Radical Possibilities suggests that if we want to uncover poverty we need to look at our urban schools. These schools depict poverty, joblessness, low wages, and racial and class segregation. Looking at urban schools will model both poor schools and poor communities with a lack of resources. Urban schools expose injustice, and many parents and students show a passion and willingness to fight to make education a central part of their lives. As educators, we have an opportunity to build a change regarding the injustices that urban schools face, since we have continual access to students, parents, and the community.
This article spoke a lot about how to inspire urban students and give them a voice. Finding a cause that students are passionate about and can relate to is an important aspect in inspiring them to succeed. Teachers should use the classroom as a tool to inspire critical thinking skills and provide a thought-provoking atmosphere where students are free to discuss the problems they face. As teachers, we need to always have social justice as a goal.
Some ways to inspire urban students and involve them in the community:
- Help students appreciate their own value, intelligence, and potential
- Emphasize relationship between education and freedom
- Recognize and acknowledge with students that they are not free--social change is necessary
- Show an interest as an educator- make sure they know you think the issue is important (parent-teacher conferences, community “walks”, develop vision for what needs to be changed)
- Organize extended issue campaigns--issues should come from parents, students, and other residents. Locate key school and district personnel, develop changes and a plan, pressure administration
- Find a social problem students are interested in and give them the tools to have an empowering voice. Some main issues involve college preparation, criminal and juvenile justice, economic justice, and immigrant rights. Promote teen activism to increase community connections, teach life skills, increase trust between students and teacher
- Students map out and document community resources and important people and present to community
- Have students consider who is in power in their community. Ask leading questions to allow them to think
- Develop an issue campaign-- give students responsibility.
Quotes I found really interesting
“ African American and Latino scholars write tellingly about the fears harbored by many students of color that they fit stereotypes white society has of them.”
“ An important mechanism is that this “stereotype threat” can prevent students’ full engagement in academic work, as they fear failure and fulfillment of the stereotype.”
“ We must also teach minority students the culture and knowledge held by powerful Whites and the middle and upper classes”
“When educators work with community residents as equals and as change agents to organize for better education, movement building is taking place; and as a not inconsequential outcome, schools typically improve and student achievement increases”
“ A reason for increased achievement in schools where parents and educators work together as change agents may be an increase in trust and respect between parties”
“An angry parent is an opportunity”
“Moreover- I believe it is the case that teens want an education- a high quality education.”
“And college would be understood as a continuation of government’s financial responsibility for public education, thus providing a material basis for motivation and effort on the part of the K-12 students and educators”
Questions I had
Why are urban schools surrounded with this stigma?
What are some ways to implement empowering ideas and community action to elementary students?
This article was of particular importance to me. I plan to work in an urban school, and I believe that while doing this it is so important to be aware of students home situations, must like the article suggests, and encourages students to overcome adversity they are faced with. It is important to let students know of resources that provide outside support (health care, financial, etc). I have seen a concrete example of this at Lonsdale Elementary School. After school, they provide classes for parents to get their GED, classes for parents to learn English, and free dinner for families of students. Lonsdale also does an amazing job of informing
parents about additional resources
Giving students a voice is so important, especially in schools from a primarily low SES. Letting students know that they fit into the community where they are oppressed and have an opportunity to make a change is something that can really inspire students. Giving students an empowering rather than domestic education is a key to success.