Rethinking Red Ribbon Week

Thousands of elementary, middle, and high schools across the nation are gearing up to celebrate Red Ribbon Week with a classroom door decorating and photo contest. Other schools may use the extensive list of resources available at redribbon.org to take the annual event to deeper and perhaps more meaningful levels. But every October, I feel … Continue reading Rethinking Red Ribbon Week

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“We Can’t Vote, But You Can!”

Reflections on a Middle School Voter Registration Drive “Hello, ma’am! Are you registered to vote? Yes? Any recent changes? Address? Name? You can also change your political party.” This became the unofficial script for my 8th grade civics students spending September afternoons in front of a Save-A-Lot grocery store in Del City, Oklahoma. But the … Continue reading “We Can’t Vote, But You Can!”

The Educational Value of Wikipedia in the Age of Fake News

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard a middle school student say that another teacher told them Wikipedia was not a reliable source, “I would be making money in a very weird way” (to put it in the words of the late comedian, Mitch Hedberg). When Wikipedia came along in 2001, … Continue reading The Educational Value of Wikipedia in the Age of Fake News

Trauma Informed Schools: The New ‘New Paternalism’

In 1997, New York University professor, Lawrence M. Mead, edited a book entitled “The New Paternalism: Supervisory Approaches to Poverty.” Mead’s work, spanning more than 30 years, has been highly influential in the implementation of draconian and ineffective work requirements for government assistance programs. “The New Paternalism” directly inspired noted education reformer, David Whitman, to … Continue reading Trauma Informed Schools: The New ‘New Paternalism’

The Movement to End American Football Begins in Schools

The dangers of playing American football are increasingly becoming common knowledge. Further scientific evidence emerges almost on a daily basis relative to a condition in former players known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or C.T.E. There are currently only two kinds of football fans. There are those football fans who know the danger and are interested … Continue reading The Movement to End American Football Begins in Schools

Absent Students Should Not Make Happy Teachers

I had a class a few years ago that in 180 days of school there seemed to be only a handful of days in which the entire class was in attendance. There were several factors which seemed to contribute to this “problem.” The class met 1st hour, which meant that absences were higher than classes … Continue reading Absent Students Should Not Make Happy Teachers

This Public School Teacher Does Not Pledge Allegiance to the Flag

I have not pledged “allegiance to the flag of the United States of America” in more than eight years. My personal objections to participating began as religious (see Anabaptist theology and practice). I was not teaching at the time, so like so many Americans, public situations that observed the pledge were a very irregular part … Continue reading This Public School Teacher Does Not Pledge Allegiance to the Flag

The Schemers, Accomplices, and Pawns of Every Charter School

Charter schools are destined to be viewed by future generations as having been on “the wrong side of history.” But like other current education reforms, on the surface at least, charter schools seem like a good idea to a variety of people. Proponents of charter schools range from conservatives to progressives and from corporations to … Continue reading The Schemers, Accomplices, and Pawns of Every Charter School

Dos and Don’ts of Teaching American Slavery (for White Educators)

The Southern Poverty Law Center and Teaching Tolerance recently released a report entitled, “Teaching Hard History: American Slavery.” It is essential reading for all teachers; all subjects and all grade levels. The companion podcast series of the same name is equally valuable for educators. For U.S history teachers, like myself, that teach American slavery as … Continue reading Dos and Don’ts of Teaching American Slavery (for White Educators)

Public Schools Are Not ‘Government Schools,’ Not Yet

A favorite talking point of school privatizers and education reformers is to refer to public schools as “government schools.” When free market ideologues and politicians do this, they are primarily appealing to the libertarian tendencies of middle and upper class white evangelicals and Catholics. Right wing politicians rarely use the word “government” positively as an … Continue reading Public Schools Are Not ‘Government Schools,’ Not Yet