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Learning at its Best

Time to get off our knees and do more than just march

Jonathan Kozol was spot on. It is time for educators, parents, and young people to reclaim the “public” in public education and get off our knees. I’ve been enjoying reading his and teachers diaries about why they’ll march to Save Our Schools on July 30th in DC. I’ll be there too.

But I’m not going to DC for the march. I’m going for the messy work of organizing what comes after the march that will take place at the SOS Congress on July 31st at American University from 11am to 3pm EST.

We are right to make demands, to craft policy proposals, and to seek media attention. We need coherent narratives about the school to prison pipeline, the learning and teaching environments that grow curiosity, a connection to place, and meaningfully engage students in learning that matters.

But, I’m convinced nothing transformative will happen without building our collective capacity to collaborate and be strategic. When “we” don’t know who we are, what we stand for, and how we will move together, we just can’t get that far.

The Congress on Sunday offers a space to not just decry what is happening but to struggle for the possibility of what can. It is a place where egos, silos, and the influence of outsized foundations can take a seat and teachers, parents, and youth can set a direction. It won’t be perfect, because it will be real, alive, and participatory. It won’t have everyone represented who should be. It won’t solve everything. But perhaps it will get one leg out from kneeling, flexed, and ready to take on more weight. We can’t rise soon enough.

Cross posted at IDEA


6 thoughts on “Time to get off our knees and do more than just march

  1. Scott,
    I agree that the key to what happens next will be the organizing and mobilizing that will hopefully happen on the 31st. We can’t stop with the March and rally. We need to look beyond the public demonstrations at the end of this month in order to work on where we will go next. And, we need to be ready for lots of work, on lots of fronts for a long time. But, that’s the messy work of democracy that can’t be captured in neat rows of test scores or rankings or school closures. Democracy works best when all who believe in the power of community, and not the power of numbers, weave a strong tapestry that sustains the hard work that must be done now.

    Posted by Elisa Waingort | July 22, 2011, 8:44 am
  2. Scott, I’ll definitely be following this work. I’m hopeful that public education will draw inspiration from progressive narratives. For me, it’s not just a matter of rising up, but also of moving on to new models of teaching and learning that might not, ultimately, leave us with the same schools we are working to save.

    What’s your feel on the education community’s position between populist and progressive?

    All the best,

    Posted by Chad Sansing | July 22, 2011, 12:37 pm
    • I love your question and have more to say than I have time or clarity at the moment. Too short take is that we use too many boxes and labels (while needing some for sure) and that there isn’t an “education community” to take a position. There is not some coherent progressive or populist narrative and they are often blended. I think Diane Ravitch might be more in the populist vein (if populist is the view of lots of frustrated teachers) but Michell Fine might really capture the voice of innovators/teachers/community leaders who don’t want to fight for a broken system – they want to fuel something new while honoring reality. Too make an even bigger mess – sometimes populist can be more progressive than progressive. If we really will be about education that honors local wisdom, the stories of people who have been historically disenfranchised, and own up to the environment and economic (much less spiritual) challenges that exist now and in the foreseeable future —- what steps do we take? It can seem like white’s trying to save poor black and brown kids — or it can be about having honest conversations about power and access (beyond just funding formulas). They are fine lines. And we aren’t, yet, that great at nuanced conversations.

      OK – I said too much and too little. But must attend elsewhere for the moment. Let’s keep this one going if you are interested.

      Posted by scottnine | July 22, 2011, 3:35 pm
  3. I’m excited to learn about this work. I look forward to learning more about it.

    Posted by johntspencer | July 24, 2011, 10:41 pm

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