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A Progressive NYC Education Agenda? (A Question from Ariel Sacks)

Ariel Sacks postulated about the coming reign of Chancellor Carmen Fariña and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio here:

My education policy wish for 2014 is that Farina and De Blasio deliver on their promise of a progressive agenda, greatly reducing the emphasis on testing and punishment and working to create conditions that bring the joy of learning (and teaching) back to NYC schools.  It's way past time, and it CAN be done, and I am so excited to be a teacher in this city right now. I hope that not only are we not disappointed, but that we can set a better example for urban public school districts around the country than we have over the last 12 years. 

Of course, I agree, and yet we see people who, even after 12 years of trying, still think we need to "stick with it." NYC demanded a change, and Bill de Blasio represented that change for us. We preferred someone who was beholden to the people on the lower rungs of society and not "everybody," which is often a code word for "people with the most financial benefit."

Thus, Fariña's appointment as a former teacher, principal, and DOE leader speaks volumes symbolically about the direction he wants to take our education system. It's important that our school system find a way to keep their heads up high because so many adults are trying their absolute best to educate the kids in front of them. Yet, the tenor in NYC is how teaching as a profession doesn't have a value if teachers can't be evaluated and dignified by the numbers they produce.

Progressivism was in order, and we need to see what comes of it in the next four years.

3 Comments

Renee Moore commented on January 2, 2014 at 9:57pm:

High Expectations and Politicians...

...don't always mix.  I'll be watching the NYC developments hopefully, with you and everyone else.  But past post-election deflations teach us that even the most progressive and idealistic of political victories can dissolve in the harsh light of pragmatism, dug-in opposition, and powerful interests. Will the community stay behind the mayor and chancellor as they fight (and it will be a fight) to make the promised changes? The struggle continues.

Justin Minkel commented on January 13, 2014 at 7:19pm:

How much power do the powerful have?

I think of the position of Mayor/Chancellor of New York as an incredibly powerful one. But I'm curious as to your thoughts on how much influence even someone in that position will have, given the incredibly complex interlocking components of (to name a handful, not necessarily good or bad): US Department of Ed policies/initiatives like Race to the Top, New York State policies on testing, the advent of the Common Core standards, textbook companies like Pearson, and way on down the list.

1. What would you like to see de Blasio and Farina do either to change that complex national system or to create an oasis of sanity within it?

2. Do they have the power to do it?

Ariel Sacks commented on January 13, 2014 at 7:20pm:

Holding the elected & appointed accountable

Jose & Renee, I think you both are pointing to the idea that we have to be more than hopeful. We have to hold elected officials and policy makers accountable for doing what they say they will do. We also have to support them when they try things that are good but meet opposition elsewhere. How, realistically, do we engage closely with these polictical leaders, particularly on issues that affect us pretty directly in education? Are blogging and tweeting opening up such possibilities? 

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