Last weekend the Network for Public Education (NPE) hosted their second annual national conference. It was, to say the least, an inspiring experience. About six hundred activists from around the country gathered in Chicago to share ideas, resources, success and struggles. What an honor to mix and mingle with all of these warriors in the fight to reclaim public education. As NPE says, "We are many. There is power in our numbers. Together we will save our school."
If you were not able to attend, the keynotes and many of the sessions were live-streamed. These videos are becoming available at the NPE website. Please, do not miss NPE President Diane Ravitch in conversation with Chicago Teacher's Union President Karen Lewis who closed out the conference; Tanaisa Brown and Jitu Brown who gave the inspiring opening remarks that set the tone for the next few days; Yong Zhao from MIT, who was hilarious as well as brilliant; and Diane Ravitch in conversation with NEA's Lily Eskelsen Garcia and AFT's Randi Weingarten.
Afterwards, Diane Ravitch wrote, "The keynotes were wonderful. The panels were led by activists sharing what they had learned. Most of them had overflow crowds. One in particular was especially enlightening--Jesse Hagopian's discussion of the racist history of standardized testing, accompanied by Rita Green, the Director of Education for the Seattle NAACP, which has endorsed the opt-out movement. Green told the audience that the NAACP locals do not share the enthusiasm of the national organization for standardized testing. The room for that session was packed, with audience members sitting on the floor and lining the walls."
Here is the video of the outstanding discussion featuring Seattle teacher-leader Jesse Hagopian and Rita Greene, education director of the Seattle NAACP.
There is way too much to write about here - however if you search Twitter using the hashtag #NPEChicago you will find a wealth of information and inspiration.
Our Defending the Early Years session was fantastic - we heard from folks from across the country who shared their stories. We heard many, many thanks for the resources we have been providing. These resources are helping educators and parents defend good classroom practices for young children. We took notes on what more is needed - and these notes will help us formulate some of our next steps. For sure, one next step is to start translating our resources into Spanish. Our DEY session was live streamed and when the video becomes available we will let you know.
And in other great news...the plans for next year's NPE conference are already in the works! And if you can't wait that long...join the BAT's Teacher Congress in Washington, D.C. July 22 - July 26th.