Journal of Educational Controversy


Tuesday, September 6, 2022

IN MEMORIAM: Nel Noddings

We at the Journal of Educational Controversy are saddened to announce the passing of philosopher, Nel Noddings.  The announcement below from the Philosophy of Education Society reflects on her legacy.  

   PES Honors Nel Noddings’ Legacy 

Teacher. Philosopher. Public Intellectual. Mentor. Friend.

When Professor Nel Noddings died on August 25, 2022, the Philosophy of Education Society (PES) not only lost a luminary in our field, but also a dear and cherished colleague, friend, and mentor. A first generation college student, Professor Noddings was a champion for students who may not always feel that education systems were structured for them. Her philosophy of education colleagues will miss her presence, her friendship, her wit, her brilliance, and her leadership.

Nel Noddings was the Emerita Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education at Stanford University. Her scholarship conceptualizing and applying an ethic of care stands as a landmark contribution to the field, shaping conversations in philosophy of education, ethics, moral philosophy and feminist theory. Her work also shaped conversations and practices in schools, lifting up the moral and ethical dimensions of teachers’ work. Nel’s work was expansive; her books included Caring: A Feminist Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (1984), The Challenge to Care in Schools (1992) and Starting at Home: Caring and Social Policy (2002), among many others.

Nel’s leadership was felt not only at Stanford, where she served as an Associate Dean and Acting Dean of the School of Education, but also more broadly in the American Association for Educational Research, where she spearheaded writing ethical guidelines for the field of educational research as a whole, as President of the National Academy of Education and the John Dewey Society, and in PES, where she served as president in 1991-1992. Nel was a thoughtful and prolific scholar who valued action. As one of her daughters wrote: “Her family welcomes you to honor her legacy with action. Don’t send flowers; read her work and talk with the people you care about.” Indeed. Read her amazing boundary-crossing work. Make sure your students read it too; this would honor Nel’s memory, as she was a skilled teacher and mentor. 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

New Call for Reviewers

 The Journal of Educational Controversy is expanding its pool of reviewers. If you are interested in being considered as a reviewer, e-mail us a letter of interest with a list of areas of expertise and interest along with a vita.

E-mail us at:

Please put "potential reviewer" in the subject area.

Sunday, May 15, 2022


We were saddened to hear of the death of Hoang Vu Tran.  The Journal of Educational Controversy published an article by Professor Tran in our Volume 14 issue on the theme, "The Ethics of Memory: What Does It Mean to Apologize for Historical Wrongs."   The very timely article was entitled, "Anti-Affirmative Action and Historical Whitewashing: To Never Apologize While Committing New Racial Sins," an issue that is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Hoang V. Tran was a young assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University. He died from drowning in a lake while trying to save his friends from a strong current.  He had a three year old daughter and another child who was not born yet. Such a tragic loss.  We are honored to have published what was probably his final manuscript.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Books for Young People on Ukraine


 Editor:  Our Western Washington University librarian has compiled this list of classroom book suggestions to help young people understand and process the current events in Ukraine.  A special thank you to Sylvia Gabrielle Tag, WWU Librarian & Associate Professor, for her contribution to our understanding. 


Ukraine: An Annotated Bibliography for Educators


The war in Ukraine is devasting on so many levels. Considering the daily news images, how can educators help young people understand and process these current events? “We’d like to warn you that the following images are disturbing…” How do we give a sense of a people’s humanity? One way is to tell their stories. We think we can shelter young people from pain and suffering but children are biologically predisposed to soak up their surroundings. Even if the TV and radio are turned off, kids sense anxiety and frustration in caretakers. For the Littles, stories can provide comfort. For older children, who hear about events at school or from friends, it is essential to provide facts along with compassion. Teenagers need action, inspiration and understanding that honor the complexities of world politics. Consider this selected list as a starting point. Young people are counting on us. 


The Experience of War

Start here with one outstanding book and several websites.


Romanyshyn, Romana, Lesiv, Andriĭ, and Lushchevska, Oksana. How War Changed Rondo. Enchanted Lion, 2021.

Provocative for all ages, this powerful book uses metaphor and allegory to describe the experience of war. Originally published in 2015 under the title Viĭna, shcho zminyla Rondo by Vydavnytstvo Staroho Leva (The Old Lion Publishing House), Lviv, Ukraine.
Danko, Zirka, and Fabian live peacefully in the small town of Rondo, a magical and joyful place… until the fateful day that War arrives. They try to talk to it and fight it, but nothing seems to stop the spread of War's destruction and darkness. Harnessing the power of light, community, and song, Danko, Zirka, and Fabian, along with all their neighbors, must rally together to lead Rondo to victory. How War Changed Rondo reflects the darkness and pain that conflict bring and the wounds that linger long after it's over. This picture book serves as a tribute to peace, resistance, and hope, and was written and illustrated by Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv, a husband-and-wife duo from Ukraine. 


Winter Light Books is an independent book publisher specializing in children’s stories, primarily from traditional Ukrainian Sources.


The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organization which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together in order to promote international understanding through children's books


Hello, Dear Enemy : Picture Books for Peace is a traveling exhibit from the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany. The exhibit is divided into four themes: Experiences of War, Destruction, and Displacement; Power Struggles and the Origin and Escalation of Violence; Prejudice, Ostracism, and Imagined Enemies; Utopias of Peace and Anti-War Books. List of exhibit books here:


Not If But When: Books for Young People About Death and Loss is a website of book titles. The impacts of war and displacement are not unique to Ukraine. Children and teens facing the loss of friends and family, or their own mortality, need help navigating the emotional, physical, and practical upheavals and restorations. Books offer opportunities to ask questions, wonder, and simply acknowledge the realities of their circumstances.




