Table of Contents

    Cover Story
  • Free When They Tried to Steal Our Classrooms

    Authored By Amy Lindahl

    Teachers learn that the district’s plan for a desperately needed school renovation is based on “100 percent utilization”— teachers will rotate through classrooms, losing the home bases students depend on. They organize to change the plan. 

  • Features
  • Free What Happened to Spanish?

    How high-stakes tests doomed biliteracy at my school

    Authored By Grace Cornell Gonzales

    A 3rd-grade bilingual teacher describes how administrators’ anxiety about standardized test results erodes both a school’s commitment to Spanish literacy and students’ love for learning.

  • Free ¿Qué le pasó al español?

    Cómo fue que las pruebas de alta exigencia condenaron a la educación bilingüe en mi escuela

    Authored By Grace Cornell Gonzales | Translated By Vanesa Ortiz Solís

    Una maestra bilingüe describe cómo la ansiedad que sienten los administradores escolares con respecto a los resultados de los exámenes estandarizados disminuye el compromiso de la escuela con el desarrollo de la lectoescritura en español y el amor de los estudiantes por el aprendizaje.

  • Passion Counts: The “I Love” Admissions Essay

    Authored By Linda Christensen

    Seniors write admissions essays based on something they feel passionate about, discovering at the same time that they are “college material.”

  • Space for Young Black Women: An Interview with Candice Valenzuela

    Authored By Jody Sokolower

    The story of the development, challenges, and successes of a support group for Black girls at an Oakland, California, high school.

  • Free Who's Stealing Our Jobs?

    NAFTA and xenophobia

    Authored By Tom McKenna

    As a way to deal with racial tensions between his Black and Latina/o students, a high school teacher examines the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

  • Free My So-Called Public School

    School foundations and the myth of funding equity

    Authored By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

    A teacher uses her own school to illustrate how school foundations perpetuate inequality within districts and states.

  • Free Lead Poisoning

    Bringing social justice to chemistry

    Authored By Karen Zaccor

    Building on the lead-poisoned water scandal in Flint, Michigan, a Chicago chemistry teacher helps her students explore lead poisoning in their own city.

  • Ebola: Teaching Science, Race, and the Media

    Authored By Alexa Schindel, Sara Tolbert

    Two teacher educators encourage their students to think about the impact of racial and colonial biases on media coverage of science issues—and on scientists.

  • Departments Free
  • Racism, Xenophobia, and the Election

  • Fighting to Teach Climate Justice

    Authored By the editors of Rethinking Schools
  • Education Action
  • Mexican Teachers Fight Corporate Reform

  • Resources
  • Our picks for books, videos, websites, and other social justice education resources.
  • Good Stuff
  • Saul Alinsky Lives!

    Authored By Matt Alexander

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Ebola: Teaching Science, Race, and the Media

Ebola: Teaching Science, Race, and the Media

Anne Kennedy, UNDP/Flickr Creative Commons

The Ebola Watch Committee in Bamala Commune in Macenta, Guinea.

Media plays a pivotal role in both informing and misinforming the public. What (and whose) stories are told, and how they are told, matter. In terms of science news, it is particularly important that students develop the ability to critically analyze the scientific content: Is it accurate? Is the guise of objectivity being used to present racism or other biases as scientific fact?

In 2014, the death toll from an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea soared. In the United States, news outlets reacted with racist and fear-mongering reports focused on potential outbreaks in the United States.

Our pre-service teachers reported that students at their field placements were asking lots of questions about Ebola: What is it? Is it coming here? Am I going to catch it? One preservice teacher observed a conversation in a high school science class. A student asked, “Don’t Africans eat bugs?” Her teacher replied, “They’re hunters and gatherers.”

These comments are all too common in schools and demonstrate how, even among scientists and science teachers, scientific topics can be polluted with ignorance and anti-African/ anti-Black attitudes that reproduce racist and colonialist norms, a process often referred to as “othering.”

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