Social Justice in Education: Diversity, Equity, Citizenship

Washington State Kappan: Winter 2015 Call For Manuscripts

Due September 15, 2014

Social Justice in Education: Diversity, Equity, Citizenship

Social justice in education remains crucial to American society and the development of diverse and well-educated citizenry. From issues such as civics and immigrant youth to equity and the transition from high school to college, what it means to support and advocate for social justice in classrooms, schools, communities, and the policy arena is much more than adding statements of tolerance to inherently inequitable systems and structures.

As Sensoy and DiAngelo assert, “Social justice education is not about serving the interests of political correctness. Every single measure of disparity in education is tied to group position — target vs. dominant. Special education and discipline referrals; math, science, and reading literacies; graduation and dropout/push-out rates; test scores, all of what is known as ‘the achievement gap’ are tied to race, class, and gender. This disparity is real. And to ameliorate such disparities and offer meaningful leadership in school contexts at all levels, we must attend to the real, to the concrete and active dimensions — not simply the slogans — of social justice” (2009, p. 348-350).

We invite articles that serve as a catalyst for exploring the real, concrete, active dimensions of social justice from a variety of perspectives. Those interested in submitting a manuscript may want to consider the following questions:

  • In what ways are districts and schools working to support diverse student populations to gain access to programs and to succeed academically?
  • How might issues of social justice be meaningfully integrated with university teacher education programs?
  • What are examples of how social justice education is being implemented through instruction at the classroom level?
  • ·In what ways are ESDs facilitating or supporting social justice initiatives, such as civics education and community-based learning, statewide?
  • What connections can be made between current high-stakes assessment policies and social justice initiatives?
  • What does social justice mean to students, parents, or school communities?

We are calling for theoretical/research articles, teacher-focused articles, and professional materials or book reviews on topics related to this theme. For additional information: https://journals.lib.washington.edu/index.php/wsk/announcement
For manuscript submission author guidelines: https://journals.lib.washington.edu/index.php/wsk/about/submissions – authorGuidelines
For past issues of Washington State Kappan, please go to: http://www.pdkwa.org/
If you have questions, please contact Antony Smith, editor: ansmith@uwb.edu

Education, State and Market: Anatomy of Neoliberal Impact

Ravi Kumar‘s new book Education, State and Market: Anatomy of Neoliberal Impact published by Aakar Books (Delhi) is the first volume to comprehensively examine the impact of neoliberal capitalism on education in India.

Kumar is a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of South Asia, in Delhi. He blogs here and is also part of the editorial collective at Radical Notes.

Praise for the volume:

The book presents a set of papers that illuminate in profound ways how the wide-angle historical frames provided by Marxist analysis facilitate our understanding of the details embedded in national and more local educational contexts. Neoliberalism attacks human dignity. The consequences of social, economic, and educational policies that exacerbate inequality, magnify exploitation, and undermine personal and social freedoms are clearly analyzed by each of the contributors. The circumstances are dire and readers will most certainly be outraged as they learn how neoliberal policies and practices reduce the process of education to a commodity and teachers and learners to elements in formula for the relentless production of profit. This volume presents a clear and compelling analysis of how neoliberal thought and practice has transformed education at the policy level in India and in the process distorted the official aims of education as well as social relations among teachers and learners. Most importantly, however, these chapters provide insights into how we might channel our rage against neoliberal capitalist mechanisms into the creation of new visions of resistance to educational practices that privilege profits over people.
- E. Wayne Ross, University of British Columbia, Canada
 
Editor Ravi Kumar has assembled the finest scholarship to investigate key questions in regard to the relationship of the development of modern capitalism, its connections to empire, the role of the state, and the resulting impact on education. The essays within go to the core: what is valued as “knowledge” now? Who shall schools serve? Indeed: Why have school? The critical reader will find new questions, and profound answers. 
- Rich Gibson, Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University, USA

The Cuban Literacy Campaign at 50: Formal and Tacit Learning in Revolutionary Education

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled. We invite you to review the Table of Contents below and then visit our web site to read articles and items of interest.

