One of the most powerful metaphors in critical education literature is “the school to prison pipeline.” The phrase conjures a vivid, unambiguous image, the meaning of which few would debate: poor and black and brown children being sucked into a vortex from mainstream educational environments and heaved onto a conveyor belt carrying them onto a one-way path toward privatized prisons, where the economic outcome of under-education and discipline is most evident.… Excessive discipline is often a critical first step out of schools for select youth—black boys, in this case—who disproportionately find themselves in prison. Being designated as disabled nudges the other foot out of the schoolhouse door.
Although the student body in the United States is becoming more and more diverse, the teaching staff is strikingly homogenous… [W]hile many legislators may be unaware of the role of cultural competence, i.e., the ability to relate to diverse cultures, in teaching children in the United States, those who are on the ground in classrooms and schools everyday recognize its importance.… Education consultant Ruby Payne [—a self-proclaimed expert on the “mindset of poverty”—] represents one particular response to the culture clashes in the classroom. Her widespread success at once highlights the salience of race and class inequities, and speaks to the absence of practical educational strategies to confront them.
This article is about our educational system and how it is working. I do not say how it is “failing,” because that would imply that it is not working. We need a different set of more nuanced questions. I want to ask: Working for whom? Working to do what? Failing whom? And failing to do what?… If we are concerned that we are failing to educate all children, or failing to prepare our future citizens, or failing some commitment to equity and social justice—then, yes, the system is failing. But one could also argue that our system is actually succeeding perfectly. It does a superb job sorting out the winners from the losers, perpetuating a highly-classed society, and creating the work force that our stratified, capitalist society requires.
The Declaration of Independence says that we are all created equal and endowed with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However, these lofty ideals can be realized only through struggle. They are incompatible with the logic of capitalism, but this logic can be and has been attacked by working men and women, and victories have been won.
Throughout U.S. history, the “truths” [Thomas] Jefferson declared as axiomatic [in the Declaration of Independence] have hardly been evident in the lives of many “Americans,” certainly not in the lives of the two hundred or so slaves Jefferson held on his plantation.… [The recurring] contradiction between ideal and reality is the root of a continuing struggle over what the United States is to be as a nation.… For black people especially, this contradiction has been most persistent and destructive in “education.”
Jammed into a thundering crowd of thousands of chanting people in Madison, Wisconsin, it looks like a dam has broken. The new Wisconsin Tea Party governor brazenly accelerated what has been a bipartisan agenda to undermine public education and weaken teacher and other public employee unions. His “budget repair bill”—an assault on public employee unions, schools, and low-income health care—was met with immediate, massive, determined resistance that began with a walkout by Madison public school teachers.… a sleeping giant is stirring. The broad U.S. working class has absorbed blow after blow, concessions and job losses one after the other, stagnating wages for thirty years, and two wars costing trillions of dollars.… But recent attempts at the state level to impose austerity measures may be just too much for people to take.
Teachers who use “transformative teaching” in urban schools understand that…a generation of dispossessed youth in “urban” communities [are scathingly critical of U.S. miseducation], and that they must create curricula that are responsive to the articulated needs of young folk struggling to navigate the oppressive conditions of their everyday life. Education policies like “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” assume that what is being offered in schools is worth taking seriously, worth racing toward and not away from. However, policies like these, much like those of colonialists, aim at dispossession and dislocation; they seek the social control of young people through a form of cultural terrorism of the mind.
In 1795, Father José Agustín Caballero presented the first project for the creation of a system of public education for all the inhabitants of the island of Cuba. It was a visionary idea, but impossible to carry out at that time. The island was a colonial possession of the Spanish Crown, and most of the population was subjected to slavery or made up of Mestizos and freed blacks, the victims of segregation and racial discrimination. Education, within the reach of a very small minority, was confined within the strict canons of scholastic philosophy.… Father Caballero was profoundly critical of that philosophy and of the pedagogy springing from it. This would be the birth of an intellectual movement having decisive importance for the history of Cuba, a movement that would reach its pinnacle with another Catholic priest, Félix Varela, who was Caballero’s disciple and the first Cuban intellectual who fought for national independence and the abolition of slavery.
This article appears in two parts. “The Story of Khalil Gibran International Academy” is Debbie Almontaser’s account of the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hysteria that was whipped up when she helped found the first Arabic Dual Language public school in New York City. Instead of backing her against the attacks, the Department of Education turned on Almontaser and forced her to resign. However, she fought in the courts, who in the end ruled in her favor. Donna Nevel’s “The Campaign of Resistance” describes the organizing campaign that emerged in support of Almontaser, which was a coalition of Arab, Muslim, Jewish, immigrant, labor, and peace groups. They engaged in extensive outreach and mounted a media-intensive counterattack in defense of the school and its principal.
This morning at 10:00am I listened to the delegates’ debates at the 6th Congress of the Party.… There were so many commissions that, logically, I couldn’t listen to everyone who spoke.… They were meeting in five commissions to discuss a number of issues. Thereafter I, too, took advantage of the breaks to breathe calmly and eat some energy providing food. They surely had more of an appetite given their work and age.
As it is well-known, the state of Arizona, a territory that was taken from Mexico by the United States along with much more territory, has been the scene of painful events for hundreds of Latin Americans who die trying to immigrate to the US in search of work or to join their parents, spouses or other kinfolk who are there.
In that country, these are the people who work at the toughest jobs and live under the constant fear of arrest and forced deportation. Despite the drastic measures, every year the number of those dying in the attempt grows and there are hundreds of thousands of them who are annually deported to their countries of origin. (more…)
After referring on August 17 and 18 to the book written by Daniel Estulin, which narrates, through undeniable facts, the horrible way in which the minds of American youth and children are distorted by the consumption of drugs and the influence of the media, in connivance with American and British intelligence agencies, in the final part of my last Reflection I expressed the following: “It is terrible to think that the intelligence and the feelings of children and youth in the United States could be mutilated in such a way.”
Yesterday, several news agencies were reporting the information contained in a study published by Beloit College with regard to some facts never seen before in the history of the United States and the world, associated to the knowledge and habits of American university students who will graduate in 2014. (more…)