Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A view from the classroom

Hello. I am delighted to accept the invitation to participate. This post will briefly introduce me.

My name is Kenneth Bernstein. Like Sherman Dorn, I am a graduate of Haverford College, in my case 1973 (although I started with the class of 1967). In 1994 I left a 20+ year career in data processing and headed off to Johns Hopkins and got certified as a school teacher (Secondary Social Studies). I have had a long interest in educational philosophy and policy, did most of a doctorate in Educational Administration and Policy Studies (emphasis on the latter) at Catholic U -- I needed about two weeks solid work to finish my dissertation proposal and defend it - doing the actual study would have been easy. Unfortunately I was then on my own dime, it was going to cost me about $6,000 and my school system (Prince George's County Maryland) pays las than an additional $600 over what I receive for a Masters + 60, and I was in my late 50's, I decided instead to let them pay for my National Boad Certification, which pays me an additional $5,000 this year and $4,000 for each of the next 9 years.

But I am still interested in philosophy and policy. I began my online bloviating by being an active participant in the old bulletin board at Because I am a political person, I got involved with political blogging during the Dean campaign, which brought me to dailykos, which brought me to a variety of other sites as well. I am also an active participant in the Assessment Reform Network of Fairtest, a place at which I encounter both Sherman and Jim Horn with regularity.

Much of my blogging is about education, broadly described. I do not claim to have the scholarly expertise of many of the participants here, although I have enough that I have felt comfortable in the role of a peer reviewer of articles for several journals in past years.

I view my writings on education - in print as well as electronically - as serving several purposes. First, I try to explain aspects of educational policy as I see and experience them in the classroom. Second, I try to make a general audience aware of the aspects of educational issues, especially as they are portrayed in general publications, but also periodically from some of the professional publications, and/or from various books.

Finally I believe that the future of public education in this country is very much in doubt. I have decided to do what is within my powers to try to preserve and even enhance it. Beyond my writing, which can best be seen in my diaries at dailykos (not all of which are about education), I have been involved in helping political candidates at a variety of levels attempt to shape and present their positions on education. And at the first Yearlykos convention, which will take place June 8-11 in Las Vegas, I am chairing the one panel on education, which will include as well Jamie Vollmer, the former businessman famous for his "Blueberry" story in which he became convinced that one could not approach education like a business, and Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa, a state that will still not have high school exit exams when he leaves office in 2007.

My own approach to teaching is eclectic, with bits and pieces derived from many sources. I am an omnivour when it comes to reading about education, and thus regularly scan from sources as diverse as GLEF, ARN, EducationMatters, and Checker Finn's regular emails from Fordham.

I expect that I will learn far more from what other have to offer, but am willing to contribute my share, including doing the necessary work to place my ideas in a proper theoretical context should that be appropriate.

Again, thanks for allowing me to participate, and to learn from all of you.

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