Yesterday driving back to Oklahoma from a short stay in Kansas with my parents, I listened to a podcast recording of Dr. Margaret Beale Spencer’s lecture from February 23rd at the University of Virginia. The title of her lecture was, “The 1954 Brown Decision and Contemporary Education Challenges and Opportunities.” The U.Va. podcast channel is one of my favorites, as they always have a variety of intellectually challenging speakers from whom I enjoy learning, especially when I’m driving long distances in the car.
My main technical suggestion after listening to this podcast was that I wished it included podcast shownotes! I’d love to be able to readily link to and reference the research reports, authors, and other ideas Dr. Beale discussed in her lecture. Unfortunately UVA Podcasts do not currently include linked shownotes.
Dr. Beale’s observations struck home with me as I anticipate attending the jointly sponsored “Dropout Summit” this Wednesday in Oklahoma City, hosted by the Oklahoma State Department of Education, America’s Promise Alliance, and other partners. Perceptions of identity and strong, positive relationships with teachers as well as other adults are critical variables for student success inside and outside of the classroom. Dr. Beale encourages educators and others to look beyond the basic statistics and characteristics of socio-economic status and race when analyzing student resiliency to school dropout pressures, and look at protective factors which can strengthen positive student identity perceptions. The basic message “white is good, black is bad” is a common perception which plays into student identity and self-esteem. Dr. Beale encourages everyone to NOT accept the fallacy today that “race does not matter.” One of the most important elements in this discussion is the idea that our conceptions of race are socially constructed, so they can therefore be socially adjusted. (They are not set in stone by heredity or environment.) I’m thinking there are many ways we could help students as well as educators tangibly address these issues via our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices oral history and digital storytelling project. My wheels are spinning.
I am far from an expert on these issues, but I think they are very relevant to consider as we try to find effective ways to address educational challenges including dropout rates. Refer to the “High School Dropout Prevention” page of America’s Promise Alliance for more information related to this issue, including the 16 page April 2008 “Cities in Crisis report” (PDF) from the Alliance. I’m going to read the report in advance of Wednesday’s summit.
The causes of civil rights and equal opportunities for all people– educational and otherwise, regardless of background or history, are very important issues for me. I’ve written about these issues a bit in the past in the posts “Digital Witness to President Obama’s Inauguration” (Jan 2009), “Philip Randolph, civil rights, unions, and political change” (Dec 2008,) “Reflections on Dr. King’s Dream” (Jan 2008,) and “We can’t mandate what matters” (May 2007.) Of course people do not have equal opportunities for all things, because our world is inherently an unequal and unjust environment. If we are to make this world into a more humane and just environment, it’s up to us to make needed changes at local levels. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to attend this week’s summit and not only learn more about these issues, but also identify ways I can join others to continue in this struggle which continues to our present day.
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On this day..
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- Opera Mini Browser Coming to the iPhone / iPod Touch? - 2010
- Gotta Keep Reading - A YouTube Remix of the Black Eyed Peas by Florida Students - 2010
- Homegrown YouTube Options - 2010
- Actively opposing creativity fatigue - 2008
- The Value of OpenDNS (free) content filtering at home - 2008
- Flat world 1:1 learning - 2007
- Google Mars and 3D earth - 2006
- Stats on Kids and New Media - 2006
- International perspectives on teaching and learning in an information society - 2006