Journal of Educational Controversy


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Wisdom from the Faith Traditions for 2020

In the beginning of each year, we like to draw on the great faith traditions for wisdom on living the good life.  The Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding again offers us its list of resolutions from diverse religions, beliefs and traditions.


To Live the Golden Rule
In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
Christianity, Matthew 7:12

To Embrace Religious Differences
Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.
The Bahá’í Faith, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, Bishárát

To Act Virtuously
Cultivate virtue in yourself, And it will be true.
Taoism, Tao Te Ching chapter 54

To Respect the Earth 
Ether, air, fire, water, earth, planets, all creatures, directions, trees and plants, rivers and seas, they are all organs of God’s body. Remembering this a devotee respects all species.
Hinduism, Srimad Bhagavatam (2.2.41)

To Treat the Stranger with Kindness
And a stranger shalt thou not wrong, neither shalt thou oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Judaism, Exodus 22:20

To Challenge Fake News
I replied thus: I am Zoroaster, the staunch enemy of liars and falsehood. I shall fight against liars as long as I have strength and shall uphold truth and righteous people whole heartedly.
Zoroastrianism, Yasna 43 (Verse 8)

To Advocate for Justice
O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just.
Islam, Sahih International 4:135

To Speak with Honesty and Compassion
Speak only that which will bring you honor.
Sikhism, Guru Nanak, Sri Guru Granth Sahib

To Practice Nonviolence 
One is not called noble who harms living beings. By not harming living beings one is called noble. Buddhism, Dhammapada (Verse 270)

To Make Peace Possible
Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.
Confucianism, Confucius

Monday, December 30, 2019

Education Week Lists its Top Debates for the Last Decade

If you want to read Education Week’s selection of the top eleven “policy debates” and “challenging issues” of the last decade, you can link to it here:

2010 to Now: A Turbulent Decade for Schools

By Evie Blad and Andrew Ujifusa

December 18, 2019

 The new year brings to close a decade of stormy education policy debates, challenging issues for the nation’s schools, and the maturing of a new federal education law—the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Between 2010 and 2020, enrollment at U.S. public schools grew more diverse. The public narrative on the teaching profession swung between calls to fire ineffective educators and sympathy for those who must work two jobs to keep up with their bills. And U.S. education secretaries caused controversy like never before. (continue to article)

Here is their list.  Go to the article for a description of each.

  1. The Every Student Succeeds Act
  2. Betsy DeVos
  3. Obama Makes His Mark
  4. Common Core and Testing
  5. Tumultuous Times for Unions
  6. School Shootings and Safety Debates
  7. Student Enrollment: Two Tipping Points
  8. Pendulum Swing for Civil Rights Enforcement
  9. Battles Over School Choice
  10. Teacher Activism
  11. Bonus: ‘Whole Child’ and SEL

See also:


Friday, December 27, 2019

For Teachers Preparing to Teach about Impeachment and the 2020 Election

iCivics, the civic education organization, founded by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has come out with new programs, lessons, and video games to help students understand the upcoming impeachment process and the 2020 election.

Check out their latest resources. 

1.     NEW Cast Your Vote Game
There’s a whole new version of our Cast Your Vote game that gives students practice researching candidates and issues ahead of Election Day. Download the Cast Your Vote Extension Pack and use the materials to help you reinforce the game's key concepts.

2.     Impeachment and Conviction Infographic   
Do your students have questions about how the impeachment process works? Our new infographic and accompanying teacher’s Slide Deck will equip you to teach about this current event in your classroom.

