Ask your friends to define democratic education, and you'll get a few different responses, but we can tell you this much is for sure - Democracy in Education is Not a Spectator Sport.
Will you jump in the game, and give $35 dollars to IDEA's No Spectators campaign today?
We know you're busy, and a lot of folks want your money and time. We're asking you to move forward with IDEA anyway, because it's important.
Donate to IDEA's No Spectators campaign at www.crowdrise.com/IDEA2013
Many of you may have seen the news from the EdLib Network last week. For those not familiar, the Education for Liberation Network (EdLib) provides resources, energy, and online and offline support for educators, youth and other activists working for justice and liberatory education.
Among their many powerful projects are Planning to Change the World - the social justice plan book for teachers created in partnership with NYCoRE; their online EdLib Lab of curricula, articles, and other resources; and especially the Free Minds, Free People national conference held every other year that brings together activists to help build movement towards education as a tool for liberation.
Much of that exists thanks to the tireless work of EdLib's founding director, Tara Mack. After seven years of leadership, Tara is relocating with her family to London. We wanted to take a moment to celebrate Tara and the deep impact she and EdLib has had over the years in moving our shared work forward. EdLib will be engaging in a transition of leadership starting summer 2014.
Here is a bit from the announcement EdLib shared out last week:
Dear EdLib Friends & Allies,
It is with much sadness but also with much pride that we announce the departure of our founding Director, Tara Mack.
Under Tara’s visionary leadership, the network has grown into a national center for liberatory education work, providing much needed support for activists who aim to transform the educational environment of marginalized students and for educators who are dedicated to fostering independent thinking and leadership development among their students.
After seven years of dedication and service, Tara is relocating with her family to London this coming summer (2014). As many of you know, Tara’s husband, Gary Younge, is an author and journalist who works for The Guardian, a British newspaper.
Here's a link to the full text of the announcement. And please join us in sending a big shout out to...
In any movement, concerned citizens must come together at certain intervals to share and ignite passion for the cause. In this case, the cause is far from tangential. It is something that affects all of us. Our students deserve better and, by extension, our entire society. The Day of Action is a time to recommit to improving our educational system on a ground-level, grassroot way. Attached is yesterday's call to action. There is an action step that everyone, individuallly and collectively, can do and pick up on this day and carry on through the days that follow. Make it count, and let us know how you're reclaiming the promise of public education.
Over the last year, community groups and teachers unions have taken unprecedented steps to forge an alliance to work together to reclaim the promise of public education as our nation’s gateway to democracy and racial and economic justice. The National Day of Action on Dec. 9 is our next step. Teachers, parents, students and communities have been facing unprecedented attacks on their public schools, jobs and civil rights. These attacks raise fundamental questions: Will public education continue as a truly public institution that aspires to provide all students with an equal opportunity to learn? Will the labor movement survive as a strong voice for economic justice? Teachers unions and community groups organizing for educational justice are uniquely situated to help lead the fight for the future direction of our country. But neither the union nor the community can win the battle alone. The promise lies in uniting as genuine partners to develop and organize around a shared vision for improving our schools and creating a more equitable society. The National Day of Action builds upon the alliances that have been established over the last few years among union, community, youth and parent groups on a range of educational and social justice campaigns. Examples of joint work include:
Recently, IDEA's Executive Director Scott Nine had the honor of being interviewed for the Lead the Change Series, which features prominent leaders of the educational change field from all over the world. The series is put together by the Educational Change Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the nation's major educational research organization founded in 1916.
In the interview, Scott shares his insights and current thoughts on democratic education, public education, and the role of educational research, along with a vision of where we can go together.
Here's a snippet:
For at least the last 30 years educational and non-profit organizations have been consistently asked to distinguish themselves from each other to avoid duplication. So what we have is thousands of actors who feel the need to defend their work and are in the habit of seeing their work as the most important. And so even when the opportunity arises to collaborate, the first instincts are to poke holes, tear each other down, and find new theories rather than releasing to any common agenda.
Check out the full interview with Scott.
And give yourself a treat by checking out some of the other amazing interviews from the Lead the Change Series with, among others, Gabriel Cámara, Sara Ruto, and Yong Zhao.
In case you missed it, the school-to-prison pipeline's been getting some much needed attention this week.
Last week on Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers sat down with Henry Giroux, educator and author of many works on critical pedagogy. Among the topics they covered was schools and the reality of severe disciplinary policies that redirect low-income youth and youth of color from the education pathway and into the prison pipeline.
And today, Zerlina Maxwell of Ebony wrote a piece titled, "The School-to-Prison Pipeline is Targeting Your Child," in which she discusses the shift towards zero tolerance policies in the last 20-30 years, along with metal detectors and armed officers placed inside many schools, especially those with largely students of color. It's a solid and brief history of the development of the pipeline.
That piece also links to a new video out earlier this month from The Advancement Project, a next generation multi-racial civil rights organization that has done powerful work organizing to end the school-to-prison pipeline. The video uses clips from The Cosby Show, Ferris Bueller, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Saved by the Bell to draw a comparison to how disciplinary policies have changed in just a short time.
Here it is:
Share these resources around. This last video in particular might go a long way to opening people's eyes to the school-to-prison reality.
Today brought an opportunity to talk and learn from Michael Knapp, Managing Director and starter of Green River. He said something that caught my attention and deserves more noodling.
He was breaking down Agile methodology and its influence on their work as software developers and he made a comparison between the process of designing and building a house, and designing and redesigning software. The point he was making is that software design really benefits from rapid deployment and engagement with end-users as early and often as possible in a constantly evolving iterative process (yes insert all Obamacare references here).
But what got me thinking was something of the inverse. I've spent lots of time thinking about education change, reform, faux reform, transformation, etc -- and have done a good amount of thinking about, and met lots of folks doing really good work adapting design philosophy into thinking about learning, learning spaces, and schools.
What I haven't thought enough about (I think) is the limitations of rapid design thinking. Michael's comment was not pointed in any way - just my running away with it - but it is also true that you'd never design a house with the same process that great coders use to design apps.
I'm now wondering about what aspects of educational change, "remodeling," schools, and institutional actors need to be considered through the lens of "slow design" for lack of a better term and what aspects really can be helped with the growth, value, and skills of the design universe.
Anyway - loose thoughts asends but seemed fun to share and I welcome insights and comments.
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The Mission Hill School is a Boston Public Pilot School in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts serving approximately 220 children,...
I just returned from four days away from the electronic universe and education headlines.
One of the first bits that caught my eye was the obvious fury around Secretary Duncan's initial comments and efforts to defend his thinking about the upset of "white suburban moms" regarding Common Core.
Then I saw that my twitter feed held a more substantive Common Core critique by Ethan Young, a high school senior in Tennessee.
The linking of these two seemed like an easy blog but my continued catching up soon found that Anthony Cody, as often happens, had already connected the dots in these stories AND named the biggest issue I have with the common core - that it was unfolded and rolled out without the engagement of teachers, students, and parents across the country. It's one thing to want a national set of standards and common assessments - another thing altogether to develop them without actually engaging the people who live the results (is citing the Affordable Care Act as an example here too sad or easy?)
So this morning, as I continue catching up, I'm continually struck by one persisting thought:
We don't have a social contract for education in America anymore.
You can argue we've had one, or enough of one, since 1954. But today we don't have any agreement about what the purpose of public education is. Education, its values, how it's delivered, the public investment required, and the learning it should offer is fully contested.
Ethan Young finished his testimony by saying: "You cannot ignore me, my teachers, or the truth. We need change, but not common core, high-stakes evaluations, or more robots."
Which begs the question: what change do we, as a people, want?
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