About the Book

Words matter. The offhand remark to a student or parent about the community in which she lives; the way groups—based on race, “culture,” and income—are discussed in faculty meetings about test scores and data; the assumptions and communication breakdowns between counselors and teachers that cause kids to fall needlessly through the cracks; or the deflating comment to a young person about his college prospects: all these words have tremendous power. They are, in fact, actions that undermine efforts to maximize the potential and talent of all students, every day.


In this essential guide to bringing equity to schools, Everyday Antiracism editor Mica Pollock offers tools—common scenarios paired with useful exercises, concrete actions, and valuable resources—to help educators match their speech to their values. Everything that is—and isn’t—communicated to and about students has serious implications for their success. Schooltalk will empower those who work with young people to foster the equity that is necessary for our schools and communities to thrive.



“Reading Schooltalk is like sitting down for coffee and frank conversation with a trusted friend about what matters most in education. . . . This beautiful book will make a difference in how people consider what until now they may have thought of as simply innocent ‘talk.’”

—Sonia Nieto, professor emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

“Schooltalk shows how everyday communication is a powerful and necessary tool for equity for America’s students. Everyone involved in education, from paraprofessionals to teachers in the classroom to district leaders, should consider the lessons of this highly readable book.”

—Maureen B. Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center

“This is a brilliantly crafted text, sure to be a classic in education. We need this book now more than ever. It should be required reading in every teacher education program in the United States of America.”

—H. Richard Milner IV, author of Rac(e)ing to Class



Did anyone ever say anything about you in school that particularly supported your school success, or slowed you down? Try to remember one story.

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