The rise and influence of teachers unions

Hartney-interest groupsDespite being all but nonexistent until the 1960s, teachers unions are maintaining members, assets—and political influence while other American labor organizations struggle for survival and relevance in the 21st century. In the new book, How Policies Make Interest Groups: Governments, Unions, and American Education (University of Chicago Press, 2022), Boston College Associate Professor of Political Science Michael Hartney details how state and local governments adopted a new system of labor relations that subsidized—and in turn, strengthened—the power of teachers unions as interest groups in American politics. In doing so, governments created a force in American politics: an entrenched, subsidized machine for membership recruitment, political fundraising, and electoral mobilization efforts that have informed elections and policymaking ever since. Backed by original quantitative research from across the American educational landscape, Hartney shows how American education policymaking and labor relations have combined to create some of the very voter blocs to which it currently answers.

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The descendant

santiago_moonlitFourteen-year-old Taína just learned that she is a descendant of a long line of strong Taíno women, but will knowing this help her bring peace and justice to her family and community? This question is at the heart of a new young adult novel written by Elizabeth Santiago, a faculty member in Boston College’s Woods College of Advancing Studies. Taína Perez, The Moonlit Vine’s protagonist, has a lot to juggle. There’s constant trouble at school and in her neighborhood, her older brother was kicked out of the house, and with her mom at work, she’s left alone to care for her little brother and aging grandmother. But life takes a turn when her abuela tells her she is a direct descendant of Anacaona, the beloved Taíno leader, warrior, and poet, who was murdered by the Spanish in 1503. Abuela also gives Taína an amulet and a zemi and says that it’s time for her to step into her power like the women who came before her. Kirkus Review calls The Moonlit Vine (Lee & Low Books, 2023) “Deeply moving, beautifully written, and inspiring.”

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Women in revolutionary America

Beatty_women revolutionWomen’s rights and agency during the era of the American Revolution were restricted by laws and social custom. Yet, according to In Dependence: Women and the Patriarchal State in Revolutionary America (New York University Press, 2023)—a new book from Boston College graduate Jacqueline Beatty—women exploited these confines, transforming constraints into vehicles of empowerment. From the publisher: Through a close reading of thousands of legislative, judicial, and institutional pleas across 70 years of history in three urban centers, Beatty illustrates the ways in which women asserted their status as dependents, demanding the protections owed to them as the assumed subordinates of men. In so doing, they claimed various forms of aid and assistance, won divorce suits, and defended themselves and their female friends in the face of patriarchal assumptions about their powerlessness. Ultimately, women in the revolutionary era were able to advocate for themselves and express a relative degree of power not in spite of their dependent status, but because of it. Unsurprisingly, says Beatty, the success of these methods was contingent on women’s race, class, and socioeconomic status, and the degree to which their language and behavior conformed to assumptions of Anglo-American femininity. Beatty, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Boston College in 2010, is an assistant professor of history at York College of Pennsylvania.

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How to write a travel memoir

schedneck+travelIf you ever wanted to write a travel memoir or capture a few stories from your vacations, Boston College graduate Jillian Schedneck has written a guide book to help you accomplish your goal. Write Your Travel Memoir: A Step-by-Step Guide was released earlier this year and offers tips on how to begin and end your story as well as how to introduce your quest and weave in backstory. Schedneck graduated from BC with a bachelor’s degree in English in 2002. She holds a master of fine arts in creative writing from West Virginia University, where she taught Composition and Rhetoric courses to undergraduates. Her own memoir, Abu Dhabi Days, Dubai Nights, is based on her experiences living and teaching university students in the United Arab Emirates.

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A social justice schema for educators

scanlan_Navigating social justice

BC Lynch School of Education and Human Development Associate Professor Martin Scanlan has written a book that provides educators and school leaders in both the private and public sectors a highly accessible and easily adaptable framework that can help them help create more equitable schools. In Navigating Social Justice (Harvard University Press, 2023), Scanlan distills wisdom gleaned from the experiences of a variety of educational professionals as well as from his own decades of work in equity-focused partnership with elementary schools. According to the publisher: “Scanlan’s schema brings together five dimensions—inclusivity, communities of practice, critical formation, social ecosystems, and practical wisdom—that work together holistically to eradicate inequitable practices and policies and promote robust teaching and inclusive learning. For each dimension, the book features real-life vignettes that focus the conversation, exercises that encourage reflection, and suggested opportunities for the application of its central ideas. The practical guidance offered in this book not only will enable educational institutions to best meet the needs of families and community members but will also help leaders cultivate the moral and intellectual judgment needed to address social justice issues in schools.”