3.     Politics & Public Policy Unit 
Dive into this curated unit to amp up election excitement in your classroom. Students will learn concepts and processes through simulations, presentations, vocabulary-building activities, and a mock election!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

In Memoriam: Jonas F. Soltis

I was saddened to hear that the last mentor from my doctoral days at Columbia University’s Teachers College, Jonas Soltis, has passed on.  I was so fortunate to have had Philip Phenix, Maxine Greene and Jonas Soltis as my professors and members of my doctoral dissertation committee during the 1970s.  While Phil Phenix gave me a holistic view of what philosophy can provide, and Maxine an existential one, it was Jonas that honed my analytical skills during the heyday of analytical philosophy that still dominated the field during those years.  Jonas’ evolution in his approach to philosophy in subsequent years had a profound effect on both my thinking and teaching as I tried to help new teachers see the relevance of philosophy to their work.  His application of philosophy to actual classroom issues and contemporary problems left an indelible mark on multitudes of young teachers that I have taught during the years as well as on the launching of the Journal of Educational Controversy.  His legacy will be a powerful one.

Monday, October 7, 2019

A Fact Sheet on "Fake News" for Teachers

Editor:  We are passing along this fact sheet by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding for teachers who are addressing this topic in their classes.  We thank the Tanenbaum Center for permission to reprint.

©2018 TANENBAUM | Center for Interreligious Understanding | 55 Broad Street, New York, NY 10004 | (212) 967-7707 |


Are our opinions based in real—and not fake—facts? Below we share some of the real facts worth knowing…

What is "fake news"?

"Fake news" is information that is presented as credible and factual, but that is not true and is intended to deceive people. It is a deliberate attempt to sway someone’s opinion or validate it with disinformation. Simply stated, it is inaccurate, untrue, disinformation repeated by seemingly credible sources you trust including certain news sources or a trusted family member.

"Fake news" is not new—even the mythical age of "objective journalism" had its hiccups. During WWII, the Nazi party propagated fake news propaganda against the Jews; the Communists against the Capitalists, and the U.S. against Japanese-Americans; in the 1950s, Joseph McCarthy was accused of manipulating reporters and blacklisting those who couldn’t be manipulated. But, it wasn’t until the rise of web-generated content that "fake news" surged as a powerful force again.

According to the journal of Digital Journalism,i researchers have come up with six distinct definitions of fake news—news satire, news parody, propaganda, manipulation, sponsored content and fabrications. In February of 2017, Callum Borchers of the Washington Post claimed in his article ‘Fake news’ has now lost all meaning that following the 2016 election the term "fake news" has been repurposed by politicians to dismiss reporting that they disagree with.ii

 Is "fake news" real?

Some of it, sometimes. Fake news can include an element of truth, but other facts are either distorted or misrepresented. Critically analyzing content and information has always been essential and checking for factual errors is a good place to start. Ultimately, however, fake news is biased and aims to convince its audience of a specific viewpoint, often political or ideological.

How do I spot "fake news?" And what can I do about it?

Consider the source & vet the publisher’s credibility—

 Where is this information coming from? Would the site meet academic citation standards? Always check your sources. has a history of touting conspiracy theories, while The Guardian is known for journalism, having won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2014.
 What is the domain name? If the logo seems "off" or the website has additional letters added at the end such as "" then you’re probably not looking at a credible source. Double-check and make sure .co is not referencing Colombia’s internet country code top-level domain.iii

 Can you perform reverse image searches for photos or sources? In the era of Photoshop, you can’t always believe what you see. (Don’t know what a reverse image search is? Check here.

 What is the publication’s point of view?

Read beyond the headline—

 Headlines are often designed to be inflammatory clickbait, so what’s the whole story? Does the headline match the content of the article? Reading the article is key.

 Does the website carry a disclaimer? Satirical sites like The Onion or parody shows like SNL may contain a disclaimer, while others will not. Is it sponsored content? News organizations, even reputable ones such as The Washington Post increase their revenue running advertisements. Content may read like a regular news article, but cite a disclaimer that it is sponsored content and represents the opinion, interests, goals of the sponsor.iv

 Does the headline or story purposely play on your fears and/or anxieties? Is the story so outrageous you’re having a hard time believing it? Do some digging—if other credible news outlets are reporting on the same information then it’s probably trustworthy.v

Investigate the author—

 Is the article clearly attributed to an author? What other pieces has the author written?
 Are they a contributor or are they a paid staff writer? An author’s bio can be a telltale sign of a fake Even that the author is fake.

