Journal of Educational Controversy


Friday, March 20, 2015

New Issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy on "Challenging the Deficit Model and the Pathologizing of Children" now Online

We are pleased to announce the publication of  the Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 2015 issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy.  The theme for this issue is: “Challenging the Deficit Model and the Pathologizing of Children: Envisioning Alternative Models.”

Here is the controversy posed for this issue:
Martin Seligman, founder of the field of positive psychology, has said that, “Modern psychology has been co-opted by the disease model. We've become too preoccupied with repairing damage when our focus should be on building strength and resilience, especially in children.” Is this also true of modern education? Political and pedagogical responses, from the “War on Poverty” through “No Child Left Behind” to address the educational gaps in academic achievement of historically marginalized and neglected groups (the poor, minorities and children with disabilities), were often deeply rooted in a language of cultural deprivation and special needs. Has this deficit model begun to surreptitiously creep into our educational discourse for all children? Have we become too focused on needs and deficiencies and forgotten that children also have capacities and strengths? Does the current emphasis on accountability and standardized testing contribute to the pathologizing of children? We invite authors to respond critically to this argument, envision alternative models, examine historical causes and precedents, analyze political and social ramifications, and share real life stories on the influence these ways of thinking have on the classroom and on the learning as experienced by students.
With Jeb Bush apparently ready to run for the presidency in 2016, our readers might find our look behind the reform movements in Florida intriguing and enlightening.  See the Passero and Jones article.

Here is a complete table of contents for our new issue:
To Patricia F. Carini: A Dedication
 Susan Donnelly, Guest Editor
Resisting the “Single Story”
Ellen Schwartz  
Two examples of the Prospect Descriptive Process:
•Universal Power to Create (A Slide Show), Susan Donnelly
•Children’s Imaginative Communities - Microcosms of Democracy, Susan Donnelly

Link to the Prospect Archive of Children’s Work housed at the University of Vermont, Center for Digital Initiatives


Surpassing Sisyphus: The Tenacious and Promising Struggle to Push and Support a Strengths-Based Ideology and Practice in Education
 Sara Truebridge

How We are Complicit: Challenging the School Discourse of Adolescent Reading
 Andrea Davis,  Teachers College, Columbia University

 Against Rubbish Collecting: Education and Restively Ambivalent Youth
 Tracy Psycher, University of Minnesota
Breaking the Mold: Thinking Beyond Deficits
Elyse Hambacher and Winston C. Thompson,  University of New Hampshire
Urban Teachers Engaging in Critical Talk: Navigating Deficit Discourse and Neoliberal Logics
Heidi K. Pitzer,  St. Lawrence University

 Bottom Line Choices: Effects of Market Ideology in Florida’s Voluntary Preschool Policies
 Angela C. Passero and Roderick J. Jones, University of South Florida
 Precarity and Pedagogical Responsibility
Ann Chinnery,  Simon Fraser University
Building on the Strengths of Families and Communities
The 17th Annual Educational Law and Social Justice Forum
Western Washington University
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Preview of the Forum’s Upcoming Discussion

“Everyone Should Feel so Connected and Safe”: Using Parent Action Teams to Reach all Families”
--by Members of the Parent Action Team: John Korsmo, Miguel Camerena, Andrea Clancy, Ann Eco, Anne Jones, Bill Nutting, Basilia Quiroz, Azucena Ramirez, Veronica Villa-Mondragon, Stacy Youngquist


Thursday, March 12, 2015

JEC Editorial Board Member to Speak on the 1907 Bellingham Anti-Hindu Riot

Paul Englesberg, an editorial board member at the Journal of Educational Controversy, will be a speaker in a three-part series of lectures sponsored by our local library here in Bellingham, Washington.  The series, "Intolerance & Injustice: Where We've Been, What We've Learned,” will look back at some of the intolerance that occurred in our own community.   Confronting historical memory is the first step to healing and change.  Perhaps, this is an event that should take place in local communities throughout the nation, communities that are trying to confront and reexamine their past in order to move forward to a more just future.  

Below is information on all three lectures that will take place in April at the Bellingham Public Library in Washington State:

 A free lecture series in April will explore issues of injustice and intolerance in our Bellingham and Whatcom County communities.

 The series, titled "Intolerance & Injustice: Where We've Been, What We've Learned," is three presentations in April featuring speakers who will explore examples in local history of intolerance and challenges to opportunity and justice, as well as contemporary events and issues.

The series is being put on by the Bellingham Public Library. All lectures take place at 7 p.m. in the Central Library Lecture Room in Bellingham.

April 2: Purge & Prejudice: The 1907 Bellingham Anti-Hindu Riot

 University professor Paul Englesberg presents a multi-media exploration of the 1907 riot in Bellingham, which drove away from our community hundreds of Asian immigrant workers, most of whom were Sikhs from India. Includes analysis of the causes and consequences of the riot, illustrations from archival sources, showing of the 15-minute documentary "We're Not Strangers" and opportunity for discussion.

Englesberg is professor of education at Walden University, specializing in adult and higher education and educational research. Previously he was on the education faculty at Western Washington University, where he initiated the Asian American Curriculum and Research Project.

April 8: Free Speech, Free Love & Costly Politics: Bellingham's Own Private Red Scare

 Reporter and university instructor Ron C. Judd describes the virulent political climate in 1930s Bellingham, which was well ahead of its time in "Red-Scare" politics that would sweep the nation during the Cold War. Battling factions of the day, led by The Bellingham Herald on the right, and fledgling KVOS Radio on the left, waged a decade-long media war that ultimately would put the city on the national map for political extremism -- and claim the popular president of the local college, Charles H. Fisher.
Judd is a Bellingham resident and longtime columnist and reporter for The Seattle Times. He is the author of numerous nonfiction books, including works of humor, outdoor guides and a history of the Winter Olympics. He is a journalism instructor at Western Washington University and a 2015 James W. Scott Research Fellow at WWU's Center for Pacific Northwest Studies.

April 15: Mid-Century Dream to Today's Reality: All the Ways that Race Still Matters

 Western Washington University professor and author Vernon Damani Johnson will explore the ideas and expectations set forth at mid-century, when the Voting Rights Act, Affirmative Action and other initiatives were initially conceived, contrasted with recent events and challenges to equal opportunity and justice for all.

Johnson has been a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at Western Washington University since 1986. He was on the advisory committee to Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Presidential Campaign in 1988 and served on the Steering Committee of the Washington State Rainbow Coalition from 1988-92. When the militia movement swept into the region in the 1990s, Damani helped found the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, and chaired its board from 1997-2000.

Each presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Bellingham Public Library at 360-778-7323 or

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chicago Politics: School Closures, Appointed School Boards and the Upcoming Mayoral Election – a Look at Some New Research

With the tight mayoral runoff election coming up this April in Chicago between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger, JesĂșs G. Garcia, much of the opposition seems to be coming from a challenge to educational policy decisions that were made by the city’s current administration.  (New York Times, March 3, 2015)  

 A new report by the Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education at the University of Illinois in Chicago just went public and we thought our readers would like to read the report with its review of the evidence.

From their website:

The report, “Should Chicago Have an Elected Representative School Board?  A New Review of the Evidence,” assesses the agenda and major policies of Chicago’s current Board and how their decisions have negatively impacted Chicago Public Schools students.  The research found no conclusive evidence suggesting mayor-appointed boards are more effective at governing schools, inequities in schooling have increased under the leadership of the current Board, its major policies including school closures have failed to improve schools, and the unelected Board is largely unresponsive to the complaints and suggestions of parents and community leaders.

To read the entire report published at the University of Illinois at Chicago, go to:

 For other reports, see the one published by the University of Chicago’s  Consortium on Chicago School Research in January of this year, entitled: “School Closings in Chicago: Understanding Families' Choices and Constraints for New School Enrollment.”   An interesting aspect of this report was the finding on the way the families viewed academic quality as something different than simply a schools’ performance policy rating.

 From their website:

The way that many parents defined academic quality was different than the official markers of quality represented by the district’s performance policy rating system. For example, many families defined academic quality as having after-school programs, certain curricula and courses, small class sizes, positive and welcoming school environments, and/or one-on-one attention from teachers in classes. Although some families did talk about their school’s official policy rating, most factored in these other "unofficial" indicators of academic quality when making their school choice decisions.

Readers can find that report at: