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Rick Ayers
Rick Ayers is an Assistant Professor in Teacher Education at the University of San Francisco. He received his PhD in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education. He has his Masters in Education from Mills College and taught at Berkeley High School from 1995 to 2006. He has worked as a Master Teacher for KQED Education Department, on the Teacher Advisory Board for Youth Speaks, and as a core team member of the Berkeley High School Diversity Project. He received the Berkeley Community Award, Berkeley Community Fund (2004), the Distinguished Educator of the Year Award, Occidental College (2004), and the Distinguished Adviser Award, Journalism Education Association (2000).

Rick is author of An Empty Seat in Class: Teaching and Learning after the Death of a Student (2014, Teachers College Press), co-author (with Bill Ayers) of Teaching the Taboo: Courage and Imagination in the Classroom
(2010, Teachers College Press) and of the book Zero Tolerance: Resisting the drive for punishment, A handbook for parents, students, educators and citizens (2001, New Press). He is co-author (with Amy Crawford) of Great Books for High School Kids: A Teacher’s Guide to Books That Can Change Teens’ Lives (2004, Beacon Press), author of Studs Terkel’s Working, a Teaching Guide (2000, New Press) and co-creator (with students) of the Berkeley High Slang Dictionary (self published 2000, North Atlantic Book published, 2003.)

He is co-editor of a special education edition of Monthly Review, “Education under fire: The US corporate attack on students, teachers, and schools.” (Summer, 2011). He is the author of numerous articles including “Both Sides of the Mic: Community Literacies in the Age of Hip Hop” in The Handbook of Research on Teaching Literacy through the Communicative and Visual Arts, “Critical Discomfort and Deep Engagement Needed for Transformation” (2014) in Democracy and Education.

Rick grew up in Chicago and is married to Ilene Abrams (College Advisor at Oakland’s Envision Academy) and has three children, Aisha, Sonia, and Max, and three grandchildren, Eliel, Mavis, and Ada.

Entries by Rick Ayers

Power and Privilege in Oral History Interviews and Projects

(1) Comments | Posted December 4, 2014 | 8:34 AM

A Worthy Project

Recently, a group of students from a progressive private school on the north side of Cleveland undertook to understand the history of the school's immediate neighborhood. The commercial district had transformed in the way typical of modern cities: the old hardware store where you could pick up...

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Football in America -- How We (Don't) Talk About Race

(9) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 1:27 PM

The football scandals have not played out. They may just be heating up. What fascinates and dismays me is the way we talk about race in America through sports chatter. We are a society that is deathly afraid of having race conversations seriously and straight-up so we suppress and filter...

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12 Ways Teaching Is Like Baseball

(3) Comments | Posted June 30, 2014 | 3:41 PM

1. Everyone has seen baseball, even played it, and thinks they could probably do pretty well on the field. In reality, it is incredibly hard. While many people have some ideas about teaching and opinions about teachers, they really have no idea how difficult it is.

2. In...

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Iraq: The Narratives of Intervention

(6) Comments | Posted June 24, 2014 | 7:22 AM

The battles in Iraq should be heartbreaking and infuriating to all Americans. Heartbreaking because it did not have to be this way. Infuriating because we have to know, in our heart of hearts, that this is a U.S.-created disaster.

It is hard to listen to National Public Radio intoning on...

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On War, Desertion and Duty

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2014 | 2:42 AM

There is not much to add to the media frenzy that has accompanied the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five prisoners at Guantanamo. The right, predictably, is trying to make political hay out of the anti-war sentiments of Bergdahl. Reflecting on the history of American military...

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Oral History Puts a Human Face on Global Economy

(0) Comments | Posted June 2, 2014 | 1:23 PM

A review of: Invisible Hands: Voices From the Global Economy
Compiled and edited by Corinne Goria
Voice of Witness, McSweeny's Books, 2014

This new and completely engrossing book of oral history testimonials by workers in factories and fields all over the world is a welcome addition to the...

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Siegel's The Trials of Muhammad Ali Is Simply Brilliant

(3) Comments | Posted October 24, 2013 | 10:24 AM

What, another movie about Muhammad Ali? There are so many. The Will Smith biopic Ali, the documentary on the Foreman fight in Zaire When We Were Kings, the other documentary Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World, even this month's HBO release Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight directed by Stephen...

