Category Archives: Social Justice Pedagogy

Ethnic Studies Now!: Seattle students ask, “Why aren’t we learning this in school?”

By Jesse Hagopian

First published by The Progressive magazine.

From disproportionate discipline rates to its hyper-segregated schools, Seattle is a tough place to be for students of color. The city has an alarming pattern of segregation both between and within schools, and when the district was investigated by the Department of Education, it was found to suspend black students at four times the rate for white students for the same infractions.

In response, the NAACP, in collaboration with numerous education and social justice organizations, has launched a new ethnic studies campaign. “We have to get rid of this white supremacy,” Seattle NAACP Education Chair Rita Green told the Seattle Times in January. “Ethnic studies is learning about the other cultures within your building.”

The benefits of ethnic studies programs are numerous.


A recent study of San Francisco students conducted by researchers in the Stanford Graduate School of Education found that attendance increased by twenty-one percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points and credits earned by twenty-three. There were positive effects across male, female, Asian and Hispanic groups of students, and especially for boys and Hispanic students. The study also found significant effects on GPA specific to math and science.

As Jon Greenberg, Seattle social studies teacher, member of Social Equality Educators, and a leading organizer in the ethnic studies campaign recently told NPR, “The level of engagement goes up astronomically when you’re talking about issues that affect a lot of students’ lives.”

And benefits of ethnic studies go far beyond academics. Many of the discipline problems in the classroom stem from students who are disengaged with the curriculum and don’t see a connection to their lives. These students often act out and are quickly labeled disobedient—but maybe that disobedience is better understood as resistance to a whitewashed curriculum that doesn’t speak to the problems and issues those students face. As one student testified at a recent school board meeting, “Europeans did not ‘discover’ the land, they stole it from the indigenous natives that were enslaved and killed by white settlers.” When basic truths like these are disguised in a curriculum, students learn to not trust their education.

Ethnic studies programs, coupled with restorative justice approaches to discipline, can reduce suspension rates and help students realize their potential. By teaching students about the history of systemic oppression and the struggles against it, such programs can empower students to become change agents in their schools and broader society.


The social and academic benefits of ethnic studies were on full display in the acclaimed Mexican American Studies program at Tucson High Magnet School in Arizona, which boasted the highest graduation rates and college acceptance rates for Latino students in the district. It was shut down in 2010 by anti-immigrant Republicans who sought to deny Latino students access to information about their heritage. The educators and students of the MAS program launched an inspiring campaign to defend their community and curriculum—as documented in the excellent film “Precious Knowledge”—resulting, ironically in a blossoming of Mexican American studies programs in high schools across the country.

After a major campaign, a bill was signed into law in California in September 2016 ordering the creation of a model ethnic studies course for state high schools. The Portland school board voted in May 2016 to require high schools in that city to offer ethnic studies classes by 2018. In the 2014-15 school year, a group of teacher librarians in the San Francisco Unified School District created a Black Lives Matter online resource page for teachers to use in the classroom. This collection includes grand jury documents, poetry, videos and graphics, readings, and lesson plans and activities for students of all ages.


The push in Seattle to combat institutional racism in the schools erupted in Seattle with the unprecedented #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool day, organized by the Social Equality Educators and supported by the Seattle Education Association, on October 19th, 2016. Some 3,000 educators wore “Black Lives Matter” shirts to school and many taught lessons about structural racism, the history of struggles against white supremacy, and other ethnic studies curriculum. Since Seattle’s mass action, the Black Lives Matter At School movement has gone national with educators in Philadelphia and Rochester, New York, taking up similar actions to publicly declare the value of their black students.

At a Seattle School board meeting on March 15, dozens of educators, parents, students, and community members rallied to support ethnic studies, with signs reading, “Tell the Youth the Truth,” and “White Privilege is Your History Being Part of the Core Curriculum and Mine Being Taught as an Elective.”

