For our third and final learning experience, my group covered the assigned reading on pages 249-272 in The New Teacher Book. The reading focused on teachers finding ways to incorporate social justice in their classrooms along with school privatization, school funding, and teachers unions. The first section that we covered was titled “Moving Beyond the Classroom.” A quote from this section stated “We need more resources, better preparation and support, smaller classes, more effective partnerships with the communities we serve, and, especially in struggling communities, a vision of social change that can replace poverty and despair with progress and hope.” This is a great quote that makes you realize just showing up to school and teaching the required curriculum is not enough. There are many social problems prevalent in every classroom and this section illustrates that teachers need to be activists in trying to help fix the problem. The school privatization section talked about how the government gives more money to private schools which hinder the public schools. This is clearly unfair since public schools need and deserve the same amount of financial support for the students’ education. This quote from the section displays how teachers can help to ensure they get what they deserve: “We must work with parents and communities to ensure that public schools are adequately and fairly funded. Affordable housing, healthcare for all, and living wage jobs are necessary so that our students and their families have the quality of life they deserve. As educators we should insist that our unions, the single largest organized voice for working people in this nation, take up social justice issues and make them a reality. It’s up to us to take the next steps.” The next section in the book talked about similar problems but focused on legal challenges. Legal challenges based on school funding are typically categorized as equity suits or adequacy suits. Equity suits are disparities in quality of education and resources between urban and suburban schools and for adequacy, the resources received are not enough to meet the needs or mandated levels of performance. The Why Teacher Unions Matter section also discussed some extremely important information. Teacher Unions make a huge difference in areas such as policy making and assisting individual teachers. Unions protect teachers from unfair layoffs and false accusations. They also offer conferences and workshops for teachers to work together and give a chance for educators to be heard.
The section I presented to class was the last section of the assigned reading titled “New Teachers Energize Their Union” This section focused on a school district with a very diverse student population but yet an administration staff and school board dominated by white men. Jasmine, Jay, and Gabriel were all new teachers advocating for this to change. They realized if they exercised their voices, and had good communication and engagement that they could be powerful together and create change. They wanted a better culture that was more transparent and inclusive. After several attempts and trying different methods they ended up only being able to elect one candidate of color. However, their process of organizing to support the campaigns of school board candidates of color led to deeper connections with the community. They realized that only one person of color being elected does not mean they aren’t powerful. They realized this big of a change takes time and needs sustained collective action.
For the design of the learning experience we split the sections up amongst our group so we each were able to present. We also included a fun game in the middle of the presentation to keep the audience engaged and for them to see how important the fairness of school funding is.
A reference I consulted for the learning experience was the NFL and the “Rooney Rule.” Just like the New Jersey School District in the “New Teachers Energize Their Union” section, the leadership positions in the NFL are dominated by white men. It is a problem that everyone who is familiar with the NFL recognizes and needs to be changed. Art Rooney, who is the Pittsburgh Steelers owner, was an advocate for changing this and was able to implement a rule that requires all teams to interview at least two women and two people of color before making the hiring decision. This is similar to what was discussed in The New Teacher Book in the sense that while it may take time to see real change, any and all social movements help.
Below is a link to my group’s presentation: