Recently, I have been trying to make the point that scripted curriculum that has students reading fewer books and only snippets of texts has contributed to the language of hate, bigotry, and division that seems to be consuming our political and social conversations. In my opinion, students need longer and more frequent opportunities to discuss complex ideas that might fulfill the promise that Jefferson and other founding fathers offered when they promoted education in the new democracy. Yes, I know that women, African Americans, and others were denied the vote, an education, and other opportunities, but the idea that an educated populace was essential in the promotion and protection of a secure democracy seems to me to remain a key idea if our democratic republic will continue to flourish. We have made advancements in terms of inclusion, but I fear that current policies have turned us to constant testing instead of promoting and fostering inquiry, critical thinking, and open debate—not just argumentation. (Please listen to Jimmy Fallon's short statement below. The video is a youtube version of his speech--it may not stay, may blog sight accomadates only Youtube. The link to his official website post is here.)
We need to say their names, not only the names of those who are lost, but those who continue on by doing good works through their words and actions. I would like to say a few names that have been important to me lately—in the future, I am sure there will be others. Some you will know and some you won’t. It doesn’t matter, but I will say their names. Some of the people are authors, church leaders, scholars, and many of my former students who amaze me. The only family member is my wife, Dana, who is a rock, but all of my kids should be here and many of my current and recent students. Here are their names: David Levithan, Meg Medina, Jason Reynolds, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Paula Meiling Siebers, Matt J. Stannard, Dana Bickmore, Bernie Sanders, Elder Patrick Kearon, Bill Konigsberg, Jo Knowles, Teri Lesesne, Corey Whaley, Ryan Williams, Kylene Beers and Amy Albritton.
In two short weeks I will return to Steve Sheinkin’s Most Dangerous. It truly is a book where the author dares to speak his name: Daniel Ellsberg.