Last week, the US Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as the new head of the Department of Education. DeVos, who has no experience in public education, is a wealthy Republican donor and proponent of vouchers and charter schools. There was widespread opposition to her appointment by teachers and the public. Public schools and the rights of teachers have been under attack under the past two presidents, and DeVos is surely to continue that trend. We will discuss the struggle for education in the US, its connections to other struggles and what people can do to strengthen and protect education with two academics and activists, Denisha Jones and Robert Helfenbein.
Relevant articles and websites:
Teachers don all black to protest DeVos confirmation by Allison Nielsen
Robert Helfenbein earned his Ph.D. and B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Helfenbein has offered courses in Teaching Secondary Social Studies, Middle School Methods, and graduate level courses in curriculum theory, qualitative research methods, social foundations, and urban education.
Dr. Helfenbein has published and edited numerous research articles and book chapters about contemporary education analysis in urban contexts in journals such as Curriculum Inquiry, the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Educational Studies, The Urban Review, the Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, and co-edited the books Unsettling Beliefs: Teaching Theory to Teachers (2008) and Ethics and International Curriculum Work: The Challenges of Culture and Context (2012).
In 2008, Dr. Helfenbein served as the Section Chair for Critical Perspectives and Practices of AERA Division B-Curriculum Studies followed by serving as overall Program Chair for Division B in 2009 and was nominated into the Professors of Curriculum at AERA 2011. He is currently serving as Editor of the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing and organizer of the annual Bergamo Conference on Curriculum Theory and Classroom Practice in Dayton, Ohio.
His current research interests include curriculum theorizing in urban contexts, ethics and international education work, cultural studies of education, and the impact of globalization on the lived experience of schools.
Denisha Jones is an Assistant Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at Trinity Washington University. She is a former early childhood teacher and preschool director. She received her Ph.D. from Indiana University in 2013. She has been active in the fight to stop the corporate takeover of public education since 2011. She is a board member for the Badass Teachers Association, Inc., United Opt Out National, and Defending the Early Years. Her research interests include teachers and public policy, the effects of school reform mandates on low-income children, preparing culturally competent teachers, and youth civic engagement. In 2015 she was the recipient of the Bammy Award for College Professor of the Year from the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences.