Ethical Schools

Ethical Schools

Amy and Jon talk with educational innovators about creating ethical learning environments, helping students overcome the effects of trauma, and empowering young people to make change. Tune in weekly.

Episodes

April 27, 2022 28 min
We speak with Melissa Svigelj-Smith, graduate fellow at University of California at Santa Cruz, about her experience teaching high school students awaiting case outcomes at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center. Meaningful communication with students' schools about records and students' social emotional needs was often very difficult. Ms. Svigelj-Smith talks about the ethical dilemma of wanting to advocate for impro...
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We speak with students Eugenia Bamfo, Alexandra Rouvinetis, and Mukilan Muthukumar, members of the NYC Youth Agenda. Using citywide student survey data, Youth Agenda teams aggregated young people's needs to make recommendations to policymakers in five areas — housing security, food justice, mental health support, economic mobility, and leadership and civic engagement. Among the findings: large numbers of students are unaware of...
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We speak with Dr. Brian Jones, director of the New York Public Library’s Center for Educators and Schools, which provides all sorts of free resources to teachers and school administrators. Public schools, for all their flaws, are centers of power and potential for teachers and parents. As a historian, Dr. Jones draws parallels between Booker T. Washington and Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone. In the aftermath of civil ...
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Dr. Alan Singer, Dr. Pablo Muriel, and Gates Millennium Scholar Dennis Belen-Morales, three generations of teachers, describe how they center student activism in their project-based social studies and history classes while giving students the tools to pass the NYS Regents exams. Dr. Singer was Dr. Muriel’s professor in college, and Dr. Muriel was Mr. Belen-Morales’ high school teacher and college professor in turn. Now all three ar...
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We speak with Swarthmore’s Dr. Edwin Mayorga, who explains how abolitionist classrooms and schools create “freedom as a place” in contrast to racial capitalism. Dr. Mayorga encourages educators to center joy and healing. We also discuss the corporatization of schools that reduces students to their test scores. Schools, as “localized nodes of political power,” should adopt democratic processes that cultivate voice, participation, an...
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We speak with Dr. Elizabeth J. Meyer of the University of Colorado about ensuring that K-12 schools are welcoming and safe for students with non-normative gender identities and expressions. Dr. Meyer found that these students thrive in schools that center student-directed learning and interdisciplinary exploration as opposed to schools that replicate society’s toxic hierarchies. Generally, students are much more comfortable talking...
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Sherry Johnson, tribal education director for the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, an Oceti Sakowin treaty tribe, talks about the efforts to have South Dakota’s students learn about Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota history and culture. South Dakota’s right wing governor and her appointees have rejected state standards that include critical thinking and accurate state history, sparking strong resistance.
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We speak with middle school teachers, Debbie Holecko and Claudia Bestor, and their former student, Rafel Alshakergi, about a student-led research project that led to ethical civic engagement. Rafel explains how the experience emboldened her to ask questions and “speak [her] mind.” The project, which got national attention, cut against Ohio’s high-stakes test orientation; many teachers are afraid to do project-based learning because...
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We speak with Brittany McBride, Associate Director, Sexuality Education at Advocates for Youth, who partners with schools to provide the complete sex education that all students deserve. Though parents, students, and teachers largely agree on sex ed's importance, few teachers (other than health teachers and PE coaches) have any formal training, and many parents haven’t had sex ed themselves.
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We speak with Dr. John Pascarella, Chief Academic Officer of K-12 Professional Learning at USC Race and Equity Center. The Center works with schools to identify disparate outcomes for students and strategies to eliminate them. Dr. Pascarella discusses the need for educators to stand up against systemic bias as it occurs in daily school life. He points out that we need to be aware that we are all inevitably involved in differential ...
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We speak with Al Kurland, longtime leader of out-of-school-time programs in Upper Manhattan’s Washington Heights. Mr. Kurland founded youth programs that help teens to “rewrite their stories” with the support of adult and peer mentors. He collaborated with other local youth organizations, creating a cluster of empowering and horizon-broadening experiences for students, helping many expand "tunnel vision."
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We speak with independent journalist Audrey Watters, author of "Teaching machines: The history of personalized learning," about the origins of teaching machines and the pedagogies that incorporate mechanical devices for teaching and learning. Ms. Watters explains how BF Skinner’s emphasis on behaviorism, in combination with commercial opportunism, has led in some cases to the supplanting of teachers by computer software.
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January 14, 2022 47 min
We speak with Dr. Rosa Rivera-McCutchen, associate professor of leadership studies at Lehman College, CUNY, about the importance of school leaders and teachers practicing radical care, including listening with intent and addressing skill gaps with honesty. Dr. Rivera-McCutchen talks about the importance of teachers getting to know the life of the neighborhoods around their schools.
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We speak with Dr. Richard Price, associate professor of political science at Weber State University, about recent attempts to ban books, especially those about GLBTQIA+ people and people of color, from classrooms and school libraries across the country. (Spoiler alert: it's not only in red states). Dr. Price offers strategies for teachers, principals, and school districts for responding to book challenges.
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We continue our conversation with LaToya Baldwin Clark of UCLA School of Law. Dr. Baldwin Clark explains how the special education system advantages White middle class families. Poor families and families of color tend to lack cultural capital to navigate the system and advocate effectively for their children. While resources flow to White children with special needs, Black children tend to be stigmatized and placed in more restric...
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We speak with Dr. LaToya Baldwin Clark, assistant professor at UCLA School of Law. Dr. Baldwin Clark explains how school boundaries are used for racial exclusion. In many cases, schools don’t just reflect, but cause, segregated neighborhoods. Dr. Baldwin Clark argues that closing the education gap isn’t just about bringing up the bottom, but bringing down the top as well. Parents, teachers, and administrators need to work together ...
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We speak with Dr. Deb L. Morrison, research scientist at the University of Washington School of Education, about centering climate science throughout the K-12 curriculum. Dr. Morrison talks about ClimeTime, a Washington State-funded program that teaches how to engage in climate science and climate justice education across disciplines, and describes nationally-available resources.  She emphasizes the importance of integrating societ...
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We speak with Katie Worth, investigative journalist and author of Miseducation: How Climate Change is Taught in America. Ms. Worth explores what children across the country are taught, or not taught, about climate change. In 24 states, oil and gas company representatives teach children about the wonders of fossil fuels, downplaying or denying their climate impacts. With an eye on sales in Texas, textbooks falsely depict a scientifi...
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We speak with Dr. Danel Schugurensky and Tara Bartlett of Arizona State University and Madison Rock of the Center for the Future of Arizona about school participatory budgeting in Arizona and worldwide. Students, and sometimes parents and school staff, determine how a pool of money will be spent. By participating in democratic, meaningful decision-making, students become acclimated to civic engagement. Trust and other positive ele...
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We speak with high school science teachers and trans men, Sam Long and Lewis Maday-Travis, who have developed resources and trainings to help biology teachers develop gender-inclusive curricula. Science tells us that sexual and gender diversity is both normal and positive.
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