2018 TSJ Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs)

January 17, 2018 0 comments

We are excited to announce the 2018 TSJ Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs). ItAGs gather educators, activists and others to study a topic and collectively create an action around that area of study, making it a true community of praxis. The topics and themes are always consistent with TSJ's principles of working toward education that is pro-justice, anti-racist, multicultural/multilingual, and grounded in the experiences of students and their communities.

List of ItAGs (alphabetical order)
  1. Countering Islamophobia in Classrooms and Schools
  2. No Cop Academy Curriculum Creation
  3. Students Generating Social Justice Themes Through Theater of the Oppressed
  4. The New CPS Reparations Won Curriculum as a Jumping Off Point for Critical Classrooms
  5. Unfolding lessons: Action and Inquiry on Honduras in a Moment of Crisis [NEW]
  6. Where Are They Now? Exploring the Decline of Black Teachers [FULL—please consider joining a different ItAG!]
  7. White Educators/Activists: Toward Anti-Racist Teaching-Learning-Organizing 
ItAGs are free and open to everyone with the interest to support, study, and take action on issues of education and social justice. You don’t have to be an “expert” to participate, as we recognize that expertise and knowledge are distributed among all participants. All voices are welcome in TSJ ItAGs, which we aim to be safe spaces, with respect for differences, but without room for toxicities—toxic masculinities, racisms, biases, and hatreds.

The ItAG cycle is a total of 8 meetings, with a kickoff and finale and six meetings in between.

Kickoff: Saturday, Jan 27, 5-7 PM, for all ItAG participants.
Six sessions, one/week, with the specific schedule for each individual ItAG to be determined by facilitator OR by facilitators and participants (see individual ItAG below for specifics)

Finale: Saturday, March 17, 5-7 PM, for all ItAG participants.

If you are interested, you will need to sign up here and specify which ItAG.

Title: Countering Islamophobia in Classrooms and Schools
Description: In the U.S., the fear of terrorism has been used to justify the racial and religious profiling of Muslims and people perceived to be Muslim. Since the 1970s, we've witnessed a steady rise in violent incidents and policies that intimidate, harm, and exclude Arab, Muslim, and immigrant communities. As critical educators for social justice, we have a responsibility to actively confront and dismantle Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism in our classrooms and schools.
Join our learning community of educators as we:
—Build understandings about the structural roots of anti-Muslim racism and how it affects our communities;
—Unpack the dominant myths and narratives around Muslims/Islam;
—Reframe Islamophobia as only individual acts of bigotry toward an analysis of state violence and systems of oppression;
—Strategize around meaningful ways to address anti-Muslim racism in classrooms and schools;
—Leave the ItAG with action steps and questions for further study;
—Develop skills to speak out against anti-Muslim racism; advocate for policies that respect the rights and dignity of Muslims; and oppose profiling, surveillance, and state violence against Muslim communities, inside and outside of schools.
Facilitator Bios: Mary Zerkel coordinator of American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) Communities Against Islamophobia Project and directs the Chicago Peacebuilding program, which works to challenge militarism and support the growth and well-being of communities. Mary is also an artist working in a variety of forms. Nicole Nguyen is a TSJ member and education professor at UIC. Her teaching, research, and organizing focus on the criminalization of youth in schools.  
Meeting times: Meeting dates TBD with group.
Number of participants: At least 5.

Title: No Cop Academy Curriculum Creation
Description: Last July, Rahm announced plans to build a $95 million police/fire training academy in West Garfield Park, near four schools that he plans to close. Chicago grassroots groups are organizing to demand schools and resources for kids, not cops. The purpose of this ITAG is to create a tool for school based educators, youth workers, organizers, and community organizations that will raise consciousness around the root causes and historical context of the No Cop Academy Campaign.
Facilitator Bio: Stacy Rene Erenberg is an activist, youth organizer, educator, and musician from Evanston, IL. She is rooted in a transformative justice, harm reduction, sex positive and trauma informed approach to social justice work. Currently she teaches history at Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School in Humboldt Park, where she uses popular education to teach students about historical movements of resistance and resilience. 
Meeting Times: Satudays, 2-4 PM, starting February 3, for six sessions.
Number of Participants: 8 maximum.

