Students across the country are returning to the classroom, and our concerns for them run deep. The Trump administration’s rampant anti-immigrant sentiment has fueled policies that separate migrant families. And it is affecting the lives of immigrant children who are going to school. What can educators do to fight against it, to become co-conspirators of resistance during our troubling times? This back-to-school season, we reached out to some of our authors to find out and share their responses with you here.
By William Ayers | The US Supreme Court ruled earlier this week in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and found in favor of Mark Janus, a child support specialist with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, who chose not to join the union, but was required under Illinois law to pay what are called “fair share” fees to AFSCME as the collective bargaining agent for all state workers. Janus argued that even though he was covered by the collective bargaining agreement, it was a violation of his First Amendment rights to force him to support the union. AFSCME con-tended that requiring workers who choose not to join the union to pay a smaller portion, or a “fair share,” is reasonable since they, along with their dues-paying colleagues, benefit concretely from collective bargaining. Without agency fees, those who don’t pay anything at all are essentially “free riders”—or “takers” to borrow a term-of-art from the conservative playbook—benefiting from the work of others, but neither participating nor contributing.
By Bill Ayers: On April 26 and 27, we joined thousands of people from around the country and around the world at the Peace and Justice Opening in Montgomery, Alabama. Days were filled with formal and informal gatherings, reunions and new connections, the Peace and Justice Summit featuring many powerful thinkers including Elizabeth Alexander, Jelani Cobb, Ava DuVernay, and Michelle Alexander, and on the last night, the Concert for Peace and Justice. The focus of the gathering was the unveiling of two breathtaking new sites: the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the Legacy Museum, both projects of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).
In honor of the seventeen people who died in the devastating mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, thousands of students and teachers are taking part today in the #Enough! National School Walkout. The walkout is also meant to raise awareness about school safety and our country’s ongoing nightmare of gun violence. Organized by Women’s March Youth Empower, the nationwide march starts at ten in the morning and will last for seventeen minutes. We reached out to some of our education authors to join us in showing our support and amplifying the work of these brave students. We share their responses with you below.
By William Ayers, Crystal Laura, and Rick Ayers: The journalist Fareed Zakaria notes, “Half of America’s teachers graduated in the bottom third of their college class,” in sharp contrast to countries that have more successful schools, such as Finland, South Korea, and Singapore, places that consistently draw 100 percent of their teachers from the top third of graduates.1 Finnish students are dependably at or near the top in international examinations, which makes sense since their teacher corps is drawn from the best and the brightest.
From Bill Ayers: William John Thomas Mitchell—a.k.a. W.J.T. Mitchell—is the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago, renowned editor of Critical Inquiry, and widely recognized as a leading force in visual theory. Tom is an intrepid risk-taker. He brings fresh enthusiasms and an active curiosity to every class and to each encounter. Never routine, never on auto-pilot—each experience becomes in his gaze a happening all its own.
By Bill AyersAnd then they arrived. Let the rumpus begin! Spirited greetings and introductions all around, laughter at the improbability of the whole thing, a ﬂurry of separate conversations as wine was poured and glasses lifted. I proposed a toast to Tucker, thanking him for his generous gift to the Public Square and reminding everyone that this was a dinner party, not an interview or a performance (of course, dinner is always a performance, and this one more than most). Then they were seated at the table, ﬁrst course served.
By Bill Ayers Photo credit: Eduardo Montes-Bradley This blog post appeared originally in Critical Inquiry. Last year my students—Chicago teachers and teachers-to-be, educators from a range of backgrounds and experiences and orientations—all read The Beautiful Struggle. I’d put Ta-Nehisi Coates’...
Since nothing beats getting cozy and having some quality time with a new paperback, we put together a list of seven recent releases that you can lose yourself in as the weather turns cold.
In an excerpt from the prologue to PUBLIC ENEMY, Bill Ayers tells the story of how he came to play an unlikely yet prominent role in the 2008 presidential election.
Beacon authors offer a forceful rebuke to the bombardment and occupation of Gaza as a path to long-term regional stability.
Beacon's Director, Helene Atwan, fondly remembers last month's Miami Book Fair and all the great writers—and food and drinks—she encountered there.
The Broadside's official guide to Beacon's annual holiday sale. Save 20% off everything at www.beacon.org with promo code GIFT20, including titles by Richard Blanco, Lauren Slater, Mike O'Connor, Jeanne Theoharis, Rodger Streitmatter and Bill Ayers.
In this sequel to Fugitive Days, Bill Ayers charts his life after the Weather Underground, when he becomes the GOP’s flaunted “domestic terrorist,” a “public enemy.”
Bill Ayers argues that in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, the real problem is standardized testing.
William Ayers' memoir of life in the Weather Underground is now available in audiobook.
In Obama's second term, Bill Ayers hopes that he will change course on education.
Bill and Rick Ayers call on us to show our teachers appreciation by helping them do what they do best.
William Ayers looks at how we can envision education as something other than just a commodity, and to teach for a democratic society.
A First Amendment win in Wyoming, as a federal judge orders that William Ayers finally be allowed to speak.