that we perceive as “normal” or “traditional” are actually racist ideas.”

Henry Turner and Kathy Lopes from Changing the Narrative: How to Foster an Antiracist Culture in Your School

There are two brief texts that I have been reading and re-reading over the last week. One is a new article from hthunboxed titled Swimming Against the Current: Resisting White Dominant Culture in Improvement Work by Amanda J Meyer. The second, from 1997, is a chapter from Race, Ethnicity, and Multiculturalism Policy and Practice titled Changing the Discourse in Schools by Eugene Eubanks, Ralph Parish, and Dianne Smith

One of the questions Meyers asks in her piece is “What if, instead of focusing on the equity practices we think we should be adding to our improvement repertoire, we also considered what forces may be pulling us away from living our equity values in everyday practice?”

This connects well to the second text “Changing the Discourse in schools.” The authors note “the current dominant discourse in schools (how people talk about, think about and plan the work of schools and the questions that get asked regarding reform or change) is a hegemonic cultural discourse. The consequence of this discourse is to maintain existing schooling practices and results. We call this hegemonic discourse, Discourse I.”

The needed alternative is Discourse II which the authors describe as follows:

“In a Discourse II school, ambiguity and change are part of a purposeful structure. The direction for change is clear. It is intended to produce schools where every student develops intellectually to high levels and the performance gap related to race, class and gender narrows until school effects are no longer correlated with those factors.”

Both pieces have resources connected to them that school groups working for substantive change in their antiracism and equity efforts could utilize. Meyer provides a table which provides a clear delineation between harmful patterns that are often perpetuated in improvement by characteristics of white dominant culture and “moves to resist and imagine” these characteristics. 

The resource connected to the chapter on Discourse I and Discourse II is a T-Chart created by the San Francisco Coalition of Essential Small Schools which has concrete examples on one side of Discourse I “dialogue supports and maintains the status quo without appearing unresponsive to outside demands for improvement.” Directly across are examples of Discourse II “the language that tends to be about uncomfortable, unequal, ineffective, prejudicial conditions and relationships in schools (and therefore) opens up space for ambiguity and change to be part of a purposeful structure.” It would be a powerful exercise for school teams to use the T-Chart to describe how Discourse I sounds in their context and to flip the script to Discourse II.

Friday Shares 12/16/22

One of the positives of being on sabbatical this year is having the time to do more reading, writing, listening, and reflecting on how we can ensure more inclusive school communities where ALL members feel welcome and have a sense of belonging. We cannot create these communities without talking about systemic inequities (i.e. systemic racism) and creating actions to dismantle these systemic inequities.

As part of this writing and reflective process, I want to share some of the great books, videos, podcast episodes, and social media posts I am finding that can benefit others who share the same commitment to this critical work.  As a white man who has been oblivious to instances of interpersonal racism, institutional racism and systemic racism for the majority of my life due to my implicit bias, I have perpetuated harm to BIPOC members of communities in which I have worked. Everything I share, is part of my Unlearning Journey to do better…

I am also posting my reflections on substack and am looking to do a bit more writing in that space, so if you are interested, check it out at patricklarkin.substack.com/.

Recommended listens

Dr. Sheldon Eakins Leading Equity podcast

This week – LE 274: An Approach to Anti-Racist Teaching and Leadership with Dr. Tracey Benson  – In this episode Dr. Eakins speaks with Dr. Tracey Benson, an educator, author, and consultant for schools looking to eliminate racial gaps and racial bias.  Dr. Benson is the co-author of Unconscious Bias in Schools, which I cannot recommend more highly.  At the beginning of the podcast, Dr. Benson explains how he sees Antiracism work and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work as two very different things. “If you read a book and hope for the best or bring in (a speaker) and hope for the best under the guise of DEI, but never identify that structural racism or interpersonal racism is even at play then we depart from the philosophy that DEI has anything to do with addressing racism”

Two quotes from Unconscious Bias in Schools that resonate here are ‘We value truth over comfort” and “Don’t think that a few technical steps will eliminate the danger you pose to the kids you care about.” 

Pink Card 30 for 30 Podcast – The following is a brief summary from this series on the ESPN website – Pink Card follows three generations of Iranian women who risk their lives for the simple right to watch a soccer game. It will forever change how you view fandom and freedom. It may help a greater understanding of the Iranian Mens’ Soccer team’s decision to not sing their national anthem prior to their opening match of the World Cup.  

Recommended reads

Stop Punishing Poverty in Schools – Paul Gorski in ASCD

This article kicks off with a quote that hit home:

“Inclusion is a commodity. Belonging is, too. Many students are priced out of it at school.”  

Gorski goes on to identify a stop doing list of four ways we can help address the disadvantages faced by economically marginalized students:

  1. (Stop) Marking Students as Deficient

We can do this by asking the following questions:

“What are barriers, inequities, and biases people experiencing poverty face?” “How are we perpetuating them?” “What can we do differently to distribute access equitably?”

  1. (Stop) Treating Kids Equally, and Therefore, Inequitably

“Be alert to temptations to slide back to equality, to redefine fairness around that concept, when equity efforts raise the ire of families accustomed to enjoying the benefits of disparate access. In my experience, the most vehement advocates for “equality” tend to be people bent on sustaining their children’s advantage.”

  1. (Stop) Humiliating Children Through Everyday Practices

Find ways to raise money that don’t require students to compete over whose families and neighbors can afford the most chocolate bars or wrapping paper. If we’re going to host book fairs, let’s structure them around the joy of reading, not the sale of books and trinkets.

  1. Pricing Them Out of Learning

The key is not to pick one or two obvious instances of inequity and imagine our work is done when we’ve solved them. We can dig deeper, mapping out all the ways this sort of inequity operates so we can address its root causes and adopt more equitable policies and practices.

Gorski ends the article with an exercise in Mapping Costs for Learning, Joining, and Belonging at Your School. 

Decarceration Begins With School Discipline Reform – Anthony Conright – Learning for Justice – Fall 2022

This article from the fall issue of Learning for Justice talks about the importance of prioritizing trauma-informed and restorative practices over a punitive response. Conright highlights the following:

“Trauma-informed and restorative justice practices are among the beginning models of an equity process to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. And while systemic change is essential, educators have an immediate responsibility to prioritize the mental health and well-being of students.”

Despite The Best Intentions

I mentioned this book in my last Friday Shares on 12/2/22 after hearing the interview with the authors John Diamond and Amanda Lewison the Teaching While White Podcast and the book definitely lived up to its expectations. This book would be a great book for school administrators to read as a leadership team, a whole staff, or a community-wide read. Riverview is a portrait of too many schools in this country. 

There are so many quotes that resonate Here are a couple:

“Disciplinary routines communicate key messages to students about who is and is not a full citizen in the school context.”

“White students report navigating the hallways freely and not having their intentions questioned, both unearned advantages of whiteness.” 

Reading The Bible From The Margins 

This recommendation from a friend intrigued me and emphasized the importance of considering the context of any book from the standpoint of who is doing the writing and what their identity and lived experiences have been. The author, Miguel A. De La Torre, notes the following in the book which was first published in 2002:

“I believe in the Bible and approach it with reverence, searching its pages for the grace of God needed to achieve liberating salvation from both individual and societal sins. Yet, I do not necessarily hold the same reverence for human interpretations, especially interpretations that arise from a privileged dominant culture that justifies a status quo that normalizes oppressive race, gender, and class structures.”

“Rather than confess the inequalities of society are due to racist social structures, religion (as well as other communal networks) provides psychological reassurance of legitimacy; in other words it confirms that the wealth, power and privilege amassed by the dominant culture are theirs by right.”

“Only interpretations that empower all elements of humanity, offering abundant life in the here-now, as opposed to just the here-after, are biblically sound.”

So You Want To Talk About Race

Ijeoma Oluo’s book from 2018 is one that I am revisiting. In chapter one, Is It Really About Race, Oluo highlights three simple guidelines to decide if something is about race:

  1. It is about race if a person of color thinks it is about race.
  2. It is about race if it disproportionately affects people of color.
  3. It is about race if it fits into a broader pattern of events that disproportionately or differently affect people of color.

From Chapter four, Why am I always being told to “check my privilege”?:

“Try to remember that the alternative to not being made aware of your privilege (no matter how it may sting) is your continued participation in the oppression of others.”

Friday Shares #4 – (12/2/22)

One of the positives of being on sabbatical this year is having the time to do more reading, writing, listening, and reflecting on how we can ensure more inclusive school communities where ALL members feel welcome and have a sense of belonging. We cannot create these communities without talking about systemic inequities (i.e. systemic racism) and creating actions to dismantle these systemic inequities.

As part of this writing and reflective process, I want to share some of the great books, videos, podcast episodes, and social media posts I am finding that can benefit others who share the same commitment to this critical work.  

Recommended listens

Podcasts

Intersectionality Matters – Freedom Readers: Why Kids Should Learn About Racism

The most recent episode of the Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw highlights a new series of episodes called Author Talks where authors of books that have been banned due to anti-CRT legislation will be featured. In this initial episode, the guest is Dr. Ibram Kendi who talks about the importance of teaching all students an accurate version of history and how important it is to quell the fear-based narrative that is causing legislation in some states to ban books that provide a more accurate portrayal of our past.  

Teaching While White – Despite the Best Intentions

In this recent episode of Teaching While White, hosts Jenna Chandler-Ward and Elizabeth Denevi speak with John Diamond and Amanda Lewis, the co-authors of Despite the Best Intentions, a book that focuses on how racial inequality thrives in “good” schools. The authors discussed their five-year research study on Riverview High School, the focus of the book. The actual name of the school, location and community members who were interviewed are all hidden, but the reality is that Riverview could be many middle-income suburban schools with a racially mixed student population. In fact, the authors discussed how when they shared the findings of their book with a group of 30 suburban superintendents, all of them were concerned that Riverview was their high school.

Bright Morning Podcast- Episode 145: In Conversation with Dr. Dena Simmons

In this episode, Elana Aguilar speaks with Dr. Dena Simmons about LiberateEd, the organization she founded to ensure that social-emotional work in schools is not just “white supremacy with a hug.”  The mission of LiberateEd is as follows: “to center healing, justice, and radical love in social and emotional learning (SEL) so that all children can live, learn, and thrive in the comfort of their own skin.” Dr. Simmons highlighted the importance of understanding the process that must be undertaken for healing and racial justice. “I think we’re always in the process of healing, and so understanding, healing as both a process and an outcome is important…We think racial justice is an outcome, but it’s also a process. And I say that because a lot of people think of it only as an outcome. They think, ‘If I read this on healing, and I read this book on racial justice, I’ve done the work, I’m done.’ And that’s not how it works.

Principal Center Radio podcast – Supervising principals for instructional leadership  – This podcast from 2020, features Meredith Honig, a professor of Education Policy, Organizations, and Leadership at the University of Washington and. Lydia Rainey, a research scientist at the University of Washington and the director of research for the District Leadership Design Lab, highlights the importance of district leaders supporting their Principals as Instructional Leaders. The two guests highlight the work from their book Supervising Principals for Instructional Leadership: A Teaching and Learning Approach. The authors discuss the common problem of district leaders allowing Principals to get bogged down in operational problems and getting away from the more important focus on teaching and learning. They discuss a new vision where districts reimagine the job description of supervisors of Principals to focus primarily on instructional leadership so that Principals can keep their focus there as well. The authors’ research is clear that in districts where this focus is maintained there are better results at the classroom level.

Recommended reads

Monuments to the Unthinkable

This Atlantic article by Clint Smith, who wrote How the Word is Passed a book about looking at America’s history of slavery, takes a look at how Germany has dealt with its own horrific history related to the Holocaust. Smith notes the following in the article:

 “I saw that Germany’s effort to memorialize its past is not a project with a specific endpoint. Some people I spoke with believe the country has done enough; others believe it never can. Comparisons to the United States are helpful, but also limited.” 

I was also struck by the following insight from Smith towards the end of the article: “I was reminded, too, that many of Germany’s most powerful memorials did not begin as state-sanctioned projects, but emerged—and are still emerging—from ordinary people outside the government who pushed the country to be honest about its past. Sometimes that means putting down Stolpersteine. Sometimes that means standing on the street for years collecting signatures for the massive memorial to murdered Jews that you believe the country needs. Americans do not have to, and should not, wait for the government to find its conscience. Ordinary people are the conscience.”

Double Jeopardy: Teacher Biases, Racialized Organizations, and the Production of Racial/Ethnic Disparities in School Discipline 

As outlined in the abstract of the study by the author Jayanti Owens: “This study develops a more comprehensive understanding of the production of racial/ethnic inequality in school discipline by empirically identifying a dual process that involves both individual teacher bias and heightened blaming that is related to minority organizational composition.” 

As part of the findings, Owens suggests reforms for both individual-level

biases and organization-level outcomes which disproportionately impact Black and Latino boys. 

Recommended Viewing

Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America 

This award-winning film produced by Jeffrey Robinson is currently available on Netflix and it provides a historical timeline that highlights the role of anti-Black racism and white supremacy from our country’s beginning up until the present. You can watch the official trailer here. Robinson’s statement about his hopes for the film on the Who We Are Project website ends with the following words: “II hope we get to a point where the narrative in the United States about our past is one that is true, not to tear ourselves down, but to reckon with where we started and how far we need to go to get to the true promises of our country.”

Friday Shares #3 (11/18/22)

One of the positives of being on sabbatical this year is having the time to do more reading, writing, listening and reflecting on how we can ensure more inclusive school communities where ALL members feel welcome and have a sense of belonging. We cannot create these communities without talking about systemic inequities (i.e. systemic racism) and creating actions to dismantle these systemic inequities.

As part of this writing and reflective process, I want to share some of the great books, videos, podcast episodes, and social media posts I am finding that can benefit others who share the same commitment to this critical work.  Here is installment three of this series of posts…

Podcasts

Bright Morning Podcast – Episode 143 – Disrupting Racism in Coaching Conversations. 

This podcast, from Elana Aguilar and her Bright Morning Team, is in my regular rotation, with new episodes dropping every Monday. Anyone interested in disrupting racism would benefit from a listen to this latest episode in which Elana and her Bright Morning teammate Nick Cains tackle how to effectively disrupt racist behavior. There are so many key points in this episode for me. One that really resonates for me as a 50-plus-year-old white man is the one below:

“But what I want people listening to make the connection to and to consider as essential for reflection is you gotta know where you’re coming into this conversation. You have to know who you are, what you’re bringing into it, literally into this conversation, but into the broader exploration of how do we disrupt racism.”

Elana also highlighted her podcast series What To Say When You Hear Something Racist and the companion guide. You can get them both for free here on the Bright Morning Website.  

Let’s Grab Coffee

This is a new one that I just came across in the last two weeks. The description from the podcast’s website: SunAh, University of Memphis professor, author, goal-setting coach, and coffee lover, as she catches up with experts from across the country, who are investigating our most pressing social issues and common curiosities. New episodes are published every two weeks on Mondays and the titles of some of the recent episodes are below along with the description from the show’s website.

The Souls of White Jokes with Dr. Raúl Pérez – Jokes are meant to be funny, and studies show the multiple mental benefits of laughter. But, what happens when jokes target marginalized jokes? (from the website description)

On Critical Race Theory with Dr. Victor Ray – Over the past year, we’ve seen a moral panic around “critical race theory” resulting in changes to K-12 curriculum and legislation around divisive concepts in higher education. But, what exactly is critical race theory? Dr. Ray breaks it down in easy-to-understand language with real-world applications.

Asian American Histories of the United States with Dr. Catherine Ceniza Choy – What are some key events, places, or people in Asian American history? If you struggle to come up with an answer, you’re not alone. Asian American history is a history of erasure and not-knowing. On this episode, SunAh is joined by Dr. Catherine Ceniza Choy, whose latest book, Asian American Histories of the United States, brings to the forefront the many stories of Asian American history – past and present.

What I Am Reading

The Talk Series from the EmancipatorCheck out this connected video and the entire series – The Talk: How identity shapes the way we keep our children safe 

In case you haven’t heard of The Emancipator, here’s a bit about it from its website: Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research and The Boston Globe’s Opinion team are collaborating to resurrect and reimagine The Emancipator, the first abolitionist newspaper in the United States, founded more than 200 years ago. The Emancipator is provided without a paywall. 

The Facilitator’s Guide For White Affinity Groups – This book co-authored by Robin DiAngelo and Amy Burtaine is geared towards people who would like to facilitate discussions formally in white affinity groups. However, it would also be a great resource for any white people who would like to get better at having conversations with other white people about race and racism.   

A couple of quotes from the book that highlights why we need affinity spaces:

“As white people, we are not taught to see ourselves in racial terms; race is what they have, not what we have.”

‘Even when we (white people) commit to change, we face a serious dilemma: We simply do not have the education, self-awareness, or practical skills to challenge racism.”

“White superiority is so normalized for white people that it is very hard for us to see it without sustained practice.”

The PD Book by Bright Morning Team’s Elana Aguilar and Lori Cohen –

Unfortunately, in most schools, the letters PD when followed by the word Day do not elicit jubilation or even confidence that the time that will be spent will be worthwhile. In the PD Book, the authors walk through the steps that will help both the leaders of individual sessions and leaders of schools and/or districts who plan Professional Learning to do so with much greater success. 

I was sold on the book early on with the following quotes about The Goal of PD:

Professional development is defined by its impact. PD is successful if, after the learning experience, the learner can do something else, or do something different. PD isn’t PD if the learner doesn’t change, if the learner doesn’t learn.”

“Transformative impact is the result of a shift in behaviors and beliefs.”

Dr. Henry Turner’s Newsletter – Dr. Turner always shares great and timely resources. His most recent newsletter has a number of resources to review as we head into Thanksgiving week for those who celebrate this holiday. He reminds us of the following:

  1. Thanksgiving is not a celebratory time for everyone, particularly those without family or resources and many Indigenous People. 
  2. We lead our society forward when we move past the historical myths of Thanksgiving.

There are a number of other Thanksgiving resources you can have access to if you sign up for Dr. Turner’s newsletter here

Professor David J. Silverman on the Thanksgiving Myth – This post comes from Ben Tumin’s Skipped History substack. The interview with Professor David J. Silverman, the author of This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving highlights the truth behind the history of Thanksgiving in the United States. Everything I thought I knew as a child was a lie.