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Working and Writing for Change
In 2011, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) turned one hundred years old. But our profession is endlessly beginning, constantly transforming itself and its purpose as new voices and identities claim their rights in our classrooms and in our country. The recognition of such claims, however, does not occur without a struggle, without collective work.
Listening to our Elders attempts to capture the history of those collective moments where teachers across grade levels and institutions of higher education organized to insure that the voices, heritages, and traditions of their students and colleagues were recognized within our professional organizations as a vital part of our classrooms and our discipline. In doing so, Listening to Our Elders demonstrates this recognition was not always easily given. Instead, whether the issue was race, sexuality, class, or disability, committed activist organizations have often had to push against the existing limits of our field and its organizations to insure a broader sense of common responsibility and humanity was recognized.
Listening to Our Elders features interviews with Malea Powell (Native American Caucus), Joyce Rain Anderson (Native American Caucus), Jeffery Paul Chan (Asian/Asian American), James Hill (Black Caucus), James Dolmage (Committee for Disability Issue in College Composition), Geneva Smitherman (Language Policy Commitee), Carlota Cárdenas de Dwyer (Latino/a Caucus), Victor Villanueva (Latino/a Caucus), Louise Dunlap (Progressive Caucus), Karen Hollis (Progressive Caucus), Louie Crew (Queer Caucus), William Thelin (Working Class Culture and Pedagogy SIG), Bill Macauley (Working Class Culture and Pedagogy SIG).
New Partnerships for Real Change
Bringing change to our public school system is hard, and the current system of education governance creates barriers that can make that reform even harder. Here six authorities in public education discuss how local philanthropies can overcome them even if school districts cannot. Making School Reform Work identifies new institutions that can be created by foundations and civic groups to remedy deficiencies in local school governance, formulate bold reforms, and guarantee implementation. These institutions include incubators for starting new schools, independent data analysis centers, public-private partnerships for recruitment and training of school leaders, and new ways of funding and managing school facilities. The contributors are Sarah Brooks (Carleton College), Michael DeArmond (University of Washington), Marguerite Roza (University of Washington), and Abigail Winger (Milwaukee consultant).
"This book is outstanding. . . . [N]o one has delved into the issue of school financing with such depth, data, and thoughtful analysis. It is simply the best in the field." ---Susan B. Neuman, University of Michigan, and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education "The most pressing question in American education today is how to allocate school financing and policy-making responsibility among local, state, and national governments. Bryan Shelly's valuable book sheds new light on this question and should be of great interest not only to those who study education policy, but also to scholars of federalism, public finance, and public policy more generally." ---Patrick McGuinn, Drew University "Bryan Shelly offers an insightful and persuasive analysis of the relationship between centralized funding and local control in American public education. His findings---of 'local control' as a reified ideal and political weapon in the politics of redistribution, and of the power of unfunded mandates operating at the margins of local school budgets---will provide a welcome addition to the study of the politics of school finance in the United States." ---Scott Abernathy, University of Minnesota Pointing to the disparities between wealthy and impoverished school districts in areas where revenue depends primarily upon local taxes, reformers repeatedly call for the centralization of school funding. Their proposals meet resistance from citizens, elected officials, and school administrators who fear the loss of local autonomy. Bryan Shelly finds, however, that local autonomy has already been compromised by federal and state governments, which exercise a tremendous amount of control over public education despite their small contribution to a school system's funding. This disproportionate relationship between funding and control allows state and federal officials to pass education policy yet excuses them from supplying adequate funding for new programs. The resulting unfunded and underfunded mandates and regulations, Shelly insists, are the true cause of the loss of community control over public education. Shelly outlines the effects of the most infamous of underfunded federal mandates, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), and explores why schools implemented it despite its unpopularity and out-of-pocket costs. Shelly's findings hold significant implications for school finance reform, NCLB, and the future of intergovernmental relations. Jacket photograph: © iStockphoto.com/michelle_d
“A powerful, detailed, and exceptionally balanced critique of NCLB. It offers some hope for how we might overcome its faults. No legislator or educational expert should be allowed to get away with not reading it—whether to agree or disagree. It’s a must learning experience.” —Deborah Meier, Senior Scholar and Adjunct Professor, Steinhardt School of Education, New York University, and author of In Schools We Trust “A concise, highly readable, and balanced account of NCLB, with insightful and realistic suggestions for reform. Teachers, professors, policymakers, and parents—this is the one book about NCLB you ought to read.” —James E. Ryan, William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor, University of Virginia School of Law This far-reaching new study looks at the successes and failures of one of the most ambitious and controversial educational initiatives since desegregation—the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. NCLB’s opponents criticize it as underfunded and unworkable, while supporters see it as a radical but necessary educational reform that evens the score between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Yet the most basic and important question remains unasked: “Can we ever really know if a child’s education is good?” Ultimately, Scott Franklin Abernathy argues, policymakers must begin from this question, rather than assuming that any test can accurately measure the elusive thing we call “good” education.
