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Wide Ruled – Ep. 009: What the Heck is May Term?

 

Pocahontas Area Community high school

Pocahontas Area Community high school with grain bins in view

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Since around 2005, Pocahontas Area Community school district in Pocahontas, Iowa, has been avoiding the typical end-of-year slalom by way of an innovative program called May Term. In this episode, hear teachers and students explain this alternative take on the last two weeks of school and the practical objectives it accomplishes.

 


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Wide Ruled – Ep. 008: Kansas School Redesign: A Little Crazy, a Little Nuts

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Kansas has been a hotbed for legal battles involving education for some time. After the landmark 1954 Brown v. Topeka Board of Education decision, things didn’t suddenly become all sunshine and sunflowers. Rather, a series of court cases levied by school districts against the state have argued that funding for education in Kansas has continued to be both insufficient and inequitable. Kansas Commissioner of Education explains the most recent vision for improving Kansas education and answers questions about equity and fiscal security in Kansas education, also detailing his one-of-a-kind plan to spur innovation within the public school system.

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Wide Ruled – Ep. 007: 13 Players on the Pitch

Olathe Northwest High School

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Mental health isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a really good thing. That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t a long road ahead yet. Olathe Northwest soccer Coach Chris Graham and one of his former players tell the story that compelled the Olathe School District to take new measures to care for the mental health of their students. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Erin Dugan joins to detail the district’s actions.

 

resources:

For those feeling depressed or thinking about suicide

Facts about teen suicide:

For schools and students dealing with loss:

Olathe Schools’ Response:

 


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Wide Ruled – Ep. 005: The Charter Conspiracy

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In this and the following episode of Wide Ruled, we’ll tiptoe into the ongoing, sometimes aggressive, oftentimes polarized, debate about charter schools. In Wide Ruled – Ep. 005, Lora McDonald, executive director of MORE2 recounts a tale of how her organization discovered and disrupted an instance of collusion between the government and a local foundation convinced that charter schools are the best way forward for Kansas City.

As you’ll hear, Lora didn’t agree.  

selected resources: 

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Wide Ruled – Ep. 004: Alta Vista, Assemble!

Counter-narrative signs on permanent display at Alta Vista High School

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For a school where more than 90% of the population is Latino, the election of the 45th president of the United States could be a pretty traumatic experience. By coming together to celebrate diversity, however, Alta Vista is creating safety and stability amidst strange days.

 selected resources:

Centre for Restorative Justice and Reconciliation 

*The image at top is a mural painted at Alta Vista High School

 

 

 

 

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Wide Ruled – Ep. 003 : Racism and the IQ Test

Illustration of how placement of school pupils into classes changed after widespread use of IQ tests, from cover of April 1922 American School Board Journal.

April 1922 cover of American School Board Journal.

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The IQ test wasn’t born out of benign motivation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that much has been done to prevent it from doing further harm. Lashauna Guy gives an account of how the IQ test was meant to be an instrument of inhibition in her life and how she has overcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wide Ruled – Ep. 002: Don’t go Loco, go Local

Katie Boody and Aditya Voleti of the Lean Labdescription:

The recent appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education has caused a spike in interest and activism regarding the federal Department of Education. Katie Boody and Aditya Voleti of the Lean Lab are hopeful that this newfound enthusiasm will translate into local action. They offer some recommendations for what you can do to engage with education in your neighborhood.

 selected resources:

 

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Expectation Bias

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On May 12, 2014, I interviewed Jeanna Repass. I looked at her and a saw a successful African-American woman living in the suburbs of Kansas City. I was excited to learn about her and from her. I had prepared my sheaf of papers filled with questions, time-stamps and data. We both sat down across from each other, a camera pointing at Jeanna over my shoulder and lights illuminating her from several angles.

The interview began:

Nathaniel: “How do you identify yourself Jeanna?”

Jeanna: “I’m a suburban middle-class mother of two and wife to one.”

Then, I proceeded to ask her about her identity as a black woman.  

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