On Sunday, August 28th, I attended an event at the Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington. The poster advertised the event as the Garn Press Author Celebration: “Writing for Parents and Teachers about Public Education and Corporate Education Reform.” From the panelists listed on the poster, I knew only the teachings of Anthony Cody. Through his blog, Living in Dialogue, I learned about the educational paradigm for 21st Century, as Yong Zhao and Will Richardson among others formulated it. I mentioned the paradigm in my previous posts here.
The panelists and the audience—educators, academics, parents, writers—formed a circle. We all became contributors to the discussion about the future of public education and what it will take to build its foundation stronger. In the past few years, I learned a lot about the elementary education. This event introduced me to thoughts permeating in the academic circles.
Apparently, the collaboration among activists who are engaged in various levels of education is rather rudimentary. The speakers agreed that much closer cooperation will be necessary in order to face the representatives of ALEC, Gates Foundation, Fordham Institute, philanthropists, politicians, and many others who are united in their efforts to privatize public education.
At one point, a store employee, a young lady in her mid-20s entered the discussion and enriched our views. She alerted everybody to the fact that it’s the student voice that needs to be empowered and that it’s educators’ role to engage students in political matters. Her passionate contribution reminded me my years as a university student in Prague, Czech Republic, and events surrounding the “Velvet Revolution.”
At the closing, the attendees didn’t state a manifesto, no tasks were assigned either, but we all separated knowing that we would remain much closer to each other than before.