Thursday, June 02, 2011

Who Are Education's Big Visionaries?

Photo from '05 for Net2's I Want Change project

I need inspiration, and I'm hoping you can help.

One of the results of my creating a Generosity Plan was that I remembered how much I care about public education, literacy education, and arts education.

It's not that I forgot, really, it's just that I get so frustrated, overwhelmed, and heartbroken by the state of education in this country that I don't take action to improve it.

I couldn't bear to see Waiting for Superman, and I only volunteer as a "reading partner" for an hour each week at my local elementary school 'cause it's too depressing to work in a school library that doesn't have a librarian (Really? No funding for a librarian? Another cause that breaks my heart).  When I graduated from college, almost all of my friends worked in public education, including me, but now, they've all left.

So, this is where I need your help.  Open my eyes.  Who is making big, innovative, creative, positive changes in public education, literacy education, and arts education?  If green is the new black, who's going to make education the new green?

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  1. I'm biased because I work for the organization. But, I truly believe that Hero School is making positive, innovative changes to education. The model focuses on making students aware of why they're in school and realizing that they must learn from mentors and teachers instead of each other. These two points alone make a big difference in a one-hour keynote presentation. It helps to increase engagement and retention. The only problem is that I'm not sure if it's entirely sustainable yet. But, just a thought! The website is, and we have a twitter handle @heroschool.

  2. I'm having a similar experience! In trying to find an influential group of healthcare activists, I see a lot of activity but little real change. But, because of Lakoff's "The Political Mind," I'm beginning to understand why. He says that liberal minds today approach issues with old-school reason and logic. Conservatives know how to undermine this by focusing on their "moral" values. Our statistics about decines in healthcare, education, etc, become ineffective. It's a fascinating dynamic, and applies to many areas of liberal thought. Only 1/4 through the book ($6 at Amazon), I'm already reframing my thinking so I can better understand and connect with fellow healthcare activists. George Lakoff is a professor at UC Berkeley, and is without doubt giving us a powerful new tool for more effective positive change.

  3. Cher ~ Thanks for the org recommendation, and Joel ~ thanks for the book recommendation!

  4. Have you seen the documentary "Race to Nowhere"? It might leave you with feelings of despair as "Waiting for Superman" did but the response to this film has been a real call to action for folks involved in the public school systems in this country. the link to the film's website:
    and a social action site, in partnership with the film:
    ...hope this sparks something for you, it certainly did for me

  5. Thanks, Sylvie! I just added it to my Netflix queue (it's not out on DVD yet), and I started to follow them on Twitter.

  6. Rachel7:34 AM

    Michelle Rhee (my idol), The KIPP Founders, Geoff Canaday, & Joel Kline. Britt - you should read "The Bee Eater," which is a brand new book about Michelle Rhee & DCPS. I read it in one sitting. Totally engrossing.

  7. Thanks for all of these suggestions, Rachel! I will add The Bee Eater to my reading list. Have you read Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough? If so, what did you think of it?


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