STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This week, State of Opportunity presents an hour-long documentary on race, culture, and kids in Michigan. What’s the problem and why does it matter?Jennifer Guerra goes into some of our state's high schools and finds them to be more segregated than one would think possible in the 21st century. She speaks with teachers and students about how race today shapes their experiences in the classroom and using restorative justice techniques to reduce conflicts. And we hear what students think about growing up in, what some claim, is a "post-racial" society. What are you hearing about race from the kids in your home, in your classroom, and in your neighborhood? Help them share their stories with us. And come chat with us on Facebook when the documentary airs Thursday, May 2nd.

Here are some resources to help you talk to your kids about race

Jennifer Guerra
Michigan Radio

Teaching is a political act. That's what Grand Valley State University professor AmyMasko believes. 

"What we choose to talk about in schools and what we choose to avoid or not talk about sends a message about power," says Masko, an associate professor of English education who specializes in race, poverty and schooling.

Masko sent me an email a couple weeks ago after I put out a call on this blog asking teachers and parents to tell us their experiences about talking with their students and children about race. Masko teaches future teachers, and she says talking about race is her students' top concern. She says "they worry about opening a can of worms that they can’t handle." But she says it's crucial that teachers talk about and help students wrestle with these Big Topics, because if teachers just leave it up to kids to figure it out on their own without any adult guidance, "there's going to be further stereotypes, further myths created."

Masko is the first to admit that talking about race is NOT EASY. So I asked her to share some resources -- books and websites, mostly -- to help other teachers and even parents figure out how best to tackle the topic. 

These websites provide lesson plans and articles for teachers 

These organizations offer trainings

A few book recommendations

  • We Can't Teach What We Don't Know, by Gary Howard
  • Raising Race Questions: Whiteness and Inquiry in Education, Ali Michaels
  • Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race, Beverly Daniel Tatum

Masko is on twitter (@AmyMasko), where she often tweets about race, poverty and schooling. You can also read excerpts from some of her own research on race and education here, here and here.

Do you have other resources you think would be helpful? If so, please share them in the comments section below.

Jennifer is a reporter with Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and worked as a producer for WFUV in the Bronx.
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