#NPE16NC

Thus far, the Network for Public Education has held two annual conferences. Their third conference will be this April in Charlotte Raleigh, North Carolina. (It’s possible I keep saying the wrong city, although I have triple-checked that I booked a ticket to…Raleigh. Yes. Raleigh.

Make that quadruple-checked.)

So why do you care? Or rather, why should you care?

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I know this one is a double-edged sword, because trust me, I get that traveling costs money. But I also know that I love to travel, even to cities that I’ve visited before, like Chicago. And while I don’t expect to spend a lot of time playing tourist in Char-Raleigh, I like getting out of town and seeing someplace different. (And I like flying. Provided there’s not much turbulence and the flight isn’t delayed and the plane isn’t struck by lightning. Yeah, that’s happened to me before too.) And what happens when you converge so many public education activists and supporters in one place?

“I’m Facebook friends with her/I follow him on Twitter/I read her book!”

A little decoration outside the BAT Room at the Drake Hotel.

It’s not just at the conference. It’s at the meals (which this year are included in your ticket), the hotel lobby, even the nearby restaurants. Turns out that people you normally see in teeny tiny pictures online are real, breathing human beings. They’re bloggers and authors and teachers and parents and students, and they’re just as excited to be with people who “get it” as you are.

 

(Plus there’s a BAT room. In my limited experience attending events, there has always been a BAT room. Although it does help if you’re more of an extrovert.)

 

 

The Students

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They’re young, they make me feel old, and they have more energy than I ever have. But wow they are passionate about fighting for public education, and their passion is contagious.

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The Keynotes and Conversations and Books, Oh My!

Untitled9In a span of two days I attended sessions and keynotes featuring authors, bloggers, teachers, professors, local union leaders, parent activists, and student activists. There were on the ground stories from large cities and across states; there were conversations on shedding a light on an individual’s classroom; there was talk of investigative reporting.

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And that’s just scratching the surface. Everyone is in the same place and coming from the same (or similar) educational philosophy. It’s the opposite of every faculty meeting you’ve ever been to.

 

 

The Conversation Between Leaders

NPE managed to get the presidents of the two national teachers unions to sit down together for a conversation with Diane Ravitch. There was some dialogue where each got to deliver some talking points.

Thank you for fighting back…We are first responders to poverty. We see children as they are, not who they want them to be. –Randi Weingarten, AFT

 

“We see the public waking up” because they are hearing teachers’ voices. –Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA

 

And then, of course, there was this:

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I know they said one thing and later backtracked and did the opposite. Believe me, I know. But as union members we have them on record and can now hold them accountable for their doublespeak. (Or at least try to hold them accountable. I get the imbalance of power.)

Hello, Diane Ravitch is there.

She’s the president and co-founder of NPE who writes dozens of daily blog posts (I still don’t know how she does it). Last year she led the conversation with Randi and Lily as well as a conversation with CTU president Karen Lewis. She said many wonderful things, but these were my two favorites.

There are so many of us, and so few of them.

We will be here after the millionaires and billionaires have found a new hobby.

Personally, I’m hoping they find that new hobby very, very, very soon.

 

So, will I see you there? 

Early bird registration is still going on for a few more days here. And no, this is in no way a sponsored post. I’m 100% paying my way to Raleigh. (See? I’m learning.)

But I do have to warn you. If you attend, coming back home is a bit of a letdown because you’re thrown back into a world of testing and data walls and rigor.

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