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2023 Action Dialogue
Challenging the Attacks on Educators and Education

Examining the Moral Injuries and Oppressive Impacts of High-Stakes Tests
Dialogue on Alternatives and Actions Wednesday, February 8th, 7:30-9 pm EST. 

The use of high-stakes standardized tests is one of the greatest education malpractice issues of our time. Beyond malpractice, these tests are a main technique in efforts to privatize public education. Join this Action Dialogue to learn more. More important, join the call to action and commit to organizing in your community to end the testing regime and build educationally powerful alternatives and culturally sustaining, full service community schools that matter!

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Discussing Demoralization vs. Burnout: What Educators, Activists & Our Unions Can Do Thursday, January 26th.

Given the chaos of the pandemic, the nationwide attacks on curriculum and Critical Race Theory, and the resultant moral injury, it can easily be said that educators across the country are living through the most challenging years of their careers. In this webinar, our panelists will address the issue of demoralization, a state that is born out of educators’ ongoing value conflicts with pedagogical policies, reform mandates, and school practices. Doris Santoro (Professor, Bowdoin College) will share her research on demoralization and how this experience has been altered and intensified by the pandemic. Julia Hazel will address how these intersecting issues impact educators of color, and she will share the work she has done as Director of BIPOC Leadership and Career Advancement at Portland (ME) Public Schools. Olga Acosta Price, Associate Professor and Director of The Center for Health & Healthcare in Schools at George Washington University, will discuss how comprehensive school behavioral health systems that leverage local school-family-community partnerships are essential for helping to create wellness within our schooling communities. This panel provides not only examples from their own collaborations on educator and school wellness, but they will also share recommendations and promising strategies for how school leaders, union leaders, teacher groups, and individual practitioners can enact and support one another in the process of “re-moralization.” 


USOS offers this webinar in collaboration with the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Citizens for Public Schools, & the American Federation of Teachers-MA.

Moral Injury and Professional Solidarity Thursday, October 25th

There has been a recent flurry of media reports about the national teacher shortage, but this problem is far more complex and longstanding than most reports explain. In our next USOS webinar series – Challenging the Latest Attacks on Education & Educators – we address the harsh and not-so-frequently publicized realities that exhaust our educators and force these most vital human resources out of the profession and from our public schools. The problems of moral injury, burnout, demoralization, and deprofessionalization – all of which are tied tightly to structural inequality and power – are among the themes we explore in this series. And, as always, we have asked a range of activists to share what we can do to challenge the misinformation and this latest series of attacks against our public schools. 

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, attacks on curriculum and Critical Race Theory, and book banning, teachers across the U.S. are still recovering from several of the most challenging years of their teaching career. Brianne Kramer, Clint Broadbent, and Denisha Jones’ study initially sought to identify rates of stress, burnout, and mental health amongst the teaching population, but they quickly uncovered much more. Our teachers are morally injured, and it has not simply stemmed from the pandemic and recent attacks on the profession. Moral injury is defined as a distressing psychological event that can occur when someone does something that violates their beliefs and goes against their moral expectations, creating feelings of guilt, shame, disgust, and anger (Shay, 2014). This concept has been more commonly used to discuss members of the armed forces and medical personnel. However, educational reforms and loss of autonomy have resulted in moral injury prior to the pandemic, and the uncertainties, constraints, and further loss of autonomy during and after the pandemic have increased these feelings of moral injury in teachers. Kramer, Broadbent, & Jones share the results of their research utilizing this definitional framework. Then, Cynthia McDermott and Jose A. Lovo share their story about The Progressive Teacher Network: a meeting place for practitioners to raise the level of discourse about the profession and provide support for each other. Through this network, they aim to change the messaging about teaching and teachers and to find kindred spirits with whom to share, question, rant, laugh, cry, and advance the network of progressive teachers.

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