Every day seems to bring more interesting news in the world of public education: a new alliance of school districts and charters schools, scores on PISA, a waiver from the state department of education to allow Cathy Black to succeed Joel Klein in New York City, a front page story in the New York Times about Bill Gates’ support for videotaping teachers and Michelle Rhee’s launch of Students First.
Perhaps all of these developments deserve our attention, even though none can claim impact—they’re all works in progress, even the semi-good news about small increases by US students on the international PISA results. I expect to be blogging about them down the road.
If you are looking for positive impact on the lives and learning of children, I suggest the Coalition of Essential Schools, that wonderfully loose organization created in 1984 by the late Ted Sizer, a true giant in education.
Whether it’s the network of like-minded teachers who have been supporting each other for years and years, sharing ideas, techniques, successes and failures, or wildly successful schools like High Tech High and the Met schools, it’s clear that CES has had a positive impact on our schools. The CES common principles are found in most of the good work that is going on for kids today in schools all around the nation.
CES knows that no two schools are or should be alike, and, as its current leader George Wood put it, “CES never ‘branded’ itself or tried to control the ideas, and it never became a charter network or professional development shop or something like that.” Instead, CES remained true to Ted Sizer’s ideal, a ‘big tent’ of schools and educators determined to do the right thing(s) for students. But right now CES faces a serious challenge.
Many of the foundations that have supported CES over the years have moved on, which is their perfect right, of course. But it leaves CES in a financial bind. It’s reinventing itself, but that’s been a constant activity from day one. Naturally the Fall Forum and the newsletter will continue, but George reports that CES is rethinking how it can best play a part in the upcoming debates/discussions over the future of our public schools. He wrote, “I believe we can create a self-sustaining organization, but to get there we need ‘bridge’ funding, some money in the bank to support basic operating costs.”
It’s incredibly easy to donate, and I urge you to do so now. I just clicked the link, filled in a bit of information, and hit send. Bingo, I feel the spirit of the holiday season. I made my gift in honor of Ted, because his legacy matters more today than ever.
Donate online here or send a check: CES, c/o Great Schools Partnership, Attn. Darlene Hart, 482 Congress Street, Suite 500, Portland, ME 04101.
Please be a bridge-builder. Thank you.
Back in 2000, I visited Ted and asked him to talk about his vision for creating excellent schools. Listen to the interview online >>>