The 26th annual Open Education Conference, "Rekindling the Vision," is scheduled for the weekend of March 20-21, 2009. The conference is loosely affiliated with Ann Arbor Open School, but it's really about the idea of Open Education. And to be perfectly clear about it, there are probably teachers in every school in Washtenaw County who teach in an "open" manner, and there are certainly parents in every school who like that style of education.
Some years the Open Education conference is better than others, but I have reason to believe that this year will be excellent. I've been to a few, not all, and always as a day-tripper (which you can do--the prices are reasonable, and the conference is at a lovely camp just outside Ann Arbor). One of my favorite memories from an Open Conference was a discussion of the MEAP, where we got to actually take part of an (old) MEAP. I think it was 5th grade social studies. I felt much more informed about the test after that--it was somewhat hard, and it seemed more like a reading comprehension test than a social studies test.
In any case--this year, the Open Conference has a speaker whom I believe will be excellent. More information and registration flyers can be found here. I want to encourage you to go hear Deborah Meier. Although I haven't heard her speak, I have read some stuff by her. She will be speaking on Saturday. You can read more about her at www.deborahmeier.com, and here is a brief synopsis:
Among Deborahʼs many accomplishments she is well known as the founder and teacher director of a network of highly successful public elementary schools in East Harlem. In 1985 she founded Central Park East Secondary School, a New York City public high school in which more than 90% of the entering students went on to college, mostly to 4-year schools. During this period she also founded a local Coalition center, which networked approximately fifty small Coalition-style K-12 schools in the city.
Her books are: The Power of Their Ideas, Lessons to America from a Small School in Harlem (1995), Will Standards Save Public Education (2000), In Schools We Trust (2002), Keeping School, with Ted and Nancy Sizer (2004) and Many Children Left Behind (2004).