One young Asian American woman recounted a program she participated in called “Seattle to Selma,” designed to augment the standard curriculum to give students a deeper understanding of the black freedom struggle. “One of the critical questions students kept asking,” she told the school board, “is why aren’t we learning this in school?” Raising her voice she continued,

All students—if given the chance—can benefit socially and academically if their scope of racial and civil rights history is expanded. When research has proven ethnic studies increases achievement, attendance, the number of credits students of color take, why wait to close Seattle’s unacceptable racial disparities? With ethnic studies, students at all levels learn not to blame individuals, but understand societal structures. Students learn to effectively navigate difference and understand the diverse cultures of our district. Seattle Schools can fundamentally affirm and empower more students to become agents of change.

May her words signal a new ethnic studies uprising to help combat misunderstanding, fear, and hate in our schools and in our society.

——-

Jesse Hagopian is a teacher in the Seattle Public Schools, editor of the book, More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing, and an editor for Rethinking Schools magazine.  He serves as the Seattle Education Fellow for The Progressive magazine and runs the Black Education Matter’s Student Activist Award. Follow Jesse on twitter or on his blog,  www.IAmAnEducator.com.

PBS News Hour: “At a school with a history of social protest, this teacher is leading an opposition to ‘excessive testing’”

PBS_News_JesseA couple of weeks ago, Gwen Ifill and the PBS News Hour crew flew to Seattle.  They spent one day following me and one day following the richest person who ever lived, Bill Gates, to ask us about our ideas on education reform.  I was simply shocked to hear that they would be running an interview with me in tandem with one from Bill Gates.  That’s because most of the media believes that teachers are the last people you should talk to about education–what would we know about teaching and learning?  It is common practice to only ask Billionaires–who have never attended a public school–what to do education.  But I was granted this important opportunity to explain how standardized testing is destroying education and why we are in the midst of the largest uprising against high-stakes testing in U.S. History.  The program aired nationally on Tuesday evening and was able to capture many of the insights I have gained in working with so many others in building this movement.

One note: In the program it mentions that I began my teaching career through the Teach for America (TFA) program.  That is true.  But what was not explained, is that I have become an out spoken critic of TFA–an organization that is relentless in its advocacy of reducing the intellectual an emotional process of teaching and learning into a test score.  But TFA certainly isn’t alone in it’s attempt to reduce students to data points.  As I tell Gwen Ifill on the News Hour,

It’s become a multibillion-dollar industry to sell exams to children in order to rank and sort them. And it’s become really a test-and-punish model.

Consider this case against the testocracy we make in this PBS News Hour special–and then join in the struggle.  We have nothing to lose but a Pearson test–and an a meaningful education to win!

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/school-history-social-protest-teacher-leading-opposition-excessive-testing/

Cover_MTaS—-

Jesse Hagopian teaches history and is the adviser to the Black Student Union at Garfield High School–the site of the historic boycott of the MAP test in 2013.  Jesse is an associate editor for the acclaimed Rethinking Schools magazine and is the editor of, More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing (Haymarket Books).

“This is a test”: Educating to End the School-to-Grave-Pipeline in Ferguson and Beyond

“We were at graduation, me and him, and we were talking. He said he wasn’t going to end up like some people on the streets. He was going to get an education.”

Hershel Johnson, a friend Michael Brown’s since middle school.

MikeBrown_CapGown

Graduation portrait of Michael Brown from Normandy High School in Ferguson County, Missouri.

In the wake of the police murder of the unarmed 18-year-old African American high school graduate Michael Brown, and the ensuing uprising of the people of Ferguson, the Ferguson-Florissant School District announced classes would not resume for the school year on Aug. 14 as planned, and as of today, school is still not in session.

The unrest between police and protesters prompted Gov. Jay Nixon (D) to declare a state of emergency in Ferguson and then impose a curfew. Comedian John Oliver described Gov. Nixon’s curfew announcement as “patronizing,” and charged him with speaking in the tone of a “pissed-off vice principal” attempting to further restrict the freedom of the people of Ferguson. Oliver’s school analogy may have been prompted by Nixon’s statement that,

“…to protect the people and property of Ferguson today, I signed an order declaring a state of emergency and ordering implementation of a curfew in the impacted area of Ferguson… But if we’re going to achieve justice, we must first have and maintain peace. This is a test.”

