Fighting Back Against Classroom Censorship
Subscribe to Lemonada Premium for Bonus Content
Gloria gets a lesson on the nationwide effort to censor classroom discussions on racism and inequality from Morgan Craven and Ben Hodge. First, Morgan, the director of Policy, Advocacy, and Community Engagement with the Intercultural Development Research Association, debunks some of the misinformation about what is being taught in our public schools. Then, Ben, a teacher at Central York High School in Pennsylvania, tells the story of what happened at his school when an all-white school board tried to ban over 300 books written by and about people of color. Plus, Morgan shares a shocking statistic on corporal punishment in schools.
This podcast is presented by Neighborhood Villages and brought to you with generous support from Imaginable Futures, Care For All Children by the David and Laura Merage Foundation, and Spring Point Partners.
Joining Lemonada Premium is a great way to support our show and get bonus content. Subscribe today at bit.ly/lemonadapremium.
Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this show and all Lemonada shows: http://lemonadamedia.com/sponsors/.
Check out these resources from today’s episode:
- Follow Ben on Twitter @benhodgestudios and on Instagram @bhstudios. You can follow Morgan on Twitter @MorganICraven.
- Learn more about Ben’s work with the Panther Anti-Racist Union: https://pantherantiracistunion.com.
- Check out this resource hub from the Intercultural Development Research Association with tools for teaching in a climate of classroom censorship: https://idraseen.org/hub/.
- And don’t miss IDRA’s Knowledge is Power, a national resource for educators and advocates working towards equity and excellence in the classroom: https://www.idra.org/services/knowledge-is-power/.
Laugh, cry, be outraged, and hear solutions! Join our community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nooneiscomingtosaveus.
Stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia.
For additional resources, information, and a transcript of the episode, visit lemonadamedia.com.
Gloria Riviera, Morgan Craven, Ben Hodge
Gloria Riviera 00:11
Hi guys, what’s good? You know what the leaves, the leaves on the trees are so gorgeous where I live in DC right now do you guys ever go outside and find yourself just looking up at the trees and the skyline? Okay, maybe not. But I do fall colors, right? I just took a walk this morning with my dog the best dog in the world. And those leaves brought me so much peace and tranquility and quiet. Here in DC the weather is not too cold, not too hot, it is just right. And in the midst of what can feel like madness, it calms me down and helps me keep going to see those leaps. We all need to keep going. And there is good reason there is good news to help us do just that. This is No One is Coming To Save Us. Lemonada Media original presented by and created with Neighborhood Villages. I am your host Gloria Riviera. So I am feeling particularly close to this community right now. We have covered a lot, a lot of the hard things, right. The hard things in this country, the child care crisis, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, just you know, to name a few and there are more. But I want to remind myself, and I want to remind everyone listening, that we are also sharing stories that uplift us. The abortion win in Kansas, the fact that New York City is the first city in this country to pass universal childcare. And today, I’m sharing another one of those stories. A big win at Central York high a public school in Pennsylvania, where the all-White school board tried to ban a list of books written by or about people of color. Books that included profiles of Rosa Parks, and I am Malala. Well, students peacefully protested against these book bands and guess what? They won those books, they will stay. We are going to talk about what happened at that high school and what is happening around the country with two incredible people. Morgan Craven and Ben Hodge. Ben is one of two faculty advisors to central York’s Panther, anti-racist union, and a 20 year veteran of the classroom. Ben was there with the students who led the effort to reverse the books at Central York High School. Morgan is the director of policy advocacy and community engagement with the inter cultural development research association. She is devoting her life to policy reform that affects school discipline and safety, among other things. These two had never met. But by the end of this conversation, Morgan and Ben were exchanging contact details, which is just too awesome. Because with luck, that will lead to more discussion, more ideas exchanged and more action, which is the entire point of this podcast. All right, here now is my conversation with Morgan and Ben.
Gloria Riviera 03:17
Well, Morgan, and Ben, thank you so much for joining us. This is so incredibly important. And I want to off the bat put this into context for our listeners who are focused on early education, right, as well as living in a post Roe America. Certainly, if we remove critical race theory, from our education system, we’re in a dire place. So I just want to invite our listeners to listen to this episode with an ear towards that what we are fighting for in early education will be incredibly important down the road and down the road right now. It’s a very, very tough place. So Morgan, I want to start with you. And this phrase that is problematic to say the least, the idea of an educational gag order. What is happening with school curricula right now across the country?
Morgan Craven 04:18
Well, first, I’ll say it’s important to say that a lot of young people and families and advocates have been working for a really long time on school curriculum issues. So there is indeed something that is happening right now. But I want to say just in terms of framing, this is a, you know, long term battle that’s been going on. And a lot of important movements have come certainly over history for young people, their families, their teachers to really push for a welcoming, inclusive what we call culturally sustaining curriculum in their schools, meaning that students see themselves when they go to school. They see their communities and their schools and what they’re learning, they feel like their identities and their identities of their communities are being honored and centered, and they’re not asked to check any of that at the door. And so I just want to, you know, uplift the efforts that have been going on in many communities for a long time to see that for their students in their schools, because we know how important that is for student’s academic success for how they connect to their educations for their ability to graduate, go on to college and careers, and live the lives that we want them to live in this world. So what is happening right now, though, you know, in the midst of those efforts is we have started to see these challenges to school curricula, that are based on a really intentional strategy to control the way that we talk and learn about race, about white supremacy about forms of systemic discrimination, and the connections between history and the President that is very observable to us and to young people, today. And so these policies that are challenging curricula, were framed as a challenge, as you said in your intro to the critical race theory, in K-12 schools. And so critical race theory is this framework that some scholars used to examine how race and racism impacted influence our laws and our policies and our other social systems. But in reality, what we have seen in these policies that are passing at state and local levels and are passing through state education agencies, is that there’s not really an honest examination of CRT or as a framework on the part of the people pushing these laws, because that’s not really what they care about. In fact, you call them educational gag orders. And I think that’s consistent with a lot of us advocates how we talk about these, we don’t say that they’re anti CRT, even though they’re originally frame that way by the people pushing them. We call them classroom censorship, or historical White washing your educational gag orders, because we know that the well-funded groups that are pushing these policies, intentionally selected critical race theory or CRT as sort of a rhetorical Boogeyman.
Morgan Craven 07:01
And it’s, there’s really no basis in what they’re doing through these policies as it relates to CRT. So they’re really using these policies to do a number of other things to advance a particular agenda that they have. So they’re using it to challenge really important initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion in communities and schools. So for example, I live here in Texas, and our law does that by prohibiting certain types of teacher training and preparation in schools. They’re using these policies to challenge texts and other curricula that touch on race and other forms of discrimination. And we see this in the book bands that are happening across the country, which are happening in states like mine here in Texas, which I think has banned the most books of any state in the country, even though the law that passed does not say that schools have to examine or ban any texts. But they’re using, you know, this law as a cover to do that. They’ve used it to limit opportunities for civic engagement for students. They’ve used it to change how we talk about current events, this whole give both sides of controversial issues is included in some of the laws. They’ve used it to launch attacks on student identity. And so we’ve really seen it as this umbrella approach to now, Mount attacks against LGBTQ plus students and communities. They’re using it to reframe basic civil rights protections that we have for students by saying, you know, if you teach this list of what they call divisive concepts, then actually you are making children of color victims and you’re blaming white children, and that’s against, you know, the state and federal constitutions and against civil rights protections. And of course, that is not at all accurate or what those laws are meant to, to protect. You know, it’s I think, and I think we’ll get into this, it’s about protecting an origin story, and whose story matters and which stories are told that protect power and structures of power, and making sure that other people’s perspectives other people’s important stories and experiences are not seen as a core part of who we are.
Gloria Riviera 09:09
Two things I want to say before I go to Ben, and I’m so excited to talk to you, Ben with your background in teaching acting. But more than what strikes me when you talk about two things. First of all, people have seen this coming. There is a modern day historical context that’s gotten us to where we are right now. And I want to hear more about that. What strikes me and listening to you is that this opposing side that opposes critical race theory being taught in schools, that they have been methodical and in how they go about this. This didn’t come out of anywhere, that they have elected leaders, I’m assuming in many positions who have the ability to pass what they want past so that a new structure or legal structure is set that enables a domino effect that’s incredibly negative. And that is not unlike the Roe vs. Wade battle that is not unlike many other battles it’s been building for a long time is if I understand you correctly, what you’re saying. So you want to give credence to that and recognize that?
Morgan Craven 10:13
Sure. I think that’s right. I think that there have been, I think this is the latest iteration of an effort to control all sorts of aspects of law and society based on beliefs of what that should look like. And again, based on belief of like, what is the story of this country? What is the story of who we are, and limit that in a way that allows certain things to be painted in, in a good light power to be retained, where it is. It’s why there have always been challenges on the part of people who want who, you know, communities of color, for example, who want to see, you know, their stories centered when we talk about, you know, school curricula. So this has been something that’s going on for a while. But to your point, there certainly was a lot of coordination around this so called anti CRT effort. And it’s really interesting, because what I find fascinating about it is that you can read exactly about how this happened by some of the people who were the architects of it, they’ll take credit for coming up, you know, going through the text and saying, What phrase should we use to like capture what we think is problematic. Let’s choose CRT people aren’t going to like it. It’ll be an easy Boogeyman. Because people don’t like the word critical. People don’t like the concept race. People don’t like things that are theoretical, it feels out of touch for them, let’s use this as a way to attack all of these things that we don’t like that we see building up, including diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice initiatives, protests against, you know, the way people are policed in this country, all of those things. So it was very intentional. And you can read about what the next steps in this effort are, which I think is really, really fascinating. And I’m sure that is a very controlled message. But it’s out there. And they’re pretty honest that this is the agenda. I will say, and I will always say this, while there is coordination on the side of folks that want to whitewash history, and control what we talk about in schools, there is also coordination among the people who don’t want that to happen. And I don’t think that is uplifted enough. There have always been young people and families who have been organizing who have been fighting back against these efforts who have been fighting for what they want to see in their schools. And so the credit I will never give is that, you know, they have out organized us because I don’t think that that is true, I think they have the opposition or the folks that are promoting these, these policies have solidified power in certain ways. They control how and who votes, they, you know, at least in the state that I live in, you know, have been elected to statewide office and no one else has for 25 years. And they will, you know, they’ve set up systems to continue that. And so I think they have power structures in place that allow them to pass laws and control policies, but on the organizing side on who wants this and who doesn’t want this side, I think like certain people are getting a lot of attention for being very loud. But there has been a really strong and significant community of young people and families and advocates and teachers who have been organizing to see that you know, to execute this vision of what we want for students in schools for a really long time.
Gloria Riviera 13:50
Ben, I want to get to you and I have to say first of all, thank you to both of you for what you do. Ben specifically, thank you to you. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be in a classroom, with students from all different backgrounds, who are very much aware that this is happening in their schools, and you’re teaching them how to be an actor, an actress, and how to harness their emotions, deliver them on stage. When did you become aware that this was a big negative for students in your classroom on your stage?
Ben Hodge 14:27
I think my journey to this with this situation started back in 2007. And our demographics started to change when I started to teach here in central in 2002. We were 85% White, and in our district and now we are currently at 6040 split with so our diversity and equity became to be started to grow. So Morgan is 100% correct that this is something that’s been going on for a very long time, even in our very suburban district here in Pennsylvania. And what happened in 2020, in our district was George Floyd was murdered. And the history lesson that we remember is that it was a racial reckoning across the country. And all we did was begin to start to create and make sure that the resources that we had been putting in place since 2007, were going to be updated with the current racial reckoning that we were facing. So for instance, more focus on anti-racism, more focus on really taking a hard look at auditing our materials. What kind of books are we reading? What about our textbooks? How are we offering? What’s the representation like in there? What are the stories that we’re telling in those things? In my class, personally, I was challenged, what are the monologues that I’m providing for my students? Are they white centric? Or am I amplifying other voices that are have been typically marginalized, and we worked hard on looking for updating those materials. Part of what happened was board members at our school district in 2020, heard about the resource gathering that we were doing as educators, that were going to be helpful for us out ourselves as personal educators, as well as parents, as well as when a student comes up to me and says, Mr. Hodge, I have a research paper on social justice, or I have a research on paper on the school to prison pipeline, we wanted that educators to help provide information and point our kids in the right direction, not tell them what to think. But to help them get the information that they need. That is my job as an educator, and I don’t think you’re going to find many educators say that that’s not their job is to help students find the answers that they need for a project or an issue.
