So the question before us is how do we affect change?
For folks who are arguing for a more humane, more inquiry-driven, more citizenship-minded, more modern education, it seems daunting. The forces that seem to be working against this kind of education are many. We are out-spent by those who would argue that workforce-driven, test-measured education is what we really need in this country. Worse, the very language of our best ideas often seem co-opted by those who, in the end, seem to be creating a very different kind of schooling than what our best ideas are really about.
And the traditional advocates for public schooling – teachers unions – are caught in a fight that, while linked to the kind of issues that affect modern schooling, are not the same. While issues of workers’ rights, collective bargaining, teacher evaluation or any of the other issues facing teachers are incredibly important, historically, unions have not been the drivers of pedagogical change.
What we need now is a new kind of organization – one that unites teachers and student and parents and admins who all believe that school can be more powerful than it is now. Maybe this isn’t a national organization at first. Maybe this is district by district, school by school. Maybe the time has come for fewer “Education Nation” moments, and more town halls.
We are living in a time when there is a national movement with incredible wealth that is arguing for a vision of education that seems to ring false for many of the people who are walking the walk in schools now – teachers, students, parents and admins. Perhaps the answer is to win the argument on a different stage – the hyper-local stage. And with social media and the speed of communication, is there any doubt that those arguments could spread?
What if – in cities and towns all over the country – we saw parents and educators (who are often the same people, it should be noted) and students and community members come together to discuss their best vision of what they hope school to be? What if, rather than the rhetoric of “fixing broken schools” that we hear so often from the edu-corporate reform movement, we had a grass-roots movement articulating our best ideas for what we hope a modern education could be? And what if we actually all worked together to make those dreams real – parents, students, teachers and admins all working toward a common vision and a common plan? Think we can do better than what we have now?
Maybe that’s what we need – hyper-local, globally-networked organized groups of citizens who believe that inquiry-driven, project-based modern schools are better than what we have today.