School Choice

11 Education Stories We Couldn't Stop Reading in 2017

2017 was, let’s just say, a lot. And we couldn’t stop writing about it. From the selection of Betsy DeVos as education secretary to the Trump administration rolling back on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and, of course, we can’t forget about the Muslim Ban. There was Charlottesville, hurricanes that seemed like they would just not stop coming, and we still haven’t been able to escape mass shootings, including in schools. Yeah, OK, so that’s a lot, and it’s not even all of it. I can’t promise fairy tales in 2018 but what I can hope for is that we keep writing about all of it—the good and the always inevitable bad. It’s in the moments where we write and share that we discover that we’re not alone. Here’s 11 blogs where writers brought out the laptops—even when it was tough—to share how they really feel.

1. I Was a Racist Teacher and I Didn’t Even Know It

It’s always the hardest question to ask: Am I part of the problem? Laurie Calvert taught in Asheville, North Carolina, for 14 years. One day she was forced to reflect on whether—in her classroom—she was supporting structures and systems that kept White people in power. The answer? Yes. In her piece she digs into why anti-racism is more than a feeling, it’s an action. While you’re at it, if you’ve ever been called a racist teacher, here’s how you should handle it. Hint: It does not include saying, “I’m not racist.”

2. Dear Senator Franken, this isn't #SNL. It's my life.

In recent years, “Saturday Night Live” (“SNL”) has been a little too real life for me but as Indiana mom Cheryl Kirk quickly reminded Sen. Franken, her life is not “SNL.” During Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearing, Sen. Franken took to the mic and criticized Indiana’s school choice program, and as a mother of three who exercises school choice, Kirk wasn’t having it. She calls Sen. Franken out in this post. (P.s. Franken has since resigned due to several allegations of sexual misconduct.)

3. A Powerful Message From A Bridgeport Teacher In The Wake Of A Police Shooting: These Kids Need Our Help

Police shootings are tough, especially when students are involved. This year, 15-year-old Jayson Negron was fatally shot by Bridgeport, Connecticut, police officers. His body was left on the street, handcuffed and uncovered for over seven hours. Alex Torres, a high school teacher, had to think about what to tell his students the next day.

4. Betsy DeVos Says Discrimination Isn’t Her Problem. And She’s Dead Wrong.

This post comes from Matt Lehrich, a former White House spokesman and U.S. Department of Education communications director, so he knows what it takes to support students at the highest level and DeVos just hasn’t been cutting it. In a budget hearing earlier this year when asked, “[if] there’s [any] situation of discrimination or exclusion that…you would step in and say that’s not how we’re going to use our federal dollars?” She couldn’t think of one! And then said, “those choices would be up to states.” “Students deserve a secretary of education who will stand up and speak out for them,” Lehrich wrote. We agree.

5. I Never Thought Gifted and Talented Kids Could Be At-Risk Too, Until My Son Said He Wanted to Drop Out of School

Often when we think of “at-risk” students, we think of students in poverty and students with disabilities. We absolutely should be thinking of those students but there’s also our gifted and talented students that fly under the radar. Mom and Colorado State Teacher of the Year Michelle Pearson learned the hard way when her gifted son told her he wanted to drop out of school. Lesson: “Doing well in school doesn’t mean a student is thriving, or even happy.”

6. #MyBlackHistory: My Mom Had to Lie to Get Me Into a Good School. No Parent Should Have to Do That.

For Black History Month, we collected stories from around the country encouraging folks to share their education stories. We got this piece from Nate Bowling, 2016 Washington State Teacher of the Year, who told the story all too many parents have to hide: His mom lied about where they lived so he could go to a better school.

7. My Name Is Tom. I’ve Been a Teacher for 10 Years and I Still Get My Ass Kicked Nearly Every Day.

This 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year came out with a book this year about teaching and the title literally starts with, “It Won’t Be Easy.” Even after 10 years, Tom Rademacher stills struggles in the classroom and isn’t afraid to share that honesty. Check out the blog post and then get his book after!

8. A Candid Convo With a Chicago Principal Who Says Black Boys Learn Best When Success Looks Like Them

The data came out this year: Having just one Black teacher can keep Black kids in school. Unfortunately, only 2 percent of teachers are Black male educators. That means we have some work to do. Education blogger Marilyn Rhames interviewed this Black male educator who told us exactly what we can be doing better to increase the success of Black male students.

9. Don’t Like ‘Take a Knee’? Take a Civics Class.

Full disclosure: I was 100 percent here for #TakeAKnee and kind of never wanted it to end. It was happening everywhere not just on the football field. But there were a lot of people who disagreed. But this teacher says whether you agree or disagree, everyone needs to take a civics class.

10. You Can Be Teacher of the Year and Still Get Fired for Being Gay

This story is insane! His district tried to silence him by ordering him to not say whether he was gay. He was told he could not write or speak anything unless the district approved of his words in advance and he was told to bring all personal mail from home for them to open and read. He was told if he said he was gay someone was going to shoot him in the head. You have to read the post to find out how he handled all of this craziness.

11. Dear High School Teacher Who Tried to Discourage Me from Applying to UCLA, I’m a BRUIN Now!

This is an amazing shoutout to all the haters who say you can’t or won’t do something. Her teacher told her she would never make it into UCLA, let alone graduate. Who’s wearing a cap and gown, and holding a diploma now? There so many more blogs I could have included but will stop here for now. Here’s to more blogging in 2018!

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