For all of his authoritarian scolding, Gov. Nixon is correct about one thing: This is a test. But it isn’t one that will be scored accurately by a police force or a political class that sees itself as above the law.

Ferguson, like cities around the nation, has plenty of problems of race, class, and education to choose from. The schools in Ferguson—like to many districts across the nation—are still separate and unequal. 77.1 percent of the students in the Ferguson-Florissant School District are black, and some 68 percent of white students who live in the district attend schools outside of the district. Black students make up a disproportionate 87.1 percent of students without disabilities who receive an out-of-school suspensions, according to 2011-12 data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection. And the black youth continue to be targets when they leave the schoolhouse and enter the streets.  Last year, black residents accounted for 86 percent of the vehicle stops made by Ferguson police and nearly 93 percent of the arrests made from those stops, according to the state attorney general. FBI statistics show that 85 percent of the people arrested by Ferguson police are black, and that 92% of people arrested specifically for disorderly conduct are black.

The city of Ferguson is 67.4 percent black and 28.7 percent white, yet five of the six city councilmembers are white and six of seven school board members are white.   The first African American Superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District, Dr. McCoy, was forced out of his position in March by the then all white school board. Normandy High School, the alma mater of Mike Brown, has a poverty rate of 92 percent. As Daily Kos related,

“The grinding poverty in Mike’s world only allowed Normandy High School to acquire two graduation gowns to be shared by the entire class. The students passed a gown from one to the other. Each put the gown on, in turn, and sat before the camera to have their graduation photographs taken. Until it was Mike’s turn.”

“Career and college ready” are the new buzzwords in the education reform world and every teacher certainly hopes their students achieve these personal successes. Yet to limit education to only these puny goals is to extinguish the true power of education. Education must also be in service of transforming our very troubled society.

Mike Brown was to have started attending Vatterott College on August 11, two days after he was killed, exposing the fact that the work of educators to help students achieve a diploma means little if our society succumbs to lawless police who gun down our unarmed children in the street. Many black youth have had their caps and gowns snatched from them and replaced with orange jumpsuits, as students are funneled into what is commonly called the “school-to-prison-pipeline”—a series of interlocking policies such as zero tolerance discipline and high suspension rates, overbearing police presence in schools, and high-stakes exit exams required for graduation. But increasingly it appears police are intent on constructing what I guess we now must term the “school-to-grave-pipeline”— a series of interlocking policies such as giving police weapons designed for war zones, the disproportionate policing of areas frequented by black youth, and incentivizing police to shoot black people by not arresting them and giving them paid leave when they do. The school-to-grave-pipeline is not only a problem in Ferguson.  Nationally, a study revealed that a black person is killed by police somewhere in the United States every 36 hours. When there are witnesses, or when onlookers are able to capture these murders on a cellphone camera, we get to hear about their case; people such as Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, and many others. Yet too often, black people are shot down by police and discarded with little attention.

If education is not dedicated to empowering our youth to solve the problems they face in their communities, in our nation, and in our world, then it isn’t really an education at all—it is an indoctrination designed to reproduce oppression. As Richard Shaull explains in the forward to Paulo Freire’s masterwork, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”

The way you know that those who control the education system—the many corporate style education reformers who push high-stakes testing and standardized curriculum—are not actually interested in nurturing black youth, closing the achievement gap, or supporting education that undermines oppression, is that you won’t hear any of them publicly defending Michael Brown or calling for the arrest of his murderer, Darren Wilson. (Or maybe Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, and Michelle Rhee carpooled and got lost on their way to the rally in Ferguson?). On the issues that most deeply affect the lives of African Americans—mass incarceration, police terror, unemployment, housing discrimination—these education reformers and officials have nothing to say, content to prattle on with the exhortations about “accountability,” “career ready,” “21st century education,” and other hollow pronouncements devoid of the social supports that would make them a reality.

