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THE LADDER Diversity: Honoring Differences in the Classroom

A Magazine for and about Future Teachers Los Angeles Unified School District Human Resources Division Career Ladder Office

Fall 2011

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THE LADDER A publication of the Career Ladder Office Los Angeles Unified School District LAUSD Board of Education



M nica Garcia, District 2, President Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, District 1

Tamar Galatzan, District 3 Steve Zimmer, District 4 Yolie Flores, District 5 Nury Martinez, District 6 Richard Vladovic, District 7 John E. Deasy Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools Michelle King Deputy Superintendent of School Operations Vivian Ekchian Chief Human Resources Officer Career Ladder Office 333 South Beaudry Avenue, 15th Floor (213) 241-4571 FAX (213) 241-8465 E-mail: THE LADDER Staff Steven Brandick, Director Beverly Silverstein, Editor In Chief Sam Gonzalez, Layout and Design Veronica Ramirez, Advertising

Cover photo by David Blumenkrantz

The publication of this magazine is funded by advertising revenue. Reproduction of any images without written consent is prohibited.

This issue is a celebration of diversity. As I reflect on the topic, it is clear that educators and parents are the ones who have the most to learn. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, almost 90% of the population of the country was white in 1950. In that census, Latinos were not even counted. That's the world I grew up in. By 1980, the decade during which my children were born, the non-white population, now known as the "minority," had grown to 17%. By 2000, that number was up to 25% and the census had detailed information on people who identified themselves as members of more than one race. In California, in 2010, the minority population was 42%. Our students live in a diverse world and do a much better job coexisting peacefully with their neighbors than we ever did. Most of the kids I come in contact with do not pay much attention to another person's ethnicity, race, religion or sexual preference. In general, they are very accepting of others. Near the beginning of my career, I worked at Van Nuys High. It had two Magnet Schools, one for mathematics and science and one for the performing arts. The magnets brought in kids from all over the city and the school was about as diverse as a school could get. The students broke up in cliques as most teenagers do, but those cliques were related to interest, not some arbitrary demographic category. The athletes hung out with the athletes, the theater types with the theater types, the deep thinkers with the deep thinkers. I had a newly arrived student in an ESL class who had played a lot of soccer in his native Turkey. Somehow, the football players found him and he turned out to be an incredible place kicker. From that point on, he ran with the athletes. None of the other students cared about his race, his religion, or his ethnicity. They just loved to see him kick.

Adults should also watch the way we talk. Kids may not do what we say all of the time (or even much of the time), but they are always watching and listening. They pick up our attitudes and values. Some will call each other names with derogatory undertones. But where did they learn those words? Few adults will admit it, but you will most likely hear those same terms being thrown around casually at home. So, older generation, look around at the changing world and get with the program. Otherwise, the young people are going to leave you behind in a boring, black and white world, while they live in Technicolor. We are fortunate to live in Los Angeles with all its shades, flavors, and sounds. Some of the articles in this issue are about LAUSD programs and some are frank discussion of issues that surround diversity and education. As always, I welcome your comments. I would like nothing more than to begin a good discussion with our readers on this topic.

Steven Brandick, Director


THE LADDER Fall 2011

Contents Instruction 16

The Importance of Stories and Storytelling


Winning the Future through Early Language Immersion


Code-Meshing as World English Pedagogy, Policy, Performance


Teaching Latino Diversity, Cultural Assets and Histories of Resistance


Negotiating Difference in the Classroom

Crossing Borders


The Importance of Collaboration for Today’s Diverse Schools


Memories of a Faithful Soul

Refocusing the Socialized Lens



Education: The Blueprint



Celebrating Diversity: Facing the Challenges

“Teach Me How to Dougie”: A Few Notes on Masculinity, Swag, and Pedagogy





Culture Kwanzaa at 45: Harvesting and Sharing Good in the World



Filling the Void: Two Centuries of Black American Art

International Book Reviews

The Event 32


Books for Your Review

From the Neighborhood


Back to the Roots: A Peek at the Conference

Spotlight on Programs LAUSD Migrant Education Program


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Painting by Alexa Kovcs. Alexa is a talented artist and a senior in the Visual Arts Academy at Central Los Angeles High School #9 School of Visual and Performing Arts. Read more about this amazing academy at CLAHS #9 on page 37.

THE LADDER Diversity: Honoring Differences in the Classroom

A Magazine for and about Future Teachers Los Angeles Unified School District Human Resources Division Career Ladder Office

Fall 2011

An Examined Life | a letter from the editor Demystifying Diversity in the Classroom

Diversity is the essence of our humanity. It embodies principles of acceptance of differences in other cultures and equal participation in a democratic society. These ideas advance the understanding and respect for our individual uniqueness and for the group with which we identify. Diversity is the ways in which we are both different and alike. Some of these elements are easily identifiable such as, race, ethnicity, gender, age, and physical abilities. While others are less easily identified, they include sexual orientation, socio-economic status, political beliefs, socially constructed truths, histories, and culture. Whenever someone speaks of culture, it is the context that makes all the difference. For a biology teacher, it could mean examining HeLa cells in a petri dish. Or, to a humanities teacher it could mean high art, classical music or fine literature. Yet to me, as a former social science teacher, it means, that human intricate system of knowledge, which consists of language, beliefs, values, traditions, customs, foods, ornamentation, art, mores, and laws. These complex patterns create identity and direct the behaviors that navigate human habits and possibilities within a specific cultural group. Today, more than ever before American classrooms represent a more ethnically heterogeneous student population. While these differences can generate a rich linguistic and cultural exchange for teachers and students, they can also create challenges. How teachers handle these challenges can determine the student’s academic performance. Some students learn in spite of their personal histories, circumstances or classroom conditions, but statistics reveal that many do not (Boykin, W., Coleman, S., Lilja, A., and Tyler, K. 2004). All teachers may need to examine new multicultural methodologies to that ensure all students learn and can become full participants in our society. As teachers, when

we are knowledgeable about our student’s cultures and appreciate their personal experiences, diversity is demystified. When we choose innovative resources that highlight their culture, align those resources with content standards utilized in our daily lessons, we foster a learning environment that is familiar and engenders interest and trust. Research teaches that when students feel that their teachers value their background and personal experiences, they feel that their teachers’ care about them and they are more likely to engage in their own learning. That is how to be the kind of teacher our students’ need and deserve. Studies of heritage schools have exhibited undeniable worth. Over the course of a few weeks, I examined the curricula and the high achievement records of students who attend heritage schools. I found that at each of the schools, culture was an integral partner to standards-based instruction. Knowing how to reshape the curriculum to encompass the diverse experiences of the student’s means stepping out of comfort zones, examining personal beliefs, and acquiring knowledge about our students’ culture as well as that of other cultures. Our students enter classrooms steeped in rich diverse cultures, complex histories, and various learning abilities. In this edition of THE LADDER, “Diversity: Honoring Differences in the Classroom,” the authors analyze histories, challenge socially constructed assumptions, share stories, and discuss learning theories and practices that advance literacies in all-inclusive classrooms where all students learn. We are adding “Your Thoughts” to THE LADDER magazine. Email me at and share your thoughts.

Beverly Silverstein, Editor-in-Chief


CONTRIBUTORS Vershawn Young Vershawn Ashanti Young is the former Theatre Specialist of LAUSD. He is the editor of From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle-Class Performances (Wayne State 2011) and is completing two books, The New Equality: Nice People and the For Real End of Racism and Understanding Other People’s English. He currently serves as an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky.

Bridget Cooks Bridget R. Cooks, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Art History and African American Studies in the University of California, Irvine. Her scholarship addresses representation of African Americans in visual culture, the history of African American artist, and museum criticism. She curated the critically acclaimed exhibition the Art of Richard Mayhew at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco in 2009. Recent publications have appeared in American Studies, International Review of African American Art, and Pedagogy.

Enrique Ochoa Enrique C. Ochoa is Professor of Latin American Studies and History at California State University, Los Angeles. His publications include Feeding Mexico: The Political Uses of Food Since 1910 (2000), Latina/o Los Angeles: Migrations, Communities, and Political Activism (co-editor, 2005), and articles on immigration, globalization, and teaching history and ethnic studies. He is currently a member of the Board of the Coalition of Human Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA) where he is helping to organize Educators for Immigrant Rights.

Gilda Ochoa Gilda L. Ochoa is Associate Professor of Sociology and Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies at Pomona College where she teaches classes on Latinas/os, education, and LA communities. Along with the co-edited volume on Latina/o Los Angeles (2005), she is the author of Becoming Neighbors in a Mexican American Community (2004) and Learning from Latino Teachers (2007). Her current research focuses on the schooling experiences and interactions between Asian American and Latina/o high school students.

Cynthia McDermott J. Cynthia McDermott, Ed.D. is a Professor of Education and the Department Chair at Antioch University, Los Angeles. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award and taught in Bosnia at the University of Sarajevo. She is the creator and Director of the Horace Mann Upstanders Childrens’ Literature Award. More information about this award and the yearly conference (which is free) can be found at http:// She is a passionate activist to ensure that books and children are connected.

Dianna Wooten Dianna Wooten is the director the Enterprise-Shasta Area Consortium PTTP in Redding, CA. She has been the director since the grant first started in 2007. Prior to that Dianna worked in the Human Resource Department for Enterprise Elementary School District for 16 years. She is passionate about giving support to paraprofessionals in order to make their dream of becoming a teacher a reality!

Chimbuko Tembo Jennifer Seibel Trainor Jennifer Seibel Trainor teaches in the graduate program in Composition at San Francisco State University. She is the author of Rethinking Racism: Emotion, Persuasion, and Literacy Education in an All-White High School, which won the Modern Language Association's Mina Shaughnessy Prize in 2008. Her articles on race and literacy have appeared in Research in the Teaching of English, College Composition and Communication, College English, and JAC: Journal of Advanced Composition. She can be reached at


Navy Phim Navy Phim is the author of Reflections of a Khmer Soul, she was born in Battambang, Cambodia in 1975, under the Khmer Rough. Her story is of the middle generation growing up with, and trying to make sense of, two cultures and two worlds-the beauty and tragedy of her Cambodian past (her Khmer Soul) and the comfortable restlessness of her American present. Her family immigrated to Long Beach, California in 1983. In 1999, she received her Bachelor’s degree from the University California, Los Angeles and in 2006, she received her Masters in Counseling from California State University, Long Beach.

Chimbuko Tembo is assistant director of the African American Cultural Center, the official headquarters of Kwanzaa. A graduate of California State University, Long Beach with a degree in Black Studies, she has lectured extensively on Kwanzaa on campus and in the community. She is also publisher of the University of Sankore Press, an independent press which serves the Black Studies reading audience. The University of Sankore Press has published the authoritative book on Kwanzaa, Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture written by the creator of the holiday, Dr. Maulana Karenga. She can be reached at

Sally Spencer Dr. Sally Spencer is currently the Teacher Education Coordinator and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education at California State University, Northridge. Her areas of passion are in teaching reading and math to children with mild to moderate disabilities and she has published and presented extensively in that area.

Wendy Murawski Dr. Wendy Murawski is currently the Eisner Endowed Chair for the Center for Teaching and Learning at California State University, Northridge, where she is also a full professor in the Department of Special Education and Faculty President for the College of Education. Her passion is co-teaching and she has authored 3 texts on the topic.

Georgiana Sanchez Georgiana Valoyce Sanchez is Chumash and O’odham. A nationally published writer and has taught American Indian Studies at California State University, Long Beach for twenty-four years. She is a Storyteller and a Board Member of the California Indian Storytelling Association. She is on the Governing Council of the Barbareno Chumash Council, and an Elder on the Chumash Women’s Elder’s Council of the Wishtoyo Foundation. She advocates for the preservation of Indigenous languages, ceremonies and Sacred Sites.

Jeanny Marroquin Jeanny Marroquin is a 2011 UCR graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Sociology, and a Bachelors of Arts in Spanish: Culture Studies. She is currently working as an Orientation Leader at UCR and will begin working as a Core Member with AmeriCorps nonprofit organization “City Year” in Los Angeles.

Caroline Prieto Caroline Prieto currently teaches first-year composition and developmental reading and writing courses at Skyline College and Foothill College, two community colleges located in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from San Francisco State University in Spring 2010 with an MA in English Composition and a certificate in Teaching Postsecondary Reading. She also holds a BA in English Literature.

Sarah Fama Sarah Fama currently teaches first-year composition part-time at San Francisco State University. She holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara, and graduated from San Francisco State University in Spring 2010 with an M.A. in English Composition. In addition to teaching, Sarah is a freelance knitwear designer, and her work has been published in magazines such as Yarn Forward, Interweave Knits, and Knitscene.

Tanna Rozar Tanna Rozar currently teaches first-year composition part-time at Bakersfield City College. She holds a B.A. in English Education from Long Beach State University, and she earned an M.A. in English Composition, along with a certificate in Post-Secondary Reading, from San Francisco State University. Before moving to Central California, she taught first and secondyear composition at SFSU. When Tanna is not teaching College English, she enjoys tutoring high school students, writing short stories, and traveling in her spare time.

Carolyn Rouse Carolyn Rouse is a professor at Princeton University in the Department of Anthropology and the Center for African American Studies. She is also the founder of Pan-African Global Academy, a high school in Accra, Ghana.

Javon Johnson Javon Johnson is currently the Visions & Voices Provost's Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southern California, where he teaches in the Department of American Studies & Ethnicity. He earned his Ph.D. in Performance Studies, with a cognate in African American Studies and a certificate in Gender Studies, from Northwestern University. He is a back-to-back national poetry slam champion (2003 & 2004), has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, BET’s Lyric Café, and co-wrote a documentary titled Crossover, which aired on Showtime, in collaboration with the NBA and Nike. He has written for Our Weekly, Text & Performance Quarterly, and is currently working on his book, tentatively titled, Owning Blackness: Poetry Slams and the Making of Spoken Word Communities.

Aja Martinez Aja Y. Martinez is a doctoral candidate in the University of Arizona's Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English Program. Her dissertation focuses on Chican@ identity in academia and uses a critical race counter story methodology to construct scenarios that illustrate the Chican@ undergraduate and graduate student experience. Her essay "'The American Way': Resisting the Empire of Force and ColorBlind Racism," was published in a 2009 issue of College English.

