‘Tis the Season….to make lists

“Readers love lists.  Will you build a weekly column around lists?”

Her question took me by surprise.  “But I will be writing about education,” I replied.  “Not sure how I can fit lists into that.”

“Easily,” she said. “Seven things a teacher should never say to a student.  Six ways to control a disruptive class.  Five public school districts that cannot seem to retain teachers, and why.  Four reasons why schools should require uniforms, and four reasons why that’s a bad idea.  Three completely ineffective ways of teaching reading….and why it’s so difficult to get rid of them.”

She smiled.  “Shall I go on?”  

That conversation with the legendary editor Tina Brown took place in late 2007, when she was launching The Daily Beast.  She was interviewing me as a potential columnist, but I wasn’t savvy enough to recognize that she knew what she was talking about.

Ten years later, I finally absorbed the wisdom. That’s when I released my 12 steps to rescue public education.

Now I am a big fan of lists, particularly this one: seven very deserving non-profit organizations that could use your year-end financial (and tax-deductible) support.  

The links are hot, to make donating easy 🙂

CHESS IN THE SCHOOLS   Thousands of programs supplement public education and provide opportunities for less-fortunate kids to dance, play musical instruments, paint, play sports and so on, but most of these worthy programs are, sadly, not actually part of the school day and part of the curriculum. Instead, they take place after school or on weekends.  Chess in the Schools is different because it is integrated in the elementary school curriculum. Students learn to play chess as part of their school day!

      And chess teaches much, much more: Sportsmanship, Patience, Concentration, Critical Thinking Skills, Self Esteem, and Social Skills.  CIS holds tournaments, helps send students to college, and trains teachers.  And over the years it has reached more than 500,000 students!  

     Today CIS is in only 48 schools in New York City.  Your tax-deductible gift will help it help more children.

THE NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION  If you are concerned about the right-wing attacks on public education, which I wrote about here and here, please consider supporting the Network for Public Education, an activist organization started by a former high school principal, a former high school teacher, and an education historian (all of whom I interviewed during my reporting career).  NPE’s mission is “to preserve, promote, improve and strengthen public schools for both current and future generations of teachers. NPE also publishes an invaluable and up-to-date list of charter schools embroiled in scandal, financial and otherwise.  Sadly, the list grows and grows.

The next three organizations strengthen reporting about education. All are essential, so take your choice—or support all three!

CHALKBEAT  This vibrant organization provides in-depth on-line reporting about public education in eight cities and states–Chicago, Indiana, Philadelphia, New York, Colorado, Newark, Tennessee, Detroit–plus a national overview.

THE HECHINGER REPORT This invaluable organization’s mission statement says it all: We cover inequality and innovation in education with in-depth journalism that uses research, data and stories from classrooms and campuses to show the public how education can be improved and why it matters.  Its reporters dig deep, often turning over rocks to reveal messy scandals, but never losing sight of the larger goal: to improve public education.

EDUCATION WRITERS ASSOCIATION is the glue that holds my former profession together. Without EWA, education reporting would be a shadow, and the field would not be able to attract and hold some of the brightest minds in journalism.

WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN  No doubt you are aware of WCK, the remarkable organization founded by Chef José Andrés. You may already be a supporter. If not, click the link above. Or read what I wrote about WCK in June.  If you are horrified by Putin’s war and what the citizens of Ukraine are enduring, you can help by giving to WCK.

DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS  Another way to help the people of Ukraine is to donate to this remarkable organization, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres.  That beleaguered nation is one of 70 (SEVENTY!) where this organization can be found. As its mission statement notes “Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) offers medical humanitarian assistance to people based solely on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender, or political affiliation. Our teams of doctors, nurses, logisticians, and other frontline workers are often among the first on the scene when peoples’ lives are upended by conflict, disease outbreaks, or natural or human-made disasters.” 

So, that’s my list. Now, does anyone have Tina Brown’s email address?

Thanks for considering a donation (or two or three….)

Happy Holidays and may 2023 bring you peace, health, and happiness. 

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