The Power of their Ideas by Meier Essay

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The Power of their Ideas by Meier

Meier opens her book, The Power of their Ideas, in a fierce defense of public schools. In her mind, without a passion for public education, the future of our country is threatened. Based on her own experience, she believes that all children can and, indeed, must learn to be critical thinkers in order to participate in our democracy. She notes that "there's a radical and wonderful new idea here the idea that every citizen is capable of the kind of intellectual competence previously attained by only a small minority.
Meier’s book is about taking this vision of education and human possibility seriously chapter by chapter. Meier argues for innovation for school choice as a strategy for change, small
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In 1974 Deborah Meier founded Central Park East Secondary School, an alternative public school in East Harlem, where she worked for two decades as a teacher and principal. The small school achieved national acclaim not only for its non-traditional approaches (no bells ring, classes are often up to two hours long, and students, addressing their teachers by first names, are encouraged to raise questions about what is being taught), but also because of its results. Over 90 percent of Central Park East's students graduate, and over 90 percent of those graduates go on to college, in a city where, on average, only 50 percent of all public school students even graduate from high school.
Some of Deborah Meier's innovative approaches to education seem almost commonplace today interdisciplinary learning in small groups, real lessons that use the city as the classroom (a curriculum that includes such things such as mapping Manhattan or testing the water quality of the East River) and public "exhibitions" to demonstrate students' learning, rather than reliance on multiple-choice, standardized tests. Perhaps the best known of her ideas is that a school, to be effective, cannot be large.
Meier holds the firm belief that students and

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