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But then you read

You think your pain, and your heartbreak, are unprecedented in the history of the world. But then you read. It was books that taught me, the things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive – who had ever been alive. I went into the 130th St. Library at least three or four times a week, and I read everything there, and every single book in that library. In some blind and instinctive way, I knew that what was happening in those books was also happening all around me, and I was trying to make a connection between the books and the life I saw, and the life I lived….I knew I was Black, of course, and I also knew I was smart. I didn’t know how I would use my mind or even if I could, but that was the only thing that I had to use. And I was going to get whatever I wanted that way, and I was going to get my revenge that way. So I watched school the way I watched the streets, because part of the answer was there.

- James Baldwin, The Price of the Ticket

I’ve been out and about this summer, not doing much writing. But I’ve been reading and watching the insanity that public policy continues to embrace. I can’t make it to Washington DC for the Save our Schools March this week, but I want to acknowledge it here as an event that helps me to know that I’m not alone in my dismay at the looting of our public sphere. To the organizers, and to all those who will be participating, thank you.

In particular, I want to express my wholehearted support for its Guiding Principles :

Equitable funding for all public school communities

Equitable funding across all public schools and school systems
Full public funding of family and community support services
Full funding for 21st century school and neighborhood libraries
An end to economically and racially re-segregated schools

An end to high stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation

The use of multiple and varied assessments to evaluate students, teachers, and schools
An end to pay per test performance for teachers and administrators
An end to public school closures based upon test performance

Teacher, family and community leadership in forming public education policies

Educator and civic community leadership in drafting new ESEA legislation
Federal support for local school programs free of punitive and competitive funding
An end to political and corporate control of curriculum, instruction and assessment decisions for teachers and administrators

Curriculum developed for and by local school communities

Support for teacher and student access to a wide-range of instructional programs and technologies
Well-rounded education that develops every student’s intellectual, creative, and physical potential
Opportunities for multicultural/multilingual curriculum for all students
Small class sizes that foster caring, democratic learning communities

One Comment

  1. Danni wrote:

    Thank you so much for publishing that excerpt! It opened my eyes and made me smile

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

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