Archive for the ‘What We’re Reading’ Category

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?

What We’re Reading: Artist Shares the Spotlight with School-to-Prison Pipeline

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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: Notes from the Field, a one-woman show by Anna Deavere Smith

 

In developing Notes from the Field, Tony and Pulitzer Prize nominee Anna Deavere Smith interviewed more than 200 people living and working within the fields of education and criminal justice, including parents, students, educators, journalists, elected officials, prison inmates, academics, and activists. The resulting one-woman show explores the development and continuation of the school-to-prison pipeline in America’s public schools as well as themes of race and class disparity in America more broadly. The production is engaging, and Smith’s command of the stage is incredible as she takes on such a spectrum of voices, bringing visibility to populations and stories that need to be told and recognized more often.

 

Of all the perspectives Smith shares in Notes from the Field the ones that stood out the most to me were those of students. Whether the students were caught up in the criminal justice system in the blink of an eye or over the course of many years of “bad behavior” and “warning signs,” the stories they told illustrated a harsh and unforgiving disciplinary system which often has little regard for child development and has historically had a disproportionate impact within low-income and minority communities. As Judge Abby Abinanti, the chief judge of the Yurok tribe and one of Smith’s “characters” in the production discussed, “You cannot deal with children if you don’t have a sense of kindness and respect and if you don’t like them, and if you don’t have systems that like them and respect them… If [a student] does something wrong, then [he or she] needs to come closer, not be pushed away.” Notes from the Field is a challenge to all of us who work with or on behalf of children to advocate for an overhaul of how we approach discipline and consequences in classrooms—and police stations—across the country.

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