The good people of were kind enough to give me 800 words on civic engagement.  As any regular reader1 knows, brevity is my quiet nemesis.  There was a bunch that missed the cut:  My students engaging with Marxists2, weird positive energy with the University City Crowd3, and Mama Gail.

There’s one story, however, that trumps the rest.  At the very first meeting of the FMP, students from various High Schools exhorted Hite to consider the certainty of gang violence as a result of mashing schools together.  It was intense, especially as one student followed another with the same logic: Kids will fight, kids will die.  Cameras were rolling the crowd was getting riled up.

Then Chief Dorsey, head of School Police, demanded to speak.  Forcefully and honestly, she told the student that the city is bigger than their neighborhood and more important than their personal beef.  She has been through this and she knew:  There was no law of the Universe demanding West kids had to fight Uni kids.  And if they couldn’t walk down the block without brawling, our community had problems far beyond what a school could fix

She could have dropped the mic and walked off stage.  The crowd, hostile and restless, was impressed.

Months later, Dorsey pulled some of my students aside after they testified to the SRC4.   She listened to their tribulations and fears.  She spoke about her own experience being bullied, and solemnly promised to help my students if Paul Robeson was closed.

She didn’t like me.  That didn’t stop her from visiting my school, meeting with student government, and giving a surprising number of hugs. Compare that to Dr. Hite, the rest of the FMP team, the SRC, and, being fair, the PFT – none of whom visited my school or sat with my students.  In short, Chief Dorsey was a model public servant.  She had experience in the community; she could communicate with kids and adults; she was, in our brief time together, tough but fair; she cared deep

In September, we discovered Chief Dorsey was replaced.  No reason has been provided.

  1. and thank you for reading 

  2. and, though I mean no disrespect, it was hilarious 

  3. members of their school had jumped our volleyball players a month earlier 

  4. and when I heard that some official had pulled my kids into a random room in 440, I was *this* close to pulling a fire alarm. 

Company You Keep, or The Anti-Anti-Common Core

It appears as though Secretary Arne Duncan may fall flat on his face.  And I’d really like to clap.

But.  There’s always a “but”.

I realize Schaudenfreude is a terrible thing, not to modeled for our future leaders.  Though it’s not like there is any risk for the Secretary.  He will surround himself with people who adore him and continue to impress in the NBA B-Level All-Star game.  When he retires, Pearson and McGraw-Hill and the like will build him a Scrooge-McDuck style swimming pool.1

Whether or not CCSS fails, Duncan will do fine.  So I feel morally liberated in my quest to hope that somehow, lying on a beach surrounded by other proficient ed-celebrities, a small voice in his head will lament the great failure.  His martini, shaken and poured in into a MOOC sponsored glass, will taste too dry.  Maybe he’ll sigh.


The most recent body-blows against the Common Core state standards:  Oklahoma and South Carolina have withdrawn.  North Carolina is working to replace it.  There’s serious resistance in Nevada and Louisiana.  Indiana is already out.

Perhaps this is a flaw on my end, but these events have caused my Twitter and blogosphere to launch the equivalent of a ticker-tape parade.  Many progressive education reformers are also CCSS opponents, and they feel victorious.  We don’t get that a lot.

But there are some nagging details that keep me from joining this jubuliant funeral march:

  • Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal compared to CCSS to “centralized planning” in Soviet Russia.
  • State Senator Anthony Sykes wants to repeal CCSS along with “Next Generation Science Standards” because, among other things, the promote “global warming alarmism
  • Florida Representative Charles Van Zant says CCSS will turn our students gay.2
  • Lt. Governor Dan Forrester, an anti-Common Core hero, has also advocated boycotting Sears because of their lingerie section.  He also believes the local newspaper is planting hidden messages in their headlines.
  • Glenn Beck hates Common Core because it would turn America into a Chinese/Muslim led serf state.  Read that sentence again.  I dare you.

Every day I am regaled with videos purporting “epic takedown of Common Core”.  But with some C-level Googling, we see these are the same people who deliver epic takedowns of things like science and the Environmental Protection Agency.  How many of the above would sign-on to eliminate the Department of Education?  How about the Civil Right’s Act?  How about the repeal of DOMA?

There’s legitimate, intelligent opposition to CCSS.  But, let’s UBD style backwards-map this problem: The goal of authentic education reform is not ending Common Core, it’s building great schools for all communities.  That’s not Glenn Beck’s platform.  You’re not getting Bobby Jindal on that bus.

I was appalled when self-appointed progressive educators celebrated House Speaker Eric Cantor speaking at a Philadelphia-area High School.  Yes, this guy likes charters school, and you like charter schools.  Cantor also likes cuts to Pell Grants and food stamps.  You can’t separate the two, even if it let’s you strut for 48 hours or get front page on Huffington. Progressives should be held to the same standard.



  1. I would go to his retirement ceremony and *vigorously applaud* if this was to happen 

  2. That this is not the craziest thing on this list is really something