Inefficient. Ineffective. Outdated. Outmoded. Unrepresentative. Sure, local school boards are deserving of all of these criticisms (and more), but they are also seedbeds of local democracy at a time when democracy is under attack. Special guests: school board member and scholar Rachel White, and school committee member Roberto Jiménez Rivera.
Have You Heard talks with legal scholar Derek Black about his new book Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy. Despite the title (not to mention the charred pencil imagery) this is a deeply optimistic book. That’s because as Black immersed himself in a people’s history of the post-civil war years, he encountered a commitment to public education that astonished and inspired him. Public education, argues Black, is as central to American democracy as the right to vote.
Jennifer and Jack’s forthcoming book, A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door, will be out on November 17 and is now available for pre-order.
Have You Heard heads to fast-growing north Texas for a first-hand look at how support for public education is upending the state’s politics. Spoiler: GOP candidates are scrambling to paint themselves as lovers of public schools and their teachers. But does their new-found love translate into actual policy? And will former GOP voters who prize public education end up changing the way they vote? Part of our series on education and politics in 2020, this episode captures a trend with major implications for Texas and beyond. Transcript available here.
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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.
The idea that schools can be fixed by firing teachers has become a fixation. In this episode of Have You Heard, Jack Schneider and I discuss the origins of the idea, which he has helpfully distilled here in this amazing graphic. We hear from three Boston teachers whose schools are about to be turned upside down, the lives of their immigrant students made even more chaotic in these unsettled times. As scholar Tina Trujillo explains, the turn-and-churn model of school reform reflects a larger erosion of the idea that public education is public good. Be sure to listen to the very end of the episode (or skip down to the bottom of the transcript below), where we announce our guest for episode #3. Fine, I’ll give you a hint. She was in the running to be Secretary of Education… If you have a question you want us to ask her, flag us on Twitter at @BisforBerkshire or @edu_historian, or leave a comment here. And if you missed episode #1 of this season, Vouchers: a Love Story, you can catch it on Soundcloud, or iTunes.