Journal of Educational Controversy


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Message from Editorial Board Member on New Book about South Asian Americans

 JEC editorial board member, Paul Englesberg, has announced a new book that we think our readers will find helpful in expanding the cultural understanding of their high school and college students on South Asian Americans.   Paul points out that the book covers both individual stories and a wide range of topics that includes civil rights, immigration, religion, identity, labor, family, and popular culture.  He writes that it is quite up-to-date and also includes a brief inset about Pramila Jayapal.   Here is Paul’s description of the book that he hopes will “ensure a future where young South Asian Americans see themselves reflected in the American story.”

Book Announcement

I am writing to you about something very important to me personally. I am helping to share the word about Our Stories: An Introduction to South Asian America, a new book for high school and college-aged readers. South Asian Americans have been a presence in the United States for more than 130 years, and the community today includes more than 5.4 million individuals. Yet South Asian American stories are still not taught in classrooms, found in textbooks, or reflected in popular media. I am joining SAADA in working to change that, and today I am asking you for your help. Please get a copy of Our Stories for yourself, share with your loved ones, and purchase a copy for your local schools and libraries.

With stories spanning from the 1780s to the present day and bringing together the voices of sixty-four authors, this book demonstrates the diversity, vibrancy, and power of the South Asian American community. Our Stories is a nearly 500-page testament to our community's belonging.

I contributed a short chapter about the Bellingham riot of 1907 with some individuals highlighted.  As part of my contribution we included the story of Nabhi Ram Joshi, who studied at the State Normal School, (Western Washington University’s predecessor) and A.K. Mozumdar, the first international student at the Normal School and one of the first South Asians to gain US citizenship, only to have it revoked following the 1923 Thind Supreme Court decision.

            --Paul Englesberg 

Get your copy today:

Friday, August 6, 2021

Congressman John Lewis’ Last Email to Citizens with His List of Resources for Students, Teachers and Parents

Congressman John Lewis used to send out emails informing citizens of the latest updates from Congress.  I just came across the final email he sent out on July 11, 2020 just before his death on July 17th from my inbox’s archive.  In his email, Congressman Lewis didn’t forget the next generation in its search for understanding and included a list of resources for students, parents and teachers.  I thought I would make his list available for our readers.  Congressman Lewis’s fight for voting rights continues with the next generation.

Library of Congress and Additional Learning Resources

The Library of Congress (LOC) is offering a variety of online resources for learning and entertainment of people of all ages and backgrounds. You may access these resources here:

·        LOC Engage

·        LOC Resources for Families

·        LOC Resources for Teachers


·        LOC Crowds

·        Labs LOC

·        LOC Digital Collection

·        LOC Veterans History Project

·        LOC Exhibits

In addition to the resources provided by the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian is also offering online courses on a variety of subjects.  Finally, the National Archives also offer e-books and other informative material for your consumption.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Are the “Right to … Anti-Vaccinators” Aligning Themselves with the Right to Choose Abortions Movement and the Right to Die with Dignity Movement

Categories are strange things.  They tell us what is included and what is excluded.  They allow certain kinds of questions and render other kinds invisible. They organize our thought and blind it at the same time.  Here is a thought experiment.  Those who refuse to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus in the United States have many different motives and maybe even different reasons if they explored their motives.  One group seems to be politically motivated and likes to adopt the language of rights---one has a right to make a decision about getting a vaccination or not for oneself.  We see such “rights” language used in other contexts.  It sounds familiarly like those who argue for the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.  Perhaps, politically motivated anti-vaccinators are aligning themselves with that movement.  Or it also sounds like those who argue for the right to die with dignity, a movement for the right of the terminally ill to decide when the end of life should come.  Could they be seeing their life and death decision in comparable terms. I suspect that the anti-vaccinators do not necessarily align with either of these two movements.  And they might even start to offer reasons why they do not both fall in the same category.   Maybe, they would even think about what they are actually arguing for.   I only bring this up to raise the question about the ways our minds get locked into the categories we impose and ways to shake our minds to begin to look beneath and around our automatic responses.   What might be the implications for the teaching of our youth? 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Breaking the Silence: A U.S. President Acknowledges the Greenwood Race Massacre on this Day of Remembrance

One hundred years after the Greenwood Race Massacre in Tulsa, an event buried in history and schoolbooks, President Biden gave an impassioned and graphic speech acknowledging the event.   Below is the proclamation issued from the White House.


