Dear friends (and foes alike),
Wasn’t it a glorious ending to two years of tension? It was for me. I wish so many of my friends had lived long enough to see this day.
When I was a youngster people of color were not allowed to go up our NYC West Side of Manhattan elevator. It is hard to believe. And shaming to remember.
But better yet, the man who will be our president is quite extraordinary—not just a breakthrough on race. He represents the kind of tone, reflectiveness, knowledge, and spirit that gives a boost to everything else I care about.
But still there are glitches. His economic advisors seem a very centrist bunch. I was so delighted that Krugman won a Nobel just in time to help Obama. But his advisors are largely from the old school—anti-regulators. Odd. Maybe only they can fix what they helped create???
On school issues we keep hearing names like Joel Klein and his ilk—top-down public school reformer at best, privatizers, at worst. And utterly insensitive to the realities. As well as that, they are big statistical fakers. Klein, for example, has neither improved test scores (on tests that he does not control), graduation rates, achievement gaps, dropouts, stronger and more thoughtful curriculum (it is all test-prep). Plus he has purposely and utterly posed himself as an enemy of unions, parents (if they are organized in any way), and sees principals as more or less like foreman to supervise their work crews. If you agree with me, send the word to your political leaders. This is not just an issue for New Yorkers (who know Klein best). (for more on this issue see Alfie Kohn’s piece in The Nation, Dec. 10, or Nick Meier’s latest column) . (See my response to the Arne Duncan selection on Democracy Now)
We do not need “accountability” experts from business and finance—whose record hardly suggests that they have “hands on” knowledge about that subject. I have my fingers crossed for some of the experienced educational leaders who have bravely pushed a bottom-up agenda in their cities and states, such as: Christenson of Nebraska, McWalters of Rhode Island, Rivera from Rochester, and many more. To head research? How about: Richard Rothstein, from EPI/Columbia/former New York Times columnist.
It is good to be home after a month of travel—to Minnesota, Manitoba, Pennsylvania (where I joined Ruth Jordan in south central Pennsylvania for a week of campaigning and had a great time in a bright red county), and for the annual Coalition of Essential Schools and Forum for Education and Democracy meetings in Charlotte, North Carolina. Note that every place I went (except Manitoba) voted for Obama. Such is my magic touch—plus that of thousands and thousands of others.
I also just traveled to Bloomington, Indiana to celebrate their school of education’s 100th birthday and the opening of the Meier Institute and Archive at the Lilly Library at the University.
We are hoping to create a special archive of contemporary (and old, if we can find them) progressive schools—their stories, their defeats and triumphs. It may serve to assist others who want to embark on this task.
I rather liked the idea that Indiana was, for sure, a Red state, thus countering the rumor that only “blues” were for progressive education. But, of course, by the time I arrived, Indiana had voted for Obama.
© 2008 Deborah Meier