Since the publication of Wounded By School, I’ve been fortunate to have conversations with thousands of people who are interested in putting their shoulder to the wheel to make the system of American education better. At the end of most of these conversations, people ask me what they should do, and what I am doing as a critic and re-envisioner, to transform my ideas into action and advocacy. I am writing to say I am joining the national board, as a founding member, of IDEA [Institute for Democratic Education in America], an emergent not-for-profit based out of Tarrytown, NY, Jackson MS, and Portland, OR that is looking to raise the voices of students in the work of educational reform, and to connect like-minded reform organizations across the country. (Please check out their website, and a few of their blogs; links below). The mission of IDEA, which has really only been an official organization since May 2010, is three fold: initially, to build effective networks with allies and near-allies in harnessing momentum for meaningful educational change; to showcase "what works" and what real alternatives to our current educational regime might look like; and to offer consulting to individuals, schools, and districts that are interested in creating more democratic, egalitarian, creative learning environments for students and adults. Students–their voices, their work in policymaking and advocacy, their fire for change–are at the heart of this operation, as are some other non-mainstream, non-wonk, not-the-usual suspects’ voices. The things that have impressed me about IDEA are the care and intensity of the individuals who are putting this organization together. They are a combination of not too much and not too little; they are incredible listeners, and bring strategy, spirit and soul to the enterprise. They (and we) admit to the big thing we are undertaking. We agree that we have a lot to learn, and look to our predecessors to see what we can glean from them. Collectively, we approach this project with great confidence, great doubt, great courage. Scott Nine, the Executive Director of IDEA, recently said in a session for educators, "Speak with the possibility of being heard. Listen with the possibility of changing your mind."
As I figure out what my role is, and what the next piece of the work is, I hope to be able to talk with you about IDEA. Check out their website! Check out their blogs!
Website: http://www.democraticeducation.org/ Blogs: http://democraticeducation.org/blogs/