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Books: The Agony Of Anxious College-Educated Brooklyn Parents


Having had the chance to read an early copy of Lucinda Rosenfeld's new book, CLASS, last weekend, I wanted to be sure to recommend it to you as quickly as possible -- even though you may not be able to get a hold of a copy for a little while longer and despite the fact that I hope to interview Rosenfeld about her novel in the next few days.

Without giving too much away, the novel tells the story of a college-educated white family in Brooklyn whose condo is zoned for a local school whose demographics and test scores have not kept up with the gentrification of the surrounding neighborhood. 

[This happens all the time when neighborhoods gentrify, and is so predictable (and often upsetting to many of those involved) that I long ago proposed that it would be smart to change federal education funding to ease the pain for these schools whose poverty rates are plummeting (and also that there should be someone in charge of school gentrification in districts like Chicago, DC, and NYC).]

Of course, there's another school a few blocks over that's already flipped, demographically and otherwise, and is an appealing option for parents who are deeply concerned (or wildly over-anxious) about their offspring's academic and life success.

There's just one catch: the only families that are supposed to send their children to that school are those who live nearby (or used to) or can find some other way of wheedling their way in.

In telling this ripped-from-the-headlines tale, Rosenfeld does a great job detailing the families and feelings that accompany Brooklyn gentrifiers, and the tradeoffs involved in making individual versus collective decisions. There are also some fantastic misunderstandings, hilarious sendups (of Success Academy, among other things), and interesting reflections on what it's like to be white, guilty, anxious, and altruistic in alternating moments. 

This is not a deep policy book, or even always entirely serious in terms of how it addresses education issues. But the issues it raises are serious underneath the satire, and the dynamics among parents, teachers, and children seem fairly realistic. Think of it as the guilty pleasure version of Nikole Hannah-Jones' NYT Sunday Magazine piece about how she chose a school for her child, or a schools-focused satire along the lines of The Corrections.

At times, I found myself wishing that Rosenfeld had taken the satire even further, out to the ridiculous edges where Gary Shteyngart and others go, with crossing guards checking children's home addresses as they wave them across the street, but I still found CLASS smart, enjoyable, and easy to recommend for a certain kind of schools-obsessed reader.  Maybe you know someone? 

Afternoon Video: Criminalization, Segregation, & Race

This Netflix documentary "Thirteenth" isn't specifically focused on education, and doesn't address residential segregation nearly as much as it should (another kind of imprisonment, right?), but is still important and worth watching.

Morning Video: MA Charter School Referendum Takes The Spotlight

Or, watch Lin-Manuel Miranda on Saturday Night Live as the most well-intended but awful substitute teacher ever.

TV: The School From "Stranger Things"

Is this really the school from Stranger Things? I don't know. But I'm sure one of you does. Apparently the series was shot in Atlanta. Note that the teachers in the series (so far as I've seen) are portrayed as helpful and encouraging. At least the science teacher. 

Books: White Parents, Black School

51ABf0za3qLIt's been a relatively slow Fall season for education books, despite Nicholson Baker's Substitute and Matthew Desmond's Evicted (both of which I recommend).

However, as you may recall having learned earlier this year, New York City writer Lucinda Rosenfeld has a new book coming out in January, titled CLASS, about a hot topic in education right now: white parents choosing neighborhood schools. 

As summarized in Kirkus Reviews, the book follows the lives of Karen Kipple and her husband, Matt, both career activists in the nonprofit sector, who "have righteously enrolled their daughter in their zoned public elementary school, where “the white population…hovered around 20 percent.”

Things get awkward pretty quickly: "A scuffle on the playground between a Jayyden and a Maeve further divides the parents along racial lines." A parent tries to fake an address so that she can send her child to a whiter school.

"From its James Baldwin epigraph—“White people cannot, in the generality, be taken as models of how to live”—to the final pages, in which Karen decides not to inquire about the fate of young Jayyden to avoid appearing “like one of those well-meaning, college-educated white liberals who fetishize the deprivations of the underclass,” this book takes dead aim and doesn’t miss."

News of the book's publication first appeared at a panel Rosenfeld did with Nikole Hannah-Jones and WNYC's Rebecca Carroll discussing voluntary integration efforts on the Upper West Side. The book comes out officially in January.

