My hero: Tom Sobol

Dear readers,

Tom Sobol has written a book—My Life In School. How wonderful it was to hear him tell his story—a story so many of us have benefited from. For me it started in the 80s when we were trying to invent a public high school in East Harlem that wouldn’t base itself on credit hours or Regents exams! Instead we were one of the first Coalition of Essential Schools to try and see what happened if we carried out all nine (at that time) principles outlined by Ted Sizer. One of our staunchest allies had just become New York State’s Commissioner of Education. It was a piece of luck, one I will be forever grateful for, because he was even better than his reputation. A new governor (Pataki) and serious health problems led him to resign ten years later. But during those ten years he spawned an experiment that lives on, although by a thread. Alas, his successor put an end to a promising large-scale experiment in authentic forms of accountability in New York City.

There aren’t enough Tom Sobols.

I never took a course from him at Columbia (where he went after leaving Albany) but I’m sure he was a very special teacher. His account of those years—including his experiences at Teachers College, are unusually frank and thoughtful. He never fooled himself about both the uses and abuses that come with power, nor the moral responsibility that goes with it. Buy it and enjoy.

Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: