As I travel around the country this month, participating in public conversations about the promise and peril of school choice, it seems fitting that right as we marked the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, I would end up having lunch with Michael Alves.
I just spent some time learning about a remarkable public school in Burlington, Vermont — the Sustainability Academy — and perhaps the most remarkable thing I heard was the way it turned a potentially catastrophic community event — the closing of a neighborhood school — into a positive success story that has deepened, not diminished, Burlington’s sense of community.
Educators and school reformers — ignore at (y)our peril.
(And crazy to think that this talk was from 2005!)
Now that my new book is out, I’m doing a series of public talks around the country to explore core issues of choice, reform, and community.
My first event was at the legendary DC bookstore, Politics & Prose, and they videotaped the conversation, which featured everything from high-stakes testing to E.D. Hirsch to a quick crowdsourcing of the core characteristics of the ideal graduate.
See for yourself, and let me know if it was helpful.
In the ideal educational future, is there a single design principle that matters most in establishing the optimal learning environment for children?
That seems like a pretty important question to consider. And if you were to go by today’s leading reform strategies, you might conclude that the answer is, variably, greater accountability, better use of data, more strategic use of technology, or more personalization (all good things, by the way). Yet for my money, the design principle that matters most is the one modern reform efforts care about the least – the extent to which schools are creating true laboratories of democratic practice.
That’s a question I try to answer in my new book, Our School: Searching for Community in the Era of Choice. But there are some other questions I try to answer — specifically, the ones Greater Greater Washington’s Natalie Wexler asked me in this Q&A about the book.
Too often, when I look around at what passes for innovative practices or cutting-edge policy recommendations, I see something very different: I see us perfecting our ability to succeed in a system that no longer serves our interests.
Two recent articles reinforce this point — and light a different path, one that will actually help us reimagine education for a changing world.
Imagine if more places were as concerned with integration (as opposed to separation) as the fundamental design principle of a great learning environment?
Who said youth is always wasted on the young?
I’d characterize this one as a pretty reasoned conversation about the issue — which is surprising, since it comes from Democracy Now, which is pretty clearly in one camp and not the other. I attribute that to Steve Barr bringing some nuance to the conversation.
Still, listen to both sides, and judge for yourselves . . .