I don't get out much. I'm a high school English teacher in a small town, and kind of homebody by nature. When I leave town, it's for family or work. But in just over a month, on the weekend of April 25-26, I am taking a trip to Chicago for neither.
The Network for Public Education is the closest thing to an actual formal organization of the many and varied people standing up for public education in this modern era of privatizing test-driven corporate education reform. NPE held a conference last year, and they're doing it again this year-- a gathering of many of the strongest voices for public education in America today. Last year I followed along on line-- this year I will be there.
It's an adventure. On the one hand, I am excited to have the chance to meet the many people I have come to know through their writings face to face. On the other hand, I'm painfully aware that I am personally far more dull and uninteresting in person than I am on your computer screen. Jennifer Berkshire (of Edushyster fame) have agreed to provide some manner of witty banter at a fund-raising luncheon; it remains to be seen whether we hew closer to Myrna Loy and William Powell, Lucy and Ethel, or Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker. I also, in a moment of weakness, pitched presenting a session about teaching writing like a writer and not like a content delivery specialist; in a moment of weakness, the NPE took me up on it.
But here's the reason you should come-- just look at this list:
I mean-- where else are you going to have a chance to encounter a group like that?
You can register for the conference itself here and you can reserve a room at the Drake Hotel here. There are a limited number of rooms set aside for the conference and a special rate as well, but that rate expires ON MIDNIGHT OF SUNDAY MARCH 22 so you really need to get on this now.
There are many reasons to attend. I'm going because it's a chance to see some of the people who have become heroes to me live and in the flesh, and it's a chance to have a powerful, personal reminder that those of us who are standing up for public education are not crazy, and not alone.
There are also opportunities available to contribute funds to help folks afford to get there (because NPE, unlike most reformster groups, is not rolling in corporate sponsorship money).
This is a chance to connect with some of the strongest advocates for public education, to really stand up for the besieged system. Be part of the network, and help make some noise for public education.