During the month of December, study group coordinators were encouraged to make the fall issue of Rethinking Schools magazine their common text.
Below are a couple of snapshots of the conversations that emerged from reading the fall issue.
Providence, Rhode Island
The study group in Providence, Rhode Island read The Tragedy of New Orleans Is Not Unique. Lindsay Paiva, the coordinator, shared the quote: “It turns out that privatization doesn’t improve educational outcomes. But it does weaken public agency. And perhaps that was the idea all along.” She also shared her analysis of the mass exodus of teachers leaving the district. As a result of being understaffed and overburdened with mandates, teachers are exhausted and aren’t able to organize to demand better conditions. She said, “This article really hit home after the mayor wrote the letter suggesting that the district should be chartered.” She asked her group: “What are ways we can continue to resist?”
The group discussed the possibility of testifying at school board meetings to make their voices heard. As one member said, if teachers don’t speak up, “people will say what they want to say about Providence teachers.”
The Brooklyn study group also discussed The Tragedy of New Orleans, along with Eve L. Ewing’s Vacancies to Fill. Haley Siegal, the co-coordinator, shared some of their personal experiences from working in Chicago schools and remembers when the city closed 15 schools, in predominantly Black and Brown neighborhoods, with a high percentage of Black and Brown teachers. “It’s an attack on those teachers . . . these occurrences aren’t accidental.” Haley also noted the message shuttered schools send to communities: “They abandon schools and communities. What does that show to communities on the ideologies of schools and education? What do abandoned buildings do in certain neighborhoods?”
Another Brooklyn teacher recalled their time working in Detroit, over 20 years ago, as an example of “what a school that really serves its community could look like.” The school offered dental services and English classes for families.