A Proclamation on Day Of Remembrance: 100 Years After The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre


One hundred years ago, a violent white supremacist mob raided, firebombed, and destroyed approximately 35 square blocks of the thriving Black neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Families and children were murdered in cold blood. Homes, businesses, and churches were burned. In all, as many as 300 Black Americans were killed, and nearly 10,000 were left destitute and homeless. Today, on this solemn centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, I call on the American people to reflect on the deep roots of racial terror in our Nation and recommit to the work of rooting out systemic racism across our country.

Before the Tulsa Race Massacre, Greenwood was a thriving Black community that had grown into a proud economic and cultural hub. At its center was Greenwood Avenue, commonly known as Black Wall Street. Many of Greenwood’s 10,000 residents were Black sharecroppers who fled racial violence after the Civil War.

In the decades following the Civil War and Reconstruction, Greenwood became a place where Black Americans were able to make a new start and secure economic progress despite the continued pain of institutional and overt racism. The community was home to a growing number of prominent Black entrepreneurs as well as working-class Black families who shared a commitment to social activism and economic opportunity. As Greenwood grew, Greenwood Avenue teemed with successful Black-owned businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, and offices for doctors, lawyers, and dentists. The community also maintained its own school system, post office, a savings and loan institution, hospital, and bus and taxi service.

Despite rising Jim Crow systems and the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan, Greenwood’s economic prosperity grew, as did its citizens’ demands for equal rights. This made the community a source of pride for many Black Americans. It also made the neighborhood and its families a target of white supremacists. In 2 days, a violent mob tore down the hard-fought success of Black Wall Street that had taken more than a decade to build.

In the years that followed, the destruction caused by the mob was followed by laws and policies that made recovery nearly impossible. In the aftermath of the attack, local ordinances were passed requiring new construction standards that were prohibitively expensive, meaning many Black families could not rebuild. Later, Greenwood was redlined by mortgage companies and deemed “hazardous” by the Federal Government so that Black homeowners could not access home loans or credit on equal terms. And in later decades, Federal investment, including Federal highway construction, tore down and cut off parts of the community. The attack on Black families and Black wealth in Greenwood persisted across generations.

The Federal Government must reckon with and acknowledge the role that it has played in stripping wealth and opportunity from Black communities. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to acknowledging the role Federal policy played in Greenwood and other Black communities and addressing longstanding racial inequities through historic investments in the economic security of children and families, programs to provide capital for small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas, including minority-owned businesses, and ensuring that infrastructure projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access.

A century later, the fear and pain from the devastation of Greenwood is still felt. As Viola Fletcher, a 107-year-old survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre courageously testified before the Congress recently, “I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home. I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams. I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot.”

With this proclamation, I commit to the survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre, including Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis, and Lessie Benningfield Randle, the descendants of victims, and to this Nation that we will never forget.  We honor the legacy of the Greenwood community, and of Black Wall Street, by reaffirming our commitment to advance racial justice through the whole of our government, and working to root out systemic racism from our laws, our policies, and our hearts.


NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 31, 2021, a Day of Remembrance: 100 Years After The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. I call upon the people of the United States to commemorate the tremendous loss of life and security that occurred over those 2 days in 1921, to celebrate the bravery and resilience of those who survived and sought to rebuild their lives again, and commit together to eradicate systemic racism and help to rebuild communities and lives that have been destroyed by it.


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

                           JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

1921 Survivors of the Tulsa-Greenwood Race Massacre Testify Before Today’s Congressional Hearing


Survivors of the 1921 Tulsa-Greenwood Race Massacre, including 107-year-old Viola Fletcher,  100-year-old Hughes Van Ellis and 106-year-old Lessie Benningfield Randle, testified before a  hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties today.  Their painful testimony of the atrocities committed at that time and its erasure from historical memory brought to light the importance of our current issue on the “Ethics of Memory.”   

Here is a link to a video of the testimony given at the congressional committee hearing:  Continuing Injustice: The Centennial of theTulsa-Greenwood Race Massacre

Monday, May 17, 2021

House panel advances bill HR 40 to form a reparations commission


As we continue to publish articles for our most recent issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy on “The Ethics of Memory: What Does it Mean to Apologize for Historical Wrongs,” we wanted to alert our readers to another attempt by the Congress to advance a bill to form a reparations commission to study the lingering effects of slavery and the social and economic injustices that followed.   The bill that was voted on by the House Judiciary Committee also proposes a national apology for the harm that was done. Readers will remember our earlier posts where we reported on earlier attempts to pass such a bill.  We will continue to follow this more recent attempt in later posts.

