About the Blog

I will post a new entry every few weeks. Some will be new writing and some will be past work that has relevance today. The writing will deal in some way with the themes that have been part of my teaching and writing life for decades:

•teaching and learning;
•educational opportunity;
•the importance of public education in a democracy;
•definitions of intelligence and the many manifestations of intelligence in school, work, and everyday life; and
•the creation of a robust and humane philosophy of education.

If I had to sum up the philosophical thread that runs through my work, it would be this: A deep belief in the ability of the common person, a commitment to educational, occupational, and cultural opportunity to develop that ability, and an affirmation of public institutions and the public sphere as vehicles for nurturing and expressing that ability.

My hope is that this blog will foster an online community that brings people together to continue the discussion.


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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

2012 Teacher of the Year

            Last week President Obama with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan by his side honored Rebecca Mieliwocki as the 2012 Teacher of the Year. Ms. Mieliwocki, who has taught for 14 years, currently teaches 7th grade English at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank, California. The President praised her for the “high expectations” she holds for her students and herself and for knowing “that school can be fun.” “When kids finish a year in Rebecca’s class,” the president continued, “they’re better readers and writers than when they started. But even more than that, they know how important they are, and they understand how bright their futures can be, and they know that if they work at it, there’s no limit to what they can achieve.” Ms. Mieliwocki is known for the creative and dynamic assignments she develops, for her use of the Socratic method to stimulate critical thinking, and for fostering connection with parents through weekly memos and by hosting family nights.
            President Obama has a lot on his plate - from Iran to Mitt Romney – so it’s no surprise that he doesn’t spend a lot of his public appearance time on education (though he does use the community college venue to give speeches on education and the economy). But when he does speak at an education- related event, he sometimes says things that do not mesh with his administration’s official education policy. The qualities he praises in Rebecca Mieliwocki are for the most part not those fostered by Race to the Top.
            It seems that when Mr. Obama has to honor a specific teacher’s work or talk about what education means to him or someone he knows, he articulates a richer vision that one built on market models and test- based accountability systems. I keep wondering how to get this very well educated, supremely learned man to consider the dissonance between his education policy and what he knows good education to be.

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  1. I would agree; there is a disconnect between the rhetoric and the practice of this (and other) administration's handling of education. It seems all too apparent that the class warfare is the foci of the argument for social justice in America.


  2. It's not just about Obama's "lip service" it's also about the pathetic idea that a 7th grader should feel so "good" about himself over everything else. We had better watch out for what we wish for. For decades we have been pushing some "personal pride" nonsense; a kind of "look at me"...."see how great i am" which is not what schools are there for. Have parents lost the ability to instill this in our young? There are all manners of guidance. Schools can't be the paramount "guide" to a child's integrity (which takes half a lifetime)any more than the U.S. can "police the world." Obama should know this and that's why it's so obviously political "lip service" to pick the least important part of a teacher's job as some magic fruit.

  3. "Some are more equal than others." ~George Orwell