New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

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…)

A People Rise

January 23, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Beyond Our Broken Dreams

by Robert C. Koehler

Every night gunshots lullaby me to sleep
In ruins of abandoned buildings
the broken glass is
where we bottle up all our broken dreams….

Hold the dream with me, as it breaks loose from Jameale Pickett’s poem. Something beyond the insane dance of crime and punishment is happening, at least this year, this moment, in Chicago’s high schools. Young people are getting a chance to excel and become themselves, as more and more schools find and embrace common sense, also known as restorative justice.

The funding is fragile, precarious, but some schools in struggling communities are figuring out how to break the school-to-prison pipeline, even though the system as a whole remains wrapped up in suspensions, expulsions, zero tolerance and racism.

“The Obama administration on Wednesday urged school officials to abandon unnecessarily harsh suspension and expulsion practices that appear to target black students,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported recently. (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…)

School’s In…

August 29, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Education, Laura L. Finley

Four Lessons for College Professors

by Laura L. Finley

A few days ago, I read on Facebook the re-posting of an essay, authored by a young college professor, which discussed the five things students should never say to their professors. Originally published in USA Today, the list includes such gems as “Did I miss anything important?” “I took this class for an easy A,” “I didn’t know we had anything due,” “I was studying for another course so couldn’t do my work for this class,” and “Did you answer my email yet?”

While I, like so many professors, have been asked all of these questions during my teaching career, I want to offer a different list, this one for professors. Too often, educators, and especially professors, seem to operate from the perspective that “this job would be okay if it weren’t for the kids.” That list of questions not to ask, in my mind, comes from the same place. While it may have been intended to help students get in good with their professors, it seems to suggest that students are clueless dolts who are annoyingly self-centered. (more…)

No Home Anywhere

July 05, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Guest Author

Muslim Women Search for Justice, Opportunity

by Rebecca Martin

While some say that American Muslim women are empowered because they are American, on the other side of the globe in Saudi islamic woman 350 Muslim Women: No Home AnywhereArabia, their sisters struggle with an issue that’s at the heart of their community: living with the rights already given to women in the Koran and by the teachings of Mohammed.

That’s why women here felt Islamic justice was finally coming home, when on April 13, Arwa Al-Hejaili became the first woman lawyer granted a license to train for court appearances. Would the guardianship rule — the unwritten law that requires Saudi women to seek permission from husbands, fathers, or brothers to travel, open a bank account, and apply for jobs — go next? (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…)