Willingness to Engage

Can’t say enough about Dylan Marron and his podcast Conversations with People Who Hate Me. His strategy of holding space for people who have published racist and homophobic things about him is evidence that there is incredible power in having these conversations, if only we are willing to engage.

NYTimes has an interview in today’s magazine section. Although given an unfortunate title, it’s worth reading and hopefully inspires a visit to his podcast.

 

 

Have we moved away from the “public” in public education?

I am a staunch supporter of equal access to high quality education for all students. That being said, as I work with schools around the United States, I am gravely concerned that we’ve departed from the notion of free and appropriate public education for all students by tinkering with the system to such an extent that it is now designed to provide advantages to a few while leaving many wanting. The reality is that all schools must consider themselves as market competitors, regardless of where their funding comes from.

For more on this notion, see Nikole Hannah-Jones excellent piece in the NY Times:

We began moving away from the “public” in public education a long time ago. In fact, treating public schools like a business these days is largely a matter of fact in many places. Parents have pushed for school-choice policies that encourage shopping for public schools that they hope will give their children an advantage and for the expansion of charter schools that are run by private organizations with public funds. Large numbers of public schools have selective admissions policies that keep most kids out. And parents pay top dollar to buy into neighborhoods zoned to “good” public schools that can be as exclusive as private ones. The glaring reality is, whether we are talking about schools or other institutions, it seems as if we have forgotten what “public” really means …

Even when they fail, the guiding values of public institutions, of the public good, are equality and justice. The guiding value of the free market is profit

Democracy works only if those who have the money or the power to opt out of public things choose instead to opt in for the common good. It’s called a social contract, and we’ve seen what happens in cities where the social contract is broken: White residents vote against tax hikes to fund schools where they don’t send their children, parks go untended and libraries shutter because affluent people feel no obligation to help pay for things they don’t need.

If there is hope for a renewal of our belief in public institutions and a common good, it may reside in the public schools. Nine of 10 children attend one, a rate of participation that few, if any, other public bodies can claim, and schools, as segregated as many are, remain one of the few institutions where Americans of different classes and races mix …

Why are Teachers Leaving?

“Welcome to the U.S. teaching force, where the “I’m outta here” rate is an estimated 8 percent a year — twice that of high-performing countries like Finland or Singapore. And that 8 percent is a lot higher than other professions.

The teaching force is “a leaky bucket, losing hundreds of thousands of teachers each year — the majority of them before retirement age,” says a recent report from the Learning Policy Institute.

…overall, teachers and researchers say, educators want a bigger voice in school policies and plans. Many feel left out of key discussions.”

Sounds a lot like we need to make sure there are leadership opportunities for teachers other than becoming administrators. Read the nprEd article here.

ECET2 – Saturday Sept 24!

ECET2 = Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers. It was born out of a desire to provide a forum for exceptional teachers to learn from one another and to celebrate the teaching profession. The convening experience is designed to inform and inspire colleagues, develop attendees’ leadership potential, and hone their craft.

The ECET2NJPA 2016 theme is: The Strength is in the Room. The focus is on using the combined power of each invitee to collectively strengthen individual pedagogy, knowledge, relationships, and trust. Every person in each classroom working together makes the entire population better. When educators share openly, vulnerably, in a trusting environment, where the focus is on supporting the profession as a whole, students and their families prosper.