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Classroom VOICES

Educator Voice Zoom: How racism and inequality affect our students; a conversation with Heather McGhee

May 8, 2023


Before becoming an author, Heather McGhee spent decades working in public policy. This work often led her to confront all the things Americans need but don’t have — things like universal well-funded education, healthcare and childcare — and she found herself wondering, “Why can’t we have nice things?” This question led her to look deeper into the race-based stories that Americans tell ourselves about who we are to one another and what human beings are worth.

On April 25th, a group of teachers joined McGhee to discuss her book, “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.” The conversation covered lots of ground, from the false “zero-sum” worldview of American prosperity to why it’s important to accurately teach the difficult parts of history and how teachers can support students interested in activism.

The event was part of NewsHour Classroom’s Educator Voice Zoom series and was attended by teachers and school staff from across the U.S. The series brings together educators to discuss important issues of the day and how they impact the classroom. 

As with all NewsHour Classroom Zoom sessions, the educator audience played an active role in the conversation. You can watch the full session here, or watch selected clips below.

Heather McGhee on her journey to writing “The Sum of Us”

Heather McGhee and Sari Beth Rosenberg on how students engage with “The Sum of Us”

Heather McGhee on how truthful history lessons impact young people

Jean Darnell and Heather McGhee on federal vs state rights and historical precedents for the current moment

Heather McGhee and Kathryn Vaughn on how teachers can support activist students

Eli Foster on student activism in Tennessee

Heather McGhee on boycotts and teach-ins

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