The Roots of Unjust Education Policy with Sonya Douglass | The LP: EP 12

August 30, 2023

At UnboundEd, we pride ourselves on working to find justice in the details of teaching and learning. Instructional choices made in classrooms are included in those details, and it’s important to see how policy choices impact those choices in instruction. Policy choices take place at our local level, our state level, and our national level. Depending on the equity value of these choices, this multi-filtered choice system can lead to compounded success or failure for the students the systems, schools, and staff are supposed to serve. It helps to understand the background of the politics that inform the domino effect. Sonya Douglass, Janelle T. Scott, and Gary L. Anderson help us do that with their book The Politics of Education Policy in an Era of Inequality. Sonya Douglass and I discuss the book and its ability to reveal the mechanics behind the madness and the engineering that can occur so our kids can experience democratic schooling.

Key Takeaways

  • From the federal to the classroom level, everybody in the education system is a policy implementer and a policy maker (instructional choices are policy). We make and deliver them within our own circles of influence and control. Knowing this can set us up to create policies that counteract inequitable policies or amplify equitable policies.
  • Our education system is a house. Policy is the foundation and framing of this house, informing students’ instructional experiences. If a new house is needed, what belongs in the foundation? And how do we adjust the framing for the house to lend to grade-level, engaging, affirming, and meaningful instruction?
  • I’m also wrestling with the fact that values inform policy. Dr. Douglass offers us the following values:
    “Education is a civil and human right.”
    “Education is a social, cultural, and political process.”
    “Education is a calling and a valued profession.”
    “Education is a collective responsibility.”
    “Education is the practice of freedom.”
    What would our instructional and institutional policies look like if we embraced these values? Thanks to the work of folks like Dr. Douglass, we can imagine and expand
    opportunities to make these values a reality within our own circles of influence and