Title: Students Generating Social Justice Themes Through Theater of the Oppressed
Description: Each session will have multiple parts: discussing readings, doing warm ups and games, and collectively creating theater performances that will help organize young people and others to generate, analyze, and envision alternatives to oppression in our schools and communities. The sessions will use Boal's Theater of the Oppressed techniques, and we will study readings by Augusto Boal, Paulo Freire, and others. The focus will be on both practice and theory.
Facilitator Bio: José Morales has 22 years of youth leadership development, educational counseling, and alternative education teacher in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston. He has been a practitioner of Augusto Boal's Theater of the Oppressed since his high school years, and used these tools with workers and student movements during his union organizing in Puerto Rico and college activism.
Meeting Times: 10AM-12 Noon, on Saturdays, Feb. 3, 10, 17, 24; March 3, 10
Number of Participants: TBD

Title: The New CPS Reparations Won Curriculum as a Jumping Off Point for Critical Classrooms
Description: This school year, CPS middle and high school social studies teachers must teach the history of torture committed under the direction of disgraced Police Commander Jon Burge and the fight by survivors and allies for justice. The “Reparations Won” curriculum details the long fight for a reparations package for survivors, won in a 2015 Chicago city ordinance, including a mandate to teach students this history. This ItAG will help teachers and other participants consider what the implications of the curriculum are for their classrooms and advocacy work.
Facilitator Bios: Jen Johnson, CTU Education Issues Manager, former high school history teacher of ten years, worked with 6 CTU members to develop and implement PD for the curriculum. Lillian Kass, CTU member and teacher at Ogden International High School, is passionate about tackling racial justice issues in schools.
Meeting Times:  4-6pm, Wednesday, January 31st; Monday, February 12th; Wednesday; February 21st; Wednesday, February 28th; Monday, March 5th; Wednesday, March 14th
Number of Participants: 15 Maximum.

Title: Unfolding lessons: Action and Inquiry on Honduras in a Moment of Crisis [NEWLY ADDED!]
Description: This ITAG group will provide a short background to Honduras with relation to the U.S. and an inquiry and action-based discussion of recent history and current events from the 2009 coup through the present electoral fraud and wave of repression and resistance. We will also examine the parallel role played by Chicago and Honduras as laboratories for neoliberalism and the intersections, similarities, differences, as well as lessons to be learned from the resistance movements in both places, with a focus on indigenous, Afro-descendent, women and LGBT constituencies. The group will connect actively with current solidarity efforts as the situation continues to evolve. 
Facilitator Bios: Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle is a member of La Voz de los de Abajo and has been doing work in solidarity with Honduran social movements for almost two decades and was a friend of assassinated indigenous leader Berta Cáceres.  
Meeting times: Mondays at 7pm
Number of participants: 20

Title: Where Are They Now? Exploring the Decline of Black Teachers
Description: Since 2000, the percent of Black teachers in CPS has plummeted from 40% to 22%--even though over one third of CPS students are Black. We argue that Black teachers are being intentionally pushed out as one tactic in the overall assault on Black youth, and on the survival of Black teachers themselves, many of whom are Black women head of households. In this workshop, we will examine some mechanisms being utilized to facilitate this forced removal of Black educators, the results this has caused, and ways we can counter this attack.
Facilitator Bios: Dr. Aisha Wade-Bey, Dr. Monique Redeaux-Smith (more info forthcoming)
Meeting Times: TBD
Number of Participants: 20 maximum.

Title: White Educators/Activists: Toward Anti-Racist Teaching-Learning-Organizing
This ItAG is FULL—Please consider joining a different one!
Description: This ITAG will focus on the work of white people as anti-racist activists in schools, unions, and communities. White educators and activists have a special responsibility and opportunity to do anti-racist work with white teachers, parents, and students and in our union. This ITAG will focus on anti-racist praxis—study-action-reflection. We will do common readings and support and challenge each other in carrying out specific anti-racist work.
Facilitator Bios: Pauline Lipman and Rico Gutstein are both members of TSJ, teach at UIC, and are active parts of the education justice movement in Chicago. 
Meeting Times: Saturdays, specific times to be decided at the Kickoff with participants.
Number of Participants: 20 maximum.

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