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No Citizen Left Behind

No Citizen Left Behind

Meira Levinson
Copyright Date: May 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    No Citizen Left Behind
    Book Description:

    While teaching at an all-Black middle school in Atlanta, Levinson realized that her students’ individual self-improvement would not necessarily enable them to overcome their historical marginalization. In order to overcome their civic empowerment gap, students must learn how to reshape power relationships through public political and civic action.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06529-1
    Subjects: Education, Sociology, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. PROLOGUE: Kurt Cobain versus Master P
    (pp. 1-22)

    On October 13, 1998, I am coaching my school’s National Academic League quiz bowl team in our first match. I teach at Walden Middle School, a fairly typical institution in the Atlanta Public Schools. Our student body is entirely African American and poor. Our teachers and students are deeply committed and hard working, but we struggle academically nonetheless. A colleague and I decided to start the quiz bowl team this year as a way of encouraging academically aspiring kids. We’ve had fun at the practices so far, and it’s been great to see how many kids voluntarily stay after school...

    (pp. 23-59)

    “So why did the Articles of Confederation make it so hard for the states to work together and get anything done? Adam, what do you think?”

    “Ummm—oh, Dr. Levinson, there’s someone knocking at the door. Can I let them in?”

    “No, I’ll get it!”

    “No, me, no, me!”

    “I’m the closest!”

    Josephine triumphantly makes it to the door first, and opens it to reveal my colleague Ms. Sanchez, who is visibly shaken. She teaches just two doors down from me, but we usually see each other in the teacher room, not in our classrooms. “Dr. Levinson, have you heard?”...

  5. 2 “AT SCHOOL I TALK STRAIGHT”: Race Talk and Civic Empowerment
    (pp. 60-98)

    It’s October 1999, a month into my first year teaching at Mc-Cormack Middle School in Boston. I’m feeling okay about the curriculum, but discipline has been fairly rough. I have four boys with me after school for detention today; I’m hoping that forty minutes of silent work time plus cleaning desks will provide an incentive for them to be a little less disruptive tomorrow. Of course, as soon as detention begins they all have to go to the bathroom. Immediately. I write their names up on the board and tell them they can go one at a time in the...

  6. 3 “YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO STRUGGLE”: Constructing Historical Counternarrative
    (pp. 99-137)

    It’s November 1996, and Walden is four months into its first year of “reconstitution”—a radical response by the Atlanta Board of Education to years of academic failure.¹ Although the physical school building and the seventh- and eighth-grade students remain the same, almost everything else at Walden has changed. There’s a new curriculum: the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme, the implementation of which I’ve been hired to coordinate. We also have a bunch of new computers, which most teachers don’t know how to use, an almost entirely new faculty and administration, a sixth-grade class of which about 20 percent are...

    (pp. 138-166)

    The Texas Education Agency in July 2009 is in the process of drafting new social studies curriculum standards to guide teaching, testing, and textbook selection for the next decade. Although the standards themselves are being written by a team of educators and community members, the Texas State Board of Education has appointed an additional six “experts” to guide the writing team. These experts include four university professors, as well as two founders and presidents of Christian organizations.¹ Each has been asked to start by reviewing the current Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum in social studies, which was written...

  8. 5 HOW TO SOAR IN A WORLD YOU’VE NEVER SEEN: Making Citizenship Visible in Schools
    (pp. 167-209)

    Every morning as they enter Walden Middle School, students line up in front of our assistant principal. Holding a metal-detecting wand in his right hand, he sweeps it in front and back of each child before he allows them to proceed down to the cafeteria. A number of the sixth graders are tiny—barely four-and-a-half feet tall—and are still obsessed by trading cards and bathroom jokes. What do they think about as they’re screened for weapons each day? What do my eighth graders—many still on the cusp of puberty themselves—think? In the three academic years I teach...

    (pp. 210-249)

    In January 2000 I’m in the midst of trying to organize a field trip for my eighth-grade American history students. They will serve as jurors in mock trials argued by second- and third-year students from Harvard Law School. Although McCormack is on the same subway line as Harvard, most of my students haven’t ever met a Harvard student. They don’t believe me when I tell them that if they work hard and achieve at a consistently high level—which many of them would be capable of doing, given the right supports—they could attend a competitive college or university on...

    (pp. 250-288)

    In the summer of 1999, I’m preparing to teach eighth-grade U.S. history at McCormack Middle School. As I read through Boston Public Schools’ Citywide History and Social Science Standards, I become increasingly alarmed. There are thirty separate topics for eighth-grade U.S. history (1815–1890), each broken down into one to five “broad concepts, issues, or ideas,” five to eight further “specific objectives,” plus additional “key questions” and “performance tasks.” With a thirty-six-week school year, I quickly calculate, I have an average of just over one week to spend on each topic. That seems fine for Topic 18: “Scenes of war;...

  11. EPILOGUE: Standing Up, Talking Back
    (pp. 289-296)

    Each semester, my eighth-grade students are required to take the Boston Public Schools’ End-of-Course Assessment for Civics in Action. One question asks them to select an issue “of importance to your school, your community, the country, the world, and you.” They have to present the issue as a question: for example, should United States forces withdraw fully from Iraq this year? Students then have to answer the question from two different perspectives, offering at least three reasons in favor of each perspective. Finally, they have to write an essay that argues in favor of one of the positions they’ve identified,...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 299-326)
    (pp. 327-370)
    (pp. 371-376)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 377-388)