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Destabilizing Power

April 14, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Devon G. Pena, Politics

Student Perspectives on the Necessity of Ethnic Studies

moderated by Devon G. Peña

{Moderator’s Note: We are presenting selected blog posts written by students in a winter quarter (2014) course, “Introduction to Chicana/o Studies” (CHSTU 101 that just completed meetings at the University of Washington. My graduate assistant Victor Rodríguez pre-selected the blogs and I did final copy-editing and formatting but the ideas and representations made here were entirely the result of the eight weeks of group research activities conducted by these young students. When we ask first- and second-year students to perform at this higher level of independent inquiry and critical thinking by asking them to engage in collaborative research and writing, we are actually revealing their capacity for a genuine love of learning that introduces them to diverse methods of inquiry and idea testing. When this happens, all is well in the classroom and we can feel a bit more confident that they will be better prepared to engage the prospects for democracy toward more just, equitable, and sustainable future. (more…)

Will We Ever Learn?

April 07, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

High-Stakes Testing Undermines the Essence of Teaching

by Robert C. Koehler

A mind is a terrible thing to test, especially a child’s mind — if, in so doing, you reduce it to a number and proceed to worship that number, ignoring the extraordinary complexity and near-infinite potential of what you have just tested.

“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” What if?

What if the American education bureaucracy understood these words of Ralph Waldo Emerson and honored the latent genius of every student? What if it funded teachers and schools with as much enthusiasm as it did corporate vendors? What if, in some official way, we loved kids and their potential more than the job slots we envisioned for them and judged them only in relationship to their realization of that potential? What if standardized testing, especially the obsessive, punitive form that has evolved in this country, went the way of the dunce cap and the stool in the corner? (more…)

RJ in LA

September 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Diane Lefer

Bringing Restorative Justice into Los Angeles Schools

by Diane Lefer

In May, when the LAUSD board voted to end the practice of suspending students for “willful defiance,” the blogosphere heated up. Monica Garcia, then board president, was called a moron, and students were referred to as thugs, animals, and savages. Well, guess what, haters? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Recently, after the school year began with LAUSD rolling out a plan to replace punitive disciplinary measures with the practices of restorative justice, Garcia was applauded by community advocates at a meeting at Loyola Law School. In return, she gave the activists their props: “It’s because of your advocacy,” she said.

The restorative justice initiative was championed by community groups including CADRE, Community Rights Campaign, Dignity in Schools, and Youth Justice Coalition, all committed to keeping kids out of the criminal and juvenile court system and in school. This approach asks, Who was harmed? How can that harm be repaired? What are the needs and responsibilities of the parties? How can the parties be held accountable in a positive and healthy way? (more…)

Challenging the Test

May 10, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, David Bacon, Politics

Teachers in Oaxaca Resist the Standardization of Education

by David Bacon

Recently an American Federation of Teachers resolution declared that U.S. public schools are held hostage to a “testing fixation rooted in the No Child Left Behind Act,” and condemned its “extreme misuse as a result of ideologically and politically driven education policy.”  AFT President Randi Weingarten proposed instead that “public education should be obsessed with high-quality teaching and learning, not high-stakes testing.”   In Seattle teachers at Garfield High have refused to give them.

Many Mexican teachers would find these sentiments familiar.  The testing regime in Mexico is as entrenched as it is in the United States, and its political use is very similar — undermining the rights of teachers, and attacking unions that oppose it. (more…)

Reassessing Assimilation

April 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Guest Author

Historical Conversations, Lost and Found

by Lori Walsh

What happens when a child is taken away from her family and thrown into a strange environment where the child does not understand any of the angry words spit out at them by would-be caretakers? What happens to children when they are forbidden to express the one and only part that they truly own, the only thing that connects them to their ancestors – their heritage and a sense of where they belong and who they are? Hundreds of thousands of Native American children were forced to attend Indian [sic] boarding schools where they were forbidden to speak their native languages. As a result Native American cultures have suffered grave harm and in some instances this has led to disappeared languages and extinct ways of life. However, a good people cannot be kept down for long and we are in the midst of decades-long and ever-widening resurgence of indigenous languages and heritage. (more…)

Beautiful Hearts

April 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Pat LaMarche

For Half the Cost of War, We Could Educate Instead

by Pat LaMarche

One hot August night in 2008, high school senior Alex Motiuk went to his parents and said, “Mom, Dad, there’s something I want to talk to you about,” Leo Motiuk explained with a smile. “As parents of a young son you just wonder what that’s all going to be about.”

18-year-old Alex was worried about a friend from school. Alex feared that she was in trouble, that her life was about to change forever and not for the better. His Blair Academy schoolmate, Shamila Kohestani, had been sent back to her native Afghanistan and would not be able to return to the United States for college. Kohestani, captain of the Afghan girls’ soccer team, had been offered a scholarship at Blair, but at the end of the school year she went home with no prospects for college. (more…)

Ending Violence

March 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Robert C. Koehler

Continuing the Status Quo Is Not Acceptable

by Robert C. Koehler

“The status quo in Chicago is no longer tolerable,” Andy Willis said, summoning the violent headlines of the past year and the past week.

This was Palm Sunday, in a church basement in a big-city neighborhood, and the time had come to stand for something enormous. My God, a six-month-old baby, Jonylah Watkins, was shot and killed this month in Chicago, as her father held her on his lap while sitting in a parked van. That was just the latest shocker. Violence is the norm, in this city and so many others. The death of children is the norm.

“We can’t live with a status quo like that,” Willis said. “We know things are breaking down . . .” (more…)


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