Rather than a dogmatic agenda, the protests are turning into a modern day “Agora" for Socratic thought which will hopefully have a long lasting effect on our nation. Hopefully it will infuse higher order thinking skills back into the American educational system. But then if we had a society that was aware, properly educated and had informed unbiased media, would they tolerate subsidiaries of large corpoartions like Brookfield receiving $700,0000 in small business grants or Charter schools which are for-profit institutions, some of which pay $1 a year rent the the NYC Department of Education for space. Please review the e-mail sent again by Mark Naison of Fordham University and conclude for yourself.
Great day at OWS. Went down for a grade in organized by Teacher Activist Groups,, but stumbled upon an great Save Our Schools Teach In organized by Celia Oyler and other faculty from Columbia Teachers College. One of the best open discussions discussion of education issues I have ever been part of with people of many ages and backgrounds taking part.
Main points, at least to me.
1. That corporations like Pearson are making tremendous profits as a result of Federal and state mandates to impose high stake tests, and have bought off many officials. 2. That the "value added" approach to rating teachers is incredible inaccurate and demoralizes teachers and magnifies the test score gap. 3. That teachers can't just fight against strategies that squeeze creativity from their classrooms, they have to fight racism and segregation in the nation's schools and the entire society. Fourth, that people in working class communities in New York are determined to make sure that OWS is expressing their interests and concerns. On Thursday, there will be a big march from Washington Heights to Wall Street let by community organizations and elected officials, including Councilman Rodriguez, who was there at the teach in. I came away from the teach in feeling excited and primed or action.
Next, I went across the street to the Grade In where there were about 30 teachers gathered. As we were taking and grading, we were approached by a theater company from Red Hook who specializes in Pedagogy of the Oppressed via Paolo Freire. They asked us to participate in a trial run of a play they were doing which simulated a classroom of eighth graders who had different feelings about "teaching to the test." Teachers joined in the play and the results were
pretty exciting, and instructive.
All in all, it was three plus hours of with educators marked by spontaneity, creativity, honesty and true comradeship. Real issues were discussed in without rancor and rage. I felt I was part of a true "Parliament of the People." If THIS is what democracy looks like, I'm down with it!