Start with questions.

Education
So there's a picture making the rounds. And although this particular picture and its provocative caption spawned this entry, what follows is applicable to any picture, meme, article, video and so on. In short, any document. Being literate is one thing, but engaging in critical literacy means reading against the grain. Critical literacy starts with questions rather than reactions. It demands research instead of assumptions. To be critically literate means to ask who published a given document and what do they hope to accomplish by doing so? Who benefits and who doesn't? Critical literacy asks for context. Not simply the text, but what comes with it. It requires active engagement over passive acceptance. The picture in question is connected to education. Math, to be specific. And despite the caption and the…
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No School, No Lunch

Education, Politics, News & Notable
From NPR: When cold snaps and blizzards shutter schools, kids miss more than their daily lessons. Some miss out on the day's nutritious meal as well. Blue and I talked about this when the metro area shut down two weeks ago. Some folks were home when horrendous traffic and inclement weather collided in Atlanta, but thousands of others ended up stuck in the worst jam they've ever experienced. People slept in their cars or abandoned them and hoofed it to nearby friends, restaurants and stores. But there were hundreds of students who had no such options - instead, they ended up at school over night when their buses were unable to maneuver the slick hills home. For many parents, this may have been a nightmare. Many, but perhaps not all. For…
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Restoration in CPS

Abolition & Justice, Education, Love
I've been reading, writing, thinking about schools as sites of love. Nationwide, districts are moving toward less punitive and more restorative approaches to school discipline. This shift comes at a time when the civil rights arms of the Department of Education and Department of Justice released guidance to districts about minimizing discriminatory and exclusionary discipline policies. I've read comments complaining that humane approaches to discipline means ignoring misbehavior and allowing classrooms to deteriorate into chaos. This does not reflect the reality of schools that work to improve their climates nor the students and communities who are positively impacted by the changes. Moving away from zero tolerance and other harsh discipline codes requires a multi-pronged approach including: supporting teachers with classroom management, helping faculty and staff unpack racial and ethnic stereotypes,…
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The undoing of schools as prisons

Abolition & Justice, Education, Love
I have a post in draft form that pulls together a couple of recent articles related to schools as sites of love, but I didn't want to let the day pass without sharing this piece from the Atlantic. Last year I wrote for The Atlantic about a notorious North Philadelphia junior high school known for years as the “Jones Jail.” Its rambunctious students wreaked such terror on the neighborhood that the police put the streets surrounding the school on lockdown every day at dismissal. Nearby shop-keepers locked their doors and porches as 800 of the city’s poorest kids streamed out the doors, often reportedly climbing over parked cars in their unruly rush to get out of school. When the John Paul Jones Middle School was taken charter and reopened as the Memphis Street Academy,…
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Schools as sites of love

Abolition & Justice, Education, Love
Love is one of my favorite topics. Especially love as it plays out in society. Since it's something I speak about and highlight often, even without provocation, I've decided to write more about it this year. Love is a broad idea, so I've been brainstorming ways to approach it in meaningful slices. Given my professional background, it seems a good place to start would be schools as sites of love (or not). With my concurrent interests in prison abolition, the school to prison pipeline, and restorative justice, love is perhaps a natural lens through which to consider those intersections. To that end, I'd like to share this piece from yesterday's Washington Post. School leaders in Alexandria agreed to implement a restorative justice program this school year. The school year is…
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Ask questions

Abolition & Justice, Education, Text Talk
As a graduate student, one of my favorite topics of discussion and research was inquiry. Asking questions, conducting investigations, and building knowledge through exploration are powerful tools for thinking and learning. As I continued in my studies, I learned of critical inquiry, which expands the idea of questioning to include a political or sociocultural lens. Developing conscientização, or critical awareness/awakening, is akin to taking the red pill. You start to ask sociopolitical questions and suddenly  you are hard-pressed to see anything as flat, uncomplicated or devoid of nuance. This isn't a negative thing, but it makes for interesting conversations. I mention all of this to introduce a quote by Angela Davis. I'm currently reading The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues,  a compilation of speeches she delivered between 1994…
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Ken Robinson: How to escape education’s death valley

Education
If you enjoyed, Sir Ken Robinson's epic 2006 TED talk on creativity, you'll find this one equally satisfying. For those who require an introduction, a brief excerpt as Sir Robinson discusses the alleged ADHD epidemic facing American school children: If you sit kids down, hour after hour, doing low-grade clerical work, don't be surprised if they start to fidget, you know? Children are not, for the most part, suffering from a psychological condition. They're suffering from childhood. And I know this because I spent my early life as a child. I went through the whole thing. Kids prosper best with a broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents, not just a small range of them. And by the way, the arts aren't just important because they improve math scores. They're…
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We Wear the Mask | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Education, Politics, News & Notable
Why should the world be over-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs? Nay, let them only see us, while We wear the mask. ~Paul Lawrence Dunbar I sit down with two other women present for the two-day workshop. We are instructional coaches – former classroom teachers – in Orlando for professional development in literacy. Our conversation drifts to “the kid.” Who was the kid? The one who was the pivotal in your career? Lillian tells of two, beginning with ‘Eric.’ That kid was always grumpy. On edge. He was likely to pick a fight or get in trouble for some reason or another. It wasn’t long before I discovered he simply couldn’t read very well. She explains to us how she won him over through small, daily successes. She…
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Teaching Kids About Personal Finance

Education
...in a world of economic uncertainty, rising college costs and social media that can target some of the youngest consumers, financial literacy may be more important than ever for your kids. What is the purpose of public schooling? It's an important question. One that requires quite a bit more wrestling and wrangling than it often receives. I lament frequently about the toll of high stakes testing, but the fundamental query - why do we have public schooling at all - is a key, yet often invisible part of the larger education discourse. If you're of the mind that public schooling should produce an informed citizenry, ultimately to the benefit of society at large (and theoretically to the benefit of individuals as well), then you'll likely find yourself in agreement with…
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Right outcome, wrong reasons.

Education
A few days ago, I wrote on the multiculturalism of language, and the absolute futility of excluding words from standardized tests because they aren't "neutral enough." Well, it looks as though New York's DOE abandoned the (doomed to fail) effort: One week after New York's Department of Education drew controversy with a request to ban 50 words and references from the city's standardized tests – including “dinosaur,” “birthday” and "religion" – the department announced Tuesday that it is abandoning the plan. I disagree with those who think it is simply political correctness gone too far. That dismisses the larger issue as a problem with "some bureaucrats somewhere" trying too hard to "be nice." The truth is, because of the inherent multiculturalism of life events and the words used to describe those events, someone will…
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