Leading Educational Reform

Many critics argue that public education should change to meet the needs of a changing society; some more hostile critics would like to disband public education in favor of a privatized option.  It is undeniable the need for strong public education for a strong democracy.

Jefferson stated:

“. . . whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right.” (as cited in Padover, 1939, p. 88)

Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter stated:

“The public school is at once the symbol of our democracy and the most pervasive means for promoting our common destiny.”

Unfortunately, in my opinion, education looks too similar to a factory-model built in the early 1900s.  Our system, which is vital to our society, is sorely lagging behind the society it should serve.

Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) hosted an #edchat challenging us to examine who should lead educational reform.  My simple answer, now, is we all must take a part.  Active participation is vital to any democracy, and in America most school are run by local governments, that best represent a true democracy in America.  Yes, America is a republic, but one’s voice counts the loudest at the local level.  Since educational decisions are made at this level, we need to speak up.  Teachers need to attend school board meetings, present to boards, hold public meetings, and sponsor strong reformers for such boards.  In our schools, we need to lead the change for better teaching practices.  We need to hold ourselves and our peers accountable for a higher quality.  We need to actively engage in supporting educational innovators and reformer.  Principals should not run schools simply because they have the longest tenure and the right certificates.  Teachers should demand more in the principal selection process.

While our individual voices are sparse, we need to connect our voices through social media.  So many good ideas are spread through Twitter and blogs, but the ideas need to lead to action.

George Washington was did not join the American Revolutionary movement with the intent to lead and become the first president.  Rather, he was chosen among his fellow reformers to lead the new nation to prosperity.  Our educational reform movement must arise the same way.  Our many voices need to combine as one voice.  We should support a Declaration of our unity, and begin calling for conventions to change the system.

Radical?  Yes.  Do we have any other choice?  Complacency breeds complacency.  Inaction does not fix problems.  The institution that was created to support the American Republic, in my opinion, has fallen behind the needs of society.  Quick, strategic reform is necessary.  If action is not taken, we may need an education revolution.

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