Ben Hodge 16:52
And so people heard about this on the board, two of the individuals who were on the board at the time, and they didn’t like it, they started to get up in arms and started to say things that we’re hearing across from the other parts of the country in these book bands. Well, this is anti-police. Well, this is anti-American. Well, this is Marxist, you know, the drill. And it got to the point with this board that was pushing this anti CRT, all the things that Morgan were was just talking about this fear mongering narrative, this boogeyman narrative that we’re going to be White people are going to be replaced or made fit to feel bad in the literature. That’s what was going on. And they threw everything out with it. So all the way from Ibram X. Kendi’s books, to all the way to all our welcome type books, a Dr. Seuss book in Spanish. And I decided to create a […] anti-racist union, which is basically taking what we were doing in my acting classes, storytelling, and connecting and having hard conversations about every issue that you could possibly think about, and really give our students a place to gather and have some tough conversations about social justice, anti-racism, what stories are we telling, and then amplifying voices that hadn’t been amplified before. And that’s how we got involved in the pushback. And we protested, we organized community protests, we pushed back and said, reverse this ban. You know, eventually they reversed the ban after students started to gather in the mornings and protest with signs and meet before school and walk in in solidarity with each other in school and enough media attention got honest, that the community started to be aware and couldn’t believe what the school board was doing and pushing at that time. So I can’t stress enough the power and the nests necessity of letting students be at the forefront of this issue. And by the way, Pennsylvania is second on the list behind Texas, thanks to Central York school districts book ban. And we drew a line in the sand and saying like, listen, if you’re going to say all is all right, then we need to mean that if you’re going to give us the All Lives Matter thing. We’re going to say great yes. All means all, that includes Black Lives Matter until all lives matter. That’s what we’re talking about. We’re not saying that White lives don’t matter here in the district. We’re saying that right now. We need to be uplifting and not forgetting the 36% of our population in the Central York School District.
Gloria Riviera 19:42
Right. I mean, I think what’s so important about your story is that it’s a positive story of change, right? We don’t really see that in the headlines these days. What we see is this push, push this anti CRT push and what political winds big name candidates have had based on off of being anti CRT. Before I get back to Morgan, I just want to ask you, Ben, how was it affecting students? You sort of, we kind of skipped to the end and students are protesting. They’re saying this is not okay with us. But what were they saying? When did it come into your classroom? Oh, I can’t give you that monologue or I can’t give you that selection by The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Because, you know, it’s off the list. What was the reaction? And why was the mobilization as strong as it was do you think?
Ben Hodge 20:33
Well, first of all, I would say that I continue to use James Baldwin in my classroom, regardless, because I did it is the it was the right thing to do.
Gloria Riviera 20:44
Was there pushback?
Ben Hodge 20:45
Yes, there was definitely some soft censorship that was happening for about 10 months, people were looking over their shoulder, I was getting right to know, requests filed against me. And so the students this, how it affected the students, were they if you talk to them that they said that they could feel and sense that their teachers were walking on eggshells about certain issues, there was a teacher who wanted to teach about the Tulsa massacre. And, you know, they were wondering if they were going to get in trouble. Do you know, this was a social studies teacher who wanted to teach about a historical event, and they were questioning whether or not they were going to get in trouble or not. So that type of like, pressure, and everybody says that? Well, we’ll, these books weren’t really banned, you know, they were just, you know, we’re just controlling that it doesn’t have an effect, it really does affect teachers in the sense that it makes you think twice. During those 10 months, I had to think twice about, okay, I can make this James Baldwin, quote, work for what I need to do today. The good news is, though, and so I think what it affected the students is they found out about this through the media. And they found out about this through a news report. And once they heard about it, they were livid in the sense that they couldn’t believe that this was happening. And this was after six months of conversations with the same board through the Panther, anti-racist union, about things about the importance of adding cultural studies, or a black history class, which is something we’re working on this year, or the importance of listening and doing more diversity and cultural awareness issues amongst the young people and students and the board members would sit there, and they would nod their head and they would say, yeah, that’s sounds great. It was just all talk, as one of my students said, she said, she realized that, at that point, the time for talk needed to stop and we needed to act. And then that was it. They were just done with the talking and the lip service.
