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Committed To Fighting For Equity and Access in Public Education

Featuring interviews, testimony and analysis on issues facing public education in the U.S. through voices of teachers, parents, students, community members, education activists and education scholars. Education Radio is committed to exposing the profit driven interests fueling current education policies while addressing issues of true equity and access in public education.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Criminalizing failure: How high stakes testing warps identities, opportunities and communities


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In this week’s program, we take a closer look at how high stakes testing is impacting what happens in classrooms, how teachers see students, how students see themselves, and the kinds of society we are building through how young people are being educated. The impact of high stakes tests is both broadly social and intimately personal. Socially, high stakes testing re-segregates our schools, marginalizes black and brown children, young people who live in poverty and children who do not learn in traditional ways. High stakes testing tells us who we will value, and who we will not value, and makes room for us to criminalize youth, especially black and brown youth, opening the path to the school to prison pipeline. It operates within and builds on white supremacy, and exploits long standing privileges and oppressions. And, as with any dominant discourse, high stakes testing enters our consciousness and begins to structure how we see ourselves, each other, and the kind of world we want to build.

We speak with Linda Christensen, Director of the Oregon Writing Project at Lewis and Clark College, author of Reading, Writing and Rising Up among other books, and editorial board member for Rethinking Schools about how, entering the classroom, even with a curriculum designed to access student voices and knowledge, she discovered that the testing came to stand between her and the students, and her work with students to reclaim their knowledge and stories.
Wayne Au

Linda Christensen
Wayne Au, assistant professor of education at University of Washington Bothell,  and author of Unequal by Design: High stakes testing and the standardization of inequality, talks about how high stakes testing locks some students out of the curriculum and begins a process of devaluing - that changes how students know themselves, how teachers know students, and how society sees young people, especially young people of color.

Joan Grim
Joan Grim, teacher educator in special education at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, helps us to understand how high stakes testing is undermining 40 years of creating more inclusive classrooms by re-segregating both schools and the broader community, diminishing the strength and pleasure of diverse communities, and restricting the opportunities for young people with disabilities within our communities.

Edward Brockenbrough
We then speak first with Ed Brockenbrough, assistant professor at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester, about how white supremacy, the institutionalization of systems of power and privilege that advantage white people, manifests in schools, the role of high stakes testing as surveillance,  and the school to prison pipeline.   Erica Meiners, professor of education and women’s studies at Northeastern Illinois University, furthers the connection from high stakes testing, to surveillance, to the school to prison pipeline and, finally, our massive incarceration system.

Erica Meiners (with Tim Scott)
We also hear from educators who are subverting these destructive process in their classrooms, including Linda Christensen, and Monique Redeaux, fifth grade teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, who talks about her experience within the high stakes testing machine and how she and her students find their voices within it.  We close out the program a spoken word piece from Cadijah Hyacinth, a student from NYC.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Breaking the Silence: LGBTQ Curriculum in Public Schools


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In today’s program we discuss curriculum politics in the public school system, and the role they play in establishing a biased and oppressive curriculum that silences lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people throughout history and today.  We talk with students, educators, and activists who are committed to furthering social justice for the LGBTQ community, and have participated in the movement towards an LGBTQ inclusive curriculum. We also explore ways in which LGBTQ inclusion can be successful, as with the FAIR Education Act, and one example of a high school LGBTQ literature course that is central to the curriculum and highly enrolled. Through these interviews we see just how powerful an LGBTQ curriculum can be for individual students, but also for the kinds of communities we create when we know our histories, learn from our struggles and come to understand the fluidity and inter-sectionality of our identities.


Erica Meiners
We speak with Erica Meiners, Northeastern Illinois University Professor, author of The right to be hostile: Schools, prisons and the making of public enemies, and Queer Activist, about some of the barriers to LGBTQ curriculum including the power of heteronormativity. Kaila Kuban, professor of anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, talks with us about the challenge posed to schools as instruments of obedience when LGBTQ opens up the fluidity of our identities, and Kirsten Helmer, Doctoral candidate of Language, Literacy and Culture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, helps us think about both the need for and impediments to LGBTQ inclusive curriculum.
Kirsten Helmer

We then speak with Amherst, Massachusetts teacher Sara Barber-Just about her development and teaching of a Gay and Lesbian literature course.  Next we talk with Katie Russavage and Grace Findlen-Golden, two Massachusetts high school students about what an LGBTQ inclusive curriculum means to them. And finally, we hear from Rachel Harper, teacher and a founding member of the Chicago based organization ChiQueer about the incredible power of the uncertainty opened up by LGBTQ curriculum.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Ongoing Sham of Teach for America: Part Two



Tania Kappner
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This is part two of a two part expose. Click here to listen to part one, The Sham of Teach for America

In this second of our two-part exploration of Teach for America, we'll explore TFA's larger goals and connection to corporate education reform. In doing so, we examine TFA's impact on professional teachers and their unions, and their hijacking of a social justice discourse in an effort to manufacture public acquiescence to the imposition of an agenda that ultimately seeks to further consolidate knowledge, wealth and power for a few at the expense of the many.
Karen Lewis
Diane Ravitch

We continue our conversations with many of the people we spoke with in Part One of our program - people who have researched and experienced Teach for America - including Barbara Veltri, Assistant Professor of Education at Northern Arizona State university, TFA corps member mentor, and author of Learning on Other People's Kids: Becoming a Teach for America Teacher; University of Illinois Chicago Professor of Asian American Studies and Education Kevin Kumashiro; Associate Professor of Education at the University of Alabama Philip Kovacs; and education historian Diane Ravitch. Two new voices we hear in this program are the president of the Chicago Teachers Union, Karen Lewis; and high school teacher, union activist and civil rights activist with BAMN, Tania Kappner.

We also continue to hear the stories of two people who have had first-hand experience as TFA recruits and corps-members. Jameson Brewer, a traditionally certified teacher and now corps member in Atlanta who is currently finishing his second year. And, Neha Singhal, a former TFA recruit who left TFA after the training when she began to uncover its true agenda. Neha is also a guest host and producer of our TFA programming.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Sham of Teach for America: Part One


Neha Singhal
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This is part one of a two part expose. Click here to listen to part two, The Ongoing Sham of Teach for America

In this week's show, Education Radio continues to disrupt the dominant narrative of corporate education reform by investigating the organization Teach for America (TFA). TFA is one of many insidious examples of how the language of social justice and equity is hijacked and appropriated, and instead employed to further the goals of the neoliberal education reform agenda. This agenda includes a firm belief that education should primarily serve the interests of private profit and as with all neoliberal education reformers, TFA is actively intensifying racial and class inequality, and the destruction of education as an essential public good along with the continued decimation of unions - two institutions that are primary determinants of a democratic society.

Wendy Kopp
In this first part of our two-part series on TFA, we challenge the claims that TFA makes to support its mission by taking a closer look at TFA recruitment, training, its impact on teacher education, its approach to diversity, and the impossibility of the TFA model to create spaces for authentic teaching and learning.

We speak to a variety of people who have researched and experienced Teach for America, including Barbara Veltri, Assistant Professor of Education at Northern Arizona State university, TFA corps member mentor, and author of Learning on Other People's Kids: Becoming a Teach for America Teacher. We hear from University of Illinois Chicago Professor of Asian American Studies and Education Kevin Kumashiro on TFA's impact on teacher education, and Associate Professor of Education at the University of Alabama Philip Kovacs, who has investigated TFA's research, and from education historian Diane Ravitch. We also hear what TFA founder Wendy Kopp has to say about their mission and philosophy. We close the show by hearing from CUNY professor and leading proponent of critical pedagogy Ira Shor, who talks about the importance of creating spaces for authentic teaching and learning.

Throughout the show we also listen to the stories of two people who have had first-hand experience as TFA recruits and corps-members. Jameson Brewer is a traditionally certified teacher and now corps member in Atlanta who is currently finishing his second year. And, Neha Singhal, a former TFA recruit who left TFA after the training when she began to uncover its true agenda. Neha is also a guest host and producer of our program this week.

Ira Shor
In next week's continuation of our programming on TFA, we'll explore TFA’s connection to corporate education reform, its impact on professional teachers and their unions, and TFA's hijacking of a social justice discourse to promote policies that are, in actuality, upholding and furthering inequality rather than challenging it.





For additional information that expands this critique of TFA, see the following links:
A dialogue between two TFA corps members (one of which is Jameson Brewer, featured on this program)
Philip Kovacs on TFA research
Teach for America, The Hidden Curriculum of Liberal Do-Gooders by Andrew Hartman
Looking Past the Spin: Teach for America by Barbara Miner
Why I Did TFA and Why You Shouldn't by Gary Rubenstein
Why TFA is Not Welcome in My Classroom by Mark Naisson

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Winners and Losers: Naming and Reframing Education Reform


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In the first segment of this week's show, we feature a keynote talk given by Kevin Kumashiro, at the 3rd annual NYCoRE Conference. The conference was titled "Education is a Right! Not Just for the Rich or White!" and took place in New York City during March 2012.
Kevin Kumashiro

In his talk, Kumashiro examines various problems within current education reform policies as well as four ways we can push back against education reform and reimagine change in public education. Kumashiro is a professor of Asian American Studies and Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the current president-elect of the National Association for Multicultural Education. His most recent book is titled Bad Teacher: How Blaming Teachers Distorts the Bigger Picture.

William Watkins
In the second segment, Education Radio producers Barbara Madeloni, Dani O'Brian and Tim Scott speak with William Watkins, a former high school teacher and a Professor of Curriculum & Instruction at the Univ. of Illinois Chicago College of Education. We spoke with professor Watkins, who is the editor of the 2011 book titled The Assault on Public Education: Confronting the Politics of Corporate School Reform. According to Pauline Lipman, one of the books contributors, "The purpose of the book is to try to get at what is behind the assault and what are the implications for public education, for democracy, for equity and justice - and what we can do about it.