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‘Kantika’ by Elizabeth Graver

Graver_KantikaKantika, the latest novel by Boston College Professor of English Elizabeth Graver, is a multi-generational saga of one family’s displacement across four different countries. Kantika is a genre-defying mix of personal family history and fiction, drawn from interviews Graver conducted years ago with her grandmother. The novel follows the joys and losses of Rebecca Cohen, who comes from an elite Sephardic Jewish family of early 20th-century Istanbul. The establishment of the Turkish republic and subsequent loss of the Cohens’ fortune compels them to relocate to Spain, drastically changing the life she had expected to lead. Rebecca endures a failed marriage while working as a seamstress, concealing her ethno-religious identity in a country that had expelled Jews four centuries ago and is still hostile to them. Her odyssey takes her to Cuba for an arranged second marriage, then to New York City, where she undertakes the challenge of raising—and empowering—her disabled stepdaughter. Kantika is replete with elements of the various landscapes, cultures, and languages Rebecca encounters and processes over the years as she contemplates her personal and familial identity, and how much of it will be passed along to future generations. Read more in BC News.

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‘To Carry Wonder’

parker-carry wonderBoston College graduate Emese Parker is author of To Carry Wonder: A Memoir and Guide to Adventures in Pregnancy and Beyond, a new type of pregnancy book that aims to nurture, inspire, and equip mothers-to-be and postpartum mothers. Drawing from her own personal and clinical experiences with pregnancy, Parker authentically presents pregnancy through a curated blend of stories and evidence-based information. Topics covered include mental health and body image, nutrition and activity, health care rights and providers, relaxation and sleep, labor or Cesarean birth prep, and connecting with and feeding your baby, among many others. Parker graduated from the Connell School of Nursing with a master’s degree in 2008. She is a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner, certified perinatal mental health specialist, and mom. Part of the proceeds from the sales of To Carry Wonder will go to International Justice Mission, a global nonprofit working to combat slavery and violence against women and children.

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Fantastical Blackness in Genre Fictions

Frederickson_Evidence of thingsRhonda Frederick, an associate professor of English and African and African Diaspora studies at BC, has written a literature-based interdisciplinary study of blackness in the Americas. Evidence of Things Not Seen: Fantastical Blackness in Genre Fictions (Rutgers University Press, 2022) interprets blackness in fantasy, thriller, science fiction, mystery, erotic romance, and police procedural fictions written by African Diaspora writers. From the publisher: “The ‘fantastical’ in fantastical blackness is conceived by an unrestrained imagination because it lives, despite every attempt at annihilation; this blackness also amazes because it refuses the limits of anti-blackness. Ultimately, the imaginable possibilities in these popular genres offer strategies through which readers can ask different questions of and for blackness. When black writers center this expressive quality, they make fantastical blackness available to a broad audience that then uses its imaginable vocabularies to reshape extra-literary realities. Ultimately, popular genres’ imaginable truths offer strategies through which the made up can be made real.” Frederick is also the author of “Colón Man a Come”: Mythographies of Panamá Canal Migration.

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Poetry collections from BC Law student

bioku_we ponderbillie-untetheredBillie Bioku, who will graduate this month from Boston College Law School, has published two books of poetry. We Ponder: Unsettled Minds (Archway Publishing, 2023), Bioku’s debut poetry collection, is a reflection of classic poetry with abstract concepts that touches on subjects such as love, spirituality/religion, heartbreak, mental illness, and more. “I want readers to know that they are not alone in the experiences they go through, and that I hope this book helps them to become more vulnerable with themselves and others,” said Bioku. Her second collection, Untethered Grounds (Archway Publishing, 2023), focuses on elemental properties, society, self, and humanity.

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How Königsberg Became Kaliningrad

Eaton_German bloodGerman Blood, Slavic Soil (Cornell University Press, 2023), a new book by Boston College Associate Professor of History Nicole Eaton, reveals how Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, 20th-century Europe’s two most violent revolutionary regimes, transformed a single city and the people who lived there. From the publisher: Eaton “details an intricate timeline, first describing how Königsberg, a 700-year-old German port city on the Baltic Sea and lifelong home of Immanuel Kant, became infamous in the 1930s as the easternmost bastion of Hitler’s Third Reich and the launching point for the Nazis’ genocidal war in the East. She then describes how, after being destroyed by bombing and siege warfare in 1945, Königsberg became Kaliningrad, the westernmost city of Stalin’s Soviet Union. Königsberg/Kaliningrad is the only city to have been ruled by both Hitler and Stalin as their own—in both wartime occupation and as integral territory of the two regimes.”

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