Posted June 5th 2012 at 3:58 pm by
in From the Editor

Introducing First Person Policy, with a Bang

Dear CoLab Radio Reader,

Last Thursday CoLab Radio published a post titled Firing Day at the Charter School.

In the post, a teacher told the story of firing day, an annual event at her Boston public charter school in which many teachers learn that their contracts will not be renewed. They still teach through the last month or so of their current contracts, though, to finish out the year.  In 2011, over 40 teachers at her school lost their job this way.  The author, Nancy Bloom, had submitted her resignation in advance of firing day this year because recent years’ firing days had been so harrowing.

This story spoke to you, and it spoke loudly. Hundreds of people shared this post via their Facebook and Twitter accounts, through email, on their blogs, and even by printing paper copies of the story and passing it around. Thousands have read it.

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News stand photo by David Boyle in DC on Flickr.

One reader commented, “This gave me the chills when I read it. I have been a public school teacher for 21 years, and it sickens me to see what is going on.”  Another wrote about charter schools in general: “Not only do the students suffer but the parents are hoodwinked into thinking that the charter school has the answer for their beautiful children to break out of the cycle of poverty and oppression they live in each day.” A Boston Public School alum and aspiring teacher had a different perspective: “I love and admire all the *good* teachers I have had in my schooling career, but I understand the argument for wanting to get rid of underperforming teachers.” Parents and others weighed in too.  Every comment has been thoughtful and enlightening.

Though CoLab Radio had not yet announced it, this particular post was the first in a series of posts about the ways that individual people experience various policies and planning decisions in their day-to-day lives. CoLab Radio has assembled about twenty of its most talented bloggers to profile people who are living policies every day. The MIT Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) believes in every person’s right to speak the truth as they see it, so long as they do so with dignity and respect. CoLab Radio welcomes people (including you) who want to speak for themselves.

The First Person Policy initiative is based on a smattering of past posts that have touched readers.  One man wrote about what it’s like to be an American contractor in Afghanistan.  Another wrote his story of getting through college as an undocumented immigrant. A Londoner wrote about the experience of losing her public housing unit to a real estate development project.

Nancy Bloom’s story turned out to be a starting point for CoLab Radio, but also for her. A few days after publishing her post about firing day, her school escorted her out of the building and asked her not to return. She had no opportunity to say goodbye to her wonderful students. The tremendous response her work received has afforded her the opportunity to continue writing about the topic she cares most about: education.  She’ll be writing more for CoLab Radio soon. This is a moment to harness the incredible energy and passion so many people have for the future of education.

This is also a moment for CoLab Radio to gather your stories.  Do you know someone whose life is dominated by a particular policy, rule, process or structure? Do you have an idea that might serve a better future for all communities?  Are you already carrying your idea out?

Your story might have a place on this blog.

Alexa Mills

One response to “Introducing First Person Policy, with a Bang”

  1. Jon says:

    Public schools protect academic freedom; obviously, charter schools do not. What else will be censored by privatized public schools?