Voices in Education

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Designing Educational Gateways to a New Democracy Through Speculative Civic Literacies As the coronavirus pandemic has upended lives and societal structures around the world, the thoughts of many have begun turning toward what life could (and should) look like on the other side of this crisis. In a widely circulated article, “The Pandemic is a Portal,” author Arundhati Roy warned against the yearning for a return to a “normal” characterized by social inequity and environmental degradation. Instead, Roy suggests that the virus has opened a “gateway between one world and the next,” giving humanity the opportunity to imagine alternative forms of shared existence.
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Student Voices Needed in COVID-19 Crisis The voices of students of color from low-income communities are needed now more than ever as we address the crisis precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Young people are raising issues that have been largely ignored, like the mental health crisis facing students isolated at home. They are also organizing to support each other when systems fail and preparing to take advantage of opportunities the crisis might open up for more radical change.
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School Buildings – The Last Domino: It’s Time for Learning Spaces to Catch Up In the debate about reopening schools, everyone seems to agree about one thing: bringing children back to their physical school setting is important. A new study published by MIT’s Teaching Systems Lab titled Imagining September notes, “One of the most important insights from school closures is the incredible importance of physical school buildings to the work of schools.” The study goes on to quote a district leader who said, “building time will be ‘gold.’”
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Engaging Students in Digital Learning With the almost universal transition to digital and remote learning in response to COVID-19, parents, caregivers, and teachers are all asking the same question: “How can I engage my students in learning on virtual platforms?” As decades of research into the digital divide have illustrated, and COVID-19 has laid bare, there are very real structural barriers affecting how students engage in digital learning. Schools, districts, and states should marshal intensive efforts to bring about equitable access to the tools for digital learning—devices, high speed internet, and programs—and for high-quality digital instruction.
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Being Safe in School: Lessons Learned Educators around the world generally appreciate that feeling and being safe in K12 schools is one of the essential foundations for learning and healthy development. It is only within the last forty years and, in some countries, only within the last several years that educators have recognized that the social and emotional aspects of feeling safe in school are as important as being physically safe. In fact, for a wide range of reasons, too many children and educators in the US and around the world do not feel safe at school. Although we tend to focus on the dangers of school shootings and bullying, there is a much wider spectrum of experiences that undermines K–12 students’ feelings and perceptions of safety at school. This spectrum ranges from misunderstandings, conflict, and microaggressions, to intentional verbal and/or cyber acts of being mean, cruel, and demeaning, to sexual harassment, sexual violence, and even more severe forms of violence, including shootings, homicide, and suicide.
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Studying Change Over Time: How Do We Make Shifts in Researcher Positionality Transparent? As researchers, we are instruments of our research. Who we are shapes how we frame the questions we ask, design our studies, build research relationships, and analyze our data.
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Mothering Special Needs Children in Contemporary China Across the globe, children with special needs are often depicted as tragic, welfare dependent, and undesirable. In China’s patrilineal context, handicap is widely believed to originate from the mother’s side of the ancestry, and birthing a disabled child is considered bad karma, casting a shadow over the mother’s moral and social standing.
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“I Feel Sad, and I Don’t Know Why”: Remembering to Be There for Young People As Rich and Kenny reflect on the COVID-19 crisis and the complex challenges and needs of young people, we believe it is urgent for educators, community members, and families to listen to and learn from young people and their socio-emotional needs and —perhaps more importantly—to be there for them.
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The Politics of Creating Diverse Schools Binford Middle School, a regal, grey-stone building, taking up a full city block, stands in the middle of Richmond, Virginia’s historic Fan neighborhood. This past fall, I found myself seated uncomfortably in one of the school’s built-in wooden auditorium seats for the second time in under a year—with twenty-five years between the more recent occasions and the last.
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“It’s Our Right...”: The Opportunities Gained by Helping Students of Color Practice Resisting Racism In carrying out the research for our book, Schooling for Critical Consciousness, we spent hundreds of days over four years observing the programming and practices of six public high schools explicitly committed to fostering their students’ ability to analyze, navigate, and challenge racism. One of the great pleasures of conducting this research was to observe powerful practices that other schools can surely learn from. But there are also important lessons from the ways in which these high schools sometimes inhibited their students’ attempts to actualize their learning about race and racism within the school community.
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