Podcast Jamie Marantz is an experienced educator in the Bay Area who works relentlessly to disrupt predictable educational outcomes for young people. She questions school policies that are for the comfort of adults rather than for the benefit of the children. In this episode, Jamie and I talk about two pieces: the NPR article (#121) on Ballou High School in Washington DC and about the Code Switch podcast on Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Washington DC. This is an episode that will shake you and get you thinking, so please enjoy! http://j.mp/2x8G8PC
Happy Thursday and welcome to The Highlighter #122. I’d like to welcome our 14 new subscribers and the entire community. Thank you for your readership! This week, I’ve chosen articles about education, school segregation, xenophobia, and face blindness. All of the pieces are worth reading, of course, but if you have time for just two, check out the first and last ones. Let’s just say that I feel lucky that I do not suffer from prosopagnosia. Enjoy!
The New Subscriber Contest has concluded! To great fanfare, a total of 85 new subscribers have joined. (Hello, new subscribers, and welcome!) This week’s winner is Abby B. Thank you for your word of mouth! The overall winner of this month’s contest, and recipient of the grand prize, is Abby P! Congratulations! Be on the lookout for a photograph soon with the lucky winners, and please keep getting the word out about the newsletter. Thank you!
What’s the best way to educate our children? For Eva Moskowitz, the controversial founder and leader of Success Academy Charter Schools in New York, the recipe is one part rigid discipline, one part progressive curriculum. Ms. Moskowitz’s combative style has rankled many educators and politicians, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, for its punitive teaching techniques in the quest for order and excellence. But parts of Success Academy’s model — rigorous reading, academic conversation, in-depth project-based learning — are considered best practice across the country. (Too bad its teachers stay only three years, on average.) ⏳⏳
Should we spend time and energy trying to desegregate schools, or is that goal impossible at this point? Does the average American even want their kids to attend integrated schools? This article argues that we should not abandon hope, that the dream of Brown v. Board is still attainable. Instead of making the excuse that housing segregation forces school segregation, it’s time to be creative and learn from case studies in Louisville and Hartford. One strategy is to blame charter schools for resegregation, as Myron Orfield (yes, the brother of UCLA’s Gary Orfield) is doing in a current lawsuit in Minnesota. ⏳
Fremont, Nebraska is a little rural town of 26,000 people. Costco wants to build a $300 million chicken plant, which would create 1,000 jobs and promote partnerships with local farmers. But most Fremonters are leery about the proposition, even though they understand that their town desperately needs economic development. The problem is that the Costco project would attract more Latinos to Fremont. Things used to be better, they say, back in the 1950s, when meatpacking earned a solid salary, before unions were busted, and before Latinos came. ⏳⏳
Are you good with faces but not with names? For people with prosopagnosia, the opposite is true. The inability to recognize faces leads to embarrassment and debilitation. Read writer Sarah Lyall’s experience with face blindness, including her ways to cope, and if you’re not too nervous, take the Cambridge Face Memory Test, which is creepy even if you score well. (I scored below average.) ⏳⏳
This Week’s Podcast: Barbara Shreve is on this week’s show! An outstanding Math educator and my close friend, Barbara also has a background in journalism, which prompted her to select the Washington Post-Project Veritas article from last week’s issue. Barbara and I also trade stories about working on our high school newspaper together. If you like the podcast, encourage your friends to subscribe, or leave a review on iTunes!
Great work! You all did a fine job reading this week’s issue of The Highlighter. Share your thoughts below by giving this issue a thumbs-up or -down. Also, please welcome our new subscribers: Ana, Dana, Rebecca, Suzanne, Sunny, Namkyu, N, Jennifer, Christine, Carina, Woo, Nora, Arianna, and Cindy! Tell your friends and family about The Highlighter by forwarding them this issue, sending them a link to subscribe, or encouraging them to check out the website! Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am.
Podcast Barbara Shreve is an outstanding Math educator in the Bay Area who believes in the power of math to support young people’s identity formation — who they are and how they have agency in the world. She is also a wonderful, caring, close friend. On the show, we talk about our deep respect for high-quality journalism. We chat about our experience working on our high school newspaper and how it shaped our perspectives on news reporting today. We also share our thoughts on the Washington Post story that appeared in last week’s issue of The Highlighter. Enjoy! http://j.mp/2x8G8PC
Hi there and welcome to The Highlighter #121! This week’s articles center on themes I’ve followed in previous issues of the newsletter: urban education, gentrification, journalism, and death. If you care about education, I highly recommend the lead article. It’s best read after listening to Code Switch’s four-part series on Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, which captivated many of you. Please reach out if you want to talk about the article.
Congratulations to loyal subscriber Jessica for winning this week’s round of the New Subscriber Contest. Great work! Honorable mentions go to Kiera, Abby P, Erik, Gail, and Omar. There is just one week left, and we’re 34 new subscribers away from meeting the goal of 100. Please think of one great person in your life who is currently bereft of The Highlighter. Rectify this situation by encouraging them to subscribe. Thank you!