Nonfiction accounts and memoirs.


Rodger, Ellen. A refugee's journey from Ukraine. Crabtree Publishing Company, 2018.

Published after the annexation of Crimea – but still painfully relevant.
Miron's life in Ukraine is happy until a war breaks out in his city, Donetsk. Surrounded by political instability and increasing violence, Miron and his family decide to flee to find safety in a more stable part of Ukraine. But life as an internally displaced person is not stable. He and his family aren't sure if true safety lies ahead for them. Interspersed with facts about Ukraine and its people, this narrative tells a story common to many refugees fleeing the country. Readers will learn about the conflict there and how they can help refugees in their communities and around the world who are struggling to find permanent homes.


Radzilowski, John. Ukrainian Americans. Chelsea House, 2007.

Discusses Ukrainian Americans, their history, culture, traditions, accomplishments and contributions to American society. Chapters include: The Ukrainians in North America -- Ukraine: land of promise and tragedy -- Coming to North America -- Building a new world -- Making a new home -- Bringing Ukrainian traditions to North America -- The newest Ukrainians in North America -- Chronology -- Timeline.


Grimberg, Tina. Out of Line: Growing up Soviet. Tundra Books, 2007.

A rabbi remembers her life as a child in Kiev, Ukraine, where her family lived under Soviet rule until they moved to the United States when she was fifteen.



Background for Educators

In addition to United States Federal Government websites the outstanding Opposing Viewpoints Series, published by Greenhaven, explores various aspects of controversial issues.


United States Department of State: Ukraine.

Updates, fact sheets, policy, and current news.


Ruth, Michael. Ukraine. Greenhaven Press, 2016.

This book is part of the excellent Opposing Viewpoints series. Published after the annexation of Crimea, many of the same issues are relevant for the current invasion.
Chapter include: How should the United States manage the Ukraine Conflict? The United States should intervene militarily in the Ukraine Conflict / Jorge Benitez ; The United States should stay out of the Ukraine Conflict / Chris Freind ; If U.S. arms Ukraine, Russia could arm Iran / Josh Cohen ; The United States should arm Ukraine / Luke Coffey and Nile Gardiner ; The United States should continue imposing sanctions on Russia / David J. Kramer ; The United States must support the Minsk Agreement for Ukrainian peace / Victoria Nuland ; Ukraine's Minsk Agreement will not bring peace / Alexander Mercouris -- Should the West intervene in Ukraine? The West should help Ukraine / Ian Kearns, Steve Andreasen, and Des Browne ; Europe should integrate Ukraine / Nicolai Petro ; Europe should not integrate Ukraine / Alexander Donetsky ; NATO should not become involved in Ukraine / Seumas Milne ; NATO should confront Russia over Ukraine / Kurt Volker and Erik Brattberg -- What should be Russia's place in Ukraine? The West is responsible for provoking Russia over Ukraine / Tim Black ; The West has a choice : abandon Ukraine or punish Russia? It should choose the latter / Alex Massie ; The Russian military should fully invade Ukraine / Brad Cabana ; Crimea belongs to Russia / Dmitry Tamoikin ; Crimea belongs to Ukraine / Yulia Tymoshenko -- How should Ukraine plan its future? Ukraine must hold on to its contested regions / William Risch ; Ukraine should give up its contested regions / Alexander J. Motyl ; Ukraine must prosecute those committing war crimes / Amnesty International ; Ukrainian military as a whole is responsible for war crimes / David Garrett ; Why Ukraine shouldn't be offered NATO membership / Andrei Tsygankov ; Taking IMF money would damage Ukraine's economy / Jeffrey Sommers and Michael Hudson, as told to Jessica Desvarieux.




Nothing reveals the intricacies of a culture like their folktales.


Tetro, Maria Zemko and Joseph A. Tetro. Secret of the Glass Mountain and Other Folktales from Ukraine. Winter Light Books, 2014.

A collection of Ukrainian folk tales featuring enchanting stories and memorable characters, including a determined prince and beautiful princess, a wise ant and a terrifying dragon, a depressed rabbit, a strange horse, some troubled mice, a very lazy man, and a green dwarf named Oh! Original illustrations drawn by artists in Ukraine. 


Tetro, Maria Zemko and Joseph A. Tetro. How the Animals Built their House and Other Stories. Winter Light Books, 2008. 

Three Ukrainian folk tales that describe the troubles one month experiences when he tries to visit another; the reliance of family and friends when a reluctant vegetable requires help from everyone at harvest time, and how a group of animals discovers that a long trip can end much closer to home than anyone expected. Original illustrations drawn by artists in Ukraine. 


Tetro, Maria Zemko and Joseph A. Tetro. The Fox Judge and Other Tales. Winter Light Books, 2007.

Three Ukrainian folk tales depict a special hen that lays a golden egg, a sly fox who negotiates an argument between two cats trying to divide a wedge of cheese, and three butterflies of different colors who stay together to help each other through a sudden rainstorm.


The Mitten – Did you know that this familiar folktale originated in Ukraine?

Aylesworth, Jim., and McClintock, Barbara. The Mitten. Scholastic Press, 2009.

A retelling of the traditional tale of how a boy's lost mitten becomes a refuge from the cold for an increasing number of animals.


Brett, Jan. The Mitten: A Ukrainian Folktale. Putnam, 1989.

Several animals sleep snugly in Nicki's lost mitten until the bear sneezes.


Tresselt, Alvin. The Mitten. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1964.

