Out of the Margins

August 23, 2014 by Bill Ivey

“So how do your students look this year?” The question was asked not, as many people might expect, by a colleague or even a parent but by three of my former students who are now juniors as we found a chance to talk at the annual Local Family Picnic. “They look great,” I said. “Of course. You know! Given the emails they’ve been writing me about the books they’ve been reading.” One of them laughed and said, “Your favourite Humanities 7 class of 2014-2015?” I laughed in return, responding “Absolutely!” knowing she was secure in the knowledge they were all part of my favourite Humanities 7 class of… 2010-2011. (For the record, I only teach one section of Humanities 7 each year, so the “favourite Humanities 7 class of...” line is something of a running joke.)

As I prepare for the imminent arrival on campus of my brand new students, as the middle school team prepares to bring together and start building this year’s community, I find myself focused not just on what the kids might be thinking and feeling but also on the parents. My son attended boarding school for three years and is about to start his junior year at college, so I know firsthand what parents are going through. The level of trust we parents place in a school when dropping off our children is powerfully and deeply touching, and part of what motivates me to do my absolute best each and every day is working to meet that trust (not that I need any more motivation than looking out at my students looking back at me!).

Filed Under: LGBT, On Education, activism, anti-racism, social justice, equity, On Parenting, community, discrimination, Acceptance, diversity, empathy, Feminism, Current Events

Xian and Me

November 03, 2013 by Bill Ivey

You may not know Xian Barrett. You may not even have heard of him. If you have, it may well have been through Lauren Fitzpatrick's mid-July article in the Chicago Sun-Times, "CPS calls teacher's mom to tell him he's laid off." Mr. Barrett, a 2009 Teaching Fellow with the U.S. Department of Education, is one of 2113 employees of Chicago Public Schools who was laid off at the time. 1036 of those employees were teachers, joining the 545 already laid off (along with 305 other CPS employees) due to the recent closing of 48 schools. That represents a total layoff of 6% of the CPS faculty, blamed on the expiration of a three-year period of pension relief. In the meantime, "the Board of Education voted to increase its payment to [Teach for America] from $600,000 to nearly $1.6 million, and to add up to 325 new recruits to CPS classrooms, in addition to 270 second year 'teacher interns.'" (Fitzpatrick)

Filed Under: Xian Barrett, On Education, social justice, equity, Current Events, Education