Helen Min Helen Min a TEAMS staff member is the Professional Development and Service Learning Coordinator. She received her PhD. in the U.C. Berkeley School of Education, in Language, Literacy, Society and Culture Program. Her research focused on immigrant students and their academic and social experience of learning English in public schools. She has over 10 years of K-12 public education and post-secondary teaching experiences. Helen has also traveled extensively throughout Asia.


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From the Bottom Up by Patrick Camangian




It was 1989. At a meeting with my academic counselor, the dean of students, the principal, and my mother , we discussed my involvement in a gang fight. That meeting marked the end of my high school enrollment. The principal summed up the school’s sentiments by stating, “You’re not cut out for a high school like this.” I agreed, dropped out and never earned my high school diploma. I had been in the tenth grade. Seven and a half years later, I set at the knee of wisdom of a former gang member who had become a mentor to young men like me who had lost their way and had no compass. It was at the beginning of my onemonth stay in the 9500 block of Los Angeles Men’s Central County Jail, where we began to share narratives about self-actualization, life, and in which direction my life could go. In our many conversations during those thirty days he would point out the predominance of incarcerated Black and Brown men: He believed, “We’re doing exactly what they want us to do.” This conversation served to clarify that the interconnectedness of oppressed people’s struggles are a product of social toxins that lead to mass self-hate and corresponding hopelessness. This dialogue at this precise juncture in my life helped me to realize the power of socially relevant conversational spaces for youth of color. This epiphany led me into teaching, and I sought to become the type of teacher I wish I had in high school. In 1998, around the time I became a part of LAUSD’s Career Ladder, I came across Paulo Freire’s (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed

and Peter McLaren’s (1998) Life in Schools. These books helped me realize that schooling experiences like mine are symptomatic of larger institutional practices that silence historically-dominated cultures and ignore oppressive social conditions. The “street life” captivated me in ways that teachers and traditional school curricula did not. Schooling did not develop my capacity as an agent of learning. Meanwhile, my homies understood the conditions of my reality and offered practical, albeit misguided, solutions to my problems. This experience speaks to a larger body of experiences for urban youth around the country. Schools fall short of providing critical spaces where young people of color can engage in dialogue about learned attitudes about race and identity based on historical relationships. With these conditions in mind, I became interested in exploring the ways that more critical and caring teaching practices could disrupt the traditionally alienating qualities of urban schools. I continued to explore these ideas as a Communication Studies, English, and credential student at CSULA. Even before I earned my credential, I was hired at Crenshaw High School. As a teacher at this school, my courses aimed to foster in students their capacity to move across various forms of literacy by developing both the analytical lens through which they could interpret their own reality and the academic skills necessary to matriculate through the highest levels of American schooling. Being in the English classroom since 1999, my understanding of the impact of urban schooling on youth helped me translate socially just teaching ideas into concrete curricula. During my tenure with LAUSD, the Mayor’s office awarded me “Most Inspirational Teacher” while our school’s student body also voted me “Most Inspirational” for multiple years in a row. Such recognition led to my recruitment into a doctoral program in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education’s (continued on next page)


From the Bottom Up (cont from pg 7) Urban Schooling division. Recently, the largest research organization in our field, the American Educational Research Association, awarded me the dissertation of the year in Curriculum Studies for the study, “Teaching Like Our Lives Depend on It: Critical Pedagogy and Action Research,” which I conducted while teaching at Crenshaw High School. I am currently a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of San Francisco, informally co-directing an Urban Education and Social Justice teaching-credential and Masters program. My research interests and areas of expertise include critical pedagogy and transformative teaching in urban schools; critical literacy; culturally empowering education; and urban teacher development. I also volunteer as a teacher at Fremont High School in Oakland teaching tenth grade English as part of East Oakland’s Step to College program. One of the most important components a paraprofessional can have is a community. Mentorship and fellowship from other Career Ladder participants provided me with a quality feedback and a built-in accountability for my progress in teaching. The Career Ladder also provided me with a reflective space to talk through challenges in both my education and my work in schools. Without this program, I would have had to navigate the process alone and without benefit from constructive support. From the beginning of my pursuit of this profession, the Career Ladder served as the foundation of my teacher-education. For this, I will be forever grateful.

FRIENDS OF THE LADDER Simeon P. Slovacek Simeon P. Slovacek, PhD., joined California State University, Los Angeles in 1981 as Director of Instructional Research and as a faculty member in the Charter School of Education. Prior to joining CSULA, he served as Director of Analytical Studies at Cornell University where he received his Master’s and Doctorate degrees in the field of educational research and evaluation and methodology. Over the years Dr. Slovacek has served as principal evaluator over a wide variety of educational programs, projects, foundations, and state funded grants that range from kindergarten through college. Among them are: The RO1 grant from the National Institutes of Health, Program Evaluation & Research Collaborative Office at CSULA (PERC), the Gates Foundation, and the Los Angeles Apprentice Teacher Program in the Los Angeles Unified School District, for which the Career Ladder participants are appreciative. Currently he serves as a founding board of trustee member for nineteen start-up charter schools (serving over 6,000 children) launched by 3 non-profits. Additionally, he serves on two boards for the LAUSD: The Accelerated Schools Board and The Inner City Education Foundation Board.

Jonathan Whittinghill Jonathan Whittinghill has been a research and evaluation associate at the Program Evaluation and Research Collaborative at California State University, Los Angeles for the past four years. He has assisted in the evaluation of the Los Angeles Apprentice Teacher Program and the Early Deciders Teacher Recruitment Program with the Career Ladder Office. He is currently engaged in evaluating several other federal education projects at CSULA, and also conducts research in the retention of minority students in science degree programs, school accountability measures, and algebra instruction.


Kwanzaa at 45: Harvesting and Sharing Good in the World by Chimbuko Tembo The 1960’s will forever be remembered as a golden age for African Americans which produced major initiatives and achievements including: the mass mobilizations, the creation of hundreds of new organizations, the extraordinary leaders, the March on Washington, the passage of the Civil Rights Bills, and the creation of the pan-African cultural holiday of Kwanzaa. This year marks the 45th Anniversary of Kwanzaa, the African American and Pan-African holiday that celebrates family, community and culture, celebrated from December 26th through January 1st. Kwanzaa was first celebrated in Los Angeles, fortyfive years ago by members of the Organization Us and a small gathering of family and friends; today millions of people of African descent throughout the world African community on every continent gather in private and public places to celebrate the holiday. Travel to various countries on the African continent from South Africa to Kenya; or throughout the Diaspora from Trinidad to Brazil and you will find Kwanzaa celebrations. Kwanzaa is based on the agricultural celebrations of Africa called the “first fruits” celebrations which were times of harvest, ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment and celebration. Therefore, Kwanzaa is a time for ingathering of Africans everywhere to reaffirm the bonds between them; a time of special reverence for the Creator and creation in thanks and respect; a time to commemorate the past, to learn its lessons, absorb its spirit, and honor its models of human excellence; a time to recommit to our highest cultural ideals; and a time to celebrate the Good, the good of life and everything in it. Created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of Africana Studies, California State University, Long Beach, the phenomenal growth and continued development of Kwanzaa represents a tremendous achievement not only by the holiday’s creator but its celebrants as well. The spread of the holiday was achieved without a national public relations campaign or large-scale public events to garner mass media or governmental support. Instead, motivated by a deep appreciation for the holiday’s life-affirming values, Kwanzaa was enthusiastically embraced by African Americans and quickly spread throughout the country by formal and informal networks of institutions, organiza-

tions, families and persons. Later, Kwanzaa was carried throughout the world African community by students, educators, world travelers, those conducting business and others returning back to their home countries. In Kwanzaa, A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture, Kwanzaa’s creator, Dr. Maulana Karenga gives several reasons for the growth of the holiday. “Kwanzaa grows among African people” he said, because it “speaks to our need and appreciation for its cultural vision and lifeaffirming values, values which celebrate and reinforce family, community and culture, it represents an important way Africans speak our own special cultural truth in a multicultural world, and it reinforces our rootedness in our own culture in a rich and meaningful way.” At the center of the Kwanzaa season are seven basic values of African culture that contribute to building and reinforcing family and community and, in an expansive sense, contribute to building a just society and good world. These values are called the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles. Though often identified as the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa, they were established in 1965 from Kawaida Philosophy and speak to the best of what it means to be African and human in the world. Those values in Swahili and English are: Umoja (Unity), to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race; Kujichagulia, (Self-determination), to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves; Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) to build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together; Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together; Nia (Purpose) to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness; Kuumba( Creativity) to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it; and Imani (Faith) to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. Within the framework of these principles, as Dr. (continued on page 37)


Memories of a Faithful Soul by Navy Phim

I came to the United States in 1984 as a refugee when I was nine years old; I left behind a country that suffered war and genocide: I left behind a country that I barely remember. That was 27 years ago. I rarely think of myself as a refugee anymore. I am CambodianAmerican. I became a United States. citizen in 1996, but from time to time, I like to remember that I was a refugee—it is part of who I am and where I came from, and there are stories of pain and survival attached to that label. The stories are of a civil war in Cambodia, where a revolutionary group called the Khmer Rouge fought against the government and took control. The term revolutionary implies that something was wrong with the status quo and the rebels were fighting to make a change, but their idea of change caused unimaginable suffering. Under the reign of the Khmer Rouge, between 1975 and 1979, the country was divided into labor camps, abolishing the old ways and killing over two million people, through starvation, exhaustion, and execution. This dark period of Cambodian history is known as the Killing Fields and an award-winning movie by that title was released in 1984, the year I arrived in the United States. When the movie premiered on public television, I saw it along with millions of other Americans and I remember my parents telling me “this is why we left Cambodia.” When Cambodia was invaded by Vietnam in 1979, liberating the country from the Khmer Rouge, there was an overflow of refugees crossing the border into Thailand and my family joined the exodus of Cambodian refugees seeking a new life. We lived in various refugee camps for four years and spent a year in the Philippines in preparation for our immigration to the United States. When we arrived in the United States, I began school with a limited knowledge of English. Through the years, teachers and classmates asked about where I came from, what life was like, and why I left my country. I articulated what I knew and could remember, about leaving Cambodia. We left because of the war and the harsh life in the refugee camps, but the process of understanding the Killing Fields took place years later. We are all made up of stories and we are given many opportunities to tell them. We tell them to new friends or classmates and in many cases, we are asked to write them for class assignments. As many of my teachers liked to tell us, “write what you know.” They asked us to write about ourselves so we could learn about each other and from each other, highlighting the diversity in the classrooms. I was told by many teachers and classmates, who were very interested in my stories, to write a book and I took the advice to heart. In 2004, I finally sat down to write the stories of my life. These were collections of memories and stories of the refugee camps and stories that my parents told me about their life in Cambodia—a Cambodia that seemed idyllic and peaceful and also stories of war and the fear that came with it. When I wrote the book, Reflections of a Khmer Soul, I was trying to make sense of my life and experiences: being born into the Killing Fields, being a refugee, living in the United States and how all of this contributes to who I am. I wanted to understand Cambodia and why the Killing Fields took place. I still do not have the answers, but I have had glimpses of insights from my journey, which involved reading different autobiographies, engaging in discussions and debating with friends and relatives about the atrocities of Cambodia. I learned that how we interpret the Killing Fields depends on our backgrounds, whether we are from the countryside or the city. Questions I have debated with other Cambodian-Americans ranged from asking “Who is to blame? The rich who were oppressing the poor, causing the revolution,” to “was it the peasants of Cambodia who were so uninformed that they were easily brain-washed into joining the Khmer Rouge?” The answer always depends on who is talking and how far they have walked to understand Cambodia, and which story they want to tell. My book is about the beauty and the tragedy of my past and present. My family, along with all the Cam(continued on page 35) 10

Education: The Blueprint by Diana Wooten

When you first meet Tanya and hear her beautiful accent you know right away that she comes from a different country. You see Tanya (Tatiana) was born in the Ukraine. She and her parents and older brother lived in the college town of Kamenets-Podolsky. She describes herself as the typical little Soviet school girl wearing a little red bandana around her neck over her uniform. Tanya said “When I grew up our religion was “education.” Every aspect of our lives was based on education. It replaced our spirituality because the country was atheistic. It was the blueprint of our lives.” Even though her parents were simple folks they knew that education was the most important thing they could give their children. Her parents both graduated with a degree. “Momma graduated from a junior college and worked at a restaurant and my Dad graduated with a university degree in railroad engineering.” Tanya talks about the times her Mom would make cuts from the small family budget to hire extra tutors for her children when she felt they needed it. She wanted them to do well in school. It was a history tutor who instilled in Tanya a love for history. She earned a life credential in World History in teaching. She was 23 years old when she completed school, got married and was ready to begin her new life. Her first job in the Ukraine was teaching Archeology for an afterschool program. In the Ukraine because education was so important, parents and students wanted every opportunity to learn as much as possible. If a student wanted to learn more about a specific subject, after school they would go find an afterschool program that taught that subject. Because the curtain between the Soviet Union and the rest of the world had been closed, it wasn’t until 1988 that Tanya met her first Americans who came to their city to march in a Peace Walk. Their family hosted a group from northern California. The spokesperson extended an invitation for her to come and visit him if she ever came to America. It was two years later when she and her husband legally immigrated to America. They were drawn to a country where free enterprise existed and a land where dreams come true and the possibility for a better life! Tanya reminds me that she arrived at the JFK airport not knowing any English and with only $1.00 in her pocket!

She looked forward to the weekends at church when she could interact with other young adults and build friendships. Tanya quickly learned that the people she was taught to fear all her life were the very ones who were showing her such compassion, generosity and love. Different people came along side her and taught her English, took her to buy clothes, taught her to drive a car, and drove her to San Francisco for immigration appointments and the list goes on. Gaining more confidence, she knew she had to work hard to get ahead. At one time she worked three jobs one which was for the YMCA afterschool daycare. Working in a school environment once again gave her the encouragement to apply for a math paraprofessional aide. Her teacher Mrs. Doyle inspired her and she soon began to think she too could be a teacher! In 1993 she says she found a letter in her box at school inviting her to apply for the Paraprofessional Teacher Training Program grant. Tanya says “This was such a blessing to me because on my own with limited money, I don’t know how I would have made it without the grant’s support. It opened doors for me to be a middle class American, a homeowner, a reader and a traveler.” In the spring of 1997, Tanya obtained her dream and was hired through the classsize reduction program as a Kindergarten teacher. One of the greatest milestones for Tanya was receiving her U.S. citizenship in 2000. With the help of endorsements and help of Representative Wally Herger, she says “Once more I was reminded that America is a land of professional and personal dreams. Once more I was reminded that a true democracy is real. Today, I really try to emphasize patriotic theme and Americanism for my students. I feel like my life is living proof of America being the land of opportunity.” Tanya describes herself as an American History buff. Her second grade students learn famous quotes from the Declaration of Independence, the preamble, George Washington, and the Gettysburg Address, just to name a few. Every year the students visit the voting polls and they vote democratically in their classroom. She has instilled in them the passion of being an American and proud of our country and what it represents. They can’t wait to turn 18 years old and vote! “This wonderful rich experience that I have as a teacher and as a person could not have happened without that day when I checked my mailbox and saw the application for the Paraprofessional Teacher Training Program.”

