#10 – Marion Brady: An affirmative response to Corporate America's big "RIGOR!" push

Note from Moderator: I’ve known Marion Brady since the mid-1990s when I joined a national Quality Education listserv. For many years, Marion has been a consistent and articulate spokesperson for substantive change in how young people are educated. He was a regular columnist for a major newspaper in his home state of Florida. Recently he sent to his mailing list a most interesting power point summarizing his case. It is about 12 minutes, and the link is below. Even more recently, the same power point has been posted on YouTube. That link is also noted. Following the Power Point and YouTube links is a letter he recently sent to the new U.S. Commissioner of Education, Arne Duncan. In that letter, shared with his permission, he well defines himself.
Marion Brady’s is a voice worth listening to, and worth sharing with the public education community in the United States.
Marion Brady:
To: Dr. Arne Duncan, Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
Respectful of your busy schedule, I’ve pulled together in summary form and am enclosing a very broad-stroke “big picture” of where I believe the social institution [public education] that’s now your responsibility has been, is now, and appears to be heading.
I’m hoping my 77 years in education as, at various times, a student, middle school teacher, high school teacher, college professor, teacher educator, textbook author, county level administrator, professional book author, publisher consultant, contributor to academic journals, paid education columnist for Knight-Ridder/Tribune, visitor to schools across America and abroad, and partner in conversations with respected educators on every continent, will prompt you to bring to the enclosed a mind open to ideas lying outside Washington’s conventional wisdom on educational matters.
What prompts me to write is the current drive to nationalize standards and tests for school subjects. For reasons I believe the enclosures [see above power point for summary presentation] make clear, if that effort is successful, among its unintended consequences will be a gutting of the ability of schools, including charter schools, to innovate sufficiently to adapt to social change and prepare the young for what will surely be a complex, challenging, and dangerous future.
I’m copying the material to others outside the field of formal education. I’ve chosen these individuals because I respect their work and their obvious commitment to the public good, and because they have what working, experienced educators no longer have-a public voice.
I can be more specific about the reasons for my choices. For me (an author of three textbooks), Jon Stewart’s “history textbook,” America (Warner Books, 2004), did for American education what his confrontation with Jim
Cramer did for CNBC, albeit with considerably more subtlety. In President Clinton’s case, he and I share an admiration for the work of the late Carroll Quigley, a professor at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, whose explanation of the dynamics and dangers of the process he called “institutionalization” is currently being ignored in education policy, a fact America will come to regret. I “knew” Quigley through a student we shared in the early 1960s. One of the enclosures, taken from the introduction to a forthcoming book I was asked to write, summarizes that institutionalization process and its applicability to the last century of education in America.
I’ve no idea whether or not these people might be willing or able to help, but I’m hoping their appreciation of the centrality of public education to societal survival, combined with perhaps a better understanding of the current educational situation, will prompt them to give serious thought to the issue and act in ways that move us closer to the goal I’m sure we all share of improving public education.
Thank you for your attention.