Archive for the ‘What We’re Reading’ Category

What We’re Reading: A Look at Trauma from an Inner-City Educator

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What We're Reading
The education world is facing an equity crisis. Students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners (to name a few) remain underserved by our current system. While many fight for solutions, gaps in our collective knowledge and understanding of the complexities around educational inequity linger.

Each month, the Rodel team will share some thoughts on a book, essay, article, or video related to equity in education with the hope that we will challenge both ourselves and others to think more inclusively about education reform.

 

 

What I’m Reading Watching: “Roses in Concrete,” a TED Talk by Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade

 

Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade is an associate professor of Raza Studies and Education at San Francisco State University and the founder of the Roses in Concrete Community School, “a community responsive lab school” in East Oakland. He’s been an educator and school leader in East Oakland for over 20 years and has published and lectured on his work globally.

 

I was inspired to view his 13-minute TED Talk after seeing him speak in a small gathering in NYC last week. His talk focuses on the trauma and violence that young people face daily in his part of the world—and the impact it can have on young minds. I found it compelling on several fronts.

 

First, he’s speaking from the heart about a place that he clearly loves and cares about. At one point he shares a map of where he lives and teaches in East Oakland with an overlay of red dots that indicate homicides. It reminded me of a similar map created for Wilmington, where I live with my family.

 

Second, he’s an academic and draws on a wide range of research to understand the challenge. He doesn’t rely on just the educational research, but also on neuroscience research, which gives him a more holistic handle on the challenge of trauma-informed care. For example, he explained that young people in neighborhoods like his were twice as likely to have PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, than a veteran returning from Iraq. He points out that while the “P” applies to the war veteran, it may not for many young people who never escape their trauma.

 

Finally, I found his perspective persuasive because he drew on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in a powerful way. He explains that in order to learn and “self-actualize” (the goal of education and the top of Maslow’s pyramid) students need to have all the subsequent layers—including nutrition, shelter, love, and more—in place. Too often we only train and evaluate our educators based on the top of the pyramid, when the building blocks beneath that, the necessary preconditions to getting there, are largely ignored. As Rodel looks to get smarter about the role of social and emotional learning in the lives of children and the adults that serve them, this was a profound takeaway.

What We’re Reading: A Timeless Reminder of Structural Inequity

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What We're Reading
The education world is facing an equity crisis. Students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners (to name a few) remain underserved by our current system. While many fight for solutions, gaps in our collective knowledge and understanding of the complexities around educational inequity linger.

Each month, the Rodel team will share some thoughts on a book, essay, article, or video related to equity in education with the hope that we will challenge both ourselves and others to think more inclusively about education reform.

 

What I’m Reading: The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy, by William Julius Wilson

 

Author William Julius Wilson has his fans far and wide. He is a National Medal of Science winner.  National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates has called him an intellectual deity, a “gawd;” and David Simon was inspired by his work when creating “The Wire.” Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said about Wilson: “He has influenced me more than anyone I could think of.”

 

Not bad for an octogenarian sociologist.

 

Wilson’s book “The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy” is a short, accessible read that reveals how structures and institutions, especially in American cities like Wilmington, have contributed to the inequitable conditions we see today—and how multifaceted and intergenerational the problems of concentrated poverty are.

 

Although this book is 28 years old, its principles are still instructive. I still reflect on Wilson’s research, because it helped cement for me that racism is structural and institutional—and that social issues cannot be solved by one sector alone.

 

The author’s proposed solutions are multi-sector, including ideas around employing the long-term unemployed, and multi-tier neighborhood support programs like the Harlem Children’s Zone, which aims to curb the cycle of generational poverty through parenting workshops, early learning, and child-oriented health programs.

 

Twenty-eight years later, Wilson’s work serves as a good reminder for those of us who hope to impact these complex issues not to dismiss the history that got us here—and to expand our horizons across sectors.

What We’re Reading: Asking the Right Questions about Equity and Career Pathways

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What We're Reading
The education world is facing an equity crisis. Students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners (to name a few) remain underserved by our current system. While many fight for solutions, gaps in our collective knowledge and understanding of the complexities around educational inequity linger.

Each month, the Rodel team will share some thoughts on a book, essay, article, or video related to equity in education with the hope that we will challenge both ourselves and others to think more inclusively about education reform.

 

 

What I’m Reading: 10 Equity Questions to Ask about Career and Technical Education, by Nancy Hoffman

 

In my role at Rodel, I focus on helping Delaware students pursue the college and career options that interest them. My passion for this work stems from my own experiences. As a first generation college student, I was incredibly lucky to have parents who encouraged me to go to college and a school counselor (thanks Mrs. Thievon!) who took an interest in me and my future and provided me with the resources and scholarship information needed to apply to college. Even then, the transition to college was academically and financially challenging and my career path was unclear. So, when I came across Nancy Hoffman’s article, 10 Equity Questions To Ask About Career and Technical Education, I reflected on the experiences that encouraged me to enter education policy work.

 

Hoffman raises great questions about the range and quality of programming, the opportunities and options that are (or are perceived to be) available, and how programs are being communicated to students and families. She notes that there is a history advising and placing students, especially low income and youth of color, into programs that do not prepare them to enter middle- or high-wage careers with clear advancement opportunities. This piece underscored the importance of making sure that all students are enrolling in and completing their career pathways (including work-based learning experiences) and transitioning to pursuit of a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential.

 

The questions posed in the article raised a host of other questions for me, including: How can we better support schools in talking to first-generation college students and their families to understand the range of career pathways and postsecondary options available to them? How can we make a seamless connection to the college access, scholarship and financial resources, and academic supports that will allow them to be successful both in their pathway and as they transition to postsecondary education?

 

This piece reminded me that career pathways can be a game-changing opportunity for every student if they have the information and tools to take full advantage of them. My parents, school counselor, and college advisor helped me overcome academic and financial challenges and helped me find direction and relevance in my own career path. Without that support, I know I would not have graduated from college. How can we support every student and their family, especially those who have been traditionally left behind, to have access to pathways, postsecondary, and career information that will allow them to take full advantage of the opportunities available to them?

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