Starting Point

Last weekend I attended my alma mater’s homecoming football game and celebrated my 40 years in education since graduating from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!).  It was great to be back on campus, to walk across the Diag, visit Couzens Hall (where I first met my wife), and enter the Big House with 100,000+ fans.  I told myself it was time to start writing that blog I’ve been talking about for the past 2 years.

Where does one start a blog?  Why does one start a blog?  I suppose there is a blog out there that answers those questions.  For me, I feel a need to defend public education.  Public education is under attack and nobody seems to care.  The criticism of schools and education are so prevalent that we don’t seem to even notice them anymore.  And who is out there defending public education?  I don’t see myself as a superhero defender, but one who wants to engage others in a conversation about how to defend public education.

I’ll finish this first post with a quote from A Nation At Risk (1983).  Here we are 31 years later and its message is even more compelling:

     Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. This report is concerned with only one of the many causes and dimensions of the problem, but it is the one that undergirds American prosperity, security, and civility. We report to the American people that while we can take justifiable pride in what our schools and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-being of its people, the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur–others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments.
     If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. We have even squandered the gains in student achievement made in the wake of the Sputnik challenge. Moreover, we have dismantled essential support systems which helped make those gains possible. We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.

Let’s begin a conversation about the attacks on public education. You have to know how you’re being attacked in order to create an effective defense.  I live in Illinois and will report on attacks happening here.  Please share news of attacks from where you live.

7 thoughts on “Starting Point

  1. There is an emerging factor in education. We once had discussions about the dynamics between local control and state control of schools. Clearly, there is now a third party, corporate control. Having been on all three sides of this structure I look forward to the discussion.


  2. I think this blog is a great idea. I would love to read other comments and add mine to the conversation. I don’t have an answer for this topic, but it seems like money is controlling a lot of occupations, and systems from politics, law/ court rulings to education.


  3. Thanks for starting this blog. I hope your posts and ensuing discussions can thwart attacks with positive messages about what our public education gets right in spite of the mountain of criticism, unfunded mandates and economic inequality in our nation.
    I contend that A Nation At Risk was the beginning of the failure messages. If you pound home the message that something or someone is a failure enough, the general population will perceive public education or a presidency as a failure whether its true or not. The key is to better define just what success is. Is success attaining material wealth and power by crushing those who look, speak or voice opinions other than yours? Or, should success be measured by how a person helped others live in peace and dignity?


    • I hadn’t thought of Nation At Risk as the beginning of the decline – it held such promise for positive change. I’ve thought about review its major recommendations and see how we’ve done – perhaps a future post.


  4. I look forward to following the discussion.

    As I’ve mentioned, I believe two of the most fundamental purposes of our government is the protection of its citizens and protection of justice. I believe that the failure of education in inner cities and some rural areas is a clear injustice and thus a failure of our government. I don’t know what the answers are, but I’m pretty sure I know what the answers are not.

    You are a model of civility, Mike, and it will be nice to have a civil discussion of ideas. A discussion in which people from different political spectrums can present questions and ideas without the discussion devolving into insulting each other. Thanks.

    Here is an idea for discussion at some point in the future:
    As it relates to the quality of education, how do the ideals of egalitarianism / equal outcomes (French ideal) and equality of opportunity (American ideal) shape the fix of education?



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