In a high poverty school across town skyrocketing failure rates, high drop out numbers, and unacceptable attendance statistics pushed language arts teachers to ask themselves, "What do we know about learning that will turn this around?" Again, armed with research on best practices in their content area, these teachers are changing their traditional four-year program to bring students back to their classrooms. Instead of English 9, 10, 11, and 12, students will now choose between courses like Shakespeare, Mythology, or "The Other America."
Naming inequality and speaking out against it is one of the first steps in working for justice. After Pedro Noguera, a professor from Harvard, spoke at an inservice meeting for Portland high school teachers about their role in reducing the achievement gap, teachers met in school groups and talked about how their schools need to change if they want all students to succeed. While not all teachers agreed with Noguera's message, a number of school communities said it was the most honest discussion they'd had in their school careers.
As Rethinking Schools turns 15, this is what gives me hope: The defiance of teachers who are unwilling to tolerate inequality, the work of teachers seeking out new voices to bring into their classroom, the willingness of teachers to accept that they are creators of change in their school communities. I celebrate those who dare to believe that teachers can create a kitchen-table journal and transform it into a force for educational change.
Spring 2001[% INCLUDE /zglobl/subscribe.htm %]
Vol. 15, No. 3