Journal of Educational Controversy


Monday, February 1, 2021

A Resource from the Journal of Educational Controversy for Black History Month

 For educators looking for resources for Black History Month, I’d like to call your attention to a special issue that was published in Volume 12 of the Journal of Educational Controversy.   The theme of the issue was: “Black Lives Matter and the Education Industrial Complex.”

A list of the articles is below:




Black Lives Matter and the Education Industrial Complex: A Special Issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy
Teri A. McMurtry-Chubb and William Lyne
Vol. 12, Iss. 1


Articles in Response to Controversy


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

Monday, January 18, 2021

Reflections on Martin Luther King Jr. during these Times


In an earlier post that I wrote on Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of the historic march on Washington, I reflected on the speech that he delivered at my college commencement and the influence it had on my life.   It led me to reflect on the nature of the public debate that was sadly lacking in the nation. Today that debasement of public speech is even more poignant, and I thought I would provide a link to my earlier post in honor of the legacy and influence of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

More Lessons for Students: “What Happened During the Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and Why?”


We shared some teaching ideas in the previous post to assist your students in responding to the Insurrection at the US Capitol.  The website “Facing History and Ourselves” has just published some additional teaching ideas to supplement it.  We pass it on for your consideration.


More from Facing History and Ourselves


Following events like the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, social media and 24-hour news networks can overwhelm us with information, often presented out of context and sometimes simply untrue. Simultaneously, political and media narratives quickly emerge that offer oversimplified and misleading explanations for what happened. In this environment, understanding exactly what happened and why requires careful reading, rigorous thinking, and an appreciation for the complex array of causes at work in history and current events.

This Teaching Idea guides students to synthesize what happened and outline multiple causes. It includes excerpts from texts that explore the ways in which inflammatory language, disinformation, and white supremacy were contributing causes of the insurrection. As information continues to emerge, we encourage you to continue to add to and amend the iceberg diagrams you create with your class.


Get the Teaching Idea: “What Happened During the Insurrection at The U.S. Capitol andWhy?”


P.S. If your students have not had the opportunity for initial processing and reflection on the insurrection, we recommend you start with our Teaching Idea, Responding to the Insurrection at the US Capitol.  

Friday, January 8, 2021

Helping Students Respond to the Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol

 When we passed along some suggestions from the iCivics website to assist you in helping students understand the electoral process on January 6th, we didn’t imagine that such a routine ceremonial event would become the site of a violent insurrection in our nation’s capitol. 

To assist teachers in responding to students’ questions and concerns, we would like to pass on information and suggestions from another website that may be helpful. The website is “Facing History and Ourselves."

From Facing History and Ourselves:

Our new Teaching Idea is designed to help you guide an initial classroom reflection on the insurrection at the United States Capitol. Students need opportunities to separate facts from misinformation, to explore and express their emotions, and to ask big questions about the significance of what took place today.

We know, too, that addressing this crisis is not the work of one lesson plan or one class period. The fragility of American democracy so apparent today is rooted in fractures and systemic injustices that existed long before this election. In the coming weeks, we will share additional resources to help you explore historical echoes, questions of justice and accountability, and the possibility of democratic renewal as we all recommit to the critical work of civic education.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Help your Students Put the Electoral Vote Count in Congress Tomorrow into Perspective

The iCivics web lessons started by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was created to promote civic understanding for students.  They have just announced a new lesson that will help put tomorrow’s electoral vote count in Congress into perspective for them.

Below is their announcement along with links to the iCivics Election Headquarters, the iCivics lesson plan on the electoral process and resources from the National Constitution Center.


Electoral Votes Go to Congress

The next step in the 2020 Presidential Election takes place January 6, 2021. Congress will meet to open and count electoral votes — an exercise required by the Constitution. Are your students asking questions about this event? Our lesson on The Electoral Process offers a timeline from Election Day to Inauguration Day that helps put the electoral vote count into perspective. For more resources, check out this blog by our partners at the National Constitution Center.

Our Election Headquarters is the place to go to find our full collection of teaching resources about the electoral process and the executive branch.


Friday, December 4, 2020

HR 40: Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act


Because our upcoming issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy is devoted to the theme of “The Ethics of Memory: What Does It Mean to Apologize for Historical Wrongs,”  I was alerted to an email that was sent out by the American Civil Liberties Union today.  They reminded us  that the bill H.R. 40 , Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, is still before the 116th Congress (2019-2020) and stress the urgency for action because there is a chance the final draft might be reported out of the judiciary committee before the end of the year.  Although the bill was first introduced on January 3, 2019 and subcommittee hearings were held on June 19, 2019, the ACLU writes: “Over the course of 2020, our country has gone through what many are calling a national reckoning on race. This was sparked by the tragic but all-too-familiar killings of Black lives – George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others – at the hands of police.”  To achieve racial justice, they continue, we must “examine the impact of slavery and its legacy, and make strides toward reparations---and H.R. 40 is a path forward on that.”


The following is the bill summary:


This bill establishes the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans. The commission shall examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies. Among other requirements, the commission shall identify (1) the role of federal and state governments in supporting the institution of slavery, (2) forms of discrimination in the public and private sectors against freed slaves and their descendants, and (3) lingering negative effects of slavery on living African-Americans and society.


Earlier, we published on our blog a transcript of the testimony by Ta-Nehisi Coates that was delivered before the congressional hearing on HR 40 on June 19th.  His influential 2014 article “The Case for Reparations” in The Atlantic revived the issue of reparations for slavery and its legacy. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett and Education: Where Does She Stand?

 Editor: The following article was published by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.   We thank them for permission to reprint this article for our readers.


Amy Coney Barrett and Education: Where Does She Stand?


With the memory of Merrick Garland’s thwarted nomination resonating and the rank hypocrisy fouling the Senate air, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his colleagues quickly ushered then-judge Amy Coney Barrett through a performative confirmation process. The U.S. Supreme Court’s newest member will soon begin to rule on cases with the potential to affect generations of students, teachers, and schools. Barrett’s writings, positions, and track record so far suggest that her education-related decisions may be the antithesis of those of her predecessor, the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was known for supporting LGBTQ rights, appreciating the separation of church and state, and developing jurisprudence advancing gender equity.

Unlike Ginsberg, a graduate of New York City’s school system, Barrett has limited personal experience with public education. A graduate of a Catholic girls’ school in Louisiana, she has also sent her own children to religious schools. For nearly three years, she served on the board of trustees of a network of private, Christian schools that discriminated against LGBTQ parents, students, and employees.

During her Senate confirmation hearings, Barrett said that she had “been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg's seat, but no one will ever take her place.” Barrett will indeed be a very different judge, including in the realm of education. She described Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision that required the state to allow public fiscal support for religious schools even though its constitution banned the practice) as an example of the court’s view that “religious institutions cannot be discriminated against or excluded from public programs simply because they are religious.” And she called Brown v. the Board of Education a “super precedent” that would be “unthinkable” to overrule, even though an article she coauthored notes that full adherence to her doctrine of originalism (strict adherence to the original meaning of the constitution’s words) would require its reversal. Barrett has also publicly expressed doubt that Title IX protects transgender students who want to use school restrooms or locker rooms that align with their gender identities.

As a judge appointed by President Donald Trump in 2017 to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Barrett has been involved in several notable decisions involving education. Here’s a sample, culled from an article in Education Week:

Doe v.Purdue University (2019) was filed by a male former student at Indiana’s Purdue University, which had suspended him for a year after he was accused of sexual violence, leading to a discharge from the ROTC and the loss of a related scholarship. Barrett’s opinion, in favor of the student, concluded that he was “denied an educational benefit on the basis of his sex” because of a fundamentally unfair hearing and decision process that was biased in favor of the female accuser. Since that time, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has taken steps to further protect the due process rights of students accused of sexual misconduct. “Many universities and advocates for survivors of sexual assault state that these changes will make it harder to convince people to come forward and file reports, as the new guidance offers little protection and support for survivors of sexual assault,” NEPC Fellow Elizabeth Meyer said last year in an interview for this newsletter.

