Our Democracy

Dear friends and colleagues,

Back again.  I have been avoiding writing for the last year (or more).  I have had a few Lyme disease attacks since I last wrote!  

But otherwise all is great in my life—re children, grandchildren and friends. However, the world feels more depressing than last year. How one deals with this as a school teacher must be challenging. We “won” the election but the fascistic opposition scares me. They are so openly racists, anti-Semitic and so on. It is hard to expose them or Trump, his supporters like it and they now own one of only two parties.  Scary.

How one deals with the state of our world as a teacher baffles me.  I will need to get the teachers I know and even my own old schools to tell me this fall. Thoughts?

My own agenda this year is in trying to defend the idea of democratizing our schools. Our children spend 13 years in one of the most authoritarian institution in America. It surely influences them in many ways. The young learn from how they are treated—thus progressives have been partially successful in trying to make elementary classrooms more “democratic”. The richer the school’s population generally the more democratic is the spirit. There tends to be more mutual respect between adults and children.

However, even Dewey didn’t pay attention to the environment that teachers live with. They have zero power except on matters that are spelled out in the union contract. Schools could be leaders in exploring democracy’s possibilities—the trade-offs that make sense in their context. Yes I have seen and lived it

“It depends” sums up my solution to most matters facing us. But this is only possible if! If the people “it” depends on to carry “it” out have a powerful voice in decisions.

Democracy is being challenged all around us. We need to fix ours.