Discover more from Forza...for Education
A Nation at Risk..again and again…
It’s that month, again. April. But this is one of those big anniversaries. Forty years since A Nation at Risk was issued. It was a clarion call, and its now famous words are ubiquitous. “the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a People…
“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war."
As the old adage goes, those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. So if you don’t know this report yet, run, don’t walk to read it. Sadly, it still rings all too familiar today.
AEI’s Rick Hess wrote about it this month. Brilliant scholar and trusted ally for education opportunity, Hess just didn’t have it exactly right this time. He says its legacy just isn’t all that important. But the reality is that its data and recommendations were critical wake-up calls that directly impacted the fights we have today - which would have never taken place had someone not publicly named the obvious. That we were educating our kids with content a mile wide and an inch deep and holding no one to account for the result. I was part of that system. I lived it. And I've worked to reverse it ever since.
Randi Weingarten Takes the Stand
No joke. Randi’s antics during Covid - and the fact that her opponents now control the US House of Representatives - converge to have her testify tomorrow, Wednesday, April 26th on Capitol Hill. The hearing seeks to uncover the role that the AFT had in perpetuating CDC rules that kept school officials fearful and schools closed beyond scientific justification.
Two weeks into the pandemic CER’s team got to work highlighting the education champions who continued to serve students during Covid, no matter what the challenges. We thought the Committee, you and Randi should be reminded that thousands of amazing people forged ahead to deliver some of the most innovative solutions to education we’ve seen yet, as well as just good old-fashioned, safely delivered, in-person learning to tens of thousands. We resurfaced their examples for you today. Their examples speak to what Tocqueville once called the uniquely American idea of association. It’s that association, across state lines, that saved many of the most vulnerable communities from union-based Covid-era policies that were the demise of education in far too many others.
“As soon as several of the inhabitants of the United States have conceived a sentiment or an idea that they want to produce in the world, they seek each other out; and when they have found each other, they unite. From then on, they are no longer isolated men, but a power one sees from afar, whose actions serve as an example; a power that speaks, and to which one listens.”
Speaking of Associations…
Hard to believe but the historical Old Sturbridge Village, an outdoor history museum seeking to do something exceptional in offering a hands-on educational experience grounded in history and inspiring high-quality student work, through chartering, is now being boycotted by its host district for doing something unconventional for kids. There is little more to say other than “see it is all about the adults,” again.
“I’m disappointed by it,” said James Donahue, president and CEO of Old Sturbridge Village. “I think it’s a shame. I think that it’s unfortunate that the students of Worcester are being used, in my opinion, as a political football by the School Committee.”
Kind of reminds us of the Discovery Center of Springfield, MO, which turned on a dime to help kids during Covid and decided to become not only a safe place for students to learn and offer child care and support but became a school. It was so consequential that they became the first winner of the STOP Award (now The Yass Prize) and then guess what? Springfield, MO terminated its contract for district kids to experience this incredible and technology-infused science museum as an extracurricular activity.
Sucks for kids, but at least as Tocqueville says we can depend on great people inserting themselves into political affairs when special interests threaten students’ futures.
Let’s all write to Worcester schools and tell them what we think. Superintendent Dr. Rachel Monárrez’s can be emailed here.
When People Aspire to Do Great Things for Kids
The sheer magnitude of the people and places we’ve recently witnessed who are producing highly impactful learning and educational tools and venues for kids is both stunning and exciting.
At ASU + GSV the Yass Prize community along with hundreds of others came together to talk and witness great innovation. Read the report here.
On the road visiting some of the best examples of educational transformation, we saw firsthand how those who are given permissionless education environments in which to work and innovate are able to give students pathbreaking opportunities. Here are a few recaps…
Check Out the Latest Pubs and Podcasts on Innovation
The Perils Of Not Investing In Financial Literacy explores the costs of financial illiteracy and solutions that can help make the world of finance accessible to all students, by Brian Curcio, Co-Founder of Rapunzl which was a 2022 Yass Prize Finalist and STOP Award Winner.
Why Aren’t All Schools Healing Environments? - A special inPiazza on mitigating the impact of an unhealthy climate on our children, with leading clinical social worker and psychoanalyst Erica Komisar and award-winning educators.
Applications for The Yass Prize 2023 are open!
Thanks so much for reading. Please find ways to provide moral support to those doing great things against all odds! We all have an important role to play.