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Education "Spring" is Already Here

Remember the uprising in Egypt (that really started in Tunisia) called the Arab Spring?

We have just such a movement happening - Education Spring - that is traveling across America and nobody is waiting for Spring. 

Parents and teachers listen to a speaker during the Summit for Smarter Schools in Kleinhans Music Hall on Wednesday.Exhibit A: the uprising against testing in Buffalo, New York (and I believe the courageous action by the Garfield High staff has triggered this "we can change this" attitude that is spreading).  From the Buffalo News:

Reform of high-stakes testing for schoolchildren, a groundswell movement of lawn signs and small-scale protests, became an earthquake Wednesday evening. 
The Summit for Smarter Schools, organized by a group called the Partnership for Smarter Schools and hosted by State Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo; Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo; and State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, filled Kleinhans Music Hall with more than 2,500 parents, teachers and school administrators.

We’ve had a lot of quote-unquote educational reform in the past decades aimed at poor schools in the cities,” Ryan said before the session started, “but now all schools are feeling the pain, regardless of their previous performance. This is why you see a lot of suburban parents here tonight. They’re all being treated poorly. They’re mad about these tests.”

Exhibit B: Arne Duncan is getting more testy and more unglued the more people fight back.  Duncan recently gave a speech on C-Span where he lashed out at critics, calling them "armchair pundits."   As Diane Ravitch asks, is he talking about teachers, principals, researchers, historians, and parents? Because there are a lot of us.  From the Small Talk blog:

While using his own Twitter account to try and vanquish his "alternative-world" critics, Duncan mis-characterizes them (us) as people "arguing in 140 characters or less about whether we need to fix poverty before we can fix education." Especially for those of us who've been involved for decades in efforts to accomplish both--attempting to transform education as well as trying to end poverty and inequality--that was a supreme insult.

From Anthony Cody's Living in Dialogue column at Ed Week:

He divides the world into those who he sees "doing the work," who may have concerns - which he, of course, shares, and those who disagree. Once we actively disagree, we become part of some "blogosphere," or "bubble," which, by his definition, is engaging in idle carping that undermines those in the "real world." 

The fact that Diane Ravitch's book is among the top ten of the New York Times best seller's list must be a bit unnerving to Duncan, and that may account for this defensive rant.  His far preferred strategy, similar to that of Education Nation this coming weekend, is to ignore those who disagree. When that doesn't work, we hear attempts to marginalize, as in this speech. Gandhi once said "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." We are now being actively fought. 

Exhibit C:  In Michigan, with a huge charter school infrastructure, the Democratic candidate for Governor, Mark Schauer, wrote a thoughtful editorial about pulling back on charters and bringing more accountability.  From the Detroit Free Press:

The proliferation of charter schools managed by for-profit corporations has accelerated rapidly under these new laws, which are part of a broader corporate takeover of public education in Michigan that is wrong for our kids, for our communities and for taxpayers.

His suggestions include:
"removing the profit motive from charter schools"
 Research from Western Michigan University indicates that more than 80% of Michigan charter schools are run by for-profit management companies, more than any state in the nation.  

"improving transparency"
Make charter contracts with for-profit educational management organizations (EMO) available online to the public, and making EMOs subject to the Freedom of Information Act. 

"holding charter-issuing organizations accountable"
These institutions should lose their ability to issue charters if more than 10% of their charters are failing to meet adequate performance measures

"Requiring traditional students to spend at least 80% of the school day in a classroom with certified teachers."

Exhibit D: Bill de Blasio is poised for a win for Mayor of NYC and boy, does he have some education changes in mind especially around charter schools.  Things like obeying NY State law and paying rent for school buildings.

Exhibit E: Mighty Bridgeport, Connecticut where voters soundly defeated a slate of Democratic ed reform candidates.   From the Connecticut Post:

The Democratic machine lost its grip on the city school board Tuesday with the stunning victory of all three challengers in the primary. 

The challenger slate won by a two to one margin over the party's endorsed slate, easily winning in all districts, in unofficial and incomplete results. 

The victory tips the balance against the mayoral-backed Democratic majority on the nine-member board that has supported schools superintendent Paul Vallas and his education reform efforts.

It's here and it's building.   Parents, you CAN and MUST stand up for your children.  Whether it is class size, too much testing, charter schools - stand up and be counted.


Charlie Mas said…
The research is catching up with the mythology.
Ed Lambert said…
Wouldn't you consider what the Africatown Community Innovation Center (ACIC) is doing in the Mann building to be EXACTLY what you are encouraging people to do in this statement?

"It's here and it's building. Parents, you CAN and MUST stand up for your children. Whether it is class size, too much testing, charter schools - stand up and be counted."

Are you stating that people from ALL types of communities (privileged, marginalized, etc) should take action to empower themselves?

Do you support families and communities 'standing up' even if they do not use dominant culture methods of expression, organization, and self-empowerment?

I sincerely encourage the Save Seattle Schools Blog to formally endorse and support the ACIC. This is an immediate and locally relevant example of 'standing up'.

Will you stand with them?
Unknown said…
Thanks for information.
Unknown said…
It is true that educational competition bring lot of new concepts and topics in the students minds which they want to learn and ask but due to lack of confidence cannot share. The essays is always stand with them to get their services for any writing or translation purpose and get informative educational tips too.

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