Harvard Educational Review
  1. Summer 2009 Issue »

    An Insurrectionary Generation

    Young People, Poverty, Education, and Obama

    Jay Gillen
    The Baltimore Algebra Project is a student-run, student-staffed nonprofit that employs public high schoolers and recent graduates as math study group leaders and as organized advocates for quality education as a constitutional right. In this essay Jay Gillen draws on his experiences as a facilitator of the Algebra Project to argue that only a generation of young people—and particularly young people in poverty—has the potential and the necessary boldness to break the caste system of schooling. In this struggle, they follow their ancestors who “earned” the insurrections required to break the slave and sharecropper systems. How young people in poverty interpret Obama’s election, asserts Gillen, will determine what Obama means for educational justice.

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    Jay Gillen is the Baltimore City Schools’ facilitator for the Baltimore Algebra Project. His teaching focuses on Ella Baker’s question: how do people face a system that does not lend itself to their needs and devise the means to change it? He is currently studying youth employment in knowledge work as a constituent element in the right to education.

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    Summer 2009 Issue


    Editors’ Introduction
    Note to Educators
    Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete
    Jeffrey M. R. Duncan-Andrade
    A Dialogue
    Our Selves, Our Students, and Obama
    Jennifer McLaughlin and Kim Kelly
    President Obama and Education
    The Possibility for Dramatic Improvements in Teaching and Learning
    Linda Darling-Hammond
    Promise and Peril
    Charter Schools, Urban School Reform, and the Obama Administration
    Charles Payne and Tim Knowles
    Reclaiming Our Freedom to Teach
    Education Reform in the Obama Era
    Megan Behrent
    Obama’s Dilemma
    Postpartisan Politics and the Crisis of American Education
    Henry A. Giroux
    Second-Class Integration
    A Historical Perspective for a Contemporary Agenda
    Vanessa Siddle Walker
    Equity and Empathy
    Toward Racial and Educational Achievement in the Obama Era
    Prudence L. Carter
    It Wasn’t Easy to Get Here
    Kathleen Mayse
    Obama, Where Art Thou?
    Hoping for Change in U.S. Education Policy
    Wayne Au
    Praise Song for Teachers
    A Call to Action
    Ariane White
    Educating Latino Immigrant Students in the Twenty-First Century
    Principles for the Obama Administration
    Carola Suárez-Orozco and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco
    Education for Everyday People
    Obstacles and Opportunities Facing the Obama Administration
    Gloria Ladson-Billings
    An Insurrectionary Generation
    Young People, Poverty, Education, and Obama
    Jay Gillen
    An Earned Insurgency
    Quality Education as a Constitutional Right
    Robert P. Moses
    Barack Obama and the Fight for Public Education
    William Ayers
    Coda: The Slow Fuse of Change
    Obama, the Schools, Imagination, and Convergence
    Maxine Greene
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