A Lesson with Jeremiah Jeffries

Board Member and Founding Coordinator for ‘Teacher 4 Social Justice’

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  ‘Teachers 4 Social Justice’ is centered less around local political activism and more on larger policy work. What larger education policies can help resolve the problems we saw in the play?

Recently we put out a statement around community grown local charter schools that serve a very specific need that the public schools are not addressing. For example ‘Five Keys’ in San Francisco is an excellent charter school and they serve people in the prison. Different decisions have to made than what would usually happen in a school context because of the nature of the prison complex and the relationship that has to exist between teachers and prison guards to make that a safe environment for schooling. This an appropriate case of where the private partner is really another government agency and also accountable in a different way than public schools. A long time ago there was a program called ‘Urban Pioneers’ which focused on outdoor education. Back in the early 2000’s there was a small school’s initiative within public schools which was a really effective. These types of programs really should be absorbed by the district.

But charters in general are not a good use of investment. They are not accountable in anyway to the public and ultimately do not serve as well. People should be investing their time, energy and efforts into public schools to make change and that’s the best way to move forward.

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Have schools like Redding Elementary or other public schools in the area had to tackle similar issues as Eleanor Roosevelt High in ‘Schooled’?

Having to choose between spending money on a paraprofessional/someone who can work directly with a child or on infrastructure like computers so that kids can have access to technology is one of the constant tensions in schools given the funding cuts. The impact of Proposition 13 that the Mime Troupe brought up in ‘Schooled’ was spot on because that really transformed California schools from  one the best and most accessible public school systems to now rising tuition costs for higher education, deep cuts in public education and a loss of the arts for public school kids at younger ages.

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