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November 1, 2008
Vol. 66
No. 3

Bits from the Blog

At ASCD's recent LEAP Institute, Donna Brazile urged attendees to elevate education as a national priority. Noting that education should not be a partisan issue, she urged educators to tell their stories to legislators and to encourage the media to report on substantive issues.
What have Educational Leadership readers been talking about? Read these comments from Inservice, the ASCD blog (www.ascd.org/blog), and then visit the blog to share your thoughts.
In response to Moving Beyond "Horserace and Gotcha Politics":
As a teacher and leader in the South Bronx, I do sometimes feel reluctant to leap into the political fray. In the current climate it's easy to slip into a cynical, defeatist mind-set. The political process often feels so removed from the day-to-day challenges of teaching and learning. If I know for sure that my efforts can make a concrete difference in the lives of the relatively small number of kids, teachers, and parents I interact with every day, why divert a single ounce of energy to reaching out to lawmakers who seem more intent on bickering with each other than listening to the people they represent? These are the questions and concerns that keep me up some nights.
While I can't say that all of those concerns have melted away, listening to Donna Brazile reminded me of one of the simplest truths at the root of all of this: If the political process feels removed from the day-to-day life of schooling in this country, it's because there aren't enough of us reaching out to our lawmakers and demanding that they listen to our stories.
Brazile reaffirmed for me the value of approaching the process of relationship building with policymakers in the same way that I have been working to connect with the my school community. As teachers and administrators on the front lines, we have a deep responsibility to engage with those who shape education policy in this country and share the stories we live out with our kids and school community members every day.
If we can help lawmakers reconnect to the human impact their decisions have and the urgency of the context in which they make them, maybe they can help us do what's right for kids. —Kate Quarfordt
In response to the question, If you could deliver one line to Congress, what would you say? ("Luntz on Being Heard on the Hill"):
Leaders: Now that you have blithely abandoned Reading First, what are you doing for struggling readers? Reading disability and reading delays are crippling our students. We've spent years on federal research and more time getting Reading First underway, only to have it turn into another political football. Even Reading First was never adequately funded. How can you excuse this indifference to the most fundamental educational goal, to be able to read? What now? —Nancy Poore
Teachers are the solution. Invest in them and you are investing wisely in the future of our country. —Jenna Fournel

Laura Varlas is a former ASCD writer and editor.

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