State of the Union: Charter School Organizing

In episode #31 of Have You Heard, we meet Mihir Garud, who left a job as a stockbroker to teach personal finance at a Chicago charter school. He’s also the treasurer of a union that now represents 25% of charter school teachers in the city. Garud, who sees unions as the “last brake” on a system of free market capitalism run amok, turns out to have a lot in common with the teachers in Chicago who organized the country’s first just-for-teachers union back in 1897.

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Teaching Controversy Has Always Been Controversial

Just in time for you Thanksgiving dinner table debate – it’s the new episode of Have You Heard! When a brawl breaks out over the bird this year, don’t just blame politics—blame the schools. You see, coping with contention is a learned skill—a skill that our schools have been actively avoiding for over a century. In this episode, we talk with historian Jon Zimmerman about the teaching of controversial issues: past, present, and future. It’s Have You Heard, episode #30! Note: full transcript coming soon.

Got an idea for an episode of Have You Heard? Tweet it at us or email your idea to Jennifer.

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What We Talk About When We Talk About the Corporate Education Agenda

“Corporate education agenda” gets thrown around a lot. But what does it really mean? In the latest episode of the Have You Heard podcast, we talk to economist Gordon Lafer, whose book The One Percent Solution, offers a comprehensive account comprehensive account of legislation promoted by the nation’s biggest corporate lobbies across all fifty state legislatures. The top topic of all of that legislation? Education. Lafer explains why major corporations – household names like Kraft Foods or United Airlines – have become active players in the realm of education policy. Warning: #29 may be our bleakest episode yet! And here’s the full transcript if you prefer to consume your podcast in readable format.

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How Closing Schools Undermines Democracy

In  2013, a PhD student named Sally Nuamah attended a community meeting in the Chicago neighborhood where she’d grown up and where a public school was slated for closure. Residents talked about the issue in “life or death” terms, recalls Nuamah, who has been studying the long-term impact of the school closures. In this episode, Have You Heard talks to Nuamah about one such impact: a decline in voter participation and support for Democrats. Why would shuttering schools cause a drop in political engagement? And why would local residents fight so hard to keep open schools that, according to many metrics, were failing?Well, you’ll just have to listen and find out! To learn more about Nuamah’s work, visit her website. A full transcript of the episode is now available.

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School Reform TV: The “New” Philanthropists of Public Education

Have You Heard listens in on the recent XQ Superschools Live spectacular, the big budget, star-studded TV extravaganza aimed at “rethinking high school,” brought to you by Silicon Valley billionairess Laurene Powell Jobs. Co-host Jack Schneider examines the claims that high school hasn’t changed in 100 years. (Did you know that he’s an education historian???). We’re joined by Megan Tompkins Stange, author of Policy Patrons: Philanthropy, Education Reform, and the Politics of Influence helps us see the world of public education as a billionaire edu-reformer does. It’s Have You Heard #27! Read the transcript here.

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