Today at IDEA, I posted this and would love your comments:
Today is the National Day of Action for Education Transformation and Justice. Thousands of teachers, youth, and activists around the country will be doing something today to say, “enough already” and call for a deeper and more nuanced conversation about the purposes and practices of education in America.
Yet, many activists won’t be seeking transformation or nuance or engagement. Instead, they will defend education and demonize broadly the forces that call for school reform.
And therein lies the root of the problem.
The most transformative act someone could take today is to walk into a public school and have a real conversation with a student, a principal, and a teacher about what is happening there. Or we could call a meeting of parents together to talk about what we really want to be happening in our schools and in our communities. We need the mothers and our best teachers and our students to turn down the arguing and turn up real dialogue. When is the last time you saw moms, teachers, and students having a real, honest, down and dirty conversation about the state of learning in your town?
Today, my action is to go and meet with students and staff at Next Door, Inc. in Hood River, Oregon to learn about the value of a program that offers dignity and voice to youth that have previously been incarcerated. It isn’t sexy. There won’t be a big banner or march. But it holds the potential to weave yet one more strand into the fabric of what might bring about real change.
It is too easy for anyone interested in the lives of youth and the health of our communities to have our attention turned by the latest policy threat, the newest movie, or the largest grant initiative. I see this in myself as well.
Meanwhile, rather then building the strategic networks and relationships and quality practices needed to spur real change, our energy flows out into protest.
The all too simple attack on teachers is met by an all too simple attack on charter schools, the Gates Foundation, or corporations.
Our students and communities deserve more nuanced, more powerful, and more honest conversations.
So do something radical today. Use today’s call to action to set-up a meeting with your local principal and ask her/him to arrive ready to generously listen to the real needs and issues of parents, youth, and teachers.
Or keep it simple, ask a young person you love what they dream about and what they want to see happening in the community you share. Then listen. Deeply and generously listen.
I can think of few better actions to take today.