Gloria Riviera 22:51
I mean, you gotta give, give it up for what students are willing to take and what they’re not, right. There’s a certain point at which they are going to protest, they’re going to voice their opinion. So when we talk about more than when you’re talking about people who hold office now, they say, yeah, I think this is ridiculous. I don’t support it, but I can’t vote against it. Because if I do, the true believers will find a candidate who will vote the way they want them to, and I’ll be out of a job, I will lose my seat. Right? I mean, that to me is, I mean, that’s a life defining moment. What are you willing to stand up for? What are you willing to lose for what you believe in and these people are not able to do that? Is that how you see it?
Morgan Craven 23:38
I see it that way too. I acknowledge the reality of our political system, and that people act in this way in a number of spaces. I think it’s really disgusting to do it. And to compromise honestly when it comes down to it the safety of children in order to keep your job, I just have such, I do not respect that decision in any way shape or form even acknowledging that this is the way like you know, the political system that we have often works I think that what doesn’t work right, I think the results of this are just potentially so horrific for young people that I just think it’s unforgivable.
Gloria Riviera 24:48
I want to go back in the classroom and hear from Ben I know you’re I can see you’re going to add something here but I also as you do, I want to ask you how creating a culturally sustaining education How does that create a sense of safety for students? Because I feel like it was inherent in why students stood up to protest, right? They didn’t feel safe in their own classrooms, when material was denied to them. So can you talk about how you know what we can do and why it’s important to create safe spaces for kids in cars? I know it’s a very elemental question. I don’t yet have kids in high school. So I’m not as well versed as I wish I was. But I know in my heart, this is critically important.
Ben Hodge 25:34
Why is it important to for kids to see themselves in their literature and in the stories and also in their faculty and leadership? I think that we need to representation matters, in our media, in our books, in our staffing, in our curriculum, and in our leadership. Right, I think that’s extremely important. And just in Pennsylvania alone, let’s talk books for a second half of all children’s books, protagonists are White. And then to follow that up, if you’re talking about diversity in our leadership, in Pennsylvania, 6% of the educator population are people of color 6%, compared to 36%, of students of color, and it gets worse 50% of all public schools and 30% of all school districts employ zero teachers of color. It is extreme and it’s dangerous in the sense that with the research that we also know, because we know how vital it is, for a young person of color to see themselves in a position of leadership and an educator situation, where and more they will take if they have one teacher of color that they have. Teachers of color are more likely to recommend a student for AP classes, they are more likely to recommend them to continue with their education in the future and to work with them. So this is this is not to me, as an educator, I feel like those are crisis numbers. That’s why we protested, it’s on the back of our shirts that we were for the Panther, anti-racist union, that was the impetus, because this is morally and ethically wrong. And if I was going to lose my teaching job, I knew that I had conversations with my wife, Jen over the last two years. And we looked at each other. And she said to me, Ben, are you willing, this is something this is important. Are you willing to lose your job over this? Are we ready for this? And I looked at her I took a breath. And I said I am. And she goes, I’m with you. I’m with you.
Gloria Riviera 27:48
Well, I have to say thank you, Ben, for everything that you did. And we’ll do right and that you’re here and you’re in this fight. Morgan, I know your congressional testimony, you spoke at length about black students, LGBTQ students, students with disabilities being disproportionately subjected to exclusionary discipline, and pushed out of schools. And you also spoke about the federal government and corporal punishment. I mean, what is happening that you’re trying to stop at that level?
Morgan Craven 28:21
Yeah, and I think this is, you know, all these issues are so related, because they, you know, we’ve been talking about a lot about what safe and inclusive, inclusive and welcoming schools look like. And so, you know, it’s important to take a look at these other policies that, you know, in addition to curriculum instruction, do things that really prevent us from having those environments. And so one of the issues that we work on an IRA is school discipline and policing, and what that looks like. And we know, there are discipline in policing policies in schools across the country that work to punish students in really harsh and punitive and exclusionary ways. Through suspensions, expulsions, alternative school placements, and having school based police that use the tools that police have. Only they use them on young people so they can arrest young people, they can ticket them, they can use force here in Texas that looks like tasers and pepper spray and different types of holds in schools. And so this is a really, really harmful and dangerous environment for students. And I’ll emphasize that certain students interact with these systems way more and are targeted way more than their peers. So we know black students are more likely to be disciplined and policed in their schools. We know students with disabilities are more likely to be disciplined and policed in their schools. We know LGBTQ plus students are more likely to be disciplined and policed in their schools. And so we’re really trying to stop these harmful school discipline and policing strategies that are in no way connected to increased safety, even though that is a very common narrative. They don’t teach anything that is useful. They don’t address any underlying issues that a student might be experiencing. They just operate to, you know, deny students access to safe educational environments. And I’ll quickly say since you mentioned corporal punishment, it is a thing that it just drives me nuts. We have 19 states that have corporal punishment policies on the books. I live in one. Here in Texas, it is legal to spank paddle hit or slap a child in school. There’s nothing good that comes from slapping a child in schools. And we do it even though we don’t allow it, you know, to happen in so many other contexts. Adults can’t do this to each other. If you have a problem with somebody in the workplace, this is not how you resolve it. And so it’s just a really dangerous system that is targeting certain students, again, denying them access to education in a really discriminatory way. And it’s just all around bad for the, you know, safe and welcoming and inclusive and supportive school climates that we want for all students.
