At West Chester University in Pennsylvania, the department of psychology, ethnic studies program and the Dean’s office co-sponsors Progressive Pupil’s Coping with Microaggressions workshop and a screening of the film Black and Cuba featuring a Q&A with Dr. Robin J. Hayes. The programs were spearheaded by Dr. Janet Chang. For more information about how you can bring Progressive Pupil programs to your campus, contact email@example.com.
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In this episode of Breaking Down Racism, a former PTA president of an East Village, New York City school speaks candidly about inequality in New York City’s public school system. What do you think about segregation in public schools? Tell us in the comment section below.
Produced/Directed/Written by: Alina Baboolal, Nicole Moore and Phuong Nguyen
Hosted/Executive Produced by: Robin J. Hayes, PhD
Recorded at The New School in New York City.
Students at Public School 188 in Manhattan 2009 by Annie Tritt courtesy The New York Times
Being a student is a hard enough task on its own. Put aside the toil of maintaining good grades, and you are left with the inevitable adolescent social obstacles of peer pressure, fitting in and trying to be cool. But what happens when juggling classes and extracurricular activities becomes the least of your worries and, instead, you find yourself confronting issues of race and discrimination in the classroom?
For the past six years in Venezuela, the non-profit organization Construyendo Futuros – or Building Futures – has been positively changing the country one school, family and person at a time.
With a team of young college students, Construyendo Futuros plans, builds, equips and opens public schools. I helped found the organization when a group of my peers realized that public schools in our country were in unacceptable conditions. Similar to lower-income communities in the United States, Venezuela’s public education infrastructure is highly under developed. Most school buildings are totally damaged, some lacking roofs which leads to flooding when it rains, or having tin roofs that create unbearable heat. Other common issues are sewage spills, water shortages and lack of adequate space to teach in. In addition, teachers are poorly paid and classes are held irregularly.
I am the product of a public school education. My earliest, most formative years were spent in the public school system, paid for by local taxpayers. At my school I learned about leadership as co-founder of an all-girls floor hockey team, a safety patrol officer and after-school, as a girl scout. We learned about Earth Day, Greek mythology, and Anansi the Spider. We learned how to make origami and visited the Liberty Science Center.
It was also in public school that I struggled to learn to read. My learning difficulties were observed and I was sorted into the multisensory learning classroom, where we participated, visualized, and listened to the material being taught. We lived it. In that supportive environment, I learned to read. Still, in middle school, I was given an extra study hall to be able to process and complete my assignments on time. By High School, I was an honors student. The system did right by me – I am a public school success story.