On Friday we learned of the sudden death of John Chubb, president of the National Association of Independent Schools. John was only a couple of years into what promised to be a long and productive mission at NAIS, and his voice and wisdom and vast experience were already beginning to awaken some of the sleepier members of the independent school community. To be frank, I had been among the skeptics when John's appointment as president was announced. His background was outside "the industry," although very much in the field, and over the years he had staked positions with which I ...
I have been struck by how separate our world is from the public and charter school world--just as I long observed the great divide between public and charter. All of us as educators would do well--learn and improve--from opening lines of communication and participation.
Our schools are all mission-based. Missions are almost universally concerned with the student's social and emotional development--the building of character, confidence and a commitment to service. Our schools may tell parents about these virtues. Our schools may be missing an opportunity to make the case more explicitly to parents.
A challenge for any school, of course, is to both know and understand its mission beyond just the simple mission statement. The greater and most essential challenge, however, is to live and communicate that mission fully--to make, if you will, the Venn diagram of a school's "mission" and "experience" a perfect circle.
Independent schools extol and cleave to their mission statements, and I'd like to see an organization, or a series of events, whose stated purpose would be to bring educators together across all sectors to build and fortify, to lift some language from the #PubPriBridge statement of purpose, "a mutual commitment 'to make the waves that raise all boats'" and to "direct these waves toward helping all students in all schools rise higher, think more deeply, and become more engaged and active citizens."
Independent school students and their families may have absented themselves from public schools, but there is no reason that our practices need to do so. In return for tax-exemptions and public acquiescence to our relatively unregulated existence, why not give back by sharing what we know best: our own experiences related to teaching and learning?
The Grit Narrative, its shadow spreading back over the land under the guise of "research," threatens to take us straight back to an era where poverty is about laziness and where failure, unless it's the "failing up" of a revered entrepreneur, carries the stain of moral bankruptcy.
The folks behind last night's Twitter chat believe the time has come to act on the apparent enthusiasm for--need for, I would even say--some grass-roots, teacher-to-teacher connectedness between our sometimes rarefied world and those who work in public schools.
Too many people whose instincts ought to be better have learned the vicious lessons of extremist talk radio or adopted as serious stances the rhetorical excesses of satirists.
Supporting the public sector ought to be an important industry goal in whatever ways we can accomplish it; as Americans we've got the future of millions of kids besides those in our schools to worry about. By doing well by them, by asking what we can do for our country and then doing it, we'll be okay.