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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Person of the Year in Education

Person of the Year in Education

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Mark Zuckerberg was just named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, for, among other things, "creating a new system of exchanging information; and for changing how we all live our lives." According to the rules of selection, the award goes to the individual or group of individuals who have had the biggest effect on the year's news, for better or worse. Educators and parents are probably equally divided on whether Facebook has a positive or negative impact on students. So we wondered, who Edutopia users might select as 2010’s Person of the Year in Education. Zuckerberg would be a contender in this race too, given the growing impact of social media on education, for better and worse. On the other hand, Ben Franklin Middle School principal Tony Orsini might garner some votes for responding to a bully incident by writing a letter to parents and appearing on network tv to proclaim that parents should prevent middle school students from participating in social networks. Another candidate is Waiting for "Superman” director Davis Guggenheim, who received kudos from media stars like Oprah for elevating the dialogue about education to front page news. He was also condemned by many educators for his black and white portrayal of complex issues like the roles of teacher's unions and charter schools. Anyone for Arnie Duncan, Michelle Rhee. or perhaps a local hero toiling in relative obscurity? Share your nominations for Person of the Year in Education and why. If you agree with others, please vote with the thumbs up button next to the post you're supporting. We'll take the top five nominations (posts plus thumbs up) and run them as a poll as part of our end-of-year coverage. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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pat's picture
pat
Inclusion Teacher, NJ

Guggenheim, Rhee, Zuckerberg??? Don't think those three would make any list I might make for educational benefits this year, but would possibly put them on the list of those causing most educational harm.

Joe Huber's picture

As many others have stated, the classroom teacher who is doing their best to educate today's youth is the person of the year in education. It is all of us who make the difference daily who are the greatest influence, not those who write exposes for the few to read and policymakers to ignore. The only true force for change and improvement must come from the inside, not from the Bill Gates's of the world who think that throwing money at a problem is a repair.

Diane Aoki's picture

Diane Ravitch, hands down! The problem with Guggenheim, Rhee, etc, all these media darlings is they get plenty of attention for all the wrong reasons. Diane Ravitch or Linda Darling-Hammond should have been on the Education Nation panel. They tell a fuller side of the story and they are not heard. Let US give attention to Ravitch since big media is not.

John Norton's picture
John Norton
Education writer, Founder & co-editor of MiddleWeb.com

I, too, vote for Darling-Hammond and Ravitch, for pushing the conversation in some new directions.

A fun question might be: Who will be next year's Education Person of the Year? Or Thing, or Group (I believe TIME gives itself that latitude.)

It would be wonderful if it was... The Teacher.

Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia
Staff

Thanks to all who have taken time to express your thoughts and opinions via the voting. And thanks, too, to Elizabeth for expressing your opinion about the lede! It was not intended to offend, just stimulate discussion. And that it did; there are some great names in here.

and @John Norton, I love the idea of The Teacher as the winner.

Happy new year, all!

Ann Sisko's picture
Ann Sisko
Emeritus Classroom Teacher (grades 2/3 - 7/8) in South Brunswick, NJ

I was fortunate enough recently to attend a talk at Princeton University by Diane Ravitch. I completely agree that she deserves a Person of the Year nomination, either by herself or with Linda Darling-Hammond.

That a person of her prestige and stature would be willing to publicly explain the errors of her earlier thinking is extraordinary. That she would stump for REAL reform and point out how the 'mainstream' reform efforts are lacking demonstrates how passionate she is about 'real' education and the need for us to provide that kind of education for the children we teach.

If the award is to be given to a single person Diane Ravitch is clearly a wonderful choice -- as Diane Aoki points out, "They tell a fuller side of the story and they are not heard. Let US give attention to Ravitch since big media is not."

Those of us who wanted to nominate the person on the front lines -- The Teacher as Betty calls that person, didn't do too badly. Carol Parker's comment received 5 thumbs up, and Rebecca, Jamie, Joe Huber, John Norton and I all posted something to the same effect. I find it interesting that many people who are on the front lines themselves did not tend to think of themselves as Person of the Year!

Mike's picture

Two nominations:
1. The American classroom teacher. These hardworking, dedicated people continue to put students first in spite of incredible obstacles. A massive corporate disinformation campaign based on phony data ala "Texas Miracle" bashes teachers constantly because private interests have decided they want to raid the tax dollars set aside for schools. In spite of daily bashing in the media, teachers stay focused on successful outcomes for their students. It's about time somebody said so.
2. Diane Ravitch, for being one of the very few education experts who manage to
inject a word of common sense into the education debate. She does this not only by working very hard but by getting her facts straight - which is something you cannot say about the corporate right.

Deborah Acosta's picture

Richard DuFour. He provides an avenue for teachers to step out of their classrooms and collaborate to improve instruction and foster learning. The Professional Learning Community model empowers teachers to be the reformers.

John Norton's picture
John Norton
Education writer, Founder & co-editor of MiddleWeb.com

Those of us who wanted to nominate the person on the front lines -- The Teacher as Betty calls that person, didn't do too badly. Carol Parker's comment received 5 thumbs up, and Rebecca, Jamie, Joe Huber, John Norton and I all posted something to the same effect. I find it interesting that many people who are on the front lines themselves did not tend to think of themselves as Person of the Year!

So true, Ann... these are hard times for so many teachers who feel under attack. My thought was that by the end of 2011, we might see enough turnaround for some media giant or other to think "Hmmm... maybe it's time to swing the pendulum the other way." Sign me: Cockeyed Optimist!

Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia
Staff

Thanks for the great suggestions. We pulled the top nominations and put them into an Edutopia poll for final tallying.

Would love for everyone who nominated here could weigh in on the official poll. We're promoting it far and wide to see if we can get some good numbers behind it. Thanks again!!

http://www.edutopia.org/poll-person-of-the-year-2010

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