In case you didn’t notice, we inaugurated a President yesterday! Back in October, before we knew who he would be, I invited edubloggers to write a letter to the next President. Here are some excerpts from each participant’s response… [click on names for full posts]
If you want our country to be safe from terrorists or rogue nuclear states, focus on education. As Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone recently explained to Charlie Rose: We need a group of people to stand up and say, “Education is a national security issue and we’re not gonna let it go down without a fight.”
Please (continue to) listen to Linda Darling-Hammond and do what she says.
It will be easy to listen to the experts, to enact legislation like NCLB that calls for high standards and ruthless accountability, to forget that we must ask, not what technology can do with students, but rather, what they can do with technology. Remember one story, and ask, how will this child see America? A land of freedom that empowers, or that freedom belongs to those rich enough, powerful enough to control the technology?
For the past hundred years we have educated toward manufacturing and we built a manufacturing economy in the United States the likes of which the world has never seen. Our prosperity in the last century was built on the backs of factory workers and truck drivers and plant managers and all the people needed to service them. Both of my parents, for instance, continue to manufacture car bumpers and it allowed them to build a nice home and send their kids to college. In fact, we got so damn good at manufacturing that everyone else around the globe learned and imitated us. But, how do we assure America’s prosperity in 2108? Can we expect the America we know today to be similarly prosperous then by tinkering with the status quo?
Just as you never take being an American for granted, nor do I ever want my students to ever forget the many hard-fought freedoms that we are privileged to every day, every day within our classrooms, within our homes, within our towns, within our states. For without patriots such as yourself, we would not live in such a blessed nation as the great United States of America.
I am the preacher-prophet who foretold that we would reside one day
in a promised land.
He must be with us now.
Though the years have kept his visage young…
His eternal voice is crisp as fire
As he sings from the mountain top.
This morning I heard the sky rejoice-
like the deafening wail of 10,000 hurricanes.
I think successfully educating all children in America requires something more than sounding warning bells and asking teachers to “pull up their boot straps” time and again. For me, improving education means being willing to significantly rethink how “school” is done in our country.
We’re not going to get anywhere as long as teachers are expected to bear the load alone.
Education is not a factory, and children are not widgets. Rather, there’s art and unpredictability and instinct and intuition in this messy, mysterious process we call learning. There’s beauty and fear, frustration, loss, and wonder. Students are human, and humans are messy. In human learning, we find the familiar black and white, but also quirkier flavors: up and down, strange and charm. We have responsibility to leave no child behind, and an equal responsibility to define “behind” in a way that recognizes and honors each child’s uniqueness. If you’re not with us, you’re. . . behind? We need a more inclusive vision of education.
Just like Iowa’s schools, you are a powerful symbol. An historic symbol. A symbol for our students everywhere, regardless of their humble beginnings or color of their skin, that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to. The votes cast for you were much more than votes cast for your ideology or votes cast against the previous president; they were votes cast for the very democratic principals that make this country truly strong.
We have too many mandates from state and national governments, and many teachers do not feel empowered or even permitted to help students engage in the deep, project-based approaches to learning which lead to actual transfer and retention. We must have a secretary of education who rejects the vending-machine approach to learning which has become a policy mantra in past years. We need someone who understands the power of open content, collaboration, and hyperlinked writing. We need a secretary of education who champions the importance of teacher relationships with students: Teachers who KNOW their students and therefore understand how to best stretch and extend their skills, knowledge, and dispositions. We need a secretary of education who promotes not just Internet safety, but digital citizenship. We need a secretary of education who can not only form coalitions and partnerships, but can inspire our nation to transform our classrooms and schools into places where passionate learners gather to share, collaborate, create, and show what they know.
I voted for caring over self-interest. I voted for mastery of our digital world, not ignorance. I voted for hope rather than fear. Most of all, given the ambiguity and complexity in which we live, I voted for general promise rather than specific promises.
Many thanks to everyone who participated. Happy reading!