By Yvette Jackson, Special to CNN
Editor’s Note: Yvette Jackson, Ed.D., is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education and former Executive Director of Instruction and Professional Development for the New York City Board of Education. Tune in to AC360 at 8 and 10 p.m. ET for the special series "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture”.
The death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is sparking national indignation and debate over the role race played in this premature loss of life. But it also opens the door to a teachable moment that, if ignored, will only compound the tragedy.
The teachable moment is particularly true for adolescent youths. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in more than three decades of working in schools is that students - particularly adolescents - want teachers to meet them where they are. It’s an anxious, hyper-emotional, and uncomfortable place for adults, but students crave this connection.
Trust me, an incident like the death of Trayvon only intensifies those emotions because all adolescents have a frame of reference from their own lives, be it race, how they dress, or fear of being singled out by a stranger based on how they look. This frame of reference during adolescence greatly impacts their understanding of how and why they are perceived a certain way.
To ignore the story of Trayvon in any classroom is to ignore an event that is shaping how countless young students of all races and ethnicities are seeing their world, the adults around them, and visions for their futures.
By Brian Vitagliano, CNN
New York (CNN) – Divorce. Dinosaurs, Birthdays. Religion. Halloween. Christmas. Television. These are a few of the 50-plus words and references the New York City Department of Education is hoping to ban from the city’s standardized tests.
The banned word list was made public – and attracted considerable criticism – when the city’s education department recently released this year’s "request for proposal" The request for proposal is sent to test publishers around the country trying to get the job of revamping math and English tests for the City of New York.
The Department of Education's says that avoiding sensitive words on tests is nothing new, and that New York City is not the only locale to do so. California avoids the use of the word "weed" on tests and Florida avoids the phrases that use "Hurricane" or "Wildfires," according to a statement by the New York City Department of Education.
In its request for proposal, the NYC Department of Education explained it wanted to avoid certain words if the "the topic is controversial among the adult population and might not be acceptable in a state-mandated testing situation; the topic has been overused in standardized tests or textbooks and is thus overly familiar and/or boring to students; the topic appears biased against (or toward) some group of people."FULL STORY
By Taylor Mali, Special to CNN
Editor’s Note: Taylor Mali spent nine years in the classroom teaching everything from English and history to math and SAT test preparation. He is an advocate for teachers and speaks at education conferences and teachers’ workshops. His book, “What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World,” will be released on March 29.
“Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.”– Norman Vincent Peale, American minister and author
On one level, my new book, “What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World,” is an explication and expansion in prose of a piece of writing that first came to me in the form of poetry.
At a New Year’s Eve party in 1997, a young lawyer managed to insult me and the entire teaching profession by essentially saying that no person dumb enough to want to be a teacher should be allowed to actually become a teacher. The poem I wrote in the weeks that followed, "What Teachers Make," is the response I wish I had been smart enough to give to the lawyer at the party.
The simple truth is that you should never judge another law-abiding person. Ever. Of course it’s human nature to make comparisons between ourselves and others just to see how we think we measure up, but such comparisons inevitably lead to feelings of jealousy when we think ourselves inferior and feelings of contempt when we feel superior. OK, fine. Just stop right there and keep those feelings to yourself.
Everyone is different. You might try to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, but even then you’ll never know what it has been like to be them for their whole life, what their childhood was like, what struggles they had with their siblings and friends. What life of poverty or opulence they came from, or how great is their capacity for love, the history of heartbreak they carry around their necks like a cinderblock on a gold chain, the sheer firepower of their intellect or the hours and hours of hard work they are willing to put to the service of their vision of the future. How dare you judge from a place of such ignorance?