Monday, October 28, 2013

Here's why I support the Coalition of Essential Schools (and I invite you to subscribe to their Facebook page)

I'm a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools.

I have adhered to their principles for over ten years, but today, 28 October 2013, I became an individual member, paying $75 to say, "I support this organization's aims."  WATCH THIS VIDEO

I am a member of because that organization published The Big Picture by Dennis Littky and Samantha Grabelle (2004) and I just don't know when the next "good gospel" will be published by that organization.  I spend $39 a year on the basic membership and that's my vote for keeping The Big Picture in print.  Two chapters (1 here and 4 here, "One Student at a Time") of Littky's book are available for download on the ASCD website and for that, and for the free chapters of other books published by ASCD, I am happy to pay two pizzas a year to support their online web=books.

I admit that I learn something from the Educational Leadership magazine that arrives in print every two months.  Oh, yes, I'm a fan of EL and I use the articles in my workshops and to prod principals to innovate.

But when it comes to effective positive disruption, what organization does more than CES?  I can't think of anything more positively disruptive than to bring Linda Darling Hammond the stage (she's the keynote at the Nov. 8-10, 2013 event in San Francisco).  CES keeps the name Ted Sizer in front of me, so I feel compelled to contribute four pizzas a year to the organization.   Even the language used in their brochures and email blasts are positively unsettling.  "Critical Friendship."  I also like their constructive use of the semi-colon in the list in the first paragraph (in green) below:


For more than a quarter century, The Coalition of Essential Schools has gathered its members and our larger community for its annual meeting – The Fall Forum – to continue what our founder, Ted Sizer, coined as “a conversation among friends”.  This ongoing dialogue has served our schools and the larger educational community quite well as is evidenced by the countless communities and organizations that thrive with CES and our cornerstone 10 Common Principles explicitly or implicitly inside their values and design.
Whether we are talking about Advisory programs for personalization; Exhibitions and Portfolios as authentic and alternative assessments; Project-Based Learning as culturally relevant curricula; or Equity-Based Critical Friends Groups for making adult learning transparent and results-focused, CES is inside.
Making the Invisible Visible 
When we consider the impact of power (as influenced by race, gender, class, language, sexuality, etc.), what are the counterstories that can inform or transform our practice?  
Even with the strides we have made, we continue to be part of an educational system that, by default, favors some voices over others despite the fact that our schools and classrooms hold within them multiple, diverse and unequal experiences. "Making the Invisible Visible" is about creating conditions for us to surface, share and hear those voices from our classrooms, schools and communities that traditionally (and systemically) are unheard. "Making the Invisible Visible"will require us to consider these diverse and sometimes competing perspectives and beliefs as they relate to education and school in order to fully transform our own practices.  
At Fall Forum 2013, we will continue to hear from educators who have made and continue to make progress in improving education for our students regardless of social demographics. We will offer nearly 100 engaging and action-oriented workshops (here and here) that move beyond the status quo and challenge participants to question and reconsider our current beliefs about schools and education. On Sunday, we will create space for students, teachers and all educators to employ what they learned on Saturday when any attendee will be able to bring and share their own work or dilemma to a group of peers for critical friendship.   
Please join us, November 8-10 in San Francisco, as we not only continue, but expand the conversation, reflect on our own practice, and commit to new actions in service of our students.
I hope that many of the workshops leak out into YouTube. I wish I could attend (I'm spending the weekend with a mentor who created several businesses and I'm trying to learn how to teach that entrepreneurial mindset from her).

Just imagine the list of schools that are associated with the organization. I've scanned the list (it's available to anyone who signs up for the free email newsletter... I feel I could volunteer as a yearbook mentor at distance for many of these schools, just because of their names).

Here is the CES Facebook page

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting organization. I hope to learn more from the website.