Consider also two cases concerning alleged discrimination based on the plaintiff’s disability. In both cases, Barnett signed onto opinions affirming the granting of so-called summary judgment (dismissing the lawsuit because the plaintiff is not entitled to win based on the facts that the plaintiff does not dispute). In Grussgott v. Milwaukee Jewish Day School (2018), the plaintiff was an instructor at a Jewish private school. The panel held that the school was protected by a “ministerial exception,” based on a 2012 Supreme Court case that found that churches were exempt from discrimination claims made by their ministers.

In P.F. v.Taylor (2019), Barrett joined her colleagues in rejecting claims of Wisconsin students with disabilities who had unsuccessfully attempted to use the state’s open enrollment laws. The students were denied transfers to new school districts because those new districts said they could not meet the students’ needs. Wisconsin’s open enrollment statute, in fact, allows for denial of transfer requests by special education students due to capacity – specifically the availability of the needed “program or services” in new district. Students with disabilities have often faced discrimination or denial of services when they have tried to participate in school choice. But the Seventh Circuit panel of judges reasoned that the Wisconsin program denies services based on a district’s capacity to serve a given student with a disability (allowed) rather than denying admission by reason of the disability (not allowed).

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Biden’s Election Will Bring Back Credibility to Governance


It has just been announced that Joseph R. Biden will become the 46th President of the United States.  Over the next few days, there will be many analyses of this moment in history.  At this time, I would like to make just one observation.  Although President-elect Biden may still have many problems passing policy with a divided Congress, it will be comforting to see an administration that has credibility again.   Whenever I would look for credible medical sources for information, especially during this pandemic, I would often seek out government institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   Recently, I was distrusting anything that came out of the CDC with the censorship by the current Trump administration that the news media were reporting.  It was beginning to be increasingly difficult to know what to believe on their website. Credibility is important; truth and its search are important; facts are important; science is important.  Most importantly, they are the virtues and skills that we pass on to our students.  I often wonder what our students have learned from what they experienced over the last four years.

Note: November 26th Update.   The CDC is currently sending out good advice for the holidays with warnings not to travel during the recent surge of Covid19.  Still millions are ignoring the warning.   What explains this reckless and defiant behavior in the face of such stark reality.  Even the U.S. Supreme Court is devaluing human lives with their new rulings that prioritized actions based on religious freedom over public health concerns.


Friday, October 2, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Education and Equity

 Editor: The following article was published by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.   We thank them for permission to reprint this article for our readers.


RGB and Education: A Legacy of Equity

From the National Education Policy Center

During her 27 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg left behind a distinctive legacy on education issues by developing the jurisprudence extending constitutional protections concerning gender equity, desegregation, student and LGBTQ  rights, and the separation of church and state even as an increasingly conservative court relegated her opinions to minority dissents. As attention understandably turns to the abrupt political machinations concerning her replacement, it’s important not to forget the ways she shaped — or attempted to shape — some of the core educational issues of our time. Here are just four examples of her education-related opinions.

Missouri v. Jenkins, 1995. In Justice Ginsburg’s first opinion in an education case, she opposed the decision to end Kansas City’s desegregation plan, joining the main dissent in the 5-4 case and also writing a dissent of her own. “The Court stresses that the present remedial programs have been in place for seven years. . . . But compared to more than two centuries of firmly entrenched official discrimination, the experience with the desegregation remedies ordered by the District Court has been evanescent,” she stated. In 2007, Justice Ginsburg also dissented in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle SchoolDistrict, where the Court’s majority prohibited school districts from considering students’ race as a way to avoid segregation that occurs through their school choice plans.