See “In a historic vote, a House panel advances a bill to form a reparations commission” in the New York Times, April 14, 2021.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

From Facing History and Ourselves: Helping students reflect on the verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial

 Here are some lessons from Facing History and Ourselves to help your students address today’s event:

The jury in the Derek Chauvin trial has returned a verdict; the former police officer was found guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd. Floyd’s murder and Chauvin’s trial amplified the demands for justice in response to racial bias in policing, the disproportionate use of excessive force against Black Americans, and more broadly, the history of racial injustice in the United States.

Our new Teaching Idea, Accountability, Justice, and Healing After Derek Chauvin's Trial is designed to help educators guide an initial class discussion on the verdict. The activities prompt students to process the news of the verdict and then explore the complicated concepts of justice, accountability, and healing.

Facing History and Ourselves also invites you to a timely conversation Wednesday evening between Roger Brooks, President and CEO of Facing History, and Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and Chair of African American Studies at Princeton University. This, our final event in the FacingHistory Now: Conversations on Equity and Justice series, will be an exploration of the crucial work of becoming a multiracial democracy. I look forward to hearing these two scholars engage in a dialogue at this pivotal moment in our nation's history. I hope you will join us.

Friday, March 19, 2021

In Light of Recent anti-Asian Violence and Hate, has our Educational System Failed Us? What does this Moment Demand of Us?


Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have long played an important role in the social fabric of our society.  But they have also witnessed a long history of violence, discrimination, and bigotry as well.  This journal decries the increasing anti-Asian violence directed against our fellow Americans and joins others who call for our educational system to step up  and face our history in all its complexity and to reflect on how knowledge can affect our beliefs and actions.

These concerns were also reflected recently on the Facing History and Ourselves website, a website that this journal has often shared on our site.   Facing History and Ourselves “uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate” and came to recognize their lack of a deep understanding of the experiences of the Asian American population in their curriculum.  Writing about recent events, they call for a shared rethinking.  They write:

And yet, our education system — and our own curriculum at Facing History and Ourselves — does not do enough to address both recent and historic violence directed against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In truth, we do not fully know and have failed to face the complexities of the histories of API peoples, their countries of origin, the richness of all they have contributed to the fabric of North America and the United Kingdom. This omission from our learning and teaching contributes daily to the erasure and oppression of our API neighbors, colleagues, friends, and students. This is a moment of reckoning where we are being called to account. All of us within education must work together to place focus on the proud history and traditions of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and to understand how that history is entwined with the histories of other communities too often held on the margins of our society.

To begin this task in deepening our understanding, we are reprinting an article below by Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, entitled, “United States Immigration Laws and the Exclusion of Asian Pacific Islanders.”  Readers may also be interested in reading one of the articles published in the current issue of our journal entitled, “How Historical Context Matters for Fourth andFifth Generation Japanese Americans,” by L. Erika Saito.


United States Immigration Laws & the Exclusion of Asian Pacific Islanders

By Warren J. Blumenfeld


Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic and former President Trump’s insistence on calling it the so-called “China virus,” anti-Asian Pacific Island hate crimes in the U.S. have spiked sharply. Within the past year, approximately 3800 crimes have been reported, with the majority perpetrated against Asian Pacific Island women.

Though investigators have not released the motive of the Georgia man who went on a murder spree killing eight women, six of whom were Asian, these incidents bring to the public’s attention in stark detail the fear felt within the Asian Pacific Island community over the past year.

It also calls on us to reflect on how the United States has not held out its collective hand of welcome to members of Asian Pacific Island communities.

Immigration as Official U.S. “Racial” Policy

Beginning the first day Europeans stepped foot on what has come to be known as “the Americas” up until this very day, decisions over who can enter the United States and who can eventually gain citizenship status has generally depended on issues of “race.” U.S. immigration systems have reflected and have served as this country’s official ‘racial’ policies at any given point in time.

Europeans on the North and South American continents established their domination based on a program of exploitation, violence, kidnapping, and genocide against native populations.

For example, the ‘Puritans’ left England to the Americas to practice a ‘purer’ form of Protestant Christianity. They believed they were divinely chosen to form ‘a biblical commonwealth’ with no separation between religion and government. They tolerated no other faiths or interpretations of divine precepts. In fact, they murdered and expelled Quakers, Catholics, and others.