Tanya said the first years as an immigrant were very difficult. Her first job was as a live-in caregiver for a senior adult.


Celebrating Diversity: Facing the Challenges I spent two years doing education research at Bearden Middle School* in an urban area of California. The population of Bearden is made up of a high percentage of African American and Latino students, English language learners, and households with low income. One familiar strand of rhetoric at Bearden is the celebration of diversity. Like many schools in the area, Bearden boasts a number of ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. This diversity is considered a hallmark and source of pride of the school. Teachers and students agree about the racial and ethnic diversity of the student body. Bearden is indeed very diverse (with over a dozen different home languages represented among approximately 750 students, located in a district of a city that comprises a number of ethnic groups), it is not unique in the wider surrounding area, nor is it unique in California. California is the top state in the total number of first-generation immigrant children and also the total number (and highest percentage) of second-generation immigrant children (born to immigrant parents) (Terrazas & Batalova, 2008). However, the half-dozen teachers and staff whom I interviewed acknowledged with frustration the low levels of academic achievement among Bearden students. In addition, some teachers, though they outwardly noted the ethnic and linguistic diversity of the student body as a positive, disparaged what they view as the cultural and linguistic barriers to the students’ learning. Two of the staff remarked that many parents of students “were not literate,” and that this was a problem. One staff member explained that the problem of “uneducated” and “young” parents who operated entirely within their communities was a longstanding one. In her estimation, the problem was rooted in the parents who were not willing to assimilate into American cultural values, forcing their children into a kind of cultural limbo in which they did not know “what culture they’re operating in” and “did not value English,” This same staff member also noted the exceptional ethnic and linguistic diversity of Bearden (as compared even to the local schools) as one of its unique points of pride. It became apparent


to me that this clash between opposing belief systems was typical. The sentiments of some of the teachers at Bearden are reflective of a larger reality: America is celebrated for diversity, but the challenges that come with educating a linguistically and ethnically diverse population are rarely acknowledged. Instead of experiencing an increase in measures of support and specialized training for new teachers and valuing the experience of veteran teachers, educators have seen an increase in standardized education.

California serves as a salient example of increasing standardization by Helen Min in educational curriculum, pedagogy, and policy in direct response to increasing diversity in the student population. In 2005, California public schools had more than 1.5 million English language learner students enrolled, making up approximately one third of its students and totaling more than any other state. California’s general youth population also reflects large numbers of immigrant youth, with 24% of California’s 13-24 year-olds identifying as first-generation immigrants, and another 25% identifying as second-generation. Forty-five percent of the youth population reported speaking a language other than English in their homes (California Tomorrow, 2005). The largest wave of immigration to the U.S. took place about a hundred years ago; the most recent wave of immigration was spurred in 1965 by a change in immigration laws (Spickard, 2007). Since then, citizens from all over the world have participated in a steady immigration to the U.S. The 2000 Census counted 28 million first-generation immigrants in the United States. Among the first-generation immigrant population are a percentage of youth, who are attending mostly public schools. The students at Bearden are part of a much larger population of immigrant youth in the United States. With this continued immigration and growing population of immigrant youth, the role of the educator becomes increasingly complicated. Educators are operating within a larger climate of contradictions. Recent attempts to pass The Dream Act illustrate this: the premise of the act directly celebrates the idea of education as a path for possibility and change and provides a supported means by which undocumented youth may pursue a pathway to citizenship. However, the failure to pass this act clearly shows the continued resistance to immigration reform and the failure to acknowledge the very real complications and need for thoughtful legislation that result from a steady increase of immigrants (both undocumented and documented). America is still held up as a land of possibility, and education is considered a means to achieve and prosper. To many immigrants, young and old, the idea of the American Dream is alive and well. All the recent immigrant students at Bearden whom I interviewed explained why their families decided to immigrate and offered

some aspect of the American Dream—leaving for a better education in the U.S., better job opportunities, and a better future. For these students and their families, learning English and establishing themselves in the U.S. as Americans are also parts of their projected futures. Our need to acknowledge this growing diversity and the complexity of educating such a diverse population is essential and urgent. For all youth, adolescence is a time fraught with challenges and transition. But for some immigrant youth, first and second generation, it is a documented reality that it is a much more tenuous and precarious time. As teachers design lessons, it is critical that the teachers take a closer look at the lives of these youth, who are presently part of a minority, but make up a significant portion of our American adolescents and continue to grow in number. It seems that despite insular family and community networks that provide stability and closer linguistic and cultural ties to the home communities, a good percentage of the immigrant youth that I interviewed had participated in largely a negative process of “Americanization,” wherein they had been marginalized to a part of the American society that led to a higher likelihood of delinquency, health issues, and a cultural or linguistic sacrifice. Hopefully, these Bearden students will not continue to limit their choice of who they can become, as has been the case with many minority immigrant youth in U.S. public schools (Sarroub, 2005; Valenzuela, 1999; Olsen, 1997). A large piece of this rests with how much American society, as well as teacher education institutions; value both their education and the teachers who guide this process. As these students need consistent and continued support in their English learning and social development, teachers also need support and continued professional development to be effective teachers. The process of truly acquiring “proficient social and academic English” cannot be addressed by superficial and formulaic measures (Valdés, 2001). As noted by Wong Fillmore (2004), a supportive languagelearning environment would provide ELLs with models “speakers of the target language who know it well enough to provide the learners with access to the language and the help they need for learning it” as well as “a social setting which brings learners and target language speakers into frequent contact to make language learning possible” (p. 52-3). Valdés makes the following recommendations for effective English instruction: ELL students need to be instructed to develop academic English in particular, have access to interpersonal English, academic English, and content matter of subject areas. She calls for an end to the isolation of these students, and advises: “programs for immigrant students must be seen as school-wide initiatives for which all teachers are responsible.” Even in the best-case scenario with concerned teachers and invested students, without school-wide structures and thoughtful pedagogy in place, there exists no real possibility of advancement for students.

ward a new working model of Americanism that is authentically rooted in diversity. At the very least, these students and their experiences push us to consider different way to consider race, diversity, and achievement. A true commitment to recognizing the value of all individuals is no easy feat. If we sincerely endeavor to reform public education, it would mean not only a shift in perspective, but an ongoing implementation of change in teacher training, instruction, and curriculum development. The truth is that beyond the surface rhetoric of meritocracy and achievement, honest conversations about our belief systems make us uncomfortable. As the numbers show, the demographics of the U.S. are rapidly shifting. Rather than seeing change as a threat, we need to embrace it as a doorway to possibility. We can no longer adhere to archaic definitions of what it means to be American. We hold a collective fate, and so we need to embrace the change and diversity that marks it. *Pseudonyms are used in this article.

California Tomorrow. (2005). Coming of Age in California: Demographics of the New Majority. Changing Times: California Tomorrow Newsletter, summer/fall 2005, 3-5. Retrieved April 29, 2006 from Olsen, L. (1997). Made in America: Immigrant Students in Our Public Schools. New York: The New Press. Sarroub, L. (2005). All American Yemeni Girls: Being Muslim in a Public Schools. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Spickard, P. (2007). Almost all Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. Terrazas, A. and J. Batalova. (2009, October). Frequently requested statistics on immigrants and immigration in the United States. Migration Information Source. Retrieved October 25, 2009 from USFocus/display.cfm?ID=714#6. Valdes, G. (2001). Learning and Not Learning English: Latino Students in American Schools. New York: Teachers College Press. Wong Fillmore, L. (1994). Second-Language Learning in Children: a Model of Language Learning in Social Context. In E. Bialyshik (Ed.) Language Processing by Bilingual Children, 49-69. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Despite their academic and social challenges, these students at Bearden demonstrated an unexpected resilience evidenced in their optimism for their own futures, their loyalty and ties to their family and communities and, most strikingly, their recognition of America as their home and of themselves as Americans. The student beliefs reflected in this study may help us work to-


 Two Centuries of Black American Art (1976) by Bridget R. Cooks Chapter excerpt from Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum, University of Massachusetts Press, forthcoming 2011. All rights reserved.


ity had arrived in the art world. Instead, his charge was to break through the racial barriers of ignorance and willful exclusion that still existed in America’s most respected art museums even two centuries after it was founded. Through his curatorial vision, Driskell brought the art world up-to-date on the history of Black American art production beginning in 1750 (twenty six years before the nation’s birth) in a bold presentation of over 200 works of art by sixty three artists virtually ignored by mainstream American museums.

Two Centuries of Black American Art was the only historically comprehensive exhibition of art by Black Americans in American art museums. Organized by The Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1976, the exhibition traveled in 1977 to The High Museum of Art at Atlanta, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, and The Brooklyn Museum. Until 1976, evidence of Black Two Centuries received greater American creativity and artistic visibility and validation by the production in mainstream mumainstream art world than any seums had been sparse. Beginother group exhibition of work ning with their exhibitions of by Black artists. It also gave the art in the nineteenth century public the opportunity to bethrough private galleries and come aware of and enjoy the world’s exhibitions Black Ameridepth and breadth of art made cans struggled to be recognized by Black people. Guest curated as relevant to the art world. by Professor David C. Driskell, Two Centuries not only an- 1975.37.8, Jacob Lawrence, The 1920’s... The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots, 1974, Black artists took advantage of nounced the presence of Black Screenprint on Domestic Etching paper from hand-cut film stencils, 34 1/2 x 26 inches, Cour- every exhibition opportunity to prove themselves as equal contemporary fine artists, but tesy of Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Gift of Lorillard Tobacco Company. © 2011 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society contributors to the history of also shocked visitors and critics (ARS), New York American art. Mainstream art in attendance record-breaking numbers with its display of objects from several visual traditions museums did not begin organizing exhibitions of art by Black that had previously been omitted from most accounts of Ameri- Americans until the late 1920s. Inconsistent in their acknowledgment of the quality and value of art by Black Americans and spocan art. radically offered to the public, these exhibitions did not indicate This chapter analyzes what was at stake concerning the curatothe rich history of diverse artistic production by Black artists. Two rial objectives, critical reception, and museological impact of Two Centuries filled the void of this omission of Black American artists Centuries, and focuses on the challenges it posed to the art world. in art history and museum history and pointed to the absences of Mounted in the commemorative year of the nation’s bicentennial, artworks that had been discarded, devalued, and lost because of Two Centuries was positioned to fulfill a nationalist desire to demunequal standards of recognition…. onstrate America’s progress regarding race relations on its 200th anniversary…Along with the LACMA exhibition Women Artists: Pressure from Inside and Outside 1550–1950 curated by Ann Sutherland Harris and Linda Nochlin It all started in 1968 when LACMA, known then as the County earlier in the year, Two Centuries was poised to serve as evidence Museum of Art, organized The Sculpture of Black Africa: The Paul of the unity of the American people through the arts and the in- Tishman Collection, an exhibition of the Tishman collection of Afclusive policies of the art museum along gender and racial lines. rican Art. At the time, most of the security guards at the museum In reality, Driskell’s objective was not to confirm that racial equal- were Black, but there had been no exhibition of art by a Black

American artist since the 1935 exhibition of sculpture by Beulah Ecton Woodard in the institution’s previous formation as the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art…. Led by Sergeant William Knight, the guards organized to make the African art exhibition an event that would involve the Black communities of Los Angeles. Knight and twelve of the guards formed the idea for a Black Culture Festival to take place at the museum during the run of the exhibition. With approval from the museum administration, this group became the organizing committee for the festival to “commemorate the awakening of Black Culture and to encourage the Black Community to participate in more Museum activities.” A diverse group of Black Angelenos—students, artists, television and film entertainers, dancers, musicians, and others—got involved in the public programs and cultural festivities as a result of the guards’ efforts to seize upon the museum’s interest in Black Africans. In a strategy reminiscent of the Harlem Renaissance, in which Black Americans capitalized on the art world’s fascination with African art to create a space for Black American artists to be recognized, the exhibition of the Tishman collection at the County Museum of Art provided such an opportunity for Blacks to pressure the museum to recognize Black American creativity and achievement in the city. On December 28, 1968 more than 4,000 mostly Black visitors made the Black Culture Festival at the County Museum a celebration of African heritage and current achievements of Black Los Angeles. The exhibition and its programs opened the door for Black Americans to take a role in the County Museum of Art’s programming as the art of their homeland was featured at the museum.… The guards were not the only ones involved in making a change in the exhibition programs at the museum. In 1969 two Black members of the museum staff, art preparators Cecil Fergerson and Claude Booker, began agitating for the presence of Black American artists in the museum’s exhibitions. Fergerson and Booker formed the Black Arts Council in 1968, an organization of Black staff, artists, and citizens concerned about the advancement of art by (continued on page 36)

d o o h r o b h g i e N e h t From By Steven Brandick Teachers from the neighborhood. That’s what the Career Ladder has been all about. Find good candidates, give them strong advisement that points them in the right direction, provide them with some support and hire them when they have their credentials. The concept took off as soon as we began in 1994, and the program flew high for years as LAUSD hired thousands of teachers for class-size reduction. Right now, it is in a holding pattern, waiting for the economy to get better and for the baby boomers to retire, leaving a huge shortage of teachers in their wake. It is a good time to consider why teachers from the neighborhood are any better than other teachers. It sure seems to be the case. But why? Linda Potts is a Special Education teacher working with students with learning disabilities at Manual Arts High School. She grew up in that neighborhood and became a teacher with Career Ladder support. Her path to teaching serves as a good explanation. When asked if she relates better to her students than the average person, she says with a smile, “Oh yeah, I grew up where they grew up.” Linda’s mother went to community college and worked for years as an aide for LAUSD, but Linda never intended to become a teacher. She started out great. She was in honors classes at John Muir Middle School. She was the class president, and everything looked good. When it was time to go to high school, she decided to go to Fairfax rather than the neighborhood school, Manual Arts High. The Jackson 5 was at Fairfax, and Linda wanted to go to school with them. Her sister also went to Fairfax. It seemed like a good idea. Then came the gasoline crisis of the late 1970’s, and it was hard getting to school. She and her sister had to catch two buses all the way from South Central to West LA. Then there was a bus strike and they had to walk and hitchhike, but nothing was going to keep Linda from getting to school. Going inside was a different story. There were days when she would struggle to get to Fairfax and then hangout on the street with a crowd of the wrong people. When graduation came around, she did not have enough credits and had to go to adult school for five extra months to finish up. Linda understood that she had messed up, but, as she puts it, “I was smart enough to know that I needed a high school diploma.” She also needed a job, because, by this time, she was a single mom. She contacted the Job Corp and they helped her get work at Amtrak. She stayed there for the next nineteen years. She started as a clerk, went through an apprenticeship program and became an electrician. She worked on locomotives maintaining traction motor brushes in the brake systems and anything else electric. She even learned how to run the locomotives and worked her way up to foreman, and then assistant conductor, what was known back then as a brakeman. Then she had a string of bad luck, beginning with a minor train wreck in the yard and ending with her decision to quit. (continued on page 35)