United States v. Virginia, 1996. Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion striking down the Virginia Military Institute’s admissions policy that prohibited females from attending. Her opinion explained that Virginia’s creation of a separate women’s-only academy did not cure the violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, since women did not receive same benefits as men. “‘Inherent differences’ between men and women, we have come to appreciate, remain cause for celebration, but not for denigration of the members of either sex or for artificial constraints on an individual’s opportunity,” she wrote. “Sex classifications may be used to compensate women ‘for particular economic disabilities [they have] suffered.’ But such classifications may not be used, as they once were, to create or perpetuate the legal, social, and economic inferiority of women.” Justice Ginsberg applied the standard that she had helped developed when she was a litigator and advocate for women’s rights: in order to survive equal-protection scrutiny, sex discrimination must “serve important governmental objectives” and be “substantially related to the achievement of those objectives.”

Safford Unified School District #1 v. Redding, 2009. Justice Ginsburg sided with the majority in finding that school officials’ search of a 13-year-old girl’s underwear, based simply on having earlier found the equivalent to two Advils and one Aleve, violated her Fourth Amendment right to be protected from unreasonable government searches and seizures. During oral arguments, she spoke out when some male justices minimized the student’s discomfort. “They have never been a 13-year-old girl,” she later told USA TODAY. “It’s a very sensitive age for a girl. I didn’t think that my colleagues, some of them, quite understood.”

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, 2020. This past term, the Court ruled that the state of Montana had discriminated against religious schools by applying a state constitutional provision prohibiting public funding for religious institutions through a neovoucher scheme. Previously, to avoid the potential for such discrimination, Montana’s state supreme court, had eliminated the tax credit program for all private schools, not just religious schools. In a dissent from the conservative court majority, written just months before Justice Ginsburg’s death, she pointed this out and chastised her colleagues for over-reaching when there was no actual controversy or discrimination to be addressed:

Nearing the end of its opinion, the Court writes: ‘A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.’ . . . Because Montana’s Supreme Court did not make such a decision — its judgment put all private school parents in the same boat — this Court had no occasion to address the matter.

In addition to participating in legal decisions impacting education, Justice Ginsburg also expressed the hope that her presence on the court alongside Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, would be an inspiration to future generations. “When the schoolchildren file in and out of the court and they look up and they see three women, then that will seem natural and proper—just how it is,” she told The Washington Post.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Sept. 18th at her home in Washington. She was 87.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

In Memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – the Legacy of an “Activist Intellectual”


We are once again honoring the memory of another giant in our fight for equal justice for all – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Only a few weeks ago, we were mourning the death of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis on this blog.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  Of course, it bends only because people make it bend through their movements, sacrifices, and daunting belief that we can bend it.  Having formerly served on our local ACLU Board for several decades and our state board for one year, I and my colleagues were so influenced by Justice Ginsburg’s life and work.  Her work on the ACLU especially with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project was well known. 

We are reprinting the ACLU’s obituary below so our readers can see the full legacy she has left. Her work fighting for gender equality is particularly poignant in this year when we recognize the anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.  One hundred years after the expansion of suffrage, Justice Ginsberg was fighting many of the laws that continued to discriminate on the basis of sex and there were many — in education, employment, reproductive rights, mortgages, credit cards, loans, house rentals, prison, the military and sections of the Social Security Act.  Here is the legacy she has left us as an “activist intellectual” as Eleanor Holmes Norton once put it.

ACLU Obituary of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court justice who first rose to national prominence as an ACLU lawyer fighting for equal rights for women, has died at 87 years old.

She began Harvard Law School as a young mother and one of only nine women in her class, and became the architect of a legal strategy to eradicate gender discrimination in the United States. She modeled her approach after that of Thurgood Marshall on race discrimination, planning for a series of cases at the Supreme Court, each precedent paving the way for the next that would further expand rights and protections. In 1993, she joined the court as an associate justice, and over the decades became a cultural icon beloved for her vision and passion in defending the rights of women.

Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn in 1933 to Jewish parents with roots in Eastern Europe. Her mother Celia, who died shortly before Ginsburg graduated from high school, instilled in her a sense of independence and a love of learning. She went on to Cornell University, where at 17, she met her future husband, Martin Ginsburg. They married after graduation, and soon had a daughter, Jane.

 Ginsburg attended Harvard Law School, where women were barred from living in the dorms and from using certain campus facilities. When the dean hosted a dinner for the first-year women, Ginsburg recalled, “He asked each of us to stand up and tell him what we were doing taking a seat that could be occupied by a man.”

Discrimination dogged her early career. After transferring to Columbia Law School, she graduated first in her class, but she had trouble getting a job. She later accepted a position teaching civil procedure at Rutgers Law School, where her employers informed her that she would be paid less than her male colleagues because she had a husband who earned a good income. She and other female professors filed a federal class-action discrimination case against the university, and won. For fear of demotion, she hid her pregnancy with her son, James, until after her contract renewal. Simply living her personal and professional life at a time of openly discriminatory policies for women had positioned her to fight.

In the late 1960s, Ginsburg began volunteering for the ACLU, and soon wrote a brief in the case Reed v. Reed. Sally Reed had separated from her husband, and when their son died, both parents sought to be appointed the executor of his estate. Idaho law automatically appointed the father because he was a man. Ginsburg named as co-authors on the brief two women lawyers whose ideas had helped build her arguments: Dorothy Kenyon, an early advocate for women’s rights, and Pauli Murray, a brilliant African American activist who had pioneered the argument for applying the 14th Amendment to women’s rights. In 1971, the Supreme Court ruled for Sally Reed, the first time it would strike down a law for treating men and women differently. The court ruled that giving a mandatory preference to one sex is “the very kind of arbitrary legislative choice forbidden by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” In an ACLU memo, Ginsburg called the victory “a small, guarded step.”

In 1972, Ginsburg joined the ACLU as the founding director of the new Women’s Rights Project. That same year, she also accepted a job as the first female tenured law professor at Columbia. 

 In the early ‘70s, gender discrimination affected most aspects of life. The Women’s Rights Project tallied hundreds of federal laws that discriminated on the basis of sex — in education, employment, reproductive rights mortgages, credit cards, loans, house rentals, prison, and the military. Most legal scholars believed the law should treat women differently, to protect them. For instance, some laws prevented female employees from lifting more than 15 pounds, or working at night. Some lawyers were beginning to take on cases of sex discrimination, often to help a specific woman, not necessarily with a view toward changing the law on gender equality. Ginsburg wanted to do just that.

In 1973, Ginsburg took on another Supreme Court case. Sharron Frontiero was an Air Force officer whose husband, Joseph, had been denied the housing and medical benefits that female spouses of male Air Force officers received automatically.

In writing both muscular and spare, Ginsburg expanded the scope of her brief to encompass the history of women’s subjugation, with references to Alexis de Tocqueville and Alfred Lord Tennyson, and pared down the language to a precise and devastating argument. “That’s when it dawned on me how brilliant she is,” said Brenda Feigen, then co-directing the Women’s Rights Project with Ginsburg. “She was at her most creative and profound,” she said. “She told the story of sex discrimination — how it had been and how it had to end.”

It was in Frontiero that Ginsburg gave her first oral argument before the Supreme Court. “I knew that I was speaking to men who didn’t think there was any such thing as gender-based discrimination and my job was to tell them it really exists,” she has said. To make the point to the nine men who were sitting on the bench, she quoted the nineteenth-century women’s-rights advocate Sarah Grimk√®: “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” She apparently succeeded. Feigen, who was by Ginsburg’s side in the court, recalled, “There was not a single question from any of the justices. They must have been transfixed.”

