Apr 172014
 

we the people-swan

On Saturday, March 29th, the students from Warren Wilson working with Spirit in Action’s We the People project went out into several trailer parks of Swannanoa, North Carolina. to listen to the folks who lived there. It was a rainy and muddy day, but students came prepared for door-knocking. Although nervous, soon into the interviews most were excited. Even the residents who said “no” usually had a good excuse (most were going to work) and were very friendly. No slammed doors in the students faces

How many conversations did the students wind up having? What sorts of questions did they ask?

Given the chance to talk, community members brought up topics that ranged from education, the fact that minimum wage was not enough to live off, lack of jobs, affordable housing, and especially the minimal bus system and lack of public transportation. When it came to voting, several people said that it did no good to vote.

Residents of Swannanoa described having to work two or three jobs. We learned that even people with college degrees could not make it in today’s economy.

One woman, educated as a pre-school teacher said “It’s sad when I can make more money cleaning your houses, than I can make teaching your children”.

There are no sidewalks along the main road in Swannanoa and one man was arrested carrying groceries while walking down the side of the highway. Another was questioned by police and accused of “loitering” while waiting at the bus stop – sometimes a 2-hour wait – as the bus only runs three times a day.

Others talked about lack of services for homeless, substance abuse and some brought up racism.

Despite people’s concerns, they loved their community, describing it as beautiful, friendly, supportive and peaceful.

Students were invited to “come back” by some residents, and we were surprised at how many people signed up to stay involved.

After the community visits, students debriefed on the day, and reflected on their feelings about poor and working class whites at the beginning of the class until now. Many were surprised at how nice people were to them as strangers at their door (including the students of color), and how open people were to having conversations. Even residents who couldn’t talk at the time asked students to “come back another time” and meant it! Some interviews even ended with hugs!

And some of the residents were politically savvy in a way different than students had expected. One man asked students all about state politics, and lectured them on not knowing enough, telling them they should listen to Revolution Radio, a local progressive radio station from Asheville.

 

Apr 102014
 

lp logo4In the summer of 2013 we interview over 40 individuals whose words, stories and passion about the current state of education in America is helping us understand what frames are most important and relevant to education justice in 2014. Spirit in Action is proud to launch the first 10 videos as part of the Education Justice Listening Project.

Clips in this round include Sabrina Joy Stevens, Leigh Patel, Scott Nine, Ernesto Villasenor and others. Although only selected interviews are in this round of the project, we may create more videos highlighting additional information and individuals later.

For now, please consider sharing the videos of fellow education justice leaders. You can see all ten videos on our YouTube playlist. For more information about the Education Justice Listening Project, take a look on our website.

 

 

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Apr 102014
 

Ayla Gavins is the Principal of Mission Hill K-8 School in Boston, MA.

From the mission statement of Mission Hill School: The task of public education is to help parents raise youngsters who will maintain and nurture the best habits of a democratic society be smart, caring, strong, resilient, imaginative and thoughtful. It aims at producing youngsters who can live productive, socially useful and personally satisfying lives, while also respecting the rights of all others. The school, as we see it, will help strengthen our commitment to diversity, equity and mutual respect.

As part of our 2013 Education Justice Listening Project we interviewed educators, students, parents and organizers about what’s the best path forward for improving public education. In this clip, Ayla helps us understand how education is resourced and explains this to us using her drawing of the current state of public education.

Apr 102014
 

Zakiyah Ansari is an outspoken advocate for public schools and the loudest voice on the transition team for New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio’s. Ansari is the advocacy director at the New York State Alliance for Quality Education, a non-profit. She first appeared on the public radar in 2007 as a parent leader for Coalition for Educational Justice. Ansari, a mother of eight, criticized the creation of charter schools, saying it set parents against each other. All her children have graduated or are studying at New York City’s public schools.

As part of our 2013 Education Justice Listening Project we interviewed educators, students, parents and organizers about what’s the best path forward for improving public education. In this clip, Zakiyah reminds us of how important public education is for us as a nation.

Apr 102014
 

Jackson Potter is staff coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union.

As part of our 2013 Education Justice Listening Project we interviewed educators, students, parents and organizers about what’s the best path forward for improving public education. In this clip, Jackson tells us about the use of communication strategy and messaging with his work in Chicago.

Apr 102014
 

Kazu Haga is a nonviolence trainer and founder of the East Point Peace Academy in Oakland, California. East Point Peace Academy envisions a world where historic conflicts are fully reconciled and where new conflict arises solely as an opportunity for deeper growth. Where the depth of human relations are so high that it allows each individual to attain their fullest human potential. Kazu works in prisons, jails, schools and communities to build a powerful, nonviolent movement of peace warriors.

As part of our 2013 Education Justice Listening Project we interviewed educators, students, parents and organizers about what’s the best path forward for improving public education.