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We Must Say No to the Status Quo

We Must Say No to the Status Quo
Educators as Allies in the Battle for Social Justice

  • Veronica McDermott - Independent Contractor, National Urban Alliance for Effective Education

January 2017 | 264 pages | Corwin

It takes more than good intentions to make meaningful change

The “spirit slashing” of injustice: that’s what Veronica McDermott calls the psychic toll that marginalized students face every day. Students can be marginalized because of race, economic status, language, sexual orientation, ability, or other factors. So how can you make a difference? McDermott, a longtime educator, gives you the tools to become a powerful ally. You’ll learn how to:

  • Better understand the depth and breadth of injustice so you can pierce the fog of privilege and embrace ally-hood
  • Fill the gap between your desire to eliminate injustice and the attitudes and skills required to be effective
  • Leverage your natural strengths, including your disposition, educational training, and professional position
  • Challenge the structural barriers, practices and beliefs that diminish opportunities for many students

Working for social justice is a journey, and it’s one that you—and your students— can take together.

“Educators will find in this book a heart-felt, honest, uncompromising tour de force.”
—Yvette Jackson, Senior Scholar
National Urban Alliance for Effective Education

“This book illuminates a clear pathway for transforming our consciousness and our practice in the service of equity and social justice.”
—Gary Howard, Author of We Can’t Lead Where We Won’t Go

About the Author
1. What Is White Privilege?
2. Developing Social Justice Literacy
3. Privilege, Power, Politics and Schooling
4. Overcoming Avoidance, Guilt, Feelings of Inadequacy, and Misunderstanding
5. Acknowledging the Social and Psychological Toll of Continued Injustice
6. You Can’t ‘Un-see’ What You Have Seen
7. Embracing Dissonance
8. Tactics of Deception and Flawed Theories
9. Troubling the Dominant Narrative
10. Silence Is Not an Option
11. Change the Culture? Change the Conversation
12. The Importance of Allies
13. False Starts, Missteps and Minefields
14. Reflection, Resources, Resilience and Position
15. The Many Faces of Activism in Action
List of Activities and Figures

Reading this book brought me back to an oft forgotten section of Martin Luther King’s 1963 ‘I Have a Dream’ speech: ‘We have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.’ McDermott reignites this urgency in a powerful, passionate, and compelling way. We Must Say No to the Status Quo is a wake-up call for 21st century educators, a must read for all of us. It illuminates a clear pathway for transforming our consciousness and our practice in the service of equity and social justice.”

Gary R. Howard, Author of We Can’t Lead Where We Won’t Go

"We Must Say No to the Status Quo is a great resource for those who are working for social justice in our schools.  McDermott provides us with not only stories and encouragement, but a plethora of links, activities, and resources to move this important and essential work forward."

Jennifer Abrams, Educational Consultant and Author
Palo Alto, CA

"We Must Say No to the Status Quo is a sincere and authentic book with many very concrete examples for both beginning and experienced social justice educators, with excellent tools and resources offered."

Becki Cohn-Vargas, Author
Identity Safe Classrooms: Places to Belong and Learn

Veronica McDermott has gifted the field with an indispensable book for those educators, who earnestly want to defy the systematic intellectual and social marginalization of millions of students, including, but not limited to students of color, but who have felt ill-equipped to demonstrate their earnestness, paralyzed by their uncertainty or fearfulness of how to cross the racial and other divides (linguistic, religious, class, etc.) that pervade the United States and Canada. These educators will find in this book a heart-felt, honest, uncompromising tour de force; a path replete with the introspections, considerations and responses with which to buoy their resolve and fortify their confidence to be strategic, competent allies in the battle for social justice for our students of color - and all other marginalized students - waiting to excel!

Yvette Jackson, Ed.D, Senior Scholar
National Urban Alliance for Effective Education

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 3

Veronica McDermott

Veronica McDermott, Ph.D., is a retired school superintendent who continues to focus her efforts on school transformation, social justice, and equity. She is a frequent keynote speaker and workshop leader at national and international conferences devoted to issues of leadership and learning for equity and social justice. She is the author of many articles, chapters and opinion pieces, as well as co-author of two books designed to change the way educators think about, talk about and interact with our students who are not thriving. Dr. McDermott received her Ph.D. from New York University, a professional diploma from Long Island University,... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781506345345

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