Gloria Riviera 30:53
It’s so much of what you have both said and that now we need to do another episode because I need I need to come back to you both. And I have so I have so much that I want to hear about from both of you. But I just want to end on first Ben and then Morgan. You know, Ben, when you told your partner Yeah, I’m willing to lose my job over this. What was behind that? Why do you care so deeply?
Ben Hodge 31:22
I would my short answer is it’s the right thing to do. As I was challenged with Layla Saad’s book, me and white supremacy, she challenged me and the readers, especially white folks to be a good ancestor. I’m not trying to save anybody, I’m not trying to I’m not trying to be a savior, I’m not trying to do anything, I just want to be a good human, and be a good person and do what’s right. This is an historical time that I’ve feel that we are in. This is not a new fight. It feels new. But this has been going on for over hundreds of years in this country. Right. And so it has morphed and evolved and changed. And I often wondered when I would sit in my social studies class, and I would go we would be we were taught about the Civil Rights Movement. And we were taught about the civil rights struggle in the 60s in the 50s. In the years before that. And I would always ask myself, as a white person, I always ask myself, where would I have been? In the 60s? I’ve asked myself that question. And I would have liked to have thought that I would have been marching with those out in the streets. But I think in reality, I also know that the way that I was raised in the culture that and the environment that I was brought up in, I don’t know if I would have been allowed to march there. And I there’s a very good chance that I could have been on the other side with the picket signs and protesting and spitting at the protesters, right? There’s a very good chance and I have to struggle with that. And I’m okay with that. But remember, this is what our people of color are brothers and sisters, they’ve lived this their whole lives. So we can’t let do your research. Don’t overwhelm them with questions, get out and read the books. There’s resources that Morgan’s talking about, do that research and turn and do what is right. To me as a spiritual person. That’s the right thing to do. We stand up for justice, we stand up for those who are oppressed, we stand up for those who are marginalized. And if we do that, then we can become a more perfect union. If that’s what this country is about. And Brad Meltzer said it this way, he is done. We got a chance to meet Brad Meltzer, author Brad Meltzer from Kretser, His books were banned from on their list. And he told us in a meeting that Ben he said to me, I’ll never forget it, Ben, don’t let them own patriotism. And don’t let them own patriotism, because what these students did, what Morgan is doing, what millions of people are doing across the country, in different pockets, standing up for all people, to have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is patriotism, and owning up to the fact that yes, we are not a perfect country. But it’s what we have right now. And progress is not something to be afraid of. I don’t understand why we’re afraid of progress. But you got to stick your neck out there, everybody, we’ve got to do this together.
Gloria Riviera 34:38
It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be the right thing. And Morgan, I want to know, you know, why do you care so much about this? Why would you not be anywhere else? I feel like if I were to ask you, you know, could you imagine doing anything else you would say no, this is where this is my passion. This is where I need to be. Where does that come from?