The “American” colonies followed European perceptions of “race.” A 1705 Virginia statute, the “Act Concerning Servants and Slaves,” read:

[N]o negroes, mulattos or Indians, Jew, Moor, Mahometan [Muslims], or other infidel, or such as are declared slaves by this act, shall, notwithstanding, purchase any christian (sic) white servant.

In 1790, the newly constituted United States Congress passed the Naturalization Act, which excluded all nonwhites from citizenship, including Asians, enslaved Africans, and Native Americans, the later whom they defined in oxymoronic terms as “domestic foreigners,” even though they had inhabited this land for thousands of years.

The Congress did not grant Native Americans rights of citizenship until 1924 with the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act, though Asians continued to be denied naturalized citizenship status.

Central to the European-American conquest of territory was the concept of “Manifest Destiny”: Providence destined U.S. expansion from the Atlantic to the Pacific (“from sea to shining sea”) by the so-called “Anglo-Saxon race.” This justified in the mind of the European the theft of Indigenous people’s territories and a war with Mexico.

In reaction to increasing numbers of European immigrants into the country in the 1850s, a movement calling itself “The American Party” (also known as “The Know-Nothings”) formed to “purify” the country by limiting or ending Irish Catholic immigrants and others, and also ending the naturalization of those already here.

The American Party established itself as a “Nativist” anti-Irish Catholic movement by instigating fear among the larger population that the U.S. will soon be dominated by Irish and German Catholics unless their immigration was ended.

The movement perpetuated the illusion that the Pope had been plotting to control and dominate the U.S. While a small movement in relative numbers, its primary supporters were European-heritage Protestant men.

In 1875, Congress passed the Page Law, which specifically reduced immigration of women from Asia.

The editor of a newspaper in Butte, Montana wrote: “The Chinaman’s life is not our life, his religion is not our religion.” He belongs not in Butte?

The U.S. Congress passed the first law specifically restricting or excluding immigrants based on “race” and nationality in 1882. In their attempts to eliminate entry of Chinese and other Asian workers who often competed for jobs with U.S. citizens, especially in the western United States, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act to restrict their entry into the U.S. for a 10-year period, while denying citizenship to Chinese people already on these shores.

The Act also made it illegal for Chinese people to marry white or black U.S.-Americans. In addition, the 1882 act excluded categories deemed “undesirable.” It prohibited entry of “any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.”

The so-called “Gentleman’s Agreement” between the U.S. and the Emperor of Japan of 1907 was signed to reduce tensions between the two countries. It was passed expressly to decrease immigration of Japanese workers into the U.S.

The Immigration Act of 1917 further prohibited immigration from Asian countries, in the terms of the law, the “barred zone,” including parts of China, India, Siam, Burma, Asiatic Russia, the Polynesian Islands, and parts of Afghanistan.

Between 1880 and 1920, in the range of 30-40 million immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe migrated to the United States, more than doubling the population.

Fearing a continued influx of immigrants, legislators in the United States Congress in 1924 enacted the Johnson-Reed [anti-] Immigration Act (“Origins Quota Act,” or “National Origins Act”) setting restrictive quotas of immigrants from Asia, and Eastern and Southern Europe, including those of the so-called “Hebrew race” (the law placed restrictive quotes on Jews, Poles, Italians, Greeks, and Slaves (the acronym J-PIGS). The law, however, increased immigration from Great Britain and Germany.

Jews continued to be, even in the United States during the 1920s, constructed as nonwhite. The law, on the other hand, permitted large allotments of immigrants from Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany. This law, in addition to previous statutes (1882 against the Chinese, 1907 against the Japanese) halted further immigration from Asia and excluded blacks of African descent from entering the United States.

It is interesting to note that during this time, Jewish ethno-racial assignment was constructed as “Asian.” According to historian Sander Gilman: “Jews were called Asiatic and Mongoloid, as well as primitive, tribal, Oriental.” Immigration laws were changed in 1924 in response to the influx of these undesirable “Asiatic elements.”

The National Origins Act of 1924 established quota percentages based on the census population in 1890. The number of immigrants to be admitted annually was limited to 2% of the foreign-born individuals of each nationality living in the U.S. in 1890.

This severely restricted immigration rights almost exclusively to northwestern Europeans to “protect our values [as] a Western Christian civilization.” It functioned to prevent Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and other non-Protestant groups from immigrating to the United States.

In the Supreme Court case, Takao Ozawa v. United States, a Japanese man, Takao Ozawa filed for citizenship under the Naturalization Act of 1906, which allowed white persons and persons of African descent or African nativity to achieve naturalization status.