 How can I check out "fake news" stories?

There are a lot of organizations working on fact-checking, and dedicated to reviewing content. Some to check out include:

● has been exposing false viral claims since the mid-1990s, including fabricated messages, distortions containing bits of truth and everything in between.vii

From the beginning, PolitiFact focused on looking at specific statements made by politicians and rating them for accuracy. This site rates statements based on the information known at the time the statement is made.viii

People take old photos and try to pass them off as current content. Check where that image has appeared before and who has shared it. Make sure the image is original and is used in its original context.ix

Why do I sometimes believe "fake news?

There are lots of reasons this happens—to all of us. Sometimes we fail to ask important questions about the content with which we engage. And with the advent of the internet and the rise of social media,x discerning whether content is credible or not can be difficult.

Ways to counter this include being careful not to accept information that simply confirms our own beliefs and personal biases. People of all ages, from media-savvy tweens to high-IQ academics, are susceptible to quickly forwarding along and sharing information without first verifying the content is true and the sources are accurate. And when it comes to checking if the info is legitimate, there’s no quick fix. Discerning whether information is factual will take some digging.xi

The reality is that "fake news" is not a new phenomenon, but with the help of the internet, not only has our access to information increased—so has our ability to create and share information (and misinformation). Fifty years ago, sources of information were much more limited. We got our news from trusted sources, journalists and media outlets that vetted and verified before reporting. In the age of the internet, we now have entirely new ways of publishing, sharing and consuming information, with little to no verification standards. This means that the responsibility for verifying your news is now your burden and not the primary responsibility of the source.

Information overload and increased access to content distribution mean that web-generated news is on the rise. And that means we now must assume responsibility for safeguarding and verifying the truth, the facts and reality.
i Digital Journalism, ii The Washington Post,
iii Domain Typer,

iv The Smithsonian,
v First Draft News,
vi The News Literacy Project,
viii PolitiFact,
ix The News Literacy Project,
x The Smithsonian,
xi TIME,

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Latest News Reports on Court’s Affirmative Action Decision

As we prepare our upcoming issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy on the theme, “The Ethics of Memory: What Does it Mean to Apologize for Historical Wrongs,”  events keep catching up to us.  One of the topics we encouraged authors to examine was on affirmative action.  The courts have just handed down the latest decision on affirmative action.  Below are some news reports along with a link to the actual decision to keep our readership up to date on events.





* Plaintiff
* Civil Action No. 14- cv -14176 -ADB
* Defendant

Friday, September 6, 2019

Washington Post Article Continues the Conversation We Started in our Article in 2012 on No-Excuses Charter Schools

We always like to provide our readership with updated thoughts on articles we have published.  Readers will remember the article in our 2012 issue of Volume 6 by Alice Ginsberg entitled “The Dog Ate My Homework: Embracing Risk in the Chilling Climate of No Excuses Schools,” that took a critical look at such schools.    

Recently, Valerie Strauss, an education reporter for the Washington Post, published an article, “Some ‘no-excuses’ charter schools say they are changing. Are they? Can they?” In the article, Strauss reflects on some recent exchanges of ideas on the possibility or impossibility of changes in these schools.

We invite thoughts and perspectives from our readers on this ongoing conversation.

Readers can read the Washington Post article at:

Thursday, August 1, 2019

What Constitutes Effective Civic Education?

What Constitutes Effective Civic Education?  An Invitation to our Readers.
As we work toward future issues of the Journal of Educational Controversy, we have been thinking about an issue on what constitutes an adequate and effective civic education for students growing up in a new world of social media.    In addition to the development of rational deliberative arguments, what do students need to understand about things like coded language, gaslighting, the role of historical narratives, etc., in their civic education.  We invite our readers to contribute to the structuring of our controversial scenario for the issue.  What must our students know and understand?

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

July 4th, the Declaration of Independence, and Immigration

July 4th, the Declaration of Independence, and Immigration
I am not sure what it means to celebrate the 4th of July.  My town celebrates the 4th with the usual family activities in the parks and the fireworks over the bay in the evening.    I do not mean to minimize family times, but we seem to be missing the whole point.  I have long imagined such celebrations to include a day of citizen seminars in libraries, bookstores, parks and homes all over the country where citizens actually read and discuss some the founding documents and their implication to current events.  What an inspiring education for our children. 
Well, I decided this morning to actually read the Declaration of Independence before the evening’s firework display.   All of us are familiar with the moving words from the beginning of the document:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

But I wonder how many of us actually have read the entire document.   So I decided to read more about the grievances that were enumerated and found this rather interesting one against King George III:
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither…
Apparently King George III was also concerned about immigration of non-British Europeans who would not be sufficiently loyal to the crown.  It looks like it was Germans especially that were the target in those days.
So here is my suggestion (which will never be a reality but I make it anyway as a candle in the dark). Let’s take some time today to actually read and discuss this document.   It seems the founders were finding such immigration policies to be a grievance and an affront to freedom loving people.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Congressional Hearing on HR 40 on Reparations: Testimony by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Congressional Hearing on HR 40 on Reparations: Testimony by Ta-Nehisi Coates

As we continue to work on our upcoming issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy on “The Ethics of Memory: What Does it Mean to Apologize for Historic Wrongs,” recent events have caught up with our efforts.  On June 19th, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties conducted a hearing on HR 40. - Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act? Among those who testified before the committee was Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose influential 2014 article “The Case for Reparations” in The Atlantic revived the issue of reparations for slavery and its legacy.  Below is the transcript of his testimony.

Testimony by Ta-Nehisi Coates before the House Subcommittee on HR 40

Yesterday, when I asked about reparations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a familiar reply. America should not be held liable for something that happened 150 years ago, since none of us currently alive are responsible. This rebuttal proffers a strange theory of governance that American accounts are somehow bound by the lifetime of its generations. But well into the century the United States was still paying out pensions to the heirs of Civil War soldiers. We honor treaties that date back some 200 years despite no one being alive who signed those treaties.

Many of us would love to be taxed for the things we are solely and individually responsible for. But we are American citizens, and thus bound to a collective enterprise that extends beyond our individual and personal reach. It would seem ridiculous to dispute invocations of the founders, or the Greatest Generation, on the basis of a lack of membership in either group. We recognize our lineage as a generational trust, as inheritance and the real dilemma posed by reparations is just that: a dilemma of inheritance. It’s impossible to imagine America without the inheritance of slavery.

As historian Ed Baptiste has written, enslavement “shaped every crucial aspect of the economy and politics” of America, so that by 1836 more than $600 million, almost half of the economic activity in the United States, derived directly or indirectly from the cotton produced by the million-odd slaves. By the time the enslaved were emancipated, they comprised the largest single asset in America: $3 billion in 1860 dollars, more than all the other assets in the country combined.

The method of cultivating this asset was neither gentle cajoling nor persuasion, but torture, rape, and child trafficking. Enslavement reigned for 250 years on these shores. When it ended, this country could have extended its hallowed principles — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — to all, regardless of color. But America had other principles in mind. And so, for a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.

It is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder, from enslavement, but the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy, respects no such borders, and the god of bondage was lustful and begat many heirs. Coup d’états and convict leasing. Vagrancy laws and debt peonage. Redlining and racist G.I. bills. Poll taxes and state-sponsored terrorism.