Thankfully, educators in Ferguson and around the nation are rising to the challenge of redefining the purpose of education with the intent of building a more just society in wake of the killing of Michael Brown. On August 17, Dr. Marcia Chatelain tweeted a call for resources for parents and educators to talk to young people heading back to school with the hashtag #FergusonSyllabus.  People from around the nation began collecting and retweeting articles, books, videos, and photos to aid educators in lesson ideas that engage students in a critical dialogue about the meaning of Michael Brown’s death and the mass uprising it has inspired.

Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D (@JackieGerstein) tweeting with #FergusonSyllabus, wrote:

 

And Caryn Riswold (‏@feminismxianity) tweeted:

Some of the best lessons ideas shared on #FergusonSyllabus include a link to the video, “Race the House We Live in”, about redlining and housing discrimination, a Rethinking Schools lesson on teaching about The Murder of Sean Bell (a young African American killed by New York City Police), Christopher Emdin’s essay, “5 Ways to Teach About Michael Brown and Ferguson in the New School Year,” and Teaching for Change’s, “Teaching About Ferguson.” Any teacher of American history or civics would do well to discuss Amy Goodman’s essay, “The ghost of Dred Scott haunts the streets of Ferguson,” outlining the case of the slave (buried just down the street from where Mike Brown was killed) who took his case for freedom to the Supreme Court, which subsequently ruled that African Americans had, “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

National Public Radio ran a story on August 19th, “Ferguson Teachers Use Day off As Opportunity for Civics Lesson” where they reported, “So this morning, instead of being in the classroom, 150 area teachers took part in some unusual professional development: picking up broken glass, water bottles and tear gas canisters from the street. “It says ‘Defense Technology’ on it,” says social studies teacher Arthur Vambaketes, showing off a busted canister from his trash bag.”

When the schools reopen in Ferguson, teachers would do well to close up the jingoistic textbooks, discard the bubble tests, and ask students what they think about the fact that our nation spends more on “defense technology,” militarized policing and mass incarceration than on education. It might not be on the new Common Core exams, but the killing of Michael Brown is a test for our nation’s schools nonetheless.

As I prepare to head back to the classroom, I pledge to Michael Brown and his family that I will do my best to foster a classroom that allows for the emotional intensity and critical dialogue vital to achieving a world that puts institutional racism in its final resting place and gives our black children a bright future.

—-

Jesse Hagopian is the editor and contributing author to the forthcoming book (available for per-ordering), More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing. Jesse teaches history and is the co-advisor for the Black Student Union at Garfield High School, the site of the historic boycott of the MAP standardized test.  Jesse an associate editor for Rethinking Schools magazine, a founding member of Social Equality Educators (SEE), and recipient of the 2013 “Secondary School Teacher of Year” award from the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences. Follow Jesse on his blog at www.iamaneducator.com or on Twitter: @jessedhagopian

RESPECT is on the Rise: I lost my bid for SEA union president by 45 votes, but the Social Equality Educators have never been stronger!

Thanks to everyone for your support for the Social Equality Educator’s (SEE) RESPECT campaign in the recent Seattle Education Association (SEA) union election!  Our campaign generated more excitement than ever before–both inside the union and among social justice and education thought leaders who supported my run for president of the union. In the end, I came up just 45 votes short of becoming the next president of the SEA, in the biggest voter turnout in our union’s history. Given that no one I have spoken to can remember an incumbent being unseated in SEA history, and that I received more votes than were cast in the entire last election, it is clear that there is a new upsurge occurring in our union. I gave this interview to KUOW, Seattle’s local NPR affiliate the day after the election summing up the results and laying out SEE’s vision for schools.

While it’s tough to lose by such a close margin, I am thrilled by the many accomplishments of this campaign.

SEE RESPECT candidates swept the high school Executive Board positions in the SEA, split the middle school seats, and won 6 seats overall! Dan Troccoli, the SEE candidate for treasurer, is in a special runoff election, the outcome of which we find out on June 4th. (Please support our efforts by donating to Dan’s campaign!).

Yet our campaign for RESPECT accomplished much more than just getting candidates elected.

