An Unstandardized Take on Education 



Transforming Struggling Schools – AOTA Season 2 Episode 5

In the wealthiest nation on earth, why do we STILL have schools in crisis? We begin this episode with a review of recent education news about ADHD diagnoses, a big financial aid boost in CA, and a BIG geography fail in DC. We’re then joined by three heavyweights in the field of education from the Partnership for L.A. Schools for an honest conversation about why school transformation is so difficult.

Students voice their dress code concerns – AOTA Season 2 Episode 4

Schools are quick to implement and enforce dress codes, but how do these policies impact students’ experiences at school? We begin this episode with a review of recent education news before sending it over to a school library for a revealing talk with students about how dress codes impact their schooling.

A reassessment of education today.

Education is too often relegated to the most remote corners of our news media. All of the Above is a unique place for both non-educators and educators alike to examine critical issues in education in an interactive and unstandardized way.

Recent Videos

School Choice as a Driver of Segregation – All of the Above Season 2 Episode 3

After a review of recent education news, we take a deep dive into the controversy surrounding school choice. With American schools more segregated than they were before Brown v. Board, are school choice measures addressing inequity or are they making segregation worse?

Revisiting how teachers frame “success” – Season 2 Episode 2

We begin this episode with a review of recent education headlines about teacher wages, grade inflation, and defrauded student loan borrowers. We then take a deep dive into the hidden dangers of setting high expectations devoid of authentic love and understanding.

An All of the Above Short: What were they thinking?

This Halloween a group of teachers in Idaho dressed up as Trump's border wall, complete with “Make America Great Again” scrawled across it and the Statue of Liberty standing behind it. Another group of teachers then dressed up as "Mexicans" with sombreros, ponchos, maracas, and fake mustaches.


A Stanford report shows that ICE partnerships with local police departments hurt attendance rates, a new study details the rise in teen smartphone use, and a school excludes a transgender student from their lockdown drill.


We guarantee that every educator has a strong opinion about standards and assessments! Whether you love them or hate them, join us as we examine the never-ending standards debate. Jeff brings in a copy of the common core state standards to launch this episode’s Show & Tell.


After a look at recent headlines in our Warm Up, guest contributor Mimi Dao reflects on the importance of teachers revisiting their practice and ensuring that they are meeting the individual needs of their current students. Tremale Berger joins our Seminar for a discussion about supporting the needs of students in foster care, and Manuel closes with an Assessment of teacher turnover and attrition.

Full Episode 6 – Keeping our Schools Safe

We begin with a look at recent headlines in education and then we bring guest contributor Nadia Elhawary on set for an analysis of white supremacy in school curriculum. Our Seminar tackles the issue of school safety with guests Mauro Bautista, an accomplished high school principal, and Julija Zubac, a champion of restorative communities. Jeffrey closes out the episode with his Assessment of the inequities within the summer loss.


We have our first guest contributor for Show and Tell! Nadia Elhawary, a dynamic educator with experience in teaching and in counseling, brings in a portfolio she created in 3rd grade to show us how her schooling maintained a white-washed view of history that reinforces white supremacy. Nadia reflects on her need to unlearn and actively dismantle the dominant narrative that marginalizes the histories of people of color.


Jeffrey takes a critical look at the phenomenon known as “summer loss.” While many are familiar with the notion of students heading out for summer break and then returning in the Fall having forgotten some of what they learned the previous year, not enough discussion has been had on how this loss varies by income level.


Manuel brings in a graduation cap and reflects on the major transitions that our schools face as the 2017-2018 school year comes to a close. When the Class of 2018 reunites at future class reunions, what will our schools look like? Debates over arming teachers, implementing school choice, and redefining what an “American” is threaten to radically change our schools as we know them.

Full Episode 4 - Technology in the Classroom

In Episode 4 we take on recent developments in education, from the role of modern technology in our classrooms to the emergence of performance tasks as measures of college readiness. For the Seminar we are joined by a technologist, a university instructor, and a classroom teacher to discuss the big questions that arise from the rapid growth of technology in the classroom.


Jeffrey brings in a copy of the late, great, Lerone Bennett Jr.’s book Before the Mayflower and examines the widespread ignorance we have about the full scope of our nation’s history.  Americans are shockingly uninformed and misinformed about history and our government. Our school system - particularly our suburban and rural schools - plays a big role.

FULL EPISODE 3 - Examining College Access

In episode three we take on recent developments in American schooling--including preparation for school shootings, the debate around college access, and the importance of the arts in our schools. The episode begins with a look at recent headlines, including DeVos' recent comments about prior education policies. Our panel discussion examines whether our "college for all" emphasis is the right move for public education. 

AOTA SHORT - Teachers and Second Jobs

Teacher by day, dental assistant by night? Sounds crazy, and it is. About one in six teachers in America holds down a second job in order to make ends meet. Considering the combination of increased housing costs and stagnant salaries, is this becoming the new normal?


Manuel examines the shockingly low number of students that have had access to a meaningful arts education in public schools. One of the many casualties of the NCLB era, arts education has many positive impacts on children and on society. The piecemeal approach we’re taking to provide basic arts education is admirable given budgetary constraints, but not enough to meet the needs of our students.

FULL EPISODE 2 – Race, Culture, and American Schooling

In the second full episode of All of the Above we explore recent developments in American schooling, from the diversifying student population to the shortage of teachers and more.  For our seminar segment, we bring on a celebrated Ethnic Studies teacher and an award-winning university professor of Black Studies & History to discuss the dynamics of race and culture in the modern American classroom.


