Schools of Thought

I’ve  been trying to write this memoir for a long time: Schools of Thought: My __ years in education. The number in the blank keeps growing. Today it’s 70. For one thing, too many of my school memories are painful. Which means it would be helpful for me to write about them, yet also difficult. Sometimes I summarize my story as “All Schools Suck,” which is true, but what do you say after that? Each school sucks in its own way. Can I squeeze 250 pages out of this monumental yet trivial conclusion? Talking about how each school sucked in […]

Democracy is Coming to the USA

Our democracy – such as it is or ever was – is in trouble. Nationally, it’s warped by its remnants of slavery and Jim Crow. When two presidents over 16 years are elected despite their loss of the popular vote, you might think it’s time for something new. Let’s rebuild democracy from the other end, from the bottom up. Start with the schools. Perhaps if democracy were not only taught but practiced in the schools, it might be growing rather than shrinking. What would a democratic school look like? As far as the younger children go, it would maximize choice. […]

Hey, California! Statewide Teachers’ Strike?

How about a statewide teachers strike in California? I’m sure many people are working on this. LA is going on strike Monday (1/14/19) and Oakland is “Strike Ready” on the verge. And let’s include a parent boycott at the same time. Even if it was only for one day, it could make the legislature move. I spent 45 years in the schools first as a teacher then as a parent organizer. I am so sick of this battle over money. It’s been 40 f-ing years since Prop. 13, we have a Democratic supermajority, and a 9 billion dollar surplus in […]

Student Loan Strike?

Education should be free! Here’s a modest proposal. A college loan payment strike. Easy for me to say, since I have no such loans, but my son does. We can take our time. Set a date for the strike to begin, say Labor Day, 2019. Develop an organization. Get people to commit to joining the strike. Open an escrow account somewhere that the money can’t be seized (bitcoin? Cayman Islands?). People pay their loan installments to this special account. Assemble a legal team to advise us on how to protect our other assets from being seized by the government. Now […]

Transform the Schools from Instruments of Oppression to Vehicles for Liberation

I went into teaching 42 years ago because my leftist political friends said we needed to develop a parent-teacher alliance in order to build a revolutionary movement. Much has changed since then. We still need a revolution, but the nature of our vision has radically changed. My vision, anyway, is that people simply organize to take over from the bottom up. The schools would be a good place to start. So the parent-teacher alliance is still a good idea, and in some small and medium-sized ways I’ve tried to foster this alliance over the years But I think we need […]

Back to School

Back to School. One strategy that progressive forces in the cities might consider is developing a vision for the public schools and then organizing a slate of candidates for school board to advocate for that vision. The schools – pretty much all of them – are in terrible shape and the back-to-basics business model that’s been in vogue since the 1980s has only made the situation worse. This model is stuck in the 19th century, where in most cases children sit down and shut up while a teacher attempts to pour inaccurate and uninteresting knowledge into their ears. It never […]

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

I understand that it’s necessary for progressives to play defense on so many levels right now: defending immigrants, defending black and brown people against the police, defending public education, reproductive choice, environmental regulation, science, Social Security, Obamacare, the people of the Middle East against U. S. aggression. The list goes on. The old adage says the best defense is a good offense. One area where I think we need to go on the offensive is in the battle for the content and structure of the public schools. The curriculum of most elementary schools is stuck in the 19th century factory […]