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Education that befits a democracy

January 12, 2010

Funding from the Kellogg Foundation is helping support a partnership between the Center for Democracy and Citizenship and the City of Saint Paul Mayor’s Office to continue work to ensure that all young people in Saint Paul, Minn., have access to multiple ways of learning. The partnership involves Saint Paul Public Schools, the local teachers union, and many community-based organizations.

Author and UCLA professor of education Mike Rose was interviewed on public radio’s January 7 Speaking of Faith program about the kind of education that befits a democracy.

“There are aspects of [the federal program] No Child Left Behind that are clearly democratic,” argues Rose in his most recent book, Why School? Reclaiming Public Education for All of Us. “The assumption that all children can learn and develop. The responsibility of public institutions to their citizenry. The dissatisfaction with business as usual and a belief that institutions can be improved.”

However, “young people get narrowly defined in the current environment, and the purpose of education gets narrowed as well,” Rose counters. “Dissatisfaction with this situation is emerging from a number of points along the ideological spectrum. Though he supports NCLB-style accountability models, conservative cultural critic David Brooks also chafes at the way current educational policy ‘treats students as skill-acquiring cogs in an economic wheel.’ My hope is that as we debate the merits and flaws of programs like NCLB, we will begin to develop more fitting ways to talk about children and the schools that shape their lives.”

The work of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship and others in Saint Paul aims to address these important issues so that all of the city’s children grow up prepared for our 21st century workforce, society, and democracy.

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