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!"##$ Kelly Epstein, PhD
August 15, 2014
Outline of a Presentation to new teachers


Living, Resisting and Thriving on the Ledge of U.S. Education

The Ledge - The Two Aspects of U.S. Education
On the one hand it can provide skills, facts, interesting experiences and a
loving community for youngsters.

On the other hand it can be boring, alienating, and make young people feel
incompetent, unloved, and unsafe.

Quick History of U.S. Education

I. Late 1800s - First pubic school system in the U.S. Started in the South by
freed slaves during Reconstruction also open to poor whites

II. During the early 20
During industrialization, U.S. education was seen by the wealthy as a way
Americanize and acculturate the young
Prepare them for the workforce (Tyack, 1970)
From the point of view of regular working people and poor people
this meant a lot of racism, tracking, boredom and other bad things on the one
hand along with the opportunity to learn some information and skills on the other
hand. (Epstein 2012)

Early 21
century Currently, schools are publicly funded and often are called
public , but a bigger aspect is using public money directly for profit making.
More spent for tests, gadgets, consultants, textbooks, and so on. The
commodification of what used to be teacher work, things like making up
assessments and curriculum

Associated problems

Racial wealth gap

Mass incarceration

Policies within schools that do not benefit children

Standardized testing:
Product of the Eugenics movement; still serves the same
stratifying purpose

Policies toward children which do not suit their development
Starting formal reading too early
Highest performing schools in the world do not do this
Holding children back in the same grade

Holding children back in the same grade

So!.Is it all bleak and you should just go do something else?

Responses and Solutions

A. You The struggle for a diverse, local teaching force addresses two of
the most important issues in the U.S.

Caring, committed teachers
Employment for communities of color

B. The Joy and Pleasure of teaching Its still you and the kids Never

C. The Movement Mass Movements against the testing associate with
Common Core

Against school closures

In support of various aspects of the immigrant student experience

Against mass incarceration

D. The movement within the teachers unions
Chicago -
L.A. Alex Caputo Pearl
Massachusetts -


A. Be a great and inspiring teacher
B. Be close to the parents, the other school workers, the community
C. Read alternatives to the mainstream press
The Oakland Post -
Rethinking Schools -
D. Protect initiatives for demoncracy and against racism
E. Think about work in the union


Alexander, Michelle, The New Jim Crow
DuBois, W.E.B. Black Reconstruction
Epstein, KK. (2012) A Different View of Urban Schools: Civil Rights, Critical
Race Theory and Unexplored Realities
Harvey, David (2014) Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism.
Oxford University Press.