SEE set out with a goal of getting over 50% of the members to participate in the election–and we surpassed our goal, with over 53% of members voting! We said from the beginning that the most important element of a strong union is an active membership, regardless of who is running the union.  The SEA is becoming more active than ever and SEE is proud to have helped sparked discussions and debates that have greatly aided in members’ taking a greater interest in how to best organize our union.  While there certainly have been some initiatives that the current SEA leadership have undertaken that have helped engage members (such as one-on-on listening sessions with members), there is no doubt that SEE is playing a vital role in activating the rank-and-file of the union around the key eduction issues of the day such as standardized testing, racial justice and the opportunity gap, and teacher evaluations.

In building after building across Seattle, candidates from the SEE’s RESPECT slate explained our vision to hundreds of SEA members: The contract educators deserve, the schools our children deserve, and the city our families deserve.

We said that the contract we deserve would set caseload caps for our counselors and other Education Support Associates (ESAs)—something the district has repeatedly promised would happen at some future date and something our union has continually backed down on. We said that the contract we deserve would have fair and sustainable teacher evaluations that were not dependent on unreliable, curriculum-narrowing standardized tests. Unfortunately, in contract negotiations SEA allowed Seattle to became the only city in the entire state to allow two measures of student growth in educators’ evaluations, including the use of state standardized tests scores.

The RESPECT campaign argued that the schools our children deserve would replace zero tolerance disciplinary procedures, which have resulted in African American students being suspended at five times the rate of their white peers, with restorative justice models designed to help students solve their problems collectively. We asserted that the schools students deserve would provide a holistic education that supports educators in promoting a multicultural education that is explicitly anti-racist, challenges gender bias, and undermines homophobia.  And we said that our union has partner with parents to make a public campaign during contract negotiations around lowering class size to achieve the individual attention our students deserve.

We were also able to make an argument during this election for the role our schools play in the overall health of our city, and lay out a strategy for our union to play a more proactive role in the issues—such as a $15 minimum wage, affordable transportation, and affordable housing—that impact the families we serve.

Most importantly, in this election the Social Equality Educators helped to popularize a program which asserted that our union is strongest when we partner with parents and community organizations in a common struggle to defend public education from corporate education reformers. This idea was put into practice during last year’s boycott of the MAP test, when we built a broad-based coalition that included the Garfield PTSA, the Seattle/King County NAACP, Parents Across America, the Garfield Student Body Government, hundreds of educators, and many others in the community. The overwhelmingly positive response we received from teachers around the district to this strategy of coalition building shows the great potential for joining public education stakeholders in a common struggle.

The Social Equality Educators have only just begun in our quest for social movement unionism to achieve social justice inside and outside the classroom.

Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality: Support the publication of this new book for educators

20140401141350-rsgs_sqsmVIDEO: Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality

Supporters of social justice education will be thrilled to learn that Rethinking Schools is currently working on a new book, Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality. In order to put this invaluable tool in the hands of educators, we need your support. Please consider donating to this book project.

From Rethinking Schools:

Help us publish this awesome book!

This book was born a few summers ago when Jody Sokolower, Rethinking Schools’ managing editor, and RS editor Melissa Bollow Tempel sat down in Jody’s kitchen to discuss an article Melissa was writing. “It’s OK to Be Neither” is the story of Melissa’s growth as a teacher when Allie, a student who is gender nonconforming, joined her class. Until then, Melissa had not realized how customs like lining up by girls and boys could create problems for students who do not fit neatly into the female/male binary.

“It’s OK to Be Neither” really struck a chord. As Melissa tells it, “We never dreamed it would be shared more than 45,000 times on one blog alone.” Allie is not unique. Gender nonconforming kids are in schools everywhere, and teachers want to know how to support them.

Gender identity is just one of many issues addressed in Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality. The book includes sections on:

  • creating safe and nurturing classrooms
  • coming out at school as a teacher or student
  • integrating feminist and LGBTQ content into curriculum
  • moving beyond the classroom to school and community
  • teacher education

Want to check out a sample article or two?

