Progressive Practice / Public Settings
What does it take to bring them together?
On May 15, 2015, renowned educator Deborah Meier and a panel of Bank Street-prepared principals came to Bank Street for the College's tenth annual Niemeyer symposium.
After teaching in early childhood classrooms early in her career, Meier became not only an advocate for progressive policies and practice in public settings, but also a pioneer in founding innovative schools serving primarily students of color in New York City's District 4. She supported the development of similar schools throughout the city, and in 1984 helped found the Coalition of Essential Schools.
Meier is a MacArthur "Genius" Award recipient and the author of many books and articles, including The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons for America from a Small School in Harlem, and In Schools We Trust.
About Deborah Meier
Deborah Meier has spent more than four decades working in public education as a teacher, principal, writer, and advocate. She is currently senior scholar at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education.
After graduating from the University of Chicago, Meier became an early childhood teacher, and in the late 1960s, she taught kindergarten in Central Harlem. For the next 20 years, Meier helped revitalize public schools in New York City’s District 4 in East Harlem. In 1974, she founded Central Park Elementary School, a highly successful public school of choice that served predominantly local African American and Latino families. In the years that followed, Meier opened two other Central Park elementary schools in District 4 as well as an acclaimed secondary school, while also supporting and directing the development of similar schools throughout the city.
In the 1980s, Meier helped found the Coalition of Essential Schools under the leadership of Ted Sizer. At Coalition schools, Meier helped foster democratic communities, greater autonomy for teachers, parental voice in children’s education, and intergenerational connections.
Meier is the author of many books and articles, including The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons for America from a Small School in Harlem, and In Schools We Trust. She is an outspoken critic of state-mandated curriculum and high-stakes standardized testing, and has written extensively on their unreliability and class/race biases. She is on the board of the Coalition of Essential Schools, FairTest, Save Our Schools, Center for Collaborative Education and the Association for Union Democracy. She also serves on the editorial boards of The Nation, The Harvard Education Letter, and Dissent magazines. In 1987 she received a MacArthur “Genius” Award for her work in public education.
A Conversation with Deborah Meier
Shael Polakow-Suransky, President, Bank Street College of Education
School Leadership Panelists
Erin Carstensen, Bank Street alum, Principals Institute
Pat Finley, Bank Street alum, Leadership for Educational Change
Davia Franklyn, Bank Street alum
Allison Keil, Bank Street alum, Leadership for Educational Change
Damon McCord, Bank Street alum, Leadership for Educational Change
Nigel Pugh, Bank Street alum, Principals Institute
Gil Schmerler, Director, Leadership for Educational Change program
Rima Shore, Director, Adelaide Weismann Center for Innovative Leadership Education
Shael Polakow-Suransky, Bank Street alum, Principals Institute