Larry Rosenstock first taught as a carpentry teacher for Boston inner city students at the height of the desegregation struggles in the 1970s. At the time, he thought that traditional public education was the best vehicle for rising people out of social disadvantage, and for solving some of the most egregious forms of segregation by class and race in our society.
Having been in law school, Larry realized the very first day of teaching these working class kids they were every bit as bright as the middle class “kids” he was with in law school. This realization has driven his work ever since.
Larry quickly saw that public schools were part and parcel of the social injustice. He observed the schools perpetuated race and class inequality, and at worst, they promoted it, by tracking students by “ability” and “vocation.” Even in schools that were diverse as a whole (which were becoming fewer and fewer), once inside the school doors, students of different races and class backgrounds had profoundly segregated experiences.
Larry has since come to see that the ideal public education can indeed come true, if schools, teachers and students are able to break out of the bureaucratic constraints that are smothering most public schools. He visited many schools in many states over the last three decades and almost universally finds that in small independent schools, whether privates, pilots, or public charters, the teachers have far more control of their work.
He has seen how a non-meritocratic, zip code based lottery randomly selects students in a way that insures diversity. Coupled with no ability grouping within the school, one can find schools that are both diverse and integrated. He now sees K-12 schools coupled with adult graduate school learning embedded within a conceptual framework of inquiry and design, leadership, and reflective practice. He is thrilled to see the democratic schooling that he’s championed throughout his career.