Tag Archives: L4

RIP Jaime Escalante, 1930–March 30 2010

Jaime Escalante was born in La Paz, Bolivia in 1930. Both of his parents were teachers who worked in a small Aymara Indian village called Achacachi. He became a teacher himself, and developed a widespread reputation for excellence during 12 years of teaching math and physics in Bolivia.

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Mr. Escalante’s many teaching awards include the Presidential Medal for Excellence in Education, the Andres Bello Prize from the Organization of American States and the Free Spirit Award from the Freedom Forum, a foundation affiliated with USA Today and dedicated to the preservation of the First Amendment. He was also inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 1999.

In the spring of 1998, Mr. Escalante announced his retirement from teaching.

Mr. Escalante passed away on Tuesday, March 30, 2010.

In 1974, Mr. Escalante was hired as a basic mathematics teacher at Garfield High School, a troubled inner-city school in East Los Angeles. His spectacular success teaching advanced mathematics to gang members and other students who had been considered "unteachable" attracted national attention. When his story was told in the acclaimed film "Stand and Deliver" (1988), Escalante became a national hero.
From 1974 until 1991, Mr. Escalante taught in the L.A. Unified School System. From 1991 until 1998, he taught algebra and calculus for the Sacramento Unified School District.
To reach more students, he became the host of the acclaimed PBS television series, "FUTURES". "FUTURES" introduces students to the exciting and astonishing variety of math and science-based careers. It became one of the most popular classroom programs in the history of PBS and has been honored with more than 50 awards from educational and professional organizations including the highest honor in the broadcasting field, the George Foster Peabody Award. He also appeared in two family specials for PBS, "Math…Who Needs It?!" and "Living and Working in Space: The Countdown Has Begun." Both have received multiple awards and continue to be popular among teachers, parents and students.
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EDU6989 Final Paper

Can be found here.

2010 Taxpayer Receipt


Some Final Items for EDU6133

Here are links to my Sample Lesson Plan Packet, and the Powerpoint for my Presentation in fulfillment of classroom requirements for EDU6133.

Showcase Lesson Packet (Lesson Justification, Lesson Plan, Unit Plan, Classroom and Student Characteristics)

Class Presentation (120 MB PowerPoint, has the movie in it)

A Reflection on Schlesinger, A.M. Jr. (1998) The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society. 3rd ed. Norton .

I read the whole book over the Christmas Holidays, so wanted to go a little slower in light of what we have been talking about in EDU 6133.

Foreword & Chapter 1:  A New Race?


Historically America has been exceptional.  In its founding principles, in its composition, and in its flaws, this country has walked its own path.  Schlesinger trumpets this with quotes from George Washington, Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Millard Fillmore, Teddy Roosevelt, W.E.B. DuBois, Woodrow Wilson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Gunnar Myrdal, Martin Luther King, F Scott Fitzgerald, to Mario Cuomo.  In fact, there is no shortage of reflectors or reflections, paeans and perspectives on the American Experiment.

This destination of countless million immigrants has survived thus far by forging from those alloyed masses, a single identity, i.e. that of the “American”.  The retrograde sentiment of reviving class and clan is seen as a positively backward step, and one that does not bode well for the Republic.


There is tremendous fodder here for politicians on left and right to propose and lament, diagnose and comment, what our course should be moving forward.  Where Schlesinger sees European heritage as a historical fact, and thus valid, he knows that folks across the aisle see that hegemony as the root of the evil that almost caused the fledgling Republic to be stillborn.  Schlesinger is mostly quiet on the duties of the existing status quo to right old wrongs or continue striving for equity in all forums and in all forms.


Personally I find the book eminently thought-provoking.  I believe in American exceptionalism.  I am proud to be an American.  I do not turn a blind eye to her faults.  I believe in progress and the ability to right old wrongs or prevent new ones.  I subscribe to the Myrdal’s “American Creed”.

