A Brilliant Gathering of Outstanding Educators of the Year 2013 at the Harvard Club
Dr. Pola Rosen, publisher of Education Update, presided over the Outstanding Educators of the Year event held for the 11th year at the Harvard Club. Over 30 award-winning teachers and administrators shared their most effective lessons on EducationUpdate.com (see pages 16-18). In addition, three Distinguished Leaders in Education were honored: Dr. Susan H. Furhman, president of Teachers College; Dr. Lisa S. Coico, president of City College; Dr. Mary M. Brabeck, dean of the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.
Interesting mottos of the three great colleges were noted.
Teachers College (motto: “In thy light, shall we see light”) is celebrating its 125th anniversary as a leader in education including the Cowin Financial Literacy soon to be launched in New York, Arizona, Minnesota, and North Carolina.
City College (motto: “Look to the past, present and future”) was the first free public institution of higher education in the United States and a leader in the sciences and engineering.
The New York Steinhardt School of Education (motto: “To persevere and to excel”) has been influential worldwide.
Dr. Rosen noted that each school had partnerships with New York public high schools.
Keynote speaker: Ernest Logan—president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators has been a teacher, a principal, and union president and a strong advocate for the rights of union members.
Logan has often disagreed with the negative imagery of schools and education that the media often depicted. “You’ll see that there’s a huge disconnect between the picture that the media presents and the picture that we see in this room this very morning.” His premised his speech on his faith in the quality of NYC teachers and framed his speech around a few key topics: the culture of testing, the real role of corporate America in education, and thoughts on the kind of school governments that make sense.
Addressing the culture of testing Logan discussed the overemphasis of testing. He referred to the pressure that educators were under to prepare students to pass standardized tests as “inhumane.” He referenced Long Island principals who, over a year ago, wrote letters to legislators and the public about over-testing. He mentioned that New York city principals wrote their own open letter about over-testing, and teachers and parents have continued to voice their displeasure with over-testing this year. Last week, such outcry by NYC educators moved Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to tell state education officials that they could delay using teacher evaluations that incorporated test results for personal determinations until 2016-17. Logan credited the educators and parents for standing up to bureaucrats about the improper way standardized tests are administered. In general, he supported diagnostic testing—testing done at the beginning and middle of the year to assess students realistically and to adjust instruction to help those students succeed.
Logan commented that corporate America was blamed for turning schools into commodities and using teachers for its agenda. He acknowledged that while it happened, not all of corporate America was to blame for certain wrongdoing in education. He used the example of the partnership between IBM, CUNY and the Department of Education that birthed a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) school, P-tech in Brooklyn, beginning with the middle school level through the second year of college and culminating in an associate’s degree. These students were given first priority for IBM jobs. Logan encouraged educators to partner with corporate America—to ask what skills businesses needed from future employees so that teachers could better prepare students for those businesses (currently done with the PENCIL program in New York public schools). He felt that the mayor should also support such partnerships.
Logan stressed that education be more about a “culture of learning that’s stronger than the culture of testing.” Key to accomplishing this, he said, was school governance. Logan supported mayoral control in state education, but the school chancellor should be qualified (i.e., be an educator) to make sound, education decisions and have the authority to do so. A Chancellor, he said, needed a vision for schools, visibility in schools, knowledge of good instruction when he/she sees it and the ability to foster an education community where superintendents understood the needs of their communities. He alluded that the union had discussed with him which mayoral candidate they wanted to endorse. He gave no more details.
Distinguished Leaders Award recipients:
Dr. Lisa S. Coico (introduced by Jay Hershenson, Sr. Vice-Chancellor, CUNY): “It is all about the joy of seeing students succeed.” Coico is also a CUNY alum and product of NYC public schools. In her acceptance speech, she shared the stories of her grandmothers, both emigrated from Europe. One was a factory worker, just 7 years old; the other came to the U.S. at age 12; she married by 14. Coico saw first hand, at age 13, the value of an education to her own life after she witnessed one of her grandmother’s signing her own name with an X. “Without an education, where would I be? My grandmother signed her name with an X. I sign my name as Lisa S. Coico, president of the City College of New York. That’s what it’s all about.”
Dr. Susan H. Furhman (introduced by Jennifer Raab, president of Hunter College): Underscored that there’s still work to do in the schools. “We must engage our best minds to transform our schools, address the most pressing needs of our communities, and harness the power of research and technology to support more effective learning.”
Dr. Mary M. Brabeck (introduced by Dr. Charlotte Frank, Senior Advisor McGraw-Hill Education): Brabeck said there was no silver bullet to improve k-12 education; but that wanting to improve education was the right goal. To keep striving for better education system for the country required “hope.” “I think hope is what this world needs in order to do the work that will enhance our k-12 education.” She recognized that it’s hard to keep hope alive but said that those in education must get beyond cynicism. She and the other presenters and speakers credited Dr. Rosen and Education Update for their work to promote education.#