Late last week, several media news outlets, including the Chicago Tribune and NPR, reported on the impending retirement of University of Illinois at Chicago professor William Ayers. Most of the news snippets made note of his controversial past as co-founder of the Weather Underground or his connections with a pre-presidential Barack Obama. A few mentioned his dedication to education reform and academic contributions to UIC. None of the news reports, however, made mention of the fact that Professor Ayers was a contributor to not one, but two, journals published by the University of Illinois Press.

In the December 2008 issue of Radical Teacher, Prof. Ayers contributed a piece on the pedagogy of questioning to the “Forum on Radical Teaching Now,” the overall theme for the issue. According to Prof. Ayers, in order to liberate and humanize education, students and teachers must “remove that distorted, congenial mask of compliance. You must change.

And the 2009 inaugural issue of Packingtown Review, with its editorial office located at UIC, published Prof. Ayers’s “What I Might Have Said… ,” a commentary in which he recounts what would have been the focus of his talk at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on March 15, 2008, if the university had not rescinded their invitation due to university and public commentary and anonymous threats. In the piece, he suggests that we “try now to create open spaces in our schools and our various communities,” and later builds on that theme:

Here everyone will live in search of rather than in accordance with or in accommodation to. Here we will join one another and our democratic futures can be born.

Both contributions are available in print and online (click the links above). If you’re not able to get your hands on a copy of either Radical Teacher or Packingtown Review, subscribe now!

And best of luck to you in your retirement, Prof. Ayers. I imagine we’ve not heard the last from you.

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