Thursday, September 30, 2010

Elevating the Education Reform Dialog, Live on Monday

Between the NBC "Education Nation" Summit, Waiting for Superman, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million gift to Newark city schools, there has been a lot of media attention focused on the topic of education reform. Unfortunately, much of it has excluded actual educators, let alone students. Furthermore, and perhaps as a consequence, the dialog has become divisive, blaming, and ultimately counter-productive. and Edutopia are collaborating this coming Monday on a two-hour live and interactive look at "Elevating the Education Reform Dialog"--an online discussion with special guests and specifically for educators,  to help move past the bashing and to engage in a constructive conversation about the best way forward.  Connection details are at the bottom of this post.

UPDATE (10/4/10) - Today's Schedule (click on "other" for other time zones):

2:00 pm Pacific / 5:00 pm Eastern (other) - Alfie Kohn
2:15 pm Pacific / 5:15 pm Eastern (other) - Diane Ravitch
2:30 pm Pacific / 5:30 pm Eastern (other) - Deborah Meier
2:45 pm Pacific / 5:45 pm Eastern (other) - Chris Lehmann
3:00 pm Pacific / 6:00 pm Eastern (other) - Gary Stager
3:15 pm Pacific / 6:15 pm Eastern (other) - Will Richardson
3:30 pm Pacific / 6:30 pm Eastern (other) - Julie Evans
3:45 pm Pacific / 6:45 pm Eastern (other) - Sir Ken Robinson
4:00 pm Pacific / 7:00 pm Eastern (other) - One hour "Open Forum" for educators and others to voice ideas and feelings about education reform.

Julie Evans is the CEO of the national education nonprofit organization, Project Tomorrow ( whose mission is to ensure that today's students are well prepared to become tomorrow's leaders, innovators and engaged citizens of the world. Under her leadership, Project Tomorrow has emerged as a national leader promoting the use of innovative and research based science, math and technology resources in our K-12 schools to develop critical thinking, problem solving and creativity skills in students.

Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and parenting. The author of eleven books and scores of articles, he lectures at education conferences and universities as well as to parent groups and corporations.

Kohn's criticisms of competition and rewards have been widely discussed and debated, and he has been described in Time magazine as "perhaps the country's most outspoken critic of education's fixation on grades [and] test scores."

Chris Lehmann is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, PA. The Science Leadership Academy is an inquiry-driven, project-based, 1:1 laptop school that is considered to be one of the pioneers of the School 2.0 movement nationally and internationally. The school was recognized by Ladies Home Journal as one of the Ten Most Amazing Schools in the US, has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School in 2009 and 2010 and has been written about in many publications including Edutopia Magazine, EdWeek and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Deborah Meier has spent more than three decades working in public education as a teacher, principal, writer, advocate, and ranks among the most acclaimed leaders of the school reform movement in the U.S. Meier was born in New York City in 1931 and was educated at Antioch College and the University of Chicago. She began her teaching career in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia as an elementary and Head Start teacher, continually fascinated with why schools did not work well and what was needed to fix them.

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. In addition, she is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.  She shares a blog called Bridging Differences with Deborah Meier, hosted by Education Week. She also blogs for and the Huffington Post. Her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines.  From 1991 to 1993, she was Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

Will Richardson considers himself an "evangelist" for the use of Weblogs, RSS and related Internet technologies in classrooms and schools. Over the past six years he's had the chance to speak and work with thousands of educators from around the world on the merits of "The Read/Write Web." He was a classroom teacher for over 20 years who integrated these technologies into his curricula for over four years. In various Weblog projects, his students have collaborated with best-selling authors, Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, and with students in classrooms from around the world.

Sir Ken Robinson, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources. He has worked with governments in Europe, Asia and the USA, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations. In 1998, he led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government. ‘All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education’ (The Robinson Report) was published to wide acclaim in 1999.

Since 1982, Gary Stager, PhD, an internationally recognized educator, speaker and consultant, has helped learners of all ages on six continents embrace the power of computers as intellectual laboratories and vehicles for self-expression. He led professional development in the world's first laptop schools (1990), has designed online graduate school programs since the mid-90s, is a collaborator in the MIT Media Lab's Future of Learning Group and a member of the One Laptop Per Child Foundation's Learning Team. Mr. Stager's doctoral research involved the creation a high-tech alternative learning environment for incarcerated at-risk teens. Recent work includes teaching and mentoring some of Australia's "most troubled" public schools. Gary was Senior Editor of District Administration Magazine and Founding Editor of The Pulse: Education’s Place for Debate.

Date: Monday, October 4, 2010
Time: 2pm Pacific / 5pm Eastern / 9pm GMT (international times here)
Duration: 2 hours
Location: In Elluminate. Log in at The Elluminate room will be open up to 30 minutes before the event if you want to come in early. To make sure that your computer is configured for Elluminate, please visit Recordings of the session will be posted within a day of the event at the event page.
Event and Recording Page:
Hashtag:  #elev8ed


  1. Absolutely true - very few educators have been driving the recent publicity. Very nice to see this panel of respected, insightful, and influential people who are closely involved in education. Although, none are current classroom teachers, I believe.

  2. Steve,

    I am simply and utterly happy that you all are combining to do this.

    It's the kind of discussion we need to be having.

    Simply--thank you.

  3. Jeff,

    Chris Lehmann is a school principal and a couple of us work in schools constantly and with teacher regularly. Deborah Meier is a MacArthur Genius with 50+ years of experience. Alfie Kohn is a tireless advocate for children.

    There is room for more than one venue and a need for a lot more conversations. Teachers should organize and speak out. Maybe some parents, retired educators, teamsters and Democrats should too.

    It does no good for progressive educators to engage in friendly fire when the rest of the world has nuclear weapons (Oprah, NBC, etc...)

