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 schools to engage students, teachers, and parents working with each other in ways that would be impossible in larger schools. Beyond these innovations, she also encourages mutual respect among teachers, students, administrators, and parents as a prerequisite for collaboration and collective school ownership.
Meier's book is the story of how the overhaul of the U.S. public education system might be accomplished with a bit of imagination, creativity, determination, and a healthy dose of common sense. As she acknowledges in her preface, "After thirty years of almost daily immersion in my own particular school's life, I now wake up each morning worrying about `other people's' schools, not my own. It's a big shift." And a very useful shift with important implications for educators and policymakers across the United States. At a time when the rhetoric in educational circles is that all children can learn and achieve at high levels, Meier offers us the success story of Central Park East as demonstration...

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The Power of Their Ideas is part journal, part handbook for the next generation of caring, innovative teachers who aren't sure if or how it can be done, and part treatise on democracy and education, taking on the why's, not just the how's of schooling. "For us," says Meier, "a democratic community was the nonnegotiable purpose of good schooling."

Meier has written an engaging, informative account of the two decades she spent pioneering, experimenting with, and ultimately creating a highly successful educational program. This collection of her writings includes journal entries, articles, and memos that summarize her struggle to create and manage great inner-city schools. Most of all, however, Meier's book is a wake-up call to citizens and educators--about taking education seriously and accepting mutual responsibility for the future of the next generation.

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