For this week's panel discussion we are joined by Roxana Dueñas and Dr. Terence Keel for a discussion about race, culture, and American schooling. Roxana Dueñas is a stellar teacher who helped pioneer Ethnic Studies courses at her school site. Dr. Keel is an award-winning professor of Black Studies and History whose new book, Divine Variations, explores the intersections of race, science, and Christianity.


Jeffrey Garrett shares his concerns regarding the limited amount of time that we allot to teachers to reflect on their practice, collaborate, and hone their craft on a daily basis.

Klan Kristmas Karols?

A teacher in New Hampshire is under fire for having his students write Christmas carols themed after post-Civil War America. A video posted online shows his class singing a song glorifying the KKK to the tune of “Jingle Bells.” We react.


We cap the end of season one with a discussion about the never-ending debate over dress codes and school uniforms. We also bring on a special guest for our “Show and Tell” to discuss the problematic narratives around attending junior college. Season finale! Remember to subscribe on YouTube so you don’t miss out on Season 2!

EPISODE 8 EXTRA: ONE-ON-ONE WITH ELANA EISEN-MARKOWITZ - Jeff sits with Elana “E.M.” Eisen-Markowitz to learn more about her work in the fight for educational justice. E.M. serves as a restorative justice coordinator and high school teacher in New York City and she recently co-wrote a chapter in the book Lift Us Up, Don't Push Us Out! by Beacon Press.


This episode we’re joined by Tremale Berger for a discussion about how teachers and schools can better support the needs of students who are in foster care. Tremale serves as a Board Member for United Friends of the Children, an organization dedicated to supporting foster youth in the Los Angeles area.


Mimi Dao, a dope high school English, Puente, and ELD teacher, brings in a bonsai plant to illustrate the careful attention that is required to meet the individual needs of different learners. She reminds us that like plants, students each have personal needs that may not be addressed by outdated curriculum, traditional pedagogy, or the latest tech toys. Teachers must continue to reflect on their practice.


Manuel celebrates his 15th year in the classroom and examines the various challenges that make this a difficult milestone for many teachers to reach. Our nation’s high teacher attrition rate, which disproportionately affects teachers of color and teachers who work in schools serving high percentages of students of color, continues to plague high-needs schools.

Full Episode 5 - A Look Back

We take on the latest developments in American schooling, from school desegregation plans in NYC to the connection between Starbucks’ implicit bias training and our own classrooms. We then celebrate the six-month anniversary of the show by taking a look back at some key highlights of previous episodes. Jeffrey closes out with his Assessment of the the vital role played by our schools’ unsung heroes.


We’re joined by restorative practices guru Julija Zubac and accomplished high school principal Mauro Bautista for a discussion about how to ensure school safety in the wake of incidents of mass violence. What is the best way for us to ensure safety at our schools while simultaneously working to avoid turning our schools into prisons?


Jeffrey revisits the tragic killing of Philando Castile, whose death not only sent shockwaves through the nation but through the school lunchrooms where he helped feed the children of St. Paul, MN. Jeffrey sends a special shout out to the cafeteria workers, bus drivers, school nurses, and countless other unsung heroes who make sure our students and schools are set up for success day in and day out.


Teacher Evelyn Ennis, teacher education instructor Jeff Share, and technologist Santhosh Balasubramanian join us for a discussion about the rapid growth of technology in schools. Electronic devices and blended learning platforms now occupy a significant amount of the instructional experience of students. Are we on the precipice of a great new era of public education, or on the edge of disaster?


Manuel reflects on a recent chance encounter with a former student at a concert in Hollywood. After a flurry of negative headlines regarding teacher interactions with students, Manuel reminds educators of the importance of being a positive connection for students trying to connect the dots in this disconnected world.


We’re joined by two trailblazers for a discussion about the movement towards college for all. Rachel is a Senior Director of School Transformation who manages high school principals and oversees her organization’s college going culture initiative. Mo Hyman is the co-founder of College Access Plan, a non profit college access program that serves 1,500 students from middle school through college.


Jeffrey takes aim at the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” and examines its potential impact on public schools. The law, which transfers over $1.5 trillion of wealth from the people to the super wealthy, will place downward pressure on schools. From direct budget cuts to federal funding, to the ripple effect that cuts to programs will have on students’ home lives, there are many implications for our schools that have gone unaddressed in the media.

AOTA Short - The Low Prestige of Teaching

Everyone respects teachers, right? With declining numbers of people entering the profession in recent years, is our disregard for teaching the cause of teacher shortages across the country? Are low pay and low prestige chasing away the next generation of American teachers?


Dr. Rustin discusses a recent report showing that more than a quarter of the nations’ educators don’t support DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The fact that there are educators who don’t want this program to exist for our law-abiding students who’ve spent nearly their entire lives in America is both unsettling and unacceptable.

AOTA Short: Is the quest for perfect grades harming our students?

In this All of the Above short we take a look at a recent story concerning the negative effects of striving for perfect grades. Are students harmed by the pursuit of perfect grades?

AOTA Short: Test Scores Up, Student Happiness Down

In this All of the Above short we discuss a recent study that appears to show a correlation between raising test scores and declining student happiness. The study suggests that teachers who are skilled at improving test scores are likely to have less-happy, less-engaged students.

RECAP: Teaching in today's political climate

Roughly 1/3 of teachers are Trump supporters. As we head towards the finish line of year one of Trump's presidency, here's a little recap of four educators discussing politics in the classroom.


Politics in the Classroom - EP. 1

In this age of intense political debate and division, to what extent should a teacher's own political views be visible in the classroom? Two guests - one a teacher educator and another a student teacher - join us on set to discuss.