Sunday, January 8, 2012

Teachers Fight Back with Courage, Solidarity and Organizing

In this weeks show, we bring you interviews with four activists educators who are working within their communities and unions, local and national, to actively speak back to and resist the neoliberal structures and paradigms being imposed on us. Their stories remind us of the necessity and power of organizing and of finding courage in solidarity.

The assault on public education is multi-faceted and strategic. Here on Education Radio we have explored the ways that politicians, corporations and individual financiers manipulate the discourse, bully educators, intensify the disempowerment of low-income communities, and purchase access with the goals of privatizing education and feeding their profits from the public trough. The forces of neoliberalism, which aim to privatize and commodify every aspect of our lives, are powerful and organized.  For those of us who see education as a place for the building of a democratic and just society, for transformation and human freedom, understanding the magnitude of the struggle can be overwhelming. But there are numerous spaces of resistance and groups coming together to speak back to the dominant discourse and claim a new way of knowing ourselves as teachers, educators, union members, students, parents and community members.

We begin by speaking with Shaun Johnson, assistant professor of education at Towson University, blogger at The Chalk Face, and organizer of Opt Out of the State Test, a grassroots organization that encourages and supports parents and teachers to refuse to participate in standardized testing.

Karen Lewis
We then speak with Karen Lewis, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union and former classroom teacher, about how she and other Chicago Public School teachers formed the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) to take over union leadership to ensure that the Chicago Teachers Union represented the best interest of teachers, students and low income communities in the fight against corporate education reform.

Yvette Felarca
We also talk with Yvette Felarca, an English and history teacher at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkley, CA. She also a founding member and organizer with BAMN - Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary. We talk with Yvette about her activism within teaching as well as with BAMN.

Simone Harris
We finish by going to Santa Rosa California to speak with Simone Harris, high school English teacher, union organizer and blogger at about her union’s decision to not only endorse but to plan an action with Occupy Santa Rosa. Simone’s activism reminds us that our struggles as educators are shared struggles, against the same forces and for the same hopes, as those of our students, the poor, working people, and the planet.

You can download mp3's of this program here:
Program 16: Audioport (podcast)
Program 16: Internet Archive

Friday, December 23, 2011

Looking Back with Williams, Kozol, Fine, Meiners and Ayers

Patricia Williams
On this week's program we take a step back to reflect on the first six months of Education Radio. During this time, we at Education Radio have had the opportunity to talk with a wide-variety of educators, students, parents and scholars who are engaged in the important work of resisting current neoliberal education reform efforts by actively working to disrupt the dominant narrative of education reform and fighting to create truly accessible and justice-based public schools and classrooms. It has been an inspiring and moving journey thus far. So, in this show we take some time to revisit a selection of the many voices and stories that we have shared thus far.

Featuring Patricia Williams, Jonathan Kozol, Michelle Fine, Erica Meiners, and Bill Ayers

Jonathan Kozol
You can download mp3's of this program here:
Tim Scott with Erica Meiners
Program 15: Audioport (podcast)
Program 15: Internet Archive

Deborah Polin with Bill Ayers

Friday, December 16, 2011

Stand for Children or Stand for Profit?

On this week’s show we take a look at Stand for Children, an organization that defines its mission as one of grassroots advocacy for public education. According to a recent Rethinking Schools article by Ken Libby and Adam Sanchez: 

“Stand for Children was founded in the late 1990s as a way to advocate for the welfare of children. It grew out of a 1996 march by more than 250,000 people in Washington, D.C. The aim of the march was to highlight child poverty at a time when Congress and the Clinton administration were preparing to “end welfare as we know it.” Jonah Edelman, son of children’s and civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman, co-founded the group and continues to serve as CEO. Stand’s first chapter was in Oregon, but the group now operates in eight additional states: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.”

Stand for Children’s claim, that they are a grassroots organization that stands for access to quality education for all students, is appealing to many parents and educators. A closer inspection, however, reveals a very different agenda, one that is driven by vast amounts of corporate money and dangerous, ideology-driven notions of education reform. In this program we take a close look at Stand for Children and their controversial activities.
David Love

We hear stories from two Massachusetts school committee members who were former Stand members, but who left when they saw a significant shift in Stand’s approach: Roger Garberg (Gloucester) and Tracy O’Connell Novick (Worcester). We hear from the president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Paul Toner, on a controversial ballot initiative that Stand is pushing in the state. We also share a clip of Jonah Edelman, Stand co-founder and CEO, candidly speaking at the Aspen Institute about Stand’s true agenda to destroy the power of teachers unions. Then, we talked with the president of the Chicago Teachers Union, Karen Lewis, about her reaction to this clip and to Stand for Children.

Karen Lewis
Finally, we feature Deborah Polin and Tim Scott's interview with David Love, former Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and current Executive Director of Witness to Innocence, an organization that works with death row exonerees, about the larger social justice implications of Stand for Children’s activities. David is also the Executive Editor of The Black Commentator.   

We'd like to note that Education Radio contacted Stand leadership in Massachusetts to request an interview. Stand is staffed by many people who consider themselves education activists, and we were genuinely interested in their take on what we were finding out about the organization. However, after initially being receptive to our request and scheduling an interview, they then presented some conditions and let us know that one Stand staff member would be speaking with us while another would be on the phone for support, and could stop the interview at any point. We agreed to these conditions, only to have them pull out a few hours before the interview was to take place. We can only surmise this is due to the fact that it would have been a difficult, and controversial, conversation. 

Tracy O'Connell Novick
You can download mp3s of this program here:
Stand for Children or Stand for Profit? on Audioport (podcast)
Stand for Children or Stand for Profit? on Internet Archive

For more information about what you hear on today’s program, please see the following links:
Transcription of Jonah Edelman’s remarks at The Aspen Institute
Stand for Children, A Hometown Perspective on it’s Evolution by Susan Barrett