One of the nice things about having a blog is you can write about people who you respect and admire. I have not written for a while about anyone, because there are so many people who grab my attention every day for all the positive things they do for children. And also because there are so many issues to write about, but today I would like to salute Susan Ohanian.
Susan’s website is one of the best around. In 2003, she received The National Council of Teachers of English’s “NCTE Orwell Award” for the website. It was one of the first websites to seriously stand up against bad school reform, and the archives continue to be a stable source of information. If I am not sure about where a policymaker or group stands on a particular issue, I check Susan’s website. And it is important to follow Susan’s current blogging too.
Susan has been a consistent opponent of high-stakes testing and Common Core. She has maintained a running record of what’s happening with Common Core State Standards, and she was one of the first individuals who came out writing pointedly about the overemphasis on high-stakes testing—calling the instigators Standardistos!
She knew how terrible high-stakes testing would be for children before many others understood the gravity of the situation.
Susan has also written many books. Who can forget the book she co-authored with Kathy Emery—Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools? My personal favorite is What Happened to Recess and WHY are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten? (2002). We unfortunately watch this fight for recess continue today in places like Orlando, Florida.
Susan’s website is filled with hope. She always also informs us about good news and compassionate programs involving young people around the country. My personal favorite was The World of Opportunity (WOO for short) for students who needed another chance at learning and life. Unfortunately that vocational program eventually ended after the tragic loss of Steve Orel, its creator.
I think it is important not to forget programs and people, including those who may no longer be with us. In that moment in time, educators served their students well. The WOO taught me that it is the everyday successes that matter. Teachers must never forget that. They must never get so down about teaching that they fail to see the good they are doing, or that they once did, on a day-to-day basis. I am happy I learned about the WOO and Steve Orel through Susan’s website.
Susan has always supported Chicago’s Substance News . I think she was there when it started. Now it is a valuable source of online information for everyone around the country. Chicago is still very important to watch when it comes to today’s troubling school reforms and the fight against them.
There are many other great school and educator stories on Susan’s website. The cartoons on Susan’s website aren’t bad either!
Something not funny at all, but informative, is that she keeps a running track–a link to–how much money has been spent on America’s current wars. It will astound you!
While Susan always knows her stuff, the Eggplant posts have sometimes tricked me. Granted, I can be gullible and slow to catch on. They usually always make me laugh. Laughter is very important when you spend so much time reading about troubling aspects involving education.
Susan speaks candidly about coming into the profession in a roundabout way. She stayed a teacher, committed to understanding children and how they learn. And she is now a teacher of teachers through her writing.
She also has many wonderful practical classroom resource books that teachers might use in their work with children. I used some of those too for teaching!
Susan has kept her website running for a long time to help everyone understand what is happening to their public schools and their children. She is no quitter and we can all learn a lesson from that.
Susan is a member of the well-respected National Education Policy Center. Here you can learn more about her and find additional valuable information surrounding school reform.
And of course, here is SusanOhanian.org, her website.
Susan certainly needs no touting from me. She boasts a Twitter following of 6,548.
But it was fun to write about her anyway. A bright happy thank you, Susan Ohanian!