The schools teach the principles of the  Creed, Myrdal said; the churches preach them; the courts hand down judgments in their terms.  Myrdal showed why the Creed held out hope even for those most brutally excluded by the white majority, the Creed acting as the spur forever goading white Americans to live up to their proclaimed principles, the Creed providing the legal structure that gives the wronged the means of fighting for their rights.  “America,” Myrdal said, “is continuously struggling for its soul.”



Schlesinger decries the new factionalism under the name of multiculturalism, asserting that diversity fanatics are taking us in the wrong direction.  From our class we have consistently defined diversity as race, ethnicity, spiritual practice, sexual orientation, gender, age, socio-economic status, physical abilities, political beliefs or other ideologies.  This book is only treating dangers he perceives in emphasizing the pluribus of race and ethnicity over the unum of the American experience.  Thus I don’t believe he is really countering multiculturalism in all its dimensions.  Nor do I think he would argue against acceptance and respect in those other dimensions.  That he would admit that fundamentally a system made up of individuals could be racist and need reforming is doubtful.  That he would approve of active means to correct wrongs done to individuals in any of those aspects of diversity is also doubtful.

Looking forward to re-reading the other chapters and Epilogue and commenting further.

Chapter 2: History the Weapon


In this chapter Schlesinger argues that those who write history have often interpreted that history for their own ends.  As examples he cites:  Russian, German, Japanese and Czech civilizations that have all suffered under the effects of history as weapon.  In this country, historically marginalized communities like the Irish, or the Catholics or the Jews have risen up and asserted their voices in history.  Most notable to Schlesinger in recent times are the African Studies scholars and proponents of Afrocentrism.  


Schlesinger writes that “the corruption of history by nationalism is instructive (p. 53).”  Nationalism is one “fever” sweeping the world, and also seems to infecting the US.  There are two types of history that are used to protect the ruling class, “top-dog history” also referred to as “exculpatory history” and “underdog history” which he also refers to as “compensatory history”.  The struggle between those is a main topic of the rest of this chapter.


I find this chapter non-controversial.  It was Winston Churchill that said “History is written by the victors.”  This saying has been played out over and over again in the course of human experience.  That te pendulum of historical reporting swings back from one side of the story to another side seems inevitable.  That Afrocentrism was a response to Eurocentric histories and an attempt to reverse their biases and remedy their shortcomings seems laudable.  I do not disagree that marginalized cultures need some sense of history and a means to mediate their claims and contributions. 


I believe the following quote sums up this chapter:

Salvation lies in breaking the white, Eurocentric, racist grip on the curriculum and providing education that responds to colored races, colored histories, colored ways of learning and behaving. Europe has reigned long enough; it is the source of most of the evil in the world anyway; and the time is overdue to honor the African contributions to civilization so purposefully suppressed in Eurocentric curricula. Children from nonwhite minorities, so long persuaded of their inferiority by the white hegemons, need the support and inspiration that identification with role models of the same color will give them. (p. 70)

Chapter 3: The Battle of the Schools





Chapter 4: The Decomposition of America





Chapter 5: E Pluribus Unum?





Epilogue: Multiculturalism, Monoculturalism, and the Bill of Rights:  Update on the Culture Wars





What I have Learned from Banks so Far

The biggest lesson I have learned from Banks so far is that there is really no down-side to being a culturally diverse teacher and striving to build a more multicultural education. Especially in math and science, there is an incredibly diverse body of contributors to past and current understanding in both fields. And yet, studies continue to indicate that race, gender, SES all contribute to a student’s prospects for success in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). By not seeking transformative multicultural education, I believe we are impoverishing these fields, that is, we are limiting the progress of ideas in these areas of knowledge by not questioning the cause of limited aspirations of historically marginalized groups. The key to changing this, according to Banks, is to work actively to transform education, to forge equity pedagogy in classrooms across America.

