Harvard Educational Review
  1. Summer 2009 Issue »

    Reclaiming Our Freedom to Teach

    Education Reform in the Obama Era

    Megan Behrent
    High school teacher Megan Behrent reflects on the impact of Obama’s election on the students in her high school classroom. Obliged to temper her students’ joyful exuberance on the morning of November 5, 2008, Behrent found that the election fervor highlighted for her the ways that schooling under NCLB has constrained both educators and students, taking away teachers’ freedom to teach and students’ freedom to learn. In this essay, she examines the many ways in which the high-stakes testing industry punishes public school students and teachers, continually disenfranchising those who struggle to learn without adequate resources. While Obama’s election may bring hope to learners of all ages, Behrent advises skepticism toward the changes education secretary Arne Duncan might bring, and she calls on teachers, families, and unions to collaborate in demanding the freedom to nurture true learning.

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    Megan Behrent is a high school English teacher in Brooklyn and a graduate student pursuing a doctorate in English literature. She is also a delegate to the United Federation of Teachers. She is a contributor to Socialist Worker and a longtime activist who has participated in campaigns for education reform, social justice, and a more democratic and militant union.

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    Summer 2009 Issue


    Editors’ Introduction
    Note to Educators
    Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete
    Jeffrey M. R. Duncan-Andrade
    A Dialogue
    Our Selves, Our Students, and Obama
    Jennifer McLaughlin and Kim Kelly
    President Obama and Education
    The Possibility for Dramatic Improvements in Teaching and Learning
    Linda Darling-Hammond
    Promise and Peril
    Charter Schools, Urban School Reform, and the Obama Administration
    Charles Payne and Tim Knowles
    Reclaiming Our Freedom to Teach
    Education Reform in the Obama Era
    Megan Behrent
    Obama’s Dilemma
    Postpartisan Politics and the Crisis of American Education
    Henry A. Giroux
    Second-Class Integration
    A Historical Perspective for a Contemporary Agenda
    Vanessa Siddle Walker
    Equity and Empathy
    Toward Racial and Educational Achievement in the Obama Era
    Prudence L. Carter
    It Wasn’t Easy to Get Here
    Kathleen Mayse
    Obama, Where Art Thou?
    Hoping for Change in U.S. Education Policy
    Wayne Au
    Praise Song for Teachers
    A Call to Action
    Ariane White
    Educating Latino Immigrant Students in the Twenty-First Century
    Principles for the Obama Administration
    Carola Suárez-Orozco and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco
    Education for Everyday People
    Obstacles and Opportunities Facing the Obama Administration
    Gloria Ladson-Billings
    An Insurrectionary Generation
    Young People, Poverty, Education, and Obama
    Jay Gillen
    An Earned Insurgency
    Quality Education as a Constitutional Right
    Robert P. Moses
    Barack Obama and the Fight for Public Education
    William Ayers
    Coda: The Slow Fuse of Change
    Obama, the Schools, Imagination, and Convergence
    Maxine Greene
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