Wilderness School

TwoCoyotes2By Kate Foran. A second installment on her series on alternative education of her daughter Sylvie.

“When I show most people a rock I found, they say, ‘oh, nice.’ But when I show my teachers at Wilderness School, they say ‘Wow! It’s so beautiful! I love it!!” Sylvie, age 5.

The enthusiasm with which nature mentors and children regard rocks is a key piece in this patchwork quilt of my daughter’s education. On Mondays Sylvie spends the day at Two Coyotes Wilderness School, which meets in the woods surrounding Holcomb Farm in Granby, CT. She starts the morning with a gratitude circle, songs and games, and then it’s onto the woods for the day’s agenda (which might be building a fire with a bow drill or gathering wild edibles for October’s Ancestor Feast, or building a shelter out of sticks and branches.) Continue reading

Fifty Years Later. In Detroit the End of Brown: Separate and Unequal

schoolBy Bill Wylie-Kellermann

The Detroit Public Schools are being dismantled by design and effectively looted. Though Detroiters and the elected school board are consistently blamed for their demise, for twelve of the last fifteen years DPS has been under state control.

Mother Helen Moore, an attorney who heads the Education Task Force has become notorious for her fight on behalf of the schools, and tells the story over and over in community meetings. It’s well documented. Continue reading

When Advent Meets the Academy

kimBy Kim Redigan

One of the principal truths of Christianity,
a truth that goes almost unrecognized today, is that looking is what saves us.

– Simone Weil, Waiting for God

“Be watchful! Be alert!” The words smack like a Zen stick as the stern command is issued to shake off the bittersweet beauty of autumn and awaken to the sober season of Advent.

Advent. The place on the liturgical calendar where I could most easily park my bones, the time of the church year when I feel most at home. Continue reading

On The Idolatry of Hoping for an Easy-Fix With a Hero

An authentic cross-post from Heidi Thompson, the CEO of Religion News Service:

I’m ashamed to admit that I was a fan of Michelle Rhee when she first arrived.

In 2006 when I got to town, DC schools, like so many of our big city public schools, were (and in many cases, still are) horrible warehouses of despair and corruption. Previous school officials had been found guilty of stealing from the kids they were supposed to be helping. The elementary school around the corner from my first DC apartment looked more like a prison than anything else – bars on the windows and a concrete pad overgrown with weeds for a play area. Close to 40 percent of the kids in the city didn’t graduate from high school.

I wanted someone to kick butt and take names. I wanted a hero, someone who could bring powerful change that would help kids. Looking back, I can see now the sin of my thinking. It was idolatry, plain and simple. It was idolatrous to think that one person could turn around that much neglect and dysfunction.

But the sin I and lots of others committed was even worse than the idolatry of hoping for an easy-fix with a hero. What Rhee and her kind of so-called “reformers” have done is distract all of us from dealing with child poverty. In Rhee’s world, we as a nation can tolerate the astronomical rate of child poverty in this country (something like 20% of kids are in families where there is weekly food insecurity) if we just get rid bad teachers and bad schools. Rhee and her corporate donors would much rather have us talk about anything other than the deep re-ordering of our national priorities it would take to make sure every American kid got an excellent education.

This piece lays it all out. And reading it, I knew the shame belongs to me, too.