Some thoughts on how many of us get “captured”…


A rat

Last week the Internets started buzzing with the story of Carmen Segarra, Federal Reserve whistle-blower, and the recordings she made of her time working inside Goldman Sachs as a regulator. The best account for those of you not familiar with high finance is from This American Life, which is accessible, while still conveying many of the complexities.

This struck a chord with me for a number of reasons, both because I did a stint as a bank analyst in regulatory reporting during an economic down-turn, and because it reminded me of issues I experience today within my current profession in education. Lots has been written about the tendency to go along to get along in any group, but as other wiser commenters have noted (like CURMUDGUCATION in Can We Be Less Nice, Please and Thank You?) teachers just seem to want to be friends even with folks who are clearly not our friends, or our students’ friends. After seeing what was happening at the Fed, I don’t think this is unique to education. I do think that there are some professions and organizations (especially ones that are dominated by females, or perceived as feminized, like regulatory agencies) that fall into this trap and others (like investment banks such as Goldman) which have a cultural of risk-taking and aggressiveness presented in an ugly wrapping of white patriarchy.

Image source: A rat by cesare, on Flickr

Sometimes you’re just a small fish in a very big ocean…


South West Rocks - 21.jpg
Conor Williams has a post up at TPM on the issue of Campbell Brown and in a marvelous bit of bait and switch makes an ad hominem attack on critiques of so-called “ed reformers” by accusing them of making… ad hominem attacks! Sabrina Joy Stevens in a response at TPM, gives him the benefit of the doubt about the issue of incivility, so I’m going to leave that argument to her. Read the rest of this entry »

Who belongs Part 1


The Family at 8th Grade Promotion
This is my family a couple of years ago, and here is a more recent photo:


Recently, in the car on the way to the camping trip pictured above, a discussion came up about the time my son was asked to open his backpack in our local grocery store. My son has a tendency to gallop ahead of us and I caught the tail end of that exchange with the security guard. I mentioned that son and I were regularly going into that same store with lots of bags on because we’re biking to shop and they weren’t asking him to surrender his backpack.  My husband mentioned that son had been asked to check-in his backpack on another occasion when they had gone in the store and I wasn’t there. Hmm, I raised my eyebrows, “I guess being with an older white lady lowers his threat level.” This is both a comment on how the world perceives my son, and I think there’s a pretty good lesson here on what it means when he’s seen as “black”. At that point in the conversation, rather than saying, hey I get to convey some of my white privilege to our son when you aren’t around, I could have argued that my husband was imagining what he saw taking place. But I didn’t, which is what you learn after being together almost 30 years and taking the time to listen without prejudging a situation.

A bit of background, my son is a very compliant child. Part of that is his nature, but like many ASD (autism spectrum disorder) kids, his approach is pretty binary and rule dependent/compliant. When I pick him up at the Walgreens near his school because the parking lot at campus is too full, he waits outside for me, since there is a rule about how many students can enter at a time and we go in together.

So at this point, I turned back to my son, and keep in mind he has ASD so you have to explain things in a concrete way. I tell him, “Son, when you go into the store with dad, sometimes they’re going to see you as a threat because you’re black and he’s black. That’ll happen even when the security guard is black. When you’re with Mom, because I’m a white woman, I’m less threatening, so you become less threatening.”

This post covers a lot of identity issues, here is my hope:

  • My ASD community readers see that you can talk about race with your kids. It’s important they understand these dynamics in a social-developmentally appropriate way whether they are black or white or have another identity;
  • My white readers see, yes profiling happens it’s not just in someone’s head or made up. It’s a reality;
  • Everyone needs to understand that in mixed families like mine (racially, neuro-typically) these issues mix and over-lap, but it doesn’t mean racism goes away, it doesn’t mean you don’t have the conversation because it’s socially fraught.

I’ve barely kept up with social media the last two weeks, so I’m not going to pretend to be on top of this, instead I’ll share this link to Larry Ferlazzo, who as usual is.

All news is local


When you have Kevin Johnson and Michelle Rhee as local politicians/influence peddlers, national news, like Rhee going back to run St. Hope schools (the non-profit that runs Johnson’s local charter schools) is not just national news but a local story, and vice versa. So let’s run down a series of local pieces (and some from the nationals) on our local “first” couple and see what it means for me, and for thee, in the education world.

Read the rest of this entry »

David Goldberg for CTA Secretary Treasurer


Let me take this opportunity to wholeheartedly and unreservedly endorse David Goldberg for Secretary Treasurer of the California Teachers Association. David is a strong progressive union leader. He understands the issues, and has worked towards solutions. He understands the critical need to organize not just among our members, but in our communities. He has the vision, and the experience to help us bring our union to be what and where it needs to be. I urge my fellow State Council members to join me in voting for David. I ask members who are not State Council members to communicate their support for David to their elected representatives. Now is the time, and David is the one to get it done! Please like his Facebook page and share it with educators you know. Thank you for your kind consideration.


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