By Christian Coleman | Some are new, some are veteran crew. These are a handful of Beacon’s bestsellers of 2023! Let’s raise a glass of bubbly to the authors and to another year of bestsellers! Which ones were your favorites?
By Mike Rose | Educational opportunity depends on more than what happens within the schoolhouse. Employment, housing, food security, healthcare, safe streets—these are the social and economic issues that significantly affect how children do in school. They are the core problems in the community where I grew up, and in the many communities in our country that bear resemblance to South Central Los Angeles.
By Christian Coleman | It’s back-to-school season, and the US is still upset by its own sense of identity. James Baldwin knew all about it. In his “Talk to Teachers,” he said that if we changed the curriculum in all schools so that Black students learned more about themselves and their real contributions to US culture, we’d not only be liberating Black people; we’d be “liberating white people who know nothing about their own history.” The side-eye for FL, TX, and other states is warranted and righteous, because they’re still hell-bent on suppressing Black history or completely whitewashing it.
A Q&A with Sarah Rose Cavanagh | I was drawn into this topic for a few different reasons. First, I was watching the news and reading articles warning about a growing mental health crisis in our youth—and this was even before the beginning of the pandemic. As a college educator who studies psychology, and as the parent of a teenager, this news was of high concern to me, both personally and professionally. Second, I was observing these battles taking place in higher education, where one side argues that youth need more compassion, care, and flexibility, and the other side says that we’ve already given too much, and that young people need more challenge, exposure, and risk-taking.
By Brian Batugo | Asian American history must be included in the broader context of US history, especially given the increase in hate crimes and incidents resulting from xenophobic and racist rhetoric that falsely blamed the Asian American community for the coronavirus. Catherine Ceniza Choy’s “Asian American Histories of the United States” offers a significant counter-narrative that celebrates and highlights the historical support and collaboration between Black and Asian Americans, challenging the media’s portrayal of hostility between these racialized groups.
By Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma | One of the most famous verses in the Kural is about the art of learning. What the poet Tiruvalluvar said in Tamil more than fifteen centuries ago is as relevant now as ever: 391: Faultlessly study what is to be studied—then fit All that you’ve studied I’ve always been struck by how Tiruvalluvar not only urges us to learn fully, leaving out nothing, but also inspires us to bring our lives and our studies into harmony.
By Brandon Johnson | In 2012 the CTU went on strike for the first time in twenty-five years. We prepared our members to take this step by, first, making the case that we could better protect our profession by defending public education and our children. Second, we put forward a real plan for what schools needed to look like, and we effectively identified those people, including the mayor, who stood in the way. Finally, we began to raise awareness of the inequities that many people said couldn’t be fixed but we refused to accept. As a result, our members realized that we needed to withhold our labor in order to beat back the mayor’s proposal that would hurt both teachers and students.
By Brandon Johnson | The moment you sign up to become a teacher in the Chicago public school system you become an advocate, because you’re always searching for opportunities to meet the needs of your students. The system often falls short—from classroom materials, to reading and math support, to social and emotional development. Most schools don’t have social workers and counselors, for example, even though there is an overwhelming need for them.
By Bev Rivero | To everyone’s delight, beloved ABC comedy, “Abbott Elementary,” has returned for its second season! The award-winning show has earned fans across every demographic and pulls off being sweet while still being grounded in the reality faced by staff and parents navigating the public school system.
Back-to-school season won’t be the same this year. Right-wing lawmakers continue to attempt, and in some unfortunate cases succeed, to pass legislation forcing educators to lie to students about the role of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and oppression throughout US history. Yes, the pearl clutchers are on the umpteenth leg of their Critical Race Theory Mass Hysteria Tour, even though it’s been pointed out that CRT is taught at undergraduate and graduate levels, not in K-12 curricula. Which brings us to an important point.
By Jon Hale | News of the projected 30,000-student enrollment drop in New York reveals, yet again, that public schools are suffering from long-term effects of the pandemic. Beyond this, however, insidious politics are at play. Dramatic student disenrollment also illustrates that privatization efforts through charters and homeschooling have benefitted from the pandemic.
It has not gotten any easier for educators. If the pandemic was not enough, many are picking up the slack for unfilled job openings, riding on the fumes of burnout, and consequently, leaving the profession or retiring early since the start of COVID. Which goes to show how much they are unthanked and undervalued for all they do to nurture wisdom, curiosity, and critical thinking in students at a time when societal consensus at large would rather shepherd us toward an uneducated nation. We need to show up for them!
What a difference a year makes. Book banning is back—and it’s on steroids. Is it a coincidence that it’s all the rave—more like rage—during Black History Month? The pearl-clutchers have assembled and are targeting not only books dealing with sex and gender but also books featuring Black themes and US history. It’s a predictable flex. A tired flex.
By Leigh Patel | On January 24, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases that have upheld the use of affirmative action in college admissions. The cases, one filed against Harvard University and one against the University of North Carolina (UNC), have been organized financially and in media by Edward Blum, a legal strategist who has worked for years to lodge attacks against affirmative action. Although not a lawyer, Blum uses strategy of media and message and is also the president of Students for Fair Admissions, the organization that filed both lawsuits that will all be heard in the highest court in this land. What is affirmative action and what is at stake?
It’s a rough way to begin the new year, mourning an author and an intellectual powerhouse. Lani Guinier, legal scholar, champion for voting rights, and the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School, joined the ancestors on January 7. She was seventy-one. Although heartbroken about her passing, we remain honored to have published her work, including “The Tyranny of the Meritocracy,” which she wrote to provide a clear blueprint for creating collaborative education models to strengthen our democracy rather than privilege individual elites. May she rest in power.
We did it! We made it to the finish line of another plague year! Just a few more weeks left. Even though it’s not New Year’s Eve yet, uncork some bubbly to celebrate. We earned it. Our big wish for the new year: no more COVID variants. Delta, Mu, Omicron . . . Worst. Upgrades. Ever. Before we slam the door on 2021, we need to applaud and thank our authors and staff for the blog posts they wrote for the Broadside.
A Q&A with Cynthia B. Dillard | The inspiration for this book? I think it is the other way round. This book has inspired me. It has literally been writing me all of my life! It is the story of what happens when teachers have the opportunity and the audacity to (re)member their stories and their culture. It is about how the awesome power that experiences with the African continent opens a space for Black folks and fills in the blank of our often anemic education. I was inspired by all of this to write the book I wished I could have read as I was growing up: As a Black woman, as a teacher, as a leader.
By Jon Hale | Last week, the State Board of Education in Florida allowed parents to apply for vouchers and enroll in a different school if their children were subject to “COVID-19 harassment.” The policy enforces Governor Ron DeSantis’ anti-masking directive. His order protects parents’ “freedom to choose” whether to mask or not, despite an alarming rise in COVID cases in the state. The order also threatened to withhold funding if school boards did not comply with the law.
Back-to-School season is tinged with precariousness this year. While Delta variant cases surge, many schools are reopening and resuming in-person classes. Even though the Biden administration announced plans to offer COVID booster shots in September, the fact remains that conditions at institutions of learning aren’t safe or fully resourced. We asked some of our authors what they would like folks to be aware of on the education front as students and educators return to the classroom. And given our pandemic reality, we also asked them how they think schools could take this opportunity to re-envision themselves for a better, post-COVID future.
By Robert P. Moses and Charles E. Cobb, Jr. | The Algebra Project is first and foremost an organizing project—a community organizing project—rather than a traditional program of school reform. It draws its inspiration and its methods from the organizing tradition of the civil rights movement. Like the civil rights movement, the Algebra Project is a process, not an event. Two key aspects of the Mississippi organizing tradition underlie the Algebra Project: the centrality of families to the work of organizing, and organizing in the context of the community in which one lives and works.