The Importance of Stories and Storytelling By Georgiana Sanchez A long, long time ago, People all over the earth were given a language. At that time, stories were born. Stories mirror our world. At the same time, they are like rays of sunlight illuminating the dark places so we can see more clearly. As human beings we have an innate need to tell the stories that define our lives. How many times have we called up our friends or family to relate some event we had experienced? It seems that in the telling of the event—what happened, how it affected us, the lessons we learned—we are trying to articulate and make the event more “real” so we can better understand what it all means. In the Native American tradition, stories are sacred and powerful. Leslie Marmon Silko, a Laguna Pueblo woman, one of our great writers and storytellers says, “Stories aren’t just entertainment, don’t be fooled. They are all we have, all we have to fight off sickness and death. We don’t have anything if we don’t have the stories…” Among Native Americans the oral tradition of the tribal community was its most important method of teaching and passing on the sacred and everyday knowledge needed to survive as a people. Among the many diverse Native American nations there is the universal concept that words, stories, shape our perception of reality. We were taught to be careful of what we said, because our words, once spoken, resonate throughout the cosmos, affecting the universe for generations to come. Linguists, Benjamin Whorf and Edward Sapir developed a hypothesis known as “linguistic relativity” that expresses, in a scientific way, what Indigenous Peoples have known since the beginning of time on this earth. Sapir says, “The fact of the matter is that the ‘real’ world is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group…the worlds in which societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached.” So, the question we should ask ourselves is—what kind of stories, what kind of language are we using to shape our student’s perception of reality?


Several years ago, I was at a conference in

Spokane Washington, where a wonderful woman, Anne Schaef , was asked to be the Keynote Speaker at this gathering of Native American educators and students. She had been asked to comment about what she had written in her book, When Society becomes An Addict. Anne Shaef talked about a system of thought that believes in the “myth of objectivity.” It is a system of thought that says we can remove self from self, remove self from others—that the world can somehow be objectified—and that we are separate from the rest of creation. With this system of thought, everything outside of ourselves—a tree, a bird, a mountain, a person—becomes an object, a thing, that we need to contend with or ignore. She said, “In time, we lose the ability to participate in self and the universe.” Anne Schaef talked about our collective need to get back to the legends, to the sacred stories. I believe that stories are an important way to the mystical knowledge that lies hidden within us and all around us. I always tell stories to my university students at California State University, Long beach. There is a story I tell my students in the opening session of my American Indian Philosophies class. I call it “The Wisdom Story.” Here is a brief summary of the story: Long, long ago, we were all one people. We all spoke the same language, but even in that long-ago-society, there were people with special gifts. Those with good memories were The Keepers of the History; others were The Keepers of the Songs, The Keepers of the Ceremonies, or the Keepers of other special duties. The Keepers of the Wisdom were Elders, men and women, who taught The People how to live life in a Sacred Manner, with respect for all of life. In time, some of The People stopped listening to the Elders or would take only part of the Wisdom stories and twist them around to suit their ideas. The society began to fall apart, people began to argue and vie for power. The Wisdom stories began to be distorted and the way they were being used was dangerous. This troubled the Elders so they decided to take The Wisdom away from the people.

One night, while the people were sleeping, the Elders took The Wisdom away from each and every person and brought the shining energy back to their lodge. They decided to hide The Wisdom and thought of all kinds of places to hide it, but nothing seemed right. Finally, one of the Elders had an idea; this Elder was so old it was difficult to say if it was a man or a woman. (I am positive it was a woman.) This Elder said: “I know where we can hide The Wisdom and they will never think to look for it there.” The Elder started to chuckle. “Tonight, while The People are still sleeping, let’s go back and hide The Wisdom deep inside each and every one. They will never think to look for it there.” And that’s what they did. I am still amazed at how university students react to this story. I tell them I count on the truth of this story, the truth that reminds us that hidden deep inside all people is The Wisdom needed to help us live lives in a good way, in relationship with, and respect for, all of Creation. From the Native American perspective this is living life in a “Sacred manner.” Every time our consciousness is raised, every time we reach an epiphany of understanding, every time our whole being responds to the beauty of a sunset or the sunlight glinting off the ocean, our own Inner Wisdom flares forth and for a moment we know. (continued on page 36)

                           

During my frequent trips to Accra, I marvel at how cosmopolitan it is. Many middle-class Ghanaians travel back and forth between countries and continents, and most have been schooled outside their country. Indeed, post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa has been shaped by political and industrial leaders with educational pedigrees that span the globe from Russia, to the Netherlands to England, Cuba, and the United States. These global connections make it common for three or four languages to be spoken at informal and formal events in Accra. In addition, educated Ghanaians typically keep abreast of political events beyond their borders, and this keen interest in the rest of the world, coupled with facility in multiple languages, is enough to humble any American who considers himself worldly. Returning to Princeton, New Jersey where I live and teach, I am struck by how disinterested most Americans are in the world beyond our borders. The rest of the world is moving at a breakneck pace forming international business partnerships and generating political good will. Americans, to the detriment of our political and economic future, continue to labor under the illusion that the United States will remain the world’s super power. In order for the United States to educate for the global realities of our present, public schools must thoroughly integrate foreign language training, cultural studies, and world history into primary and secondary curriculums. While living in Santa Monica, California, I enrolled my daughter in Edison Language Academy, a Spanish language immersion program. Edison was a public magnet school until 1998 when California voters passed Proposition 227 requiring that children under ten years old only be instructed in English. Edison was able to continue its dual immersion program by becoming a charter school. The ugly xenophobia that guaranteed the passage of Proposition 227 does not reduce state expenditures, halt legal or illegal immigration, and it certainly does not improve quality of life in California. The book Becoming Biliterate: A Study of Two-Way Bilingual Immersion by Bertha Perez does a wonderful job of summarizing the longitudinal research. In short, students from Spanish-dominant homes and English-dominant homes, who attended bilingual immersion programs, out performed their peers in English-only schools on measures of educational achievement. Edison Language Academy required that 60% of the Kindergarten students come from Spanish-dominant homes. Many of these students had parents who had not graduated high school in Mexico. In fact, a recent immigrant in my daughter’s first grade came to school having never been taught an alphabet. And yet, when my daughter attended the high school graduation ceremony in 2010, she found that nearly 100% of Edison graduates had enrolled in a four-year college or were planning to attend community college. One of my daughter’s best friends, whose parents never finished high school, was on her way to the University of California Berkeley. When I compare the types of academic success at Edison Language Academy with the persistent black and Latino achievement gap in the Princeton public schools I am saddened but not shocked. Princeton Regional Schools invests a tremendous amount of resources in sports and advanced placement classes that seem to reassert racial segregation in the guise of a meritocratic system. Language instruction, on the other hand, continues to be whittled away through budget cuts. If I were granted one wish for low-performing schools throughout the nation, it would be to see them turned into duallanguage immersion programs. My youngest daughter is currently enrolled in a Chinese immersion program and my experiences are similar. Graduates of these programs acquire global citizenship. They not only acquire native fluency, they also develop sensitivity to other cultures, histories and new ways of seeing the world. Language immersion dissenters’ racist discourses about IQ and family dysfunction, and focuses students and teachers on their journey of language/culture discovery. Importantly, teachers who teach through immersion have to be effective in the classroom because they cannot expect academic support from parents who do not speak the language. Building his social and economic policy around winning the future, President Obama has made education the core of that mission. In order for Americans to compete globally in business, we must realize that the rest of the world is already one step ahead of us. Even Princeton University graduates are finding that their job prospects in Asia and Europe are hindered by their lack of language and cultural fluency. Learning a second language through early immersion offers more than potential monetary gains, it opens doors to new opportunities and experiences that many of us could only dream of.


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Code-Meshing as World English: Edited by Vershawn Ashanti Young and Aja Y. Martinez

Pedagogy, Policy, Performance

What if during formal language instruction native English speakers and English language learners were exposed to a variety of Englishes both from the regions of their countries and from around the globe? What if all English users were encouraged not only to understand varieties of English, but allowed to fluidly employ them both in formal and informal contexts? What if English teachers and business professionals, indeed every person in a position to judge the effective and fluent use of English, were trained to encounter unfamiliar dialects as an opportunity to learn how English is used by different cultures, in different parts of the world? This collection looks toward the day when the visions iterated in these questions and explored by the contributors to this volume become reality, when teaching English prescriptively (“these are the rules, learn how to follow them!”) is replaced with models of instruction for teaching English descriptively (“these are rules from various language systems, learn to combine them effectively”). The prescriptive model is one that usually values only one mode of preferred English. It often stems from ideas that support English-Only laws, where world languages, dialects, and accents associated with certain people are stigmatized, rendered illegal, and alienates too many students from language education. Prescriptive teaching (talk and write only one way for public and school) diminishes too many people’s desire to learn effective communication. It further reduces the likelihood that those who might benefit most from literacy instruction will acquire high levels of efficiency in English language arts.

This collection envisions code-meshing, rather than code-switching, as a way to promote the linguistic democracy of English, and to increase the acquisition and egalitarian, effective use of English in school, in government, in public, and at home. Although linguists have traditionally viewed code-switching as the simultaneous use of two language varieties in a single context, scholars and teachers of English have appropriated the term to argue for teaching minority students to monitor their languages and dialects according to context. For advocates of code-switching, teaching students to distinguish between “home language” and “school language” offers a solution to the tug-of-war between standard and nonstandard Englishes. This volume arises from concerns that this kind of code-switching may actually facilitate the illiteracy and academic failure that educators seek to eliminate and can promote resistance to Standard English rather than encouraging its use. Thus we have brought together a range of original essays on the topic of code meshing to help transform our vision into reality. The original essays in this collection offer various perspectives on why code-meshing—blending minoritized dialects and world Englishes with Standard English—is a better pedagogical alternative than code-switching in the teaching of reading, writing, listening, speaking, and visually representing to diverse learners. This collection argues that code-meshing rather than code-switching leads to lucid, often dynamic prose by people whose first language is something other than English, as well as by native English speakers who speak and write with “accents” and those whose

Master of Science in Education OUR PROGRAMS: U Elementary Teacher Prep U Secondary Teacher Prep U Special Education Teacher Prep U Clear Credential U MS in Education/Credential U MS in Education/Instructional Leadership U MS in Education/Individually Designed Program U Instructional Leadership Certificate Erica Romero | Class of 2010 Teacher, Our Lady of Talpa School “The instructors at The Mount teach here because it is their passion. They cared for me as a real person and I was able to take what I was learning directly into my classroom.”

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home language or neighborhood dialects are deemed “nonstandard.” While acknowledging the difficulties in implementing a code-meshing pedagogy, editors Vershawn Ashanti Young and Aja Y. Martinez, along with a range of scholars from international and national literacy studies, English education, writing studies, sociolinguistics, and critical pedagogy, argue that all writers and speakers benefit when we demystify academic language and encourage students to explore the plurality of the English language in both unofficial and official spaces. This collection speaks directly to teachers of oral and written English, the ones who unknowingly double-speak, claiming on the one hand that varieties of English are fully compatible with and sometimes more expressive than Standard English, but who on the other hand say, “But students must master the rules of standard English usage for standardized tests, to show that they can be successful as professionals at work, and at various stages of school.” “Our hands are tied,” they say. Many then close their eyes as they help to tie many of our students’ tongues, in hopes that a few will be successful, while knowing from history, past experience, and current statistics that most don’t succeed, certainly most people classified as minorities won’t, not under the current limited rubric of what counts as linguistic success. This volume seeks to move the scholarly discussion about language diversity and literacy instruction to the next stage— well beyond the current dichotomy between emphases on acculturating students into Standard English and the strategic movement between (theoretically) distinct and identifiable discursive codes. These collection charges teachers, researchers, and the public to evaluate code-meshing as ideology and pedagogy, put it to the test, to assess for themselves whether or not it’s beneficial to all students and that by doing so our profession, our instruction, our world, and so many peoples’ lives will only get better.

