What is the Role of Bank Street in a New Era?

November 18, 2008 at 1:15 pm 1 comment

posted by Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool

Jim Clay '88

Jim Clay '88

Over the more than 20 year period of my association with Bank Street College, I have seen the College swing back and forth, depending upon the leadership, between being an institution largely focused on the educational needs of New York, and specifically New York City public education (the Principals Institute being one example), and providing programs that attract students from all over the country (for example, Leadership in Early Childhood Education).  Let me state my bias right away – since I reside in Washington DC and not NYC, I have an interest in Bank Street focusing on the nation and not just the City.

At the BSCAA awards ceremony on October 30, awardee Barbara Ferguson Kamara ’81 challenged Bank Street College to provide more leadership in education on a national level.  The opportunity is certainly present with a new president-elect of the United States and a new president of the college.  What would that leadership look like?

So far all I have heard from Bank Streeters is reactive.  The name of Linda Darling-Hammond (one of the leaders of Obama’s education transition team) has been discussed as a possible Secretary of Education, and she’s a “Friend of Bank Street” (whatever that might mean).

NYC Schools’ Chancellor Joel Klein’s name has also been floated, and there apparently is a petition among Bank Streeters to President-Elect Obama against such an appointment.  Not being a New Yorker, I don’t pretend to understand the issues, except that one of Mr. Klein’s protégées (Michelle Rhee) is the chancellor of DC Public Schools, where I live.  (Here’s an article from The Atlantic magazine about Rhee: www.theatlantic.com/doc/200811/michelle-rhee). Our schools here in DC are certainly much different historically from NYC schools, but she is big on change, which is necessary.  At the same time, she apparently bases almost all her decisions upon test scores.

But what I’d really like to know is what people feel about how the Bank Street community can provide leadership at this time – not just feeling cozy about a possible appointee or lobbying against another one. We, the alumni, are the folks out there doing the work. We are the ones to provide the leadership. Surely we have a perspective on what is needed. Should we just be promoting our brand or approach to education – constructivist, progressive, developmentally interactive?  Should we be encouraging the president-elect and Congress to fund the unfunded mandates? – which is largely how I interpret Obama’s Early Childhood Platform (www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/PreK-12EducationFactSheet.pdf). Should we be helping to create new policies and programs? How can Bank Street not only be heard as part of the discussion but also be a part of the solution? How can Bank Street lead?

Jim Clay has been the director of School for Friends, a Quaker preschool in downtown Washington DC, since 1984. He regularly leads workshops on family diversity, administration, and staff development at the annual conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  Jim is a member of BSCAA’s Advisory Board.

Please join the conversation by posting your comment below.

Entry filed under: dialogue, leadership, policy, politics.

Making Meaning: A Universal Experience 145 Students, 50 Trees, One Catalog at a Time

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Beth Norford  |  November 18, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    I applaud your call to Bank Street to actively seek a role in national educational policymaking. And I would like to pose a further question. What should/could our role be internationally? Obviously, Bank Street is not poised for direct influence on government mandates in other countries. But as someone who works internationally, I know how desperately educators are searching for pedagogy that makes sense, how far even a little input can go AND (far from trivial in importance) the benefit that our own alumni/faculty can gain from exposure to international experience. I know that we have a role to play in the global village.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

An Online Conversation

Join the conversation among Bank Street College alumni blogging on education policy, practice, and point of view. Explore issues, ask questions, share what's actually happening in our classrooms, schools, museums, and communities. To submit a post, please send it to: alumni@bankstreet.edu.

Your Voice

Post your own opinions about teaching, learning, children, politics, special education, school reform, play, the standards movement, student teaching, museum education, leadership, block building, morning meeting, curriculum mapping, collaboration, isolation, benchmarks, bilingual classrooms, social-emotional development, the arts...right here on The Bank Street Blog!

To leave a comment on a posting, please click on the "comment" link beside the posting date. Comments will be reviewed before they appear.



Some of Our Past Bloggers

Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school
Gloria Arenson ’58, psychotherapist
Bill Ayers ‘84, UIC professor, Chicago
Fred Baumgarten ‘84, writer/musician/naturalist/father
Keith Berman '03, founder/president of Options for College and Bank Street’s LinkedIn moderator
David Bowles ’08 (SFC ’93), museum educator at the Rubin Museum of Art
Elena Canaras ‘07, Special Education teacher, Hawaii
Virginia Casper, Bank Street faculty member
Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool
Mary DeCamp Cotterall ‘87, Reading Specialist, Michigan
Judy Coven ’77, retired public school teacher and former Antioch University faculty member
Leslie Day '93, adjunct instructor at Bank Street and author of Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City
Mary Louise (Molly) Day ‘76, Lab School teacher, Chicago
Liezel de La Isla ‘99, Prague International School teacher
Diane Trister Dodge '70, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Meghan Dunn ’08, 3rd grade teacher, Brooklyn
Steven Evangelista ’01, co-director Harlem Link Charter School, NYC
Janine Fetters ‘02, Senior Associate of Parent Engagement at NACCRRA
Dena Florczyk '88, middle school teacher and founder/director of The Nigerian School Project
Hollee Freeman '94, writes about parenting issues for the alumni blog and was featured on BSCAA's April 2012 Career Panel
Ellen Galinsky '70, is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Joanne Ruvolo Gannett ‘84, Columbia College art history professor, Chicago
Joan Goldstein ‘67, sociologist and educator
Margot Hammond, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Professionals
Carol Hillman ‘67, early childhood educator, author, and Long Trip co-leader
Pam Jones ‘05, Bank Street advisor and instructor
Lee Klinger Lesser ‘87, trainer for the Parent Services Project
Preminda Langer ‘97, teacher trainer
Claire Milam ’97, life coach, Austin, Texas
Rabin Nickens ‘03, Speaker, Trainer and Educational Consultant
Beth Norford ‘89, consultant and former School for Children teacher
Susy Ogden ‘97
Marion Palm ‘95, Leadership in the Arts alum, writing tutor, poet and singer
Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education at UIC, Chicago
Jesse Pugh '76, BSCAA President
Meg Rauen ‘06, former Chicago elementary school teacher, NY
Linda Reing, Bank Street Director of Alumni Relations
Rosalind Rothman '62, retired NYC teacher and guidance counselor
Kyla Ryman '92/'97, educational coach and consultant
Ariel Sacks ‘06, middle school teacher, Brooklyn, NY
Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ‘81, psychotherapist and author
Barbara Silver ‘80, literacy consultant and former NYC first grade teacher
Andrea Penny Spencer, former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street
Debbie Stone ‘84, former teacher/co-director of High Valley School
Rachel Theilheimer ‘74, chair of teacher education at BMCC/CUNY
Theodore Timpson ’05, founder/president of Young Spirit Foundation
Eleanor Traubman '95, is Editor in Chief of Creative Times, a blog which promotes NYC's performing, visual and literary arts
Allison Warren '08, new mom, recent grad, and early childhood teacher
Max Weinberg ‘03, Francis Parker School teacher, Chicago
Ted Wells ‘07, 4th grade teacher at The Park School, Brookline, MA
Tracy Wiessbrod ’03, kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom

%d bloggers like this: