A Kindergartner Reserves a Space for #OptOut2020

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Welcome to the season of testing, our vernal blood sport. Uploading the schedule took forever. It must have been the server of the New York State Education Department, sclerotic as the bureaucracy itself. But there it was, a memo signed by Deputy Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green. An exam for every public school student on the “education” spectrum—if one could dignify it as such—from third through eighth grade.

Action has intensified in recent weeks. New York State Allies for Public Education, which has long guided parents in the process of refusal, expressed outrage at a toolkit sent to . . . Read full article →

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Renee Dinnerstein’s Revolution Grows in Brooklyn

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Last September, before school began, I made my way to the Brooklyn Historical Society for the launch of Renée Dinnerstein’s new book, Choice Time. At a time of standardized tests for five-year-olds, canned curriculum, didactic instruction, and the Common Core—in a city of deep inequality and segregation—this event was long overdue.

More than 200 teachers poured into the landmark Romanesque Revival building, now a center of urban history, civic dialogue, and community outreach. Many were left standing around the edges of the room, the air tense with expectancy. After a day of setting up their classrooms, they . . . Read full article →

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Kaliris Salas-Ramirez: A Neuroscientist for Democracy, Racial Equity, and Progressive Education

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America’s education policies are tearing at the fabric of progressive practice. Nowhere is this phenomenon more damaging than in the earliest years. The kind of schooling that nurtures higher order thinking, curiosity, imagination, and innovation, critical skills for our complex 21st-century world, has become a province of the privileged—a rare species, especially in underserved communities of color.

Kaliris Salas-Ramirez is fighting for her biracial son’s progressive education at Central Park East I, in East Harlem. The brainchild of Deborah Meier, who describes play as “self-initiated cognitive activity,” CPE I is now a battleground for democracy, pitting parents . . . Read full article →

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Deborah Meier’s Stand on Central Park East I: A Crucible for Progressive Education

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In 1974, a small elementary school blossomed in East Harlem. The seeds were planted by Deborah Meier, renowned thinker, teacher, principal, education activist, and recipient of a McArthur “genius” award. Blessed by Anthony Alvarado, a forward-thinking superintendent in New York City, Central Park East I became a beacon of progressive, child-centered practice.

The school embodies Meier’s vision. “Democracy demands we acknowledge everyone’s inalienable capacity to be an inventor, dreamer, and theorist—to count in the larger scheme of things,” she wrote in The Power of Their Ideas. She warned us long ago about the dire . . . Read full article →

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