Download these article PDFs for a sneak peek.

Jam-packed with thought-provoking articles by teachers, parents, and students

Jody and Melissa are working with three other wonderful editors—Kim Cosier in Milwaukee, Jeff Sapp in Los Angeles, and Rachel Harper in Chicago—and dozens of inspiring, dedicated teacher/writers.

We know that Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality will be an amazing resource for everyone working to change attitudes and strengthen communities so our schools will be safe and supportive places where all kids can learn.

Support students, teachers, and families

Won’t it make you feel good to know that your dollars empowered a teacher to speak up in defense of a lesbian student at a staff meeting? Or supported a teacher as he decides whether to come out to his students? Or helped a big sister who pretends she doesn’t know her gender nonconforming little brother?

Your contributions will fund the production for this amazing book. That means copyediting, proofreading, and indexing; art direction and layout; printing and distribution.

Join our campaign today! Tell your friends!

Besides feeling good about making the world a better place, you can also earn some cool perks for donating:

  • A sticker depicting our beautiful book cover
  • Subscriptions to our award-winning magazine
  • Copies of the book
  • Acknowledgement in the book of your generosity

 

Garfield High’s Jesse Hagopian named “Secondary School Teacher of the Year” By Academy of Education Arts and Sciences

Bammy_withMichele

Jesse Hagopian and friend Michele Bollinger (editor of “101 Changemakers”and a teacher in DC) leave the award ceremony with Jesse’s two Bammys on Saturday night, September 21, in Washington DC.

http://www.bammyawards.com

Bammylogo

WASHINGTON, DC – Garfield High School history teacher Jesse Hagopian was named “Secondary School Teacher of the Year” on Saturday by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences International at a black-tie gala in the nation’s capital. In addition to this “Bammy” Award—the “Grammys for teachers”—the academy also presented Mr. Hagopian with a Special Achievement Bammy.

The annual Bammy awards recognize educators from across the education field: teachers, principals, librarians, nurses, school-board members, superintendents, and others.

Hagopian knew he was one of five finalists nominated in the secondary school category, but he had no idea the academy had decided to give him another Bammy as well. “They had just presented a Special Achievement Bammy to Sandy Hook Elementary School, and all of us in the audience were numb as we thought about the tragedy that school had gone through,” Jesse said afterwards. “And then, out of nowhere, I hear my name being called, and they’re asking me to come up on stage. I’m still thinking about Sandy Hook, and I had no idea what to say right then.”

The presenter told the audience this Bammy was for “a demonstration of courage” because, he said, courage is necessary “when doing what’s in the best interests of children…” He added that sometimes courage “means going against accepted policy, going against what is accepted convention.”

He was, of course, referring to the Garfield faculty’s civilly disobedient “boycott” this past school year of the Measures of Academic Progress– a standardized testing instrument known as the MAP test. After Garfield’s faculty refused – without a single dissenting vote – to administer this test, teachers at several other Seattle schools joined the boycott. Near the end of the school year, Seattle schools’ Superintendent Jose Banda relented, telling high schools they were no longer required to use the MAP test.

“This is a victory for all of the students, parents and teachers at Garfield who refused to give the Michelle Rhee-endorsed Bammy_onStage_lowerResMAP test, and who stood strong in the face of education-corrupting standardized testing that has run over our students,” said Hagopian, as he held up the silver-and-lead-crystal Bammy award. “And this,” he said after a pause, again hoisting the hefty Bammy, “is a victory of all of those teachers and educators who said that you should be both a social-justice advocate in the classroom, and outside the classroom.”

Although Hagopian, a history teacher, was not asked to administer the MAP test, he helped organize with the math, language arts and other teachers for whom the MAP test was a district requirement.  Hagopian, worked hard to build support for the boycott around the city and helped to popularize the struggle around the country.

Hagopian’s attendance at the gala was a coincidental accident of scheduling. The National Education Association had flown him to the capital that same week to testify before the Congressional Black Caucus of the U.S. Congress. He was one of several educators from across the country that testified to the caucus about the negative impacts of standardized testing and school closures on at-risk students and their communities.