We grant that Mr. McConnell was not alive for Appomattox. But he was alive for the electrocution of George Stinney. He was alive for the blinding of Isaac Woodard. He was alive to witness kleptocracy in his native Alabama and a regime premised on electoral theft. Majority Leader McConnell cited civil rights legislation yesterday, as well he should, because he was alive to witness the harassment, jailing, and betrayal of those responsible for that legislation by a government sworn to protect them. He was alive for the redlining of Chicago and the looting of black homeowners of some $4 billion. Victims of that plunder are very much alive today. I am sure they’d love a word with the majority leader.

What they know, what this committee must know, is that while emancipation deadbolted the door against the bandits of America, Jim Crow wedged the windows wide open. And that is the thing about Senator McConnell’s “something”: It was 150 years ago. And it was right now.

The typical black family in this country has one-tenth the wealth of the typical white family. Black women die in childbirth at four times the rate of white women. And there is, of course, the shame of this land of the free boasting the largest prison population on the planet, of which the descendants of the enslaved make up the largest share.

The matter of reparations is one of making amends and direct redress, but it is also a question of citizenship. In H.R. 40, this body has a chance to both make good on its 2009 apology for enslavement, and reject fair-weather patriotism, to say that this nation is both its credits and debits. That if Thomas Jefferson matters, so does Sally Hemings. That if D-Day matters, so does Black Wall Street. That if Valley Forge matters, so does Fort Pillow.

Because the question really is not whether we’ll be tied to the somethings of our past, but whether we are courageous enough to be tied to the whole of them. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

As Journal Prepares for its Next Theme on “The Ethics of Memory,” Western Washington University Awards Honorary Degree to Former Student and Decorated Veteran Incarcerated with Japanese Americans during World War II

 Western Washington University Awards Honorary Degree to Former Student and Decorated Veteran Incarcerated with Japanese Americans during World War II

by Mary Gallagher, Office of Communications and Marketing

Two black and white photos: Left, Japanese Americans boarded a bus parked in front of James Okubo's family home, beginning their forced removal in 1942.  Right, a portrait of James Okubo

Western Washington University will award a posthumous honorary bachelor’s degree at spring commencement Saturday, June 15 to James K. Okubo, a Medal of Honor recipient and former Western Washington College of Education student who was unable to finish his degree because his family was incarcerated during World War II along with about 120,000 West Coast residents of Japanese ancestry.
The degree will be presented at commencement Saturday, June 15, at 8:45 a.m. Tickets are required to attend the ceremony, which will also be livestreamed at
After leaving Western in 1942, Okubo enlisted in the U.S. Army and was a medic with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most decorated units in U.S. military history. He was awarded a Silver Star for saving the lives of fellow soldiers under heavy fire in France in 1944, and received a Medal of Honor in 2000.
Okubo passed away in 1967. His children, William and Anne, and other members of their family are expected to attend the ceremony to accept the degree on behalf of their father.
James Okubo was born in Anacortes, grew up in Bellingham and graduated from Bellingham High School. His parents Kenzo and Fuyu Okubo, ran the Sunrise Café on Holly Street. He came to Western Washington College of Education with dreams of becoming a dentist; he was a popular student and a member of the ski club. But in spring 1942, Okubo and his family were forced to leave their well-established lives and join other Bellingham residents of Japanese descent – citizens and non-citizens alike -- for incarceration at the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in California.
In May of 1943, Okubo enlisted in the Army, and was assigned as a medic in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, all-Nisei squad of second-generation Japanese Americans who would become legendary. During a daring rescue of a U.S. Army battalion trapped behind enemy lines in eastern France during World War II in October 1944, Okubo dodged grenades and heavy fire to crawl 150 yards to carry wounded men to safety, and personally treated 17 fellow soldiers. Days later, he ran through machine gun fire to rescue a comrade from a burning tank, saving his life. In 1945, Okubo’s superiors nominated him for a Medal of Honor, but he received the Silver Star, perhaps because of a mistaken belief it was the highest honor available to a medic.
After the war, Okubo settled in the Detroit area, became a dentist and a faculty member at the University of Detroit Dental School. He died in a car crash at age 46 on a family ski trip in 1967.
 In the late 1990s, the military records of Asian American World War II veterans came under closer scrutiny amid concerns they had not received full recognition for their valor. Okubo was posthumously granted the Medal of Honor by President Clinton in 2000 for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his live above and beyond the call of duty.” His wife, Nobuyo “Nobi” Okubo, attended the ceremony at the White House. Since then, Okubo has been honored in other ways: Wounded soldiers now live in the Okubo Barracks at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, and military families receive care at the Okubo Family Medical and Dental Complex at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
WWU staff members Carole Teshima, an administrative services manager in Woodring College of Education, and Mark Okinaka, a senior academic budget and finance analyst, first submitted Okubo’s name for receiving the honorary degree after learning that Okubo appears to be the only full-time student forced to leave Western during World War II due to the incarceration of Japanese Americans. Teshima has also researched the histories of established local residents who were sent to the prison camps – and found no evidence anyone ever returned to Whatcom County.

Friday, May 17, 2019

On the 65th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the Journal of Educational Controversy Reflects Upon and Continues the Conversation

May 17th marks the 65th anniversary of the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, that brought state-sanctioned segregation in our nation’s public schools to an end.  Still, today’s reality reveals that schools remain more segregated than at any time since 1968.  And most disturbing, at recent senate hearings, over two dozen judicial nominees nominated by President Trump declined to even answer the question on whether the Brown decision had been properly decided.  (“Trump judicial nominees decline to endorse Brown v. Board under Senate questioning,” New York Times, May 16, 2019)

Over the years, the Journal of Educational Controversy has published articles that have tried to create a national dialogue on the struggle of African Americans in the quest for equity and the justice.   Three issues in particular addressed directly some of these concerns.

Volume 2, Number 1 (2007) Jonathan Kozol's Nation of Shame Forty Years Later
            In this issue, dedicated to Jonathan Kozol who had just published his latest book, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, and who wrote the prologue to the issue, we sought to examine the various forces that impede or distract from the realization of the nation’s struggle for equal educational opportunity. At the time of its publication, the U.S. Supreme Court was about to examine Seattle’s school policies that aimed at promoting greater integration in its schools. We devoted a special section to the case, PICS v Seattle School District, in which we first talked about Seattle's past struggles for desegregation within the history of segregated housing patterns and restricted covenants.  Following our historical account, we offered opposing legal positions as well as opposing views of school administrators including the story of Principal David Engle who resigned his position in opposition to the decision.  Notably, the principals of 17 other high schools in Seattle wrote a public letter in support of Engle’s action.  A video of an interview with the author is also found on the journal’s website.  

Later, we published two issues that examined specific topics and movements.

Volume 7, Number 1 (2012) The School-to-Prison Pipeline
In this issue, we examined a national trend in which school policies and practices were increasingly resulting in criminalizing students rather than educating them. Statistics indicated that the number of suspensions, expulsions, dropouts or “pushouts,” and juvenile justice confinements is growing.  Moreover, this trend has had a disproportionate impact on students of color. We invited authors to examine the policy implications, the political ramifications, and the causes and possible solutions to this problem as well as a look at what these policies are teaching our students.

Volume 12, Number 1 (2017) Black Lives Matter and the Education Industrial Complex 
In this issue, we turned to a contemporary social movement and examined the way the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the deep roots of institutionalized racism in the United States.  Starting with the fundamental question, Do Black Lives Matter in the U.S. Education Industrial Complex?, the issue sought to explore the various questions raised by Black Lives Matter in relation to U.S. educational institutions, policies, and practices. The questions included the status of schools as institutions of control and sites of reproduction of racist ideology, the possibility of schools as sites of liberationist  transformation, the institutional history of schools alongside the development of institutional racism, the institutional response of schools to incidents of racial violence, the history of black studies programs in relation to black liberation movements, and the appropriation and sanitizing of terms like diversity and multiculturalism.