The transformation starts small with building a corps of teachers that value cultural competence, that practice regular and deep content integration in their daily lesson plans. These teachers will not be blind to the diversity in the classroom, but will engage it, and will celebrate it in each individual. They will work to reduce prejudice by interrogating their own assumptions, their students’ assumptions and the assumptions in their texts and sources. The transformation continues as more teachers revise their curricula, differentiating their instruction to recognize and celebrate the backgrounds of the students in their charge. These teachers will encourage others to do the same. They will assume their role as facilitators of knowledge construction to create environments where all students identify that their own implicit cultural assumptions, frames of reference and biases are real and yet they still have a role to play, a contribution to make to form a more just community, a more fair society and a more hospitable world. Finally, progress is assured if the entire school culture is transformed to empower students. We as teachers must strive to increase proportionality in student achievement; to end grouping and labeling practices; to foster healthy interaction of students across ethnic, racial and SES lines. It rests on teachers to start this process of transformation and to see it through.

I am convinced that it is only up-side benefit and positive potential to help inspire students from different race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, spiritual practices, political beliefs and other ideologies. By enfranchising these students, we build a stronger country, a stronger future.


Banks, J.A., & Banks, C. A. M. (2010) Multicultural Education Issues and Perspectives (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. p. 22.

Tuesday, January 28, 1986, 8:39am PST, +75 Seconds

We weren’t too far into that morning’s Calculus lesson in Mr. Robinson’s class at Olympia High School when the PA interrupted to report that the Challenger had exploded shortly after launch.  I can remember looking up at the industrial clock next to the speaker in that classroom in Building 3;  I was incredulous.  Our teacher being visibly shaken—as were we all.  That was 25 years ago tomorrow.  RIP Challenger crew. 

President Obama, State of the Union Address, 1/25/2011

Section entitled “Winning the Future: Education” begins at 22:22 on this recording here.

“Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success. But if we want to win the future – if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas – then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.

“Think about it. Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations.  America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us – as citizens, and as parents – are willing to do what’s necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.

“That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done.  We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; [applause] that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.

“Our schools share this responsibility. When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don’t meet this test. That’s why instead of just pouring money into a system that’s not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top.  To all fifty states, we said, “If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money.”

Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. These standards were developed, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country.  And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what’s best for our kids. [applause]

“You see, we know what’s possible for our children when reform isn’t just a top-down mandate, but the work of local teachers and principals; school boards and communities.

“Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver. Three years ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado; located on turf between two rival gangs. But last May, 97% of the seniors received their diploma. Most will be the first in their family to go to college. And after the first year of the school’s transformation, the principal who made it possible wiped away tears when a student said “Thank you, Mrs. Waters, for showing… that we are smart and we can make it.” [applause]  That’s what good schools can do.  And we want good schools all across the country.

“Let’s also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child’s success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as “nation builders.” Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect.  [applause]  We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones.  [applause]    And over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.  [applause]

“In fact, to every young person listening tonight who’s contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child – become a teacher. Your country needs you.  [applause]

“Of course, the education race doesn’t end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within reach of every American. [applause]  That’s why we’ve ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students.  [applause]   And this year, I ask Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit – worth $10,000 for four years of college.  [applause]

“Because people need to be able to train for new jobs and careers in today’s fast-changing economy, we are also revitalizing America’s community colleges. Last month, I saw the promise of these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina. Many of the students there used to work in the surrounding factories that have since left town. One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old.  And she told me she’s earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams too. As Kathy said, “I hope it tells them to never give up.”

“If we take these steps – if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they’re born until the last job they take – we will reach the goal I set two years ago: by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.  [applause]

“One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.

“Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.  [applause]   I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let’s agree to make that effort. And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.  [applause]


Retrieved January 25, 2011 from <http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/25/remarks-president-barack-obama-state-union-address>

Reflection: Political Correctness

A] What is important for us to recognize about being politically correct in our position as teacher?

After a brief survey of current and past usage of the term political correctness, I’m dismayed to see that there is little descriptive power left in the term. To be sure, there is polarizing power in the label, but it seems to be devoid of any of its original intent namely to denote

language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, religious belief, disability, and age-related contexts.  In current usage the term is primarily pejorative… (Wikipedia, 2011).

