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Educational Courage: Resisting the Ambush of Public Educationby Nancy Schniedewind
Synopses & Reviews
Ten years after the passage of No Child Left Behind, high-stakes testing, national standards, and turn-around policies remain highly controversial. In the same period, we have seen the rise of mayoral control of schools, charter schools, and other initiatives that are viciously opposed by the American Federation of Teachers. But even among well informed people, these issues can seem abstract. Educational Courage presents the human side of the consequences of these policies by bringing readers the voices of the teachers, students, parents, and school officials who are directly affected by changes in public education.
The book begins by outlining the increasingly pervasive assaults on democratic public education and focuses on peoples' negative experiences as public schools have become more "market-driven," taking the heart out of teaching. In the face of widespread discouragement, people are hungry for alternatives. The second and third sections of the book illustrate what students, teachers, and parents have done to reists these policies — from writing op-eds to refusing to "teach to the test," to a community organizing to change testing policies that discriminate against English-language learners — and to successfully teach and learn in spite of these obstacles. Educational Courage concludes with a vision for how we can collectively work to promote progressive, multicultural, democratic schools.
So often in the debate over school reform, the voices of those who are affected by these policies are silenced. The conversation tends to be dominated by ed-school academics and policy-makers, but the "real experts" — those actually teaching and raising children — are left out. Many of the contributors to this volume, while not well known, do bring ties to national organizations with online presence. At the same time, the authors' introductions to the book as well as each section will position the essays as part of a larger movement devoted to resisting destructive educational policies and dedicated to defending an egalitarian, democratic ideal in the sphere of public education.
To view a video of Macario Guajardo, whose story is told in Educational Courage, explaining why he became a conscientious objector against the Texas state standardized tests, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCI8qgcdwQ4
"With this earnest compilation of essays and exposÃ©s, teachers and activists Schniedewind (Open Minds to Equality) and Sapon-Shevin (Because We Can Change the World) aim impassioned, statistic-tipped arrows at the political and corporate forces responsible for endangering the American public education system, and encourage readers to learn more about these forces. Through themes of disbelief, outrage, cooperative resistance, and activism, the authors introduce firsthand accounts from educators, parents, lawmakers, and students. The book sheds new light on this 'ambush of public education' and the opportunities for poor students living in at-risk school districts, seen here as direct results of dysfunctional policies and institutions (No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Teach for America, corporate-funded charter schools) supposedly designed to integrate a socially just system for students and teachers. Standout contributors include a master's degree candidate who had been denied her high school diploma because of a lone failing test score, and a public school teacher who, in a moment of hopelessness, accidentally became the leader of a grassroots campaign for reform. Though there's much to bemoan about the current state of public education, we also learn there's much that can be done. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Lost amid the debate over educational policies are the stories of the educators, parents, and students who are most affected by legislation such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. In Educational Courage, veteran educators and activists Nancy Schniedewind and Mara Sapon-Shevin bring together the voices of those who are resisting market-driven initiatives such as high-stakes testing, charter schools, mayoral control, and merit pay. The diverse narrators who write in this volume confront the educational agendas that undermine teachers’ judgment and knowledge, ignore the different backgrounds of students and parents, and debase the learning process. Yet these educators, parents, and activists also offer stories of resistance and hope as they fight to uphold the ideals of democratic public education.
About the Author
Nancy Schniedewind teaches in the master’s program in humanistic/multicultural education at the State University of New York-New Paltz. Among her publications are Open Minds to Equality and Women: Images and Realities.
Mara Sapon-Shevin is professor of inclusive education at Syracuse University. Her publications include Because We Can Change the World and Widening the Circle.
Table of Contents
Introduction: “Is This What We Call ‘Education’?”
1. A Short History of the Ambush of Public Education
2. One Teacher’s Cry
Susan J. Hobart
3. Rachel’s Plea
Wendy J. Goodman
Introduction: “I Won’t Be a Part of This!”—Educators, Parents,
Students, and Community Members Resist
4. Voices of Students with Disabilities
Kids As Self Advocates (KASA)
5. Debunking the Case for National Standards
6. Resisting the State Test: The Story of an Eleven-Year-Old,
7. There Is No Rubric for Imagination: Organizing against a Charter School Gone Corporate 49
8. “No”: The Power of Refusal
Doug Christensen and Chris W. Gallagher
9. Why I Quit Teach For America to Fight for Public Education
10. Exit Strategies: Confronting Faulty Graduation Tests
11. Tú Eres Mi Otro Yo/You Are My Other Self
Introduction: Resisting by “Working in the Cracks”—Creating Spaces to Teach Authentically
12. Deepening the Cracks to Infuse Mathematics for Social Justice
13. Test Prep and the War
15. You Can’t Be Driven by Fear: A Portrait of Public School
Introduction: “Not My Voice Alone”—Organizing to Reclaim Public Education
16. “You Want to Pay Me for What?!?” Resisting Merit Pay and the Business Model of Education
Sam Coleman and Edwin Mayorga
17. The Curie 12: A Case for Teacher Activism
18. The Struggle against Mayoral Control in Milwaukee
19. We Are Not the Backlash: We Are the Resistance!
20. “Just Parents” Challenge Mayor Daley, Arne Duncan, and Renaissance 2010
21. From Seeds to Fruition: The Making of a Resistance Movement
22. Making a Difference
Jane Hirschmann, Ujju Aggarwal, and Donna Nevel
23. What Endures: Meaningful Assessment for the Long Haul
Chris W. Gallagher and Doug Christensen
24. Voices of Activism
Kim Dominguez, Bob Peterson, Stephanie Walters, Kathy M.
Xiong, Sarah Knopp, Gillian Russom, and Brian Jones
25. Another World Is Possible/Another Education Is Necessary
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