Saturday, March 29, 2014

Camp Philos! Take Me Away!!

You may have seen the ad for this. Maybe you even received an invitation (but I bet you didn't). It's Camp Philos, "a philosopher's camp on education reform," the first ever, and it looks absolutely awesome!!

Embark on three spring days of fun, fellowship and strategy with the nation's thought leaders on education reform. The exquisite and secluded Whiteface Lodge, which ranks among North America's top luxury destinations, is nestled in the majestic woods of our country's largest wilderness park.

I have got to go to this thing! It says right here that it's just like in 1858, when Ralph Waldo Emerson and James Russell Lowes retreated to the mountains "for respite in kindred company." Okay, they probably meant James Russell Lowell, but these are big important people and they can't be troubled with picky details like spelling. That's not how their kindred company rolls.

These are thought leaders. Thought leaders!!

Who are these thought leaders? Well, Andy Cuomo is the honorary chairman big cheese of these philosophical thought leaders, and you know he's going to be pumped because he just scored a major philosophical victory by getting the NY legislators to vote to make NYC Mayor DeBlasio kiss Eva's charter school ring and hand her the keys to whatever she wants. So Cuomo is seeing first hand what a few million dollars' worth of philosophy can buy you!

And Joe Williams-- the big guy from DERP (see-- I can spell philosophically, too). And Senator Mary Landrieu and Mayor Michael Hancock and Mayor Kevin Johnson and Russlynn Ali and--- OMGZ!! that great and awesomely wise educational philosopher M. Night Shyamalan! I hear he's proposing a new school program where at the end of the year the students discover their teacher was actually dead and they've been instructed by angry trees all year, or something.

The Whiteface Lodge is-- wait. Really??!! White face?? Could they not book the Wealthy Patricians Spa, or Camp Ogliarch? Boys, you have really got to think this stuff through. Thank goodness you invited Shyamalan. Do you suppose they have special screens to keep out black flies? Anyway, the Lake Placid lodge is uber-fancy. You can check it out here. And it's not just a lodge-- it's a spa, too. Get yourself a philosophical education thought leader hot towel while you're there. 

The schedule of the conference looks promising. On the first day (Sunday, May 4) there will be a three-hour opening dinner followed by two-and-a-half hours of "open networking." This sounds more fun than when I chaperone Prom!

On Monday, the heavy-duty philosophizing day, we have "Up, Down and Sideway: Building an Effective School Reform Coalition." Cool. I always wanted to build a school reform coalition, but don't seem to be able to do it with simple objects I can find around the house. And there's also "Tight-Loose Models for Ensuring All Kids Have Access to a Great Education." Here I could make about being a crack about being tight with your own money and loose with tax dollars, but I recognize the tight-loose thing as a favorite line of The Fordham Institution Thinky Tank crowd. So there's one more hint about what sorts of philosophizing will be discussed. (Although if Mike Petrilli is going to dance for the assembled philosophers, that would be an extra treat.)

Later on Monday (well, 3:30-- a day of philosophy is apparently not quite as jam-packed as a teacher professional development day), we have "break and optional outdoor activities" which seems wise as the outdoors is always more appealing when it's optional.

Tuesday wraps it up with breakfast and a closing session. The scheduling is fortuitous as Sunday evening the weekenders will be clearing out and by Tuesday the long-weekers will only just be showing up. So the resort should be clear of the plebes for the conference. And of course running it on Monday insures that no actual teachers will actually attend. Nothing messes up a reformy stuff philosophy session than actual teachers. 

Unfortunately, there is more keeping me away than just the scheduling. Attendance is $1,000 a head. Unless you have a VIP head, in which case it will cost you $2,500. That's just the event fee; I suppose I could cut corners by sleeping in my car for those two nights. My head is not really important enough to wrap itself around either of those numbers for any sleepover situation not involving my wife, some champagne, and a hot tub made of gold.

Still, I believe that in the interests of pursuing educational reform philosophy, I could round up some of the kindred company to attend this. I'm thinking of putting together a kickstarter to send a couple of the edublogoverse's finest journalists. I would particularly like to take a female colleague, because I think it would go over like the mouse in the circus elephant tent in Dumbo. (I'm thinking that between the two of us, Edushyster and I could cover this with all the seriousness it deserves).

But I don't want you to think that I am only mocking this ridiculous exercise in self-important over-inflated language-based bloviation weakly masking the venal money grabbing corporate destruction of public education. In fact, right on the front of the promotional site is a bold, three word slogan that I rather fancy.




I totally support reform, although these guys probably don't realize that at this point they are the champions of the status quo, and those fighting to reclaim the promise of American public education are the real reformers. Still, thumbs up on reform. Then if these guys would actually relax they might be better people. And I'm sure if they would just call a collective retreat, US public education would be all the better for it.


  1. I believe Andrew Cuomo relaxes by riding motorcycles with Billy Joel, enjoying Sandra Lee's Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and cutting school funding for traditional public schools so that charters can have free rent, more per pupil money and extra cash to give Andy back as political donations.

  2. EduCation News Launch! Mark Naison delivers the NEWS on Camp Philos! SHARE IT!