showing people the difference they can make

The title of this post is a quote from Anthony Cody, in his response to a comment I posted on his fascinating blog. But I am starting in the middle of the story….

Mr. Cody starts off by saying:

Two weeks ago I traveled to Seattle and spent most of the day meeting with leaders of the Gates Foundation, discussing their work around education reform. I have been critical of the impact their agenda has had, but they expressed an interest in opening up a dialogue. This blog post will be the first in a series of exchanges that will explore some of the key issues in education. We plan a process where we will take turns posting our perspective on a given theme, followed by a response from the other party. All posts will be carried here, and at the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists blog. We will ask everyone to join in a lively discussion. The education reform debate has deteriorated at times—our goal is to engage in a constructive conversation, to turn down the heat, and to seek a bit more light.

In the weeks to come we will get into some nitty gritty issues, such as what it means to “measure” teacher effectiveness? What is the role of poverty in relationship to education reform? What is the purpose of a k-12 education? And what role should the drive for profit play in our schools? But as our starting point, we are going to take a narrower focus, and tackle something a bit more concrete. This first exchange will focus on these questions: How can educators create a strong professional culture in our schools? How do we build the teaching profession?

What follows are ten posts, 5 each from Anthony and representatives from the Gates Foundation spanning July 23rd to September 3rd. There is a ton to read – it took me a couple of days to wade through the tennis match and most of the comments left by a handful of community members (I have no idea who they are). In the end, I was extremely impressed by Anthony Cody’s persuasive and very well-supported arguments, in stark contrast to the brief, almost dismissive efforts of the Gates Foundation that left me feeling like they were playing the “you’re ok, I’m ok” game.

If nothing else, Read the rest of this entry »