Our upcoming issue will be on the theme: The Ethics of Memory: What Does it Mean to Apologize for Historical Wrongs (Volume 14)
While the theme will look at multiple dimensions of the question, we also wanted to include a reexamination of affirmative action since the U.S. Supreme Court will once again revisit the topic.

One of the goals of our journal is to provide a continuing conversation on these issues, returning to them within a different context, and opening a new perspective on the way we ask the question. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

REMINDER: Deadline for Manuscripts -- June 30, 2019


We are pleased to announce the theme for the 2019 issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy.


Volume 14, 2019

Theme: The Ethics of Memory: What Does it Mean to Apologize for Historical Wrongs

To apologize for a wrong committed can imply any number of things: that one has committed a wrong against another, that the wrong was done intentionally, that one committed the wrong with malice, that one is consciously aware of doing the wrong, that one has remorse, that one is seeking to right the wrong, that one feels a sense of guilt over committing the wrong,  and/or that one is seeking redemption and reconciliation.  But what does it mean for a state to apologize for an historical wrong that was committed long before its present members were born, but who may still continue to derive benefits from that wrong? Recently, a university chancellor apologized for her university's role in past racial injustices and acknowledged the “profound injustices of slavery” as she sought to reconcile the past with the present and the future. College protests around confederate statues stir conflicts between arguments over historical injustices and historical heritage.   Historical figures who laid the foundation for the enlightenment principles embedded in the founding documents are found wanting in the ethics of historical memory and identity. And the Supreme Court’s current reconsideration of affirmative action brings the issues back into the legal domain, as courts grapple with how to redress the effects of slavery and Jim Crow on educational opportunity. Alternatively, authors may find that the conceptual framework that embeds our question carries certain assumptions that ignores a framework that would center experiences like the Japanese-American internment camps or the Native American Boarding Schools rather than foregrounding them.  Would placing the experiences of those who have been wronged central to our inquiry change the very way we pose the problem.  How does the very notion of apology even look from the perspective of those who have suffered these wrongs? Words and their meanings have histories and continue through lived experiences that are named and experienced differently.  For instance, racialized and other marginalized communities often refer to ‘wronged’ as historically and generationally traumatic—perhaps a different metaphor that communicates suffering is needed?   In the midst of what is often highly contentious confrontations, this issue of the journal is seeking articles that can bring moral clarification and rigorous discernment to the topic.

Deadline for Manuscripts: June 30, 2019

Monday, March 18, 2019

Author Brian Schultz on the Second Edition of his book, Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way: Lessons from an Urban Classroom

In a time of endless policies that attempt to commodify and standardize educational practices, it is refreshing to read a book that reminds us of the deeply personal and relational nature of teaching.  The book, Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way: Lessons from an Urban Classroom,” by Brian Schultz is now in its second edition so we invited Brian to inform our readers about the content of his latest edition. 

Shortly before the publication of his first edition, Brian had published an article in our journal called “Living Savage Inequalities: Room 405’s Fight for Equity in Schooling,” where he first set forth his experiences teaching in an urban classroom that was to become the focus for his upcoming book.  A discussion of that article generated a rejoinder by Sherick A. Hughes entitled, “Toward a Critical Race Pedagogy of Hope: A Rejoinder to Brian Schultz.”  

Because of the importance of his book, the journal subsequently published two reviews of the book when it first came out.  One was by Carl A. Grant entitled, “Revealing Truths in a Troubled Time: A CounterNarrative,” and the other by Paula Johnson.

Brian has been on the editorial board of the Journal of Educational Controversy since its inception in 2006.  He is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Teacher Education at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Prior to joining the faculty at Miami, Brian was the Bernard J. Brommel Distinguished Research Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Inquiry & Curriculum Studies at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.

Below is Brian’s description of the second edition of his book.

