It’s Game Time

If anyone follows me on twitter and was paying attention last night, they’ll know I schlepped my way to NYC last night for the opening event of the New York Public Library’s Live series. I’ll write more about what Lawrence Lessig and Shepard Fairey had to say as they were moderated by Steven Johnson later. This post is about something else.

As I watch Lessig’s opposition to Prop 8 or read about his newest effort to end corruption, something strikes me. He’s got a system. It’s what’s lacking in the discussion of what people are looking for, as far as I can see.

In wanting to change Congress, Lessig calls on candidates to do three things:

  • Abolish earmarks
  • Refuse lobbyist/PAC contributions
  • Promote publicly financed campaigns

Many get close. But let’s get closer. Will writes of the use of stimulus money in education:

But if you really want to use that money to improve learning, use it to help the teachers in the schools understand how to help the kids in the classrooms become the readers and writers and mathematicians and scientists that will flourish in a networked world.

Yes, agreed. All for it. Now, let’s talk about how. Not standards or targets or the like. Ideas. Steps. We don’t need a report or a study. We know what we’re unhappy about. Let’s move on.

Here’s the charge, blog or comment with the three shifts, changes, movements we should demand at the national level to move education somewhere. These should be basic, actionable, transparent steps that are taken or not taken. Don’t just blog it, though, talk about it. Bring it up in department meetings, faculty meetings, podcasts, dinner table discussions, the dog park. Take the conversation outside of the echo chamber. Talk about it with people inside and outside of education (we’re all inside, btw). If you put it online, tag it 3steps4ed. If you like, re-post this to your online space, do that.

Follow the tag, write about what feeds your reader. From there, we’ll move forward. If you’ve already written your three down, go back and re-tag it.

Recap:

  • Think of the three actionable steps that need to be taken at the national level to move education.
  • Talk about them with others. Ask for others’ thoughts first.
  • Post, tweet – heck – even photograph you thoughts and tag them 3steps4ed.

More later.

8 thoughts on “It’s Game Time

  1. I think the thing to remember is that federal policy is rarely a pedagogical tool. The policies have major pedagogical impact, but often only in the negative. With that…

    1) Simplify accountability standards for schools. Take the NAEP in 4th, 8th and 11th grade in Reading and Math and be done with it.

    2) Fully and change e-Rate so that modernizing schools means more than just wiring, but rather includes getting the technology into the hands of kids.

    3) Examine education funding formulas such that we address the fact that school funding is currently a parental meritocracy. (If your parents are wealthy, you go to well-funded public schools.) That needs to change, and that can be addressed by federal policy.

  2. O.k. — I’d look at federal policy to change the way that local property taxes fund education. Inequitable per-pupil funding in education in this country is about the most powerful anti-democratic policy we’ve got left as a nation, IMHO. The work of the Harvard Civil Rights Project should be used as a guideline for the work.

  3. 1) I’d like to see teachers get more time and support for professional development than they currently do.

    2) I like Chris’ first one: de-emphasize the testing piece so that there’s more time for really deep, awesome learning experiences.

    3) Fully fund school libraries and provide at least one professional librarian in each school building.

    • Erin,
      Okay, I’m with you on number 3. What does #1 look like in more definite terms? How do I know it’s been achieved. Look at Lessig’s points from the original post. The reason they work in my brain is because each of them is either done or not and I’ll no clearly when they’ve been accomplished. I’m thinking 3 steps education takes can’t be at all squishy. Let’s say, “This is the change we want, and this is exactly what it will look like.” Anything less leads us down the path of, “I want something different,” and that will both always and never happen.
      -Zac

  4. Zac – You are my hero. I love this posting to your blog. I will revitalize my own sorry blog and add your post to it and will do whatever I can to spark this conversation in my little part of the world, as it is truly a conversation that needs to be undertaken.

  5. 1) Ensure progressively subsidized wellness healthcare to all people.
    2) Re-structure the economy to allow for a “full-time” 4-day (32-hour) workweek.
    3) Target federal funds to create smaller class size with a ratio of about 1:20.

    Items 1) and 2) are clearly outside the realm of public education, yet their impact is astounding. As for # 1), imagine if all of our children were well-rested, well-fed, and had access to healthy lifestyles. And for #2), what if their parents could make a decent living and still be home to help cook good meals, engage in a spiritual life (or not), and be a stronger, more available part of their communities.

    As for #3), if smaller class size is enough for wealthy independent schools, it should be good enough for all public schools.

    Education is most successful in healthy communities. We have to start there — and continue with our own growth as an institution. Good educators are life-long learners, and will always improve and enrich the school experience.

  6. Thanks for bringing this up, Zac. Here are my three:
    1) Include “cultivation of a civil democracy” as a federal aim of the re-authorized ESEA.
    2) Equalize funding across all school districts, at least within a state, so that all districts have comparable and equatable funding.
    3) Cultivate school- and district-level “teacher leaders” that can inform and co-create curriculum, assessment, policy and operations.

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