 Ginsburg’s team won the case. Yet they did not convince a majority of the justices that sex discrimination should be treated exactly like racial discrimination. “My expectation, to be candid, was that I would repeat that kind of argument, maybe half a dozen times. I didn’t expect it to happen in one fell swoop,” Ginsburg later said.

 While at the ACLU, Ginsburg played a role in 34 Supreme Court cases, and won five of the six cases she argued before the court — Frontiero, Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, Califano v. Goldfarb, Duren v. Missouri, and Edwards v. Healy. Many of her cases involved sex discrimination against men, which she felt might rouse more sympathy among the male justices, and show that discrimination hurts everyone.

Ginsburg sometimes said that one of her favorite cases involved a man whose wife died in childbirth, leaving him alone to care for their newborn son. Stephen Wiesenfeld’s wife had been the primary breadwinner, and upon her death, he went to the local Social Security office to inquire about survivors’ benefits for a parent and learned that he didn’t qualify because he was a man. Ginsburg convinced the Supreme Court that the section of the Social Security Act that denied fathers benefits because of their sex was unconstitutional. She won a unanimous decision.

 “Ruth was careful to build brick upon brick,” said Aryeh Neier, then executive director of the ACLU. “She wanted to create a stable structure. She wasn’t interested in reaching for the roof right away. In my tenure at the ACLU, this was the most clearly planned litigation strategy.”

 Ginsburg’s legacy would be felt at the ACLU long after her departure in 1980 to become a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals.

 President Clinton nominated Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993. She was introduced at her confirmation hearing by Eleanor Holmes Norton, Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from Washington D.C., who had served as the assistant legal director at the ACLU. “When Ruth Ginsburg founded the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, today’s axiom that the 14th Amendment applies to women was not axiomatic at all,” she said. “Judge Ginsburg has spent her life making things how they ought to be. Using her gifted mind, honed by indefatigably hard work, she has used the law, always carefully, always defensibly, for all of those left at the margins, for want of a lawyer or a judge with the brilliance and commitment to pull them mainstream. As a lawyer, she was an activist intellectual who brought grace to both roles.”

 The last to testify at her confirmation hearing was Stephen Wiesenfeld, the widower for whom Ginsburg won Social Security benefits some 20 years earlier when she was at the ACLU. He described his experience of being a newly-widowed father struggling to raise his son without his wife’s Social Security benefits and how Ginsburg “saw immediately the gains, the consequences, and the long range effects and the logistics of revising this inequity in the Social Security system.”

 Sen. Joe Biden, then the Chairman of the U.S Senate Committee on the Judiciary, thanked Wiesenfeld for his testimony and added, “I shared a similar fate that you did in 1972 and raised two children with a professional wife who had passed away, and it is amazing how much has changed.”

Ginsburg was confirmed to the court in a vote of 96 to 3.

 On the court, Ginsburg continued her efforts to push for full gender equality under the 14th Amendment. In 1996, she wrote the decision in United States v. Virginia, which struck down the male-only admission policy at the Virginia Military Institute and established a new standard of review for sex discrimination cases.

 Over time, as the court became more conservative, Ginsburg also became more pointed in her dissents.

 In 2006, the court ruled against Lilly Ledbetter, who had been paid less than male colleagues in comparable jobs at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. In a rare move, Ginsburg, then the sole woman justice on the court, read her blistering dissent aloud from the bench. “The court does not comprehend…the insidious way that women can be victims to discrimination,” she accused. “The ball is in Congress’ court.” A few years later, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.

