Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Books Challenge Education Privatization and Inequality

Students at the Center, the remarkable program directed by legendary poet writer and producer Kalamu ya Salaam and veteran public school teacher and executive vice president of United Teachers of New Orleans Jim Randels has just released two new books.

One of the books, Next Steps is self-published and available for purchase or free download from their website. Next Steps contains writings from the class of 2010 at McMain, McDonogh 35, and Reed High Schools. The second book, Pedagogy, Policy, and the Privatized City: Stories of Dispossession and Defiance from New Orleans, has been published by Teachers College Press at Columbia University, and is written by Jim Randels, Kalamu ya Salaam, and Students at the Center in collaboration with Emory University professor Kristen L. Buras.

From the publishers description:

In cities across the nation, communities of color find themselves resisting state disinvestment and the politics of dispossession. Students at the Center—a writing initiative based in several New Orleans high schools—takes on this struggle through a close examination of race and schools. The book builds on the powerful stories of marginalized youth and their teachers who contest the policies that are destructive to their communities: decentralization, charter schools, market-based educational choice, teachers union-busting, mixed-income housing, and urban redevelopment. Striking commentaries from the foremost scholars of the day explore the wider implications of these stories for pedagogy and educational policy in schools across the United States and the globe. Most importantly, this book reveals what must be done to challenge oppressive conditions and democratize our schools by troubling the vision of city elites who seek to elide students’ histories, privatize their schools, and reinvent their neighborhoods.
In his foreword to the book, University of Southern California Professor Robin D. G. Kelley writes, "This book is more than a compelling, inspiring read. It is one of the most radical works of collaboration I’ve seen...It was forged in the wake of capitalist dreams to expropriate poor black folk, eliminate public housing, privatize public schools, and turn New Orleans into neoliberalism’s model city. We need more challenges to the policies of privatization and more spaces where young people can be agents in their education and architects of our future—a future we can glimpse in this book.”

There will be a release event for both books today, Wednesday, June 9 at 6:00pm at Community Book Center, at 2523 Bayou Road. We hope to see you there.

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