Affiliated with the University of California's systemwide
Humanities Research Institute
The MacArthur Foundation
"If you had the power to change the education system, what would you do?"This is my favorite question to ask the students I mentor in Los Angeles. Their responses are wonderfully imaginative, ranging from broader curriculum to outdoor classrooms. However, when I ask them what stops them from fighting for those changes, the answers have a similar ring. "I feel alone." "No one listens to students." "I don't even know where to begin!"As much as it saddens me to hear this, I understand where they're coming from. In recent years, a riveting national conversation about the state of our education system and the reforms it needs has been sparked. Unfortunately, these conversations are often dominated by those furthest from the classroom, and ironically, almost completely absent from these debates are the voices of those who are most affected by the issues in question: students.For example, last fall Students First's Michelle Rhee hosted a Teacher Town Hall event in Los Angeles, in an attempt to provide a space where community voice about various education reform issues could emerge. In actuality, the event has highly policed; no student voice and very little teacher voice was permitted. I spoke out at the end to bring light to the fact that these education reformers have not taken the time to consider the voices of those closest to the school and its community.As a result, the so-called "reforms" that have emerged from these conversations have done very little to help students, and have actually left even more of them behind than ever. In the face of all this, how could a student even begin to feel like their voice is important? How could they not feel alone?Students all over the United States, from Portland to Chicago to Providence, are tired of feeling powerless when it comes to decisions that affect their education. They are the future of this country and their voices should be the ones leading the national conversation on education.That's why they've begun to organize together, forming student unions and fighting back against threats to their education, such as budget cuts, high stakes testing, and school closings.
It is all the rage among the pseudo-reformers to dismiss the importance of poverty. Although most of the pseudo-reformers grew up in affluence, attended elite private school, and send their own children to equally splendid private schools, they feel certain in their hearts that poverty is a state of mind that can be easily overcome. All it takes is one great teacher. Or three effective teachers in a row. Or lots of grit. Or a no-excuses school where children dress for success, follow rules with... show all text
The future of learning is such a BIG topic that’s central to our work in higher education and K-12 education. The type of future thinking we need to engage in is NOT the hyperbole around the demise of the industrial … Continue reading →
- Peter DeWitt
For too long, educators have sat back and followed rules, only to end up in an era of test-based accountability. Educators need to think of those who they have long respected, and wondered what they would do during this time.
- Sam Chaltain
In a new article for ESPN, celebrity statistician Nate Silver chronicles the rise of big data in professional sports -- and the considerable unknowns, or "Dark Matter," that remains. Sam Chaltain wonders about the implications his article has for public education -- and if it's possible for the opposing armies in the reform debates to find common ground over what should be measured in American schools, and why, and how.