Skip to main content

Place, Not Race -- Part 1

If you work in public education--specifically secondary education--you know now that it's the time when students' plans are solidified for the fall. College acceptance, deferment, and rejection letters are arriving, and students are starting to get their financial aid packages from universities.

I remember being in high school and how the process was so new to me. I was a first-generation college graduate, and my dad didn't know much about the process other than applying. (Applying to college was actually how I convinced him to get high speed internet; until then, we had dial-up, and I couldn't get the applications to load.)

I knew I had to fill out the FAFSA because my counselors told me to. I knew I had to check for deadlines because my counselors told me to. The list goes on and on of topics and deadlines that I heard from others about. I knew little about the expected family contribution (EFC); I just knew that my dad couldn't help much when it came to paying for my education. He was a single parent with three kids.

For the first time in my adult life, I heard other students discussing their EFCs during lunch in my classroom.
Why is my number higher than yours? 
Why is yours so low? Your family is rich. 
So this means...? 

I heard questions and statements like this coming from students as they tried to make sense of where they fell in terms of financial assistance. And some of them began trying to make sense of the differences in life circumstances.

And then I started to hear from other students, students who I label as "in the bubble" when it comes to financial aid. Their families make just enough to disqualify them from Pell Grants and subsidized loans.

When I was having these conversations with students, several of them shifted to say something along the lines of

If only I were... 

And I stopped them. I knew where this was going. I remember being there, too, in high school when I was waitlisted at my now alma mater, the University of Michigan. But it's this type of in-fighting that prevents any real conversations of understanding from actually taking place. Students began to view each other as weaker competition.

Had I been faster on my feet, I would've shown the age-old cartoon about equity that I used to share with my English 10 students



This is part of the reason why I'm so excited to write the second part of this post, where I consider some of the things I learned from Place, Not Race by Sheryll Cashin.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Words

I get to school early and my students know that. This morning, a student that I’m not even particularly close with arrived at 6:00 AM in tears. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what to say to students and colleagues about the presidential election.
This student and I talked about fear. We talked about her history. We talked about how she encouraged her mother to vote for the first time—ever. We talked about how she can’t understand why people would vote for a fear-mongering, hate-talking candidate like Donald Trump. We talked about her experience Monday seeing President Obama for the first time, an experience that she was so motivated to make happen. Toward the end of our conversation, she said that she finally finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Not that I’m equating President-Elect Trump to the Dark Lord, but we talked about how even with Voldemort, people supported him. It may have been out of fear and group loyalty, but it was support nonetheless. And whil…

Letter to the Editor Regarding DeVos

***Update:  At the time this letter was read at Monday’s board meeting, the hearing regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education was still scheduled for Wednesday, January 11. Later that evening, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions postponed the hearing until January 17 at 5:00 PM.

This is a letter to the editor that I will submit for the January 12 edition of the Belleville-Area Independent
-----
To the Editor:
This week marks a defining moment for public education in the United States. On Wednesday, January 11, a hearing will have taken place regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education.
During the past few board meetings, I have expressed my concerns publicly about Mrs. DeVos’ appointment to the top education post, and I reiterate those same concerns here. I have contacted Senator Stabenow and Peter’s offices, and they both have now expressed their concerns regarding this appointment and have vowed to…

Targets and Time

I just finished Cris Tovani and Elizabeth Birr Moje's No More Telling as Teaching: Less Lecture, More Engaged Learning from Heinemann's Not This But That series edited by Ellin Oliver Keene and Nell Duke.

Needless to say, I pick up anything that's by Tovani and Moje because of Tovani's belief in the workshop model and Moje's extensive work in both disciplinary and out of school literacies.

After finishing this quick read, I've been thinking a lot about two things.

First, how we spend our time matters. I get less than 60 minutes with students each hour. Time is a hot commodity! Because of that, I am constantly looking at ways to maximize instruction. If I pass papers back this way or if I move this to this point in time, I can gain another minute. And those minutes add up! Sometimes, however, it feels like there is just never enough time. All teachers know that. In fact, I've yet to meet a teacher admit that she or he has too much time with students, especia…