I’ve been a part of the Essential Schools movement since the late 1980’s when my speech coach handed me a stack of books and said “Here. This is the research material for that speech you want to do on education.”
Right on top? Horace’s Compromise.
I had no idea that my entire perspective on what schools are, what they could become, and what they should be would change as a result. Now, over 20 years later, I’m lucky enough to still be a part of that community as the coordinator of this year’s Fall Forum, the annual conversation that’s kept many a progressive educator going during dark times. Now, it’s not the first Fall Forum I’ve worked on, but this time it feels different somehow. Partially because the last time I did this the internet was new (I know, I know- I’m old) and partially because the larger educational landscape has changed so much in the intervening years.
I’ve watched as good teachers and school leaders have been increasingly marginalized by a philosophy that can only be described as Test is Best and systems that alienate parents and turn school into something we do to kids instead of with them. I find myself amazed that, to the outward observer, it would seem that the only essential parts of the educational process are the tests and the testing companies.
I’m not okay with that. We’re not okay with that.
So we at the Coalition of Essential Schools are asking you to stand with us as Essential parts of the educational process. No matter what role you play- parent, teacher, leader, ally or student- learning is about people. It’s about relationships. It’s about connections between ideas and reality.