Melanie Bertrand is an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University in Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, and served as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Southern California. Her research employs micro- and macro-level lenses to explore the potential of student voice to challenge systemic racism in education.
(Photo Credit: Deanna Alejandra Dent)
“The claim we found is that students don’t have access to culturally relevant textbooks. I feel that if textbooks will have stories about my culture, I’ll feel more engaged with the class.” — Alma, Latina high school student
Alma made this statement to an engrossed audience at an educational conference in 2011. She and other Students of Color were presenting research findings from a study they implemented on access to educational resources—like textbooks and technology—at their urban high schools. After Alma left the podium, another student spoke about the surveys and interviews the group conducted to arrive at the claim, showing a PowerPoint slide with the following quotes from high school students:
“The only thing the history book mentions about Black culture is slavery.”
“The history I know is about White culture; I don’t know [anything] about my culture!” Read more
Kim Anderson is the author of Culturally Considerate School Counseling: Helping Without Bias (2010), co-author of Creating Culturally Considerate Schools: Educating Without Bias (2012), both published by Corwin Press and a contributor to How to Teach Students Who Don’t Look Like You: Culturally Relevant Teaching Strategies, 2nd Edition (2012) and The Biracial and Multiracial Student Experience: A Journey to Racial Literacy (2008) by Dr. Bonnie M. Davis.
Ms. Anderson presents her eclectic work at numerous local, regional and national events and venues, engaging her audience through compelling narrative, careful research, evocative experiences, and instructive storytelling. She is currently working on a book based upon one of her clinical workshops entitled, Hour by Hour: Wholistic Practice in Clinical Social Work.
On December 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut came under siege. Not unlike the Columbine, Colorado shooters some thirteen years earlier, the only definitive truths we seem to know about Adam Lanza are that he was young, computer knowledgeable, and dressed in dissident fashion as he used automatic weapons to kill innocent and seemingly random children and adults. Like the school assassins who preceded him, Lanza was immediately labeled an outsider, mentally ill, and antisocial. His mother, also dead from bullets allegedly propelled by her own son, likewise was vilified. These are horrible, graphic images and hideous notions with which we are left.
My diverse vocations and avocations (mental health professional, educational consultant, artist, writer, and life-long learner) prompt me to view this event holistically. Our minds, bodies, psyches and spirits have all been assaulted by this historic trauma. I recognize that we are trying to solve this particular problem when, collectively, we cannot think very clearly. Our bodies shudder in empathy for the victims. Our psyches attempt to integrate how we feel and what we know by our fervent attempt to understand. In short, we attempt to make sense of the senseless. Read more
Sikivu Hutchinson, Ph.D. is a senior intergroup specialist for the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission and founder of the Women’s Leadership Project, a high school feminist mentoring program. She is the author of Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles, Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars and the forthcoming Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels.
In April thousands of schools did outreach for Denim Day, a global observance that honors sexual assault survivors. This Denim Day my Women’s Leadership Project (WLP) students from Gardena and Washington Prep High schools in South Los Angeles conducted classroom trainings on gender equity and sexual violence; challenging their peers to critically examine the media, school, and community images that promote sexualized violence against women of color. WLP is a feminist humanist mentoring and advocacy program based at Gardena and Washington Prep, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. Like most South Los Angeles schools these two campuses are predominantly black and Latino. They have high foster care, homeless, and juvenile offender populations and will be among the most deeply impacted campuses if the Los Angeles Unified School District proceeds with a plan to phase out health education requirements.
Lisa Tolentino is a doctoral student pursuing a Media Arts and Sciences PhD through the School of Arts, Media and Engineering (AME) at Arizona State University. She works in the Embodied and Mediated Learning Group, working closely with high school special education teachers, designers, artists and researchers to develop digitally mediated environments to support social interaction, exploration, community and creativity in learning for students with autism.
I believe the key to activating the lives of students with disabilities is not about changing who they are; rather, it is in changing how we listen to them. So let’s begin with a short listening exercise. If you are at our near a kitchen, perform the following steps before reading the blog. If not, feel free to skip ahead.
An Exercise in Listening: 5 steps in 15 minutes.
JoEtta has a passion for equity that has been present all her life. As the Director of the Equity Alliance at ASU, she connects with educational leaders who want to engage change and transformation. With a blend of humor, sensitivity, and professional insight, she has helped hundreds of individuals develop the dispositions necessary to use an equity lens for decision-making related to student achievement. A talented speaker and workshop leader, she has worked with school systems across the United States in addressing issues of equity.
In my work with schools, I have the opportunity to talk with students about their school experiences. They often say that adults in school don’t listen – that they’ve never been asked their opinions before – and that adults in schools have too many other things to worry about besides the thoughts, ideas, or issues that concern kids. These students come from elementary and secondary schools in both traditional and alternative settings. The common message I receive is they don’t feel their ideas are important; and these feelings of anonymity often result in students who disengage from school. Over time, these feelings start to accumulate, and situate the student within the margins of classrooms and schools. Many times these students are labeled “at risk” because they are in danger of failing to achieve at levels similar to their peers or of developing behaviors and attitudes that create barriers to school success; and ultimately failing to graduate.
Kori Hamilton is a writer and editor for the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY). She has a love and passion for children, particularly those typically marginalized. Her desire to improve the experiences that children have in school led her to pursue her doctorate in Education Leadership and Policy Studies at Arizona State University. Her hope is that her work in education has meaning and directly touches the lives of children.
Working as a secondary teacher in South Central Los Angeles brought some of the best times in my life. I gained a perspective from students that dispelled my assumptions about their thoughts and feelings. I remember when I first set foot on the middle school campus, fresh out of college and excited to begin my work in the classroom, I encountered a question that I had not anticipated. At least one student would ask daily for the first week, “Are you our real teacher?” I would answer their question with a question. “Whose name do you see written on your schedule?” “Hamilton”, they would respond. “I am Hamilton. And yes, I am your real teacher.” Read more