This article talks about the need for the whole community to be involved in making schools. “Bad” Neighborhoods do not always result in “Bad” schools. The school can provide the lifeblood of a community and do tremendous community development work.
Liberty Elementary is the school that our speaker, Luisa Palomo, teaches at–check out the website to learn more about their community partners and how a successful school like this sets up their website.
This is one of the books that Luisa recommended and it looks to be an excellent read: Teaching With Poverty in Mind
Did you hear Luisa call her school a “Title 1” school? Confused about exactly that means? Read up on what Title 1 is and how it has changed since being passed in 1965.
One problem we talked about during the meeting was the idea that schools can end up looking like little factories–never specializing and always assuming that if you have a certain input, you will always have the same output. Poet and Essayist Wendell Berry has some ideas about what education is:
“The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. It’s proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or “accessing” what we now call “information” – which is to say facts without context and therefore without priority. A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing what things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first.” -Wendell Berry, Thoughts in the Presence of Fear
Our schools are places for individualized learning, for students to feel supported and to learn responsibility for the world and their interaction with it. For many students, as Luisa reminded us, that means that they have to be relieved of the burden of survival and adult worries. Classrooms need to be environments in which students feel safe and at home, while simultaneously challenged to make that home a better place, where they feel free to fail, while still trying to meet high expectations, and where they can be children, while still maturing. This is no small task, and what a joy to know that there are teachers like Luisa, and schools like Liberty doing the hard, passion-filled work of community building through education.