    Enrique C. Ochoa and Gilda L. Ochoa It has been over forty years since students walked out of their East Los Angeles schools demanding many educational changes including access to relevant curriculum. Nevertheless, today’s students continue to report to us, “The only time Latinos are mentioned is when we learn about the Mexican American War and maybe Cesar Chavez.” In an era of scripted teaching and high stakes testing, the diverse histories and distinct assets of students and their communities remain largely absent in schools. When they are included, it is often in ways that ignore Latina/o heterogeneity, tokenize and misrepresent cultures, and mask systems of power and inequality. These approaches send clear messages to students that their histories, cultures, and experiences are not valued. It is time that our schools teach about the heterogeneity of Latinas/os and provide analyses to foster more critically conscious and academically engaged spaces and students. After all, Latinas/os constitute forty-eight percent of the Los Angeles county population, and are approximately 74 percent of the student population of LAUSD. However, the category Latina/o is broad; it is a panethnic term that includes people of “Latin American” origins with diverse experiences, national origins, racial/ ethnic identities, political beliefs, histories, languages, and class positions. People of Mexican descent comprise the majority of Latinas/os in Los Angeles County, but there is also significant generational, class, regional, and linguistic diversity – including students who are monolingual English speakers, bilingual Spanish speakers, and speakers of indigenous languages such as Zapotec or Mixtec. Propelled largely by U.S. military interventions, the Central American population in Los Angeles has grown since the 1980s. While Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans are among the largest Central American communities in the area, there is also an active Garifuna population of African and indigenous roots from Belize and the Atlantic Coasts of Central America. In addition, a growing portion of the student population identifies as Mexican and Central American or Afro-Latina/o in recognition of their multiracial Caribbean, Central American, or Latina/o and African American roots. Such heterogeneity complicates facile categorization, and it belies a diversity of worldviews, histories, and assets that the U.S. and schools often ignore. By not understanding and valuing the rich histories and cultures within our society, we often reduce them to caricatures to be superficially celebrated on special days or during certain months. A prime example of cultural celebrations devoid of a critical curricular analysis is Cinco de Mayo. It commemorates the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 when the poorly equipped Mexican Liberal army comprised of indigenous and working class Mexicanos repelled the French invasionary force that was allied with Mexican Conservatives. Much less emphasized, however, is what this date actually means. Beer companies, restaurants, and the popular media have appropriated this date to advance consumerism while the Spanishlanguage media and some schools portray it as merely a day of Mexican pride. Absent from these accounts is the larger context of indigenous and working class Mexican resistance to foreign imposition and imperialism which was occurring at the same time in other parts of the world such as Northern Africa and Indochina. Thus, 5 de Mayo is not just a day of national pride but of resistance connected to other third world movements. (continued on page 37)




in the Classroom Sarah Fama, Caroline Prieto, Tanna Rozar

We can call our students “silent,” “multilingual,” or “autistic,” but these terms represent an extraordinary diversity of student (and instructor) experiences, experiences we explored in our respective culminating experiences studies as M.A. candidates in English composition. Although we did not consciously craft our studies with a common aim in mind, we were each trying to grapple with the complexities of the classrooms we would soon be entering as instructors; in particular, we were all drawn to investigate the ways in which students (and instructors) negotiate these differences, and how these negotiations play out in the classroom. Below we discuss findings from our studies, all of which were conducted at a large urban public university in spring 2010. Caroline Prieto: Student Silence My study explored student and teacher perceptions of student silence during class discussions in first-year composition (FYC) courses. It involved six teachers and 12 English-dominant, highachieving, first-generation college students of color, nine of whom were female. I was particularly interested in whether or not FYC students and teachers attributed student silence to race, gender, and/or class difference. Whereas the teacher participants perceived silence as mainly rooted in inherent characteristics (e.g. student shyness), the student participants emphasized social factors (e.g. fear of being wrong or rejected) to explain their own silences. In addition, while a number of students perceived connections between their silences and their ethnic backgrounds, only a few of the teachers did. For both teachers and students, though, silence presented some tension. While the students perceived their own silences as useful (for avoiding rejection, for example), they also recognized the importance of speaking during discussions and expressed a desire to be more vocal. Similarly, while the teachers sympathized with reticent students, they admitted feeling bothered by student silence. In the end, the teachers welcomed, but did not require the students to talk and the students remained silent.


My findings suggest that the students in this study employed silence as a deliberate strategy to meet perceived teacher and peer expectations. As such, it often represented complex and hidden identity negotiations amid social expectations based on race, gender and class. The students viewed class discussion not as an opportunity to explore multiple interpretations, but to display knowledge of “correct” readings. In discussion, students risked being “wrong” and potentially compromising their identity as Good Students. Because these students perceived education as a means for social and economic advancement, they could not risk giving up their good academic standing. For the female par-

ticipants--who believed that maintaining a Good Student identity involved not only never being “wrong” , but also being liked by everyone--silence provided social safety. Several female participants, viewing silence as a marker of politeness, reported keeping disagreements to themselves because they did not want to appear “rude” or “offensive.” Interestingly, none of the male participants characterized talking during discussions this way. This finding seems consistent with Bell and Golombisky’s (2004) analysis that “[t]he performance of silence is one common enactment of femininity in our classrooms” (268-298). Silence also provided social safety for the immigrant & minority students. For one student, silence served as a protective shield from attacks against his Mexican identity. For some African American students, silence served as a way to be taken seriously in professional settings, which rejected the “loud Black girl” stereotype. This finding supports Fordham’s (1997) analysis that high-achieving Black students, unfortunately, feel the need to silence themselves in order to persist in school. Mistaking student silence for inability to speak due to inherent characteristics, the teachers hoped that students would eventually voluntarily join discussions. While this approach works for students who already felt empowered to enter the discussions, it proved ineffective for these students, who lacked confidence in their own ideas (Hartman, 2006). In the end, silence prevented self-expression, critical engagement, and development of a secure identity among the students in this study. To be clear, I’m not advocating forcing students to talk. What I am advocating is for teachers to examine and approach student silence more actively, recognizing that some may remain silent because we reward them for doing so. Tanna Rozar: Student Negotiation of Discourse Differences The aim of this study, which explored cultural-identity conflicts among bilingual composition students, was to understand how students perceive and negotiate the differences between their home discourse, a foreign language or dialect, and the Academic discourse used in college writing courses. In the spring of 2010, 73 bilingual students in upper-division writing courses completed a questionnaire, and seven of these students were later interviewed. Only students that spoke another language or non-standard English dialect at home could participate in the study. If a student had oral fluency but not written proficiency in that language, he or she was still encouraged to participate in the study since it is believed that speech can influence one’s writing (Delpit, 1995; Gee, 1989; Holly, 2009; Scott, 1981). In the end, I found that students felt more “American” after

speaking English and thought English facilitated new friendships, but at the same time they thought it hindered family relationships. One student revealed that her parents think she is disrespectful when she speaks English, and they also notice changes in her mannerisms and tone of voice. These behavioral changes seemed to cause some family turmoil. Things weren’t necessarily easier at school; in the composition classroom, students identified three specific challenges: participating or speaking aloud in class, writing academic essays, and struggling to maintain or preserve their first language. When asked about their cultural identity, many students felt they had one unified identity. These students seemed to recognize the connection between language and culture, but they viewed English (or any language, for that matter) as simply a tool or “form of communication.” However, students who said they had a dual identity felt there was a strong connection between language and culture, believing that a language can embody or represent certain cultural values and perspectives and, at many times, these cultural values can clash with others. These students expressed more tension between their home language and English and said they often felt like two different people. Students negotiated these language tensions or difficulties by using both languages frequently, by code switching, and by using their first language in the classroom. Students admitted to using their first language in the composition classroom when taking notes or participating in small group discussions. By using their first language, students felt they could express themselves better and complete tasks or assignments more efficiently. On the whole, the findings from this study suggest that students often use their first language to foster the second and that English has affected students in positive and negative ways. With that being said, this study seeks to promote bilingual awareness and calls for an expansion in cultural-identity repertoire. Specifically, teachers and students need to have explicit discussions about culture, identity, and language acquisition so teachers can determine what these concepts/terms mean, or may not mean, to their students. These conversations will help teachers determine what activities, assignments, and teaching strategies are most useful/appropriate for these bilingual or generation 1.5 students. Moreover, it will create a comfortable learning environment in which students will feel free to ask questions, participate in various writing activities, or even use their first language in the classroom. Sarah Fama: Composition on the Spectrum While the rate of autism spectrum diagnoses was around 15 in every 10,000 births in the early 1990s, it has since risen significantly, and continues to rise; the Centers for Disease Control estimates the prevalence at 1 in 110 among children born in 1998, and one in 70 among boys (Rice, 2009). Alongside this rapid rise in diagnoses has been a rise in the number of individuals diagnosed as “higher functioning” and improvements in early-childhood diagnosis and intervention, which have led to far better outcomes for many children (Adreon and Durocher, 2007). All of this evidence suggests that in the coming years, we are likely to see more and more students with autism

spectrum diagnoses “mainstreamed” in k-12 schools, and, later, attending college. This was the impetus for my study, which examined how four composition instructors perceived students on the autism spectrum, and also examined the experience of a 22-year-old student who self-identifies as having Asperger syndrome. All of the instructors reported having at least some exposure to persons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, but none had yet had a student explicitly identify himself or herself as having an autism spectrum disorder. One instructor, who reported said that she expected that a college student would be “highly functioning”, but “would have a lot of difficulty in class doing group work, or responding, or…not very interactive with other students.” Other instructors echoed this expectation that students on the autism spectrum would have trouble with the social aspects of the classroom; one instructor said, “They can talk about certain subjects and seem erudite and really knowledgeable about it, but they have a hard time sort of interacting in a personal way.” Another compared students on the spectrum with “the Japanese student who had recently arrived here [who is] not able to interpret many of the cultural and interpersonal cues because they aren’t familiar with them.” The student I interviewed, a 22-year-old creative writing major, echoed some of the instructors, saying “I don’t really always know what, how I’m supposed to act socially.” But the student, who I will call “J.”, also argued against assuming that persons on the autism spectrum are all alike, while also explaining why he often chose not to tell others about his identity as someone with Asperger syndrome: “If it’s one thing I know, it’s that people with Asperger’s are just so varied…and I don’t want anyone thinking that they know what Asperger’s is just because they talked to me briefly.” When I asked J. how he felt instructors could do better to help students with autism spectrum disorders, he again emphasized that “no two Aspies will be exactly the same, because it’s a spectrum.” The diverse nature of the autism spectrum itself is further complicated by the diversity on campus; one instructor brought up the possibility that at a large, urban public university with an extremely diverse student population, a student’s autism spectrum disorder might easily be “masked” by other forms of difference: “I would guess at [this university] it would be really hard…to find someone with just Asperger’s and not…somebody who’s Asperger’s but not an immigrant or not bilingual and not a first generation college student.” Likewise, the rarity of autism spectrum disorders puts it low on the list of priorities for instructors: one pointed out that “we have…students with more common, dire needs.” Despite this, I think it is nonetheless valuable to continue trying to deepen our understanding of autism spectrum disorders – and not just because we are likely to see more students on the autism spectrum in our classrooms as the years go by. In a 2009 article published in The Reading Teacher, Bea Chandler-Olcott and Paula Kluth argue that when students with autism are meaningfully included in the literacy classroom, conceptions of literacy expand, multiple ways of participating in the classroom are valued, in(continued on next page)


structional planning focuses more on outcomes and less on activities, and teachers are positioned as inquirers. These are desirable goals for any classroom. Implications for the classroom The metaphor of “universal design” – a term with origins in architecture – has become an increasingly popular one in pedagogy, and we think it’s a particularly apt metaphor here. When the design of a building is “universalized” to make it more accessible to those with disabilities – by adding ramps and automatic doors, for example – the building becomes easier for everyone else to use, too. We can “universalize” our classrooms to make them more accessible to students who keep defaulting to silent mode, who are struggling with linguistic tensions, or who are non-neurotypical. And when we do, all of our students will benefit. Although the theory of “learning styles” has been debunked (Pashler, et al), each student we encounter in the classroom does have a unique history, a unique set of schema, a unique set of strategies for negotiating his or her own “difference” in the classroom. By making our classrooms more accessible, we can improve the learning experience for every student. Below, we present a brief list of strategies for doing just that which we’ve had success with. Freewrite - Give students a chance to formulate thoughts on a topic. Before having a class discussion, give students a chance to freewrite in response to the text or topic. This allows students who have difficulty “performing” a response to a question on the spot to gather their thoughts. “Jigsaw” Groups - A way of working together in groups to develop understanding of concepts and then share that understanding with classmates. “Jigsaw” groups are a great alternative to the standard “group presentation.” Students work together in a group to develop understanding of a concept, but then, instead of presenting to the class as a group, students are divided into a new set of groups which include one member of each of the previous groups. Each student then takes a turn sharing knowledge with their new group. This way, every student is responsible for what they learned in the first group, and can’t “hide” behind more talkative members when it’s time to present what they’ve learned. Conversacolor - Makes the rhetorical moves in a discussion “visible” to students. Each student gets a set of color-coded cards: each card corresponds to a “move” the student can make in discussion – red for a new idea, for example, blue to ask a question of clarification, and so on. The cards provide structure and help students develop meta-cognitive awareness of their own discussion moves; students also seem to like this strategy for making discussion into a kind of “game.” The instructor can add “rules” – for example, I often tell students that after they participate three times, they will have to wait until everyone has participated at least once before speaking again. These students then push their more reticent peers to join in! For more, see: http://www.ntlf. com/html/pi/v12n6/carnegie.htm


Drawing and “Art Gallery” - Help students visualize their own “reading” of a text, or visualize a process. College students unfailingly perk up when the instructor walks into the room with a stack of construction paper and a massive pack of crayons. Drawing a “book cover” for a text can help students concretize their

own ideas about what is significant in the text. Drawing a process, such as the process of putting together an essay portfolio, can help students visualize all of the steps they need to go through to complete the task. Finally, sharing the drawings with the rest of the class by taping them up to create a “gallery” of student work encourages everyone to participate, helps to de-privilege notions that one has to come up with the “right” answer in a discussion, and can illustrate that the dissonance of different and competing perspectives and interpretations can add richness to class discussion.

Works Cited Adreon, D. and Durocher, J. (2007). Evaluating the College Transition Needs of Individuals with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders. Intervention in School and Clinic, 42 (5), 271-279. Bell, E. and Golombisky, K. (2004). Voices and Silences in Our Classrooms: Strategies for Mapping Trails Among Sex/Gender, Race, and Class. Women’s Studies in Communication, 27 (3), 294-329. Chandler-Olcott, K. and Kluth, P. (2009). Why Everyone Benefits From Including Students with Autism in Literacy Classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 62 (7), 548-557. Delpit, L. (1995). The Politics of Teaching Literate Discourse. Cushman (Ed.), Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook (pp.s 545-554). New York: Bedford. Fordham, S. (1997). Those Loud Black Girls: (Black) Women, Silence, and Gender ‘Passing’ in the Academy. In M. Seller and L. Weis (eds.), Beyond Black and White: New Faces and Voices in U.S. Schools. Albany: State University of New York Press. Gee, Jams Paul. (1989). Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistic: Introduction and What Is Literacy? Cushman (Ed.), Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook (pp.s 525-537). New York: Bedford. Hartman, Pamela (2006). Loud on the Inside. Research in the Teaching of English, 41 (1), 82-117. Holly, K. Craig, at el. (2009). African-American English Speaking Students: An Examination of the Relationship between Dialect Shifting and Reading Outcomes. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Vol. 52(4), pp.s 839-855. Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., and Bjork, R. (2008). Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Vol. 9 (3), 105-119. Rice, C. (2009). Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, United States 2006. Retrieved from htm. Scott, Jerrie Cobb. (1981). The Influence of Spoken Language Patterns on the Writing of Black College Freshman. National Council of Teachers of English, Iss. 11, pp.s 1-88.

