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America’s schools are at a turning point. Our children are being over-tested, our teachers are physically exhausted and emotionally demoralized, and our tax dollars are being diverted to replace our public schools with a privately managed, free-market system of education.
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In a recent study conducted by the Dayton Daily News, investigators found that schools in the greater Dayton area largely don’t require discussion of current events related to racial justice or teach history related to racial equality. According to report, several Dayton area Republican state representatives are sponsoring at least one of the two Ohio House bills recently proposed to ban the teaching of “divisive concepts” around race.
Jeff Porter is superintendent of a wealthy suburban school district in Maine. In the summer of 2020, he said he had no idea his community was about to become part of a national battle when a father began accusing his district of teaching critical race theory. “I was very naïve at the beginning of the year,” said Porter in a recent interview with NBC News. “I thought it was a concerned parent who had taken it a little too far. I didn’t understand this until recently, but these were tactics from national organizations to discredit the entire district.” This attempt to discredit our public schools is gaining momentum in Ohio and many other states and needs to be taken very seriously.
Benjamin Barber was a passionate advocate of democracy’s power. A highly acclaimed political theorist who explored bold solutions for dysfunctional systems and political paralysis, he believed that the future of the world may lie with the politicians who implement practical change every day. In a TED Talk prior to his death in 2017, he discusses “why mayors should rule the world.”
On May 6, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that any student will be eligible for a voucher to cover part of the cost of their private school tuition if Ohio House Bill 290 becomes law. It’s called the backpack method of school funding because the money follows the student wherever he or she goes. In a request for co-sponsors, the bill’s sponsors revealed what they really think about public education: “Families often send their children to their local school district because they have no other funded option, and the schools, guaranteed to have classrooms full of students, lack the incentive to produce higher standards. The COVID-19 pandemic has again exposed problems within our system as many schools refused to open full time to students, despite the evidence that in-person education was safe. Likewise, it seems every day, another story comes out of a rural, suburban, or urban school pushing harmful political agendas in the classroom.”
In 2015, I wrote that decades of sweeping attempts to reform of our educational system had taken a heavy toll on our public schools. As a result, America’s schools were at a turning point. Today, the fate of our public schools is still undecided. Perhaps if it weren’t for the pivotal role they play in our democracy, the situation wouldn’t be so important. But it is. Our public schools are a cornerstone of our democracy. In “public schools are the starting point for bridging our divides,” Derek Black reminds us that in our nation’s prior cultural and constitutional struggles, public education has been a central aspect of bringing people together and inching closer to a more perfect union. He says that for this to continue will require us to commit to opening our schools to tough conversations about the history we teach, the values we instill and the equality we must provide. These are conversations many of us don’t want to have but, for the sake of the millions of Americans who believe in our country and want to make a difference, we must have.
Derek Black is a professor of… Continue reading
What does it take for democracy to work as it should? This is the primary research question that has driven the work of the Kettering Foundation since its founding in 1927. Headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, Kettering has come to understand democracy as giving citizens a measure of power and control through collective decision-making. In its 2020 issue of Connections, the Foundation focuses on the ways people see their own role in self-governance – another name for democracy. The articles explore what citizens can do and are doing to make a difference by joining with other citizens in collective decision-making and action to address the problems they face.
A writer, educational thinker and passionate advocate for public schools, John Tanner believes we should finally be done with high stakes testing and the accountability charade that gets wrapped around it every year because it doesn’t tell us the truth, it prolongs and intensifies biases that hurt us as a society and it can’t do what it purports to do. The founder and executive director of bravEd, John is leading a nationwide initiative to revolutionize the accountability function in schools.
On April 29 at 7 p.m., the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network will be hosting a conversation with legal scholar, professor of law and author, Derek Black. The focus of the discussion will be his latest book, Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy. In it, he warns that efforts to undercut our public education system now threaten our nation which, since its founding, has been deeply rooted in the belief that our democracy can only truly survive with an educated citizenry. To participate in this important virtual conversation with Derek Black, save the Zoom link below:
Since our nation’s founding, the health of our education system and the health of our nation have been closely intertwined. In a recent podcast interview with Derek W. Black, the University of South Carolina Law professor and author of Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy discusses how education props up our democracy.
When the COVID-19 pandemic is in our rearview mirror, what will the new normal look like? This a question many of us are asking ourselves. In Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live, Nicholas Christakis addresses this important question. In his book, he discusses how the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will unfold in the coming years and predicts that at the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024 we will enter the “post-pandemic period” where something similar to the roaring ‘20s will likely occur. If he is correct and the post-pandemic period will usher in a new era of revitalization and change, the time to begin discussing what the “new normal” should look like is now.