The Rocks On Which We Can Build Better Schools (and a Better Democracy)
During my first semester teaching in the inner city, Davina (as I will call her) did not ask permission to interrupt when I was in the middle of a sentence; she just got up and walked across the room. I wondered what was in Davina’s mind as she went to the far back corner. She acted as if she owned the place, but then again, there are worse things than students taking over their own classroom. She took a seat next to the only white kid in the room, a new transfer. Davina put her hand on the girl’s hand and said, “Honey, you look scared. Don’t worry. You will be alright.”
So, as we enter the Trump presidency and anticipate its assault on public education, we should draw upon our students’ strengths when envisioning a new approach to school improvement. If America will listen to our kids, our democracy will be alright.
The corporate school reform edu-politics of destruction failed to improve our schools, as it divided progressives, pitting civil rights advocate against civil rights advocate. Before the election, a Trump victory seemed unlikely, so both sides often devoted much of the energy, which should have been used against the Trump threat, to our education civil war. While Democrats fought Democrats over Massachusetts charter expansion, an advocate for racism, sexism, and xenophobia was elected.
To improve schools, we need a politics of inclusion. After all, one of our fundamental purposes as educators is to prepare children for life in a democracy, and we teach every child who walks through the door, regardless of their political beliefs. We should borrow a phrase from Governor Al Smith, and produce happy political warriors. To educate children for life in the 21st century, we should build upon the best of American society.
These would be the rocks on which I would build the next era of school reform:
A Culture of Peer Review and Collaboration
The first rock which I would use to improve teacher quality would be peer review. Peer review represents the best way to get out of the most destructive battle in our The Rocks On Which We Can Build Better Schools (and a Better Democracy) | The Huffington Post - Linkis.com: