Courageous Schools Conference 2013

Courageous Schools: 'I laughed, I cried, I learned'

"Great conference, great networking opportunities, and great information. The conference really opened up my eyes to the extreme need for social and emotional learning in schools and the need to ‘take back’ our public education system."  

That was the message from one of the over 300 educators, parents, and others who participated in Morningside Center's 4th annual conference on social & emotional learning on May 18, 2013, Courageous Schools: Fulfillng the Promise of Public Education.  As another participant observed, "This is a growing, very necessary movement." 

The day included a riveting keynote talk by Diane Ravitch, one of the nation's leading advocates for public education, and an outspoken critic of the current focus on high-stakes testing and charter schools.  "We’ve had eleven years of No Child Left Behind,  eleven years of Mayor Bloomberg’s Children First,  and four years of Race to the Top," said Ravitch. "And so it’s a good time to ask these questions:  Which children have been left behind?  Which children came first in New York City’s Children First program? And who is winning the Race to the Top?"

Diane Ravitch Keynote at Courageous Schools: 'Children Can Not Be Standardized' (excerpts & video)

As always, the heart of the conference was the interactive workshops aimed at sharing ideas and building skills. Topics ranged from Restorative Circles to Common Core.  Almost everyone reported that they had learned skills they would use in their work and in their lives.  

We gave our Courageous Educator award to the staff and students of New Dorp HIgh School in Staten Island, which rallied to the rescue of their community after hurricane Sandy.  Our Alan Shapiro memorial Crap Detector Award went to the book and website Educational Courage: Resisting the Ambush of Public Education. Nancy Schniedewind accepted the award on behalf of all the contributors to the book. The day ended with a performance by the legendary Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary.

There were lots of newcomers to Courageous Schools this year, including many who traveled many miles to join us (Cleveland, Atlanta ...).  Thanks to everyone who participated!  (And to keep up to date on future Morningside Center events, sign up for our newsletter!)

Conference photos (c) Christopher Smith