A conversation with Arnie and the President
Re-reading Linda Darling-Hammond’s The Flat World and Education (2010) reminded me of the need for a serious conversation with our President and his Secretary of Education. Let’s begin with the goals and skills our students—and our legislators– need:
- Collaborate with others
- Analyze and use information wisely to solve problems
- Communicate thoughtfully and meaningfully
- Evaluate one’s own work so it continually improves
- Create and develop new ideas
The sub-title, How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future, reminds us of what we can and must do to re-establish equal opportunity and democratic education for all of our students. It is a national disgrace to allow the devastating child poverty, city school failures, and juvenile incarceration rates that belie a national commitment to equity.
So my modest proposal is that:
- Teachers elect several spokespersons who they believe represent the best thinking in educational opportunity, successful learning and thoughtful evaluation (and may I suggest that Linda Darling-Hammond be one of them?)
- We propose an open conversation with our President and Secretary of Education–a Saturday webinar that all teachers can participate in.
- We organize collaboratively to make this happen and to ensure follow through.
Many of us have children and grandchildren who have had several years of preschool, music and art lessons, and enriching summer camps; and yet we live in a country where city school graduation rates are 50% –or less. In the city closest to me–Harrisburg, PA– they thought they had to eliminate kindergarten last year because the funding was cut so severely.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can look to the international leaders in education for guidance. They ensure that pre-school education, healthcare and well-funded public schools are available to all children; and they ensure that teachers are well supported and well respected.
We can no longer afford to sit back and watch the corporate takeover of public education, or the uninformed policies that are ruining creative and meaningful education, or the continued erosion of educational opportunity and a decent life (even the pursuit of happiness) for our poorest and most disenfranchised children and youth.
Dr. Jill, mother of five and grandmother of eight