The IDEA Blog

Love and Iron Fused Together: Dr. Vincent Harding

Love and Iron Fused Together: Dr. Vincent Harding

I met Dr. Vincent Harding during my first week with IDEA. I was facilitating a gathering in Detroit that he ignited with his opening remembering of a favorite poem, “We are citizens of country that does not yet exist,” and his adaption for that gathering on education: “We are citizens of an education system that does not yet exist.”

In the middle of the four hour assembly, he changed the conversation by posing the question, “What are the attributes, the qualities, we want for the young people we love to possess?”

And later by leading us in song.

Then, at the end, he called us to be courageous, honest, and generous to one another.

After the assembly, for a just a few moments we spoke. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “we must be like love and iron fused together.”

I’ve yet to meet that challenge, though it has and continues to live as a mantra inside me. I imagine he’s left this and thousands of other mantras in the hearts and minds of those he touched.

Today, as thousands mourn his passing, I wanted to write simply to acknowledge what he set off in my own life and soul.

Dr. Harding, you were and will remain a center of gravity.Thank you for your words, your presence, your song, your courage, your dignity, your humility, and your generosity. May more in the world come to know what you knew and see what you saw. I ask that of myself as in these days of mourning and letting you go. Prayers, love, and strength to your family and all who knew you far better than I.

With much gratitude,



Vincent Harding, In Memoriam — Civility, History And Hope from On Hope

Vincent Harding, 82, Civil Rights Author and Associate of Dr. King, Dies from New York Times

Read full article

Posted on May 22, 2014 - 06:07 AM by Scott Nine

25-50% off most IDEA Auction items! Ends today at 8pm ET / 5pm PT

Last Chance to Bid or Buy Now

The IDEA Auction closes today, and there are still some fabulous handcrafted items and skillshare sessions available. Today only, we're offering most items to you at 25%-50% off the original minimum bid. You'll find them in the "Buy Now" category. Even if you've already browsed the auction, you'll want to take another look. You'll find great deals that raise money for a great cause.
Don't miss your chance to buy books, art, workshops, lessons of all kinds, music, and more. Every dollar raised supports the educational change work of IDEA!

Just a few of the items available:

Framed and signed poster by Ricardo Levins Morales

New book by José Vilson, signed

Handmade notecards set of 12

Poetry reading with poet Letta Neely

Juggling workshop with Arturo Gaskins, Director of the Puerto Rico National Circus
Follow the link now to bid or buy. The auction closes at 8pm Eastern / 5pm Pacific.

If you'd like, you can also simply donate directly from the auction site. A big thank you for supporting IDEA!
~ Dana, Melia, Shawn, and the rest of the IDEA team

Read full article

Posted on May 21, 2014 - 06:42 AM by Shawn Strader

Community Organizing in Forastieri Park in Caguas

Forastieri Kids Plaing Fitted.jpg

Nestled at the center of Comunidad Forastieri (the Forastieri Community), one block away from Nuestra Escuela in Caguas, Puerto Rico, is Parque Forastieri (Forastieri Park). The community sees the park as a place to socialize, which adds to it’s value as an awesome destination for the kiddos to enjoy a fun, clean playground. It’s full of color, open to the public, and also has a pretty cool basketball court that gets it’s fair share of use. But this is all new, and only a reality due to the work of some amazing humans.

Not too long ago, Parque Forastieri was essentially abandoned, and considered a scary place to be by most people. The only folks you might find hanging around, and only on occasion, were people without homes. Needless to say, the park has always been a potentially great center for social life in the community. Historically, however, it has been widely known as a place to avoid. It seems no surprise that the surrounding community has been rather disjointed in the past as well, and has lacked an overall sense of identity.

Thankfully, together with the community and some heartfelt volunteers, Brayan Sanchez has been organizing for months on end to help restore a healthy and thriving feel to both the park and surrounding community. Comunidad and Parque Forastieri now buzz more than ever with life, joy, quality, and a real sense of identity.

  • IMG_8955.jpegToday, there is an active committee that works together for community improvement called Friends of Forastieri Park (Nuestra Escuela, First Baptist Church of Caguas, Luis Muñoz Rivera Elementary School, and Turabo University).
  • There is an agricultural collaborative agreement between Nuestra Escuela and Luis Muñoz Rivera Elementary School in Caguas - that means more people from and around Comunidad Forastieri are joining Nuestra Escuela’s awesome journey towards local and sustainable gardening in Puerto Rico.
  • Forastieri Park was recently chosen and showcased as a highlight for the World Forum on...

