Unlike other nations (hint: Finland), we have never had a structured, purposeful national conversation about gutting and reorganizing the system around the kind of education we want for all children. What are our primary goals? What does educational success look like?

Teachers know many ordinary things whose value is underestimated or even proscribed in the technocratic race to "improve student achievement."

So, what did I learn from this exercise? I loved putting my own long career into a framework of books that have influenced, guided, and affirmed me.

Claudia Swisher: "I see my ten books as putting into words something I didn't even know I needed to know. Giving me permission to be more authentic about my own work."

The idea was to choose ten books that had an impact on us--books that turned our thinking in a new way, changed our teaching or our beliefs. Agree or disagree with our choices?

This is what "reform" has done; it has transformed our dream school into a nightmare.

Way too much of what passes for dialogue and scholarship around teachers' professional work has been managed, packaged and sold as authentic. It's not teacher leadership or advocacy. It's slick marketing, using the friendly faces of teachers.

We need a national conversation on the kind of public education system that will best serve all our children.

What would happen if we turned the Mackinac Policy Conference over to the people who do the actual work of educating? Just for one year...

I thank those who served and sacrificed so I can love my country, and criticize it, too. A hat tip to all the band teachers and student musicians who help make Memorial Day meaningful this weekend.


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