I’ve loved the Co-op since I first started commenting and posting there in February 2010. The original gang of four were discussing Wounded By School and I was so intrigued by the level of candor and openness, and the honest, respectful, grounded-in-practice kind of talk that was going on there that I decided to get in and stay around, if they’d have me. (I remember Paula White saying, “Aren’t we all wounded by school?” Hell yes I thought to myself!)
What did I love about the Co-op? For one, this was (and is) a place where strong-minded, well-read, well-tweeted and social networked teachers, principals, superintendents, parents and many others concerned about education could talk about what frustrates them about their work, and what they should do about it. How powerless they sometimes feel in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds against real educational transformation. About the ways school seems to actively reproduce the inequality and passivity they are committed to working against, and their intimate struggles and successes with teaching. And most importantly, what they are actually doing and making happen. Since then, the Co-op has organized two national reform efforts, grown from a group of four to 51 regular posters, watched several organizations grow (Monika Hardy’s lab, IDEA), yet retains its distinctive respectful, thoughtful, it’s-okay-to-be-vulnerable-here feel. (Peter Skillen brought up the problem of teacher ego getting in the way of release of control to students only recently.) Chad Sansing reminds us almost every day in every comment what it’s like to be a successful practitioner and still be trying to weigh and balance who you are, and to be open about what we don’t know.
I writing to say that I think we have to widen the circle, and strengthen our circle beyond what largely appears to be White, Progressive-minded, transformation-interested educators at relatively well-resourced schools, who live part of their learning lives online. We need to bring in folks who represent other points of view, who are interested in similar projects, and who will help us know better what we don’t know, and what we aren’t talking about.
As Beverly Daniel Tatum says in Can We Talk About Race, as schools dramatically resegregate in our country by class, socioeconomics and race–as they precipitously and agonizingly do, more and more with every passing year–our face-to-face social networks in school shrink and “the likelihood of at least one interracial friendship or a multiracial social network,” diminishes. As Monika reminded me this summer, through Ethan Zuckerman’s TEDTalk, the economic and racial divide on Twitter, and our online lives, is real. If we allow it here, we all lose.
Who is NOT a part of the conversation here? Who should be here? Whom, from your network, can you invite in here, to comment, to guest post, to perhaps become a part of the circle, if he or she wishes?
- I am inviting the awesome and fiery Jose Vilson to guest post here, if he’ll have us.
- I am inviting my colleague Bernard Gassaway, former principal of Beach Channel High School in Queens, NY to post here, if he has time.
- I am inviting my friend Winston Benjamin, youth activist and educator who works only with students who “have been rejected from school,” to join the conversation.
- I am inviting my friend Aldo, who is a student at a small charter high school in Chelsea, MA who immigrated from Mexico City when he was fourteen, and was recently accepted to college, to post here.
How can we widen the circle?
Who are you bringing in?