The Debate (Conversation?) About the Next Secretary of Education

December 11, 2008 at 12:12 pm Leave a comment

posted by Margaret Terry Orr, Barbara Dubitsky, Lia Gelb, Marian Howard, Nancy McKeever, Peggy McNamara, Diana-Elena Matsoukas, Hal Melnick, Frank Pignatelli, Rena Rice, Rima Shore, Barbara Stern, Naomi A. Weiss, faculty at Bank Street College of Education

At the Dec. 5, 2008 Graduate faculty meeting the following letter was composed and then sent to the NYT in response to a David Brooks op-ed piece titled “Who Will He Choose?”

Selecting a Secretary of Education is quickly being reframed by competing ideas of accountability and the future of education. With that has come a rush to label ideas as either “reform” or “establishment” (see Brooks, 12/5/08). Such steps are in stark contrast to Obama’s candidacy, which was built on a platform of inclusion-moving beyond stale and divisive ideologies and finding common ground. The values at the core are equity, opportunity and possibility for all children. The re-authorization of NCLB and economic challenges ahead make it imperative that we reaffirm three core values in supporting educational reform:

  • the holistic development of all children (not just reading/language arts and math standardized test scores)
  • deep and extensive educator preparation, development and support to provide quality learning
  • engagement of whole communities in supporting quality teaching and learning, not disenfranchisement of many to make way for quick structural reforms.

We believe that Brooks has it exactly backward in calling Linda Darling-Hammond the “establishment.” We strongly support the policy platforms of educators like her who have worked throughout their careers for policies and reforms built on the above core values. We welcome the day when these core values and approaches would actually be the “establishment” rather than solely the option of a select few.  We strongly encourage the Obama administration to use these ideas as guides to select a Secretary of Education who is committed to make these possible, and not simply support strategies that may make political careers but hinder the growth and development of children and the well-being of communities.

A letter to the editor of the New York Times that also challenges David Brooks’ 12/5/08 op-ed piece was published on 12/11/08.

Entry filed under: policy, politics.

Making Room in the Circle An Online Video Takes Us into the Classroom of an Exemplary Educator

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