What are our schools for?
From the attempts by founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Rush to plan an educational system for their respective states to various subsequent periods of reform to our present time, the purpose of schools in America has been scrutinized and questioned. What role do schools play in a democratic society? Or maybe we should ask, how can a democratic society be sustained without an educated citizenry? What should that education include? What are the end goals for schooling in our country? What are schools for?
In 1979, John Goodlad—educator, researcher, author and a leader in educational “renewal” through the 1980s and 1990s–introduced a book titled What Schools Are For. The book, now considered a classic, offered a penetrating analysis of American education at that time and a call to re-examine the purposes of education. With shifts and changes occurring in practically every decade in the history of American schools and with many aspects of those reform movements having seeped down through the years to our schools today, we must ask where we stand now. Of all the purposes and functions that schools serve in our society, what do we regard as critically important? And how might the important purposes of school serve each student well while at the same time fulfilling the needs of a democratic society?
The 2018 NNER Annual Conference invites you into this crucial conversation to consider the question, what are our schools for? The conference will provide a dynamic venue for educators and public school constituents from various settings to share their ideas, their research, and their knowledge of best practices in relation to one of the four connecting strands described below.