Thursday, July 10, 2008
Wish List for the New Administration
This is my first blog post; thanks, Leonard for getting this initiative off the ground and for inviting me to participate. I haven’t quite “decompressed” from the spring semester, as I went right into the summer semester, so I’m going to take your invitation literally (you promised “a paragraph”) and try not to be overwhelmed by some of the latest detailed, lengthy and philosophically thoughtful posts. What I’d like to initiate is a blog strand that discusses what the presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have to offer in the way of new and fresh ideas about education. Are we in for more of the same no matter which party attains presidential power? Will the dance to the right, left, and center towards desired constituents neutralize any potentially powerful ideas for change? Each of them - McCain and Obama - have “issues” that they have offered some commentary on: perspectives on national standards, educational choice and competition, character education, merit pay, etc. I’d like to suggest that we take one issue at a time, and try to generate as much “complicated conversation” (thanks to Bill Pinar for that phrase) about it as we can. I would like to see what collective, pragmatic inquiry looks like when we take on issues that have the potential to go beyond traditional right/left ideologies. How might we, as Kathleen Knight-Abowitz suggests in her blog post of July 2, “remain committed to the questions rather than one fixed set of answers,” and maybe, just maybe, influence the course of events? If progressive educators could prioritize our policy wishes, how might that list read? What role would we want a new president to play in the formulation of federal education policy? I suspect we are all very hopeful about opportunities for real change, but where should Dewey-inspired educators put their focus, in terms of influencing policy?