Also, get your (free) ticket for Highlighter Happy Hour #3, which will be at Dalva in San Francisco next Thursday, Dec. 7, beginning at 5:30 pm. HHH is a great way to talk about the articles with smart, caring people like yourself. Extra points for newbies and returning subscribers!
Last year, every single graduating senior at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C. got accepted to college. Not bad, right? This exposé by NPR and WAMU’s Kate McGee begs to differ. Half of the seniors missed three months of school or more and still graduated. If you’re trending cynical about public education, this article will stoke your fire. Examples: students getting 50 percent on assignments they didn’t turn in, administrators urging teachers to pass students who rarely attended, hordes of students milling about in the gym instead of going to class, students taking credit recovery classes on computers as the norm, district officials (like former Oakland superintendent Antwan Wilson) spouting low-expectations gobbledygook. One reaction is to get angry and cast blame. Another is to acknowledge these practices happen everywhere. ⏳⏳
If you live in the Bay Area, you remember the protests against corporate buses that began in late-2013. This well-written reflection by Min Li Chan, who worked at Google, offers a perspective from a tech worker’s point of view. (Ms. Chan suggests that the term “techie” is pejorative.) The piece is naïve and defensive at points, particularly at the beginning, but if you keep reading, you’ll reach Ms. Chan’s point: When protesting gentrification, othering your opponent isn’t helpful and won’t solve the problem. ⏳⏳
My high school newspaper adviser Nick Ferentinos taught me the rights and responsibilities of the free press. The most important responsibility was making sure we got the facts right. The Washington Post passed that challenge this week as Project Veritas tried a sting operation to discredit the Post. If you haven’t seen this video of reporter Stephanie McCrummen and her professional questioning of scammer Jaime Phillips, please watch. While you’re at it, check out these 58 feel-good journalism movies, thanks to loyal subscriber Jessica. ⏳
I keep featuring articles about death (#4, #15, #52, #66, #80, #109) to remind me of the gift of life. This poignant and intimate piece by Karen Brown, of her father’s death from pancreatic cancer, captures well the quotidian events that occur in the last days of our lives. After Ms. Brown’s father chooses to end dialysis, he drinks coffee, watches TV, has Faulkner read to him, listens to birds, and snuggles one last time with his daughter. ⏳
Thank you for reading this week’s issue of The Highlighter! Share your thoughts below by giving this issue a thumbs-up or -down. Also, please welcome our new subscribers: Grace, Michele, Colm, William, Heather, Lois, Corey, Mark, Cindy, and Philippe! Tell your friends and family about The Highlighter by forwarding them this issue, sending them a link to subscribe, or encouraging them to check out the website! Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am.
Podcast Olivia Morales teaches social studies in New Orleans and is the co-founder of Teacher Beasts, which promotes exercise and wellness among educators. On the show, Olivia and I talk about the educational landscape in New Orleans, particularly its emphasis on high-stakes testing and charter schools. We also chat about “The Nationalist Delusion,” which appeared last week in the newsletter. Please listen and enjoy! http://j.mp/2x8G8PC
Happy Thanksgiving, loyal subscribers! Welcome to The Highlighter #120 and to the holiday season. Thank you very much for your readership. This week, I’ve chosen articles about discriminatory policing, deluded white voters, the depths of loneliness, and detecting Alzheimer’s Disease. Please enjoy!
New Subscriber Contest Update: Another 13 people joined this week, thanks to your word of mouth! There was a 3-way tie for this week’s winner: Kiera, Erik, and Abby P. Congratulations! We have just two weeks left, so get out there and encourage your friends, colleagues, and family to subscribe to The Highlighter. We can reach our goal of 100 new subscribers before Dec. 7!
Highlighter Happy Hour #3 will be at Dalva in San Francisco on Thursday, Dec. 7, beginning at 5:30 pm. Come meet other curious, caring close readers and chat about the articles! Check out the Events page for more info and how you can get your ticket.
A few years ago, Jacksonville experienced a high rate of pedestrian fatalities. In order to fix the problem, the city decided to give tickets to jaywalkers, rather than to speedy drivers. But police officers didn’t end up targeting unsafe intersections where accidents had occurred. Instead, they gave citations disproportionately to Black people in Black neighborhoods. Until the case of Devonte Shipman, which cast a light on the discriminatory practice, thousands of African Americans had to endure the racist “stop and frisk of the South.” ⏳⏳
In this outstanding article, Adam Serwer continues the conversation where Ta-Nehisi Coates (#109) left off: that the election of Donald Trump was “less a story of working-class revolt than a story of white backlash.” Mr. Serwer argues that white people of all economic backgrounds vote for racist people and discriminatory policies, then delude themselves into thinking otherwise. Evidence: David Duke, Alexander Stephens, George Wallace, our president. Thank you to loyal subscribers Laura and Niki for alerting me to this article. ⏳⏳⏳
For many people, the holiday season exacerbates feelings of despair and loneliness. This article explains the negative effects of social isolation, particularly on men. Given that friendships fade after we turn 25, and given that many (gay and straight) men eschew vulnerability and intimacy with other men, it is no surprise that loneliness has reached an almost epidemic status. ⏳⏳
My high school history teacher Rodger Halstead once asked, “Would you want to know the date of your death?” The question pushed us to think about how we wanted to live our lives. I was reminded of that question while reading this article on blood tests that will soon be available to predict our likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s Disease. If you had access to such a test, would you take it? Would you want to learn your fate? ⏳
This Week’s Podcast: We all know that The Highlighter likes science, and this week, not one but two science teachers enriched our show. Jonathan Wright and Philippe Vanier chatted about last week’s lead article, “Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade?” They also discussed how teaching science in Salt Lake City is very different from teaching science in the Bay Area. Please enjoy the episode, tell your friends, and subscribe! (The podcast, with its seven five-star ratings, is becoming a force.)