Most importantly a teacher today striving to be politically correct is inviting criticism.  I think that is warranted since this concept of “minimizing offense” is most curious and seems untenable for real teaching. Poole (1998) describes the positively stifling effect of such thinking.

I object to any form of political correctness–Left or Right–that attempts to limit deep and thoughtful examination of complex cultural issues. …Students become reticent at speaking out or taking positions on these issues for fear of alienating faculty or offending their colleagues.  (Poole, 1998)

In the interest of open discussion in the classroom, I would rather expose the closet white supremacist in the classroom who thinks Hitler was a dynamic leader, or the bigoted student who thinks it is "OK" to condone physical abuse of homosexuals, or the student who just naturally and uncritically assumes that boys are better than girls in school.  I would rather encounter those sentiments in open discussion, versus driving them further underground.  As long as the discussions were civil and conducted with respect, I would not try to censor them in an effort to be politically correct. 

That is not to say that I disagree that words have power, or that words belie potential action (Andrews, 1996).  On the contrary, it is out of respect for words, and recognition that words and concepts can change ,that I would allow discussion on potentially taboo subjects.  These discussions are uncomfortable, and as a white, privileged male, I cannot begin to grasp the breadth of sentiments deeply held, or their profound ugliness to certain segments of our diverse society.  However I would not wink at a euphemistic replacement for the offensive term.  My counterproposition to these beliefs would be the golden rule, that we fundamentally should treat others as we would like to be treated.  That equity combined with the power of free inquiry and free society will cause these ideas to fall flat under greater scrutiny. Muzzling them is not good for the classroom and not good for society.

Personally, I counter all hate speech with "love speech", namely the two greatest commandments. Jesus says: "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."

B] What are the negative aspects of being politically correct in our position as teacher?

As mentioned above, enforcing political correctness for ourselves as educators and students in the classroom tends to stifle dissent or differing opinion that could be instructional. In the realm of moral education Plantinga (1995) points out the inherent weakness of political correctness when it comes to values.

To be sure, the politically correct … are still willing to make moral judgments — but only of those who make moral judgments. They say things like this: “It is always wrong to make moral judgments (Midgely 1991).”

C] What is the difference between being politically correct and culturally sensitive?

Political correctness implies subscription to an orthodoxy, i.e. some agreement on what terms and concepts are most acceptable.  Political correctness can often come at the expense of plain or easily understandable speech.  In contrast, a person that is culturally sensitive is characterized by an openness and awareness of social, racial, ethnic and class issues.

According to Google labs, the term “culturally sensitive” is gaining more usage in print. While it has not supplanted the term politically correct from 1980-2008 it is occurring almost as frequently as “politically correct”, especially if “culturally sensitive” is combined with “culturally competent”.  See Exhibit A.


Exhibit A.
Google Labs Books Ngram Viewer (2011)



Andrews, E. (1996). Cultural sensitivity and political correctness: The linguistic problem of naming. American Speech, 71(4), 389. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Google Labs Books Ngram Viewer. (2011) “politically correct” versus “culturally competent” versus “culturally sensitive”.  Retrieved January 20, 2011 from http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=politically+correct%2Cculturally+sensitive%2Cculturally+competent&year_start=1980&year_end=2008&corpus=0&smoothing=1

Midgely, M. (1991).  Can’t we make moral judgements?  (p. x) New York:  St. Martin’s Press.

Plantinga, C. (1995). Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin. (pp. 100-101). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Poole, D. L. (1998, August). Politically Correct or Culturally Competent?. Health & Social Work. p. 163. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Wikipedia. (2011). Political correctness.   Retrieved January 18, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness

bPortfolio Presentation, a Short Video

I made the following video using Powerpoint and Microsoft Lync.  It is 6 minutes instead of the requested 5 minutes, and has some background noise, but it is a pretty cool proof-of-concept.

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