Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stumbling towards democracy

Over at CTQ, we're wrapping up our Teaching2030 bookclub.  One thing I've learned is that good people don't always agree on educational reform.  And that disagreement is a source for learning; check out what a Susan Graham, a CTQ colleague, had to say about educational reform funding cycles:
  • And since the funding cycle for grant money isn't all that long, I can't wait years for evidence of success, so long term results like the 30 year Tennessee kindergarten study aren't feasible measures. Besides, end of year test scores are funded by someone else and don't eat into my grant budget.
Susan, thank you for the frank description of educational reform cycles.  There's a lot here to help us be more effective with our efforts.  For example, if funding cycles are driving reform schedules, then we'll have to work on that -- as long as the cycles are stultifying.

I'd like to offer another perspective of educational reform.  The funding of public education, and reform, represents a revenue stream.  That stream can be directed towards 1) the cultivation of democratic education or 2) the accumulation of private wealth.

I know that educational reform is not as black and white as democracy v. privatisation, and that there is some overlap.  For example, non-profits participate in educational reform, whether they are the "good guys" or the "bad guys."

However, I'd rather stumble towards democratic education than disrupt valuable learning by:
  1. demonizing teachers
  2. entrapping students in endless standardized test-prep
  3. marginalizing families
  4. ignoring the fundamental social issues that create educational inequities in the first place.
We are all teacher leaders.  Some of us may dabble in, or even embrace, teacherpreneurism.  But no matter how we identify ourselves, I think we should closely examine what it is we think is the purpose of public education.  If we want to make some extra money as we lead, or teach adjunct, or administer grants, or facilitate PD, then fine.  If teacher leadership is a means for us to be more effective and to exercise our voice and to influence reform efforts, then terrific.

Whatever we do, we should be intentional.  For me it's about democratic education.  So invite me to your next PD and we can tear into some good readings, map curriculum, or develop professional development plans.  And we can work out the remuneration at a later date ;).

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