Last week was education week at 11D, and I was surly as a result. Yes, I come from a family of public school teachers. Do I have a financial interest in supporting public education? I don't think of myself as having one. I don't sit around and worry about what kinds of jobs they'll have if public education is consigned to the dustbin some wish for it.
My thing is that I *believe* in public education. I believe in the concept. I believe in the execution. Are there problems? There are problems in everything out there. Everything should be subject to continuous improvement. Is public education suffering from 30 years of being treated like shit? Yes. Yet I still believe in it and get defensive by what I see as simplistic attacks on public education, a lack of consensus among people purporting to agree that public education needs "fixing," and the boneheaded calls for "merit pay" in many quarters. Nicholas Lemann in this week's New Yorker decries this "narrative of crisis" the same way I do.
As an alternative to the Oprahfication and Guggenheimization of the education debate, I offer up a few of the people I admire and follow when it comes to discussion of education. Do I endorse 100% of what they say? No. But I respect them for asking questions with more depth and complexity than much of what I see in the media lately.
Will Richardson. In this piece, he mentions something I truly believe is a weakness I see in my college students:
"In fact, there’s only one question that the folks at my kids’ school have to answer for me these days: Are you doing whatever you can to make my children self-directed, self-organized, passionate learners? Answer that one “yes,” and I’ll be happy. "
Diane Ravitch and Deborah Meier, whose blog conversation "Bridging Differences" has been a must-read for me even before Diane Ravitch came out and said she was wrong about a lot of educational reforms she had previously supported.
Jackie Gerstein, whom I follow on Twitter and whose tagline is "I don’t do teaching for a living, I live teaching as my doing, and technology has AMPLIFIED the passion."
Gary Stager, another one I follow on Twitter.
I'll also be watching Tony Danza in Teach. (Link opens with sound/video.) I have a long history with Tony Danza, as he's practically a hometown hero (I didn't live in Malverne, but my grandfather worked in a diner there where Tony often ate before he made it big on Taxi).