‘Where Radical Politics and Education Intersect'
In regard to "Where Radical Politics and Education Intersect" by Andrew Wolf and "Do Social Issues Belong in Math Class?" by Gary Shapiro, there are educators across the country seeking innovative methods of teaching engaging content to children in urban schools [New York, "Where Radical Politics and Education Intersect," April 17, 2007; New York, "Do Social Issues Belong in Math Class," January 24, 2007].
These teachers went into teaching because they hope that in some small way, their contribution would inspire children to be lifelong learners and leaders.
Many of these educators recognize that white supremacy, capitalism, misogyny, and imperialism are forces that permeate the globe, and they work to inform their students of both historic and current political realities that impact our lives.
These teachers want to expose their low-income, African-American, Hispanic, and immigrant students — who face systemic prejudice and oppression in innumerable way s— to the type of analytic skills that children in elite institutions are encouraged to develop.
Isn't this … good?
According to Mr. Wolf, Chancellor Klein told Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute, "Giving schools ‘leadership' or ‘social justice' themes is fine with me, as long as the teachers and principals do not bring politics and ideologies into our classrooms."
I think everyone would agree with Mr. Klein if he meant that public schools should not indoctrinate students with particular ideologies.
But of course, that is exactly what they do. It is a myth to think that there is an educator on the planet who doesn't hold a system of beliefs that affects what and how they teach.
When educators declare themselves neutral or apolitical, but then proceed to teach one interpretation of history or one approach to problemsolving, they inadvertently reinforce dominant ideologies about how the world works.
At what point does a teacher's vocal commitment to justice and equity become "politics"? At what point do "politics" become controversial?
One goal of Teachers Unite is to support teachers who strive to make classes academically rigorous, culturally relevant and intellectually inspiring for New York City public school students.
These are some of the tenets of social justice teaching, and it's difficult to imagine why anyone would find something wrong with it.
Founder and executive director Teachers Unite