The Importance of

COL LABORATION for Today’s Diverse Schools by Wendy W. Murawski & Sally A. Spencer “I have to say, I don’t really get the whole inclusion thing. The extra workload that is created by having students with disabilities in my class makes it harder for me to give the other kids the time they need. It just seems unfair to me and the other kids in the class.” -Rebecca S., General Education Teacher Have you heard comments like this? Have you thought this yourself? Do you wonder why there is such a push for “inclusion”? Let us tell you! We’d like to address why kids with disabilities are more frequently part of today’s diverse classrooms and then provide you with some suggestions for finding success in inclusive situations. A powerful momentum led to the creation of more collaborative and inclusive schools. What is inclusion, anyway? “Inclusion” means that children with special needs can have those needs met in the general education typical environment, through a variety of supports and services that are provided in that setting. “Collaboration” means that professionals are playing nicely and are working together with a common goal to accomplish specific objectives. Inclusion isn’t just another crazy educational trend; any more than the equal rights of individuals of different races is a trend. It came about as the result of pervasive and long-standing inequity and discrimination in our society. But many questions still remain: How does this movement for more inclusive programs impact our classrooms? We know that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) mandates that kids with disabilities be given the opportunity to get their education in a conventional classroom alongside their typically developing peers, but we also know that it isn’t always easy! Students who have severe cognitive or physical needs often require

special accommodations such as assistive technology devices and adaptive equipment that may be beyond the expertise of most general education teachers. Kids with more common special needs, such as learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder (ADD), may need supports or adaptations to the curriculum in order to be successful. Others need instruction that is planned in such a way that it engages them using a variety of modalities and gives them choices in how to express their knowledge. Seriously, what’s a teacher to do?!? Believe it or not, there’s a miraculous answer that we’ve decided to unveil for you here that can make all these unmanageable demands seem manageable again. This incredible discovery is convenient, inexpensive, and it can be implemented by even first-year teachers. Are you ready? Wait for it . . . Collaboration!

“Oh please!!” We can hear you saying it even as we write it. “Collaboration can solve all those issues? Give me a break!” We believe it can and it will. Sure, you may not have the expertise to adapt that seventh-grade novel for the student with the third-grade reading level, but there’s someone in your school who does. You might not know how to operate an Eco language device, but there are people across the campus or around the corner that have the skills you need. You may not know how to engage that kindergartener who is already reading at the sixth-grade level, but there are experts out there who have the answers. It’s all about learning to reach out and work together. How does the move towards a more inclusive philosophy impact our classrooms? They require us to break out of the stereotypical paradigm of the teacher as the king/queen of the classroom, laboring away behind closed doors with nary another adult in sight. They compel us to reach across the hallway to our colleagues and ask for help. They demand that we let go of the vision of ourselves as the allknowing experts, and work as a team to educate our learners. All of our learners. Simply put, they require us to collaborate. There is no book in the world that can teach you everything required to service all kids—teachers spend their whole careers trying to acquire that expertise—but what we can tell you is to work with others to get the information you need when you need it. Rick Lavoie, a special education guru and the author of the classic video F.A.T. City (Lavoie, 2004), said it best: “We have been doing closed-book teaching in an open-book world.” In other words, it’s (continued on page 35)


efocusing the Socialized Lens Refocusing the ocialized Lens Refocusing the Social ized Lens efocusing the Socialized Lens Refocusing the ocialized Lens Refocusing the Socialized Lens Refocusing the Socialized Lens Jennifer Seibel Trainor efocusing the Social ized Lens Refocusing the ocialized Lens Refocusing the Socialized Lens Let’s start with two provocative facts: The majority of future teachers in our graduate programs are white. Most of the students they will teach are not. How can we best prepare these teachers? What do they need to learn in order to be effective anti-racist educators, or to work effectively in multiracial contexts? These are questions that animate the teaching I do in our MA program in Composition Studies at San Francisco State University, where I help to prepare mostly white graduate students who plan to teach in two-year colleges. The answers are not easy. Research examining race and the effects of teachers’ whiteness suggests that race affects many aspects of teachers’ classroom practices, and that racial identity is a powerful lens through which white teachers form assumptions and beliefs about students. Indeed, this research –on the effects of race on white teachers’ beliefs and practices –is hard-hitting in its analysis of racism. It focuses on what theorists of race call “the dangers of whiteness,” on its power to replicate its own structural advantage and on its blindness, both to its own privilege and to the systemic racism that mars most institutions, including education, in the United States.


What are the “dangers of whiteness” for teachers? For one, research shows that whiteness is powerful, yet power-evasive. Its power is best illustrated by Peggy McIntosh’s well-known essay, “The Invisible Knapsack.” McIntosh writes that whites possess and can call upon privileges that they are not even conscious of – that their privilege informs and structures their lives in ways they largely take for granted and that go unnoticed (examples include being able to shop without being surveilled as a potential shoplifter, not having to fear police officers, etc). Her article aims to make whites aware of how different their experiences would be without access to those privileges. Vicki Havilandechoes McIntosh’s analysis of white privilege and power in her study of white teachers: “studies of Whiteness suggest [that] White people dominate many arenas of life but frequently ignore or resist that power” (page 44). Haviland goes on to note how white future teachers in her study spoke about race in ways that were powerful – exerted a powerful influence over the content and direction of the discussion – but that also were power-evasive. That is, they avoided certain words, asserted ignorance or innocence, cited higher authorities to buttress racially questionable claims, and changed the subject – all discourse moves that enabled them to shift the focus away from critiques of Whiteness and racism. I have often noted this power-evasiveness in my classrooms. Graduate students, for example, sometimes question the existence of racism, wondering if it really exists or whether it is “just a perception” on the part of people of color. They sometimes respond to discussions of race by simply changing the subject, to seemingly safer and “neutral” discussions. And they struggle, as future English teachers,

to understand the political and raced dimensions of their steadfast belief in the importance of correcting non-standard dialects and enforcing a monolingual Standard English in the classroom. They are comfortable asserting arguments about linguistic difference – that a teacher’s job is to correct non-mainstream language practices, that such practices have no place in professional and academic contexts -- that they would not be comfortable making about racial difference . As one of our former MA students, now a teacher at a local community college put it: “Just because you say it in your own way, when you write it that way, it doesn’t sound as good. … We don’t talk to friends like we talk to a boss and so they shouldn’t write to me that way. I’m not saying they have to give up their language – they just can’t use it in certain contexts like school and the workplace.” The rhetoric of linguistic color-blindness – illustrated in comments like my former student’s, where we all have our own personal dialects but must agree to use Standard English in public -- like the rhetoric of racial color-blindness in general, operates from a set of assumptions about race: “we’re all the same on the inside”; “I don’t see race; I just look at each individual.” Such rhetorical moves erase difference and the history of racism. They imply that whites can transcend race and racism. The idea that students can have their dialects but must not be allowed to bring them into the classroom appears, to the future teachers I work with, to be a race-neutral pedagogical stance. But as theorists like James Gee have made clear, the issues surrounding language difference are rarely so simple, and are never race or class neutral. Another “discourse of whiteness” that operates in education involves a deficit orientation toward students of color. First revealed in Shirley Brice Heath’s classic study of literacy practices in communities separated by race and class, a deficit orientation sees deviations from mainstream or white practices not as different but as wrong, in need of correction or remediation. Like their belief that non-standard English must be “corrected,” my students also believe that behavior that doesn’t conform to middle-class norms of politeness must be changed. As my former student put it “I try to present the classroom as a business environment and a work environment and so I have to remind students where they are. This is a classroom and there are certain rules they have to follow. The students can get kind of worked up sometimes. A lot of students just don’t know how to be in school, how school works, and what’s expected.” Like linguistic color-blindness, this pedagogical stance appears race neutral, but it is actually embedded in value judgments about students that can have devastating – and raced – consequences, as students who refuse to give up their “identity kit,” as Gee calls is – their way of being, speaking, dressing, feeling, and acting -- are penalized, deemed in need of remediation or disciplinary action.

Finally, white students often conclude that since they, personally, are well-intended whites who want to help all students regardless of race, which racism is beyond the scope of their responsibilities in the classroom. “I just don’t think we need to focus on race, as long as we are sincerely trying to help the students,” one of our students said in a recent seminar discussion of antiracist pedagogy. My research on racism and whiteness suggests that discussions of race and privilege with whites raise complicated and challenging emotions. This is particularly true of white teachers, who are highly invested in a view of themselves as good, helpful, and on the side of justice. White teachers’ emotions surrounding issues of race in the classroom can sometimes be a catalyst for important personal growth and potential social change, but they can also be an impediment to both. To combat these disabling emotional responses to matters of race and racism, I have found it helpful to teach students some concrete steps toward developing an anti-racist stance in the classroom. Following Marilyn Frye, Audrey Thompson, Janet Helms and others who have written about anti-racism, I tell students that the first step is to commit to listening to students and parents of color and to accepting what they hear. This often means, for white students, an acknowledgment of the limits of their own knowledge and understanding of the situation. As whites, I tell my students, we have to learn

how to get out of the driver’s seat. The experiences and perspectives of people of color are not for us to control. Secondly, as whites we must commit to a practice of reflection and constant re-examination of one’s pedagogy and one’s beliefs, a willingness to interrogate one’s own assumptions. And we must commit to taking small steps to end racism. This can mean fighting for policies that serve students of color and against policies that don’t serve them. It can mean interrupting a racist comment or gently reminding a white colleague that there are other ways to see the situation.

Once white students see that they are not going to be shamed and once they see that they have a role to play in ending racism in educational contexts, the discussion, and the students, often blossom. As one student said to me the other day, “these conversations about race are some of the hardest ones I’ve ever had, but I’m glad we’re having them. It’s making me realize that the teacher I imagined I’d be is not the teacher I actually want to be. I can be better than that.”

My own experience working with white students who want to be teachers has taught me to recognize how much shame accompanies discussions of race for white people, and how incredibly disabling shame can be. It often prevents whites from engaging in reflection about race and can lead to defensiveness, anger, or disengagement. One antidote to disabling shame is a proactive pedagogy, one that helps whites see the positive roles they can play in fighting racism. I’ve learned that I can’t focus solely on past racism or whites’ accountability in promoting racism, or whites’ privilege vis-a-vis racism. And I’ve learned to expect some emotional or difficult responses to discussions of race on the part of whites. I often make space in my classroom for these moments, and I respond by validating the emotions behind them and by acknowledging how difficult it can be for whites to talk about race.

Works Cited Frye, Marilyn. “White Woman Feminist.” From Willful Virgin: Essays in Feminism. The Crossing Press, 1992. Haviland, Vicki. “Things Get Glossed Over: Rearticulating the Silencing Power of Whiteness in Education.” Journal of Teacher Education 2008 59:40. Helms, Janet. “A Race is a Nice Thing to Have: A Guide to Being a White Person or Understanding the White Persons in Your Life.” Content Communications June 1992. Gee, James. An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method. Routledge, 1999. McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” From “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondence Through Work in Women’s Studies” (1988). Thompson, Audrey. “Tiffany, Friend of People of Color: White Investments in Antiracism.” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Vol 16 #1 2003.

Do you have a favorite story? Everyone loves a good story and can remember when someone shared their life’s experiences through stories. A mother or father, grandparents, aunt or uncle, an older brother or sister, the neighbor next door, or even a teacher may have shared a story. Stories carry family histories and traditions, or sometimes they are told through myths, legends, or folklore. The 2011 winter issue of THE LADDER will focus on Language Arts: with an emphasis on storytelling. We would like to publish your favorite story. Email us at by October 1, 2011. The narrative should be between 500 to 1000 words. 27

“Teach Me How to Dougie” A Few Notes on Masculinity, Swag, and Pedagogy

by Javon Johnson

“Teach Me How to Dougie,” a rap song recorded by the hip-hop group Cali Swag District, who hail from, Inglewood, California, blew up the music charts in early 2010 and helped to popularize the Dallas, Texas-based “Dougie” dance of which the song was named. Peaking at Number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100, Number 9 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and Number 6 on the Hot Rap Songs Chart, “Teach Me How to Dougie” was more than a major catalyst for the Dougie’s international popularity, rather the hit single illustrates how important swag is for many Black boys and young men.

Artwork by Azikiwe Atiba Andrews

The way in which you carry yourself. [It] can also be expanded to be the reputation of your overall swagger… [It] is a subtle thing that many strive to gain but few actually attain. It is reserved for the most swagalicious of people [and] can also be quantified, with point systems existing in some circles of friends.


Put another way, swag is an updated, more contemporary version of coolness or freshness that is unmistakably and unapologetically hip-hop. While I completely disagree with Cali Swag District’s use of derogatory labels for women, as well as the way in which their language at times portrays women as property, I find the song and dance especially useful tropes to explore young Black masculinity. Both the song and dance provide us with great starting points to explore how swag is simultaneously problematic and beneficial, they both highlight how much cultural currency swag has amongst our youth, and they both provide helpful visual examples of how our young Black males perform swag on an everyday basis. It is my larger contention that working through the problematic aspects of swag, rather than simply dismissing it or the music our youth are listening to wholesale, would prove fruitful for those of us concerned with teaching young Black males. Even the group’s name, Cali Swag District, indicates the importance of swag speaking to how crucial it is for us to understand its complexities.

