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

While I appreciate Mr. Gates' interest and his investment, he seems to be like way too many other Americans -- because they went to school, they think they know all about education.

I don't know ALL about education, and I've been a teacher for longer than many of my colleagues have been alive.

I DO know, however, that a frightening number of the 'reforms' that are getting so much attention these days are wrongheaded, insidious, and blatant attempts at funneling yet more of our tax money into private hands.

No one person speaks for us all. But educators who understand the harm that is being done to the public eduation system really need to speak up!

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

While I appreciate Mr. Gates' interest and his investment, he seems to be like way too many other Americans -- because they went to school, they think they know all about education.

I don't know ALL about education, and I've been a teacher for longer than many of my colleagues have been alive.

I DO know, however, that a frightening number of the 'reforms' that are getting so much attention these days are wrongheaded, insidious, and blatant attempts at funneling yet more of our tax money into private hands.

No one person speaks for us all. But educators who understand the harm that is being done to the public eduation system really need to speak up!

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

I nominate the embattled classroom teacher:

- the person who has to put up with all the nonsense coming from 'on high' and still do right by the children with whom she/he spends every day.

- the person who has a passion for teaching and learning; the person who loves sharing that passion with her/his students; the person who teaches, and listens to, and laughs with, and cares deeply about the youngsters in her/his charge.

- the person who is regularly maligned in public forums yet is often loved and appreciated by the people she/he works with and for.

I was a classroom teacher for nearly 40 years. These people get my vote!

Rachel Rudwall's picture
Rachel Rudwall
Producer, multi-media educational material

I have to agree with Julie Schwietert and Vijaya Selvaraju --- My vote goes to Jenny Buccos.

For some time now, I have been following the ProjectExplorer movement, and I have been nothing short of inspired each step of the way. I am a producer of educational materials for TV and web, most recently having produced shows for History and Discovery Channels, and I can say with utmost enthusiasm that ProjectExplorer's travel series are terrific educational tools.

What's amazing is - the content made by ProjectExplorer not only educates, but also takes students on journeys they would not have been able to undertake on their own. It creates a window through which students can see the world, get to know individuals from other cultures, and integrate new knowledge into a more accepting world view. And, it does so entertainingly.

As more and more youths move toward a constantly connected lifestyle (with email, Facebook, etc), education must find ways to utilize modern communication in order to reach students. ProjectExplorer does that. ProjectExplorer is EXACTLY what the world of education needs. We have Jenny Buccos and her team to thank for that.

Jamie's picture

while mentioning the monsterous Rhee, glorified in the manner of Leni Riefenstahl by Guggenheim.

The educators of the year, plural, should be the public school teachers who continue to do their jobs while being unfairly scapegoated by nearly everyone on the face of the earth, under pressure to get students to pass tests, rather than actually learn critical thinking skills (or any sort of social studies/history that would develop them as citizens), given less and less support each year and shown staggering disrespect by some students, who are then not so much as lectured.

The other educators of the year are parents who, despite any difficult circumstances they may have, continue to stress the importance of a good education to their children.

No contributions come close to these - let's stop being so starstruck and look squarely at this situation as it really is.

BirdieGirl's picture
BirdieGirl
Special Ed m/m home study, autism, ED, reading specialist,, No. California

Dr. Stephen Krashen is Professor Emeritus at Univ. of Southern California. While his area of expertise is second language acquisition, he spends his time now promoting the value of libraries and free reading time as a critical factor toward reading proficiency. He sends out massive amounts of letters to the editor debunking politicians and psydo-experts on what is "wrong" with our schools. His main point is that if we account for the high percentage of children in poverty, our world reading scores would be at the top. Libraries are being closed, and many schools only have p/t librarians or none at all. Children of poverty do not have access to books, and often attend schools with poor resources.
Also, given that English is only vaguely a phonetic language, he challenges those who have turned our classrooms into phonics labs. The truth is phonics can be marketed, but a love of learning, and a caring librarian are priceless.

Jamie's picture

Elizabeth was within her right to express her opinion and your overreaction says a lot more than her so-called "negativity."

She wasn't bashing someone else's vote - those individuals are mentioned in the newsletter subject line.

Bob Crosby's picture
Bob Crosby
Instructional Designer, Educational Technology Consultant

Perhaps no one in our history (sputnik was not a person) has brought so much attention to the state of education in this country. Yes, it is a pretty simplistic view, but he has stimulated conversation and hopefully action. Consider when was the last time you heard a heated conversation about education by someone not involved in education. We now have millions of ears that we did not have before.

His contribution to American education is unique and invaluable. We now have to take the momentum and make something happen with it.

E Lockman's picture
E Lockman
PTA President; Education Advocate; Media Literacy Trainer

[quote][quote]Add my vote behind Diane Ravitch!!Guggenheim & Rhee? Ugh - puhleeze and no thanks!! With friends like them, the educational system doesn't need enemies.[/quote]

To Elizabeth Lockman:

Have you noticed that of all the people who took the time to voice their opinions, you are the only person who found it appropriate to bash someone else's vote? I'm sure we all want to know what gives you the right to appoint yourself "the high inquisitor", annointed with the authority to put down the opinions of other educators in this forum. Be advised that you are on EQUAL footing with others here. Your negativity is totally inappropriate, and is neither welcomed nor appreciated here. Kindly keep your opinion-bashing to yourself, or take it someplace where ignorance and intolerance are welcomed![/quote]

Sorry you felt personally affronted by my comment - but both Rhee & Guggenheim were suggested in the lede of the Edutopia article. It was to *that* which I was responding, and I stand by my opinion in a forum in which they were, in fact, welcomed - along with many others with which I may or may not agree. In fact, I believe you're the only one attacking anyone personally in response to their opinions here, but I'll take the high road an let that pass. Thanks for your note, though.

Here's to a better New Year in education and for all!

(and thanks Jamie, for sticking up for me!) :)

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