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Assault on Kids and Teachers

Countering Privatization, Deficit Ideologies and Standardization in U.S. Schools


Edited By Roberta Ahlquist, Paul C. Gorski and Theresa Montaño

In Assault on Kids and Teachers, educators from across the United States push back against the neoliberal school reform movements that are taking the “public” out of public education, demonizing teachers, and stealing from youth the opportunity for an equitable, just, and holistic education. Contributors, including teachers, educational and community activists, teacher educators, critical education scholars, and others, expose how racism, economic injustice, and other forms of injustice are created and recreated both locally and nationally through educational policies more intent on turning schools into profit centers and undermining teacher unions than on strengthening public schools. Topics include the privatization of public schools, the growing influence of grit ideology on school practices, zero tolerance policies and the school-to-prison pipeline, Teach For America, the lies behind the charter school movement, and the damage TPAs are doing to teacher education. Beyond leveling critiques at these and other troubling trends and practices, though, contributors describe the many sites and forms of resistance emerging in response to these assaults on kids and teachers from students, parents, teachers, and other concerned people. Assault on Kids and Teachers is both a call for deeper understandings of anti-democratic and regressive school reform initiatives and an invitation into movements for putting the “public” back into public education.

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4. “Getting Up” and Claiming Political Power in Newark: Citizens Taking Action for Radically Democratic Possibilities (Carolyne J. White / Leah Z. Owens)


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4.  “Getting Up” and Claiming Political Power in Newark: Citizens Taking Action for Radically Democratic Possibilities


I don’t care about community criticism, I care about the job she’s [Superintendent Cami Anderson] doing…I’m the decider and you [Newark mayor and citizens] have nothing to do with it.

—Chris Christie, NJ Governor

I have been referred to as radical, obstructionist, polemist, and a lot worse because I refuse to allow our children to suffer due to the lack of a comprehensive plan to address the conditions of our community…I actually believe that the struggle for democracy is unfinished.

—Ras J. Baraka, Newark Mayor

Our chapter is inspired by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire’s (1990) coming together in solidarity to “talk a book” about “making the road while walking.” Their conversation traverses years of involvement in social movements with disenfranchised people living in poverty, and their work toward radical, participatory education for empowerment. Like them, our writing emerges from the context where we work and grow as citizens making our “road while walking” in the home of Amiri Baraka, the father of the Black Arts Movement (Woodard, 1999), the “rebel city” (Harvey, 2013) of Newark, New Jersey. We use the present tense to better illuminate our experiences as-lived.

We never write alone. Here we acknowledge a few of the scholars whose work influences ours....

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