Teach the Children Well


October 31, 2018 - What are schools for in America? There have been many answers over the course of our history, some situational, some enduring. How should we think about schooling during these particular hard times.  For our country is wracked by divisions and acrimony, battered by hateful noise and events. Can we find common purpose around schooling? This morning, an 18 year-old described what was on her mind as she prepared to vote for the first time: “I want the politicians to take our future as seriously as I do”. The thousands of public independent charter schools are important contributors to solutions, to real examples that together we can seriously address the future - for the children and for all of us. 


SEE this article for more thinking about schooling and purpose in these times:

Last Friday I found myself sitting in a bright sunlit room in Washington D.C. On my left was the Superintendent of Schools from Newtown, Conn., and next to him, the new principal of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School. On my right sat two high school students, survivors of the massacre at Margery Stoneman Douglas High School.

I had been uncomfortable at this event before I sat down in that spot, but once I found myself at this epicenter of pain and loss I realized that I did have a purpose that day.

Children are why we build a society. Children are the reason we want to build a just society, an equitable society, an embracing culture. Children are why we want a clean and healthy environment, why we want communities that are both safe and open, and both unified and diverse.


What Does It Mean to Build a School?

By Ira Socol | EdSurge

October 25, 2018 -  Take a look at this splendid piece from the ACUE blog:

A couple of years ago I was having dinner with a good woman friend who had spent a career of 40 years engaged in literacy work in New York’s Harlem and Washington Heights. She told me she had been to a workshop on racism and that the first thing the workshop facilitators did was to ask every white person in the room to stand up and take turns saying “I am a racist”. As she recounted this event her voice shook with anger. She couldn’t believe that her four decades of anti-racist endeavors had been discounted by these facilitator-strangers who didn’t know anything about her. My friend was so profoundly insulted that she left the workshop immediately.

I can make an educated guess what the facilitators were trying to do.  They were probably trying to ask the white participants to recognize how they are caught within a racist system that they benefit from and to recognize how they have learned deeply racist instincts and impulses. I’m assuming that the workshop facilitators’ view was that nobody escapes the unearned privilege they enjoy because the racist institutions of civil society work to advantage whites. To that extent, to be white is to be racist.

What I believe was missing from the workshop my friend participated in was any extended modeling by the facilitators of their own struggles in recognizing and confronting their own racism. The underlying assumption was that by teaching self-reflection the facilitators could help people learn to work in ways free of racist undertones. The workshop was something done to the participants by experts who had cracked the code of cultural misunderstandings so could now teach others how to think and work in non-racist ways. Yet one of the most common themes in educating about race and racism (Brookfield, 2018) is the crucial importance of teachers and leaders kicking off the process with a narrative modeling of their own continuing struggles with this process.

Read more at the ACUE blog.


May 21, 2018 -  All over the country (and world) creative, thoughtful educators are engaging learners in real world experiences-  making learning-by-doing possible. Trust teachers; trust the kids:

We’re handing off some complex challenges (and some great opportunities) to young people. How do we get them up to speed on what they’re in for and jump start their contribution?


We think getting children outdoors and immersing youth in extended community-based challenges is the answer. We call it place-based education. It is uniquely well suited to build the confidence and skills young people need to contribute to their community.


What is place-based education? Place-Based Education (PBE) is anytime, anywhere learning that leverages the power of place to personalize learning. PBE is an immersive learning experience that “places students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum.” PBE deepens personalized and project-based learning, providing a way to connect these efforts to students’ local community and environment for engaging learning that leads to more engaged citizens.

Get Kids in the Community and Change the World

By Tom Vander Ark | Getting Smart

May 08, 2018 -  Among frequently repeated charges is that charter schools are fundamentally destructive to the concept of public education for all and contributors to even greater segregation in urban settings in particular. A recent very personal story and some New York City background information raise questions that should help with more productive discussions about public policy and how we educate our children.


The backstory: “...a study released last week by the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School. It found 40 percent of city kindergarten students enrolled in schools outside their residential zones, compared to 28 percent a decade ago. Of the black students, half went to charter schools, Among whites, 29 percent chose charters…”


The personal story:

Upscale parents want to send their kids to Bed-Stuy school

By Sara Dorn and Susan Edelman | New York Post

April 25, 2018 - The stories of how schooling has failed are many, and the recipes for improvement are too often simplistic. The current mania for data points has pushed us into dismal corners on a gloomy and limited playing field - “better scores” vs “fewer tests”. But there isn’t a halfway point between smart and dumb. We ought to be using more dimensions that support and describe and celebrate the real complexities of learning and teaching”.


Well, on second/third/fourth thought, maybe there is one simple metric that ought to be part of any serious conversation we have about ways to improve how we teach the children well. The 1% are willing (and able) to spend $25/$30/$40,000 and more a year to educate their kids, K-16. Maybe they know something the rest of us can learn.


Two articles explore these critical contours of our schooling world:

How Money Matters for Schools


by Bruce D. Baker | Learning Policy Institute

April 11, 2018 - “These two articles make the same observation from very different perspectives - that effective education and school improvement require significant school site decision making. Exactly such particular design, operation and governance autonomy already exists to a large degree in the thousands of public independent charter schools that committed parents, teachers, leaders and community members have created in urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods across the nation."

To Strengthen Democracy, Invest in Our Public Schools


by Emily Gasoi, Deborah Meier | The American Federation of Teachers

© 2020 Coalition of Public Independent Charter Schools

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