Many interesting people blog on Patch and we want to introduce you to some of them. Each Wednesday we will highlight a new Patch blogger.
Today, Jackson, an Associate Professor of English at Wayne State, answers our questions.
What is your hometown?
East Detroit High School grad (now Eastpointe)
What are your Hobbies?
Anything involving my kids -- also Red Wing hockey
Current favorite book?
Diane Ravitch's *Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools* -- there are a few others
Per Lisa Lyons I tried to watch *Tommy Boy* again . . . but I am really a sucker for *Hoosiers* or, recently, any film about interesting and inspiring teaching *Dead Poets' Society* *School of Rock*, etc.
What is your involvement with education?
Mom was a teacher in Detroit Public Schools for 40 years; Uncle one of the longest serving public ed superintendents in Michigan; I am an Associate Professor of English at Wayne State, having come back here from my first academic post at the University of Connecticut. Currently, I am also Associate Dean of The Graduate School at WSU. I always add -- in the hopes that it will facilitate conversations with militant anti-public education folks -- that the most important man in my life, my father, was a lifelong Goldwater Republican. It never helps, of course. More generally, Thomas More and Erasmus changed the world when they invented "humanism" -- the notion that education could change oneself and change the world; heretofore medieval scholasticism thought learning was there just to "know God" and had little traffic with the real world. There is some irony, then, when ed reformers blast the humanities (including art and music) as having nothing to do with the "real" world. Most importantly, though, I have two kids in public schools and live in a wonderful community that thrives in large part because of its tradition of providing both balanced budgets and terrific schools.
What is the most important change that should take place in education?
Have a hard, hard time with that question these days as it seems (perhaps inadvertently) loaded. Too many discussions begin with "we all know the schools are broken, the question is how to fix...blah, blah, blah" Once one accepts the premise -- like the current Governor -- that the schools are broken then all sorts of whacky ideas started circulating, such as closing Districts or relying on low paid, eager 25 year olds to teach for a few years before moving on to something "bigger." Most educators, parents are always working to improve and get better -- always will. But public education -- as it extends out to all -- will always be messy, difficult and challenging. That is its nature. And its wonder. Lose your patience for public education you risk losing your interest for life.
But here are my hopes against hope: 1) the public will realize the snake oil of education reform and recommit to public education 2) we will find -- as part of that recommitment a fair and functioning funding mechanism and 3) then give greater attention to pre-K and elementary education. Many of our challenges come from the fact that some kids are thoroughly prepped for school and others are not at all. When the well prepped kids get to elementary, then, they can get bored -- until they get with harder stuff later on -- while the system concentrates on those kids who have not received comparable exposure to books, music, etc. at home.
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