An Evening with Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi

On October 24th, Inspired Teaching and DC Project Zero co-hosted a conversation with authors Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi moderated by Founder & President Aleta Margolis to discuss their new book, These Schools Belong to You and Me.

To kick-off the evening, Aleta introduced Inspired Teaching’s commitment to reimagine the role of teacher as Instigator of ThoughtTM, and expressed that she “can think of no greater Instigators of Thought than Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi.” And the book does just that, it instigates thought. Aleta explained this further, saying “I appreciate that you challenge the reader to think about what schools are, and offer concrete examples of what they can be.”

These Schools Belong to You and Me is centered around a principle question: what is the purpose of school? Aleta described the book as “both an urgent response to the political climate and a timeless call to action to save and invest in our nation’s public schools.”

Throughout the evening, Deborah and Emily continued to demonstrate their passion for supporting the public school system while advocating for change within it–a tension present throughout the chapters of their book. At the beginning of her career as an educator, Deborah confessed: “I couldn’t survive if I couldn’t find a way to change the schools I worked in.”

With a tone of optimism and urgency, Deborah and Emily each shared how they feel the public school system is failing students, and their vision for how we might be able to promote change. The following are highlights from the conversation that showcase how Deborah and Emily fight for public schools while providing a call-to-action to change them:

“We have this default mode of this is what school looks like. I think that is something we need to take on more explicitly and help teachers who are interested in breaking that mold to find ways to come back to their real core values.” – Emily

“Teachers aren’t accountable to each other. We have to change that picture and make the school is a professional development experience day-in and day-out.” – Deborah

“Almost all progressive education ideas were developed as education for the poor and then they became very popular and the rich got them.” – Deborah

When asked how we can overcome the achievement gap, Emily declared, “It is a test score gap and it’s not really meaningful. There are other gaps that are meaningful: opportunity gaps, resource gaps, and gaps in expectations, but the test scores really don’t get at any of that. They are a diversion. We need to say that as much as possible.” – Emily

“When we create a school we like, we tend to want to freeze it there rather than constantly churning them. You have to keep fighting for things of they just become words. Elections, democracy, as we fight for these things we have to remember that success doesn’t mean we’ve put them in place, we have to keep going and keep pushing what we’ve done, and changing our mind.” – Deborah


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