Keynote-Debate with Rob Furman, Steve Staples

I was privileged to be one of the three keynote speakers and debaters at the Southwest Virginia Leadership Conference, hosted by UVA Wise and the Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Virginia on October 21, 2016.

I was joined by my fellow Seditionist, Dr. L. Robert Furman, and by the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Dr. Steven R. Staples.

Among our topics, we discussed and traded points on individualization, the troublesome nature (to say the least) of standardized multiple-choice testing, and the rising advent of developmentally-appropriate standards-based practices.

I was tremendously heartened by Dr. Staples’s progressive attitude toward performance-based assessment and both his willingness to entertain and indeed personal passion for using the newly-localized aspects of the Every Student Succeeds Act (the replacement for the tragically ill-conceived and colossally damning No Child Left Behind Act) to empower educators to wrest control of learning back from the standardized testing commercial complex. While, as a state official, he is bound by politics, and I am not, I anticipated a much more adversarial set of positions on the nature of assessment and pedagogy. I’ve rarely been so glad to be disappointed on this!

It’s my fervent hope that this debate continues, and that radical pedagogues like Rob and I can continue to push those in positions of leadership and political power to do the right thing for kids, not only in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but nation-wide.

My deep thanks to the teams at UVA Wise and the Higher Education Center and its consortium for making this event possible.