Swag, not dissimilar to coolness or what young Black kids in the 1990’s called fresh, is a mutable quality that typically denotes an admired aesthetic, behavior, attitude, appearance, and style in most urban areas. It is what defines as: But what does swag have to do with the classroom and the politics of teaching? At the outset of her text, What is Cool?: Understanding Black Manhood in America, Marlene Kim Connor states, “Cool is perhaps the most important force in the life of a Black man in America…The word to describe it might change from time to time, but its rules never do” (1-2). One of these rules is that coolness, or in our case swag, must be maintained at nearly all costs, even when too much swagger reads as too cool for school or an extreme disinterest in the general education process. Psychologist Richard Majors and sociologist Janet Mancini Billson assert that while the “cool pose” many Black males use have positive attributes, it is double-edged because “blacks learn that they are unlikely to be treated like whites” many develop oppositional identities that lead some to figure that “school is not cool” (46).Social critic bell hooks adds that once Blacks were granted some education rights “the immediate need for material survival often disrupted the efforts of black males to acquire education” and even now many “are socialized via mass media and classbiased education to believe that all is [that]required for their survival is the ability to do physical labor” (34). More than socialized illiteracy, many Black males have come to understand all too well “that the thinking black man [is] perceived to be a threat by the racist white world,” leading

to a profound dislike and distrust of school as a seeming extension of that very racist world (hooks 33). In this way, swag is often a defense, or even a coping, mechanism that allows many of our young Black male students to seem unaffected and unconcerned with the ways in which the school system often fails them and/or sees them as failures. One needs only to quickly survey the literature on Black males and education to see how “black males are perceived as lacking in intellectual skills” (33). Whether it is miseducation, an assumed disinterest, problematic socialization, a perceived lack, or any other issues we might name, the education of our Black males is in crisis, and understanding swag might prove a helpful step in solving this pedagogical Rubik’s cube. Often times in a world where young Black males come under attack by unfair police practices, a harsh justice system that repeatedly figures them as thee problem, scholars who discuss them as little more than a pathology, legislatures who do little to address their material realities, plus the effects of disturbing pop culture images, and the harm they do to each other and themselves, swag is often a performative tactic employed by Black boys and men to survive this social barrage. In this way, if the world around them cannot affect them, mainly because many of them are

too “swaged out” to be bothered, swag allows them to maintain some semblance of control over their own lives and identities. Understanding this, that is, why so many young Black males would prefer to be swaged out over schooled up, is one of the first steps towards learning how to effectively reach them. Not discounting the fact that there are some apathetic students, and we would do well to discuss that as well, it is important to recognize that swag is often misread as disinterest and intellectual lack. All though, many Black males use swag to cope with miseducation and troubling socialization, which in turn leads to them being labeled in the further as problem students who are both listless and intellectually deficient. In short, swag, which is not always understood by educators and legislators, has hindered the learning process for many young and Black men. Our educators have to first understand why swag exists in order to teach through Black males’ “cool poses.” We must understand the social needs, fears, and desires of our Black males and why so many of them need swag. It means reading past the seeming disinterest and lack, remaining committed to them as teachers, and figuring out ways to earn their trust. While there is no band-aid for this broken arm, or a quick and easy lesson plan that I can provide to generate trust in the classroom, I have found that discovering ways to work in “alternative texts,” be they movies, albums, or even Youtube videos, alongside the canons prove extremely beneficial towards trust building. First, this move sparks interest, getting many young Black males who probably otherwise would not speak up and contribute to the lesson being taught. Second, for those who are heavily invested in hip-hop, and more generally pop culture, it shows them that the knowledge they have banked in these realms is valued in an intellectual environment. In a world that constantly pits hip-hop against intellectualism, showing how the two can work hand-in-hand helps to make the classroom a more intellectual trusting space for all concerned with academic pursuits. In addition, it can be used as a stepping-stone for some to begin to think openly about hip-hop, and how its lessons are deeply intertwined in the everyday lives of Black males. As a young Black male who grew up in South Central, Los Angeles, and attended Century Park Elementary, Audubon Middle School, and Crenshaw Teacher’s Training Magnet, I, and many of my friends, excelled in the classrooms of those teachers we knew we could trust. It was after they earned our trust that we were able to create a culture of accountability where we held each other and ourselves to higher standards. Florence Avagnon, the teacher whom I credit above all others with helping me to get the most out of my education by guiding my career path and encouraging me to earn a Ph.D.,. This woman changed lives for many students who learned to trust and respect her. She is truly incredible. Finally, we have to understand how, in addition to Black males, young Black girls and women possess swag and cool. In other words, we cannot continually talk about these tropes as if swag and woman are mutually exclusive terms, and many of the things discussed in this essay can be extended to a dialogue on Black women and swag. Critically thinking about swag is the first step towards effectively teaching through the cool. Figuring out ways to build trust in a world in which Black males have little options is the second, and continuing this dialogue must be the third. Healthy discussions on Black male swag and education might move us more towards getting our Black males as excited about learning as they are about, well, the Dougie.






Offering Masters, Doctorates, Credentials and Certificates For more information or to attend an Information Session, call or visit us online today!


Books for Your Review In 1995, a team of photographers produced a stunning book; Material World: A Global Family Portrait published by Sierra Club Press. In this tabletop book, we were all introduced to life around the world through photographs of families sitting outside of their homes surrounded by their possessions. Although this book was not designed specifically for children, it would serve well as a starting point to ask the class to think about their lives compared to so many others across the planet. But this book began a movement of books that try their best to show children, particularly in the United States, what the lives of children in other places might be like. Here are some great choices for an intercultural, international unit of study. Take your children on an international journey and consider engaging them with classes in other parts of the world. Pen pals through the use of the internet can be such a wonderful way to learn first hand about children in other parts of the world or even other parts of the United States. Have fun and safe travels!

-Cynthia McDermott One publisher who specializes in amazing text-based books that have elegant photographs and substantive text is DK (Dorling Kinderely). Here are a few of their wonderful international titles: A School Like Mine: A Unique Celebration of Schools Around the World A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World A Faith Like Mine: A Celebration of the World’s Religions through the Eyes of Children Children Just Like Me (1995) by Anabel and Barnabas Kindersley

Kids Can Press is another publishing company that focuses on issues of interest to children. Each of the books presented here show children and issues of concern to them from an international perspective. Although written for children, like all of the books in this review, the information is so interesting that adults will be interested in these as well. And all of them present wonderful photographs and illustrations. One Well: The Story of Water on Earth (2007) by Rochelle Strauss and illustrated by Rosemary Woods. A story of water use around the world written for children. (Kids Can Press) This Child, Every Child; A Book About the World’s Children (2011) by David Smith and Illustrated by Shelogh Armstrong. (Kids Can Press) If the World were a Village: A Book About the World’s People (2002) by Smith and Armstrong. (Kids Can Press)

Two other interesting books are: What the World Eats by Faith D’Aluisio with photographs by Peter Menzel (photographer for Material World) (2008) from Triangle Press. This shows families around the world and photos of what they eat for an entire week. These comparisons are very surprising! Houses and Homes (1995) by Ann Morris illustrated by Ken Heyman from Harper Collins. This book compares the kinds of homes children live in around the world.


Every year the Career Ladder office honors an LAUSD employee as “Paraeducator of the Year”. The Selection Committee looks for individuals who embody one or more of the following attributes: Inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn. Communicate well with students, staff, parents and other community Actively participate in professional development Contribute innovative and unique strategies that provide for quality education Have a unique quality that makes them invaluable to the school community

PARAEDUCATOR OF THE YEAR Liane Sarmiento Gates Elementary School

Nominations are accepted annually from February to April. Awards are given for Early Childhood, Special Education, and General Paraeducators. Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the students of LAUSD.



P a r a e d u c a t o r o f t h e Ye a r 2 0 1 1

2011 Winners

    by Jeanny Marroquin What do you remember from your middle school, or even elementary school years? Maybe it is The Bloods, and The Cripps, gangs, the neighborhood, stereotypes about the kids that looked different, the cholo, the ESL kid, or the smart one, or even the slow learner. What about the ideal body images, the stigmas of how much skinner, thicker, taller, or shorter you should have been? What about your history? Your culture? Your roots? How much do you remember about lessons on different ethnicities? These are the questions from conversations held with students that have evolved into the themes for the workshops of the annual eRACEing the Lines: Multi-Cultural Youth Conference “Pushing Past the Polite,” scheduled for May 19, 2012 at the University of California, Riverside. This conference has its roots in the struggles that not only surround high school communities, but that communities all over the world have been facing since the beginning of humanity. UCR students, staff, and faculty have found it essential to provide a neutral space for high school students to come together, and through a variety of workshops and discussions learn about the different cultures and ethnic groups. It is the aim of this conference to teach these juniors and seniors who will soon graduate and enter a world of diversity, not only about the unique differences, but in connection with the commonalities shared between their own group and the various ethnicities and backgrounds. The Conference The dynamic Roberto Rodriguez, a UCR his-


tory major alumnus, is the welcoming keynote speaker. Through spoken word, Roberto will acquaint the students with vivid images of ethnic communities who are linked together by past tyrannical conditions, yet still rise above the circumstances of relocation, enslavement, discrimination and injustice. His up lifting narrative portray these ethnic communities slaying dragons of inequalities as they support each other step-by-step through social movements.

His riff illuminates race, gender and identity issues that high school students may encounter on their journey to adulthood. With the escalation of information technology, though productive in most cases, Roberto warns, how its unfiltered bombardment on students can enhance the pressures they face in today’s society. These pressures are further complicated by social norms that target those who are seen as others. Students struggle to define themselves and frequently find it difficult to come to terms with particular realities, both internally and externally. He encourages young people not to feel inadequate or ostracized by societal constraints, instead, to continue to struggle for self-determination. Roberto’s ultimate goal is for students to self-actualize and to recognize and appreciate the commonalities shared with other cultures and ethnic groups, and to know that a unified struggle for human rights is attainable. In Conclusion This conference is a collaborative effort of UCR’s multiethnic student organizations, faculty and staff. First, the framers of this conference designed it to provide young adults with an opportunity to learn about the histories of people whose lives intersect daily. Workshops on race, gender, and cultural representation rooted in researched theory will (continued on page 37)

Conference Schedule Morning Session Women’s Caucus Focus: Cultural Perspectives of Beauty Chair: Malaka Wilson-Greene Speakers: Hazel Morales, Debbie Awolope, and Jasmin Barba Men’s Caucus Focus: The Masculine Turf: Abating Stereotypes Chair: Mannuel Favela Speakers: Aaron Clark and Steven Wang Break Writing and Rising Up: Tools of Engagement Focus: Poetry and Spoken Word Speakers: “The Watts Youth Voices” Locke High School Los Angeles Unified School District Representation of Asians in Mass Media and Visual Arts Focus: Constructed Images and Identity Speaker: Leilanie Tolentino Lunch Cultural Performances by Riverside Dhamaka, Katipunan PSO, VSA Lion Dance, and the Nigerian Student Association. Afternoon Session Chicano Political Enlightening Period Focus: Chicano Civil Rights Movements Speaker: Zoraida Martinez Multicultural Solidarity Focus: The History of Ethnic Coalitions Speaker: Jasmin-Wilson Thomas Break Palestinian Israeli Conflict Focus: Justice in the Middle East Speaker: Taher Herzallah Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender Caucus Focus: Gender Identity Speaker: Tammy Tran Closing Session

LAUSD’s Migrant Education Program By Nellie Barrientos The Migrant Education Program is a federally funded program designed to enrich and respond to the educational and health needs of migrant children and their families. The program is an addition to the supplemental services provided for all children through the Los Angeles Unified School District. On average, migrant children attend three different schools each year. Their frequent mobility takes a toll on their academic development and must be helped to meet state and district standards. The children of migratory workers, ages 3 to 21, whose parents or other members of their nuclear family have worked in fishing, agriculture, dairy, food processing (packing), forestry, or livestock industries within the last 36 months are eligible. The Migrant Education Program supports high quality and comprehensive education programs for migrant children in order to reduce the impact of educational disruptions and other problems that result from repeated moves programs include: Extended Day Programs, Summer School and Saturday school classes for grades K – 12th. Curriculum is aligned to state standards and contains relevant, high interest content and concepts. Classes emphasize English language development and writing skills. TThrough the imp plementation of aart, dance and vvideo technolo ogy academies sstudent particip pants develop ttheir creative aand literary exp pression, improve academic performance performance, and rely on a safe environment to foster self-empowerment. The P.A.S.S. (Portable Assisted Study Sequence) program is offered on Saturdays and after school to migrant students in grades 9-12. Classes offered to recover credits, so that the student is eligible to graduate from high school. Five credits per class may be earned upon completion of tests and units of study. The Family Literacy Program, Migrant Education Even Start (MEES), provides parenting education and workshops for their pre-school children. Parents are required to participate in the adult education component of the MEES program. The family education model is designed to assist migrant parents by providing instruction on parenting skills and English as a Second Language (ESL). If needed, childcare for infant siblings is available. In collaboration with the Adult Education Division and Project Avanzando parents receive instruction in ESL, GED (General Equivalency Diploma) preparation course and computer classes.

California Dollars for Scholars Migrant Education Fund is a support group of community members who recognize the importance of encouraging migrant education students eager for an education but limited in financial resources. One of the most effective ways to help these students is through community based groups like California Dollars for Scholars that team with collegiate partners. In 2010 we gave grants to 13 high school graduates and 12 returning college students. We are starting 2011 with an expectation of 18 college students reapplying and new high school graduates also seeking our assistance. Our goal is to increase our funding so that all of the young people that count on us can reach their goal. These are two of Drew Silvern Dollars for Scholars Receipients 2011: This Bell High School student plans to attend Cal State Long Beach, where she will major in Psychology. While maintaining a high GPA, Ana still found time to volunteer for three years at a local Elementary School, helping teachers and students in the classroom. She has a deep appreciation for the sacrifices of her parents, who worked long and hard to make things easier for her. H Her ambition is to make things easier for them. JJenny is a student at Bravo Medical Magnet High SSchool, and her ambition is to become a police officer or a probation officer. She is vitally concerned w with drug use which she has encountered in her ccommunity, and is determined to make a difference, starting with younger children. She will enter East Los Angeles College this fall, majoring in Criminal Justice. From a Proud Recipient, Moises Olavarrieta: “I learned many things about myself during my first quarter at Cal State LA. The biggest challenge was getting used to the quarter system. It was a shock having to adjust to the fast paced course work. It caught me off guard, but I pulled through. Being in the Honors College at Cal State University has helped me. I have met a lot of people with interests similar to mine and I dorm with students that are also in the honors program. They play a part in my involvement with the community as well as personal and academic development. I am a bit shy, but living in the dorms I meet a variety of people. Being in college has definitely made me more outgoing. Since I’ve been here, I have volunteered in clubs that help raise money for (continued on page 37) 33

$cholarship Talk Question: With the current state of the budget in California, what are the implications on the continued funding of the scholarship? Answer: The Career Ladder scholarship is part of a grant funded program called the California School Paraprofessional Teacher Training Program (PTTP) with oversight by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). “This pathway to teaching program was established in 1990 by Chapter 1444 of the Statutes of 1990 (SB 1690, Roberti) which added sections 69619 to 69619.3 to the State Education Code. The PTTP program was subsequently expanded by Chapters 737 and 831 of the Statutes of 1997 (The Wildman-Keeley-Solis Exemplary Teaching Training Act of 1997), which added sections 44390 to 44393 to the State Education Code. Chapter 554 of the Statutes of 2007 (SB 193, Scott) was signed into law in October 2007…” A few years ago, the funding terms of the program were changed making the funds a block grant instead of on a per participant basis. While it is anticipated that the program will continue to be funded next year, more cuts are expected, meaning the total funds to distribute to current scholarship participants will be limited. To ensure receipt of funds, be sure to submit all documents requested well before stated deadlines and complete required Performance Assessments in a timely fashion.