Related posts:

Nicholson Baker's "Substitute"

How Repeated Evictions Impact Students' Lives

'Confessions Of A Headmaster'

An Anthropological Look At School Fundraising

Two Education Books Make The List

Teaching At A Manhattan Prep School While Black, Gay, & Southern

An Anthropological Look At School Fundraising

New Yorker Writer's Year Embedded In High School English

Morning Video: PSA Promoting Girls & STEM

It's a Verizon ad -- sorry! -- but the message is pretty strong. "Encourage her love of science and technology, and inspire her to change the world."

TV: "Transparent" Producers Were Bullied In High School

image from static01.nyt.com
Transparent is back -- horrifying and human as ever. And with it, discussion of the lives of trans people in America.

“It was only when I started working at the high school that I saw she took a lot of crap,” said one parent. 

"As the only queer kid at his public middle school and later at the local Quaker school, he says, he was treated poorly by both students and teachers."

From the NYT's How Two Producers of ‘Transparent’ Made Their Own Trans Lives More Visible

TV: Always Good When Shows Open With A Classroom Scene

The new HBO series "Insecure" (produced by Comedy Central's Larry Wilmore, among others) opens with the protagonist presenting her nonprofit program ("We Got You All") getting a gentle hazing from a class of middle(?) school students.

One of the opening voiceover lines: "My boss founded a nonprofit to help kids in the hood. But she didn't hire anyone from the hood."

Events: Here's Everybody's Future School Trip Destination

Count yourself among the very lucky ones if you were at the opening of the African-American History Museum last weekend. It's going to be a place of families and school field trips for decades to come.

#EDgif Of The Day: A Hippie Boomer Substitute Teacher's Views On Education

A substitute teacher grimaces as students ignore him.

Sara Mosle's review of Nicholson Baker's new book is very good, but first you need to check out the #edGIF that accompanies it. (Going Undercover as a Substitute Teacher)

People: McKesson, Packnett, Goldrick-Rab, O'Leary, & Desmond

This year's POLITICO 50 includes almost a half-dozen education-related influencers, including Sara Goldrick-Rab, Deray McKesson, Brittany Packnett, Matthew Desmond, and Ann 'Oleary. Read all about them. Desmond is the person who wrote the book about the lives of poor black and white residents of Milwaukee, who are regularly forced to move from one expensive apartment to another. 

#EDgif Of The Day: #BackToSchool

Pictures: A Momentary Act Of Kindness In The Cafeteria

This picture is the centerpiece of a NYT article (Photo of F.S.U. Football Star Sitting With Boy Eating Alone at School Charms Internet) about an FSU athlete pictured having lunch with a 6th grader who happens to be autistic. 

Afternoon Video: Now-Cancelled Comedy Show Took On Segregation

Let's be honest. Larry Wilmore wasn't as interested in education as Colbert, Stewart, Oliver, or even Key and Peele. But The Nightly Show did include a few school-related segments worth remembering, via EdWeek. And its larger significance -- focusing on communities of color and depictions of race in the media -- shouldn't be underestimated. 


#EDgif Of The Day: Excited 4th Grader Already Thinking About What Comes Next

Morning Video: What A Welcoming School Looks Like

Via Larry Ferlazzo: I Wonder How Many Students Experience School As It’s Illustrated In This Video?. The video was apparently produced by the Rollins Center for Language & Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School.


#EDgif Of The Day: When The Teacher Doesn't Bail Out The Guest Speaker

In the opening scene of Sunday night's episode of "The Night Of," hapless criminal defense lawyer John Stone (John Turturro) visits a high school classroom to explain what he does.

But the kids aren't interested or sympathetic, and might turn on him any second now. So Turturro's character turns to see if the teacher will help him out.

She gives him a blank look and says, "No, this is great."



TV: "This Is Going Great."

It's always exciting or at least interesting when schools are part of popular culture, right?

Last night's episode of "The Night Of," an HBO miniseries, opens with lawyer John Stone (played by John Turturro) trying to explain to a group of NYC high school students what a criminal defense lawyer does.

As with many things Stone attempts, the lesson isn't going very well. But when he turns to try and get some help from the classroom teacher, she responds indifferently (or obliviously) that things are going great. 

Trending: Hipster School Supplies

For some reason, #HipsterSchoolSupplies is trending on Twitter today. Things must be slow. Most of the items relate to college kids I'm not sure if there are hipster high school or elementary students, or even if hipster is still a thing. But a few of them, like this vintage notebook, seem appropriate to all levels of hipster students.

Site News: Gone Fishing -- See You Monday

#TBT 2015: Teacher Draft Day (Remember?)

From last summer: "THIS JUST IN: Star English teacher Ruby Ruhf says goodbye to Ohio and signs with NY P.S. 431. She'll land $80 mil from the six-year deal, along with a possible additional $40 mil based on test scores."

Movies: School Choice At The Heart Of "Barbershop: The Next Cut"

Hidden inside this summer's comedy about the South Side of Chicago is a story about whether parents should leave their son in a school in which he might be groomed as a gang member or take him out to a safer option.

In one scene in particular, the school principal tells the parents (including the father played by Ice Cube) that their son seems to be involved in gangs, while at the same time encouraging the parents to keep him at the school:

Principal: Mr. Palmer, now hold up. Hold up. Now, that's not what I was suggesting. We want Jalen to be here. The school needs him here.

Ice Cube: For what? Seem like y'all losing him.

Principal:  Mr. Palmer, I understand...

Ice Cube: I'm supposed to sit here and we're going to sacrifice our only son to this system?

Principal: There's gotta be something we can do to work together on this.

Ice Cube: Seems like the problem is bigger than you and me.

There's also a montage featuring Urban Prep, the all-boys charter school known for sending all of its high school seniors to college.

Afternoon Video: First Lady Sings & Snapchats To Promote "Let Girls Learn"

"Meant to promote the first lady’s Let Girls Learn initiative, 'This Is For My Girls' grabbed headlines when it was first released but hasn’t quite stuck in the public consciousness since then."

#EDgif Of The Day: Middle Schoolers Print New Leg For Cute Penguin

TV: On HBO's New Show, 2 Angry White Vice Principals Try To Unseat A Competent Black Principal

image from pbs.twimg.com
Lots of folks seem to have tuned into the premier episode of Vice Principals last weekend, at least according to the number of writeups I've come across in the last few days.

Over at Vox, the show is described as "a vicious free-for-all" focused on helping the rest of us understand why white guys are well, so angry. They're also tired, and bored, and sexist/racist: "If you’re cool watching two slacker white dudes fight to take down a completely competent black woman, then you’ll love Vice Principals."

According to EdWeek's Mark Walsh, the show is part of the "the coarse-ification of the Hollywood image of educators in recent years." He predicts educators won't like Vice Principals but admits that the show is "pretty funny most of the time, exposing some of the quirks of education bureaucracy and high school culture in our country."

The New Republic tells us the show is about love and toxic masculinity, though it credits the series for avoiding gay panic humor.

Want more? You can find more reviews rounded up at IndieWire.


Quotes: Before You Let Your School Go Pokemon Crazy ...

Quotes2The whole "Pokemon Go will revolutionize education" claims have made me incredibly angry, even though it's a claim that's made about every single new product that ed-tech's early adopters find exciting (and clickbait-worthy)... All this matters for Pokemon Go; all this matters for ed-tech....“Gotta catch ’em all” may be the perfect slogan for consumer capitalism; but it’s hardly a mantra I’m comfortable chanting to push for education transformation. 

- Audrey Watters in  Hack Education Weekly Newsletter (HEWN) 


Morning Video: HBO's New Series, "Vice Principals"

Here's the teaser trailer for the new HBO series, "Vice Principals," which features two highly flawed human beings attempting to replace a retiring principal played by Bill Murray.

Afternoon Video: "White Boy Privilege" (From An Atlanta 8th Grader)

"In a video being widely circulated on Twitter on Monday morning, Royce Mann, an eighth grade student from Atlanta, is shown performing a slam poem titled “White Boy Privilege.” Across the social network, the video is being celebrated as the definition of responsible self-analysis by a white American at a time when racial tensions seem to be ever-increasing." via Fusion (Royce Mann’s white privilege poem goes viral)

People: St. Paul Magnet School Parents Mourn Philando Castile

This image from the memorial service for Philando Castile has been shared thousands of times in the past day or so.

#BlackLivesMatter: White Minnesota Cop Kills Black School Worker

image from img.washingtonpost.comAccording to available reports, the latest highly-publicized death of a black man by a white police officer involves a Twin Cities school cafeteria worker named Philando Castile:

"One woman at the scene said Castile was a cook and kitchen supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul. The St. Paul elementary school’s website lists Castile as the cafeteria supervisor." (Protesters target Governor’s Residence after fatal police shooting).

"Clarence Castile, Philando’s uncle, said his nephew had worked in the J.J. Hill school cafeteria for 12 to 15 years, “cooking for the little kids.” He said his nephew was “a good kid” who grew up in St. Paul and also lived in Minneapolis for a time." (Aftermath of fatal Falcon Heights officer-involved shooting on video).

The incident took place away from school, during a traffic stop. Some of it was broadcast on Facebook

Other highly-publicized videos that have involved students or schools include a white South Carolina school police officer grabbing an African-American student by the neck last fall, and an officer manhandling a black teenage girl in McKinney Texas. 



Pop Culture: SF Theater Troupe Mimes School Reform Critique

Check out the promo above, or read an SF Gate review (mixed) here. Via Caroline Grannan.

Brexit: Fears About Immigrant Students Part Of British Exit Vote

One of the cluster of concerns about immigrants that came up during the lead up to the Brexit vote was school overcrowding. Sounds familiar, right?

People: Actor/Activist Jesse Williams, Son Of Teachers & Former Teacher

Sunday night's stirring BET speech put Jesse Williams' activism on the front burner, but this obviously wasn't the start of anything for him.

Vox has a nice roundup of issues and moments he's spoken out. The Times has a transcript of the speech. He's a board member of the Advancement Project, which bills itself as a "next generation national civil rights organization."

But that's not all. He's the son of educators, was a teacher himself. He grew up in Chicago and worked at a Philadelphia charter school after graduating from Temple, according to his biography. Wikipedia says he taught for six years

“I loved being a teacher. It’s the best thing I have ever done. My favorite job ever. I miss it every day,” says Williams in The Guardian (Jesse Williams: I am not going to participate in celebrity culture.)

I haven't been able to find out which schools he taught at, or which schools he attended. 

White People: Wake Up, For Sure -- But Think Twice Before Calling Yourself "Woke"

There's a small but growing group of white education folks out there who are identifying themselves as "woke," by which they mean they are aware of structural inequalities and racism (and presumably working against these things).

But I'm not sure that employing the term is a good thing for white folks to do, much as they might be tempted. And I'm especially unsure that it's a good thing for white men to do, given all the privileges and blind spots that come along with being white and male. 

The question of being white and woke came up recently on Twitter, thanks to Jonas Chartock expression discomfort with the spread of the term: 

It's also been a topic of debate since Justin Timberlake got slammed for his well-intended but clueless response to Jesse Williams' amazing BET speech Sunday night (while you were probably watching Game Of Thrones and I was watching soccer).

The reason, in simple terms, that white folks probably shouldn't use the term is that using "woke" seems like blatant appropriation of a term that people of color in the #BlackLivesMatter movement are using, which is in itself a form of racism. 

How can you be a "woke" white person if using the term suggests that you aren't?

So what's a good alternative if you're a white person who thinks s/he "gets it"? There are a few out there to consider, including ally, aspiring ally, and anti-racist. I like the last term the most because it's the most explicit.

If the numbers of white people who are concerned and active about racism are going to grow, then they will likely need an identifier (and maybe even an affinity group) of their own.

The work matters more than the identifier, of course, but I hope it's not "woke."

Related reading: Earning the ‘Woke’ Badge (Amanda Hess in the NYT), Daily Dot (Black Twitter lists the woke white people invited to their cookout), The Cut (Macklemore Is All of My Woke Ex-Boyfriends)



Books: Forthcoming Novel Highlights White Parents & Diverse Schools


Lucinda Rosenfeld's new novel, Class, is scheduled to come out in a few months, but we're already starting to hear about it this summer.

According to the Amazon blurb, the book focuses on "idealistic forty-something Karen Kipple" who sends her kid to an integrated Brooklyn school.

"But when a troubled student from a nearby housing project begins bullying children in Ruby's class, the distant social and economic issues Karen has always claimed to care about so passionately feel uncomfortably close to home."

Sounds interesting -- if also perhaps stereotypical. But perhaps that's the point. Anyway, can't wait to read it. 

Meantime, Rosenfeld is on a panel tonight at 7 with Nikole Hannah-Jones and Rebecca Carroll.

Crossed fingers they'll talk about the UWS parents who are trying to block school integration, along with the Brooklyn situation.

You can watch the livestream here.

Morning Video: Hot Actor From Gray's Anatomy Wakes The Crowd At BET

In case you missed it Sunday night, here's an AJ+ video clip from Jesse Williams' impassioned speech honoring organizers, students, activists at the BET Awards show.

"We’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil."

Read the whole thing here.

Quotes: UWS Parents Tout Diversity & Defend Resistance To Integration At The Same Time

Quotes2There aren't a lot of African Americans who live on the Upper West Side...We were sad to learn that, you know? I would like more diversity, but we chose to move to this place because we put the quality of the education at a higher value.

-- An unnamed UWS parent in this Gothamist piece (UWS Parents Fight Proposal To Relocate School)

#EDgif Of The Day: #TeachersBeLike

#TeachersBeLike is trending today. Click the Vine to hear the song playing while the teacher shows her stuff.

Photos: A Different Kind Of Yearbook

Quotes: Should We Ban The "Other" Box, Too?

Quotes2Roughly 75 percent of colleges and universities collect high school discipline information and almost 90 percent of those use the information in admission decisions. The Common Application, used by 600 colleges and universities, specifically asks applicants if they have “ever been found responsible for a disciplinary violation” at school. School discipline records are not automatically expunged and, according to the study, 50 percent of high schools provide colleges with these records.
--  Youth Defender Clinic's Kate Weisburd in The Marshall Project (Ban the Other Box)

Afternoon Listen: Recent Philly HS Grad Was Youngest Orlando Victim

The youngest victim in Orlando, Akyra Monet Murray, had just graduated from high school in Philadelphia. NPR interviewed her family and friends about what happened to her that night. Warning -- explicit and heartbreaking.

Afternoon Video: Watch EduHam Kids Perform

Still buzzing over the Sunday Tony awards show? Me, too. Check out the show performances if you missed any here, or click the link above and watch some of the NYC high school kids who've been attending the show and performing for Lin Manuel-Miranda as part of what Scholastic's Wayne D'Orio dubbed "Hamilton 101." It's pretty cool to watch them. The video is about a half-hour long.

Books: Teaching At A Manhattan Prep School While Black, Gay, & Southern

A long novel about mid-1970s New York City, this book features a key subplot about a Southern-born college graduate brought north to teach at an elite and nearly all-white private girls' school in Manhattan.

That doesn't make it an education book, and at nearly 1,000 pages it's not exactly a quick read, but if you're an educationista looking for an excuse to read about the birth of punk, the near-bankruptcy of NYC, and proto-terrorism, it's all you need :-)

What's on *your* summer reading list, and what's its slender connection to education?

Related posts: Best Of 2015: Two Education Books Make The ListBest Titles To Help White Teachers, Parents, Reporters Understand RaceAn Anthropological Look At School FundraisingNew Yorker Writer's Year Embedded In High School English'Confessions Of A Headmaster'.

Update: How They're Teaching "Hamilton"

image from blogs.scholastic.com
You know about the Broadway hit, and maybe even know that high school kids are seeing the show and performing for the cast. But what's the backstory, and how's the curriculum put together?

Check out Scholastic Administrator editor Wayne D'Orio's new piece about how Hamilton teamed with two nonprofits to immerse high school students in American history'—and challenge them to create their own performances. 

"Thirteen teams of 11th graders from around New York City are waiting anxiously in the wings to perform their own two-minute pieces on events or people from the birth of our country. “Welcome to the best day of the year for us here at the Richard Rodgers: EduHam,” says an enthusiastic Miranda as he looks out on a theater packed entirely with high school students. After the student performances, the high schoolers will see Hamilton, culminating their immersion in the life and times of the “10-dollar founding father without a father.”


#EDgif Of The Day: Metal Detectors & Hapless Teachers (On TV)

"I guess the worst part is watching the teachers wonder every day how their lives went so wrong." #CasualOnHulu #edgifs

Quotes: It Takes More Than Demographics To Integrate A School


Quotes2When you have people coming from all different neighborhoods to come to school together, they have no reason or way to get to know each other unless you sort of rip the top off the school and say the school is going to be the community.

- Community Roots Charter School Co-Founder Allison Keil in WNYC (How One Brooklyn Charter School Integrates With Intention)

Morning Video: How Louisville HS Is Addressing Transgender Students


"Special correspondent Yasmeen Qureshi of Education Week has the story. It’s part of our weekly education series, Making the Grade."

School Life: Banksy's School Mural Project

Schoolkids suggest naming a building after Banksy, and the mysterious artist reacted with a bit of controversial artwork. See more including video of kids' reactions here.

Morning Video: Muhammed Ali In The Classroom

Muhammad Ali Surprising Little Kids is the... by DailyPolitics

#EDgif Of The Day: Cold Game At The National Spelling Bee

We like to think of the spelling bee as a lovely example of students memorizing crazy words and smiling, but as this Vine from last week "Cold Game At The Spelling Bee" shows, sometimes the real world's not such a fairy tale. #edgifs



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.