I thought about what I have to say and am taking this moment to be a political bully at the pulpit. Allow me to offer ten pieces of advice for the future of English education:
- No brainer, America. Invest more in public school teachers and follow the National Writing Project's motto of teachers teaching teachers to become a cultural norm. Get rid of reformers and let the experts reform themselves.
- Provide more resources to K-12 educators so that they can carry forth the instruction that they know works best. They are professionals, despite all the nonsense reformers are trying to say about them (talk about deficit constructions and mythology)
- Support Professional development. Professional development. And even better professional development. It's that easy. There needs to be money for professional development. In layman's term that is $$$$$$$. We have it. We spend it in ridiculous ways.
- Celebrate the CCSS and the objectives, but realize they are shortsighted, misguided, and totally designed by non-educators who don't have a clue on what works with American youth. Understand the standards are good, but please do something to bring resources to schools and teachers to help them achieve the standards as they are stated. Allow real classroom teachers to redesign them.
- Speaking of standards, there needs to be many additions made to the ones our states have "adopted", especially in terms of creativity and having a better understanding of the heterogeneous populations we teach. The one size for all does not work and the rigid, top down management of the national curriculum needs to be reconsidered. I recommend that we begin by reinvesting in the National Writing Project - the oldest, most effective model for working with teachers available all over the United States.
- Listen to Elyse Eidman-Aadahl. She directs the National Writing Project and I can't think of a more competent individual to help guide the next decades of educational reform.
- Rather than suggest archaic, homogeneous literature for American youth to read, tap into the world of Young Adult Literature and the promise it has to encourage young people to be literate, active, democratic readers who participate in American society.
- Balance equity between all schools so that there aren't those with 'stars upon thars' and those who don't even know that Frankfurter parties exist.
- Cease the corporate nonsense of charter schools takeover currently hijacking urban school districts and reconsider the scab-work of Teach For America (after all, the Guilded Age is not what we should be recreating in American society).
- Teachers, if you love what you do (and this includes those who teach at the University level), then get active: write local politicians, inform parents, resist administrative tomfoolery, and stand up for what you know is best for students and their futures as readers, writers, performers, makers, speakers and doers. Resist the ridiculousness that has quickly become 21st century schooling. It is detrimental to our kids and the teachers who work with them.
That's Crandall's political speech of the day and it was written before he kicks off day two of his presentations at the NCTE conference (with the NWP Annual Meeting at its culmination. I recommend you find a place over these next few days to make your own top ten demands! I hope, too, you find this photo opportunity to do so).