Read full article

Posted on May 19, 2014 - 12:50 PM by Shawn Strader

Only three days left to raise money for IDEA in the Skillshare Auction!

The Final Countdown!

There are only three more days until the IDEA Skillshare Auction closes on Wednesday at 8 pm Eastern! We're just over 30 percent to our goal of $3,500, and counting.

You'll find more than 80 items available in the auction, each one donated by a talented member of our network. These lessons, books, and handmade items make great gifts for upcoming birthdays or Father's Day, or just for treating yourself. And the best part is that every dollar you spend benefits IDEA.
Browse auction items >>

Learn Spanish or Japanese, birdwatching or quilting. Move your business forward by boosting your revenue, or learn how to self-publish a book. Beautify your space with a wreath or a thriving garden. Get a customized day-long learning tour in NYC, or bring Scott Nine to lead a strategic workshop with your organization or school.
And if you don't see something in the auction that's a fit for you, consider donating toward our fundraising goal: $10, $25, or $50 pushes us closer. One hundred percent of funds from the auction benefits IDEA's work: ensuring that the voices of young people, educators, and communities are positioned front and center to reclaim the "public" in public education.
Bid, buy now, or donate >>
Thank you for your support!
~ Dana, Melia, Shawn, and the rest of the IDEA team

Read full article

Posted on May 19, 2014 - 07:05 AM by Shawn Strader

IDEA’s Second Learning Report

We're excited to share this just-completed report. It's the fruit of our efforts to tell stories, raise visibility, and learn from educational change work happening across IDEA and connected to several other networks. 
Many of the stories in the report come directly from on-the-ground organizers within IDEA and in connected organizations. Put together in this narrative structure, we hope it offers ideas and provokes questions and thinking about ways to support educational change efforts in our communities.
If you find it helpful, please share it widely with your networks. You can click the graphic to see the PDF, and it also lives here on the IDEA site.
And send us feedback of any kind. You can write me at

Read full article

Posted on May 08, 2014 - 11:35 AM by Dana Bennis

Reflection on Goddard, IDEA, and Trackers Weekend

This is a guest post from long-time friend, organizer, and family member of IDEA, Darcy Bedortha. To read more of Darcy's splendid writing, be sure to see her highly acclaimed piece showcased on Living in Dialogue titled, 15 Months in Virtual Charter Hell: A Teacher's Tale.
Community. A powerful thing. I am dwelling in the magic of a weekend on the road where I celebrated deep connection and change-making efforts with several communities, enjoying the way they overlap in my personal world. It has been an eventful year. Or three.... As I sat among my friends from Goddard College, IDEA and Trackers Earth in joint conversation about meaningful change in education, I was gratefully aware that through some very tough times, it was these same communities that enabled me to take necessary steps, to feel safe enough to grow. They held the light so I could find the courage I had lost so many years earlier. While looking around the circle of my friends, it struck me that when we talk about relationship being key to good education it is this sense of safety found in community that we are referring to. I have lived this experience. If I could accurately articulate what a difference community has made for me and my life, I imagine it would pale in comparison to the effect supportive and welcoming learning communities have on a child. 
We humans are herd animals. We are biologically wired to want acceptance from our group. At times in our shared history such inclusion meant survival. Without judgment about mobile society and the virtual world we live in now, it is fair to say that we (at least the “we” in the west) are often isolated. Anxiety and depression are more prevalent, and are presenting at early ages – by some accounts, as early as 2nd or 3rd grade. As an educator and public school advocate, my heart believes that at least part of the answer lies in community public schools, in that one place where our fabric is interwoven and we are known and accepted...

Read full article

Posted on May 08, 2014 - 11:29 AM by Shawn Strader

#WeAuthorize Weds, Skillshare Auction, & Cool New Opps to Learn!

#WeAuthorize Wednesdays

In partnership with Integrity in Education, we're launching #WeAuthorize Wednesdays today, May 7th!

We invite everyone, each week, at any time of day or night, to begin to link together and lift up a larger and just vision for education and policy.

Get all the details on the IDEA Blog and help us kickstart the #WeAuthorize conversation on Twitter.


Learning Call celebrating Freedom Summer

Join in to learn about the Freedom Summer Youth Congress from two IDEA organizers on the planning committee for this awesome youth focused event.

June 25-29, America will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer in Mississippi. Learn more about Freedom Summer 2014.

Get Ready to Bid!

