Education Post was born this year out of a desire to jump-start more civil yet provocative conversations around how to improve public education. For the most part, we’ve been welcomed to the ongoing dialogue on how to promote equity for all children, and we’re looking forward to pushing these productive conversations further in the year ahead.
Like us, TNTP is feeling reflective and predictive. The organization has gathered the thoughts of some of the most vocal figures in education—including our very own Peter Cunningham—to discuss what were the most notable stories in education this year and what they believe awaits the field. Some excerpts from that must-read post:
Jennifer Corroy, an English teacher in Donna, Texas, on why Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which prevents some undocumented children from being deported, increases educational access:
DACA recipients still face many obstacles to obtaining and affording a college education and parents of DACA recipients are not included in the relief provided to parents of citizens. I have great hope that in 2015 more opportunities will be available for all students through inclusive scholarships, access to financial aid, in-state tuition rates, and the assurance that they and their families are safe in the country they call home.
Peter Cunningham on the push against accountability and standards and his optimism for measured opinions prevailing:
Both of the major trends of this year—resistance to standards and accountability—will also shape the fast-moving effort to update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind. Will extreme views prevail, will America retreat and will kids lose—or will the reasonable center hold? I’m betting on the center.
Howard Fuller, distinguished professor of education and founder of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University, on school choice being a force for social justice:
We have three sectors that deliver education at the elementary and secondary level—traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools. Why would those of us who say we want to close the “achievement gap” not want to ensure that our poorest children have access to all three of these sectors? When did fighting to empower poor people in this country become a “distraction”?
Dana Goldstein, education journalist, on helping training teachers to learn more humane approaches to school discipline:
If we’re going to hold teachers accountable for keeping disruptive kids in class and re-engaging them with the curriculum, we need to make sure that schools and teacher training programs are able to provide teachers with real professional development to help them move beyond the status quo. And the status quo, for many teachers, remains sending “bad kids” to the office, where they are apt to get suspended.
Whitney Henderson, assistant principal and history teacher, KIPP Central City Academy, New Orleans on how the events of Ferguson, Mo., affected her and her teaching:
Let me be clear: This does not mean I believe in teaching my students to embrace property damage or violent forms of protest. It means teaching students that, throughout history, demonstrations and free speech can look very different through different lenses. In teaching our first amendment rights, students of all backgrounds need to know that those rights apply equally to all. Including, equally, those who are advocating on behalf of Officer Wilson and those who believe an injustice has been done by failing to indict him.
Kevin Huffman, departing commissioner for education in Tennessee on the harmful politics behind opposing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act:
The only question is whether the civil rights community and the business community—the voices of reason within both two party bases—can push back for the good of the country. Will the civil rights groups fight to continue the progress African American and Latino students have made since 2000? Will the business community ask to ensure some return on investment for the federal government’s tens of billions of dollars?
Marcellus McRae, co-lead counsel on Vergara v. California, a lawsuit he won, and is facing appeal next year, that argues teacher tenure laws in the state negatively affected disadvantaged students:
The Vergara case challenged California’s permanent employment, dismissal, and “last-in, first-out” education statutes. The evidence presented at trial was overwhelming to the point where nobody—not teachers unions, not legislators in Sacramento, not members of the media—could ignore the fact that the challenged laws are profoundly harming our students, especially low-income and minority kids.