 Then in 2013, the court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “Race-based voting discrimination still exists,” she rebuked her colleagues, again reading her dissent. Dismantling the act, she said later, was “like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

 In a country hungry for integrity and for leadership fighting the erosion of civil rights, a new generation of young women branded Ginsburg “The Notorious RBG” on social media, and showed their esteem for her in unexpected ways. Children dressed up as Ginsburg for Halloween, her face appeared on tattoos, pillows, and shower curtains, and her story was told in a documentary and a feature film, multiple biographies, and several children’s books.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Countdown to Mars: A Researcher at Our University Shares some Good News about her Work

Look to the Stars -- some good news to contemplate.   Melissa Rice,  a researcher at our university, Western Washington University, tells our readers about the Mars launch in which she is participating.  Brad Johnson, Dean, College of Science and Engineering at Western wrote,  “We are so excited that Western’s Mars Lab, led by Dr. Melissa Rice, is part of this groundbreaking experience to explore the geology of Mars. This mission will deepen our understanding of the red planet, set the stage for future missions, and may even uncover signs of life."  The lift off to Mars took place on July 30 as part of NASA’s Perseverance Rover launch!

Melissa Rice talks about her hopes for the upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission

Link to video:

Today is also the anniversary of  the birthday of Maria Mitchell, (born August 1, 1818, Nantucket, Massachusetts, U.S.—died June 28, 1889, Lynn, Massachusetts), first professional woman astronomer in the United States.

Friday, July 17, 2020

In Memory of Civil Rights Icon John Lewis

We are saddened to hear of the death of U.S. Congressman John Lewis today.  To honor his life, his lifelong fight for civil rights, and his struggle for the 1965 Voting Rights Act, we must assure that no one is denied the right to vote in the upcoming November elections.  Keep his memory and struggle alive and teach the Movement!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A Personal Reflection on our Journal amidst the Events Across our Nation

As the nation erupts with demonstrations and protests against the police killing of George Floyd and the long years of systemic and institutional racism that it represents, I have been thinking about the role each of us has in trying to form a more perfect union.  Since 2006, the Journal of Educational Controversy has been trying to shed light on the inequalities in education by examining topics like “The School to Prison Pipeline,” “Black Lives Matter and the Education Industrial Complex,” “The Hidden Dimensions of Poverty: Rethinking Poverty and Education,” “Challenging the Deficit Model and the Pathologizing of Children: Envisioning Alternative Models,” “Schooling as if Democracy Matters,” “Who Defines the Public in Public Education?” and “Jonathan Kozol's Nation of Shame: the Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America Forty Years Later,” among others.

We cannot examine the tensions in our schools without understanding their roots in our larger political philosophy and history.   How do institutions like schools reproduce the larger inequities in society?  How does the socializing experience of the hidden curriculum contribute to the reproduction of class and racial injustices? How are taken-for-granted assumptions rooted in history experienced at the level of our commonplace understanding?  How does such understanding provide categories that tacitly accept an ideology about what counts as “normal”? How do the values embedded in school culture contribute to the powerlessness of students of dominated cultures?  How does the way we define our problems contribute to the ways we construct our solutions?

At this time, our efforts seem so small and insignificant when you watch the moral courage of protesters on the streets and all the pain and suffering that is being experienced.  Still I have to believe that there is some power in the pen. The late philosopher Maxine Greene who fought tirelessly for social justice wrote the words that we have used as our logo:  “This journal opens and reopens spaces for thoughtfulness and concern.”  Perhaps, in some small way, we can face boldly the controversies, injustices and tensions of our time and help to clarify and deepen an understanding of their moral significance.  Hopefully, this will contribute in some small way to the understanding and solutions we seek.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Attorney General Bob Ferguson Challenges DeVos from blocking Dreamers and other Washington students from accessing money in the CARES Act intended to help college students impacted by COVID-19

Editor:  Below is the latest action by our Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson who has challenged the U.S. Department of Education decision to block aid for Dreamers and other Washington students from funds made available in the CARES Act.  For readers who would like to read about other ways to support undocumented youth, check out our earlier article, "A DREAM Deported: What Undocumented American Youth Need their Schools to Understand."