In the past twenty years, the number of educational tests with high-stakes consequences—such as promotion to the next grade level or graduating from high school—has increased. At the same time, the difficulty of the tests has also increased. In Texas, a Latina state legislator introduced and lobbied for a bill that would take such factors as teacher recommendations, portfolios of student work, and grades into account for the students—usually students of color—who failed such tests. The bill was defeated.
Using several types of ethnographic study (personal interviews, observations of the Legislature in action, news broadcasts, public documents from the Legislature and Texas Education Agency), Amanda Walker Johnson observed the struggle for the bill’s passage. Through recounting this experience, Objectifying Measures explores the relationship between the cultural production of scientific knowledge (of statistics in particular) and the often intuitive resistance to objectification of those adversely affected by the power of policies underwritten as "scientific."
The Politics of Deafness embarks upon a post-modern examination of the search for identity in deafness and its relationship to the prevalent hearing culture that has marginalized Deaf people. Author Owen Wrigley plainly states his intention to disrupt “normal” thought about the popularly considered condition of deafness as a physical deficiency. From his decade of experience working and living in the Deaf community in Thailand, he uses wide-ranging examples to go beyond disputing conventional theorists for their interpretation of deafness as the lack of a sensory function. By calling attention to the different lingual potential created by the instant visual expression of cyberspace, he explodes orthodox conceptualization of the nature of language as serially ordered and dependent upon sound. In bold style, this provocative work poses the relationship of the bodies physical and mental of Deaf people as subject to a form of "colonialism" by the dominant Hearing culture. It proceeds to expose and attack presumptions and practices that derive from and descend upon deaf bodies. Related analysis also addresses tensions little noted in the current literature on deafness and on the popular move to reconstitute Deafness as a global culture. Through displacement of logistical anchors, ironic stances, and disconcerting perspectives, The Politics of Deafness practices a form of de-naturalization to demand space within and between the normalizing frames of daily lives. By doing so, it offers an insightful and intriguing perspective on the meanings of Deafness, the politics of Deaf identity, and what it costs to be “unusual.”
Educatiion and Economic Renewal in Kalamazoo
When a group of anonymous donors announced in 2005 that they would send every graduate of this midsized public school district to college for free, few within or outside Kalamazoo, Michigan, understood the magnitude of the gesture. Now, in the first comprehensive account of the Kalamazoo Promise, Michelle Miller-Adams charts its initial impact as well as its potential to bring about fundamental economic and social change in a community hurt by job loss, depopulation, and racial segregation.
Education, long the key to opportunity in the United States, has become simply essential to earning a decent living. By 2018, 63 percent of all jobs will require at least some postsecondary education or training. Teachers and civic leaders stress the value of study through high school and beyond, but to an alarmingly large segment of America's population—including a disproportionate number of ethnic and racial minorities—higher education seems neither obtainable nor relevant. Preparing Today's Students for Tomorrow's Jobs in Metropolitan America, edited by Laura W. Perna, offers useful insights into how to bridge these gaps and provide urban workers with the educational qualifications and skills they need for real-world jobs.
Preparing Today's Students for Tomorrow's Jobs in Metropolitan America probes more deeply than recent reports on the misalignment between workers' training and employers' requirements. Written by researchers in education and urban policy, this volume takes a comprehensive approach. It informs our understanding of the measurement and definition of the learning required by employers. It examines the roles that different educational sectors and providers play in workforce readiness. It analyzes the institutional practices and public policies that promote the educational preparation of today's students for tomorrow's jobs. The volume also sheds light on several recurring questions, such as what is the "right" amount of education, and what should be the relative emphasis on "general" versus "specific" or "occupational" education and training?
Ensuring that today's students have the education and training to meet future career demands is critical to the economic and social well-being of individuals, cities, and the nation as a whole. With recommendations for institutional leaders and public policymakers, as well as future research, this volume takes important steps toward realizing this goal.