Thursday, March 27, 2014

Grab Bag: Open Conference Review, Same Sex Marriage

Open Conference Review

Last weekend, while I was at the County Clerk's office witnessing an historic event, the Open School Conference was happening at a lovely Lithuanian heritage camp, Camp Dainava, outside Manchester. So I didn't really know what happened there, except that one friend told me it was very interesting to hear about the progressive/open school in Boston, Mission Hill.

But yesterday I found out that Nancy Flanagan wrote the loveliest piece about the Open School Conference in Education Week! Titled, "What Professional Development Should Be," she writes, in part,

I was there to present on teacher leadership. I was prepared to share dramatic, even shocking information about the staggering gap between custom-tailored teaching practice and state and federal policy. I planned to tell them about teacher leadership "programs"--where "leaders" are selected and trained and funded, to do the bidding of organizations and promote policy initiatives. I wanted to talk about role-based leaders with defined duties, contrasted with a more organic kind of leadership--leadership that emerges from place and need. Which--it suddenly struck me--was present, in spades, in the room already. A principal who enthusiastically attends a conference planned entirely by her teachers, to learn with them? Teachers who won't let their internally-designed spring weekend together die, after three decades? Precious time set aside to talk about things that matter most in serving the 500 children in their collective care, as educators and parents? If that's not natural and authentic leadership, I don't know what is.
Read the entire article here. (You may have to register for Education Week, but you do get ten free articles a month for that.)

And another thing worth noting about the Open School Conference. Not only did Kit Flynn, Ann Arbor Open principal, attend, but so did the Ann Arbor schools superintendent, Jeanice Swift, and Dawn Linden, the Executive Director for Elementary Education. That may be the first time that has happened--but if not, it's certainly the first time in a long time! Thank you, Jeanice and Dawn, for showing up! I hope you enjoyed it as much as Nancy Flanagan did.

Same Sex Marriage Redux

I was disappointed--no, disappointed isn't the right word. I'm disappointed when I go to a party and none of the desserts are my favorites.

I was infuriated, dismayed, frustrated, and saddened by the Attorney General's decision to appeal Judge Friedman's ruling. To me, it's a waste of taxpayer money. I sent the Attorney General and the Governor this twitter message, but I guess it didn't make a difference.

Don't be mistaken, this ruling affects many children, parents, and teachers in the Ann Arbor schools, and in the various Washtenaw County school districts. Let the governor and attorney general know how you feel!

At one point, on Saturday, I watched the pastor of Ann Arbor's First Unitarian Universalist congregation (Rev. Gail Geisenhainer) perform a wedding ceremony on one side of me, and on the other side, the rabbi of the reform Jewish congregation Temple Beth Emeth (Rabbi Bob Levy) performed a wedding ceremony at the same time. It's worth noting that both couples who were getting married have children in local school districts.

Then yesterday I was thinking about a quote that is sometimes attributed to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." But it turns out that both he and Rabbi Jacob Kohn (who said something similar in 1940, during World War II), were basing their quotes on the quote of someone else, most likely Theodore Parker, who was a Unitarian minister and abolitionist. And Parker wrote:

Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right.* I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice. 
Theodore Parker, 1857
*By "right," he didn't mean "right wing" but "morally right"
**Read the interesting history of this quote at Quote Investigator.

And that quote put me in mind of this photo that I took a couple of years ago.

Photo by Ruth Kraut. Creative Commons license.

May that arc speedily bend toward justice!

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1 comment:

  1. Dr. Swift is hardcore! She has been incredibly visible and active in the Ann Arbor community in the 8 months that she's been here. As a teacher in the district, I have been very impressed with her so far and am energized by her enthusiasm and dedication. I'm not sure when/if she sleeps since she seems to be at so many meetings with teachers, parents/families, and community members. I am looking forward to implementation of new programs and positive changes to AAPS.