David Edelman has been a Social Studies teacher and Peer Instructional Coach in NYC Public Schools for over a decade. David provides instructional coaching, mentoring and professional learning to colleagues, in addition to teaching Government & Economics classes. His classroom serves as a learning lab and demonstration classroom to foster inter and intra school collaboration. David teaches at Union Square Academy for Health Sciences (USA) a new, unscreened, public high school with a Career & Technical Education focus in NY, NY. Most of David’s students will be first in their family to attend college. Students at USA take hands on lab classes in either dentistry or pharmacy technology, in addition to receiving a standard liberal arts education. All students have paid internships and professional mentors who expose students to their careers. It was David’s service in AmeriCorps NCCC, a yearlong national service program similar to the domestic Peace Corps that solidified David’s desire to follow in his mother’s footsteps and become a public school teacher. David was invited by Representative Carolyn McCarthy in 2007 to testify before Congress to reauthorize AmeriCorps and advocate for the GIVES Act. These experiences helped foster his desire to center learning on student led activism and civic engagement. When David isn’t teaching, he’s probably having fun with his two daughters Mila and Sophia and his wife Dahlia in Forest Hills, Queens. You can learn more about David, his teaching and see examples of his students’ work at his website www.cagebustingclassrooms.com

Click here for David’s winning lesson plan: How has The Supreme Court interpreted The Bill of Rights as it applies to schools and students? 

 

Our Interview With David

Was this the first time you entered the contest?
Yes. This was the first year I entered

How did you hear about the contest?
The UFT newsletter!

What inspired your work?
This is one of my students favorite lessons and it exemplifies the attributes of the 4Rs of learning: Realness, Relevance, Rigor and Relationships

What did you learn while creating your entry?
For much of US history, freedom of speech was interpreted very narrowly as the government wouldn’t have the power to issue press permits. It didn’t invoke the almost universal lack of censorship as we know it today until around World War I after the questionable Supreme Court decision in of Debs v. United States. In the era of social media and distance learning, The Supreme Court now has their hands full in regards to reinterpreting what constitutes being in the educational sphere and when it comes to protecting Constitutional rights.

How do you plan to spread the word this year to your peers about the importance of the U.S Constitution?
I have been supporting my own students in developing projects. The constituting America contests illustrate a “cagebusting classroom,” thinking beyond the four walls of the classroom for meaningful, deep learning with real world implications like…having your song or speech shared on TV or radio across the country!

How do your friends respond to history or talking about the Constitution?
My brother is a law professor. My mom is a retired teacher. Most colleagues and my close friends are quite interested in politics and government, so not surprisingly they ask me a lot of constitutional questions. I am equally involved in adult learning.

What do you love about U.S. History and the forming of our government?
The Constitution of the United States is both the world’s oldest active codified constitution and the world’s shortest. The implications of this for our country are fascinating.


Which U.S. historical site would you like to visit?
I would like to hear oral arguments at in US Supreme Court.


Which American historical figure is most influential/inspirational to you?

Based upon a recent podcast I listened to, Oliver Wendell Holmes. Our say-almost-anything approach to free speech is actually relatively recent, and you can trace it back to one guy, The Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Although he made questionable judicial decisions, he loved to challenge his own thinking and I find it inspirational that he was able to make logic U-turns on the Constitution in an era of echo chamber partisanship. “The best test of truth, is the competition in the market of ideas.”


Who is your greatest role model?

My mother. She helped guide me to become the educator I am today.

What in your life are you most passionate about?
Teaching and learning. Plus Freedom of speech, press and expression.

How do you spend your free time?
I listen to a lot of podcasts. I am really into learning about tea, street art, identifying wild edible plants, but most of my time these days involve my two daughters and changing diapers.


What are your plans for the future?

To continue to elevate student voice and student led activism. I’ve visited the contiguous 48 states. Maybe I can drive to Alaska and sail to Hawaii?

If you could do one super impactful thing to help people, what would it be?
Help educators and students reach their full potential, become more civically engaged and ensure learning is fun!

Why is the Constitution relevant today?
Equipping citizens with a deeper understanding of the Constitution, as well as the Supreme Court decisions, will help raise the level of political debate to a standard worthy of the promise and ideals mentioned in the Preamble. It would also offer significant protection against the manipulation of the public by politicians and news outlets.

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