Share

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

Human Restoration Project

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 Instead


Andy 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.


Guest

Andy Kopsa is an investigative journalist whose work has appeared in NYTimes, FP, Atlantic, Cosmo, Al Jazeera, Guardian, Playboy, and more.


Resources

More episodes

View all episodes

  • 149. Roma Education: Emma Sisson's Mission From Tennessee to Transylvania

    01:06:13
    The story my guest will tell today is of her experience growing up and teaching in Memphis, Tennessee before finding a purpose-driven career change in - I am not joking - the heart of Transylvania. Emma Sisson is the School Director of The Mission School in Sighisoara, Romania. The work of The Mission, Romania is deeply rooted in the local community in Sighisoara and, as you’ll hear Emma describe it, homebase is an 80,000 sq ft abandoned Soviet textile mill where staff live, work, house a K-3 school, and provide family wrap-around services to Romani children and families. Romani, or Roma, are a historically enslaved and oppressed underclass in Europe, in Romania in particular, where they are often slandered as a lazy, thieving, “gypsy” underclass. In 2022 the European Union reported that 80% of Roma live in poverty, compared to the 17% EU average. 1 in 5 live in households with no running water. 1 in 3 have no indoor toilet. And fewer than half of Roma children attend early childhood education. The scathing report prompted the EU director of Fundamental Human Rights to ask, “Why do Roma across Europe still face shocking levels of deprivation, marginalization, and discrimination?”  Overcoming structural discrimination and prejudice against Roma people is a key part of The Mission’s mission. The Mission School also works to preserve Roma values and language in the context of education, expressed as a preference for family apprenticeships, experiential hands-on learning, and a rich oral tradition, that have historically put them at odds with the priorities of institutional school-based literacies.On the other side of the Atlantic, The Mission international is currently recovering from a devastating fire that destroyed their entire campus headquarters in Tijuana, Mexico that served over 500 at-risk youth, so if you’d like to learn more and donate to help support Emma’s work in Romania and rebuild the Tijuana campus, you can do that at themissioninc - that’s the mission eye-enn-see - dot org https://www.themissioninc.org/ You can reach Emma @ emma.barbara.sisson@gmail.comAmazon Book WishlistAmazon Supplies Wishlist
  • 148. How do Americans really feel about controversial topics in school? w/ Anna Saavedra and Morgan Polikoff

    36:57
    In this episode, Anna Saavedra and Morgan Polikoff explore the polarizing landscape of modern education found in their February 2024 report, "Searching for Common Ground.” The report reveals widespread support for public schools alongside significant partisan divides, particularly on topics like LGBTQ identities and racial inequality. From bipartisan consensus on some issues to stark disparities on others, this discussion highlights the complexities of education policymaking and the need for informed dialogue to navigate contentious topics and shape a more equitable future for education.Links:How Americans really feel about the teaching of controversial topics in schools @ USC TodayRead the full report online.
  • 147. Americanization or Autonomy: The Dilemma of Puerto Rico's Educational Agenda w/ Prof. Jenaro Abraham

    42:20
    Join us as we delve into the historical and current relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico, focusing on the island's education system and its role in shaping Puerto Rico's future. Professor Jenaro Abraham shares his expertise on social movements, politics, and education in the Caribbean, offering key insights into Puerto Rico's quest for self-determination. From the legacy of colonialism to the prospects of statehood versus independence, this conversation explores the complexities of Puerto Rico's identity and its educational landscape. Additional Resources: Jenaro Abraham @ GonazagaPuerto Rico in the American Century, By César J. Ayala, Rafael BernabeCentroPRPedagogy of the Hawaiian Islands podcast series
  • 146. Off The Mark: How Grades, Ratings, & Rankings Undermine Learning (But Don't Have To) w/ Jack Schneider & Ethan Hutt

    47:04
    “Let's start with the bad news.” is how the conclusion to my guests’ book about changing grading practice begins. “No one is coming to save us. No consultant is going to sweep through and fix things for a fee. No new technology, digital, online, or otherwise, is going to change the game.” The game, of course, is school, and the currency of that game is grades.Jack Schneider is Dwight W. Allen Distinguished Professor in the College of Education at the UMass - Amherst. He is the Executive Director of the Beyond Test Scores Project. Director of the Center for Education Policy. Co-Editor of the History of Education Quarterly, and Co-Host of the Have You Heard Podcast.Ethan Hutt is the Gary Stuck Faculty Scholar in Education and associate professor at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Education.Their 2023 book, Off the Mark: How Grades, Ratings, and Rankings Undermine Learning (but Don’t Have To), is a thorough, and at times frustratingly pragmatic, exploration of flawed necessity of the load bearing pillars of “real school” – grades, transcripts, and standardized tests – their origins in our nation’s history, the distorting effects they tend to have on the outcomes and goals of education, why nothing has arisen so far to replace them at scale, and why there are no magic potions: “No one is going to wake up one morning and realize that the answer was staring us in the face all along,” they remind us.Balancing the real with the ideal, they also chart a path toward the possibility for something different, and like the grand experiment of public schooling itself, it’s something we’ll have to figure out and build together.Off The MarkJack SchneiderEthan Hutt
  • 145. Rethinking Schools w/ Cierra Kaler-Jones