    The quality and validity of the debate should not be judged or reduced to teacher head-count.

    NBC included teachers in Education Nation - see who they are and why they were chosen -


  4. Gary - I agree. An excellent panel. I just think those who spend all day everyday in schools (like Chris) with the primary responsibility for their students' education, add another valuable dimension. And, yes, this is just one conversation amongst many that need to take place. I certainly hope other such conversations, that include other constituencies, take place. No Nukes ...

  5. Reposting at Teachers' Letters to Obama, a Facebook group with 3000 members that has quietly been doing the same kind of virtual community building. Over 500 people have attended our series of "Roundtables," hearing guests like Diane Ravitch, Lily Eskelson, Yong Zhao, Monty Neill, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Doug Christenson--and a host of teachers who want to push back against deceptive media.

    Looking forward to next Monday.

  6. Steve, thanks for gathering the great voices and providing the forum. Sounds great! I'm really hoping, along with Jeff, that you're able/willing to add current classroom teachers, as "special guests" and highlighted "speakers". - Mark

  7. Anonymous9:47 PM

    I believe this is going to be a wonderful conversation -- but how are you going to get it beyond just the regular group of people who attend.

    Are you contacting the news, radio, etc??

    How can we get the word beyond the usual listeners??

  8. Anonymous11:25 PM

    Would like to see a more diverse group of scholars who can weigh in on this topic. A few you should consider: Janelle Scott, UC Berkeley, Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford U., Gloria Ladson-Billings, UW-Madison, Amy Stuart-Wells, Teachers College, Peter Murrell, Loyola University-Maryland to name a few.

  9. Anonymous11:55 AM

    Where are the teachers???

    The voices talking here are exceptional but not one of them is still teaching in a classroom.

    Please add some teacher voices.

    Thank you

  10. Great effort. I totally agree that the conversation has been hijacked by those who promote negativity and blaming. I suspect they don't understand that's what they are doing, but the result is very bad. Cheers!

  11. Obviously, you can't please everyone with any one event, but after my <a href=">experience at Education Nation</a>, I don't think this is the correct response, and if anything, might be counter productive. Just as NBC didn't take the voices of people in the classrooms seriously, this conversation does not include any classroom teachers. Additionally, with the exception of Deborah, none of your panelists seem to have any significant experience with non-selective urban education, which, let's be honest, is the only place the crisis anyone cares about is happening.

    I write this loving the majority of your panel. Debbie Meier, along with Ted Sizer, is the reason I decided to become a teacher in the first place. I would literally do anything she asked me to. Alfie Kohn's writings have had a tremendous influence on me, and I just gave Beyond Discipline to our new dean. Will was the first edublogger I discovered six years ago, and has pushed my thinking ever since. Chris is my favorite on-the-ground educator I know, and SLA has been an inspiration to me as I've tried to help build a school in the Bronx. I can't wait to tune in, and learn from these amazing educators.

    With that said, I just wish this wasn't being posited as "elevating" the dialogue. It's a great conversation, but, like NBC, it doesn't seem to include any dissenting voices. Like NBC, it doesn't include teachers. Like NBC, it's privileging "expert" voices over the ones on the ground with the students no one is selecting for schools like SLA. And it must be noted, it is 100% white.

    I should've known better than to expect any better from NBC and the Rhee/Canada/Charter School "Reformers", but I have a much higher expectation for those who are on my side. We need to be better than them. That is the best way forward.

  12. Regarding teacher participation:

    1. Hopefully, we've brought together a group that's high-profile and supportive of expanding the educator voice in the dialog.

    2. We also hope that teachers will come to the event and participate.

    3. Do check out the interview series, both past and future, as one venue where we've tried to have a broader opportunity for participation in these discussions.

    Thanks for the comments!

  13. Anonymous12:29 PM

    sorry Steve, but not one of those teachers has been inside (teaching day to day) a classroom in more than 5 years. (I might be incorrect on that with Will but think I am correct with the rest.)

    You must include teacher voices and not just teacher responses.

    You have brought together an impressive group of educators who were once in the classroom. Please expand the list to include at least one or two experts who ARE in the classroom.

  14. Why is it that anyone who suggests a way for teachers to break with the past, act like ALL other professions, and get the respect they and their students deserve... automatically accused of "bashing".

    I should like to ban that word from the education domain forever and ever.

    Do let us resolve: anyone who uses "bashing" will be considered one of (or accomplice to) the 1/3 of one percent of experienced teachers who need to be removed/reassigned/retrained.

  15. I wonder how many politicians and other people so critical of education will tune in to be part of a discussion to truly improve education.

    I cannot attend, but hope you archive it for listening later. Steve, thanks for being such a strong advocate for public education and teachers.

  16. I think it's a great idea to add a classroom teacher to this panel. It's probably too late at this point but here are a few teachers who I feel would add a lot to this conversation:

    Bill Ferriter:

    Brian Crosby:

    H. Songhai:

    Diana Laufenberg:

    Paul Allison:

  17. Steve,
    Thanks for doing this! In response to those looking for classroom teachers. There will be plenty in attendance I am sure. In my experience, Steve has always asked for the opinions of his attendees, so I don't see the lack of teachers on the panel as a problem. The members on the panel have many combined years of experience in the classroom as opposed to the billionaires pushing their own agenda. This urban educator who is in the classroom everyday is really looking forward to a stimulating conversation. See you there!

  18. This group of speakers is phenomenal. All should've been invited to EducationNation.

    I'm absolutely looking forward to this. Thank you.

  19. Here are my thoughts on this event:

    You will see that I was not as impressed as everyone else seemed to be.


I hate having to moderate comments, but have to do so because of spam... :(