Along with teaching history, Hagopian is the Black Student Union adviser at Garfield. He is an associate editor of the acclaimed Rethinking Schools magazine, is a founding member of Social Equality Educators (SEE), and was recipient of the 2012 Abe Keller Foundation award for “excellence and innovation in peace education.” Hagopian is an author, activist, and, since the MAP boycott, an “in-demand” public speaker. Jesse is a contributing author to 101 Changemakers: Rebels and Radicals Who Changed US History (Haymarket Books). Jesse and his wife, Sarah Wilhelm, have two sons, Miles and Satchel.

“Nominees like Jesse Hagopian are demonstrating that there are a lot of people who are not waiting for Superman and are doing excellent work and making a difference in education right now,” said Errol St. Clair Smith, Spokesperson for the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences International. “The nomination alone is a meaningful statement that the nominee is making a difference and is standing out in the field.”

Serena Samar, Garfield High School special education teacher, said of Jesse, “When students take Mr. Hagopian’s class, I know their lives will be changed for the better! His uncanny ability to incorporate history into how it influences each student’s life now has changed many of my student’s educational experiences for the better. They feel empowered and hopeful, which is what the educational experience should be for all students.”

Commentator John Young wrote of Hagopian’s leadership in the MAP test boycott, “Jesse Hagopian is doing more than teaching history. He is answering history’s call.”

Bob George, Save Our Schools National Director, added, “Jesse brings parents, students, and teachers together for the greater good. He is a tireless advocate for his students and his coworkers. His voice is for social justice.”

The Bammys are presented by The Academy of Education Arts and Sciences International, which includes leading educators, education professors, journalists, editors, researchers, commentators, advocates, activists, visionaries and pioneers.  The Academy is comprised of a board of governors, a council of peers, and associate members.

Hagopian is member of Social Equality Educators (SEE), a group of social-justice teachers and education aids that works to build community alliances in purist of quality education, oppose the corporate school-reform agenda, and strengthen the teacher’s union by helping it adopt a social-movement approach to unionism. Social Equality Educators played a vital role in spreading the 2012-2013 MAP test boycott to schools around Seattle, have hosted forums on closing the “opportunity gap” in the Seattle Public Schools, and have staged protests of the Washington State Legislature for its failure to fully fund education.

About the Bammy Awards:

The Bammy Awards honor the contributions of educators in 28 categories across the field.

Presenters announced include: Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association; Marybeth Hertz, executive board member of the Edcamp Foundation; Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators; Chris Lehmann, founder and co-chair of Educon; Gail Connelly, executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals; Angela Maiers, founder of Choose2Matter; Yasmina Vinci, executive director for the National Head Start Association; John Merrow, veteran education reporter at PBS; Donna Mazyck, executive director of the National Association of School Nurses; Tom Whitby and Steven Anderson, co-founders of #Edchat; Caroline Hendrie, executive director of the Education Writers Association. William J. Bushaw, executive director, PDK International Family; Rob Lippincott, senior vice president, PBS Learning Media; and The Northeast Foundation for Children.

The 2013 Bammy Awards were held at the Arena Stage at the Mead Center in Washington, D.C., on September 21(st). The awards were co-hosted by Dr. Mark Ginsberg, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, and Errol St. Clair Smith, Emmy-winning correspondent, broadcaster and executive producer of the Bammy Awards.

This year’s celebration included a number of special presentations, including lifetime achievement awards to Randi Weingarten and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, special achievement awards to the founders of Edcamp and #Edchat, a special Bammy presentation to educators from Sandy Hook Elementary School, a salute by the BAM 100 celebrating connected educators, Bammy Awards for the best in education technology, and a very special Bammy Award honoring a truly exceptional student.

“The Bammy Awards were created in response to the relentless national criticism of America’s public schools, while all that is right in American education is largely ignored,” said Errol St. Clair Smith, Bammy Awards executive producer. Modeled on the broad scope of the Oscars, Grammys and Emmys, the Bammy Awards were created to be a cross-discipline honor celebrating the entire education village.

About the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences

The Academy is comprised of over 212 prominent education leaders, including Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education at Stanford University; Diane Ravitch, former Assistant Secretary of Education; Timothy Shriver, CEO of the Special Olympics; and the executive directors of NAESP, AASA, PTA, NASN, ASBO and NASSP.

CONTACT: Academy of Education Arts and Sciences

Errol St. Clair Smith, 818-539-5971

http://www.bammyawards.org

JESSE HAGPIAN NOMINATED BY ACADEMY OF EDUCATION ARTS AND SCIENCES FOR “SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHER OF THE YEAR” IN THE 2013 BAMMY AWARDS

Jesse Hagopian has been nominated by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences for the “Secondary School Teacher of the Year” in the Annual Bammy Awards.

Winners will be announced at a gala red-carpet event tonight, Saturday, September 21st, 2013 beginning at 6:30pm at the Arena Stage at the Mead Center in Washington, D.C. Presented by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences International, the Bammy Award is a cross-discipline award recognizing educators from across the education field.

You can live stream the award ceremony here: http://www.bammyawards.com/index.php/bammy-awaards-live

About the Bammy Awards:

The Bammy Awards will honor the contributions of educators in 28 categories across the field.

Presenters announced today include: Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association; Marybeth Hertz, executive board member of the Edcamp Foundation; Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators; Chris Lehmann, founder and co-chair of Educon; Gail Connelly, executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals; Angela Maiers, founder of Choose2Matter; Yasmina Vinci, executive director for the National Head Start Association; John Merrow, veteran education reporter at PBS; Donna Mazyck, executive director of the National Association of School Nurses; Tom Whitby and Steven Anderson, co-founders of #Edchat; Caroline Hendrie, executive director of the Education Writers Association. William J. Bushaw, executive director, PDK International Family; Rob Lippincott, senior vice president, PBS Learning Media; and The Northeast Foundation for Children.

The awards will be co-hosted by Dr. Mark Ginsberg, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, and Errol St. Clair Smith, Emmy-winning correspondent, broadcaster and executive producer of the Bammy Awards.

This year’s celebration will include a number of special presentations, including lifetime achievement awards to Randi Weingarten and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, special achievement awards to the founders of Edcamp and #Edchat, a special Bammy presentation to educators from Sandy Hook Elementary School, a salute by the BAM 100 celebrating connected educators, Bammy Awards for the best in education technology, and a very special Bammy Award honoring a truly exceptional student.

Modeled on the broad scope of the Oscars, Grammys and Emmys, the Bammy Awards were created to be a cross-discipline honor celebrating the entire education village.

About the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences:

The Academy is comprised of over 212 prominent education leaders, including Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education at Stanford University; Diane Ravitch, former Assistant Secretary of Education; Timothy Shriver, CEO of the Special Olympics; and the executive directors of NAESP, AASA, PTA, NASN, ASBO and NASSP.

CONTACT: Academy of Education Arts and Sciences

Errol St. Clair Smith, 818-539-5971

http://www.bammyawards.org

Teach Trayvon: What’s not in the Common Core & how to close the education gap

Want to close the so-called “achievement gap”?

This gap–better described as the opportunity gap–would quickly narrow if standards were added about analyzing the continuity of the American judicial system in excluding Black jurors and acquitting people who murder African Americans–from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin and beyond.  When you teach students about the major issues affecting their lives, and allow them to use the curriculum to help them solve these problems, you see education come alive for all students.  The fact that you can’t imagine a standard that addresses institutional racism in America  being added to the Common Core State Standards is a clear indication that they are not interested in truly raising the achievement of all.

This video of a speech I gave in the wake of Trayvon’s murder by George Zimmerman could serve as an opening lesson in the unit:

Followed by this lesson from Linda Christensen at Rethinking Schools, The Danger of a Single Story:

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/26_04/26_04_christensen.shtml

Trayvon, I promise you, while Zimmerman was acquitted after murdering you in cold blood, this fight for justice isn’t over!

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