You’ve reached the end of the 120th issue of The Highlighter! Let me know your thoughts below by giving this issue a thumbs-up or -down. Also, please welcome our new subscribers: Avi, Philippe, Justin, Jamie, Angela, Amanda, Luc, Ruth, Shannon, David, Carla, Jenn, Linda, and Nancy! Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am.
Podcast Jonathan and Philippe, friends and science teacher colleagues, talk about the lead article from this week’s newsletter, “Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade?” http://j.mp/2x8G8PC
Hi there, and welcome to The Highlighter #119! A big welcome to all the new subscribers. Our community is growing and getting stronger! The lead article this week describes a program at a private elementary school in New York that helps third graders talk about race before it’s too late. One example of too-late is described in the second article, which centers on the journey of a white supremacist. After the photo break, read pieces about choosing your perfect baby and about listening really fast. Enjoy!
New Subscriber Contest Update: Last issue, I announced this month’s campaign to encourage 100 smart, caring, and curious people to join The Highlighter. The first week of the contest was a huge success: 37 people subscribed! Thank you to everyone who got the word out. The competition was fierce! Our first week’s winner is, drumroll, Abby P, who was responsible for 8 sign-ups. Great work, Abby P! Who is going to win this week? Even if you don’t identify as competitive, this contest is for you, particularly after you see the zany prizes you’ll receive for participating. Please tell your friends and family to check out the newsletter and subscribe here.
At Ethical Culture Fieldston School, a private school in the Bronx, third graders participate in a mandatory program designed to eradicate racism. Once a week, instead of engaging with issues of race as a whole class, students join affinity groups, where they discuss what it feels like to be a member of that race. Then they come back to the whole class to share out their perspectives. While this practice is fairly common among anti-racist educators, it is new for elementary school students, and some white liberal parents at the school would prefer that affinity groups go away. ⏳⏳
I can’t seem to stop reading articles about regular white men who turn into white supremacists (#115) or white supremacists who disavow their views (#117). This profile of Andrew Anglin — founder of the Daily Stormer, a Nazi website — is not like those other pieces. This man is reprehensibly vile. Like most Alt-right trolls, Mr. Anglin combines psychopathy, sadism, narcissism, and Michaeiavellianism. But he adds to that racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and misogyny. Mr. Anglin’s story is deeply disturbing, and though it might feel better to skip this article, I recommend reading it, trigger warnings and all. ⏳⏳⏳
Suppose you and your partner were pursuing in vitro fertilization and could tell which embryo had the highest likelihood of becoming the tallest, smartest, or healthiest person? Would you want to know? To choose? Though most of us say no, the technology is coming, and scientists at Genomic Prediction say that people’s views will change once offered the option of building a super baby. ⏳
In addition to my reading habit, I enjoy a good podcast or 25. Do you? Ever since Serial launched in 2014, I’ve listened to podcasts while running or driving or getting ready for the day. But by no means am I a “podfaster.” These obsessive people feel the need to listen to hundreds of hours of podcasts a week, completing episodes in order, often at rapid clips. Why listen to a recording at 1x when you can listen at 10x? ⏳
This Week’s Podcast: It was a wonderful pleasure to have my friend and loyal subscriber Sonya Wang on the show. Sonya talked about choosing the right school for her daughter, loving college football, and feeling anxious about buying a home in the Bay Area. We also chatted about “It’s Real Down Here,” last week’s article about living in the Deep South. Please listen and subscribe!
You have completed The Highlighter #119! Let me know your thoughts below by giving this issue a thumbs-up or -down. Also, please welcome our new subscribers: Christina, Kira, Genna, Jenn, Sele, Tark, Neelam, Sarai, Melanie, Mike, Robert, Kirthi, Kate, Sarah, Alysia, Chris, Shyanna, Josh, Laura, Gerald, Phillip, Tommy, Dan, Christine, Sarah, Sheila, Steve, Brigid, Leslie, Rachel, Louise, Barb, Cathy, Angad, Claire, Rachelle, and Peter! Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am for this year’s Thanksgiving edition.
Podcast Sonya is a mom, loyal subscriber, and devotee of Oakland. On the show, we talk about choosing a school for her daughter, the stress of buying a house in the Bay Area, and her experience living in the Deep South. Please enjoy! http://j.mp/2x8G8PC