Question: Is the Career Ladder still accepting new scholarship recipients? Answer: The Career Ladder is only accepting new scholarship recipients on a very limited basis, as current participants drop or graduate. Currently, there will not be any new enrollment until funding for 2011-2012 is determined. Prospective applicants are still encouraged to apply as qualified participants will be accepted in the order of complete applications received and as funds permit. New participants must be pursuing a credential in a high need area: Special Education, Mathematics or Science, especially a physical science. To receive optimum funding, it is recommended that all scholarship applicants request the Career Ladder’s partial tuition reimbursement until notified of acceptance into the program.

The Career Ladder Scholarship provides up to $3000 annually to qualified paraeducators seeking a K-12 credential. For more information, please call (213) 241-4571.

Gwenda Cuesta 34

From the Neighborhood (Cont. from Pg 15) While working for Amtrak, Linda went back to community college taking lots of different classes. A friend at school told her about jobs working as an assistant in Special Education. She took the exam, passed, and started working back at Manual Arts. When they called her about the job, the secretary asked if she would like directions to the school. Linda said, “No, I think I can find it.” Mr. Bouie, her former teacher from John Muir was now at Manual Art and he was very excited that she was working there. He was the teacher of the honors students. He got Linda involved in the school, sitting on a number of committees and creating special events like an African American Fashion Show. In the classroom, she was mostly working with students with learning disabilities or hearing or vision problems. At night, she was working on her degree and credential at California State University, Dominguez Hills where Career Ladder On-campus Adviser, Dr. John McGowan, helped keep her on track.

While still an assistant at Manual Arts, Linda encountered some students in a science class complaining that no one had ever taught them how to read. “It’s not fair,” they said. Linda told them, “Come here two days a week after school and I’ll teach you to read.” She recalls, “I made up my own program and two of the students actually passed the CAHSEE. All the teachers were talking about it.” It made her feel great. Everyone at the school was so proud of how she had helped those young people.

high school education right then and there so they would not have to go back like she did.

Linda could see herself in her students. They were growing up in the same neighborhood she grew up in and she understood that their challenges went beyond learning disabilities. She saw herself as the buffer between the students and their teacher. If a student kept doing something to upset the teacher, she would talk to him or her and smooth things out. The students accepted this easily because they saw her as one of them. She helped them understand that they needed to finish their

Life has worked out pretty well for Linda. The little baby she raised as a working mom has a family and home of his own. He has three children and just adopted three more, all siblings from Laos. And Linda has not finished with her own education. She is currently working on her master’s degree with a specialty in student transitions from high school to college. Now that is something she knows a lot about.

She says, “I didn’t listen, either. Some of the kids who have so much potential are the ones with the worst behavioral problems. Hopefully, they’ll get it out of their systems now, so when they grow up they can lead good lives. They just want the other students to laugh. I set it up so the other kids get on them. I use that same peer pressure in the classroom, but in a positive way.”

Memories of a Faithful Soul (Cont. from Pg 10)

Collaboration (Cont. from Pg 25)

bodians I know, exemplifies the strength of humanity in finding joy after having lived through the Killing Fields. I love the stories my mother tells about my birth. It has become a personal myth that I am proud to share and it honors her. I am who I am because of her, her sacrifice, and her values. My pursuit of higher education is a result of her encouragement.

no longer about knowing everything or being the ultimate expert; it’s about knowing where to access the information you need to get the job accomplished.

I love that we address each other, including strangers with the familial terms, calling everyone, aunt and uncle, grandfather and grandmother, younger sister or older brother (depending on age). I also love that we give power to dreams. When we dream about our deceased relatives or our future children, we talk about them as if they are real experiences. My mother dreamed about her deceased niece asking to live with her, and when she became pregnant with me, she was convinced that I was the reincarnation of that person and my birthmark, which is located at the same spot as the bullet that took her niece’s life, is her proof. Besides sharing my own stories, I also listened to my classmate’s stories of immigration, my teacher’s stories, read books, and watched movies of adventures. Those stories influenced my desire to see the world. College offered many study abroad opportunities, and I went to England in the summer of 1996, spent a semester in Thai-

land in 1998, and another one in India in 1999. I used these trips as stepping stones for visiting other countries, including Nepal, Peru, Mexico, and Costa Rica. Longing to connect to my past, I made several trips back to Cambodia. While in Cambodia, I met aunts, uncles, and cousins who had only lived in my imagination. These relatives showed me a mango tree that my mother planted. My mother is quite a talented gardener. My heart filled with joy at the sight of that tree. I tasted fruits whose scents had lingered in my memory, but I had been unable to really experience until these journeys back to Cambodia. One word comes to mind after reflecting on the trips to Cambodia, that word is bittersweet. I needed to take those trips to affirm memories of Cambodia that were real and not merely stories told by my family. I wrote my book to capture those stories and memories from my life’s experience. The idea to write was planted in my head by teachers and classmates, who have listened and encouraged me to talk about my past. Since its publication, my book has appeared on syllabi of credential classes about multiculturalism. And so the circle is complete: my teachers encouraged me to write and now my book is being read in classrooms that inspire others to tell their stories, which cultivates conversations that inform diversity and teaching.

So consider this your open-book introduction to the world of collaborative education, where we work together to share what we know and where the real expertise involves knowing how to get the information you need to be successful with the diversity of learners in our schools today. You can Google what “Oppositional Defiant Disorder” means…but when you have a child with ODD in your classroom, we’re pretty certain you are going to remember our mantra: Reach out for help! Collaborate with experts in special education, with behavior specialists, with administrators, and definitely with parents. Our schools are diverse; so is our expertise. Welcome to the world of collaborative schools – we think you’re going to like it here! The content of this article was adapted from the new text “Collaborate, communicate, & differentiate! How to increase student learning in today’s diverse schools” by Wendy Murawski & Sally Spencer (2011). It is available through


Filling the Void (Cont. from Pg 15) Blacks in Los Angeles. At the time, the museum’s Board of Directors consisted of only Whites and the Black Arts Council served to represent the interests of the Black art and cultural community within the museum… Booker and Fergerson presented a proposal to the museum on behalf of the Black Arts Council for some of the city’s Black art activity to take place at the museum. The museum’s board of directors committed to a three evening lecture series focusing on Black artists, and a Black art exhibition... The three lectures were delivered in 1969. The First Black Shows In its history, LACMA has organized three exhibitions of work by Black artists. All three took place in the 1970s, the last of which was Two Centuries. The first exhibition was Three Graphic Artists: Charles White, David Hammons, and Timothy Washington in the Prints and Drawings Galleries in January 1971. As a show of appreciation to the artists and support for Los Angeles’ Black art community, the museum purchased one work by each artist in Three Graphic Artists for its permanent collection through Alonzo Davis of the Brockman Gallery, the Blackowned art gallery in Los Angeles. In 1972, the Black Arts Council organized Los Angeles 1972: A Panorama of Black Artists, the second exhibition of work by Black American artists this time located in the museum’s basement Art Rental Gallery. Panorama was curated by Carroll Greene, Jr., notable Black curator and advocate for

art by Black Americans, and supported by The Kress Foundation. For the Black Arts Council, the exhibition was an opportunity to promote art by the fifty-two Black artists on view which included Hammons and White from Three Graphic Artists and funk and assemblage artists John Outterbridge, Noah Purifoy, and Betye Saar among others. Organizing Two Centuries After Panorama, the Black Arts Council pressured the museum’s curatorial staff for nearly three years to organize a major Black art exhibition in the museum’s main galleries. On behalf of the curatorial staff, LACMA Director Kenneth Donahue reported to the Council that the curators considered the idea of a Black art show and rejected it. Finally, in April 1974, Deputy Director Rexford Stead sent a letter to Professor David C. Driskell, then professor of art at Fisk University, on the recommendation of Charles White telling him about the museum’s preliminary plans for a bicentennial “survey presentation of Black American Art from the Colonial Period to mid-20th Century” and requesting a formal proposal from him if he would be interested in serving as the guest curator... Driskell’s plan for Two Centuries was simply to curate an exhibition that could represent the long history of Black American artists through various forms. Driskell selected art historian, civil rights activist, and accomplished actor Leonard Simon as his research assistant because of his comprehensive grasp of art history. Driskell

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traveled all over the country to select the objects for the exhibition. Two Centuries presented a history of the nation in the art by Black Americans that paralleled mainstream American art history but had been kept hidden. His exhibition created a canon of Black American artists and their work. Pictures, resources, and website: Romare Bearden and Harry Henderson, A History of African-American Artists: From 1792 to the Present (New York: Pantheon Press, 1993). Bridget R. Cooks, Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2011). David C. Driskell, Two Centuries of Black American Art (New York: Alfred A.Knopf/Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1976). Samella Lewis, African American Art and Artists (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). Sharon F. Patton, African-American Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). LACMA Archival Photographs and Documentation of the Exhibition: “From the Archive: Two Centuries of Black American Art”

Storytelling (Cont. from Pg 16) Stories help us do this. The role of story to Indigenous People is one that is critical to the foundation of community continuity and individual selfperception. Imbedded within stories are the codes for cultural world view, relation to place, the understanding of natural phenomena, interpersonal responsibilities and morality (values and ethics), self-discipline, and so much more. Storytelling in the classroom, particularly telling stories from around the world, is a wonderful way to reinforce what it means to be human in the world. We are each so unique, even within our own families or cultural communities. Our uniqueness, our collective diversity, is like a prism refracting the light; each of us, together, reflecting something of the truth about life, about the nature of the universe. We need each other—and we need to hear each other’s stories.

Latino Diversity (Cont. from Pg 21)

Kwanzaa at 45 (Cont. from Pg 9)

Conference (Cont. from Pg 32)

When schools ignore the histories and diversity among Latinas/os, they reinforce the dominant emphasis on assimilation and limit the opportunity to analyze the systems of power and inequality that influence experiences. No where is this more pervasive than in contemporary discussions of immigration where Latinos/as are often seen as the next group of immigrants – like Southern and Eastern Europeans -migrating to reap the assumed benefits of the U.S. Rather than conflate experiences and contexts, a multicultural, power-aware framework examines historical, structural, and ideological processes influencing migration. This includes an analysis of how the colonization of the U.S. southwest, U.S. expansion in Latin America, and economic policies stir migration and shape the differing receptions migrants receive. By incorporating a critical analysis into the curriculum, students are better able to understand historical and contemporary dynamics influencing society; they are also more prepared to think complexly and become informed change agents.

Karenga has stated, “Kwanzaa stresses the importance of our sowing the seeds of goodness everywhere, of cultivating them with care and loving kindness, of harvesting the products of our efforts with joy and of sharing the good of it all throughout the community and the world. “

help students to navigate those intersections in a peaceful and positive manner. Secondly, through group activities and discourse, students will examine, challenge, and grasp the landscape in which culture and ethnic identity is established and learn how the two circulate within a social framework. And finally, the desired outcome of the framers of this conference is to instill student efficacy that will: interrupt the passivity of students; affirm or forge a new ideology of honoring the efforts of their ancestors; to educate them to advocate for a better life; to dispel stereotypes; and to embrace ethnic and gender similarities. This newly informed generation of students shall reach for their goals with open minds; and become effective leaders in a diverse world.

By ignoring the histories of our communities we short-change students, their families, and the larger society. Since the 1968 School Blowouts, books, videos, poems, and other materials about Latinas/os have grown exponentially. Thus, there is no shortage of resources to expand course content and frameworks. If we are truly committed to educating engaged, knowledgeable, and critically conscious youth, we owe it to our students and ourselves to not wait another forty years before multicultural, power aware content is fully implemented in our schools.

In addition, The Nguzo Saba serve yearround as a core vision and value orientation for hundreds of institutions, programs and projects in such diverse areas as education, rites of passage, family maintenance, economic development, psychological well-being, youth development and ethical grounding. The African American Cultural Center, the official headquarters of Kwanzaa, is the most authoritative source for information on the origins, views, values and practices of Kwanzaa as a cultural celebration. A non-profit institution and national leader in cultural education and exchange, the Center provides a multi-faceted program on African and African American culture through lectures, workshops, exhibitions, films and publications. In celebration of the 45th Anniversary of Kwanzaa, this fall the Center will sponsor an essay contest on the values of Kwanzaa in several Los Angeles area high schools to encourage self-expression through creative writing. For more information on Kwanzaa and the high school essay contest, call the African American Cultural Center at (323) 299-6124 or visit

Resources: Several suggested topics and resources can be found in our article, “Teaching and Learning Guide for Framing Latina/o Immigration, Education and Activism,” Sociology Compass vol. 3:2 (March 2009): 351-360. doi/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2009.00194.x/abstract.

The Staff of THE LADDER is delighted to honor the art students from Central Los Angeles High School #9 School of Visual and Performing Arts. Several of their works are featured throughout this issue. The mission of the CLAHS #9 Visual Arts Academy is to develop the vast creative potential and unique vision of their students allowing them to pursue their future artistic and academic aspirations as professional visual artists or as creative contributing members of our society.

Migrant Education (Cont. from Pg 33) Downtown Women’s Center, read to kids at Esperanza Elementary School, and help prepare and serve food to the people of Skid Row at The Midnight Mission Center. My grades for the first quarter were a B. B+, and an A, but I know there is room for improvement. A big part of my academic role in college will deal through the Honors College. None of my accomplishments would have been possible without the funding I received from Dollars for Scholars. The money helped buy my books and part of my dorm rent. However, the help goes beyond the money. I am also thankful for the feeling of support and for knowing that not only does this foundation support me, they also believe in me.”

Linda Roman

At CLAHS #9 the students come from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds with equally varied and inconsistent arts experiences. Students are accepted with promising portfolios or a lifelong desire to formally study art but lacked the opportunity. The award-winning faculty is committed to the underserved in the arts as they are to those who have had opportunity and prior experience. The strong desire to create is the common thread that ties the department together.

Vincent Catarroja

Kristine Ramirez Luisa Ruiz

Viviana Juan


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Ladder Magazine - Fall 2011 Issue  

The Ladder is a magazine for and about future teachers.