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112: Keep Hope Alive w/ Deborah Meier

Ep. 112

Today’s guest is Deborah Meier, who really needs no introduction for advocates of progressive education. Meier is the founder of the modern small schools movement, that aims to reorganize larger schools into smaller, democratic ones. She was founder and director of Central Park East, a Dewey-inspired progressive school in East Harlem, New York City. She also opened Central Park East II, River East, and the Central Park East Secondary School the same neighborhood. This led her to establish a network of similarly minded schools in New York City, and eventually founding Mission Hill School in Boston.


Meier is an advocate of democratic, progressive, public schools who has served on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Academy of Education, The Nation, Dissent, and more. She is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, as well as the author of multiple books including the recently co-authored These Schools Belong to You and Me: Why We Can’t Afford to Abandon our Public Schools. Meier is a huge inspiration to us at Human Restoration Project and we frequently draw on her work in our materials and advocacy.


In this podcast, Meier and I talk about building a coalition of schools, educators, families, and community members to build and protect a progressive public education, discussing the importance of building a public education system that strengthens and models a democracy.


GUESTS

Deborah Meier, founding director of Central Park East and Mission Hill School, as well as various progressive democratic public schools, and author of various works including co-authoring These Schools Belong to You and Me: Why We Can’t Afford to Abandon our Public Schools


RESOURCES


SUPPORT THE MOVEMENT TO END GUN VIOLENCE


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12/31/2022

125: The Transformative Power of Play w/ The Center for Playful Inquiry

Today we’re joined by Susan Harris MacKay and Matt Karlson, the people behind the Center for Playful Inquiry. Susan is a former teacher and pedagogical director at Opal School and Portland Children’s Museum. Her recent book, Story Workshop: New Possibilities for Young Writers showcases the relationship between play, art, and writing. Matt is a former teacher, professional development facilitator, and Director of Opal School’s Center for Learning.Together they formed the Center for Playful Inquiry, which prioritizes play, the arts, and meaning-making to inspire justice, democracy, and beauty. They work with schools, educators, and community members to build these systems. In this podcast, we discuss why imaginative play is deeply connected to learning, and why we must be skeptical of educational products & strategies aimed at controlling the narrative of learning.GuestsSusan Harris MacKay is a former teacher and pedagogical director at Opal School and Portland Children's Museum. She is the author of Story Workshop: New Possibilities for Young WritersMatt Karlson is a former teacher, professional development facilitator, and Director of Opal School's Center for Learning.ResourcesCenter for Playful Inquiry's WebsiteStory Workshop StudioStory Workshop: New Possibilities for Young Writers by Susan Harris MacKaySchool is for learning to live, not just for learning | Susan Harris MacKay | TEDxWestVancouverED
12/17/2022

124: The City That Kicked Cops Out of Schools and Tried Restorative Practices Instead w/ Andy Kopsa

Ep. 124
I’m speaking today with freelance journalist Andy Kopsa whose work has appeared seemingly everywhere: The New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, Cosmo, and her most recent piece from the December issue of In These Times that we’ll be discussing today - and that you heard an excerpt of in the introduction - is about her investigation of Des Moines Public Schools’ 2021 shift away from the School Resource Officer, or SRO, program and toward investing in restorative justice, it has the incredible title, The City That Kicked Cops Out of Schools and Tried Restorative Practices InsteadAndy had mentioned in a tweet before our recording that “Iowa is the canary in the coal mine when it comes to public education.” That’s to say, so much of what Andy reported in her piece is directly tied to the particular political context of Iowa in the 21st century - as we get into in the episode - failing to address deep dem ographic divisions & whose embrace of endless cynical, dead-end, culture wars has only deepened divisions. Only ⅓ of predominantly older white Iowans live in rural areas, half of the Black population is concentrated in just 4 cities, of which Des Moines is the largest, and nearly 60% of Iowa farmland owners don’t farm. So while Iowa is an increasingly non-white, urban population, our political & cultural identity is wrapped up in the nostalgia of the white rural family farm, a factor which explains the radicalization & consolidation of political power in the Iowa GOP, who hold a majority everywhere Iowans are represented. A headline from the November elections read, “Iowa's GOP clout in Legislature, Congress most since 1950s”, and you better believe they are governing as such. While national headlines often focus on larger states like Texas & Florida, the education culture war really started here. Iowa is the canary in the coal mine. That’s an appropriate lens we should bring to the conversation at the intersection of racialized policing & punishment & the role it plays in our schools, particularly when communities of Color decide to go another way & invest in restorative practices.GuestAndy Kopsa is an investigative journalist whose work has appeared in NYTimes, FP, Atlantic, Cosmo, Al Jazeera, Guardian, Playboy, and more.ResourcesIn These Times: The City That Kicked Cops Out of Schools and Tried Restorative Practices Instead ACLU of Iowa: Advocating for Police-Free Schools Toolkit