Editor's note: Anne O'Brien is our guest blogger today. She is a project director at the Learning First Alliance, a Teach for America alumna, and a former public school teacher in the greater New Orleans area.
Many times education reform debates are framed with an us versus them mentality. It doesn't matter what you are arguing for, there is always a clearly defined group working against you. The media also provides the reformers versus the establishment (never mind those members of the establishment who are doing innovative reform work all over the country).
Every day, the consequences of our children's poor eating habits and lack of exercise and fitness is displayed in our schools. They are held back in their academics and extracurricular activities because they lack energy, concentration, stamina, comfort, agility, and self-confidence.
The National Service-Learning Conference, which just wrapped up its 21st annual gathering in San Jose, California, attracted some 2,000 attendees. Participants came from every state and more than 30 countries, but the most telling statistic may be this: a third of attendees were youth.
"I look at [the tape], and I'm like, 'That is not me.' I have so much regret. I can't believe I did that. I let myself and my character not live up to what I should live up to and what I can live up to."
Have you seen any of the Indiana Jones movies? How about the one with Sean Connery and the pursuit of the Holy Grail? There is a scene toward the end of that movie that contains a great lesson for why social, emotional, and character development (SECD) is not more widespread, and how we can turn the tide -- or, as we shall see, cross the abyss.
It turns out censorship can be costly -- not just in terms of the free exchange of ideas but also in terms of cold, hard cash. The Fallbrook Union High School District, in southern California, recently settled a censorship case over articles the high school principal withheld from the student newspaper. The district's agreement: a $7,500 payment to the school's former journalism teacher and $20,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union.