Brian Schultz on the Tenth Anniversary Second Edition of Spectacular Things Happen along the Way: Lessons from an Urban Classroom
The original book remains as it was originally published 10 years ago documenting how I as a teacher, alongside my 5th-grade students, co-created a curriculum based on the students’ needs, interests, and questions. Engaging with my students, who were mostly from a Chicago housing project, we develop an emergent and authentic curriculum based on what is most important to the 5th-graders—replacing their dilapidated school. As it was in the original edition, it details me as teacher in an urban school and his students juxtaposed against the powerful and entrenched bureaucracy of Chicago’s public education system.

This 10th anniversary edition adds new material on both the front and back end. In so doing, I examine how school reform continues to fail students in urban contexts, reflect on my teaching and writing from a decade ago, and offers updates on students and what became of the school. My reflections, and the ongoing insights of the students have a lot to teach us both from when they were young people and now as young adults. In the new material at the beginning, I push back on narratives of city kids, push back on common definitions of curriculum, and push back on my own storytelling. In the new materials at the end, I provide how this story fits into the neoliberal, corporatized school reform pervasive across the country and in particular in Chicago, provide updates on the school and the land where the school once stood, and provide and complicate updates on the students from Room 405. Also there is a new foreword by Pedro Noguera, “A Lesson for Teachers on Making Choices and Making a Difference" and a new afterword by Sonia Nieto, “On Teaching with Hope and Humility.”

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Tinker Turns 50 Today – A Compilation of Articles on Student Rights from the Journal of Educational Controversy

Today marks the 50th  anniversary of the  landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Tinker v. Des Moines, that helped define the constitutional rights of students in the public schools.  The Journal of Educational Controversy has published a number of articles on the topic over the years.
Below is a list of articles previously published in the journal.
1.      Strossen, Nadine and Larner, Daniel (2006) "Keeping The Constitution Inside The Schoolhouse Gate - Students' Rights Thirty Years After Tinker V. Des Moines Independent Community School District," Journal of Educational Controversy: Vol. 1 : No. 1 , Article 4.
Available at:
2.      Hilden, Julie (2006) "How Judge Alito Applied the First Amendment on Campus: His Important Decision On a Public School's Anti-Harassment Policy," Journal of Educational Controversy: Vol. 1 : No. 1 , Article 6.  Available at:
3.      Caplan, Aaron H. (2008) "Visions of Public Education In Morse v. Frederick," Journal of Educational Controversy: Vol. 3 : No. 1 , Article 21.   Available at:
4.      Roberts, Nathan M. (2008) "“Bong Hits 4 Jesus”: Have Students' First Amendment Rights to Free Speech Been Changed After Morse v. Frederick?," Journal of Educational Controversy: Vol. 3 : No. 1 , Article 22.   Available at:
Our special issue on the “School to Prison Pipeline" also examined civil liberty and civil rights implications.  The editorial below provides a description of the issue.
Kasprisin, Lorraine (2013) "The School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Civil Rights and a Civil Liberty Issue," Journal of Educational Controversy: Vol. 7 : No. 1 , Article 1.   Available at:
See also our links to videos (interviews and forums) on our journal’s website. 
See especially:
APRIL 30, 2008 - INTERVIEW WITH AARON CAPLAN, Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union, Washington, Loyola Law School, California on the Morse v. Frederick case.
2018 - 19th Annual Educational Law and Social Justice Forum, May 31, 2018.  Topic: Speech and Protest in Public Schools with Speaker, Vanessa Hernandez, Youth Policy Director, ACLU of Washington
2009 - 11th Annual Educational Law and Social Justice Forum,  April 29, 2009 -  ACLU staff attorney Rose Spidell discusses "The School to Prison Pipeline."
2008 - 10th Annual Educational Law and Social Justice Forum, April 30, 2008, “Democracy and Student Rights” with Aaron Caplan, Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union—Washington.