AG Ferguson challenges Department of Education decision blocking coronavirus aid for thousands of Washington students
May 19 2020
DeVos blocking Dreamers and other Washington students from accessing money in the CARES Act intended to help college students impacted by COVID-19
*Updated 5/20/20 with link to Washington's motion for preliminary injunction
SPOKANE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today challenged aU.S. Department of Education decision that deprives thousands of Washington college students from receiving critical aid included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Under its Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the CARES Act appropriated more than $12 billion to higher education institutions across the nation to prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act required that at least 50 percent of the funds be disbursed to students as emergency grants for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations.
On April 21, without congressional authorization, the Department of Education announced that only students who are eligible for federal financial aid may receive CARES Act grants. No such requirement is in the text of the CARES Act itself.
The Department of Education’s restriction excludes many students in need, including students without a high school degree, adult basic education students, students who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status and more.
“Betsy DeVos is unlawfully trying to deny Dreamers and other Washington students the assistance they need — and that Congress intended,” Ferguson said.
“The pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption for all of Washington’s students without regard for the arbitrary, harmful lines the Department of Education has drawn,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “Congress intended this aid to be distributed to all students struggling to cope with the COVID-19 emergency, not only those Betsy DeVos deems eligible for assistance. All higher education students in Washington state deserve to be part of our recovery.”
Ferguson’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington in Spokane, asserts that the department’s decision is unlawful and a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, as well as Article I of the U.S. Constitution, which gives exclusive “power of the purse” to Congress.
Ferguson asserts that the department’s actions violated the Administrative Procedure Act because they exceeded the department’s statutory authority, lacked any reasoning or explanation and therefore were arbitrary and capricious, and were adopted without proper procedures.
Ferguson also filed a motion for apreliminary injunction, asking a judge to immediately block the Department of Education’s restrictions on the grants. 
Impacts to Washington students
As a result of the department’s decision, thousands of Washington higher education students who desperately need financial assistance have been excluded from the program.
These are among the students whose financial survival and lifeline to higher education is most threatened by COVID-19, because, for example, they worked part-time to pay for tuition, health care and childcare, or they did not have high school diplomas. They include:
·        Adult basic education students at Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges who are acquiring reading, writing, math and language skills to leverage a job, college degree or a trade certification
·        Many of Washington’s roughly 17,000 “Dreamers,” individuals brought to the country at an early age, who have been educated by Washington schools, and are protected under the DACA program
·        Students whose academic progress has fallen below a C average
For example, according to the Washington State Board of Community & Technical Colleges, nearly 52,000 of the state’s 363,000 community and technical college enrollees are adult basic education students, the majority of which are not eligible for CARES Act funding. Adult basic education students account for about 14 percent of community and technical college enrollment.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 85 Washington universities, community and technical colleges and cosmetology schools have received more than $113 million for emergency grants to students.
Assistant Attorneys General Jeff Sprung, July Simpson, Paul Crisalli and Spencer Coates are handling the case for Washington.
Ferguson has now filed 61 lawsuits against the Trump Administration. Ferguson has 28 legal victories against the Trump Administration and one defeat. Eighteen of those cases are finished and cannot be appealed.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727;

NEWS RELEASE from the Washington State Office of the Attorney General

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Today is the 66th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

May 17, 1954 marks the landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that ended legally mandated racial segregation in schools.  Since 2006, the Journal of Educational Controversy has tried to contribute to the ongoing conversation this nation has had with itself over the inequalities of education, the intractable problems of segregated schools, and the creation of a public capable of sustaining a democracy and continuing the conversation.

Volumes from the Journal of Educational Controversy focused on the legacy of the Brown v. Board decision:

Volume 2, Number 1 (2007) Jonathan Kozol's Nation of Shame: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America Forty Years Later

Volume 7, Number 1 (2012) The School-to-Prison Pipeline

Volume 12, Number 1 (2017) Black Lives Matter and the Education Industrial Complex

Volume 14, Number 1 (2019) The Ethics of Memory: What Does it Mean to Apologize for Historical Wrongs