While visiting the Critical Education web site please register to receive email alerts on future publication or sign up to be a manuscript reviewer. Also consider submitting a manuscript for considerations (see Information for Authors).

Critical Education
Vol 5, No 4 (2014)
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/issue/view/182487

Articles
——–

The Cuban Literacy Campaign at 50: Formal and Tacit Learning in
Revolutionary Education

Arlo Kempf

The Cuban Literacy Campaign at 50: Formal and Tacit Learning in Revolutionary Education
Arlo Kempf

Abstract
December 22, 2011, marked the 50th anniversary of the end of the Cuban Literacy Campaign, an initiative that dramatically increased literacy rates across the island and consolidated the presence of the revolutionary government. While Cuban schools are widely celebrated, a paucity of recent scholarship persists treating the structure and tenets, as well as the formal and tacit content of Cuban education. Beginning with an analysis of the political content of the literacy campaign, this article reviews the structure and content of Cuban education with a focus on the role of ideology. While numerous scholars have demonstrated the prescriptive and reproductive function of schooling Euro-American contexts, little comparative international work has treated the interfunction of schooling and ideology in the Global South. This article locates the literacy campaign as the formal genesis of contemporary Cuban ideology. Indeed the literacy campaign was the beginning of a discursive relationship that continues today.

Keywords
Adult Education; Cuban Education; the Cuban Literacy Campaign; Schooling; Ideology; Marxism; Global South

Your social studies teacher is wrong, the United States is not a democracy

No, this is not some arcane argument about democratic versus republican forms of government. Rather it is the conclusion of what has been described as the first ever scientific study of the question of whether the United States is a democracy.

The study, by Martin Gilens, a professor of politics at Princeton University, and Benjamin I. Page, a political scientist at Northwestern University, is titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” and will be published in the fall 2014 issue of Perspectives on Politicsan APSA journal.

The study aims to answer the questions “Who governs? Who really rule? To what extent is the broad body of U.S. citizens sovereign, semi-sovereign, or largely powerless” by examining a huge data set that addresses thousands of policy issues.

Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics – which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, and two types of interest group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism – offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.

A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues. (p. 2)

The findings provide “substantial support” for theories of Economic Elite Domination and Biased Pluralism, in short the U.S. is found to be an oligarchy. No surprise really, unless you’ve had your eyes wide shut for the past 40 years. While the political and media elites, capitalists and other oligarchs (along with social studies textbooks and teachers) continue to promote the fiction that the U.S. is a democracy, this study concludes that the average citizens’ influence on policy making is “near zero.” So, don’t bother writing that letter to your “representative.”

The researchers used a single statistical model to pit the predictions of ideal-type theories against each other using a unique data set that included measures for key independent variables on policy issues. Their “striking findings,” include “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy” (p. 21).

Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threaten. (p.24)

While some critically minded observers may claim that this study only confirms what we already know, we should not underestimate the importance—and pedagogical power—of this empirical investigation of democracy in the U.S.. which puts a lie the most powerful trope of school curriculum and mass media propaganda. The U.S. is not democracy;  the central features of American democracy are illusory.

The narrative of “American democracy” promulgated in schools and in the media is distraction from the triumph of neoliberal capitalism and the rule of oligarchs.  If we—social studies educators—are truly committed to the principles and practices of social equality it requires engaging with our students in systematic analysis and inquiry into our present circumstances (as well as historicizing preconditions of the present). From that point we can start to pose questions and envision tactics, strategies, and grand strategies that point toward resolution of problems/contradictions our analyses identify. This study presents findings that will surely provoke dialogue about (and deconstruction of) of what currently passes for “democracy” in the U.S., and, one hopes, inspires not merely more powerful teaching, but actions to reclaim/remake the political landscape.