This retold version by Alvin Tresselt and illustrated by Yaroslava is adapted from the version by E. Rachev. A tale about a lost mitten which becomes the shelter for many forest creatures.


Kimmel, Eric A., and Krenina, Katya. The Birds' Gift: A Ukrainian Easter Story. Holiday House, 1999.

Villagers take in a flock of golden birds nearly frozen by an early snow and are rewarded with beautifully decorated eggs the next spring.


Bilenko, Anatole, et al. Ukrainian Folk Tales. Dnipro Publishers, 1974.

Pan Kotsky the puss-o-cat -- Foxy-loxy and palsy-wolfie -- The goat and the ram -- Kolobok the Johnnycake -- Kotihoroshko Rollipea -- Oh -- The wheat-ear -- The magic egg -- Ilya Muromets and nightingale the robber -- The little shepherd -- Boris son o'three -- The golden slipper -- The poor man and the raven czar -- The poor man and his sons -- The poor lad and the rich merchant Marko -- Danilo who had no luck -- A tale about the little Linden tree and the greedy old woman -- A tale about the stolen Postoli and the boiled eggs -- Misery -- The farm.



Informational Country Books

There are a lot of books about Ukraine on sites like Amazon. For older youth, the best sources for country information will be government websites.


United States Department of State: Ukraine.

Updates, fact sheets, policy, and current news.


Bassis, Volodymyr, et al. Ukraine. Cavendish Square, 2018.

Ukraine is a country with a vibrant and at times troubling past. This book explores the origins of Ukraine, its triumphs and struggles, and examines what it's like to live there today. From its geography to its economy, its language to its festivals, this book gives a current and comprehensive overview of Ukraine.


Murray, Julie. Ukraine. Big Buddy Books, 2018.

Welcome to Ukraine - home of vast steppes, deep ports, and beautiful architecture. Maps, a timeline with photos, and fun facts complement the text.


Zuehlke, Jeffrey. Ukraine in Pictures. Lerner, 2006.
Reveals the history and government, economy, people, geography, and cultural life of the Ukraine. Chapters include: The land -- History and government -- The people -- Cultural life -- The economy.


Zemliansky, Pavel. Ukraine. Gareth Stevens Publisher, 2002.

Presents information on the geography, history, government, economy, people, social life and customs, arts, contemporary issues, and relations with North America of Ukraine, a country in Eastern Europe that regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.



Everyday Life – Science, Art, Food & Holidays


Romanyshyn, Romana, et al. Sound : Shhh ... Bang ... Pop ... Boom! Chronicle Books, 2020.

This is an award-winning book on the phenomenon of sound with a philosophic reflection on its nature that will appeal to inquisitive children looking to learn more about science and nature. A stunning sequence of rich infographics provoke the reader to listen ... learn ... and think. Whether it's hearing noise, music, speech ... or silence, no one will come away from these pages without experiencing sound with new ears and a fresh understanding. Stunning visual sophistication and compelling infographics will appeal to adults as well as children. A perfect book for educators to share with children interested in STEM topics. The husband and wife team Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv, share an art studio in Lviv, Ukraine.


Olia, Hercules. Summer Kitchens: Recipes and Reminiscences from Every Corner of Ukraine. Weldon Owen, 2020.

An exploration into the culinary identity of eastern Europe through stunning food and travel photography, interspersed with stories and memories of tiny buildings called summer kitchens - small structures alongside the main house where people cook and preserve summer fruits and vegetables for the winter months. The author illustrates how the region’s cuisine varies as much as the landscapes, climate, and produce through her travels to the Carpathians, the Black Sea, the shores of the Danube and Dnieper, and her native land.


Hughes, Ellen. Christmas in Ukraine. World Book, 1997.

Do not be fooled by the title! This book is loaded with pictures, recipes, songs, and crafts for anytime of year.  Chapters include: The Ukrainian People -- The Days Before Christmas -- Sviata Vecheria and Rizdvo -- Generous Eve -- Songs of the Season -- Ukrainian Crafts -- Ukrainian Carols -- Ukrainian Recipes.


Touba, Jacquiline. Ukraine: Sasha Kotyenko’s Painting “Embroidery Time.” Powerkids Press, 1997.

The young Ukrainian artist, Sasha Kotyenko, discusses her culture and traditions, and describes a painting she made of herself and her sisters embroidering. Chapters include: My city -- My country -- My home -- My painting -- Making cloth -- Embroidering our clothes -- Women's clothing -- Our house -- Traditions -- A country to be proud of.





Wolny, Philip. Holodomor : The Ukrainian Famine-Genocide. Rosen YA, 2018.

One of the lesser-known historical crimes that wiped out millions of people was Holodomor (loosely translated from Ukrainian as "death by hunger"), the famine and genocide that occurred during Soviet rule between 1932 and 1933. This book relates the shocking story of how a natural disaster was weaponized by the Soviet Union under the rule of Joseph Stalin to punish a whole people. Evocative photographs with compelling background and analysis give readers the story of a tragic chapter of European history in the twentieth century, while tying the event to our all-too-relevant modern context.


Taylor, Peter Lane., and Nicola, Christos. The Secret of Priest's Grotto: A Holocaust Survival Story. Kar-Ben Pub., 2007.

Two explorers survey caves in the Western Ukraine and relate the story of how an extended Jewish family, fleeing persecution by the Nazis, lived for two years in a large cave, Popowa Yama, and survived the war.


McQuerry, Maureen. Nuclear Legacy: Students of Two Atomic Cities. Battelle Press, 2000.

Students from Slavutych, Ukraine, and Richland, Washington, describe the effects of growing up in communities purposely developed in secrecy and isolation because of their nuclear-based industry and discuss their future in these towns as demand for nuclear energy declines.