    28:30
    In this episode, we talk with Rethinking Schools first-ever Executive Director, Cierra Kaler-Jones, about the past, present, and future of Rethinking Schools, especially as we enter another potentially contentious year of educational culture wars for 2024, and her vision for how educators can demand power for those who need it the most within our school system. Links:Rethinking Schools
  • 144. Systemic Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) w/ Dr. Emma McMain

    46:18
    Today we are joined by Dr. Emma McMain. Emma works in the College of Education at Washington State University as a postdoctoral teacher and researcher, focusing on assessment for pre-service elementary teachers, cultural considerations in education, and social and emotional learning (SEL). Her work aims to promote social and ecological justice, seeing education as an important site of social transformation. Dr McMain's recent works include: Drawing the line: Teachers affectively and discursively question what counts as “appropriate behavior” in schools — which dissects the power dynamics of classrooms in determining what is “appropriate” behavior; and The “Problem Tree” of SEL: A Sociopolitical Literature Review — which contextualizes what social-emotional learning actually means in a classroom setting from a variety of perspectives and in history. Particularly, we wanted to reach out and talk more about the idea of SEL as systemic change versus SEL as an add-on, and why this matters as we think about racism, sexism, neoliberalism, and more, especially in the context of SEL in the ongoing culture war and attacks on schools.More about Dr Emma McMainDrawing the line: Teachers affectively and discursively question what counts as “appropriate behavior” in schools
  • 143. MINDFOOD V: Top 3 (Non-Ed) Spaces to Learn About Education

    41:41
    Reimagining education is no small feat, but there is hope on the horizon. MINDFOOD, easily digestible content for education. In this series, we'll do the random fun stuff: top 10 lists, current events, things we're thinking about. This is a casual format with limited editing and not as many intense conversations that occur in our mainline HRP interviews. Let us know what you think.Learn more about our free resources, podcast, writings, and more at https://www.humanrestorationproject.org/Human Restoration Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit centered on enabling human-centered schools through progressive pedagogy.
  • 142. Part 3 of 3: Pedagogy in the Hawai'ian Islands feat. Hanahau‘oli School

    01:17:41
    In this incredible final installment of his exploration of the pedagogy of the Hawaiian Islands, Noah Ranz-Lind talks to educators and students at Hanahau‘oli School, a progressive K-6 school in Honolulu. Hanahau‘oli School promises its students an "intimate and nurturing learning community supports connections between home and school and the world, respecting and celebrating the uniqueness of the Hanahau‘oli child while appreciating the interconnectedness that defines our learning ‘ohana. Grounded in tradition yet embracing of innovation, we perpetuate joyous work, committed to being a resource and symbol of learning’s potential." And you will hear ample evidence of the joyous work at hand in this episode! Links:Hanahau‘oli School
  • 141. More Teaching, Less Testing Act w/ Congressman Jamaal Bowman

    31:27
    Chris sits down with Congressman Jamaal Bowman! serving New York's 16th district since 2021. Bowman was a crisis management teacher in an elementary school in the Bronx, who eventually founded his own public school, the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a middle school in Eastchester. For years he maintained a blog on changing school policy and standardized testing, with a focus on being deeply involved in the opt-out movement to encourage families to not take the tests, as well as centering pedagogy on social emotional health and restorative justice.Congressman Bowman’s team reached out to Human Restoration Project to talk about the More Teaching, Less Testing Act (linked below). The policy lessens the number of tests given each year in schools, limiting the number of tests all students take and finding other ways to gather data, such as through a smaller but representative sample size. Please note that Human Restoration Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and that this interview is not an endorsement of Bowman or his electoral campaign.More Teaching, Less Testing Act: https://bowman.house.gov/_cache/files/8/9/89180377-ee4a-4906-b170-f4ee28d3602e/0D579FD78ABAA89748EA157D3F31CAB1.more-teaching-less-testing-act-bill-summary.pdfA video of this conversation in available on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/y9Aw4EsH_yc