The vaccine & the lab

I am heartsick waiting for a national educational vision, leader, professional organization, and administration that can think outside the bubble and break the 8 1/2 x 11″ margins of school learning.

In response to Michelle Rhee’s new initiative, I’d like to offer the following convictions:

My mission is to defend the safety, dignity, independence, and curiosity of children in my classroom and pursue authentic reform in public education so that student learning is recognized and acknowledged inside and outside traditional school buildings, schedules, and structures. While the data might be clear, it is not clear to me at all that we are schooling for the right purpose. The data we collect and the instruction it drives are harming children by limiting their learning and the potential of their teachers, who need to break at every opportunity the ceiling of low instructional expectations placed on them by standardized testing.

I believe all children deserve outstanding teachers who are free to teach and learn – and to innovate through trial and error – in outstanding ways. I’m willing to pursue and pay for a third-union certification that allows me to do such; I’m willing to negotiate a contract that hold me responsible for facilitating juried work and adding tangible value to the lives of my students, school system, and community.

I believe experiencing authentic learning should be a matter of fact and be facilitated by great schools at a variety of locations throughout a community and through student internships, externships, and expeditions. I believe that robust and diverse school marketplace of radical customization and niche-education better serves children than one built on competition for a single resource – test scores.

I believe that public dollars belong where they make the greatest difference – in supporting students and teachers to pursue personally meaningful learning that tangibly benefits schools’ communities; we must fight spending money on standardizing children. Schools need authentic learning and assessment – not testing.

I believe that parent and family involvement is key to student safety, confidence, and curiosity, and that interdependent school, home, and community involvement should lift children up as change agents in their schools, families, and communities. The effort to improve our schools is not the same thing as the effort to improve our test scores, despite their episodic fiscal and political overlap. School should not be a vaccine sold against generational dysfunction; it should be a lab full of learners pursuing solutions to the problems posed by their own lives and passions.

What do you believe? How will you start your movement?

Tag – you’re it.

I encourage us all to declare ourselves and take action for Blog 4 Real Education Reform – The Sequel on January 1st, 2011.

I am grateful to Michelle Rhee for confronting me with an opportunity to reflect.