CFP: Inside Stories: Teach For America Corps Members Speak Up and Speak Out

Inside Stories: Teach For America Corps Members Speak Up and Speak Out

Founded in 1989, Teach For America (TFA) has grown into a massive organization with a presence in thirty states and twenty-six countries, financially supported by a host of philanthropic foundations and other organizations with considerable influence. Additionally, TFA constitutes an integral part of the larger neoliberal goal of privatizing education and teacher training. Though a number of narratives from corps members exist, the vast majority of them are controlled or suppressed by TFA. Moreover, as the organization uses supportive narratives to further its rhetoric of educational reform, the large body of corps member and alumni voices that desire to express discontent, discouragement, frustration, and even anger associated with their experiences with TFA has, until now, been largely silenced. Following the lead of a critique of TFA by academics over the last few years, slowly TFA corps members and alumni have offered narratives to challenge the official rhetoric of TFA and the supposed “prestigious” position of being a TFA teacher.

In an effort to highlight and continue this counter-narrative, this volume will provide a collection of stories from current and former TFA corps members. We would also consider narratives of parents of TFA corps members. While the most effective tool of promoting TFA as a righteous and prestigious organization are the narratives from supportive corps members who tend to parrot approved talking points, this volume will provide a necessary counter-narrative that should be heard.

Proposals could highlight overall experiences, specific experiences with recruitment/application into TFA, summer Institute experiences,placement experiences, leaving TFA, etc. The finished narratives
should be between 5 and 10 double-spaced pages in APA format. Alternative formats such as poetry or other arts-based representations are also welcome.

Audience
Given the broad audience interested in TFA, we anticipate the audience to include researchers, school board members, principals, parents, and teachers and pre-service teachers.

Schedule
1) Proposals due by May 17, 2014. Include the following to Jameson Brewer at tbrewer2@illinois.edu:

  • a) Proposed title of chapter
  • b) Author(s) name, with complete addresses and 150-word biography for each author
  • c) 500-word abstract of proposed chapter

2) Confirmation of selected chapters by June 17, 2014;
3) Contributors will have their first drafts completed by July 17, 2014.
4) The editors will review these first drafts, and provide detailed comments and suggestions by September 17, 2014.
5) The contributors will make all of the necessary edits, and send the final chapters to the editors by October 17, 2014.
6) The editors will draft a comprehensive introductory chapter and have the foreword written by a well-known scholar in the field, which will be ready along with the index and other editorial issues by November 17, 2014.
7) Once the publisher’s Editor has approved the text, the finalized,formatted volume will be submitted to the publisher shortly after November 17, 2014 which should allow for copy-editing and other related matters to be completed for a publishing date sometime mid 2015.

For questions or queries, contact Jameson Brewer at tbrewer2@illinois.edu and/or Kathleen deMarrais at kathleen@uga.edu

J. L. Turk: Protecting Academic Integrity When Universities Collaborate with Industry

2013-2014 CHET Seminar Series (University of British Columbia)

“Protecting Academic Integrity When Universities Collaborate with Industry”
By James L. Turk, Executive Director, Canadian Association of University of Teachers

February 25, 2014

CAUT Begins the Process Toward Censure of UBC re: Policy 81

The University of British Columbia Faculty Association announced today that,

At its meeting on March 14 & 15, the CAUT Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee considered UBC’s Policy 81 and all of the associated documentation. Following that consideration, the committee voted unanimously to recommend to the CAUT Executive that it bring a motion to CAUT Council in early May to begin the censure process of the UBC Administration. If they approve the recommendation, the Executive would bring a motion to Council that “CAUT will censure the UBC Administration at its November 2014 Council meeting unless the University ends the policy that the University may use, revise, and allow other UBC Instructors to use and revise a faculty member’s teaching materials, unless the faculty member specifically prohibits such use.”

CAUT’s procedures relating to censure are available here.

On government …

“No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literacy or artistic expression. Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historical, religious, or philosophical doctrines. Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race.” — Richard Feynman,”The Uncertainty of Values”, in The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist (1999)

Teacher Reflections on the Relationship Between Creativity and Standardized Testing in Ontario

Critical Education
Vol 5, No 3 (2014)

Accountable to Whom? Teacher Reflections on the Relationship Between Creativity and Standardized Testing in Ontario
Catharine Dishke Hondzel

Abstract
This paper describes the reactions and emotions teachers experienced when asked to discuss the impact standardized achievement testing in Ontario has on creative classroom practices. Using an interview guide format, eight teachers were asked to consider their perspectives on, and practices related to fostering creative behaviours in children, and their own creative teaching methods in light of accountability legislation. The responses teachers provided varied from bitterness and disappointment with the way standardized achievement testing influences their schools and classrooms to acceptance and optimism for the children’s future academic success. The results of this examination are framed with reference to accountability legislation in Canada and the United States, and the potential lasting effects of a high-stakes testing environment.

Keywords
Creativity; Standardized Testing; Accountability; Educational Reform; Ontario; Canada; Education Quality and Accountability Office; No Child Left Behind; Legislation; Teachers

Teach for India (Canada, America, …) and marketizing public education

“Hallelujah The Saviors are Here”
Rachel Smith (2012)

[We] only see them for two years,
because we are a stepping stone to their prep schools,
where they can share their experience about the inner city blues.
All their stories start out with, ‘Oh, in the ghetto…’
As their colleagues prepare to hear about
the students on an educational death roll.
It is time we rebuked these self-proclaimed saviors
and put our faith in the true educators,
the ones that expect master’s degrees and double majors
and not just the ones trying to do the black community a couple of favors.

Vivek Vellanki, who works with the Regional Resource Centre for Elementary Education at University of Delhi and is a former Teach for India Fellow, has written a very intriguing analysis of TFI/Teach for All, published in the journal Contemporary Education Dialogue:

Vellanki, V. (2014). Teach for India and education reforms: Some preliminary reflections. Contemporary Education Dialogues, 11(1), 137-147.DOI: 10.1177/0973184913509759

An excerpt of Rachel Smith’s powerful poem opens the article and this gives you a sense of where Vellanki is headed with this analysis, which focuses on two issues.

First, he examines “the teacher preparation programme adopted by TFI, highlighting the influence of the Western counterparts and the disjuncture that this creates with local contexts, policy initiatives and curricular frameworks.” You won’t be surprised to find the program is judged inadequate. And, in terms of the fledging Teach for Canada, which apparently is now focusing on First Nations education and schools in the northern territories (as opposed to TFA’s focus on urban schools in the USA), Vellanki’s critique of TFI’s colonialist approach is crucially important and applies, albeit in differing ways to Teach for America, as Rachel Smith makes clear, and for Teach for Canada.

[Heather McGregor has made similar points about Teach for Canada: "What does History have to do with ‘Teach For Canada’? Sustainable Improvement in Rural and Northern Teaching". See additional analyses of Teacher for Canada by Tobey Steeves at Remapping Education.]

Secondly, Vellanki unravels the advocacy networks within which these programs (TFI/TFA) locate themselves, and examines at the education reform agenda they are pursuing, both locally and globally, which are, if you know anything about TFA, based upon neoliberal capitalist tenets (e.g., so-called public private partnership models aimed at privatizing public education or at least extracting private profits from funding for public education).

Vellanki’s network analysis illustrates how TFI/TFA develops policy clout. And as he notes “TFA and some of its alumni have been linked to the spread of the charter school movement, test-based teacher evaluation, privatisation and the insidious laying off of veteran teachers.”

Figure 1. Summary of Networks Linking TFI and Other Organisations

Vellanki’s work on the TFI/TFA network is illuminating and echoes similar analyses of corporate and philanthropic connections that are shaping education reform in North America (see, for example, the work of Kenneth Saltman).