"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, September 27, 2013

K-12NN Founder's Open letter to the President, entreating him to read Professor Ravitch

You would come to allow — or steer — some of the worst policies to undermine, weaken, and privatize public education through your appointee, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Those babies and toddlers you kissed grew up some, and are now entering kindergarten and first grade. In some states, children as young as first grade might be taking tests on art instead of actually creating art, or doing worksheets for "homework". — Dr. Cynthia Liu

Dr. Cynthia Liu of K-12 NNDr. Cynthia Liu is one of the Los Angeles region's best kept secrets. It's not that her K-12 News Network site isn't read nationally, or that she hasn't won awards for her blogging and innovative social media work. Yet somehow, inexplicably, she's often left out of the conversation about prominent writers opposing corporate neoliberal education reforms. That's tragic, because Liu is one of our profound thinkers on these issues. Moreover, her ability to write for a more moderate audience gives her cross-over appeal. Audiences that many leftist writers like myself inevitable turn off by quoting favorites like Bruce Dixon, Jonathan Kozol, bell hooks, and Paulo Freire. Liu has read all of those people too, she's just judicious on where and when she cites them.

Liu's latest essay entitled Open Letter to President Obama — The One Book You Should Read on Public Education: Reign of Error, By Diane Ravitch is masterful in that rather than skirt the fact that Barack Obama's policies have been disastrous, she calls them out while simultaneously giving the administration an opportunity to save face. She's not the only author to do that, our very own Dr. John Thompson frequently writes from that perspective as well, but this Liu piece is particularly effective. It's something I could send to my liberal friends that they wouldn't find offensive — the same folks that have told me my work offends them.

The essay artfully ties together a number of threads, and entreats the President to read Professor Diane Ravitch's latest book. About halfway through we're presented with a review of the book, written from the perspective of being a pedagogy for the President. Nice too, is that Liu's pointed criticisms of the charter sector that go even further than Ravitch's. It's an interesting way to write a review, in that there's a sort of exphrasis tailored to telling one of the chief architects why the structure isn't sound.

Her "open letter" to the President angle is actually a viable approach. While I personally voted for Cynthia McKinney in 2008, Dr. Jill Stein in 2012, and would proudly wear one the Too Left for Obama (2L4O) T-Shirts sold on the Black Agenda Report site, I'm not your typical voter. We need a broader base of people critiquing these policies, and writers like Liu are more likely to reach them. If you know any liberals, or misguided progressives, who are wrong on education issues, send them the link to the essay. It can't hurt to try.

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