My friend, Tom Whitby, an educator and blogger has put out a call for blog posts centered around positivity in education to counter all of the negativity going on.  I recently wrote a post on the Cooperative Catalyst blog called “What (Really) Works,” trying to focus on what works in education rather than what doesn’t. 

I refuse to get caught up in the “what’s broken” conversations. It’s the same reason I rarely sat in the lunchroom at my former schools. Sure, we all need some group therapy every once in a while, but when we focus too much on the negative, we start to lose sight of why we do what we do.

So I invite you, whether teacher or parent or community member, to be an ‘Edupunk.’  Don’t get sucked into negative conversations. If the people around you are talking about how schools are failing kids, how we are behind other countries in test scores, how we should fire bad teachers and expand charters, I challenge you to bring up the fact that there are lots of successful schools doing amazing things with students and teachers who are dedicated to doing whatever it takes not to raise student test scores but to raise students’ consciousness and give them meaningful educational experiences that will prepare them not for a test or a job but for life.

If you need examples of some of these schools, districts and teachers, here are a few examples:

There are so many others I could name who work hard every day and take risks in the classroom in the name of innovation and authentic learning experiences.

So rather than focus on the media, let’s be Edupunks who go against the negativity and do what’s best for kids. If we talk enough about what works and what’s working, we might actually get somewhere.


  1. Reply

    Thanks Mary Beth! I needed to reminded of being positive. It was my goal for the year, and I was quickly losing sight of it given the frustrations I was having at school. I think I need to make an EduPunks sign and put it on the cover of my planbook, wall, and laptop.

  2. Brian Cohen


    I would like to posit another school that is doing a really great job in Philadelphia, with similar resources to SLA but a different model of education – one focusing on neighborhood kids: the High School of the Future (SotF)

    Everyone talks about SLA but forgets that is a magnet school = gets the cream of the crop. SotF is a lottery-based school, with 75% of kids coming from West Philly and 25% from the rest of the city. I just started working there and I can tell you from experience that the collaborative atmosphere and use of technology as a tool and not the ends of something is really quite amazing.

  3. Reply

    Despite my blog seeming a little less than positive, I think there are a great many positive things going on in public education. The mere fact that so many of us are taking time to look at what we are doing, is one of the positives.
    And of course, imho, the greatest positives are the children who cross the threshold into the classroom every day.

  4. Reply

    See my summary of "Wounded by Schools" by Kirsten Olson at DrDougGreen.Com. She tells us about some things that are wrong and how to fix them. The section on healing is full of good things that teachers are already doing and have been doing forever.

  5. Reply


    Very true that SLA is a selective school (though not technically a magnet), but I mention them mostly because of their school culture and innovative practices, not necessarily test scores. I'm so glad to hear that SotF is doing well. It really struggled for so many years–especially having been dropped by it's founder (who then spoke at SLA this year!).

    Is there a place where I can read up on what you guys are up to? Always excited about innovative schools in Philly!

  6. kim


    i totally agree! but you left off two of the best schools in the country, both designated in two different years as the best magnet schools in the country. right here in chattanooga, tennessee! and i'm lucky enough that my son attends one of them:)

  7. Reply

    Mary Beth,
    Thank you for posting this! I am a college student studying early childhood education and I am currently in my clinical observations/practicum. I cannot tell you how many times I hear the "whats broken" conversations in the media. The way I see it is, whatever is "failing" is not going to get better by complaining or whining about it, it's not going to fix itself. It's going to take a lot of dedicated teachers and adminstrators to fix whatever is broken and you are right, there are very dedicated people out there. When I become a teacher(and even now as a student), I refuse to become trapped in this negative talk!

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