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College Board leader fails SAT test

(7) Comments | Posted September 27, 2013 | 5:14 PM

The latest pronouncement from the College Board, that private corporation that makes millions devising standardized tests, reveals that its vice president for higher education, James Montoya would definitely fail the statistics section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).

Montoya declared on NPR that, for the third year...

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Hannah Arendt: More Relevant Than Ever

(1) Comments | Posted August 2, 2013 | 6:11 PM

We can just say from the beginning that Margarethe von Trotta's new film Hannah Arendt isn't for everyone. It's a film of ideas, of philosophical debates, something not so easy to put on the screen. It is slow, European slow. But for all of that, it is not an ivory...

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Doctor for America to Debut This Fall

(9) Comments | Posted July 10, 2013 | 4:21 PM

In a new and dramatic initiative, education wunderkind Wendy Kopp has launched her new initiative, Doctor for America. DFA will recruit graduating college seniors to staff our most needy hospitals.

"These people in the poorest communities in America have scandalous health care. The statistics show that...

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American Education Research Association Meeting in San Francisco -- a Site of Contention and Hope

(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2013 | 4:53 PM

The annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) is a little bit of everything. After all, there are 18,000 researchers for the meeting in San Francisco this week -- graduate students, professors, and private foundations -- coming together to share and reflect on the research on schooling today....

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'We Made A Lot of Mistakes But We Were Right' -- Robert Redford Explores Radical Questions From the 60s and Today

(5) Comments | Posted April 16, 2013 | 4:50 PM

It has finally happened. We knew it was coming. With the release of Robert Redford's film adaptation of Neil Gordon's book The Company You Keep, the Weather Underground has achieved the status of a cultural trope. Starting with Sam Green and Bill Seigel's documentary, following Bill Ayers' eight months as...

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Twisted Rhetoric on the Anniversary of the Iraq War

(8) Comments | Posted March 18, 2013 | 11:10 PM

National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation program attempted on Monday to address the tenth anniversary of the launching of the disastrous war in Iraq. It was their typical line-up of white males, from this guy from the Naval Academy to that guy from West Point to another guy from...

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War Strategies of the Blind

(1) Comments | Posted January 29, 2013 | 4:12 PM

The New York Times has run two reviews on the front page of the Sunday Book section, purporting to explore the contradictions inherent in the U.S. military strategy. But both of the books reviewed, Fred Kaplan's The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way...

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"Maybe the Press Failed Then": An Interview With Ken Burns and Raymond Santana

(1) Comments | Posted November 29, 2012 | 12:18 PM

Directed by classic American filmmaker Ken Burns as well as his daughter Sarah Burns and David McMahon, the documentary The Central Park Five is an incredible document -- exposé, really -- of justice denied. Most Americans are familiar, because it is burned into our collective memory, the case of the...

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Artists and Activists Take to Social Media Airwaves to Counter Super PAC Ads

(1) Comments | Posted October 25, 2012 | 7:55 PM

While the billionaire donators are giving a boost to the media company bottom-line with massive advertising for their boy Mitt Romney, the number of progressive homemade ads, usually costing nothing or next to nothing, has exploded in this election year. These candidates don't buy media time and they don't test...

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Talkin' That Talk

(3) Comments | Posted October 9, 2012 | 6:56 PM

Ginia Bellafante's article in Sunday's New York Times is wrong in so many ways it takes an educator some time to even begin to address it. Her thesis, one that is old and worn out, is that poor children are behind in the education race because they are...

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The Real Face of Health Care Today

(1) Comments | Posted October 1, 2012 | 6:40 PM

The Waiting Room is a punch to the gut, an unblinking gaze at the real lives of people cast off and left out of the medical system in the U.S. Shot in cinema verité style, the film takes place entirely in the emergency room at Oakland's Highland...

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Education Struggles Aflame Across the Hemisphere

(1) Comments | Posted September 25, 2012 | 8:39 PM

The attacks on public education seem sharp and relentless these past few years. In higher education, this has particularly taken the form of state legislatures strangling education budgets, private corporations using universities as sponsors for their research projects, and tuition rising to ridiculous levels. There have been protests across the...

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Clashes in California's Fields

(0) Comments | Posted September 18, 2012 | 3:14 PM

Before I was a teacher I worked for 12 years in a restaurant kitchen as a cook/chef. I always found it odd to read newspaper accounts of restaurants that were all about the romance, the aesthetic, the unrestrained consumerism of the public eating. No one had a sense of the...

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