A place for educators to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools
I once had an elementary school teacher who tried a multicultural approach to the holiday season. She told my class about Hanukkah, which she described as being a kind of “Jewish Christmas.” This fascinated us until we discovered that the gift-giving aspect of Hanukkah was spread out over several days. As fans of Santa Claus, we couldn’t help thinking that Jewish kids must have it tough.
As a kid, I remember listening wide-eyed to my grandmother tell me about the “Dummy Room.” The Dummy Room was one of her first assignments as a young teacher in small-town Iowa in the 1930s. Like other Dummy Rooms across the country, it was the dumping ground for the school district’s hard cases.
Years ago, I was inspired by Douglas Brinkley’s The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey. In it, Brinkley described how he taught history to college students. He took them to historical sites and had them speak with eyewitnesses. Wanting this, but not knowing how to pay for it, I looked inward. I realized that our high school campus was surrounded by history, just like every other place.
There’s bullying, and then there’s what’s going on at South Philadelphia High School.
This week, about 50 Asian students at South Philly have opted to stay away from classes. They launched their boycott after a series of fights last week between Asian and black students. The violence was so bad that seven of those involved required medical attention for cuts and bruises. Ten of the students involved in the fights, both blacks and Asians, were suspended or sent to alternative schools.
November 19, 2009, was “Kick a Jew Day” at Naples (Fla.) Middle School. School officials found out about the event only after a child informed an administrator that she had been assaulted. Despite its name, not all of the teenagers attacked that day were Jewish. But ten students were subsequently suspended for their involvement.
It started as an email: “I’m not sure that I’m going to be able to maintain teaching… .”
Then another: “Does teaching ever get any easier?”
A third told me, “We’re on our fourth principal in three years… .”
I have a confession to make. I’m an “intellectual stalker.” Let me explain. In her recent book “White Heat,” author Brenda Wineapple quotes Emily Dickinson in a letter addressed to Thomas Wentworth Higginson. “Are you too occupied to tell me if my verse is alive?” Dickinson asked. The poet was coyly asking Higginson for his literary advice. She wanted him to acknowledge whether or not she had anything to offer. At the time, Higginson was the more famous writer.
A couple of years ago, my wife casually mentioned that our son’s school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, would be introducing some single-sex classes. I was surprised because I thought any type of segregation was illegal. But after a little research, I found that a sexual revolution has been brewing in our public schools.