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Trust Gaps, Civic Agency, and Structural Racism in Schools

Beyond the Syllabus posts offer a round-up of resources that are “practice-adjacent,” as Katherine often says. We offer recs for podcasts, fiction and non, and TED talks that offer delightful – if surprising – ways to rethink or enrich discussion practice.

Student Voice “The Trust Gap: How Ignorance Fuels Inequity in Our Schools” by Catherine Liu. Liu, a high school student from Sioux Falls, shares with Student Voice her own experience of and recommendations for facing racial inequality within schools. As an Asian student in a predominantly white community, Liu describes what she sees as the inaction of teachers in the face of microaggressions and discrimination at her school. With courage, clarity, and an adolescent voice, she suggests practical steps that schools and teachers can implement to shift the experiences of their students. We love Liu’s article for its clear answer to the question many teachers struggle with most: where, when, and how should we step in when we notice something’s “off” with our students’ understanding of race in America? Liu’s article issues a critical challenge to teachers to learn and understand contextual and historical background that will enable them to support and include all of their students, not just some.

Webinar Working for Justice, Equity and Civic Agency in our Schools: A Conversation with Clint Smith. A webinar by facing history, recorded on June 3, connects teachers with Dr. Clint Smith, poet and scholar of Education, civic engagement, and mass incarceration. Smith weaves shifts in and out of his own poetry and experience as he shares tactics for moving schools toward social justice. We love the casual tone of Smith’s teaching, which allows him to triangulate between scholarly research and everyday teaching practice. Expect to leave with a stronger understanding of the interaction between the daily practices of education and structural racism in schools.

Podcast Dismantling Racism in Education with Sonja Cherry-Paul, Sara Ahmed, and Cornelius Minor. This 2017 Heinemann Fellows podcast draws together three prominent experts on race in America to present a clear and effective introduction to racism in education. Though the Heinemann program importantly updates the podcast to a 2020 version — shifting the message of the podcast toward more overt antiracist action — the podcast itself provides an easy-to-follow, entertaining presentation of what, basically, activists and education leaders mean when they say that institutional racism is part of American schools. We recommend this podcast episode for any educator, and perhaps specifically white educator, who is new to this concept or skeptical about it.

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