Asians, however, were classified as an “unassimilateable race” and, therefore, not entitled to U.S. citizenship. Ozawa attempted to have Japanese people classified as “white” since he claimed he had the requisite white skin. The Supreme Court, in 1922, however, denied his claim and, therefore, his U.S. citizenship.

Following U.S. entry into World War II, at the end of 1942 and reflecting the tenuous status of Japanese Americans, some born in the United States, military officials uprooted and transported approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans to Internment (Concentration) Camps within several interior states far from the shores.

In Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), the landmark United States Supreme Court decision ruled 6-3 constitutional, Executive Order 9066 “as a matter of military urgency,” ordering Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II “regardless” of citizenship.

Not until Ronald Reagan’s administration did the U.S. officially apologize to Japanese Americans and paid reparations amounting to $20,000 to each survivor as part of the 1988 Civil Liberties Act.

Though the Magnuson Act of 1943 gave Chinese immigrants a path toward citizenship and the right to vote, until 1952, federal policy disqualified immigrants from most other Asian countries citizenship status and voting rights.

Finally, in 1952, the McCarran-Walters Act (Sen. Pat McCarran and Rep. Francis Walters) overturned the “racially” discriminatory quotas of the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act. It passed despite President Truman’s veto.

Framed as an amendment to the McCarran-Walters Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 removed “natural origins” as the basis of U.S. immigration legislation.

The 1965 law increased immigration from Asian and Latin American countries and religious backgrounds, permitted 170,000 immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere (20,000 per each country), 120,000 from the Western Hemisphere, and accepted a total of 300,000 visas for entry into the country.

Ruthless Americanization

Immigrants who enter the United States are pressured to assimilate into a monocultural Anglo-centric culture (thinly disguised as “the melting pot”), and to give up their native cultural identities. Referring to the newcomers at the beginning of the 20th century CE, one New York City teacher remarked:  “[They] must be made to realize that in forsaking the land of their birth, they were also forsaking the  customs and traditions of that land.”

An “Americanist” (assimilationist) movement was in full force with the concept of the so-called “melting pot” in which everyone was expected to conform to an Anglo-centric cultural standard with an obliteration of other cultural identities. President Theodore Roosevelt (1907) was an outspoken proponent of this concept:

If the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself (sic) to us he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else....But this [equality] is predicated on the man’s (sic) becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American....There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American but something else also, isn’t an American at all....We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we want to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house.

Many members of immigrant groups oppose assimilation and embrace the concept of “pluralism’: the philosophy whereby one adheres to a prevailing monocultural norm in public while recognizing, retaining, and celebrating one’s distinctive and unique cultural traditions and practices in the private realm.

The Jewish immigrant and sociologist of Polish and Latvian heritage, Horace Kallen (1915), coined the term “cultural pluralism” to challenge the image of the so-called “melting pot,” which he considered inherently undemocratic.

Kallen envisioned a United States in the image of a great symphony orchestra, not sounding in unison (the “melting pot”), but rather, one in which all the disparate cultures play in harmony and retain their unique and distinctive tones and timbres.

Social theorist Gunnar Myrdal traveled throughout the United States during the late 1940s examining U.S. society following World War II, and he discovered a grave contradiction or inconsistency, which he termed “an American dilemma.”

He found a country founded on an overriding commitment to democracy, liberty, freedom, human dignity, and egalitarian values, coexisting alongside deep-seated patterns of racial discrimination, privileging white people, while subordinating peoples of color.

The human rights organization, Amnesty International, states that “Racial profiling occurs when race is used by law enforcement or private security officials, to any degree, as a basis for criminal suspicion in non-suspect specific investigations.”

Racial profiling constitutes a form of discrimination, based on race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, and other identities, which, Amnesty International declares “undermines the basic human rights and freedoms to which every person is entitled.”

If we learn anything from our immigration legislative history, we can view the current debates as providing a great opportunity to pass comprehensive federal reform based not on “race,” nationality, ethnicity, religion, or other social identity categories, but rather, on humane principles of fairness, compassion, and equity.


Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of The What, The So What, and The Now What of Social Justice Education (Peter Lang Publishers), Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), co-author with Diane Raymond of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense).

Dr. Warren Blumenfeld:  Permission granted to forward, post, or publish this commentary

*I acknowledge that my home & university stand on stolen Nonotuck land & other Indigenous nations: Nipmuc, Wampanoag, Mohegan, Pequot, Mohican, **Abenaki.

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).