Toll, Nelly S. Behind the Secret Window: A Memoir of a Hidden Childhood During World War Two. Dial Books, 1993.

The author recalls her experiences when she and her mother were hidden from the Nazis by a Gentile couple in Lwów, Poland, during World War II.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Laws to Protect Students from Feeling Discomfort: The Politicization of a Word and the Effects of Silence

The growing censorship of books and ideas in public schools across the nation uses the prevention of discomfort of our students as its excuse disguised as its justification.  If discomfort is a real concern, we may want to look more carefully at the real discomfort from which we should try to protect our children.

If state legislatures and school boards do not want students to be discomforted from depictions of historical and ongoing structural discrimination and social injustices, how are they protecting students of color and LGBT students from the real discomfort experienced every day without proactive discussion and action?

If state legislatures and school boards want students to be aware of the Constitution’s Second Amendment on the right to bear arms, how are they protecting students from the reality of school shootings that they are really experiencing without proactive discussion and action?

If state legislatures and school boards want students to be aware of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment on the protection from unreasonable searches, how to they protect students from the discomfort and bewilderment from watching the no-knock killings of Breonna Taylor and Amir Locke on their TVs without proactive discussion and action?

If state legislatures and school boards want students to develop a critical examination of ideas and free expression, how do we protect students from the gaslighting from the selection of approved speech by state legislatures and local boards?

I am not saying that feeling discomfort should not be a concern for teachers.  It should be.  But the way to deal with it should be more discussion and not less.  I remember that as a student many years ago, I was asked to read a novel that was deeply disturbing to me at the time.  The story was about the pioneers building a new life for themselves, and one of the main characters was undergoing an obsession over her religious beliefs.  It came at a time when my own religious beliefs were challenged and waning.  But that part of the novel was never discussed, even in those days.  The concern of the day’s lesson was on the kind of structures and materials the pioneers were using in the construction of their houses.  And so a troubled adolescent was left to struggle with these confusing emotions alone.  If English teachers were not able to discuss the emotions generated by the novel, biology teachers were even more hesitant to explain the nature of a scientific understanding of the world.  Young people pick up what is going on when a teacher responds to a student’s inquiry on the conflicting views of the origin of the universe with, “I will talk about that at the end of the course,“ but the end of the course never came.

It is interesting that other institutions that affect the development of our children were also of no help.  One might think that the institution of the church would help in the quest of these questions.  But they also failed in those days.  Trying to make their religious message relevant to adolescents, they focused on some polemic instruction early in the evening followed by music and partying.  Responding to the real questions and concerns that an adolescent might want to raise was somehow not seen as a possible motivation for their being there.  And so the institutions in our community failed our children.

I fear that what was a covert reality then is an open, overt one now.  The discomfort we need to be shielded from is the one brought about by the silence to confront reality -- best done in the environment of a caring and responsive teacher.  Silence is discomforting. 

Friday, February 4, 2022


 For educators looking for resources for Black History Month, I’d like to call your attention to some special issues that were recently published  in the Journal of Educational Controversy.   The theme of the issue for Volume 12 was: “Black Lives Matter and the Education Industrial Complex.”  The theme of the issue for Volume 14 was: “The Ethics of Memory: What Does it Mean to Apologize for Historical Wrongs.”

A list of the articles for both issues is below:



A Critical Race Theory Analysis of Post-Ferguson Critical Incidents Across Ecological Levels of Academia
Aurora Chang, Sabina Neugebauer, and Daniel Birmingham
Vol. 12, Iss. 1


Cocaine and College: How Black Lives Matter in U.S. Public Higher Education
Bill Lyne
Vol. 12, Iss. 1


The Revolution Will Be Live: Examining Educational (In)Justice through the Lens of Black Lives Matter
Amy Jo Samuels, Gregory L. Samuels, and Brandon Haas
Vol. 12, Iss. 1


Practical Representation and the Multiracial Social Movement
Vernon D. Johnson and Kelsie Benslimane
Vol. 12, Iss. 1


The Intersection of White Supremacy and the Education Industrial Complex: An Analysis of #BlackLivesMatter and the Criminalization of People with Disabilities
Brittany A. Aronson and Mildred Boveda
Vol. 12, Iss. 1


Exclusionary Discipline In New Jersey: The Relationship Between Black Teachers And Black Students
Randy Rakeem Miller Sr.
Vol. 12, Iss. 1


Stories of Social Justice Educators and Raising Children in the Face of Injustice
James Wright and Amanda U. Potterton
Vol. 12, Iss. 1


Going to College: Why Black Lives Matter Too
Raquel Farmer-Hinton
Vol. 12, Iss. 1


Post-Trayvon stress disorder (PTSD): A theoretical analysis of the criminalization of African American students in U.S. schools
Marcia J. Watson-Vandiver
Vol. 12, Iss. 1


Schools and the No-Prison Phenomenon: Anti-Blackness and Secondary Policing in the Black Lives Matter Era
Lynette Parker
Vol. 12, Iss. 1


Magical Black Girls in the Education Industrial Complex: Making Visible the Wounds of Invisibility
Teri A. McMurtry-Chubb
Vol. 12, Iss. 1




Allusive, Elusive, or Illusive? An Examination of Apologies for the Atlantic Slave Trade and their Pedagogical Utility
Esther J. Kim, Anthony Brown, Heath Robinson, and Justin Krueger
Vol. 14, Iss. 1



How Historical Context Matters for Fourth and Fifth Generation Japanese Americans
L. Erika Saito
Vol. 14, Iss. 1


Making Sense of and with “Profound Regret”: Howard County Board of Education’s Apology for a Racially Segregated Public School System
Rachel Garver and Benjamin Nienass
Vol. 14, Iss. 1


A case for unforgiveness as a legitimate moral response to historical wrongs
Hollman Lozano
Vol. 14, Iss. 1


Anti-Affirmative Action and Historical Whitewashing: To Never Apologize While Committing New Racial Sins
Hoang V. Tran
Vol. 14, Iss. 1

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Personal Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr. on this Day of Remembrance

Editor: In an earlier post,  I reflected on the speech that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered at my college commencement and the influence it had on my life.  I am reposting it today in honor of his legacy. 

Personal Reflections on the Influence of Martin Luther King’s Commencement Address Two Months Before the 1963 March on Washington

 I first learned about the March on Washington from Martin Luther King, Jr. who was the commencement speaker at my June 1963 graduation from the College of the City of New York. With the 50th anniversary of the historic march on Washington coming up on August 28th, I have been thinking about that commencement event that occurred just two months before the march and the effect that it was to have on my life. In fact, the events of those years had a profound influence on who I was to become as a person. They shaped my social conscience. They shaped the kind of moral questions that I continue to raise in my life even today. And they shaped the type of choices that I made in my life--- my decision to be a teacher, my decision to study philosophy - seriously and deeply, my decision to try to raise the old Socratic questions about the good life and the just society that Socrates raised 2500 years ago and which Dr. King was to raise later under a different set of circumstances, at a different moment in history, to my generation. Ultimately, it led to the creation of the Journal of Educational Controversy and this blog.

 In 1991, I was asked to deliver my own commencement address at Western Washington University as that year’s recipient of the university’s teaching award. The address gave me an opportunity to think about the nature of such speeches and their purpose. I decided to take a different approach from the traditional ones that are delivered at most commencements. Rather than viewing my own commencement address as an event in time and space - a talk given on the morning of December 14, 1991 in a small university town, I chose to treat it as a conversation that occurs through time - from Dr. King's words to me at my graduation - filtered through my life's experiences over the years – then to the young audience of new graduates as they embarked on their own journey and continued the conversation with their own generation. It was in a sense a conversation from one generation to the next about the questions that are central to why we educate - questions about the kind of persons we become - and ultimately, questions about the kind of community we create. It is a conversation, I might add, that is sadly lacking in the public debate of our time. One has only to listen to the media each night to see how far we are from a true conversation on these questions.

 I remember first talking about the nature of an authentic conversation and ways that it differs from the many false versions of it, for example, political conversations that have been increasingly reduced to a manipulation of the voter through effective 90 second sound-bites over the airwaves where issues become mere vehicles for projecting images rather than the source of concerned social debate. I remember talking about the way conversations about public education in this country have become increasingly articulated in a language in which impersonal, technical thinking dominates -- generating an educational ethos in which ethics as a category of discussion is largely suppressed. The liberal language of social action and social critique has been more and more reduced to a language of social control. But even those conversations which seem to affirm human agency and assert liberal values become emptied of their content when they are used inauthentically. The same words that can be used in a genuine, meaningful public debate can also be used to silence. Earlier in the last century, the American philosopher and educator, John Dewey expressed this concern when he wrote:

Even when the words remain the same they mean something very different when they are uttered by a minority struggling against repressive measures and when expressed by a group that, having attained power, then uses ideas that were once weapons of emancipation as instruments for keeping the power and wealth it has obtained. Ideas that at one time are means of producing social change assume another guise when they are used as a means of preventing further social change.1

I pondered with my young audience about the nature of a more authentic conversation. For one thing, a conversation is not something that can be received or transmitted from one person to another; it has to be entered into; it has to be engaged in. Furthermore, it establishes a certain kind of relationship between us and the other - a relationship in which both remain as subjects and neither are objectified and dehumanized by being made into an object for the other. Essentially, there are two features I distinguished:

First, to enter into a true conversation requires us to really hear the other. We often listen but we seldom really hear. To understand the world of the other, whether the other is in the present or in the past, is to understand the ways the other has come to give meaning to our common experience, to understand the categories and concepts that shape its sense of social reality. It means to see the other, as much as is possible, from the inside - from a different reference point from our own. As the philosopher, Cora Diamond describes it, "Coming to understand a conceptual life other than our own involves exercise of concepts belonging to that life. When I understand what you say, I am using concepts internal to your thought."2 It is to appreciate what it means for persons or cultures to have such concepts as live notions governing their being in the world.

For example, only now are many of us beginning to comprehend our fragile relationship with our planet as the ozone slowly depletes and our rivers and lakes pollute. Our 19th century optimism about progress, science and technology, our dominion over the earth left us with a language and a conceptual framework that blocked us from seeing another way of relating to the earth. But ironically, it is a way that Jamake Highwater, of the Blackfeet Nation, talks about in his book, The Primal Mind: Vision and Reality in Indian America.3 When one enters into his world, words like "wilderness" take on a whole different meaning. Indeed, Highwater talks about the alienation he felt in seeing the way certain ideas he had grown up with found their way into English words. When thinking about what is implied by our word, "wilderness," he writes, "After all, the forest is not 'wild' in the sense that it is something needing to be tamed or controlled and harnessed. For Blackfeet Indians, the forest is the natural state of the world. It is the cities that are wild and seem to need 'taming.' For most primal peoples the earth is so marvelous that the connotation of it requires it to be spelled in English with a capital 'E.' How perplexing it is to discover two English synonyms for Earth - 'soil' and 'dirt' - used to describe uncleanliness, soiled and dirty. And how upsetting it is to discover that the word 'dirty' in English is also used to depict obscenities!"4 What does it mean to see the world with the conceptual framework governing Jamake Highwater's vision of the world? By entering Highwater's world, I see a different way of relating to the earth - a relationship characterized by awe and respect rather than ownership and exploitation. In a film featuring Jamake Highwater, he talked about taking his mother to New York City for her first visit and he showed her all the usual landmarks including the famous Central Park. Central Park is like a little oasis in the center of Manhattan with all the huge skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of the city surrounding it. When he asked his mother what her impressions were, she thought for a moment and then said, "I see they even put their trees on a reservation." In all the years that I lived in New York, I had never really thought of it that way.

But an authentic conversation requires more than entering into the world of the other for I could simply use that new understanding to exploit the other, or perhaps, more benignly, to simply bring the other within my own framework of understanding rather than expanding my understanding to include the other. I'd like to suggest that to enter into a true conversation, I must be willing to allow the understanding that I gain from that encounter to question my own conventional and habitual ways of seeing - to expand the horizon of my understanding by rendering aspects of my own world problematic as a result of that encounter.

In a very real sense a true conversation allows us to see ourselves for the first time. We are all born into a world that acculturates and socializes us into certain ways of seeing. Indeed, even the language we learn contains within it the structures and categories that give meaning to our experience. Our culture provides us with the lens - or the pair of glasses - that we use to make the world intelligible to us. But that same pair of glasses can also trap us from seeing the world in other ways. It becomes our frame of reference and begins to be taken for granted to the point that its control over our perceptions of the world is no longer seen. It becomes what we see with but cannot see through. In fact, it begins to be experienced as natural, as part of the natural scheme of things, rather than as a human and social construct. In an authentic conversation with the other, the hidden assumptions and cultural categories that have been largely taken for granted can suddenly be brought to the surface and revealed to our consciousness as only one of many possibilities. It can reveal ourselves to ourselves, but unfortunately, this self-revelation is not always comfortable as any proponent in a Socratic dialogue was soon to find out.

In fact, history has shown different responses that we make to conversations that begin to strip the fabric of the selves that we have created, that begin to question the certainties that we have lived by, that begin to make our conventional ways of seeing no longer tenable for us. One response is to go into denial - to deny the truths that are slowly coming to the surface of our consciousness - to deny that which makes us feel uncomfortable. Another response is to withdraw -- to retreat from the conversation completely. A third response, and one that unfortunately happens with too great a frequency, is to become defensive and to attack the other. But a fourth response is possible also, if we have the courage, if we have the concern, if we have the wisdom. There is the possibility for us and the other to reconstruct and reconstitute a new social reality which encompasses our new understanding and provides the conditions for a more ethical and humane existence. Indeed, the philosopher, John Dewey equated education itself with a continuous reconstruction and reorganization of our social experience - a reconstruction of the conditions of our lives.5

In many ways, the notion of a conversation can be a very powerful metaphor for the process of education itself. For education is an invitation into the conversation of life. It is something that cannot be merely received; it must be entered into; it must be engaged in; often it must be reclaimed, especially, those voices that have been neglected and silenced in the past. It is a conversation not merely about making a living, but a conversation about the kinds of lives that are worth living and the kinds of society that can make those lives possible.

Unfortunately, education can only invite us into the conversation; it cannot guarantee that we accept the invitation. Too often we can go through the motions of life without really engaging in it. We can easily begin to see our education, for example, as an accumulation of university credits without ever asking ourselves what we are becoming as result of our education - what we are allowing ourselves to be influenced by. Even in the darkest moments of our own history, too many people and too many institutions remained silent when they should not have. Even universities offered little moral resistance to the barbarism that engulfed much of our world in the last century. I remember a haunting passage in George Steiner's book. Language and Silence.6 Unlike writers like Matthew Arnold who could assert confidently that our education, especially our education in the literary and philosophical traditions, could humanize us, Steiner was less convinced as he recalled how easily people educated in what he called the "culture of traditional humanism" could read the poetry of Goethe and Rilke the night before they sent others to their deaths in gas chambers.

That was the conversation that Dr. King had with my generation as he struggled with the injustices and the inhumanity of his time and called upon us to face the moral blindness of our age and to fulfill this nation's dream of social justice. It left me with the questions that I shared with this new generation on that commencement day. I asked them to think about what our education demands of us? Is it enough to have some knowledge of society but not feel its injustices? To know some science but not care about the uses to which it is put? To become technically proficient and yet be blinded to the moral context in which our technical expertise will affect the lives of people? To understand something about economics but not care that huge numbers of our children are now living in poverty in this country? What is our responsibility in continuing the conversation? What is our responsibility in awakening others to these questions? What is our responsibility in making the institutions we enter more responsive to human needs? What is our responsibility in elevating the public debate in this country by raising the quality of its arguments and deepening an understanding of its moral significance?

I told my young audience that morning that it was their conversation now --- if they chose to enter into it -- if they chose to engage in it. I wished them well on their journey and on the choices they would make in their lives.

One of the unknown consequences of our words as teachers is to never really know whom we reach. I do know how I was reached that day in 1963 when I heard the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. at my own commencement. This journal and its blog are a testimony to that witness.

1. John Dewey, "The Future of Liberalism," in The Collected Works. Later Works. 1934, pp. 255-277.

2. Cora Diamond, "Losing Your Concepts," Ethics 98 (January 1988): 276.

3. Jamake Highwater, The Primal Mind: Vision and Reality in Indian America (New York: Harper and Row, 1981).

4. Ibid., p. 5.

5. John Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York: The Free Press, 1966).

6. George Steiner. Language and Silence: Essavs on LanguageLiterature and the Inhuman (New York: Atheneum, 1972).

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A Compilation of Legislative and Administrative Actions Regarding Critical Race Theory

As we prepare for our upcoming issue on the theme, “Teaching for Social Justice in a Highly Politicized Historical Moment,” we came across a helpful compilation of legislative and administrative actions regarding Critical Race Theory by state legislatures, state boards of education, and local school boards, as well as some federal-level actions being considered by the 117 U.S. Congress.  The compilation was summarized in the Appendix to the article, “Why are statesbanning critical race theory?”, by Rashawn Ray and Alexandra Gibbons.   We wish to thank the Brookings Institution for permission to reprint the Appendix for our readers. 

Appendix: Legislative and administrative actions regarding CRT

From “Why are states banning critical race theory?”

 By Rashawn Ray and Alexandra Gibbons

Brookings Institution  

Last updated: November 21, 2021 

Successful bans by legislatures


House Bill 2898, which was signed by Gov. Doug Ducey on 6/30/21, prohibited the use of “public monies for instruction that presents any form of blame or judgment on the basis of race, ethnicity or sex” in K-12 public/charter schools and establishes fines for violations. However, on 11/2/21 the Arizona Supreme Court upheld a trial court ruling that HB2898 violates the state constitution by including multiple subjects in a single bill, and it was invalidated. See the Arizona Board of Education guidance here.


House Bill 377, which was signed by Gov. Brad Little on 4/28/21, bans teaching specified concepts about race and gender in public schools, public charter schools, and public institutions of higher education.


House File 802, which was signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on 6/8/21, bans incorporating specified concepts regarding race and sex into mandatory trainings for government agencies, teachers, and higher education students. Specified concepts must also not be included in curriculum in public K-12 schools.

New Hampshire

Anti-CRT section was incorporated into House Bill 2, the state budget trailer, and signed by Gov. Chris Sununu on 6/25/21. This bill prohibits teaching specified concepts in public schools and in governmental agency trainings.

North Dakota

House Bill 1508, which was signed by Gov. Doug Burgum on 11/15/21, prohibits K-12 public schools from instruction related to critical race theory, which is defined in the bill as the “that racism is systemically embedded in American society and the American legal system to facilitate racial inequality.”


House Bill 1775, which was signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt on 5/7/21, prohibits public institutions of higher education from requiring students to participate in mandatory gender/sexuality diversity training, and bans teaching specified concepts about race and sex in public schools. The Oklahoma Department of Education elaborated here about how the law will operate, including reporting violations.

South Carolina

Anti-CRT section incorporated into the education section of H. 4100, the state budget bill, which was passed on 6/30/21. This bill prohibits schools receiving state funding from teaching specified concepts regarding race and sex.


House Bill 580, which was signed by Governor Lee on 5/25/21, bans public school districts and public charter schools from teaching certain concepts about race, sex, and the United States, withholds state funding for violations. The Tennessee State Department of Education details these rules and the complaint system here.


House Bill 3979 (signed into law on 6/15/21) was replaced with stricter legislation, Senate Bill 3 (signed into law on 9/17/21). SB3 makes significant changes to required civics education curriculum, establishes a new civics training program for teachers, requires that both sides of current controversial issues are presented, prohibits teaching certain concepts regarding race and sex and giving academic credit for advocacy work.

State legislatures that have/are considering a ban or that have pre-filed bills for next session


Two bills have been pre=filed for the next legislative session:

· HB8 would limit the concepts about race and sex that public schools and universities can teach

· HB11 would require public schools and universities to terminate employees that teach certain concepts about race and sex


· Rep. Thomas McKay (R) pre-filed a bill that would ban teaching certain concepts about race and sex and ban the 1619 Project


· Senate Bill 627 passed. It limits how most state agencies can train employees about “divisive concepts”

· Bills limiting how racism is taught in schools (HB1218) and banning the 1619 project in schools (HB1231) have failed thus far


Although the BOE already passed new rules regarding teaching about race and gender, additional legislation (HB57) has been pre-filed that would dictate how concepts related to race and gender are taught at K-12 public schools, public universities, state colleges, state agencies, local governments, and private businesses with state/local government contracts


Two bills have been pre-filed for the next legislative session:

· BR 60 would ban certain concepts from being taught in public K-12 schools and establish financial penalties for disobeying. It also bans mandatory diversity training at public universities.

· BR 69 would ban concepts from being taught both in public K-12 schools and in public universities; institutions that disobey would be legally liable.


House Bill 564 would ban “divisive concepts” from being taught in public schools and public postsecondary institutions, but it has been deferred for now


HP 395 would ban certain subjects/concepts regarding race and gender from being taught in public schools


· Senate Bill 460 would ban (and withhold 5% of state funding to districts who do not cooperate) the teaching of the 1619 Project and specified concepts regarding race and gender in K-12 public and charter schools

· House Bill 5097, which passed the House in November 2021, would ban specified concepts regarding race and gender from being included in the core curriculum standards set by the State Board of Education and local school districts


· House Resolution 62 and Senate Resolution 56 condemn critical race theory but do not address schools specifically

· In the FY23 Executive Budget Recommendation, Governor Reeves urges legislators to pass an anti-CRT bill and proposes a “$3 million investment in a Patriotic Education Fund”


House Bill 952 would ban certain concepts from being taught in state agencies, school districts, public postsecondary institutions, and state-funded charter schools, including specified curriculum (1619 Project, Learning for Justice Curriculum by SPLC, We Stories, programs by Educational Equity Consultants, BLM at School, Teaching for Change, Zinn Education Project). State funding would be withheld from entities who violate these rules.

New Jersey

S-4166 would prohibit specified concepts from being taught in public schools, mandate teachers to present “materials supporting both sides of a controversial issue [an issue that is part of an electoral party platform]”and require the State Board of Education to introduce rules prohibiting political advocacy in the classroom

New York

A8253 would ban Regents and school districts in New York from establishing curriculum that teaches specified concepts related to race and from teaching the 1619 Project

North Carolina

House Bill 324 would ban certain concepts from being taught in public schools and charter schools; it passed the state House and Senate but was vetoed in September by Gov. Cooper


· House Bill 322 states that teachers who discuss current events must introduce multiple perspectives, bans extra credit for political advocacy work, bans private funding for curriculum deemed unacceptable by bill, bans state agencies and school districts from teaching certain concepts

· House Bill 327 would ban school districts and state agencies from teaching various “divisive concepts,” would withhold state funding to districts that disobeyed


House Bill 1532 would ban public postsecondary institutions, state and local governments, and school districts from teaching certain concepts, a violation would result in a loss of state funding

Rhode Island

H 6070 would prohibit teaching of “divisive concepts” in schools, state and municipal contracts and training programs

West Virginia

· House Bill 2595 would ban state employees or contractors, as well as schools, from teaching “divisive concepts” and would withhold state funding for violations

· Senate Bill 618 would ban the State Board of Education from implementing curriculum that promotes “divisive concepts” and “critical race theory” and allows for the firing of teachers who teach certain concepts related to race and gender


· Senate Bill 411 would prohibit certain concepts from being taught in public schools and charter schools, with violations resulting in a loss of 10% of state funding. Also requires curricula used to be posted online.

· Senate Bill 410 would restrict the types of racism/sexism training that state agencies can conduct

· Senate Bill 409 would ban certain concepts from being taught in University of Wisconsin System and the Technical College System and restricts permissible employee training, with violations resulting in funding cuts


State Senators plan to introduce the “Civics Transparency Act” would require school districts to post learning materials and activities used in the preceding year

Federal-level action being considered

· The “Saving History Act of 2021” would withhold federal funding, with some exceptions, from schools that teach the 1619 Project.

· The “Ending Critical Race Theory in D.C. Public Schools Act,” introduced by a representative from Wisconsin, would ban certain concepts from being taught in D.C. public and charter schools.

· The “Stop CRT Act” would withhold federal funding from schools and universities that promote “race-based theories.”

· The Senate passed an amendment to the budget resolution with Manchin’s support blocking federal funding from being used to teach CRT in pre-K and K-12 schools.

· The “PEACE Act” would prohibit federal American History and civics education programming funds from being used to teach “divisive concepts.”

· The “Protecting Students from Racial Hostility Act” would amend Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make the teaching of “divisive concepts” discriminatory, establishes a system for reporting related complaints.

Actions taken by state boards of education


Alabama’s State Board of Education passed this resolution in August 2021, and voted to permanently incorporate it into the BOE administrative code in October 2021


Rule amendment here


Resolution here


New rules here, prompted by resolutions passed by the Utah Legislature instructing the board to address CRT in new rules

Actions taken by other state actors


State Attorney General ruled that teaching CRT is discriminatory and unlawful, schools or public workplaces that offer CRT training could lose state funding or be liable to lawsuits

South Dakota

· The state Appropriations Committee sent a letter to the state Department of Education encouraging them to reject federal grants for teaching history and civics, noting that they expect to address CRT next legislative session

· Gov Noem signed “1776 Pledge

Actions taken by local school boards

Cobb County, Georgia

Cobb County “will not implement Critical Race Theory, also called CRT, in our schools – not under that name nor any other name; nor will we be using the 1619 Project in our schools – not under that name nor under any other name.”

Cherokee County, Georgia

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by vote of the members of the Cherokee County Board of Education at a duly called meeting held on May 20, 2021, the Cherokee County School Board and Cherokee County School District in pursuit of the aforementioned goals and objectives will NOT implement “Critical Race Theory,” also called CRT, in our schools – not under that name nor by any other name, nor will we be using The 1619 Project in our schools – not under that name nor by any other name.”

Brunswick County, North Carolina

This policy shall ensure that social theories of any kind (i.e. Holocaust Denial Theory, 9/11 Theory, Critical Race Theory) are not presented to students unless approved by the Brunswick County Board of Education. It is the responsibility of the Board to ensure that curricular standards are taught using well documented, factual resources and not opinion or conjecture.”

Gallatin County, Kentucky

Superintendent stated that the board believes “no individual is ‘inherently racist, sexist or oppressive’ due to their race or sex, ‘whether consciously or unconsciously.’ Agenda item VI.I. from the June 15 BOE meeting “Discussion/Action to Ban Critical Race Theory in Gallatin County School District” was a statement to affirm the belief and commitment to ensure every child’s needs will be met. Furthermore, the effort was to not create greater divisions among students and staff through the promotion of CRT.”

Chesterfield County, Virginia

School board chairman said that “critical race theory is not supported by members of the board. In Chesterfield, our goal is unity, not division.”

Sullivan County, Tennessee

High school teacher Matthew Hawn was recently fired for assigning “The First White President” by Ta-Nehisi Coates and for showing a video of a spoken word poem called “White Privilege” by Kyla Lacey in his Contemporary Issues class.

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, California

Resolution passed by the school board explicitly denounces CRT and bans certain concepts from being taught, such as that “racism is racial prejudice plus power,” that individuals are “either a member of the oppressor class or the oppressed class because of race or sex,” and that the concept of meritocracy was created as a tool of oppression.