Several weeks ago I came across a story on the Web from a small Vermont newspaper. The principal of an 80-student elementary school in Halifax, Vermont, disturbed by the relentless focus on education solely as a means of economic success and competitiveness and a narrowing of curriculum in our test-driven age, had published a book calling for education to get back to first purposes.
“The overarching goal of the public school,” said Daniel A. Heller in the article, “is the preparation of our students to take their rightful places in a democratic society.” Heller’s ideas on how to get children to that place might not be entirely congruent with the Core Knowledge approach, but that is beside the point. His reminder of our shared obligation as educators to “the world’s greatest experiment in democracy” is one that will resonate deeply from rural Vermont to South Central Los Angeles. I am pleased that Heller has written the essay below for the Core Knowledge blog.