• Bridging Differences

    In Bridging Differences
    Deborah exchanges views with a different colleague, each for a month or two.  Her current correspondent is Harry Boyte, a Minnesotan (although his roots are southern). He has always been a friend and mentor, even though we come to stuff in different ways and even disagree on and off. He is a professor and an activist, a theorist and a practitioner, with a focus on democracy—beginning a long time ago when he worked with Martin Luther King. He has written or edited ten books on the topic and founded a Center on
    democracy which is now at St Augsberg College, but formerly at the University of Minnesota.  

  • Where I’ll Be

    October 5–7, 2017 National Conference Progressive Education Network: Boston, MA

    October 9, 2017 Author Event Penguin Random House: NY, NY

  • Network for Public Education

  • Good Morning Mission Hill

    For information on showings or purchasing the video Good Morning Mission Hill
  • Central Park East Elementary School

  • Twitter Updates

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Keeping Up

Dear friends…and readers all,

I meant to do better in keeping up with my blog. However, this past year has been a difficult one in terms of basic health issues. First, I had a heart valve replacement and now complications from macular degeneration has caused me to be totally blind in the left eye—which also frequently causes pain too.

Otherwise I live in a lucky bubble. My kids and grandkids are all working at something that is either very satisfying or tolerable. And in good health. I am up here in beautiful Columbia County—swimming once or twice a day, at dawn and sunset, when the sun’s rays don’t bother me. I am catching up on piles of stuff I saved to write about. I shall never get to it all, but it is good for thinking about even if I don’t get to write about it all. Writing does help me clarify my own position on things, and this is a time in my life when I am very interested in reexamining my own history and ideas. I am working on a book (when my sight allows) with my friend Emily Gasoi about our school teaching experiences and what has driven us both, including differences in our histories which we account for in part by the differences in our ages (considerable).

I am also trying to find out more about schools that have tried to be internal democracies and how they fared, as well as how they defined democracy ideally and “in practice.”

I am also hoping someone will do a study of what the small school movement in New York City  did and did not accomplish—particularly the self-starters before the Klein regime—those who designed their own schools with their colleagues and sometimes families and students. Most are still around, but in the new centralization in New York City what has happened to them???

Winners get to write the story about the past—too often that means we get a distorted reading. I think we need to tell our stories ourselves – now – so that we can see how we can use past history to make our own new history.

I have not been properly keeping up on new books—by friends even.

So, for now, I will mention just one, that is just about to hit the streets. It is by my friend and colleague Renee Dinnerstein entitled: Choice Time: How to Deepen Learning Through Inquiry and Play, PreK-2

And, there is a new edition of How Children Learn coming out soon (by John Holt). I am writing a foreword for it. But before you read it reread his first book , How Children Fail. Buy it, borrow it, read it.

More in a few weeks. By then I might have news for you about what’s happening to my dear old Central Park East.




10 Responses

  1. Dear Deb,I was so sad to hear of your eye troubles. You are amazing how you soldier on. I send much love and admiration. Anna >

  2. Dear Deb,

    We had dinner together at the Network for Public Education conference in Chicago in 2015. I am sorry about your eye and health troubles, but I am hopeful that you have better times ahead. I just wanted to take a moment to say that reading John Holt’s “How Children Fail” in an education class I took as an undergraduate fundamentally changed my life and my approach to education and I’m so glad to read that you’re helping to ensure that his work won’t be forgotten. After that course, I read many of his other books on my own, including “How Children Learn.” I look forward to buying a new copy of “How Children Learn” and reading your forward to it.

    Best regards,

  3. Dear Deb, Thank you for the update and also for, a while back, mentioning my book Fearless Teaching

    I am responding to your request to learn more about what democratic schools do and how they organize. Please check out this document. I think it is revolutionary because …

    Here is what ANY school can do to be more democratic! It is as much as cast of mind as a program or system. The point is, very few schools can simply become “democratic schools” per se. But if all schools find myriad, small ways to incorporate a little more democracy, we can get the most change.

    Our people are crazy about this document:

    Perhaps you will find it useful. What if every school faculty collaborated on a document like this, as a manifesto?

    Thanks again. Keep the swimming up!


    Dr. Stuart Grauer, Ed.D Head of School see Fearless Teaching: http://amzn.to/1ZcBidf

    “Our students mean the world to us.”

  4. Hi Debbie,

    Sorry to hear of these pesky health issues. It’s so great that you are swimming.

    So I’m teaching one class and the guitar club at Vanguard. It’s still a great, democratic learning community. If you like, I can update you or put you in touch with Bill Klann, Louis Delgado’s successor. Bill is also principal of the JREC building.

    Hope to see you soon:). xoxo


    Elizabeth 🌹

    Elizabethrosemusic.com Yomizthebook.com


  5. Dearest Debbie: Good to hear from you but tough to hear about your health problems. Keep writing. We need your mind and your voice. Your old friend, Ann Lieberman

    Sent from my iPhone

  6. All good wishes to you, Deb.

  7. Why don’t you visit Montana and talk about small urban schools?

    Thanks Conrad Stroebe 406-245-6102

  8. It’s always the best to hear your voice, Debbie. Can’t wait to see you at Fall Forum. I am sorry that this has been a hard year. Eager to hear what’s next! xxoo

  9. Much love, Deb. Hope you’re feeling better over time. Love your devotion to your work still.

    In my time at CPE II, I worked with first graders and “work time” which I assume is similar to choice time. In my six years in classrooms since, I’ve included some element of choice in my classrooms because students need to be able to complete inquiry work with choices.

    -Annie Tan, now back in NYC

  10. So sorry to hear about your health issues. I wish you the very best with both your health and your new book endeavor. Thank you for all your work in the field as a leader of change.

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