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|Posted By: Renato Almanzor on August 30, 2005|
|I appreciated Mr. Hammack's perspective, especially noting some of the unintentional impact of national reforms such as the small school work. At least in our case in Oakland, I think we needed some attention on the physical facilities and the amount of money coming from outside to help change the structures and systems of our school district and schools. In some ways we had to take on the "marketing" nature of our reform (which was initially community-driven) that got our communities really taking a look at what is going on in our schools and the possibilities that truly exist.|
Where I differ and yet agree at the same time with Mr. Hammack, I think our reform has all been about what happens between the teachers and students in the classrooms. I also think that our work has extended to require our schools to have a relationship with families and communities. The context in which our schools exist cannot (and should not) buffer a student's experience as he or she enters the doors of his or her classrooms. Instead, our schools should serve as places where, as Freire suggests, teachers develop the opportunities for our students to co-construct and produce knowledge about who they are in the world and what it takes to be actively successful participants.
I believe our attention in Oakland has been to address the greatest poverty of all - the poverty of imagination. We've been helping our teachers, families and students believe in something much greater than what exists through publicizing the reform efforts, taking visits to other places where their kids look like ours. Although this can seem distracting from the classroom activities, as I listen to the principals and other administrators, I hear that all of these changes are due to creating the facilitating conditions for increased teacher and student/family relationships so that we are providing the educational opportunities that allow for every student to be college ready by the time they graduate. We have a few things that are in our way at the moment. All the while, we haven't lost sight that "The impossible will take a little while, the difficult we'll do right now."