Harvard Educational Review
  1. Summer 2009 Issue »

    Editors’ Introduction

    With this special issue of the Harvard Educational Review, we mark the historic moment of President Barack Obama’s election in the three ways most loudly called for by our contributors: we hope, we (re)imagine, and we converge.

    We hope for an educational system that restores democracy, ensures equity, and reflects the worth and dignity of our young people.

    We imagine a universal schooling experience that not only maximizes the potential of each young person as an individual, but that also harnesses the energy of a global collective of youth who might organize themselves to repair a world and planet badly broken by adults. As the historic contributions to this issue remind us, we have imagined and struggled for a free and fair system of education before. Despite strides in that direction, we sadly acknowledge this nation’s continued failure to treat each of its children as equally deserving of a rich and liberating life in school. Thus, alongside our authors, we ask our readers to (re)imagine education in this moment of political change.

    We converge by bringing together the voices of forty-seven educational experts—twenty-seven young people, six practicing educators, and fourteen scholars—to explore what the election of President Obama might mean for education. We echo our contributors in arguing that President Obama cannot and should not be expected to act alone in the struggle for educational justice. Therefore, we include a multitude of voices in the hope of collecting thoughtful criticism and fresh perspectives to generate meaningful conversation and debate. The authors in this collection often diverge—in their ideas, their recommendations, their points of view. They differ and conflict both in their worries and in their hopes. Still, these voices converge to say that education is not the sole responsibility of educators and schools, of families, or even of our president. Rather, it is and must be the responsibility of all who value freedom and believe in the power and promise of young people.

    To hope, to (re)imagine, and to converge—in the context of a badly failing economy, rampant international war and unrest, and deeply ingrained inequality worldwide—requires nothing short of audacity. It requires the bold assertion of one central truth: To prioritize education at such a time is not only possible but critically necessary and strategically wise. The common factor amid the myriad crises we face as a nation and a world is that education has something to do with both the root of these problems and any hope of solving them. Justice requires that we prepare our young people to confidently and skillfully face the challenges they inherit as a result of our own legacy of missteps.

    We warmly thank our contributors for their calls to action and sage advice—words directed to both our president and to the many people who fight every day for justice in their own schools and neighborhoods. These are the people we most wish to reach and reflect in these pages, and it is in this spirit that we also recognize the more than five hundred children and young adults who sent us their brilliant drawings about, reflections on, and analyses of the implications of this election for their own education. Although we wish we could have published the collection in its entirety, we have forwarded it instead to the White House to be heard by a president we hope will listen.

    Our ultimate hope is that this special issue might light a collective (re)imagination of what is possible in education, initiating the conversation and convergence necessary to make such a vision—finally—real.

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    Summer 2009 Issue

    Abstracts

    Editors’ Introduction
    Note to Educators
    Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete
    Jeffrey M. R. Duncan-Andrade
    A Dialogue
    Our Selves, Our Students, and Obama
    Jennifer McLaughlin and Kim Kelly
    President Obama and Education
    The Possibility for Dramatic Improvements in Teaching and Learning
    Linda Darling-Hammond
    Promise and Peril
    Charter Schools, Urban School Reform, and the Obama Administration
    Charles Payne and Tim Knowles
    Reclaiming Our Freedom to Teach
    Education Reform in the Obama Era
    Megan Behrent
    Obama’s Dilemma
    Postpartisan Politics and the Crisis of American Education
    Henry A. Giroux
    Second-Class Integration
    A Historical Perspective for a Contemporary Agenda
    Vanessa Siddle Walker
    Equity and Empathy
    Toward Racial and Educational Achievement in the Obama Era
    Prudence L. Carter
    It Wasn’t Easy to Get Here
    Kathleen Mayse
    Obama, Where Art Thou?
    Hoping for Change in U.S. Education Policy
    Wayne Au
    Praise Song for Teachers
    A Call to Action
    Ariane White
    Educating Latino Immigrant Students in the Twenty-First Century
    Principles for the Obama Administration
    Carola Suárez-Orozco and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco
    Education for Everyday People
    Obstacles and Opportunities Facing the Obama Administration
    Gloria Ladson-Billings
    An Insurrectionary Generation
    Young People, Poverty, Education, and Obama
    Jay Gillen
    An Earned Insurgency
    Quality Education as a Constitutional Right
    Robert P. Moses
    Barack Obama and the Fight for Public Education
    William Ayers
    Coda: The Slow Fuse of Change
    Obama, the Schools, Imagination, and Convergence
    Maxine Greene