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Meeting of the Minds Meme

I’ve been tagged by Ryan Bretag for this meme, which I think is a nice idea.  The meme, as described by Ryan:

What 10 people would you want President Obama and Secratary of Education Arnie Duncan to engage with in a Meeting of the Minds focusing on the state of education, a vision for education and education reform?

Ponder your vision for education and what people you would want before doing the following

  1. Write a blog post that lists your 10 people
  2. Optional: Explain why you selected each person
  3. Tag at least 5 bloggers of interest
  4. Optional: Link back to this blog

So, here goes (in no particular order):

Deborah Meier / Diane Ravitch – I’m stretching the rules a bit here because I think both of these women need to be at the table, but I want to count them as one of my invitees.  If you can read only one “edublog,” their Bridging Differences is the one to read.  These two veteran educators, reformers, and scholars have had fantastic disagreements over the years, and that’s what makes the Bridging Differences blog so unique.  That said, it seems to me that they’ve each softened a bit and tend to agree more than they disagree.  Still, I could listen to the two of them discuss and/or debate educational issues until the cows come home (what does that mean anyway?).

Sherman Dorn – I’d invite Dr. Dorn for the historical perspective.  IMHO, few people have as thorough an understanding of the history of school reform as Dr. Dorn.  He’s been a blogger for longer than most people have even known of the word “blog,” and I learn from him daily.

Alfie Kohn – the more experience I gain as a parent and the more I (re)read Kohn’s writings, the more strongly I align with his ideology (yes, I used that word).  I believe there are two schools of thought in education: one based in developmental psychology and one based in behavioral psychology.  I’m putting myself squarely in the former by inviting Kohn.

Anthony Bryk / Stephen Raudenbush – another tag team.  There are no two scholars who are able to bridge the world of scholarship and practice like these two gentlemen.  They are absolutely brilliant academicians and researchers, having literally written the book on hierarchical linear modeling (a fancy statistical technique that makes perfect sense in educational settings).  Yet, they are able to take complicated analyses and write and disseminate their findings in ways that are totally accessible.  I encourage you all to listen to and watch Raudenbush’s distinguished lecture from last year.

Kieran Egan – gotta have a philosopher at the table right?  I find that Egan’s big picture view of education is helpful.  I use his article Why Education is so Difficult and Contentious as an introduction to my Politics and Education course.  I have not yet read his book called The future of education: Re-imagining our schools from the ground up, but it’s at the top of my priority list.

Fenwick English – if you know of Fen English, it’s probably as the “father” of the curriculum management audit.  However, I think of Fen as one of the few people who have had a long career as a school leader (he was a superintendent in NY) and an equally long and distinguished career as a professor of educational leadership.  I got to spend some time with Fen recently and learned about his working-class background and how that drives his clear and consistent thinking on important matters of social justice and educational equity. He’d be an agitator at this meeting, and I mean that in a good way.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett – I’ve come to know many school leaders over the years, and while I only met Barbara Byrd-Bennett in person once, I’ve never SEEN leadership in action quite like I saw it enacted one day while I was in Cleveland.  I happened to be there working with the CMSD research director the day after a major bond initiative passed.  That day, BB-B called every single employee working in the CMSD office into the auditorium and proceeded to deliver a spontaneous and moving speech thanking each and every employee for their hard work in getting the bond initiative passed.  She was moved to tears as was just about everybody in that auditorium (I might have even welled up a bit!).  The look in her eyes and the passion with which she spoke were pure embodiments of leadership.  Having worked at every level in large urban school districts, from a teacher in NYC to the CEO of Cleveland, BB-B would be a valued participant at this meeting of the minds.

Roger Schank – he’s been “ahead of the game” and pushing the learning technology envelope for many years.  He understands learning and he understands technology.  He’s written many books about e-learning, but I believe his book Coloring Outside the Lines: Raising a Smarter Kid by Breaking All the Rules is a must read for all parents and educators.

Nicholas Negroponte – we need someone with entrepreneurial spirit and with global concerns. Anyone who can dream up and give birth to the MIT Media Lab and the OLPC project is OK in my book.

My mom – why? because I can (it’s my party and I’ll…).  She taught in elementary schools for many, many years in the South Bronx (NY). I don’t know how she’d be received by the others at this meeting, but I’d love to give her this opporunity to offer her voice; an opportunity that I’m sure was never given to her as a dedicated, hard-working educator.

Now, to pass meme on…I tag:

Justin Bathon

Sherman Dorn (hey, why not?)

Sylvia Martinez

Dan Meyer

Bud Hunt

You’re it…