Monthly Archives: December 2010

Lefty Parent 2010 Year in Review

As I continue to try and broaden my writing skills I occasionally try my hand at a different sort of content than my typical essay featuring a personal experience that I link to what I see as a broader trend, straight out rant, or a wrestling with ideas I’ve encountered in a book or article I read. Like recently I did a piece trying to capture the zeitgeist of the moment in US education as reflected in a selection of recent articles in Education Week magazine and the Public Education Network weekly e-blast (which was a challenge and tons of work and something I’d do again but not all the time).

Today I’m going to try my hand at another genre of short essay, the end-of-year year-in-review type piece, calling out some highlights or trends from the year past. Given that, I won’t even attempt to be comprehensive, other than scoping my piece on the items from 2010 that I’ll be curious to see play out going forward in 2011 and beyond. Here goes… wish me luck!

Continue reading →

Moving Toward an Egalitarian Work Place

In everything I write and everything I do I am all about calling out and promoting our societal transition from hierarchical to more egalitarian institutions and practices. I do not stop in these efforts at my workplace, and am pleased to report that my work environment has a lot of egalitarian features, thanks to the efforts of my boss, many of my co-workers and myself. Following up on my piece from back in July, “Much More and Much Less than a Boss”, I want to call out some of the aspects of that effort.

Continue reading →

Celebrating the Birth of a Child… Every Child

It’s a rainy “winter” day (currently a bone-chilling 57f) here in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles as I sit cozily in my little Perks wi-fi cafe and look out the window at the gray sky and the drops of water making little splashes on the pavement of the strip-mall parking lot full of glistening wet cars. The owner Gayle has told her staff to regale their customers with a satellite radio channel that plays all Christmas songs all the time. Though I enjoy a lot of the songs (some bringing back fond memories of the holidays from my youth) it can wear on you after an hour or so when they start repeating “Jingle Bell Rock”.

One of the schmaltzier classics caught my ear this morning, “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, sung by perhaps Bing Crosby. The specific lyric was…

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
“Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold–
Let us bring him silver and gold,
Let us bring him silver and gold.”

Continue reading →

My Tentative Embrace of Left-Libertarianism

Logo of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left

In the profile section of my Facebook page and increasingly in conversation when asked, I’m describing my political orientation as “left-libertarian” rather than “progressive” or “liberal”. I kind of feel like an adolescent experimenting with or trying on for size a persona that they are intrigued with but may not yet be fully comfortable with. Perhaps in wrestling with principles built around the primacy of liberty, I’m trying to rationalize some sort of continuity with ideas that I inherited from my parents. My mom always saying that in terms of parenting principles, that “kids will tell you what they need”, and when it came to education, “teachers should run the schools”. My father (though never explicitly stated as far as I can recall) believing that life at its best is an adventure, with twists and turns and outcomes always in doubt.

Continue reading →

Strong Parenting Is Key to America’s Future

My eye caught the above title in an Education Week magazine on-line teaser and couldn’t resist reading the article, by Joseph Gauld, the founder of the Hyde Schools. I certainly wasn’t comfortable with his Cold War “us and them” framing of the need for good parenting…

Not so long ago, we vigorously opposed Russian Communism’s threat to our American beliefs. Now China is projected to replace us as the world’s economic leader… To reaffirm democratic principles for ourselves and other nations, we must meet China’s economic challenge to our leadership… Today, we need the leadership of American mothers, fathers, and all surrogate parents. We need them to begin to develop a standard of excellence in parenting and family, now and for future generations.

Classic hierarchical patriarchal stuff here, framing everything in terms of a high stakes competition between adversaries to determine superiors and inferiors, good and evil, within the pecking order. That rather than a more egalitarian view of China as a problematic peer and partner.

Continue reading →

Parents and Students as Citizens in their own Schools

Today’s Los Angeles Times piece, “Parents hope to force sweeping changes at Compton school”, highlights a dysfunctional educational venue, McKinley Elementary School in Compton, and a controversial effort by parents to turn it around. Controversial because, without the knowledge of school staff or the school board, parents quietly took the radical action of circulating a petition, based on a new California law, to bring a charter company in to take over running the school. A school dysfunctional perhaps because of a lack of a good governance model that could have kept parents, teachers and even students in touch with each other as school stakeholders to share their concerns.

Continue reading →

Is Education an Obligation or a Right?

So in the United States, is education an obligation or a right? It was in a conversation about education this morning with my brother Peter that he formulated that very basic question. It was synchronistically what I had decided to write about today, but I had not framed the question so crisply.

It is really a poignant question because you can make a compelling argument that it is one, the other or both. I’m really wrestling with what “education” is all about and whose business is it anyway. In Wiktionary the definition is…

1-The process or art of imparting knowledge, skill and judgment
2-Facts, skills and ideas that have been learned, either formally or informally

Continue reading →