Public Schools Aren’t Democratic

Being the autocratic, adultcentric environments that they are, public schools today are not democratic. They are existent within a society operating on democratic methods, and they (mostly) publicly allow every young person to enroll in them. However, on the whole, public schools are not led in a democratic fashion, are devoid of democratic teaching methods, andContinue reading “Public Schools Aren’t Democratic”

Adultism in Democratic Education

My child has attended learning environments operating with democratic education principles for the last seven years, and as her dad I believe I’m a partner with her in her learning. As a line-level youth worker, I worked to infuse democratic education principles into my own practice for more than a decade, and as a consultant,Continue reading “Adultism in Democratic Education”

In Defense of Public Schools

A decade ago, I first made a name for myself in the American education system by arguing that public schools, which are the heart of our democratic society, are by example teaching students nothing about participating in a democracy. That was at the beginning of the age of No Child Left Behind, or NCLB, theContinue reading “In Defense of Public Schools”

The Need to Take Action for Schools

I don’t advocate for “free children”. Almost a century ago, English author and educator A. S. Neill wrote, “Free children are not easily influenced; the absence of fear accounts for this phenomenon. Indeed, the absence of fear is the finest thing that can happen to a child.” It was in 2001 that I was sittingContinue reading “The Need to Take Action for Schools”

Youth Engagement in Democratic Education

Way back in 2008, I presented a few workshops at the International Democratic Education Conference. I had dabbled in the “DemEd” community for a few years by then, and this was my first push to really inject the movement I stand for: Youth engagement. While it seems antithetical for democratic education to be anything otherContinue reading “Youth Engagement in Democratic Education”

Student Voice Is NOT Democracy

Student voice is not democracy.  Out of my decade-plus experience working in schools to promote student voice, a few lessons and experiences stand out. This article highlights one of those experiences, and is focused on one of those lessons. During the 2006/07 and 2007/08 school years, I worked with almost 150 schools in seven BOCES acrossContinue reading “Student Voice Is NOT Democracy”

Hope and the Moral Dimensions of Teaching

“The schools are failing, the schools are failing!” Empty rhetoric about public education keeps filling newspapers here in Washington state and across the country. For more than a decade, or a hundred years depending on how you count, detractors and retractors, extractors and segregationists have been claiming that the cornerstone of American democracy and culturalContinue reading “Hope and the Moral Dimensions of Teaching”

“Youth Voice” Isn’t Enough to Stop Youth Disengagement

Youth voice is not enough. Adults working to build communities with young people have learned that it is important to engage youth as self-advocates and peer teachers, community culture monitors, and youth organization cheerleaders. As youth organizations become more savvy, more youth are being effectively taught to challenge themselves, working with their peers to createContinue reading ““Youth Voice” Isn’t Enough to Stop Youth Disengagement”