Ever wanted to learn how to play a guitar? Looking for a new piece of art for your wall? Have an educational dilemma you're needing help with?

IDEA's first-ever Skillshare Auction starts next week and might have just the thing you need. It's a fun way to share the skills, talents, and knowledge of the IDEA community while also raising money for the work we do.

Check out the growing list of auction items and get ready to start bidding. The auction runs fromMay 14th to the 21st and you can bid on items or choose the "buy now" option. Keep checking back as new items are added and bookmark this link to start bidding on May 14th!

IDEA Learning Report April 2013 - January 2014

As a Reggio Emilia teacher makes visible the learning and conversations she sees unfolding in an early childhood classroom, this Learning Report is an invitation into the documentation, stories, and learning coming from the experiences of the IDEA Community over the past several months. Download IDEA's Learning Report.






Read full article

Posted on May 07, 2014 - 08:31 AM by Shawn Strader

#WeAuthorize Wednesdays

In partnership with Integrity in Education, we’re launching #WeAuthorize Wednesdays today, May 7th!

It’s time to define a new course of action for American education policy in the 21st Century – one that helps to make visible the tremendous positive educational innovation developing at America's grassroots, and that is informed by the wisdom, creativity and foresight of young people, educators and the communities they serve.

This weekly twitter holiday is one way to get started.

Let’s begin to accomplish what our elected officials cannot do alone – re-authorize a federal education policy that is six years overdue, and re-imagine American public education in ways that make it more equitable, engaging, and relevant for all communities.

We invite everyone, each week, at any time of day or night, to begin to link together and lift up a larger and just vision for education and policy.


Bonus challenge: Shoot a video of yourself or hold a mock congressional hearing with the testimony you think needs to be heard. Then tweet it. Shout to Tupac for showing us how it’s done.

If you have additional questions or comments please email or even comment at the bottom of this blog.

Read full article

Posted on May 07, 2014 - 05:59 AM by Shawn Strader

LBS Session B goes to Puerto Rico!

From September 18-22, participants of IDEA's first-ever Learning Breakthrough Series will come together once again for Learning Session B in the beautiful, profound Isla del Encanto - Puerto Rico!

The second of our gatherings, Learning Session B, brings teams back together to share and explore the reality of what's happened in their home contexts post Learning Session A, to look for the intersections and learning from what is causing desired changes, to dig further into what is distinct and common across each team’s work in education across these four drivers of change, and to ground their work in the culture, history, and reality of the Puerto Rican nation.

IDEA’s organizing teams  will be joined once again by the emerging New England Youth Organizing Network and the NY Education Justice Team (Urban Youth Collaborative / Center for Educational Justice). If you want to tune-in and follow along, there are great video-overviews of each team's activity during the Series' first Action Period, and we'll be blogging more as the Series move forward!

Read full article

Posted on May 01, 2014 - 07:33 AM by Shawn Strader

Our School: Searching for Community in the Era of Choice

One of IDEA's favorite gentlemen, Sam Chaltain, has a freshly published brand new book titled Our School: Searching for Community in the Era of Choice. It's already got some great reviews, and for all the right reasons!

Our School is the first book I've read to share the honest human story of our current educational landscape. Sam weaves the lives of children and teachers together, along with the larger questions we all face about the future of learning in the U.S. As a result, Our School provides the emotional inflection points that are often missing from our growing national debates.

- IDEA Executive Director, Scott Nine


Almost every major American city is experimenting with school choice--a deeply controversial idea that is dramatically reshaping public education. Will the wider array of school options help parents and educators identify better strategies for helping all children learn? Or will the high stakes of the marketplace end up privatizing this most public of institutions? Education activist Sam Chaltain believes that before we can answer these questions, we must put a human face on the modern landscape of teaching and learning. Our School documents a year in the life of two schools in the nation's capital--one a new charter school just opening its doors, the other a neighborhood school that first opened in 1924. Chaltain weaves together the observations and emotions of the people whose lives intersect there, and the triumphs and the challenges they experience. The result is an unsettling, complex portrayal of American public education. Our School is important reading for educational policymakers, administrators, parents, the media, and anyone who aspires to be a teacher.

Book Features:
* Specific recommendations for creating a healthy, high-functioning school.
* A detailed account of what school choice actually looks and feels like to the people who experience it.
* A vivid description of the modern classroom and what it's...

Read full article

Posted on Apr 07, 2014 - 03:18 PM by Shawn Strader

Page 3 of 47 pages  <  1 2 3 4 5 >  Last »