The Education Track
at the 2009 Liberty Forum
-- Nelson Mandela
Come enjoy a day of speakers, panelists, and invigorating discussion about education. From local New Hampshire homeschoolers talking about activities in their areas to John Taylor Gatto, author of The Underground History of Education and award winning former New York teacher we have a full day planned!
The Education Track Lineup:
John Taylor Gatto, Speaker and Author
John Taylor Gatto was born in the coal-mining/steel mill town of Mononjahela, Pennsylvania on December 15, 1935, and still lives there in his heart. He lived after elementary school in a small city in the mountains of western Pennsylvania called Uniontown where the high school taught him to drink, smoke, and play cruel practical jokes on school-teachers, and secretly watch girls instead of the blackboard. In between Monongahela, on the green river of the same name and Uniontown, where a force under the direction of George Washington had once murdered French officer, Jumonville, (thus precipitating the French and Indian War). Mr. Gatto spent a year at an elite Jesuit boarding school near Latrobe, Pennsylvania (home of golfer, Arnold Palmer) where he learned to think dialectically and was beaten nearly every day, creating a maverick temperament which has endured lifelong.
He taught for 30 years in the public schools of Manhattan after graduating from Columbia (and other collegiate training was at Cornell, Reed College, University of Pittsburgh, and at least one other place he can't remember). But not before he had also tried his hand at filmscript writing, songwriting (he is a member of ASCAP), cab driving, copy writing at some big Manhattan ad agencies, and a few other things he cares not to share with you.
Gatto has given talks in Australia, Hungary, Spain, France, England, Columbia, Mexico, China, Singapore, Malaysian Borneo, and Canada, and in every one of the 50 American states. Since 1991 he has travelled over 3 million air miles, spoken at Harvard, NASA Space Center, the White House, Smith, the Fluid Controls Institute of Philadelphia (?), the Cato Institute, and many other places. He has keynoted over 30 state homeschool conventions and drinks too much. He hates to use machinery except for a 30 year old rusty station wagon and every sort of firearm. Mr. and Mrs. Gatto own a 128 acre farm in Upstate New York which they are converting into a retreat for those who need one, called "Solitude." Anyone is welcome to come there, cost free, if they promise not to talk during their stay.
Mr. Gatto's speech is titled On the Parasitic Nature of Schooling and What We Might Do Instead -- or -- Walkabout:London -- An Unscientific Look at Open Source Education
In his book, Weapons of Mass Instruction, here is how Gatto defines open source education:
Open source learning accepts that everything under the sun might be a possible starting point on the road to self-mastery and a good life -- garage work, poker, lap dancing,
whatever. In open source, sequences are personally designed or personally signed off on And everyone you encounter is a potential teacher.
To try to hedge open source in too tightly with official algorithms is to ruin it, but at least I'll give you a rough abstract: in open source, teaching is a function, not a profession. Anyone with something to offer can teach. The student determines who is or is not a teacher, not the government. In open source you don't need a license to teach any more than Socrates did. Right there you can feel how different the basic assumptions of open source are. No student faces failure for deciding not to learn from you.
In open source, students are the active initiators. It all sounds too undisciplined, I know, but life beyond schooling is exactly like that if liberty is important to you. You either write your own script or you become an actor in somebody else's script.
Lisa Snell of the Reason Foundation
Lisa Snell is the director of education and child welfare at Reason Foundation, where she oversees research on education and child welfare issues. She has authored policy studies on school choice, school finance, universal preschool, school violence, charter schools, and child advocacy centers. Lisa is a frequent contributor to Reason magazine. Her commentary has also appeared in Education Week, Edutopia, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications.
Ms. Snell's speech is titled Competition is Revolutionizing Public Schools.
From 4,000 charter schools serving close to 2 million children to 21 voucherand tax credit programs nationwide to real public school choice throughweighted student formula, where the money follows the child in cities likeNew York and San Francisco, competition is creating real school choiceoptions for families. In addition, competition is liberating teachers andoffering them more professional job opportunities and alternatives totraditional teacher unions. Competition is also changing union laborpractices and leading to more flexible and market-oriented teachercontracts. We’ll examine where we stand with school reform and whatcompetition means for the future of public education.
Deborah Stevenson from the National Home Education Legal Defense organization
Ms. Stevenson formed Connecticut Citizens to Uphold the Right to Educate (C.U.R.E.) in 1989 in order to assist all parents in the state to retain their right to instruct their children at home without government interference. Because she believed in the tenth amendment's provision that all powers not specifically granted to the federal government belong to the states and to the people, C.U.R.E. remained a state organization protecting the rights of citizens in the state. It was not until 2003, when Deborah realized that there was a continuing effort by another organization to actively promote the adoption of federal regulation of homeschooling, that she decided to form National Home Education Legal Defense. A national organization was necessary in order to inform and assist parents in all states in halting federal regulation and retaining authority in the states to instruct their children in freedom.
Ms. Stevenson's speech is titled "How the Constitution has been contorted, how friendly sounding federal legislation can fool the public, and how We the People can take back our unalienable rights.”
Since 2003, Charlie Arlinghaus has served as president of The Josiah Bartlett Center, a non-partisan, free market think tank. He writes a weekly column on public policy for The New Hampshire Union Leader. His policy research covers a broad range of state policy including health care, prescription drugs, tax and budget policy and education funding. He has been interviewed on public policy issues on the major domestic networks, in the 25 largest newspapers in the country, and for media outlets on every continent (well, except Antarctica). He has degrees in American History from The College of William and Mary and The University of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire Homeschooling Panel
Come meet several knowledgeable homeschooling advocates from New Hampshire including:
Chris Hamilton, New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition representative on the Home Education Advisory Council;
Dr. Jim Forsythe, a research Professor at the University of New Hampshire, active homeschooler for 7 years, and activist in defending homeschool freedoms;
Faye Grearson, Upper Valley Homeschool Club participant, homeschooling parent for 7+ years.
Alan Schaeffer, President of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State
Alan Schaeffer is the president of the Alliance for the Separation of School & State. Alan's long personal struggle with dyslexia lead him to a determination to find education solutions for his oldest son who showed signs of heading for a similar struggle, and to become an early supporter of the Alliance for the Separation of School & State. Marshall Fritz asked Alan to join his Fresno staff in 2004. Alan and Marshall worked together to create a campaign to free families from falling prey to the anti-freedom, anti-family institution of government handout schooling. Alan and his wife home educate their five children.