Morgan Craven 34:59
I guess I really give quite a bit of credit to my parents and my grandparents who very early on, like talk to us in ways that you showed us that education was an incredibly important part of life, tool, source of power. And so to me, I think I just have that history and was raised in that way. And one of my sort of professional interests is like studying the history of black education, education for black students, particularly in the south. And I just think that there are just incredible stories of black communities, other communities of color, drawing such power, from education, and from being involved in what education looks like. And I think that is really, really inspirational. And I’ll say, one thing that I think is important to note, like we can spend so much time talking about these challenges that we are seeing in public schools. But I think and this connects to Ben’s point about, you know, we need to, you know, what, we won’t give up the, you know, patriotism, but also our belief in public schools as a place for all children that needs to be strong. The reason that we are talking about this and fighting against challenges to that is because we want public schools to be places for all children, where they learn where they are supported, where they see themselves, where they, you know, get the power and the inspiration and knowledge to fight for what they believe this world in this country should look like. And so, as we point out these challenges in public schools, I never want that to be interpreted as we need to move on to something different. But as a like, we’ve got to protect this because this is a really, really important institution where the majority of children in this country will should and can learn so much about, you know, the place that they have in this world.
Gloria Riviera 36:55
Thank you for both being in this fight. Thank you for speaking to us on this issue. I think it’s going to really elevate our own listeners thought process on why our fight at the early education level is so important, because what we have ahead of us is all of this and school needs to be a safe place in all the ways. So thank you, Morgan. Thank you, Ben. Keep going. You keep up it was not easy. I know. But very informative. I hope I want to thank both Morgan and Ben for their work for their passion, and for showing up so fully to change a status quo. No one can live with. All right, you know what time it is. This is my favorite part of every episode. This is my chance, our chance to hear from the no one is coming to save us community. Here’s what you had to say this week.
Speaker 4 37:57
Hi, Gloria. This is Kelly from Iowa. I’m thinking of you today because I’ve hit a milestone. I’m just clicking send on my very last payment to our daycare provider that we’ve been with for eight years. We have two kids. They were both going for a couple years. And they’re in the middle. And our youngest has just started kindergarten. It’s really bittersweet. And I’m thinking about all the people who helped us get here. We loved our center. We loved it so much. And they helped us in so many ways. And we couldn’t have done it without them. And I’m just thinking of how desperately they’re needed. And how sad I am that the system didn’t change in those eight years. When we needed that support and that help and you know, maybe financially, who was expensive. It was about on average about $275 a week per kid. So those overlap years. Were really tough. But it was it was worth it. We’re lucky enough to be able to do it. I don’t know how we didn’t go into massive debt doing it. But we did it and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I just wish the teachers there knew how appreciated they were and how valuable they are. They were part of our family for so many years. And hoping for change for the next parents who need to start daycare and can’t afford it or they’re thinking can we even go to daycare? Can we afford it? Can we do we have to stay home instead as one of us have to quit jobs. I’m hoping for change. I’m hoping for support, even though we are out. We are done. So, as I hit send on this last payment, I’m hopeful for the future. Thank you for all that you do.
Gloria Riviera 40:23
This quote, they were part of our family for so many years. It’s just, it’s beautiful. That quote and her observation that nothing really changed in the center in the eight years, her family was there, about $275 per week per child. That is no joke. The question folks ask themselves, does one of us have to stay at home instead of paying for daycare? There are so many questions. I do hear hope in that memo. And that is what I am holding on to. And the idea that Kelly, you still care about that center. We need you to keep caring, that is momentum. And that will lead to action. If there is a peaceful protest, demanding higher pay for early educators in your community, I have a feeling that you’ll be there as you should be. I am glad you are hitting send on that last payment. It must feel so good. But it doesn’t have to be this way. And we together. That is what we are fighting to change. All right, it’s your turn. I want to hear from you. In light of the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. And the high cost and inaccessibility of child care in this country would you want or would you want someone you care about to become pregnant in the next year? Why or why not? To share your thoughts with me just pull out your phone record a voice memo and email it to me at Gloria@lemonadamedia.com It is that simple. All right. Thank you everyone. Thank you so much for listening this week. I love you all and I will see you back here next Thursday.
NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US is a Lemonada Media original presented by and created with Neighborhood Villages. The show is produced by Kryssy Pease and Alex McOwen. Veronica Rodriguez is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. Our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me Gloria Riviera. If you like the show, and you believe what we’re doing is important. Please help others find us by leaving us a rating and writing us a review. Do you have your own experiences and frustrations with the childcare system? Do you have ideas for what we could do to make it better? Join the No One Is Coming To Save Us Facebook group where we can continue the conversation together. You can also follow us and other Lemonada podcasts at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms. Thank you so much for listening. We will be back next week. Until then hang in there. You can do it.