Network for Public Education Conference: Highlights of Day 2
Public School Champions
Lily Eskelsen Garcia/Diane Ravitch/Randi Weingarten
At NPE Conference/Chicago
Day 2 of the 2nd annual Network for Public Education opened with a selection of sessions for all interests. I chose to go to the one chaired by my friend and public education hero, Carol Burris. Carol is well known for her advocacy in New York, where she has not only been named Principal of the Year, but has also been a consistent thorn in the side of Governor Cuomo and all education reformers. Carol frequently blogs on The Answer Sheet at The Washington Post. You can check out some of her work on that blog here.
Schools of Opportunity
Carol Burris and her colleagues at Schools for Opportunity are trying to change the conversation about what constitutes a good school. Rather than focusing on test scores as a definition of excellence, Schools of Opportunity seeks to look at a broad based picture of educational excellence and to reward schools for achievement in overall excellence. Schools of Opportunity looks at multiple criteria for achieving excellence and recognizes schools that achieve this excellence. Their criteria include creating and maintaining a healthy school culture, broadening and enriching curriculum, providing more and better learning time, ending disparities in learning opportunities created by tracking and ability grouping, using a variety of assessments designed to respond to student needs, supporting teachers as professionals and 5 more.
This is a group that truly deserves our support as they try to change our definition of excellence in schooling to a broader more nuanced view. Please visit their website here to learn more.
Morning Keynote: A Conversation with Diane Ravitch, Randi Weingarten and Lily Eskelsen Garcia
The anticipated highlight of the day did not disappoint. Randi is feisty and political, Lily is quieter, more teacherly, but every bit as skilled a speaker and Diane Ravitch is, well, Diane Ravitch, the hero of the anti-reform movement. It is no secret that many in the room have had their disagreements with the two labor leaders, but on this day, the discussion was mostly a pro-teacher, anti-reform love fest as Lily and Randi pledged to fight for tenure and against yearly testing and even grudgingly agreed to concerns about the Common Core, even if that was couched in the old canard that the problem is really the test. The denouement of the session was reached when Diane asked the two leaders of multi-million dollar unions if they would pledge to refuse to accept money from the Gates/Walton/Broad billionaire reformers club foundations. As the audience held their breath, both Randi and Lily said a resounding, “Yes!” We all hope they mean it and we will all be watching to make sure they follow through.
Getting Your Book Published
I attended this session with new friends like Steven Singer and Duane Swacker, NPE members who surely have a good book or two in them. Steven has a wonderful blog you should follow called gadlfyonthewall. Steven is a reader of my blog and now I am a reader of his. This is how it works in the wonderful whacky world of blogging to defend public education. Three men who started out blogging and ended up writing books, Anthony Cody, Jose Vilson and John Kuhn discussed the process of going from blog to book. Denny Taylor, long-time champion of great literacy instruction and now a visionary publisher discussed the Russ on Reading: Network for Public Education Conference: Highlights of Day 2: